FIVE Painful Reasons Why Property Managers Burnout

Wednesday, December 06, 2023

Burnout is a serious problem in property management today!

There are key reasons why property managers burn out and resign. This article has been written from years of observation and experience into this problem.

Some time ago while confirming training attendees with a business owner, they informed me that the person who was originally booked in had since left their employment and was no longer in property management.

I was asked that golden question, ‘Why is it so hard to keep property managers?’

‘How long have you got for me to explain the problem!?’ I replied.

Responding to this question is not an easy one, but here goes.

What is the Problem?

Property managers have for a long time been leaving the industry faster than they are coming in.

Business owners are increasingly finding it difficult to source and employ experienced property managers.

Either they end up getting someone inexperienced, or do get a person with experience, but with so many bad habits (and a poor attitude) they just end up damaging the portfolio.

And in some regions, even a ‘bad experienced’ property manager cannot be sourced at all!

It is very hard to find someone that has solid experience and also able to competently fulfill their duties.

Even if a business owner does get a suitable person with the right attributes but without experience, there is a good chance they may end up leaving the role within a short time, not wanting to do it anymore.

The question I would like to explore is why are property managers leaving the industry?

Why do they start with enthusiasm but leave disillusioned, not wanting to go near the job ever again?

Why do they ‘burn out’?

Why is the job so unattractive to keep staff for reasonable time frames compared with other industries?

Getting to the Core of the Problem

Let’s look at some causes of the problem:

1- The Business Owner only focused on sales –
Let’s agree- most business owners are salespeople (at least in Australia and New Zealand, not so much of an issue in the USA).

Selling real estate is what they know best and to them, the rental department is simply a ‘consequence’ of the sales process and a ‘necessary evil’ they must have!

In too many cases the portfolio simply becomes a ‘babysitting service’ for future sales referrals.

2- Under-Resourced Departments –
Because the average business owner does not understand property management they supply just enough resources to allow it to survive. The property manager is not given proper training, technology, procedures, or tools.

3- No Guidance –
As there is no resourcing or ongoing training the property manager just works out the job through trial, lots of error, blood, pain, sleepless nights, stress, sweat, and plenty of tears! As they have no real guidance they learn the only way they know how, by chaos, mayhem, and crisis!

4- Discounting and a Lack of Profit –
When BDM’s and Property Managers are signing up new owners ‘at any management fee rate’, many do not realise that even discounting their management fee by 1% not only reduces the average income received per property overall but may also wipe out the profit margin for what is earned on that management altogether!

Do this enough time and there’s no profit at all in the portfolio, and expenses exceed fee income coming in.

Therefore the property manager must manage more properties to justify their position becoming overworked, followed by a drop in service levels finally resulting in the property manager leaving.

5- Dealing with Difficult People –
The role deals with a lot of people on a daily basis, and where systems, training, and management guidance lack, this results in clients and tenants becoming upset with the service they receive (or lack of).

Further, people, in general, have become more demanding and critical of the service levels they receive, and unfortunately, the overall property management industry has not caught up to the levels of service people are now wanting and expecting.

What Can You Do About It?

So what can a business owner or leader do about it?

Here are the 5 KEYS to turn this problem around for your business:

1- Take Interest! –
Firstly, the business owner must realise that they are the driver and the key reason why a department succeeds or fails. If the ‘head’ is connected to the ‘body’, if the owner/manager is interested in building, growing, and nourishing the portfolio, the people will respond and grow accordingly!

2- Take Control –
Implement an ‘ideal week’ so that each day has set tasks and activities that occur in planned time slots. Your property managers may hate this being implemented but will be singing your praises after implementation when they realise how much extra time they have and their newfound sense of control and better mental health.

3- Streamline Your Department –
Implement step-by-step streamlined procedures, letters, and forms that property managers must follow. Systems bring so many benefits to a business like total control, lower stress levels, and ease of training new staff.

4- Training –
Ensure your people have regular training so that they are able to know their roles better and have the skills to effectively conduct their duties.

5- Planning –
Know what must be improved in your portfolio and implement a plan to improve every area of your business taking it from crisis and pain to success and reward for everyone involved.

Property Management done the right way can become the backbone of every real estate business.

When your rent roll contributes up to 90% of your business resale value, it is worth your time, focus, and wanting to do it the right way!


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