Posts

The Management Agency – Two Years In

So, you clicked the link, and here is the story behind this photo.

The Management Agency started out in my Garden Studio in Bowral, two years ago. It started some 100kms away from the properties I was listing and managing from Day 1 (my clients knew this).

If it wasn’t for me living away from Sydney, to begin with, it’s likely that I never would’ve started the business. Looking back now, I almost can’t believe that it’s been two years since I hit the ground running and started my own little Property Management business.

So the photo… well, while I was commuting back and forth from Sydney to Bowral, I’d pull into this rest stop on the Hume Highway which was about halfway home. I would pull out my laptop and catch up on my emails that had been coming through whilst I was driving.  I’d then get back on the road, get home and catch up on more admin, calls, and emails. Most weeks, I would likely be repeating the process the next day.

Whilst it wasn’t every day that I was traveling, over time, and throughout 2019, The Management Agency grew more and more, to a point where I knew that a move back to Sydney was inevitable. Earlier this year I made the decision to move back to Sydney, just before COVID-19 hit. Since then, in this short time, The Management Agency has grown by over 50%.

Obviously, this was the right move!

What this picture represents is the hard work and sacrifice that I have made to get to this point. Whilst things have become a lot easier from a logistical point of view, the hard work continues to be put in to ensure that my clients continue to receive the high levels of service that they have become accustomed to.

We’re in a time now where being employed is something we do need to be grateful for, hence “gratefully busy” is my new catchphrase. I can’t recall a time in the last two years, where I haven’t had new business in the works, whether that’s a lead for a new property or a new client in the pipeline. I am fortunate and very grateful for this success.

From the outset, I wanted a slow and organic growth for The Management Agency. As I write this, I have 13 new properties coming on board this month and this reaffirms that from Day 1, I made the right decisions and that clearly there is a market for the style and level of service that I offer. I’m ecstatic that I have exceeded my growth targets in this past Financial Year.

While I’m being reflective here, I have to say, I never could’ve done this without the support of my awesome partner & admin ace, Nelson. With his support and the ongoing encouragement of many friends, family members, and fellow Property Managers, I got from Day 1 to this two year anniversary.

Humble Beginnings

Humble Beginnings

Along with my humble beginnings, hard work, and moving back to Sydney, there are absolutely no regrets. The Management Agency has given me the ability to offer a service that I am proud of and one where my clients can be assured that someone is looking out for them. I thank them all whenever I get the opportunity, for being on board and for their support.

It hasn’t been without its challenges, long days, and what seems to be one of the toughest years for us all, 2020. Looking back though, it’s been nothing but liberating and rewarding.

Back to my car picture though; This is where I would set out from on sunny, cold, raining, and hailing days (have the dents to prove it) as I made the journeys between my home office, properties, and appointments. No matter how many people said it wasn’t practical, possible, or had something negative to say when I set out originally, this two year period has shown me that nothing is truer than “You get out what you put in”.

Thank you for coming along for the ride with me.

Antonio

 

Hello! A Blog about me, Antonio Mesiti

10/10/2019

A little blog about Me

I thought a proper introduction was well overdue. Considering I’m blogging about everything and anything related to Property Management I felt it was time that those reading know a little bit about me, my business and my experience in Property Management.

So here goes, and to keep me from boring you all I’ve enlisted my partner Nelson, to get this done Interview Style.

But first some facts for those of you that don’t know me;

  • I’m Antonio the Director and the Property Manager at The Management Agency
  • I’m 35 and first started in Property Management back in 2003
  • The Management Agency commenced trading in July 2018 after having taken long service leave at my past employer

Why is your Business called The Management Agency?

There are so many agencies out there and most offer Sales and Property Management services.

I wanted it to be clear that my agency is all about Management (Property Management) and in my case the Director is the Property Manager. It’s the Agency that’s just about managing investment properties and that’s what a Property Manager does.

What differentiates your agency from other Property Management Providers?

I offer a traditional Property Management Service but with a One on One approach, where the client’s Property Manager oversees everything from end to end. My clients don’t speak to my accounts department for account enquiries, Leasing team regarding the Leasing of a property or a Principal or Department Manager when they have issues.

