Bluestone and Hockley Real Estate Services
In this time of low unemployment the competition for on-site managers is worse than it has ever been. Marketing for on-site managers is a full time recruiting job. One can recruit through posting in the local newspaper, on church and Synagogue job boards.
Once the resume pool is developed, the interviewing begins. Clearly, the properties that are better kept and are more modern attract the best on-site managers. Size also helps. The bigger the property the higher wage you can pay your on-site staff. Finally, the location is a critical issue because the properties with the best locations will attract more candidates than poorly located properties.
On-site managers need to be paid enough to make the job worthwhile, which often means a free apartment and/or a wage. Smaller units cannot afford to pay as much as larger ones, which makes it critical to have a team-mate who has an outside income to make ends meet. The break point from a part-time job to a full time job is at about the 40 unit mark. Over 60 units, an owner needs to consider a part time on-site manager to cover the weekends and to insure there is always someone available to rent units. To perform this job, the on-site manager must be available to tenants 24 hours a day 365 days a year. It is like being in the front lines of an army.
Be Friendly Without Being Friends
The selection process stresses the importance of how potential managers take care of the tenants and make tenants feel apart of the apartment family. On-site managers need to be friendly without being friends. In addition, to the friendliness component, there is the maintenance component and the police component. Many on-site managers collect rent and keep the peace, so they have to be emotionally strong enough to pull it off. In smaller communities, the owner needs to have the on-site manager or a team member do the repairs to keep the costs in line. Larger properties may have a person that cleans and paints units as well as one or more maintenance people. In this case, the manager needs to be able to supervise other staff as well.
In addition, on-site mangers should be screened thoroughly, and need to pass a drug test, a criminal check and a credit check. Look at their past experience as well as calling past references to confirm the information they have given in interviews.
The property manager and off-site managers must be dedicated to a continual training program. Established policies and procedures in written form are O.K. but they do not replace regular training classes. Training in marketing, cleaning techniques, inspections, fair housing methodology, rent collection, reporting, and handling emergencies are critical to the success of a good on-site manager. Additionally, creating a forum for on-site managers to share experiences is very important. Quarterly round table discussions help the on-site managers realize that they are not the only ones with tenant problems to deal with. This can be supplemented by membership in the Institute of Real Estate Management's ARM (Accredited Residential Manager) program.
There are typically three types of managers”¦ Those who work for additional income and are saving money to buy a house, those who have retired and are looking for extra income in addition to their pension, and those who see this as a career. Those who are trying to save money will be with you 2-5 years and then out of the system. Managers who are retired may stay up to 15 years with an assignment. The career driven managers will want to move every few years because they get bored and want either more pay or a new challenge. Some managers out grow the desire to live on-site, but are willing to manage a property either for short term periods or for a longer term but in this instance, the assistant manager or the maintenance man needs to be close by. What this means is that you have to always be on the look out for new managers. Some companies actually have a floater manager that can cover for turns in on-site managers.
How to keep a good manager
Keeping these managers, once you have trained them, is the challenge. A successful formula to keeping on-site managers includes, great pay, benefits if possible, vacation pay, staff support from the central office, continual training, and dedication from the property owner to keep the property in excellent condition. This last item helps the onsite manager in turn recruit excellent long-term tenants, which translates into a profitable bottom line. Don't underestimate the importance, the look of the property has to your ability to recruit a capable on-site manager. Finally, a great supervisor, owner, or off-site manager, will help the on-site manager feel good about their job and will encourage them to stay committed to the property they manage.