Andrew Arklie is a graduate of our program and is a property manager at Skyline REIT (which is also a big supporter of the program, thank you). Thus, he is able to offer insights to the students currently enrolled.
According to Andrew, the two most important characteristics of a property manager are: time management and the confidence to delegate: “you may be able to do it all … but not all at once.”
In particular, he noted the challenge of managing a residential rental property. Every landlord offers, basically, the same box: every place has a washroom, a kitchen, living and dining rooms (in larger units) and one or more bedrooms. It is possible to upgrade or downgrade the quality of the countertops (granite or not), or the kitchen appliances (Sub-Zero or not) but the industry has figured out the floor plans that work and eliminated those which don’t.
Thus, there is a constant search for ways to save costs. Skyline is growing but it cannot take advantage of economies of scale in the same way that CAP REIT or Boardwalk can. As Skyline’s COO says, “it is much easier to save a dollar than to make a dollar”. But, that is true for everybody.
So, where is their competitive advantage that can produce more than the normal level of profits?
In Skyline’s case, part of the advantage is customer service. The obvious things include:
- newsletters (which includes recipes and helpful hints that benefit both the tenant and Skyline)
- regular conversations with tenants
- a monthly draw for $100 to say thank you to the tenants who pay on time.
A more interesting test question for any property manager is: are the current tenants, on their own initiative, expressing pride at living here (instead of somewhere else)? The tactic of tracking referrals and spreading word of mouth is applied to many industries. But, what can a potential tenant see before they hear the property manager’s sales pitch?
- Do the residents make a place feel like a house or like a home?
- Are flower pots hanging on the balconies?
- When passing in the hallway, do the residents greet each other and chat like friends?
These things may not be a direct effect of a manager’s or staff’s actions but they help with security, curb appeal and other costly property issues.
So, thank you Andrew.