They come to me and all of their questions are covered in one call, whether it’s about Leasing, Maintenance, Accounts or anything else, I’m across it because I run a smaller portfolio than most other agencies and know what’s happening at all times. It’s my job to be in the know.

“I use all the latest Tech available to me but my business isn’t just about that.

The Management Agency is more customer – centric focused than anything else.

People want access to tech but they still want service”

What made you leave full time employment to operate your own business?

My main motivation was the flexibility and level of responsibility that this role provides me. Unfortunately there’s only so far that your career can take you within an agency working for an employer in this field. In my experience Property Managers are, for the most part, undervalued until the moment they go to resign from an Agency. This and the pressure of the role contributes to the high turnover of staff in Property Management, it becomes quite detrimental to the overall working environment for those remaining. The loss of staff and therefore loss of knowledge has a flow on effect to clients and their properties where, for a time, everyone’s playing catch up. I have seen first hand the impact of this occurring many times over in my career.

What do you enjoy about Property Management?

Simply put, how my week is broken up into days where I’m either out on the road and days in the office, so no two days are the same and I’m never really confined to an office environment. I like to get out and about even though sometimes it feels like I’m on The Amazing Race.

I don’t think there are many jobs where you have the freedom to set your own week up and run it as you see fit, to be office bound but have the freedom to get up and get out as much as you like and when needed.

What do you NOT enjoy about Property Management?

At times, the uncertainty of the leasing process can be frustrating. You can price a property appropriately and although the feedback is positive, sometimes prospective tenants still don’t apply.

It is all part of the process and the only reason I don’t enjoy it, is my impatience in wanting to get properties occupied ASAP, securing the best possible applicants as I’m always striving for the best outcomes for my clients. Seeking as much feedback as possible though and taking it on board can help this process along but when you’ve done all the right things sometimes it’s a waiting a game to get the right person to turn up and fall in love with the property.

Why did you set up The Management Agency?

Initially to create a role that is flexible for me personally and professionally where I have the end say in how the business operates and with whom I work with.

Over the years, working within other Agencies, I found that staff (myself included) were always limited as to the time, effort and resources that they could devote to their clients and this along with other shortfalls results in Property Managers feeling as though they’re not servicing their clients effectively or to expectations. Unfortunately this does little for one’s confidence or job satisfaction.

It really made sense to operate a business where you’re addressing the concerns that clients have which are simply things like, the high turnover of Property Managers, dealing with multiple people and getting differing answers. Along with calls and emails not being returned, assurances not being met and the poor filtering of information to owners where there are multiple people involved in what can be the simplest of processes. I feel that The Management Agency eliminates all of these issues and grievances for both Landlords and Tenants.

So really, addressing these concerns and getting rid of limitations was behind my reasoning and more than one year in I’m seeing how this is benefiting my clients and am certain that I’ve made the right move.

What are you most Proud of?

Simply being a small business that’s doing well!

Where so many small businesses fail, which was a great fear of mine, I’m on track and kicking my goals ahead of my initial 3 year forecasts. I’m very proud of how far I’ve come in just over a year and that I’ve been able to learn so much in this time.

I’ve learned many aspects of operating a business that I had absolutely no knowledge of prior. So yes, I’m simply proud that I beat my fear of failure and have just put my head down and done whatever I have needed to do to get started and keep the business consistently moving forward.

What do you like to do in your down time?

A lot of nothing but lazing at home with my partner and our two cats. I mostly enjoy gardening which sometimes becomes more of a need to do than a want. At the moment spending a lot of time at home in the Southern Highlands where I do most of my admin work on the days when I’m not needed at the properties I manage.

Otherwise I love food, so cooking is huge for me and of course trying new cafes and restaurants as much as possible. I love to get out of Sydney and head into the country where my parent’s have a farm and really switch off, so at the end of a Saturday showing properties, you’ll catch me on the freeway.

Where do you see yourself in 5 Years?

