As recently as five years ago, traditional phone logs and Rolodexes were a common part of a property manager's daily communications arsenal. Yet, with recent advances in property management software, such anachronistic methods are largely a thing of the past. Today’s tech-savvy manager can handle large volumes of communication, track and prioritize messages, schedule maintenance, and interact with vendors via modern web-based applications. Some of these applications can even serve as one-stop solutions for every aspect of condo communication.
With modern email and broadcast software real estate management companies have found ways to communicate and document all at the same time. “I think the biggest shift [in recent years],” says David J. Levy, PCAM, a veteran property manager and president of Sterling Services in Holliston, Massachusetts, “is the percentage of reactive versus. proactive communication. Our goal as an industry is to have no communication reactively, because we’re a fixed-fee business. We’re not like attorneys who are hourly. Attorneys like conflict and complexity. If you’re fixed fee, you want to have people know about an issue in advance, so you don’t have as many questions.”
And residents and owners tend to appreciate proactive communication, says Adam Jernow, a principal with OGI Management in Manhattan. "If a persistent problem has been reported, we need to be able to show our clients that we have taken steps to correct that problem, and we need to be able to document that we have been taking the steps recommended by experts. It has to do with queuing theory—the idea that the acknowledged wait is much better than the unacknowledged wait. If you're waiting on a bank line and no one is saying, 'Next please,' and everybody is just milling about, it's much more frustrating than if you're told, 'We're handling number 56 and you're number 101.' At least you can see that people were moving along."
"Our software system maintains the information in each individual homeowners 'file,' " says Denise Lindsey, vice president of Access Property Management in Edison. "We can track from inception to completion of a project, and alert the owner of the progress. We also ask them to return a short questionnaire regarding the response time, quality of the work, and so forth."
More Time for Managers
One of the biggest advantages of using technology in the business of property management is time saving—or at least buying more time for managerial rather than administrative tasks.