What do you do when you inherit a mess?
“Well, I inherited a real mess here.” That’s the response I got to the How’s-it-going? greeting I gave a new property manager at a well-established managed community.
She continued, “Property management before me left under suspicious circumstances. The one before her developed contentious relationships with the board, the committees, the staff and the residents. Needless to say, the property was in turmoil when I came onboard.”
Sound familiar? We talked about how she approached her new position. Here are some of the ideas that helped her get speedy results.
Take immediate ownership. The community knows there are problems. So acknowledge they exist and move on. Take action. It takes time to turn things around, so set realistic expectations. When you’re setting priorities, look for opportunities to accomplish some quick-fixes. They’ll get noticed and will signal that improvements are happening.
Communicate. It’s the single most effective thing you can do. Also the easiest and the very best way to keep rumors under control.
- Get your staff onboard and able to serve the community. Find out what they need and do your best to get it for them. You need all the help you can get.
- Open the lines of communication with the board and committees. Listen, share your knowledge, deliver on your promises and keep everyone informed. Establish a no-surprises policy.
- Report your activities to the residents regularly. Whether it’s a weekly email, voice mail or a website posting, let residents know what’s getting done, what’s in the works and how much money you’re saving. They won’t know unless you tell them.
Poll and survey residents. Find out what the population thinks before you spend time spinning your wheels on projects that residents don’t want or won’t approve. An automated messaging service like One Call Now uses technology to make polling a fast and efficient way to gauge residents’ reactions and get their buy-in.
Polling is best for single, pressing issues: “Are you in favor of a speed bump on Community Blvd.?” “Are you in favor of pursuing a color scheme change for the community buildings?” With One Call Now, residents enter a touch-pad response on their phone and your see the results in real-time reports. Polling questions can be sent in voice and SMS text form and automatically translated into preferred languages.
After our conversation, it was clear to me that her ideas are good ones whether you inherit a mess or not.