Calendar icon May 11, 2023

10 Hiring Tips For Recruiters in Property Management Companies

It’s not always so easy to build a property management team, and property management hiring tips can be hard to come by. Professional property management is a complex industry with endless responsibilities, nuanced roles, and lots of stakeholders’ priorities to balance. Putting together a dream team – the kind of team that just makes things work, delivers happy residents, and makes workflows feel seamless – it’s hard! 

So, we sat down with an expert in just this subject. He’s perfected the art of finding and hiring the right people – the kind of people who can become your property management dream team. An organization is its people, and few companies in the property management industry have internalized this idea more than Evernest.

Whitaker sat down with Second Nature to talk through some of the key things he wants in an employee and how he goes about identifying which candidates have them and which do not.

Ready to hire the best property management team? Let’s dive into Whitaker’s top property management hiring tips.

Meet the Expert: Matthew Whitaker, CEO of Evernest

Matthew Whitaker has developed and refined his hiring process over years of experience in real estate as a property management firm CEO. Evernest is a nationwide SFR company based out of Birmingham, Alabama. Evernest manages around 6,000 doors and continues to scale its business and grow its team at an impressive rate. CEO and founder Matthew Whitaker has been constantly adjusting and reevaluating his hiring process, and it has resulted in one of the most comprehensive talent acquisition procedures in the property management game. 

 

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1. Hire Based On Characteristics Over “Qualifications”

Whitaker’s biggest insight, which he’s developed over years in the property management industry, is that there is a lot more to hiring the right people than simply hiring qualified people.

The concept of hiring the most qualified candidate seems like it’s pretty straightforward. But if you start to pull it apart, many of us have hired candidates who seem “qualified” on paper but who end up being a poor fit with the company. 

“Who you are matters almost as much as what you’ve done,” Whitaker says. “And as employees rise up through your business, you need to be confident you’ve hired someone who is bought in and is wired for the challenges that come with that.”

Whitaker says their investment in identifying personal characteristics has helped separate their best candidates from the rest of the pack. Be clear with property management recruiters about all the characteristics you’re looking for.

2. Define What a Qualified Candidate Looks Like for You

Evernest hires with a well-rounded definition of “most qualified” – with defined characteristics and experiences they’re looking for. Those descriptions might not be the first things you think of, but it’s helped them with resident retention and growth. 

For example, instead of just seeking candidates with “property management experience,” they’re looking for candidates who can handle failure well, who have shown resilience, and who match their company culture. (More on each of those later!)

As a heavily scaled company, Whitaker recognizes that you’re not going to hit on 100% of hires, but going a little deeper than just career experience can up that number as much as reasonably possible.  

Clearly defining your ideal candidate can help with referrals, as well, since you can describe to others who you’re looking for.

3. Develop Interview Questions that Reveal Important Traits

The next step is to outline interview questions in your screening process that can identify the qualifications and characteristics you defined in Step 1. 

What does that type of person look like? What kind of life experience would they have that built their skills? How have they exhibited the traits that you need in the past? Give them a scenario they might experience while on your team and ask how they would respond. 

Carefully evaluate if their responses align with the candidate profile you created.

4. Look For Resilient People

Resiliency is the trait that really stands out to Whitaker for the property management space. After all, single-family property management, in particular, requires people who can stick with it when things get tough. 

SFR property management is tricky because properties are spread out over larger regions, residents may have very diverse needs, and the properties themselves may have very diverse problems or requirements.

Evernest always looks to hire resilient people who can handle the ups and downs and surprises of the job. Look for any red flags of people who aren’t willing to go the extra mile.

Whitaker is adamant that resilience is among the most important traits a property manager can have and a great indicator of their potential success in the company. 

“One of the things about a property manager is the fact that all you do is deal in the world of problems,” Whitaker says. “If you didn’t have problems, there wouldn't be a role for property managers. So they have to get used to dealing with problems all day and being able to bounce from problem to problem.” 

5. Consider Candidates’ Personal Experiences, Even Beyond Real Estate

Whitaker says that resiliency is legitimately a skill you can identify in the interview process and one that you can design interview questions around.

While it may be challenging to uncover in a conversational setting, Whitaker likes to work through the personal experience of a candidate.

The key is asking the right questions. He asks about potential major life events that have challenged their resolve, which he believes can forge resiliency in a person. 

“Sometimes [people who have had major life events] make the best team members because they realize that things aren’t unicorns and rainbows,” Whitaker says. 

 

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6. Find Out How They Deal With Failure

Another key part of the interview process – and identifying resilient people – is to find out how they’ve historically dealt with failure in their life.  