I see myself still in this role with The Management Agency, however my goal is to obviously grow The Management Agency whilst retaining my core principles, business structure and ensuring the service my clients receive is the one they were promised regardless of whom it is servicing them from within the business.

I’m confident that I will require support as the business evolves but I do aim to always remain at the forefront of the business, meeting prospective tenants and clients and doing inspections. I just can’t be office bound all week long and believe a Property Manager must always be at the forefront and available to their clients.

Hopefully you’ve learned a little bit more about me. I think I’ve covered some good questions here but as always open to any questions you might have!

Thanks also to my very supportive partner!

Antonio

Property Management Volumes & Procrastination

4/4/2019

Speaking from experience I’ve always believed that these factors impact greatly on the service and delivery that clients and tenants experience within Property Management.

Maybe more broadly these are issues impacting so many other industries!

VOLUME:

I mean the number of properties that a Property Manager needs to have under their management in order for their position, and the business that they work within to be viable.

I was chatting with a tenant the other day and he was asking how business was going and how I was managing it, I said something along the lines of it going quite smoothly especially as I was now only managing just under 50 properties. They’re response was “ONLY!”, yes only. I’ve worked in offices managing up to 250 with minimal administration support.

Of course I want to slowly increase my portfolio but in a sustainable and manageable way and will max out at some stage where there’ll be a need for assistance. But get in while you can ;p

The numbers of properties that the majority of property managers have under their watch is simply too many. It’s already a mammoth task being organised enough to smoothly manage these figures but for so many property managers it can just take one situation occurring that sends everything else crashing down, and it’s the norm for unexpected situations to arise, Constantly.

Obviously, a business needs to be profitable but what do we see when volume is always running at its upper limits, we see Staff turnover, dissatisfied clients that go elsewhere and complaints. It also leaves no room for growth either.

As an investor, you really should find out how many properties your Property Manager has under their management, after all, what are you paying for when you can’t get a call or email response for 2-3 days.

What about the Staff turnover that this model creates, Property Managers burn out and when they do, they leave the industry or that particular office they take with them all of their knowledge about your property – information and knowledge that can’t be all included in a handover- where handovers are rare!

New recruits are not lining up to get into property management, let’s be honest, they either want to get into Real estate sales or stay away all together.

Procrastination:

2019 started off with a lot of online chatter about procrastination and how it really is the handbrake of progress and a real stressor to many people. We all do it, not just Property Managers but I’ve seen a lot of it in my time.

In Property Management I think much of the time, procrastination may just be a person that’s been non-stop busy, relishing whatever down time they can get and therefore just putting off tasks that are non-urgent. I can almost see the rational there but whatever that task is, it will continue to just get put off Until it becomes urgent and in property management- like many roles- we should be proactive instead of reactive.

Within Property Management though procrastinating a specific task turns a non-urgent issue into an urgent one quickly, simply because that proactive approach is needed.

Property Management is a stressful space and it’s deferring stress that leads to procrastination because we as humans worry about the short term.

Explained clearly in a New York Times article I recently read “Put simply; Dr. Pychyl and Dr. Sirois found that procrastination can be understood as “the primacy of short-term mood repair … over the longer-term pursuit of intended actions.” Put simply, procrastination is about being more focused on “the immediate urgency of managing negative moods” than getting on with the task, Dr. Sirois said.” A worthwhile read, the article can be found here.

Basically, a Good Property Manager needs to “Just do It” and get on with the tasks at hand.

So how do you know as a Landlord when choosing an agent, the service that you can expect:

-Ask.                     How many properties does your potential property manager look after? You need to know where you sit amongst a sea of properties and clients that they are managing.

-Observe.             How quick is the turnaround time for simple or even more involved enquiries and questions? If it’s slow, it doesn’t usually improve over time.

And Remember. The service that you receive is similar to that of which your tenant is going to experience, and we need tenants to be looked after!

What Clients Like about The Management Agency

31/1/2019

The Management Agency, in business terms is relatively new and small, though growing at a steady pace.

Feedback is invaluable, whether it be good or bad it’s a must to find out how you’re doing from your clients perspectives and many times the only way to find out, is to ask, welcome it and listen.

