Growth is almost always on the list of priorities for property management companies. Without the right planning and execution, however, your organization will face the real risk of either growing at a slower rate than it’s capable of or not growing at all. Either way, your profitability will suffer as a result. But where to begin?
The good news is, for most companies in the industry, there are certain predictable tipping points. The key is proactively preparing for these milestones so that you can grow without encountering problems with expenses, staffing, customer service and other business areas.
Don’t spread yourself (or your staff) too thin.
One common hindrance to growth in the property management industry is attempting to grow without adequate scaling. If you or your staff are wearing too many hats, efficiency goes out the window. Your people essentially become too bogged down with the work they currently have to take on any more, which means sustainable growth is no longer an option.
There are plenty of ways you can overcome this hurdle. For instance, you could plan your budget to increase staff as a component of your growth strategy. If you choose to go this route, however, it’s important that you do so in the right order. Expanding your portfolio or pushing into a new market without having enough personnel in place first is a recipe for disaster.
The second option is to outsource some of your company’s work to third parties. This can be done with almost every function imaginable, from the receptionist and administrative assistants to accounting and HR. Keep in mind, however, that while outsourcing may be a less expensive option than in-house staff, it comes at the cost of control and a higher degree of security risk.
The third, more feasible (and more affordable) option is to invest in property management software. By shifting the majority of the mundane but necessary day-to-day tasks from human to machine, you’ll be able to accomplish much more with less. With intelligent automation, you can scale up (or down) on demand, without the need to hire additional personnel. And unlike outsourcing, you maintain complete control of your business operations.
Branch off by specialty.
Another important thing to consider when planning for growth is that the more your property management company expands, the more sense it makes to structure it by segmenting teams of experts. For instance, you will inevitably reach a point at which it makes far more sense to have specific people or departments handling maintenance, others doing leasing, still others in charge of IT, accounting, HR, etc.
If your organization isn’t yet structured in this way, the time to start planning and executing is now – before you begin aggressively pursuing growth opportunities. As an added bonus, being able to highlight the fact that you have dedicated teams of experts in each area can become a powerful selling point to potential clients down the road.
Make sure your goals are aligned.
For smaller property management companies, keeping everyone on the same page and working toward the same shared strategic goals is relatively easy. As growth facilitates hiring, however, the waters tend to become more muddied. As the company continues to grow, it’s easy for individual leaders to get so wrapped up in their own duties that they lose sight of the overarching vision.
To avoid this, your growth strategy should include planning for regular meetings to ensure that everyone is on target and headed in the right direction. Remember that successful and sustainable growth requires a high level of communication, so make that a focal point before moving forward.
Make systems and policies adaptable.
The reality is, what works for your property management business at your current portfolio size will probably not be feasible if you multiply that portfolio tenfold. You obviously need to have systems and policies in place in order for your organization to operate effectively, but if you’re not careful when you design these systems and policies, you could end up with some major business disruption down the road.
Always try to plan with the future in mind. For instance, if you believe you will one day be expanding operations into another state, be cognizant of any differing regulations that may come into play. The more adaptable your policies are, the easier and more rapid the growth process will be.
Organizational growth is something almost all property management executives have on their to-do lists. But if you’re not careful, you could easily impede your own progress, leaving your company behind the eight ball in the not-so-distant future. As you look ahead, be sure to keep the above tips in mind. In the end, it’s adequate planning that will facilitate faster, smoother and more sustainable growth.