Whitaker believes that someone who has dealt with adversity and failures and come out the other side is automatically going to be better suited to rental property management.

He says, “Whether it’s a huge disappointment they’ve had, a business failure, or a failure in maybe a job, [those experiences] sometimes turn them into somebody that’s very resilient. Some of our best team members actually meet that profile, and I’ve thought that for a long time.”

7. Use a Culture Index to Find a Fit for Your Team

Whitaker and Evernest have proven how important cultural fit can be in such a demanding industry. They use a tool called the Culture Index to test for traits like resiliency, and Whitaker says the tool has really gone a long way for Evernest and the success rate of its hiring process.  

With Evernest hiring at scale, Whitaker believes it has helped them get the right people in the right seats at a higher rate, which results in losing fewer people out the back door. 

“We buy into the idea that Culture Index can help us identify someone’s unique personality or wiring and that. As a result, they have more success when they are put into the right positions on the team,” Whitaker says.

Culture Index is a data-driven personality testing tool and the weapon of choice for Evernest. It’s part of their refined hiring process that they refer to as “The Grinder,” which features four interviews, the third of which assesses cultural fit. It’s one of the keys to finding the right property manager.

8. Use a Personality-Testing Tool

The Culture Index is just one example of hiring procedures that help to identify personality traits. Companies can use any kind of personality-testing tool to ensure not just that someone is a culture fit but that they’re being hired for the right role on the team.

Whitaker shares:

One of our biggest "aha" moments around personality and natural wiring is when we moved a team member out of accounting here in Alabama and moved him to Little Rock to run our market there.

This guy was an excellent operator in Birmingham. He had all the "i's" dotted and "t's" crossed. No stone unturned. When he moved to Little Rock, we expected him to grow the business. We kept waiting and waiting on it to happen, but it never did. But he was still dang good at executing.

Later, when we profiled him, we learned that he is a "Craftsman," which basically means he is a detail-oriented, highly introverted person. So of course he wasn’t out there growing the business. We later moved a "Trailblazer" into the role, which is a highly relational, highly autonomous person, and she KILLED it. She grew the business and it almost doubled in size. The Craftsman came back to Birmingham to run our accounting department and has been incredibly successful.

He continues: “Since we’ve gotten into personality profiling, we’ve certainly gotten a lot more intentional about putting the right people in the right places, and I feel like we’ve been a lot more successful doing that.” 

Failing to invest in a more refined hiring process that features components such as personality testing is cited by Whitaker as one of the mistakes he made early on that other PMs have the opportunity to avoid. 

9. Be Smart About Promotions

Whitaker notes that early on, a less refined and consistent approach opened Evernest up to being a victim of the Peter Principle

The Peter Principle is the all-too-common practice of promoting employees into jobs they aren’t cut out for – based on their success in their previous role. 

“We would use our hiring process to hire middle-level and upper-level management,” Whitaker says. “But then when we would go to hire frontline people, we would just basically skip through the process and hire people. These are the people that are going to move up into the middle management, so not being consistent at the frontline level led to people getting into the company that probably should not have been there.”

From the very start, you need to think about hiring people you can eventually promote. 

10. Don’t Assume You Can Hire from Multi-Family Property Management

Whitaker says that perhaps the biggest hiring mistake he sees in single-family rental management is poorly-vetted cross-hiring between property management industries, from residential to commercial properties, or SFR and MFR. 

He specifically points to single-family homes and property management companies hiring multi-family managers who are unprepared for the transition. And it’s a much tougher transition than it may seem, with differences in property owners, property types, maintenance issues, rent collection practices, property management services, etc. 

“The skillset doesn’t easily translate because a full-time multifamily manager has been working on-site at a property,” says Whitaker. 

The communication and logistical demands of single-family are quite a bit different than multifamily complexes, where every issue that arises is right in front of you. 

“When you add multiple real estate investments and then the logistics of single-family, it becomes a much more complicated business,” says Whitaker. “If you’re going to pull from the multifamily industry, you’re going to have to make sure that you’re hiring some of the best and brightest from that industry because, again, dealing with 300 homes and 50 investors is way more complicated than a 300-unit apartment community all together with one investor.”

 

Transitioning a property manager from a multifamily business to a single-family has a number of logistical roadblocks. You need to know more about a candidate than how successful they were to feel confident they're up to the challenge.


That doesn’t mean that cross-hiring is impossible, and Whitaker clarifies that Evernest has done so successfully. But the bottom line is that a diligent and robust hiring approach like Evernest’s is important to identify whether a person is up to the transition. 