I recently spoke with a few of our clients recently and asked them what they’re liking so far;

It’s a Small Business

I run a small business and happily so, having worked in many agencies it means I’ve had to manage a large number of properties at the one time. In many agencies a single Property Manager can Manage up to 200 properties, so no wonder why it’s stressful and things get missed. With a significantly smaller pool of properties and engaging the most up to date and relevant software and programs it’s definitely all Manageable.

People like to shop small and it’ll stay small and limited to ensure that the service is always there and available for our clients.

Communicative & Responsive Service

With a small portfolio of properties, comes time. Having been used to an endless to do list, I’m enjoying the additional time to make sure I’ve covered all bases and am available when it suits my clients and tenants. There’s no confusion as to who to call and being the person on the front line, it’s up to me to have the answers or to seek them. People like to call or email me directly for the answers that they need regardless of the subject of their enquiry.

Ease of access to Information

I have had some great feedback on our Financial reporting, easy to understand and customisable to client’s preferences. All of my clients have different needs when it comes to how they want their reports and the software I’ve implemented makes that very simple.

Clients also like accessing previous statements, inspection reports and Invoices via their client access portal which also holds important information such as upcoming expiry and review dates, rental figures, forecasting and financial history.

Tenants also have 24/7 access to statements, receipts and correspondence.

All of our owners and tenants are issued access invitations at the time of signing

Our Welcoming Difference

Tenants have been most vocal about the difference in their experience with The Management Agency vs a traditional agency. They’ve found it very convenient that lease signings are carried out at the property, usually on their moving day and they get to view the property, sign the lease and take keys then and there and have any questions answered on the spot.

Tenants are grateful that they get to meet at their new home instead of an office as it’s much more convenient for them.

Direct Feedback

A further benefit of being on the front line is honest and real feedback from prospective tenants when showing properties for lease, post periodic inspections and passing that on, unfiltered, to all parties. Having a Property Manager meet prospective tenants and checking applications has helped to place the most suitable tenancies. Honesty and transparency with owners and tenants are always important but doing so, face to face at a property provides a further layer of clarity and understanding where the third party is limited to one person, Me.

Clients were very open in saying that having been referred from someone with first hand experience with the way in which I operate gave them confidence and then having met one on one they felt that the one on one approach and simplicity of the processes made complete sense.

 

It’s clear that we’re doing something right where various new clients have been referred by friends, family members, our tradespeople and even our tenants. They trust this advice and my priority is then to maintain service levels across the board and provide a uniform service, this has been crucial.

Somewhat surprising to me, and maybe to others, has been that tenants have actively referred property owners to The Management Agency, surprising because it goes against what many think, that Property Managers don’t “try” to, or, have good relationships with their tenants.

Word of mouth has such a positive touch to the beginning of a new relationship and it was always my goal to have a business that grows in this way.

Whilst I’ll always carry out some marketing and social media activity, I feel that’s more so to keep our followers in the loop and show people that The Management Agency is active, listening and trying to add value by sharing knowledge and advice regardless of their being a client or not.

2018 will always be the year I left the stability and certainty that working for a Real Estate office provides and swapped that for building and operating The Management Agency where it’s all about Property Management and being involved in all aspects of every transaction.

“It is very encouraging and motivating to be justified in my belief that the Property Management space had a need for what The Management Agency is offering”

Whilst being a relatively new business, my personal 15 years of Real Estate industry experience has really paved the way for me to have my role as Property Manager down pat with several tweaks made to suit The Management Agency’s objectives and being a Director has really just meant I’m much more invested in outcomes and client satisfaction, it also does a lot for one’s motivation.

2019 has geared up quickly, with new properties coming onto the market, new tenants moving into their new homes and plenty of interest from investors wanting to know more about The Management Agency.,

I look forward, to 2019 being a year of growth, continued learning, evolving and implementation.

Whilst I am confident that The Management Agency will grow, it will be sustainably, organic and never to the detriment of our clients and the service that they signed up for!

The Management Agency is nimble but we have the time, resources but most importantly the ability and willingness.

