The busy summer leasing season will be quickly upon us. That makes it a great time to ensure that all your ducks are in a row before you’re swamped with showings, applications, move-ins, move-outs and inspections. It’s a great idea to take a break from the hustle for an inventory of your readiness from time to time anyway—but particularly as spring moves into summer.
The following is a checklist of areas that deserve special attention. You might want to schedule a meeting with your staff to confirm that you’re ready to go when things really get going.
1. Property appearance
As showings and leasing pick up, you’ll need to be sure you have your make-ready team in place to clean, repair and prep properties as quickly as possible following move-outs. As this is an ideal time to spruce up landscaping in addition to the normal property cleanups, you might need extra resources—and now’s the time to get them lined up.
Of course these days most property searches start online, and photos often make the difference between a steady flow of prospects and a total lack of interest. It’s a good time to review your website and marketing to ensure your photos of every property are recent and of excellent quality. If you have made improvements or done landscaping, be sure to update the photography and descriptions.
2. Tenant satisfaction and renewals
The more tenants you hold on to, the fewer you have to replace with new ones (at a considerable expense). Too many property managers spend more attention on marketing than on retention, even though a bird in the hand is worth two in a tree.
Now’s a good time for a quick survey of tenants simply to express your gratitude and to ask if there are any problems that need taking care of. You can do this as a group email if you don’t have time for individual communications. It’s amazing how many managers communicate with tenants only when there’s a problem. Proactive, friendly communications have a big impact on renewals—and the fewer properties you have to fill this summer, the better it is for you and your owners.
3. Owner relations
Keeping owners informed and happy is the key to your success. That’s why it’s not enough just to manage their properties efficiently and let them know only when there’s a question or problem. Just as positive, proactive communication pays off with tenants, it’s important when it comes to owners as well.
Are you giving feedback to owners after each showing? This not only keeps them up to date on their near-term cash flow, it is also a constant reminder that you’re out there working hard for them. A pre-summer status report covering all their properties, including completed, scheduled and needed repairs, suggested improvements, lease terms and other details are hugely appreciated by owners and help prove your worth to them.
4. Price checks
It’s also a good time for a market analysis to check vacancy rates and whether prices for comparable properties have drifted up or down over the past year. Make the necessary adjustments before the heavy leasing this summer so you’re priced right for the current market. Pricing analysis can be done in conjunction with your owners; they’ll appreciate knowing you’re staying on top of market pricing, so they’re neither leaving money on the table nor running prospective tenants away with rents that are too high.
5. Processes and staffing
This item on the checklist is a bit less concrete than the others, but no less important. It involves your internal processes for handling prospects, inspections and make-readies, screening, accounting, marketing and all the other things you do day in and day out. No property management company has perfectly implemented best practices: there’s always room for improvement.
The way to review your processes is simply to make a list of them (including those mentioned above) and with your staff, step through each one identifying any areas in which you currently experience bottlenecks, understaffing, consistent problems or miscommunications, or outcomes that are less than ideal. With so many immediate concerns and fires to put out, too few management companies take the time to sit around a conference table and identify targets for improvement—so inefficient or trouble-prone processes become permanent. You’ll save staff time, make more money and create a better work environment by occasionally stepping back for process improvement. Now’s as good a time as any.
We wish you a successful summer, and hope these tips help you make it a great one for your business!