Successful property management is as much an art as it is a business. A good manager needs to be able to think on her feet, respond quickly to problems, and exude sincere concern when faced with a homeowner's complaint. A manager needs to understand by-laws, accounting and marketing, then dig deep to find a knowledge of boilers and sanitation issues, even interior design. To achieve success in the property management business takes a creative, detail-oriented mind and the patience of a saint.
How do people learn these skills? How does a beginner take in all the do's and don'ts of this high-stress position? Managers seem to agree that success comes with finding the right balance between temperament and an understanding of the finer points of the trade. Managers also have the added opportunity—and some might say burden—of dealing with the high-tech world of today, a place where people are at the beck and call of their cell phone, always accessible and therefore, always at the ready.
Learning the Ropes
Before any kind of training can occur, prospective property managers undoubtedly will face an assessment of one kind or another. "Our first question is always, 'what kind of experience do they have when they get here?'" says Gary Wilkin, president of Wilkin Management Group based in Mahwah.
After that, these fledgling property managers will get an in-depth course in how Wilkin does business and what the company focus is. This is not unusual for property management companies who rely on their customer service abilities and a personal touch or philosophy that will set them apart from competitors. "This is the sponge stuff - the stuff they soak up, learning how we operate as a company," Wilkin says.
Communication skills are high on every employer's list as well. "People need to learn how to communicate—on the phone, in person and in writing," says Elaine Warga-Murray of EW Murray Associates in Howell.