2019, The Year to Just do it or Just Don’t

11/1/2019

Many years ago I worked with a large and well known commercial real estate firm.

Three weeks in i had decided it just wasn’t for me and not one to leave things in the air I resigned that day when all of the staff were out of the office and the receptionist was ordered to walk me off the premises. She didn’t though and we spent a few hours chatting.

One of many stories I’ve gathered in my years in Property Management.

So only a few months ago when a client with residential properties that I manage for them threw me the keys of their vacant office suites and asked if I’d try to lease them, I was so very tempted to say no and could have easily. I thought it was beyond me and the thought of not being able to deliver for them was always at the forefront of my mind.

I was completely honest in telling them that I had no idea what I was doing but they still insisted that I give it a go and use their property for experience.

Absolute dream clients, I don’t know if I’d be as trusting or generous!

But armed with some sage advice from friends in the industry, a great advertising budget and several inspections it is now leased and being managed by me.

Despite my initial hesitation I am really happy that my clients are thrilled with the result, Ultimately I really wanted to get it occupied for them and to be able to continue working with these clients. They maintain that they gave me the opportunity because if I translated the effort I put in with Residential that i’d get a quick result, i’ll always suspect that they did it to help my very new business get off the ground. What a good learning experience though.

The point though is that once I’ve decided it was happening it all happened and fast.

This experience I think comes from my working motto “just do it” (unfortunately shared with Nike). For years the words just do it was plastered to my computer screen but simply put my motto is to not procrastinate and just get on with the job. It’s really helpful to rip the band aid though and “Just do It” when you have to make a tough phone call and have the less than ideal conversation.

Just doing it though, combined with my email Inbox O.C.D comes across to my clients as good customer service and that’s good enough for me.

Working this way can get you through volumes of tasks quickly and that’s very important in property management, so 2019 more than ever will be a year of not procrastinating and just getting on with the job at hand.

Not a resolution, but a renewed push to JUST DO IT when you decide to do something.

At the other end of the spectrum, saying No to things that don’t make you happy, are not rewarding or worthwhile is a whole other topic and one I feel strongly about as well. Maybe needs it’s own blog entry as more people could be helped by just saying no from time to time.

Oh and Happy New Year!

Feels like that short break never happened already 🙂

Antonio

What should you expect from a Property Manager

8/11/2018

I was going to include this in my FAQ recent post which can be found here, but the answer became a bit drawn out, hence why it gets its own post.

When it comes to Property Managers it’s safe to say that a lot of Owners and Tenants have unfortunately low expectations, preparing them for lessened or expected disappointment when things go wrong and because of this we have an industry with transient clients, constantly changing Property Management providers.

Low expectations can also make exceeding expectations an easier task for Property Managers, do standards therefore decline?

So what are some of the expectations that you should have of your Property Manager, quite simple and basic in my opinion especially when considering that Property Management is essentially a service providing industry.

A Good Working Relationship

Whilst you’re not interviewing for your future best friend, you need to be able to communicate openly and honestly with your Property Manager and be well aligned in your aim and how you want your property managed. Make your preferences clear from the outset and gage the Property Managers willingness to deliver.

– Honest and Open Communication

– Develop Rapport and an Understanding

Experience

Whilst everyone must start somewhere, at the very least a Property Manager should have experience in managing their own assigned portfolio of properties. You ideally want someone that’s been in the industry long enough to know their market and has been around long enough to have experienced some of the pitfalls first hand, it isn’t always smooth sailing. In essence, expect that the Property Manager knows what they’re doing and when an enquiry or issue arises that they know how to respond to it and handle it.

– Tried and Tested on the Job Experience

– Knowledgeable in their field

Attention to Detail

Necessary for Property Managers throughout their role, Property Managers need to be across a lot of detail. From thorough inspections and reporting you want someone who can point out possible repercussions and therefore be proactive in preventing issues whether they be short or long term. As an owner or a tenant, you’re unlikely to know all of the ins and outs so having an adviser on all matters demonstrates their level of experience, attention to detail and communication skills.

