Your effectiveness as a property manager will add value to your company’s assets and will increase customer satisfaction. Being an effective facilities manager requires a certain skill set and a certain temperament which will enable you to face the complexity of challenges specific to the real estate sector.
Firstly, regardless whether you’re running a large business or a small or growing business with few properties and few employees, property management is above all a people sector.
Be it your stakeholders, your clients, suppliers or employees: to successfully and fluidly run your business you will need the same kind of people skills found in other customer-based sectors.
Additionally, there are specifics to facilities management that require a building manager to possess a more targeted set of competencies or property management skills.
In this article, we will take a look at not only the facilities manager skills and knowledge needed to be a successful real estate professional, but also the personality traits and characteristics that go into making an effective property manager.
Property management, despite what its name might suggest, is above all else a people business. If you are managing properties or facilities for a large organization, this will require you to listen to, anticipate and identify the needs and expectations of the stakeholders. And even if your business is not big enough to have stakeholders, you will still need to negotiate and coordinate with suppliers; organize and motivate your employees; and be attentive to your clients or guests.
The people skills you will need can be summarized, to a certain extent, to the fundamental ability to: understand others, their needs,expectations while making your needs and expectations understood, presenting them as reasonable, doable and mutually beneficial.
An effective facility manager will need to communicate ideas and actions that involve multiple parties in a complex timeframe. Even the best-laid plans will come up against difficulties that will require them to be adjusted. Poor communication, because it is either incomplete or unclear, can lead to wasted time and frustration on the part of workers, suppliers and clients.
Be it verbal or in written form, communication is key. And depending on the geographic scope of the operation, a good facilities manager may need to be a proficient communicator in more than one language.
Good communication means:
- Relaying information in a clear and concise fashion
- Presenting complex projects in a way that does not overwhelm
- Getting multiple parties excited about a project
- Conveying urgency or seriousness without instigating stress or panic
- Responding to complaints or dissatisfaction in a sympathetic way
In a survey conducted by Urbest on job offers for a facilities manager, the following written communication skills were regularly asked for:
- Strong technical writing, organizational and verbal communication skills, including the ability to effectively present to senior management
- Proficiency in principles and practices of governmental regulations with the ability to audit contractor performance and contract compliance
Recruiters are looking for a property manager who possesses a specific knowledge base needed to effectively perform their duties. While to be a good property manager you will need to display a proficiency in conducting research, in acquiring new skills and in assimilating new technologies, a certain working knowledge base is also expected.
What is expected:
- Knowledge of local health and safety requirements
- Proficiency in governmental regulations and policies related to construction and contracting
- Proficiency in civil and systems design and construction, EIS processes and environmental norms and procedures
As a property manager is expected to collect rents, hire subcontractors and elaborate plans for repairs or for improvements, a certain amount of financial literacy is required to effectively carry out these tasks.
Financial literacy includes, but is not limited to, the ability to:
- read and understand a balance sheet and calculate expected earnings
- properly evaluate depreciation
- accurately calculate interest and understand the time value of money
- budget and track spending,
- effectively pay off debt and properly plan for future needs
In the competitive field of property management, more and more entities are using software and other technological advancements in order to gain an edge, increase efficiency or make the complex aspects of the job more fluid and easier. For this reason, a good facilities manager will not only need a certain level of proficiency in the programs and equipment already on the market, a CAFM system for example, but he or she will also need to demonstrate that they have an aptitude for learning new programs and technologies as they are being developed.
Because of the ever-changing aspect of technology, having experience with several different types of software and applications is generally more highly regarded by recruiters than a mastery of one or two programs or applications. Due to advancements in technology and due to the growth or change in the sector of activity, it is unlikely that the same programs will be used in the same way in the future. Thus, being tech-savvy has much more to do with a person’s ability and ease in learning and assimilating new technologies, rather than their proficiency in an already existing technology.
New technological tools are introduced frequently that can assist you, your tenants, and the rental property in various ways. Good property management uses these tools to create additional value for their customers’ experience.
Problems facilities managers are likely to come across can often be symptomatic of larger problems, often not yet readily detectable or, as problems tend to do, they can be potential catalysts for more serious problems down the road. An effective property manager must be able to break problems down into their smaller components and identify correlating and causal relationships and dependencies.
Building managers with strong analytical abilities can accurately forecast financial results and develop plans to meet goals and objectives. Managers with strong analytical skills systematically accomplish their plans and produce consistent results.
This skillset is comprised of other capacities, such as:
- Attention to detail
- Critical thinking ability
- In-depth knowledge of the materials and equipment of the property
- Aptitude for research and methodologies
- Creativity (out of the box thinking)
Analytical skills are the foundation of problem-solving, which is why recruiters will often ask a candidate to tell them about a recent problem they needed to solve. Recruiters are especially interested in the methodology the candidate used to solve the problem: how they identified the problem; the steps taken to find the true source of the problem; the solution options they considered; how they evaluated the best corrective action to take; and how the solution was implemented.
While much research has been conducted to demonstrate that multitasking may not be the most efficient way to perform a variety of tasks, as opposed to focusing on one task at a time until the task’s completion, unfortunately, in property management that option is not always available. In property management, a problem left unattended can quickly lead to a whole host of new more serious problems; not to mention, tenants and clients do not always afford us the pleasure of their patience. Multi-tasking is critical to an effective property manager.
A good property manager will need to apply their analytical skills in order to prioritize the multitude of concerns they are faced with. They will need to effectively communicate the appropriate action plan and clearly define the expectations, stay organized and on point while allowing for flexibility.
Someone with strong multi-tasking capabilities will also demonstrate the following skills:
- Ability to prioritize
- Works well under stress
- Good at delegating
- Good at planning ahead
The real estate sector is above all a people sector. It is the customer, the occupier or tenant, who makes the business run.
Although much of a property manager's time and energy is spent solving human or technical problems, a good property manager, or facilities coordinator, must have a customer-oriented approach. By putting the customer first, the property manager will increase his or her chances of effectively prioritizing the tasks needed to be carried out and will mitigate potential dissatisfaction and avoid further, potentially more serious problems.
The personality or characteristics of a good property manager:
Property managers are patient and flexible. They do not panic under stressful conditions. They are assertive, yet their good communication skills enable them to work well with others. They are good listeners; they have an aptitude for research and for acquiring new skills and learning new technologies. Their strong analytical skills allow them to identify causal relationships in various problems, current and potential, and they can prioritize their tasks effectively.
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