There are five practices that only the “best” property managers follow religiously. I have relied upon them consistently throughout my career, and they apply to the management of all forms of real estate, from retail to residential, and office to industrial. When managing, organization is of utmost importance. You will find that principle at the heart of each of these five practices.

1. Inspect Your Property(ies) Twice per Year. You (or somebody from your management company) should set foot in every unit you manage at least once every six months for inspection. If you employ a management company, smart owners walk through their units once a year alongside management company personnel. Owners that see the needs of their property firsthand are much more likely to approve needed repairs. So, I recommend using whatever planning technology you  have chosen to tell you ahead of time when 180 days have passed, and you are due to check your units.

2. Schedule Using Automated Calendar. In keeping with the inspection theme, shrewd managers have developed the habit of strict scheduling. Any time they think of something that should be done consistently, they reach for their computer or tablet keyboards and take the steps necessary to put it into practice. Utilizing a master calendar is key. Gone are the days of having to flip back and forth through a physical calendar, marking up dates in handwriting you might not even be able to decipher when the date arrives.  I use Microsoft Outlook as my master calendar, and I do not entrust anything important to my own mental recall; why would I? Why should you?  I make reminders for EVERYTHING. If you think this is overkill, just imagine explaining why you forgot to pay property taxes or some other important payment. I have never once regretted writing (or typing) a reminder to myself, but I have often regretted not doing Simply put, nothing falls through the cracks when you adhere to an intricately detailed and automated calendar.

3. Enact Preventative Maintenance. Think of preventative maintenance this way: would you rather have a cardiologist who prevents you from having a heart attack, or one who merely treats you after you have had one? One example of a simple-but-effective preventative maintenance measure is cleaning out rain gutters and downspouts at properties to keep roofing and stucco from sustaining water damage in the event of heavy rainfall.

4. Limit Liability. Next is a practice that falls under the category of going above and beyond the call of duty: review your insurance policies and shop them around. If your mission is to save money, then shopping your insurance policies makes sense, right?  So put your money where your mouth is and look for opportunities to save money. For management companies, doing so will show clients that they can trust you, and that you truly have their best interests in mind. As a management company, we regularly refer clients to our insurance agents if we see that they are paying more than they ought to be. It is not always limited to the price—through these reviews, we have found clients who were underinsured, over-insured, or had the entirely wrong insurance for their property type. During the biannual inspection I mentioned earlier, look actively for trip any dangers or trip hazards that you can eliminate for your client. Any way you can conceivably save money, you should.

5. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. The last habit of highly effective property managers focuses on communication: every six months (I know, here we go again with the precise scheduling), you should speak with each of the owners you represent, regarding their goals. For the owner / operator, you should review your goals on your own every six months.  Are any renovations under consideration? Have their goals for the property changed over the course of the last half-year? This can make for a great access point to a more general conversation about whether a property has thrived (or not) under your management. Either way, you will learn plenty and become a more effective property manager.

Your planning is only worth as much as your ability to follow through. In any field, you are guaranteed to have your plans upended by unexpected circumstance, and how you respond to adversity will define your business. So, once you have integrated these practices, commit to following them ferociously. Then you will be well on your way to new heights of effectiveness in property management.

David Crown
David Crown is the Chief Executive Officer of Los Angeles Property Management Group, and has over 25 years of experience managing all types of income properties. A hands-on leader who has managed properties in 16 states, Mr. Crown has been asked to serve as an expert witness in property management matters, and currently serves on the Forbes Real Estate Council.