Final Thoughts

Building a good property management team is a complex process, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. The key to creating your dream team is to outline a robust hiring process and know exactly what makes a candidate successful in SFR property management.

At Second Nature, we work with thousands of residential property managers around the country and have helped ensure PMCs have the tools they need to retain their best talent. Get more insights like these from Matt by listening to our Triple Win Podcast, or check out more from our blog.

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Chambers Theory Endorses Second Nature’s Resident Benefits Package

Chambers Theory is a world-renowned property management team with clients in more than 30 countries worldwide. They specialize in serving the U.S. military, State Department, and Foreign Services families. Their motto “Real Estate With Intelligence” is more than just a saying. It’s on full display through the introductory videos for landlords and residents on their website in seven languages (Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Vietnamese, French, Croatian, and English) - all spoken fluently by their own property management (PM) team. Since its founding in 2018, Chambers Theory has been achieving extraordinary performance benchmarks. They’ve led the marketplace in delivering the “Golden Triangle of Success” to their clients, which means the lowest vacancy, the highest average rents, and the highest quality of tenants of any property management firm in its same service area. They’ve also donated over $100,000 to local charities and community organizations, while also leading the way in promoting sustainability practices in real estate and property management services. Their outstanding team attributes their success to their ability to develop and utilize their emotional intelligence skills to capacity to care with all their interactions with both landlords and residents. That’s why they fully endorse the Resident Benefits Package at Second Nature! Find out more about what a Resident Benefits Package is, its benefits, and how it can help create a Triple Win for you, as well as your residents and investors. Related: The State of Resident Experience Report

Calendar icon July 18, 2024

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Investor Experience Platform™️ IXP™️

