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Planning for a Better Future in Your Property Management Business

What are you doing to prepare for and plan for the future you desire? Most managers are so busy reacting to what happens in their property management businesses day by day, that they don’t take time to proactively set goals and determine where they really want to be. As a result, they end up in a different place than they thought they would.

If you want to be a BIG success in any business, you have to take the time to plan out where you are going and what you will say “no” to in order to get there. In other words, you have to be so clear on what you will do that you will not be distracted from anything that will prevent you from getting there in the quickest amount of time.

That doesn’t happen without time and focus. A great example of the importance of this can be found in
the story of Pixar, who today is one of the most profitable and respected movie studios. But, when it was first purchased by Steve Jobs from George Lucas, it was losing money (Lucas sold the software and computer technology to Jobs because he was going through an expensive divorce). Jobs originally thought the product that he would sell was the software and computer. In fact, the original press release from Jobs said:

“The new firm has a product, the Pixar Image Computer, ready for market. Developed during the last three years at Lucasfilm, Ltd., the Pixar Image Computer is over 200 times faster than conventional minicomputers at performing complex graphic and image computations. At these specialized tasks, the Pixar Image Computer will be introduced into the commercial and scientific markets within the next 90 days and will sell for approximately $125,000.” –Ten Steps Ahead, p. 148.

You’ll notice that no mention was made about animated films. At the time, Steve Jobs was focused on the computer business, not the entertainment business. Pixar was financially distressed and was losing about $10 million a year. Pixar started focusing on making TV commercials and two pieces of software (RenderMan and IceMan). Then, Pixar’s little animation films started getting noticed and the third film Tin Toy won the 1988 Academy Award for best short animated film. Several years later in 1991, Jobs negotiated out a contract with Disney to make its first animated feature film, Toy Story.

At this point, Jobs had personally put nearly $55 million into Pixar. He continued to look for buyers of the
Pixar computer, but realized during the Pocahontas premiere in New York City, that Disney had the marketing muscle to really make the idea of computer animated feature films work. A week following the release of the film on November 22, 1995, Jobs set up an IPO (initial public offering) for Pixar. The first day, the stock opened at $22/share and ended at $39 after hitting a high earlier of nearly $50. The offering raised nearly $140 million, which was the largest IPO of the year for any company. Jobs, who owned 80% of Pixar saw the value of Pixar go up to $1.1 billion.

The fascinating part of this story is that throughout the process of this company’s growth (which we all take for granted now) had its difficult moments just like you do as a property manager. However, Jobs stuck with it because he believed it had potential and once he got a vision of the power of the entertainment business (not just the computer business), it completely changed the focus of the company and the founder (who mastered the entertainment business with music, movies and apps through the iTunes store.)

The ability to see into the future is one that anyone can develop with some thought. However, you have to take time to think about the direction your property management business is headed in and how it aligns with what is happening in the market and in the minds of property owners and tenants. This skill is identified by Dan Burrus as flash foresight and he identifies a great formula for how you should think about your business going forward. I would highly encourage you to think about your property management business from the seven perspectives he discusses below.

Dan Burrus identifies a big part of this skill in his book Flash Foresight. He says:

“A flash foresight is a blinding flash of the future obvious. It is an intuitive grasp of the foreseeable future that, once you see it, reveals hidden opportunities and allows you to solve your biggest problems—before they happen. Flash foresight will allow anyone to both see and shape his or her future.”

He continues: “I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know instinctively. You’ve had ash foresights; we all have. They are those fleeting glimpses we sometimes have of where things might be heading. Have you ever said, ‘I knew I should have done that,’ or ‘I knew that would happen’? That’s hindsight, and it happens because you don’t typically know ahead of time when your hunch is accurate and when it’s not. Learning how to make that distinction—between glimpses of the future that are reliable foresight, and those that are simply hunches—is what [flash foresight] is all about. Flash foresight is a sensibility,
a skill you can develop, refine, and strengthen.” –pp. xi-xii.

Warren Buffet, the renowned investor, has explained the reason he is so successful at making investments in these twelve words: “Be greedy when others are fearful, and fearful when others are greedy.”

Dan Burrus in his book Flash Foresight makes this observation:

“So, is it really that simple? Just do the opposite of what everyone else is doing, and you’ll solve the problem nobody else is solving? Of course not. But it’s nearly that simple. Go opposite is only one ash foresight trigger. Over the twenty-five years I’ve been studying and systematically apply ash foresight, I’ve discovered seven such triggers.

    1. Start with certainty (use hard trends to see what’s coming).
    2. Anticipate (base your strategies on what you know about the future).
    3. Transform (use technology-driven change to your advantage).
    4. Take your biggest problem and skip it (it’s not the real problem anyway).
    5. Go opposite (look where no one else is looking to see what no one else is seeing and do what no one else is doing).
    6. Redefine and reinvent (identify and leverage your uniqueness in new and powerful ways).
    7. Direct your future (or someone else will direct it for you).

“Not every flash foresight uses every one of these triggers, but most will use at least several. You can think of it as something like the seven notes of the musical scale. Not all melodies use all seven notes. But if you want to know how to write music, you’d better know all seven, because you’re going to need them sooner or later.” –Dan Burrus, Flash Foresight, pp. xx-xxi.

Where are you heading? Where do you want to end up? These are important questions that you must take time to stop and think about. In all of the hustle and bustle of your business, are you taking time to read, adjust your direction, and get on track to where you want to go? If not, you will likely end up in a much different place than what you thought when you got into your property management business. My encouragement to you is to take a half day or a day this month when you sit down and think. Get away from the day to day of your business and turn off your cell phone. Be somewhere where you won’t be interrupted. Think about and plan your future by projecting yourself five years into the future. Imagine your business is exactly where you want it to be (it is perfect in every way). What does it look like? Write down your answers to the following questions:

    • How many doors (or properties) do I manage?
    • What is my take home income?
    • What is our gross revenue?
    • What is our net revenue?
    • What reward will I give myself if we hit this goal?
    • What would I have to start doing now in order to make this vision a reality?
    • What do I need to stop doing?

By taking the time to go through this exercise, you will put yourself in the top 5% of entrepreneurs in the country. It is time for you to be proactive about what you want from this business. I love these words from poet Edgar A. Guest:

    “The easy roads are crowded
    And the level roads are jammed;
    The pleasant little rivers
    With drifting folks are crammed.

    But off yonder where it’s rocky,
    Where you get the better view,
    You will find the ranks are thinning
    And the travelers are few.

    Where the going’s smooth and pleasant
    You will always find the throng,
    For the many—more’s the pity
    Seem to like to drift along.

    But the steps that call for courage
    And the task that’s hard to do,
    In the end result in glory
    For the never-wavering few.”

Stop reacting and start acting. Now is your time to make it happen. If you would like more information on how you can benefit from being a part of Property Management Inc. to achieve your goals, I invite you to schedule a call with one of our franchise developers to see how you could benefit from converting your existing property management business into a PMI franchise.


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.