How to Start a Property Management Company the Right Way | Buildium

#3: Getting Your Business Off the Ground

Once you’ve laid the groundwork, it’s time to start getting the pieces together that will fuel your efforts—the people and the tech they’ll use.

How Should You Structure Your Property Management Team?

There are two basic models you can set up for your property management business. The first is to start off as a general property manager who handles all management responsibilities. That would include leasing, inspections, resident communications, owner communications, fees and rent collection, and maintenance.

The other option is to hire staff members to perform more precise roles. You may have one staff member handling leases and other managing maintenance, with repair specialists or contractors working with them.

In that case, you would have a more defined organizational chart, with tiers of staff members reporting up to you.

Defining Your Team

If you’re just starting out, your staff is going to be minimal. It may even just be you for the time being, and that’s fine. As you grow, you’ll organically bring on people to help you.

Your staff may be made up of full-time or part-time employees, or contract workers. The first step is to decide what kind of work you need done and then determine if it’s worth putting someone on the payroll or outsourcing.

Full- or part-time employees you may consider are:

  • Additional property managers
  • Admins or receptionists (if you have a brick-and-mortar location)
  • Maintenance staff
  • Sales representatives
  • Payroll and accounts payable
  • Leasing agents
  • Showing coordinators
  • Move-out coordinators
  • Field managers
  • Maintenance managers
  • Office managers (for a brick-and-mortar location)
  • Service coordinators
  • Marketing specialists

And just because they aren’t on the payroll, doesn’t mean that a team member or company isn’t a dire need. Below are some contractors that property managers rely upon:

  • Accountant (a good accountant will always be your most trusted advisor)
  • Real estate lawyers (also a partner to make sure you are in compliance with the law and protected from potential liability)
  • Contractors such as painters, plumbers, roofers, groundskeepers, pool cleaners, locksmiths, chimney sweeps or HVAC specialists
  • Customer/resident service reps
  • Information technology (IT) staff

When hiring any vendor, make sure to get a copy of their license, insurance certificate, and bond certificate (if they have one) to protect your company if something goes wrong. Also, try to fight for a reduced rate for your property owners—they will appreciate that you worked hard to save them money.

Pro tip: There are software solutions that can be the centerpoint of all your operations. Buildium, for example, provides a platform that helps you handle accounting, 1099 filing, communication and maintenance tasks, reducing the need for extra staff.

Finding and Hiring the Right People

Once you’ve determined which full- and part-time positions you need, it’s time to find the staff that can make it happen. There are two steps to this process. First, you need to get strong candidates in the door for an interview. To do that, write clear job descriptions and use ads that really speak to the culture (and benefits) of your company. Post your ad in the right places for your audience.

Associations like the NARPM have their own job boards for property managers and most mainstream job sites like Indeed and ZipRecruiter also list related jobs.

Once you’ve hired the right people, you’ll want to keep them. You also want them to become evangelists for your company and culture. Remember, happy employees are one of the most powerful tools for attracting new talent, as well as representing your brand to residents and property owners. They’re the first to spread your reputation, after all.

To keep your employees happy and boost your business, create a strong company culture from the get go. Provide competitive benefits, stay connected with their needs, and push them to learn and pursue their professional development.

Building Relationships with Property Owners

It’s a no-brainer that valuing employee relationships can build a solid business, but so can relationships with property owners in your community.

Doing so starts with setting expectations before a property owner even becomes a client. Talk to prospective clients before you sign a contract to understand what it is they’re looking for in a property management firm and explain exactly what you can provide for them.

Keep the lines of communication open at all times, send monthly owner draw reports, and give them the opportunity to ask questions and share feedback. At the same time, you should feel confident providing your own proactive feedback to owners and identify opportunities for additional revenue streams.

You want to deliver the best customer service you can for your owners and the best living experience for your residents.

What Property Management Technology and Software Do You Need?

For every business, there is a software solution.

Quickbooks can manage all things financial for your business operating account, from invoices to P&Ls. You can also use it to manage taxes and audits.

Google provides web-based tools that rival Microsoft’s Office Suite. Create documents, spreadsheets, and even slide presentations. And you can store and share your documents on Google Drive.

MailChimp can help you organize your email, while SurveyMonkey can help you gather feedback from residents.

There’s no question you’ll need software tools to help you do business. Picking the right ones is a matter of listing out your business functions and researching which software tools can save you time, resources, and money.

For property managers, in particular, there are SaaS (software as a service) platforms that cater to the specific needs of your business without having to cobble together too many software solutions.

Buildium, for instance, gives you the power to accept rent payments online, as well as centralize your property accounting. You can handle your maintenance requests, property inspections, and even renters insurance through it, as well.

For those who will often be out and about, using mobile-enabled technology for property management can keep your business agile and operating from anywhere.