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5 Suggestions for Better Problem Solving

Problem solving skills can be useful for anyone, but are particularly useful for property management professionals. Property managers experience big challenges in their businesses. Some of these problems can keep you up late at night worrying about what to do. The reality is that when you find yourself feeling stuck and discouraged, you are probably focusing on the problem, not the goal. Here are five suggestions for you to reflect on when considering obstacles you face in your property management business.

Refocus your attention on the goal.

See yourself with the goal already achieved. What does it feel like to have accomplished your goal? Make your mental image as vivid and detailed as possible as you imagine the feeling of accomplishment.

See your problem from a distance.

Make the picture small. See the problem as a challenge—an opportunity to use your creativity. Look down on your problem from a mental mountaintop.

Recall past successes.

Bring the confident feelings back to your mind as you recall these successes. Hold those feelings in your mind as you vividly picture the accomplishment of your new goal.

Review what happened just before you got stuck.

Is there something different you can do at that point; is there another direction you can take that will help you get unstuck?

Examine your goal again.

Ask yourself these three questions: a) Is it reasonable? Does it fit your self-image—your talents and training? b) Does it conflict with other goals? (For example, spending more time with your family and doubling your income may be goals that are conflicting— they both require your time.  Consequently, it will be very difficult to achieve both.) If it does conflict, modify it or the other goal to resolve the conflict. C) Do you need to be more flexible? If you are stuck on a particular steppingstone, maybe you need to get rid of it and create an alternative stepping stone.

The Systematic Method of Problem Solving

Brian Tracy makes this observation in his book How the Best Leaders Lead which I think is great advice for you to follow as you work through your challenges. He says:

“There is a systematic method of problem solving that is used by the most effective executives in almost every organization. It is easy to learn and apply, and it is incredibly effective in helping you overcome obstacles and achieve your goals.

First, define your problem or goal clearly in writing.  Remember, a goal unachieved is merely a problem unsolved.  The more clearly you define your problem or goal, the more likely it is that you will find an answer or solution.

Second, once you have defined your problem clearly, ask ‘What else is the problem?’ Never be satisfied with a single definition of a problem. As Jack Welch said, ‘Continually expand your definition of the problem, and you expand your view of all the different ways that it can be solved.’

Third, restate the problem to make it easier to solve. If you settle for a quick definition of the problem, it could lead you down the wrong path, to solving the wrong problem and wasting resources for no purpose.

For example, the biggest problem that a company usually experiences is low sales, leading to low revenues and decreased cash flow. When we ask, ‘What else is the problem?’ The answers we eventually arrive at change the entire nature of the solution and the proposed action.

What else is the problem? ‘Our competitor’s sales are too high.’

If this is truly the case, this requires changes in marketing, sales, quality of your property management services and solutions, positioning, and many other things.

What else is the problem? ‘We are not attracting enough qualified owner leads with our advertising.’

If this is truly the problem, new strategies in marketing advertising, and public relations and new choices in advertising media, copy, and advertising material are necessary.

What else is the problem? ‘We are not closing enough of the owners attracted by our advertising to sign property management agreements.’

If this is the answer, then the solution is to train and retrain the sales force so that they are more competent at converting sales leads into actual customers.

This exercise can go on and on. Its importance is simple. If you settle on the wrong definition of the problem, you will go off in the wrong direction to solve the problem and eventually have to come back and start over.

Fourth, determine all the possible causes of the problem. Ask the brutal questions. Be prepared to accept the very worst scenario. Get your ego out of the way.

Many property management companies have had to admit that the ‘real’ cause of their problem is that their products or services are not good enough in comparison with their competitors or that they require more effort with little to no profitability. Maybe they have to admit that there is no real market or what they’re selling, or that what else is available in the market is superior or cheaper than their offerings.

Fifth, determine all the possible solutions to this problem. Then force yourself to ask, ‘What else is the solution?’

As the business writer Ian Mitroff says, ‘Beware of a problem for which there is only one solution.’

Creativity, brainstorming, and flexibility—the willingness to entertain all options are key to uncovering and discovering all possible solutions.”

Sixth, once you have done a thorough and complete analysis of the problem and laid out all the possible causes and possible solutions, make a decision! Any decision is usually better than no decision at all.

Seventh, once you have made a decision, assign responsibility. Who exactly is going to carry out each part of the decision?
Eighth, set a deadline. Set a schedule for reporting on progress.

Ninth, implement the plan. ‘A weak solution vigorously carried out is usually better than an excellent solution weakly pursued.’

Tenth, check and review later to see if the solution was successful. Did you get the expected result? Be prepared to implement your Plan B if your first solution doesn’t work. Always have a backup.”—Brian Tracy, How the Best Leaders Lead, pp. 161-164.

Don’t get so bogged down with your obstacles that you fail to spend time on your opportunities. True leaders see opportunities where others see only problems. Be a leader and look for the opportunities in your property management business. If you would like some help with proven solutions and systems to help you better deal with the challenges in your property management business, click here to schedule an appointment. We look forward to talking with you.


jamesb

James Butler

James Butler is Director of Franchise Development at Property Management, Inc. He has built four companies from the start-up phase to over a million dollars in revenue. He is the author of the best-selling book The System is the Secret and helps entrepreneurs take action in their businesses. He and his wife Heather are the parents of five children.