The Property Management Staffing Problem & How Tech Can Help [Part 1]

It’s time to talk about the growing problem of property management staffing.

More and more teams are feeling the crunch over the past few years, exacerbated by a few trends: veteran staffers retiring, new hires staying on short-term, and the inability to fill much-needed roles as organizations and portfolios grow. It’s increasingly become a talking point in industry circles, with experts trying to dive into various solutions (including an NMHC OpTech panel, here).

No matter what your growth plans are, thinking about short and long term plans for staffing needs can help you avoid the above crunch (and generally in property management, it’s always a good idea to think about solutions before they become massive problems). One thing you shouldn’t forget to include in your plans? Technology.

Specifically, using technology can help bolster your property management staffing, ensuring things are done the right way across your portfolio, no matter how many people you have on your roster. 

In this blog (the first of a two-parter), we’ll focus on how you can use tech to reinforce and empower your current team, no matter the size.

Filling In The Gaps

Implementing property operations technology can help your team fill in staffing gaps in a few critical ways, ensuring your people are focused and fulfilled, and you can keep your eyes on the prize.

Gap 1: Disconnect Between Onsite Staff & Admin Staff

One of the biggest universal challenges in property operations is ensuring your folks on the ground are in sync with your staffers back in the office. If everyone’s busy (and let’s face it – they usually are), there may not be time to connect and confirm things are happening the way they’re supposed to. That’s especially true when you have less people overall, and each person is focused on what’s in front of them.

Take a make ready – a process that touches on every single department on your team, and requires on-the-ground work in addition to paperwork filings, collection, and back office action. Each make ready needs to happen like clockwork in order for turns to be done efficiently, and get your team maximum NOI (PS – make readys have even more inherent challenges. See how teams are facing them in our latest make ready best practice webinar, here).

So when leasing needs to coordinate with maintenance on when a unit will be broom clean & ready to occupy, it’s important they can access that information without delay. When your entire team has access to one centralized location to track work portfolio-wide, they can. It’s easier for your team to get more done together when you can quickly confirm who’s doing what, and when.

Gap 2: Accessible Tools and Information

Per a survey from the above NMHC panel, 75% of property management staffers said their companies didn’t provide all the resources needed to do their jobs.

Resources can include a lot of things, but a lot boils down to this: the best tools to do the job, and the knowledge to get it done the right way. Giving your team intuitive tools and the right training has a direct impact on maximum work output and positive employee engagement.

Think about it – having to chase down details from a resident request that was logged with the home office, or not having the right information needed to make urgent repairs can have an outsized impact on your onsite staffer’s day. And with the amount of unwelcome surprises property management teams deal with (emergencies, requests, shifting priorities, and more), being stalled by lack of access to critical information can only lead to frustration – both on your team’s side, and ultimately, trickling down to your residents.

Those issues are further compounded when it comes to education and training. Your team needs to know how to perform and prioritize work the way you want them to – what should happen as soon as that resident request comes in, or the exact right way to respond to an emergency and effectively minimize risk. Having to lug around a hundred-page handbook everywhere as a reference isn’t going to cut it.

The easier you make it for your team to perform work, the more satisfied they’ll be. Having the right tools in hand can reduce confusion, stress, and ensure the things that need to happen are done right.

Gap 3: Time Spent Away From The Big Picture

How much time do you spend getting direct updates from your team about ongoing work? And how much time does your management staff spend connecting with on-the-ground workers over texts, emails, phone calls, or other easily lost conversations?

Every minute you chase down an update is a minute taken away from strategy and optimization for your organization at large. That’s time you can’t afford to lose. 

The balance between active management (ensuring things are always running smoothly) and future planning/strategizing is a tough one. Failing to spot gaps in day-to-day happenings can have adverse effects on operations. Failing to take the time to plan out business strategy can be even worse in the long run.

That’s why it’s critical for you to be able to spot what’s happening, and what’s not happening ASAP. The sooner you can identify work that’s delayed, the sooner you can rally your team, get things back on track, and get your strategy time back. Property ops tech can give you real-time visibility into open work (including due dates, current status, and other details). In essence, it lets you “micromanage” without actually micromanaging – you’re not distracting your people from the task at hand, but they know you know everything that’s going on.

What’s Next?

When you’re introducing new tech to your team, the implementation process should be welcome and efficient. Otherwise, you might not be able to recognize any of the benefits. Check out the next post in our two-parter series for tips on getting your staff to embrace new tech, and see how their lives can also improve from the operational change.

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About the Author

Kristen Hariton

Kristen Hariton is a Product Evangelist, focused on exploring new solutions and innovations in property operations tech. When she's not sharing the latest industry trends, changes, and updates, she's planning her next adventure to Walt Disney World.