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Lessons on Persistence in Property Management

Persistence in property management is key in developing a strong property management business. Several years ago, I had the opportunity to hear from and meet baseball’s all-time Iron Man, Cal Ripken, Jr. Ripken played shortstop and third base while playing his entire 21-year career with the Baltimore Orioles. He is known for holding the record for consecutive games played. He surpassed New York Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig’s record for most consecutive games (which had stood for 56 years when he played his 2,131st consecutive game on September 6, 1995. Ripken hit a home run in that game in that game which fans later voted as Major League Baseball’s most memorable moment. He played an additional 501 straight games over the next three years. His streak ended at 2,632 games. He played consistently every game for seventeen seasons.

Ripken’s book Get in the Game is a great study of what it takes to have the perseverance that will help you succeed in your property management business. One of the stories he told that really impressed me involved how he dealt with new managers all of the time. The story is also found in his book. He says:

“Just about everybody I know has had to deal with the same thing in the companies they work for. And they’ve had those same feelings and concerns. Actually, my friends have often asked me how I survived so many changes. ‘Cal, how did you become the constant when everything else changed around you?’ they’d ask. ‘On-field managers, alone, you averaged a new one every two years. How did you do it?’

“My response was usually the same: ‘I helped the manager manage me.’

“I didn’t mean that in a glib or condescending way. Rather, I just didn’t want to be a guy who sat back and had to wonder all the time about what my future was going to be. So, I decided to take a proactive approach. On the first day of spring training, I’d walk up to the new manager and congratulate him. Then, I’d sit down in his office and ask a simple starter question, something like ‘How do you see my spring training going?’

“Most managers would respond by saying, ‘Well, Cal, you’ve been doing this for some time, now. How do you see it unfolding?’

“Ninety-nine percent of players can’t go in and start that conversation. They view it as confrontational. Later in my career, some of my younger teammates would come up and ask me all kinds of questions they should have been asking the manager. ‘Why won’t he play me?’ ‘Why won’t he bring me in to pitch?’ ‘Why did he pinch-hit for me?’ Most of the time, the guys were trying to get some reassurance and understanding as to their own situation. I would usually advise them to go directly to the manager. ‘You don’t have to go in there and yell,’ I’d say. ‘Just ask for some time, tell him something’s bothering you, and start a conversation.’

“I was amazed how many people searched for answers to simple questions without going directly to the manager, who was the source of most information. To me, it was just proper communication. And it almost always worked. Once I took the initiative to get a dialogue going, I could understand what the expectations were of me, what the new manager felt about my consecutive games streak, and whether he saw me as having value to the team as an everyday player. Just knowing those things, whether the answers were good or bad, took away a lot of the doubt in my mind and allowed me to focus on my job.” –Get in the Game, pp. 152-153.

At Property Management Inc., effective communication is one of our core values. In PMI’s core value of communication, we believe and act on the following brand promise: We recognize that your property / community is important to you and that you want to be informed about how we are managing the property / community. Our brand promise is our commitment to communicate with you frequently, consistently, and by the means most comfortable to you (phone, email, web and in person). With tens of thousands of clients doing business with PMI, we manage a large volume of communication every day.” To be successful for a long period of time in the property management business, you need to communicate clearly with your clients just like Cal Ripken communicated with his teammates and managers. People want to know that you can manage their property for them and communicate with them about what needs to be done quickly and efficiently.

Ripken is also an amazing example of persistence and perseverance. He excelled at what he did day in and day out because of his daily work and preparation. In fact, he has eight tips for preparation which I think are very practical and powerful that you can apply in your business. My comments follow his in blue. He says:

1.“The ability to perform consistently with excellence is a result of both physical and mental preparation.

This is so true of selling or managing properties in your business as well. It takes both physical and mental exertion to get good at asking questions and persisting with tenants and owners through the possibilities until you help them find the right solution. Losing mental focus can cost you not only the contract, but trust as well.

2.Interact with people from whom you might be able to glean an advantage. Gain access to key, up-to-date, and reliable information.

This is great advice. You can always learn something from somebody. Everyone can learn from their competitors if they look hard enough. You should interact with your competitors and look for two things they do well, instead of looking for all of the things they don’t do like you do. You don’t learn much from that kind of thinking, but you can learn a lot if you open your eyes and look. I recently talked with a franchise candidate who is in the property management business who was completely closed to doing anything different than what he was doing. When he saw how much opportunity he was missing out on, his perspective changed and he was interested again.

3.Proper preparation helps you create a better game plan. It increases your chance of success and decreases the risk that something will go wrong.

How much time do you spend before you begin each day in preparation? Do you think about what you have to do each day before you begin? Do you practice overcoming objections owners and tenants might have and developing skills each day so you are better when you are in front of the clients you serve? Do you take and implement training that helps you be a better property manager? What is the last thing you’ve implemented in the last month that has helped you run a better and more profitable property management business?

4.If it’s always somebody else’s fault, you end up never solving your problems. But if you focus on your own performance, rather than blaming outside forces or other people for your failures, you have a chance to get better.

You always have control over what you do. You can choose to practice and develop new skills or you can choose to be reactive and never excel. Choose to be proactive and look to solve you own challenges instead of looking to place blame.

5.If you take care of all the little things, you never have one big thing to worry about.

How true is this principle in property management! You have to sweat the small stuff. If you take care of the little things, the big thing (referrals) will happen. It is just a matter of building trust, finding out what your owners want and need, and helping them see how you can help them get it from you.

6.The more ways you find to contribute to the team, the more valuable you are to the manager.

No one retains their value without consistent contribution. Always be looking for ways that you can help members of your team and your owners to get more benefit from what you do. When your owners and tenants are successful at what they do, you’re successful too.

7.Keep your destiny in your own hands as much as possible.

William Jennings Bryan once observed: “Destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.” What are you doing on a daily basis to take your destiny into your own hands?

8.Before every game, ask yourself, ‘What can I do to help us win this particular day?’” –p. 107.

What a great question! If everyone had that attitude, each owner and tenant, and the world in general would be a much different place. Every day at your business is game day and when everyone on the team is focused on winning, results and new property agreements happen.

If you want to spend some time with an inspiring individual, study the life of Cal Ripken, Jr. Even though he was a sports hero in the true sense of the word, he is doing great things off the field as well. Ripken’s work ethic and persistence are very admirable qualities and his example is something you can strive to emulate in your life.

A big part of growing an ever-expanding portfolio in property management is to have the right systems and processes in place to help you scale that growth. To learn more how converting your existing property management business or starting a new property management business that could benefit you,  schedule a time with one of our franchise developers.


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.