– Proactive approach

– Detailed and specific reporting

Communication

A significant complaint I’ve heard from Owners and Tenants is a lack of communication, and it’s the most significant sticking point for many. Not replying to phone calls or emails in a timely manner, or at all in some cases, cannot be seen as acceptable in a service providing industry. You should expect effective communication and in a timely manner, anything less builds frustration and resentment. A lot of the time my clients and tenants just want to hear something, even if I have nothing ground breaking to report on a particular issue at least they know that I’m onto it, haven’t forgotten about or provide whatever update I have which doesn’t leave people wondering what is going on.

A lack of communication can be attributed to time poor Property managers or those who don’t have time management skills and that can mean a lack of organisation – another must have attribute for someone managing many properties and a wide-ranging list of daily activities.

– Highly Organised

– Regular and timely Communication

Time and Time Management Skills

Is it that they’re busy because of a heavy work load from a large portfolio or a simple lack of support? In the end a Property needs time devoted to it if it’s to be effectively managed. That means inspections, communication and coordination. If your property and its needs aren’t given time then small issues become significant ones. So, while delays in getting issues resolved can happen you can expect that they shouldn’t be caused by your Property Manager but more so followed up and pushed along by them.

– Responsive and timely communication

– Available to deal with enquiries

Knowledge of the Act and Updates to Legislation

Thorough, up to date and ongoing education is a must in this field, with the Residential Tenancies Act being reviewed every five years as well as regular regulation changes it can’t be up to an Owner or Tenant to keep abreast of all the changes that are relevant to them. It is a Property Managers role to ensure that all activity related to Owners, Tenants and the agreements in place are compliant and to pass on relevant education to owners and tenants so that all parties are in the know and ensuring they’ve taken appropriate steps towards being compliant as well.

– Communicating and sharing of relevant updates

– Continuing educating of themselves and therefore clients and tenants where relevant

Problem Solving Skills

Within reason expect that when there is a problem that you’ll be given some solutions or at the least some options that will lead to a solution. A Property Manager should always be focused on a resolution and not solely dwelling on the issue, where seeking instructions a Property Manager should offer suggestions or guidance and not simply be a messenger requesting instruction but actively take part in the Problem solving.

– Provide realistic and practical options towards solutions

– Focus on the Solution not the Problem

 People and Listening Skills

Whilst it’s a Property Industry it’s even more so a people industry, when working with people’s properties and tenants homes some level of emotion and attachment is ultimately involved. People need to be treated with respect, empathy and courtesy so you want someone that will take care of a property but more so the people residing in it and clients.

– Active Listening i.e. Concentrating on what is being said, not passively hearing

– Acknowledging and Accepting of feedback and taking it on board

 

So how do you find a Property Manager that will meet your expectations?

The most helpful way is to ask for honest opinions and recommendations from family, friends or colleagues.

Failing that, do your research and find a Property Manager that suits your needs and can deliver on your brief, once you have short listed a few, meet with them individually and ask questions. Find out how many properties they manage, is the Director Involved in Property Management and do they have support and backing of a team.

Meet with the person that will be managing your property on the front line and use your intuition as well.

Lay out your expectations so you can be given some assurance that they can be met, a good property manager will tell you honestly if your expectations or instructions are not realistic or inline with proper practice, they should be able to communicate effectively and therefore not be afraid of raising concerns or having a difficult conversation.

Remember that it’s preferable to be aiming for a working relationship that is hassle free and enduring, in the long term you’re best off having the same person across all aspects on your Investment’s management as that person becomes familiar with your property as well as your goals and the way in which you want things done.

To Summarise:

Property Managers are, at no fault of their own, sometimes handed a large portfolio of Properties to manage and it’s not unusual for one Property Manager to oversee the management of 200 Properties. If that portfolio is not being managed well or is a difficult portfolio that needs a lot of work then the service provided will reflect this and the efficiency needed will not be there.

While I firmly believe the expectations, I’ve listed are reasonable in some cases, Property Managers generally need to be cut some slack. It’s a tough role and it’s not for everyone so make sure you find the right one and then hold onto them.

You’ll be made a lot of Promises as either a tenant or owner, when these are met you’ll know you’re onto a good thing.