Recently we sent out a survey, please check your email if you haven’t completed it yet, titled ‘Other Services Offered by McGrath’. We found that, one of the most common comments received was the wish for “one primary point of contact.” We understand how it would appear in your best interest to have only one point of contact for your home and that it would minimize miscommunications but our experience has proven this to not be the case. What we do recognize is there’s a need for better, more timely and clear communications to you. Below you will find a summary of our experience with the “one point of contact” system, why it wasn’t working and the benefits to you with our departmentalized/team approach we use now.
Until 2007, our company utilized the one point of contact property management approach. One property manager was pretty much in charge of everything associated with that property. Tasks such as meeting prospective new clients and explaining our services, marketing and leasing the home, move-in, move-out and annual inspections, repairs and emergency maintenance, as well as communication about the property, all were handled by one point of contact. The good thing about the one “point man” approach was this person was familiar with the property and all of the issues related to it. The downside was that this point man could be dealing with an emergency repair on one property with a prospective renter wanting to see an available property on the market, meanwhile another owner was waiting to hear back about an issue at their property, a contractor was trying to get into yet another property, tenants were late with their rent at another property, requiring collection procedures to be implemented on yet another one. As you can see, what naturally ended up happening, was that some property managers were excellent at certain aspects of the job and not others. Some were good at communicating with owners, but did not perform thorough inspections or manage repairs in a timely fashion. Other managers were getting behind on some tasks or prioritized one property or it’s issues over another. And across the board, “emergencies of the moment” were constantly getting priority attention over non-urgent, but often more important matters related to the property. We also ran into the problem, if one point of contact was on vacation, or left the company, no one knew the particular history of the property nor its outstanding issues. Another result of this system was our new clients were getting different indoctrinations to our company and policies, because many different people met with them to explain our services. This resulted in many different levels of expectations. It became important that our presentations be consistent and cover a broad range of policies and procedures, to ensure everyone was on the same page.
So, some may be surprised to know that we actually transitioned away from the system that some are asking for again. If the current system is better as we believe, from the results of the surveys, we are not conveying the benefits appropriately, that is for sure. “Sometimes it seems like the left hand doesn’t always seem to know what the right hand is doing” or “I feel like I’m communicating with a sea of anonymous and varying people each time I need to initiate something,” both of these were comments received in our survey. On our end we are constantly working to eliminate the communication issues in the departmental/team system we utilize now so you feel the advantages of this system over the previous one. This system is designed to make each management activity the responsibility of a team instead of ALL the activities the responsibility of one individual. Now, our property inspectors are no longer taken away from an inspection when an emergency repair comes up, all they do is focus on move-ins, move-outs and annual inspections. Because inspections are their primary job, they can schedule and coordinate within a systematic approach, so annual inspections do not get pushed back because it is not an “urgent” priority. Likewise, our marketing department can focus on securing appropriate tenants and putting our properties in a competitive position in the marketplace. Marketing is what they do. These changes have resulted in measurable, tangible results. Vacancy is your most costly expense. You will see in the article “Property Management: Evaluating an Industry,” that our company’s average “days on market” for the properties that we manage is the lowest of any company in Northern Virginia, and by a significant margin. Our position as the leader, now five years in a row, is a result of our departmentalized approach. The group in charge of leasing your property is not responding to emergency repair requests. They are responding to prospective tenant leads instead.
Our Client Advocate department is intended to be your primary point of contact, (firstname.lastname@example.org) so you have a singular source for any questions or concerns related to your property. Your client advocate is charged with getting the answers on your behalf no matter what department your question is related to. I can provide several other examples of measurable improvements from this approach. But again, we also hear what you are saying in your survey responses. We have to do a better job here of clearly communicating with you so that you have confidence in our team approach. It is what you think that matters. Better communication is one goal of this newsletter as well. As your property manager, we only have a limited time that we will have the opportunity to serve your interests. We are very aware of that. We want to make the most of it.