Empowering Employees

Continuous training is the key to growing a residential property management team, or any business or organization.
Leslie L. Etterbeek
Leslie L. Etterbeek

The multifamily property management industry offers a great career alternative for an array of service-oriented professionals, especially those who are displaced and may have previous hospitality, retail, or service field experience.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people lost their jobs, changed their living arrangements, or spent more time at home than at a work environment. As a result, resident needs at multifamily communities became more complex, putting new pressures on property management companies.

To meet these emerging trends, the apartment industry requires a new type of team that includes property managers, leasing agents, technicians, maintenance professionals, and hospitality experts. The new and ever-changing environment has also opened a wide range of opportunities for people starting their careers or looking for a new challenge.

The key to longevity in any business is knowing how to enrich employees as part of a winning culture. It starts with instilling a passion for catering to people in their homes — which, today, often double as their work environment. Access to a high level of services is vital to the living environment at every multifamily community, and has become even more important as people suddenly find they need access to a printer or faster internet speeds.

One challenge in serving residents is that each property is diverse with different layouts, demographics, rent scales, amenities, and employees. Today, the ability to cultivate the strength of every aspect of the business as an integral component of the property management team is what drives overall success.

The resident experience is ultimately delivered by the employees, but it can’t be a one-size-fits-all approach. The drive to share best practices and emerging trends with the entire team, while encouraging new ideas and resident feedback, are the foundation of success.

Create a culture that encourages staff to develop in their roles, commit to staying on, and grow with the organization.

If employees are mindful of the fact that every decision and action they make enhances the overall business, that sense of ownership trickles down to the customer. In turn, by offering continuous training for employees, onboarding new workers will be that much more seamless.

As this industry has changed, it’s become clear that property management team roles are ideal for:

  • Recent graduates who like complex challenges and dealing with people.
  • Hospitality professionals from hotels, restaurants, and other service industries who have been displaced due to the pandemic.
  • Professionals with experience in management, operations, service, and sales.
  • HVAC technicians, plumbers, carpenters, and electricians.

Within the property management industry, a wide range of skills is required. What’s more, establishing and ensuring best practices will become even more critical in the years ahead as the number of multifamily properties grows and the competition rises. These guiding principles could work in almost any industry. They include:

  • Customer Service Skills: A property team must treat every resident living in a community as an important “customer.” Responding quickly to issues and delivering service with a smile are essential.
  • Empathy: It’s important to understand the “shoes” of the customer. A Wi-Fi problem may not seem catastrophic, but if a resident has a work project deadline, it can be critical. By putting oneself in the “shoes” of a resident, a property management team is better able to deliver best-in-class services.
  • Excellence in Communication: Property management professionals must be comfortable speaking, writing, and interacting both in person and online. Candor and transparency have become increasingly important to consumers.
  • Selling Abilities: Interpersonal and virtual experiences online are crucial for creating valuable and long-lasting relationships.
  • Loyalty and Longevity: Create a culture that encourages staff to develop in their roles, commit to staying on, and grow with the organization. Promote training programs and create opportunities for talented people to leverage and expand their expertise.
  • Team Orientation and Organization: Build a team that is diverse, inclusive, and supportive. If your team is fulfilled, residents will feed off the positive energy.

Whether it’s the property management business, a retail store, or a restaurant, offering continuous training programs will improve an organization’s overall value, help engage and draw more satisfied employees, and, most importantly, provide customers with positive and memorable experiences that can be shared with others.

Leslie L. Etterbeek is president of LR Management in Troy, a woman-owned residential multifamily property management business serving Michigan since 1989.