An Investor Experience Platform™️ (IXP) in property management is a suite of products, services, and benefits offered by property management companies to property investors. Just like a resident benefits package is a way to drive value for residents, investors, and property managers, the IBP™️ is an innovative approach to property management that focuses on driving value for an investor's assets and turning that value into profit for the property management company. In this article, we’ll dig into the different features that an Investor Experience Platform™️ can include, and how those benefit not just investors, but property managers and residents, too. What Is an Investor Experience Platform™️ (IXP)? As stated above, an Investor Experience Platform™️ (IXP™️) is a comprehensive suite of services that offer property investors higher quality property management, stability, and profit. An IBP™️ typically includes concierge-level services beyond basic property management – such as property insurance policies, eviction guarantees, rent guarantees, maintenance plans, asset performance reports, etc. These services are aimed at maximizing the investor’s assets, stability and convenience, profitability, and peace of mind in managing their properties. They're commonly managed through an investor experience platform to securely manage and monitor the performance of these assets online, which we'll discuss later. The first step to outlining an IBP™️ is to define what your basic management fee means and covers. If the answer is, it’s collecting rent, handling maintenance, and general communication – does that include maintenance coordination or is that a separate fee? Does it include asset reporting or is that an additional service? In your management agreement, define what the management fee is, what it covers, and how much it is. An IBP™️ can be an effective tool for articulating the new and differentiated things that an investor wouldn’t be able to do on their own and that you are offering beyond basic property management. Articulate your unique and differentiated services (IBP™️) and use that as a tool for positioning and charging for what it’s worth. What’s Included in An Investor Experience Platform™️? An Investor Experience Platform™️ should include a range of solutions to help deliver consistency, insight, and asset protection to a property owner’s portfolio. After all, professional property managers don’t have to be functional managers of a home – they can be strategic partners in the management of financial assets. You might hear services similar to the IBP™️ called an “owner benefit package,” but at Second Nature, we believe that the “investor” term is useful in encouraging a longer-term mindset, and emphasizes the economic value professional property management can bring. According to Eric Wetherington, VP of Strategic Initiatives at PURE Property Management: “As property managers, we need to think more like asset managers. This client made an investment, and we should be guiding that client through managing that investment, not just collecting rent.” To build and manage a winning IBP™️, property managers need an Investor Experience Platform that unlocks scalable product and service customization, digitized onboarding, accounting policy automation, and more. In addition, Investor Experience Platforms provide transparency and convenience for your investors. Here are some of the most valuable services that property managers can offer through an innovative Investor Experience Platform™️. Property insurance program Similar to offering a renters insurance program through an RBP in the lease agreement, property management companies can offer an insurance plan to investors to cut costs and ensure the safety of their assets. Most management agreements will include the requirement that the investor carries insurance on the property and that the property manager is additionally insured. But what if you as the property manager could help manage that for the investor – at scale? Property Insurance for investors should have dynamic pricing based on individual investors’s property portfolio and needs. The benefit beyond flexibility is the savings they’ll see on their premiums while also getting insurance that’s tailored to the needs of their specific property class. At Second Nature, we work primarily with single-family rental properties and small multi-family residences. Property Insurance Programs can bring scale that will drive economic value for the investor over what they could get retail on their own. They’d still have the option to go get their own insurance that meets requirements, but they can pay you a small fee to manage it for them. Rent guarantee An IBP™️ can include a number of financial guarantees to protect property investors and drive ancillary revenue for PMCs. A rent guarantee, or rent protection, ensures a consistent rental income to investors by protecting them against resident defaults or non-payment of rent. If a resident fails to pay rent, the property management company covers the unpaid amount and takes necessary steps for eviction or collection, providing financial security and minimizing the risk for property owners. Rent guarantees work for professional property management companies that have enough properties to balance the loss of rent if a resident doesn’t pay. The risk is low and the additional profit from fees for this guarantee can have a very high ROI, while driving satisfaction and stability for the investor. Plus, if you’re using services in an RBP to help incentivize on-time rent payments, you’ll rarely find yourself out in the cold. Eviction protection guarantee An eviction protection guarantee also goes beyond the normal scope of property management services and can be used as a secondary source of revenue. Eviction Protection is a service provided by property management companies to property investors that offers additional security and financial protection in the event of an eviction. Under this guarantee, the property management company assumes the costs associated with the eviction process, including legal fees and court expenses. It helps alleviate the financial burden on property investors and provides peace of mind by ensuring that they are safeguarded against potential losses resulting from resident evictions. The eviction guarantee helps protect property owners from the complexities and potential costs associated with evictions, ensuring a smooth and efficient resolution to tenant-related issues. Pet guarantees & other guarantees A pet guarantee is a service offered by property management companies to property investors that aims to address any potential issues related to allowing pets in rental properties. It typically involves implementing policies and procedures to ensure responsible pet ownership, such as thorough pet screening, pet agreements, and collecting additional pet deposits or fees. The pet guarantee may also include services like pet damage insurance or assistance with pet-related issues during the lease term. It provides property investors with a framework to accommodate residents with pets while minimizing risks and maintaining the condition of the property. For many residents, finding a pet-friendly apartment increases retention and profitability. They’re willing to stay longer and pay more for a pet-friendly place. And–get this–pet damage is less likely to happen than damage from kids! It’s not a huge risk to the asset, but can provide a big benefit in terms of satisfied, longer-term residents. Maintenance plan Home warranties are a four-letter word for property managers. They’re a massive headache to deal with, and yet there’s high demand for them among property investors. Because of that, most property managers charge a fee for home warranties, for each they have to file. Imagine if there was a world where home warranties weren’t needed. Here’s the thing: Professional property managers already have the vendor network and the know-how to coordinate maintenance jobs. What they don’t usually have is a product that’s priced to give the investor the experience they want. Let’s say right now an investor is paying $50 a