Our first priority in property management is ensuring that we are doing the best job possible for our clients/landlords (it might seem simple, but it really does boil down to just that). Consequently, aligning yourself with their goals is critical to your success as a property manager; this is ultimately the differentiating factor which leads some managers to retain contracts for decades and others for only 6 months.
What makes this challenging is that no two landlords are the same. It is the only constant in property management: that all landlords are different! This means we need to become experts at adapting to the goals, expectations, and values of our various clients.
To provide clarity into our landlord’s mind, it helps to start by understanding the key elements that ALL landlord’s care about. Overtime, understanding the order in which they prioritize these keys element can help us become aligned with any landlord and therefore make faster and better decisions on their behalf.
The 4 key elements ALL landlords prioritize (in various order and degree):
B. Building is being properly maintained and looks good
I. Income is being optimized
T. Tenants are happy
E. Expenses are being minimized
For some landlords it is difficult to decipher where their priorities lie, and some truly care about each of these elements evenly. Others will be very strongly skewed towards one or two, and care very little about the others. For example, a common landlord architype is one that view their properties as spreadsheets, caring greatly about maximizing their Return-on-Investment and caring less about cleanliness and/or how happy the tenants are etc. (IEBT). Conversely, another common architype is the polar opposite (TBEI), who prioritizes the tenant’s happiness and are less concerned about squeezing their asset for every last bit of income. Between these two extremes are many variants, and it is incumbent on every property manager to become intimately familiar with their landlord’s priorities. Doing so helps form a solid foundation that enables managers to make fast and effective decisions that are in line with how their landlord would do things: a worry most landlord’s have when passing control off to a property management company.
It needs to be highlighted that as professional property managers, it is always our goal to provide the best result in all four of these categories. We aim for our buildings to look great, to maximize the income to the landlord, to keep the tenants happy, and to minimize the expenses, but experience teaches us that this is easier said than done. Many of the decisions we make are a balancing act between two or more of these elements, and inversely related: meaning the more we maximize one category, the worse we do in others (for example, the more we spend on property cleaning the better the building may look and happier the tenants will be, but expenses for the building will go up). Needless to say, the decision-making process can be complicated and imperfect by nature and therefore is often made far simpler when we understand our landlord’s mind.
In short: “Know thy landlord”