This article is written by guest blogger Peter Brewer. He is a veteran of the property industry, Board Chairman of a major Queensland real estate marketing company for 10 years, and the current Chairman of the Real Estate Institute of Queensland. Peter has evolved into one of Australia’s most respected business mentors and brand champions. As a seasoned ambassador for Inman News Organization, he’s renowned for his influential insights in online marketing. Peter’s unfiltered and passionate views on the future of small businesses make him a sought-after expert. Learn more about him on thatpeterbrewer.com.
‘Take a teaspoon of cement and harden up!‘
Have you ever heard a variation of the above, perhaps in reference to a work colleague? I have. Too many times.
It might seem cute, smart or tough to the cool kids but, at its best, it’s what you’d expect from shameless, tacky, sad, out-of-touch business dinosaurs whose management skills have been left behind in an era of no respect.
Now I’m not saying every real estate business is ablaze with the same archaic ethos on how to treat their team members, but I can still see some burning embers and smouldering ashes on the horizon. And those embers and ashes need to be starved of the oxygen that fuels them, and some urgent back burning done, to prevent any future conflagration.
Currently, there are two very bright and very big red flags being waved at the real estate profession in Australia, and I have a genuine concern that way too many in our profession are turning a blind eye and hoping those waving flags will go away.
For those still in ostrich mode, the breaking news is that those red flags are going to get bigger and the ramifications for those who choose to ignore them are perilous.
RED FLAG #1: Changes to Workplace Health and Safety Laws are effective now
Amended Work Health and Safety Regulations prescribe how businesses must identify and manage hazards and risks to workers’ psychological health and safety.
With these new laws in place, business owners need to consider and review approaches to managing psychosocial risks and fostering mentally healthy workplaces. All staff must be able to enjoy a mentally healthy work environment and return home at day’s end free from mental health challenges caused in or by their workplace.
The days of bullying, exclusion, imbalance, disrespect, and not providing team members a physically and mentally safe workplace are over. No more talk of ‘teaspoons of cement.’ No more turning a blind eye to workplace conflict. No more acceptance of abusive language from clients and customers being directed at your staff.
If you’re not sure if something is or isn’t right in your business, consider this test: Can you justify any of your actions by finishing the statement with, “Your Honour?” For example, “Yes, I told
Bill that when Landlord Joe called him ‘useless,’ he was just venting and to just ignore it because he always speaks to our staff that way and he means well, “Your Honour,” or, “Yes, I told Julie to just nip up and mop the floors and give the bathroom a clean before she left for home the other night, even though it’s not in her job description, Your Honour.”
RED FLAG #2: The continuing diminishing number of Property Managers entering our profession, and the alarming increase in the rate at which existing Property Managers are evacuating the Profession.
In the context of those two massive red flags, the figures below from a survey of 773 Australian Property Managers should have almost every real estate business owner reaching for the Ventolin and breaking out in a cold sweat.
Reader discretion warning.
You may wish to get a cold cloth before you read on.
The survey shared:
53% of Property managers surveyed said they struggle with mental health issues and switching off after work
37% of property managers completely agree their job offers good career opportunities, down from 56% in 2018.
52% of property management offices have changed software over the past two years. Only 34% of property managers believe they have the tools they need to do their job properly.
Only 34% believe they have been given the training they need to successfully manage their role.
And wait for the crème de la crème.
60% of Property Managers say the biggest challenge of the job is dealing with aggressive or abusive landlords or tenants and… wait for it… only 38% of principals agree with that.
Do you hear the alarm bells and see the ticking time bomb here? Seems to me that adopting a strategy of telling people to take ‘a spoonful of cement’ in the current, or for that matter, any environment might not be the wisest of strategies.
It’s crystal clear to me that the workplace model in property management in our fine land is, in the main, broken; not irreparably, but definitely on life support and in need of urgent surgery. And it’s only a matter of time before the first significant claim is awarded against an ignorant business for not putting someone’s physical and mental well-being at the forefront of their obligations to employees.
It’s not just in the treatment of people in the workplace. It’s also about what’s expected of them in the workplace.
…been avoiding training new people up until now; or
…relied on poaching staff from other businesses by offering them more money but not giving them an enriched role in the business (and yes, I recently read a statement saying, “I don’t train property managers; I poach them instead.”); or
…been OK with overloading your PMs with unfulfilling work; or
…thought to yourself or expressed out loud that people just need to ‘harden up’ in your business; then…
there’s a very large karma bus headed your way.
The obligation moving forward will be to send staff home in the same fit mentality they came into work with, and that could mean restructuring an entire business so that they’re not overworked and realistic expectations are set and met by all parties.
From my perspective, the significant difference between property managers are those who can do higher-level tasks – building relationships, growing and retaining business, maintaining a client’s asset, and negotiating with tenants – and admin roles whose tasks can include lease preparation, bonds, maintenance scheduling, and tradesperson follow-up. And, honestly, the advances in proptech have enabled the idea of a global workforce for even a single business owner.
Property managers are locally-based face-to-face relationship specialists within a real estate business, and should be treated and paid accordingly. Admin roles, which aren’t public-facing, can be in-house or, more often than not, outsourced; in many cases, to VAs in a very efficient and cost-effective manner.
My crystal ball doesn’t show that the industry is going to be flooded with thousands of new property managers anytime soon.
So that means, treasure the ones you’ve got and treat them a whole lot better than many have been treated up to today. Start preparing to train the next generation of property managers. Restructure the department’s workload so the appropriate people are doing the appropriate tasks, so specialists are doing specialists’ work and admin tasks are being done by
You’ve got to start today. Otherwise, you may be facing a very expensive claim against you and your business soon.
Not sure where to start when it comes to using VAs effectively and outsourcing those admin tasks?
Visit Cloudstaff’s page or join me on a study tour to Cloudstaff’s HQ in the Philippines to see how hundreds of Australian businesses like yours have lowered the red flags in their businesses.
Or keep handing out those cups of cement, and let me know how that strategy turns out for you.