As featured in ARMA’s AQD Spring Edition.
“Efficiency is doing better what is already being done.” Peter Drucker.
Would you agree with Peter’s statement? And if so, what can your property management company do with relative ease in order to do something better and be more efficient?
We’re going to take a look at what we believe is the number one efficiency that could transform what you’re already doing in your property management company into something better. The good news is that this isn’t some fancy expensive piece of software, or new app, and nor is it about overhauling your business. Rather, it’s simply about taking a little step back, putting on fresh eyes and reviewing how well, or not so well, your team communicates internally and externally. It’s all about good communication.
How will better communication help my property management business?
“To effectively communicate, we must realise that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.” Tony Robbins
If efficiency is what keeps the cogs in the machine turning smoothly and stops the machine from breaking down, then communication is like the oil that allows the cogs to run smoothly. When you take the time to oil your business with effective communication your team, your customers and suppliers will work better together, understand each other more, and reduce potential conflict or confusion.
When people are communicating effectively and efficiently, it reduces errors, it helps to build, improve and maintain relationships, and good communication contributes to the achievement of an open and honest dialogue between all stakeholders.
According to an article on Michael Page website, the importance of strong communication is something that runs deep within a business. They cite good communication as an opportunity for:
- Team building. This is about collaboration and including good communication as key to building effective teams.
- Giving everyone a voice. No one wants to feel unseen or unheard. Implementing a communication strategy that fosters inclusivity is key in ensuring everyone has a voice. Including clients.
- This goes hand-in-hand with the previous point. If everyone in your team is encouraged to have a voice, and to communicate that voice well, then innovation can truly happen.
- No one ever got better at anything by staying silent. Unless you’re a Monk of course.
- Strong management. Good communication and strong management go together like bread and butter. A strong and cohesive management structure will do everything to implement strong communications channels and strategies.
We already do well in our communication, how can we do better?
If you’re looking for ways to elevate communication beyond what you do now, it could be worthwhile asking your team, suppliers, contractors and clients what their views or suggestions are for improving communication.
If we look back at the Tony Robbins quote, we remember that everyone perceives the world differently, and we need to use this understanding as a guide to how we communicate with others.
When we allow ourselves to sink into this way of thinking, we can learn to appreciate that one method of communication might work for one, but not necessarily for another. We can appreciate and understand that our words can be misinterpreted, misaligned or miss the mark entirely. And in realising all of this, as good business leaders, we can take it on board, and ensure that communication is inclusive and cohesive for everyone.
How can technology help foster better communication?
We live in an age where we have never had so many different ways to communicate. Email, text, phone calls (remember those?), endless social media messaging options, chat functionality, Zoom, Teams, Skype, FaceTime, the list feels like it’s never-ending. Yet, have we ever been more disconnected? Are we actually presented with the paradox of choice? Do we need to streamline our communications channels, especially in business?
How streamlined are communications within your team and to/from your clients and suppliers? This could be something as simple as making it easy for incoming emails to be forwarded on to the right people in a timely manner. Emails are the go-to method for communication, however perhaps telephone calls should be encouraged? Often, a quick phone call can solve a query much more easily than typing an email. Does your business have a “do it by telephone first policy”?
Chat rooms like Skype or larger platforms such as Trello, or Zoho Projects offer a single point of contact functionality so that everything is kept in one place. But these platforms, unless used properly and adopted as the only place to communicate, they can also be fraught with issues such as not being kept updated by everyone, which could lead to worse outcomes. When you streamline your communications channel, it’s crucial that everyone buys into it.
Sometimes, you might need a platform that’s specific to your needs and your industry. For property managers, we’ve seen that this is very much the case as you have such a unique set of requirements, in a very niche market. There are so many stakeholders, and so many different conversations happening with a variety of people, it’s vital to utilise relevant and efficient technology that keeps the flow of communication moving in the right direction.
You might also need to review how your team communicates with your clients, a key priority for any property management company.
This could be offering 24/7 access to a portal for customers to check their account, make payments or view documents. If this type of access is available to customers, then, not only will it make it more efficient for homeowners to do what they need to do, it should also reduce the workload on the team. This might not seem like a method of communication, but any interaction that a customer/homeowner has with your property management business, is, essentially a method of communication.
Another key stakeholder for property management companies, are suppliers, and contractors. How does your business communicate with them? Is this consistent, easy and manageable? Are communications all being dealt with swiftly and without stress? If they aren’t, this could be causing delays, and may be preventing SLA’s from being hit. Is it time to explore how technology could influence better communication? If your current communication with suppliers is disjointed, could it be streamlined by bringing all communication into one place? This isn’t just about tendering work, this is about the entire process from start to finish – efficient coverage for requesting job tenders, receiving those tenders in one place, instructing work, identifying progress, and then communicating this to clients, through to receiving photos of work, to receiving and paying invoices. When you have a one-stop-shop for a specific group, it streamlines the process and automatically creates efficiency.
Finally, are there any sticking points where communication is being hampered or where blockers may be occurring?
When (or if), you do decide to review communication within your business, a good place to begin is to identify the problems. What are the sticking points? The blockers of effective communication? Make a list of each stakeholder’s method of communication – or maybe it’s not a list. It could be a map, a chart, or pictures. Here, we already see how different communication methods can be used to convey the message.
Start by identifying how everyone is communicating with each other. Could this be simplified? Is it easy to communicate?
If not, great! But if so, it’s time to ask how that communication can be improved.
Efficient communication is key
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” A wonderful little nugget of great advice from George Bernard Shaw.
As we have seen, it’s more than how the communication is happening, whether it’s by email, via a project management platform, or that phone call. Efficient communication also relates to the way in which the communication is being conveyed and that it’s being understood, loud and clear, by everyone involved.
When your property management company prioritises efficient communication, the channel is important, but more so are the words and the message behind each communication. It has to be consistent, clear and concise.
When you can master all of this, between all parties and stakeholders, you will remove, or at least, reduce potential room for errors, making everyone’s lives so much easier. If the events of the last two years have taught us anything, it’s that flat screens are no substitute for human connection and interaction. Perhaps we need to make a promise as good business leaders, that we use technology for goo. As a way to get better at communication, rather than technology controlling us, we control how we use it. After all, good communication will inevitably lead to improved efficiency, without even having to try.
To speak to someone in the team about improving efficiency in your property management company, please contact us.
If you would like to chat about efficient communication with Brian, our MD, please visit brianwelsh.co.uk and get in touch.