month for a cheap home warranty. The warranty only covers 40% of issues and it creates all these extra people and friction in the middle. For anything moderately significant that goes wrong with a property, PMCs generally must contact the investor for permission to get work done. It’s all a massive hassle and loses time in maintenance requests that leave residents frustrated. What if there was a product that costs, say, $150 to $200 a month but it actually covered everything? Instead of having sudden expenses and emergencies, this maintenance plan smooths out the experience and makes it more predictable for the investor. For PMs, it means taking the initiative on fixes without waiting for approval. Imagine a world where you didn’t have to get owner approvals for 95% of maintenance issues – because they’re already budgeted for and already paid for. For residents, it means better maintenance, and faster. Another Triple Win! Asset performance reports Another piece focuses on property managers as asset managers. Think about any investment app, like Robinhood, Acorns, etc. You can log in to these apps any time, 24/7, and see how your stock and investments are performing. In most investment classes, you can see in real time how your assets are performing. Why shouldn’t property investors have that as well? An IBP™️ can include exactly that: a dashboard or online portal that shows investors regular reports on how their property is doing. They could get updates on the value of their home over time, the home price appreciation, rent price over time, and project rent growth, typically maintenance costs and how they’re doing against that, and more. Resident Benefits Package Another piece to include in your IBP™️ is to highlight the benefits of your resident benefits package to your investors. Explain how features like a filter delivery program protect their assets and reduce HVAC repair costs. Show how a renters insurance program can ensure coverage and protection. Give numbers on how credit reporting incentivizes on-time rental payments and helps ensure financially stable renters. Explain how a movie-in concierge saves both time, headache, and money. Each of the pillars of an RBP is critical to encouraging better resident behavior, increasing renter retention and lease renewal rates, reducing vacancies, and more – all primary goals for a property investor. A note about Rent Advance Programs There’s been due buzz about “Rent Advance” offerings, though many advise caution when approaching this financial product. It works in some ways like cash advance programs, which can satisfy urgent needs, but not be more valuable for anyone long term. The way it works is PMs offer to send a year of rent upfront to the investor in a big chunk, and collect monthly from the resident. The investor typically pays a 5-10% premium on the advance, which can be their entire expected return. So the question becomes, where do they put that cash to get a better return instead? Another thing to think about is who would actually use this product. Investors who don’t have enough cash on hand? How does that benefit anyone in the long run? What happens when there’s a big maintenance bill later? Does this encourage better decisions and practices by the investor? To date, there’s been pretty low adoption of this program, which is another sign it may not be hugely beneficial to everyone involved. But plenty of innovations start that way, evolve, and find traction. One case where it might be a value generator is if an investor is looking to take a cash advance and put it toward a down payment for another house. That would benefit the property manager as well, promising more business, and the PM could offer a lower rate for getting more properties to make the financing more attractive than hard money loans or other alternatives. The jury is still out here, it’s an interesting one to track. How Can Investors and Property Managers Benefit From an Investor Experience Platform™️? Investors and property managers can benefit from an Investor Experience Platform™️ in several ways. They’re also great for residents in the sense they build more stability and quality into the renting process. Here are just some of the benefits of an IBP™️. Enhanced investor attraction An Investor Experience Platform™️ provides incentives and advantages that can attract more investors. Financial guarantees and protections against the risks associated with evictions or late payments can increase stability, while services like a maintenance plan can ensure premium care of their property assets without increasing their workload. By offering attractive perks, property managers can differentiate their offerings and generate greater investor interest. Increased investor retention Both IBP™️s and RBPs help build loyalty with residents and investors. By fostering a strong relationship and demonstrating ongoing value, property managers can build trust and loyalty among investors, and retain them over the long term. IBP™️s help establish the stability, transparency, and asset growth for a real estate investment that an investor hopes to achieve. Improved property performance An Investor Experience Platform™️ can also contribute to improved property performance. For example, by offering discounted property management fees or access to professional services at reduced rates, property managers can help investors optimize their returns and reduce costs. Additionally, incentives such as rent guarantees or eviction protection can mitigate risk for investors and attract more capital to the property. Streamlined communication and transparency A well-designed Investor Experience Platform™️ facilitates effective communication and promotes transparency between property managers and investors. This can involve regular reporting on financial performance, property updates, and the sharing of relevant market insights. Transparent and consistent communication builds trust and confidence among investors, fostering a positive and long-lasting relationship. Competitive advantage A comprehensive Investor Experience Platform™️ can give property managers a competitive edge in the market. When investors have access to exclusive benefits and advantages, they are more likely to choose a property managed by a company that offers a compelling package – and to recommend it to others. Say hello to increased investment inflow and a stronger market position for your PMC. Should You Make an Investor Experience Platform™️ Mandatory? The first thing most property managers ask us when we’re talking about an RBP or an IBP™️ is: Should I make this mandatory for all investors or do I make it a flexible opt-in/opt-out program? Unlike RBPs, where best practices are more proven and established, different PMs are taking different approaches with their IBP™️s. Some have a mandatory level of service set at a flat price. Others may say they’re fine offering a base level of service without these differentiated products, giving investors the choice to simply pay a baseline management fee and opt out of the IBP™️ premium service. Some may offer a baseline to all investors and then give them the chance to opt in for premium IBP™️ services. There are a lot of ways to do it. With the RBP, we’ve found that making it mandatory does not generate nearly as much pushback as people expect – and can be a strong value add overall. Final Thoughts About an Investor Experience Platform™️ The Investor Experience Platform™️ is an innovative way to generate ancillary income and create more value for investors and residents. Similar to Second Nature’s premier Resident Benefits Package, the IBP™️ can deliver high-quality service for investor experience – and help create a triple win for investors, residents, and property management companies. The IBP™️ reinforces the value of a professional property management company for investors and helps differentiate you from the crowd. Stay tuned to learn more about the latest in the IBP™️ space, or learn more about how a resident benefits package can launch a whole new level of value for your PMC.

Calendar icon July 17, 2024

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