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Property Management


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Colin Rodgers, Taking over the street

With steely determination, Colin Rodgers and his team at McGrath have become the big name in property management in the Sutherland Shire in Sydney. Two years ago, Colin and his team had 900 properties under management and now they have more than 2200 managed by 22 staff. By the end of 2015, they aim to have more than 3,000. Colin says, “We’re committed to that; that’s our goal. We will achieve it.”

This phenomenal growth hasn’t happened by accident - it has occurred through careful planning and design. Colin explains, “We took a good long look at ourselves and realised if we wanted to move to the supermarket from the corner store, we had to do things differently. We had to sit down and picture our department the way that we wanted it to be in five years time. We examined the properties that we manage, the number of staff we had, and also our profit. They were three overriding considerations that we had.”

Colin and his team underwent an exhaustive planning process that entailed consulting with all staff and travelling Australia looking at different models of property management. Colin says, “Within 12 months we had the structure right and we had identified seven buckets that we needed to focus on.”

The Seven Buckets of Property Management

Staffing

Colin says, “With staffing we asked: ‘Who actually does what in the department?’ and ‘What duplication of duties do they do?’. We had to look at, ‘Well, who can we grow and nurture within the team to become future team leaders, future business development managers and future property managers?’. We also needed to look at, ‘The people that we’ve got today at 900, will they be able to cope when we’re at 1250, or when we’re at 1500 or 2000?’.”

Culture

A very important part of a business, Colin says, “We asked ourselves, ‘What’s the culture that we wanted to have in the business?’. Culture is a big thing and it’s something that’s overlooked in real estate, and particularly in property management today.”

We are now leasing 15 properties a month more than we were previously. The incoming calls into our department now are 85% less.

Incentives

Colin looked at what sort of incentives they were going to offer. He says, “We realised that we had to do something different. Conventionally in property management, the incentives really just revolve around if you bring in a new management you get the first week’s letting fee. And that’s pretty boring, and it really doesn’t provide an incentive. So what we did was incentivise the entire property management team - that is, the accounts team, the leasing officers, and the property managers. And, indeed, the rest of the company - if they referred business in, there would be an incentive back to that individual.”

Technology

To scale the heights they have, Colin believes that technology has played a huge role. He says, “We introduced InspectRealEstate and it was a game changer. I love InspectRealEstate.

It’s a true use of technology to the greatest degree. We are now leasing 15 properties a month more than we were previously. The incoming calls into our department now are 85% less. And in fact, through the system now we’re actually getting testimonials and thank you emails for being the only office in the area that actually gets back to people and gives them the flexibility to book and have appointments at the time that suits them.”

Colin has also found REST Professional from Rockend very helpful as well. He explains, “I have a compliance check done once a month on each team member’s emails, because I want to go through and find out what emails have or haven’t been attended to, what emails are sitting in inboxes or outboxes or in junk mail, what emails should be transferred into REST document management as well, because REST needs to be in everything that we do. That’s been a game changer for us as well.”

Physical Layout of the office

Colin and his team looked at the physical layout of their office to see how they could improve the productivity of their team. He says, “We created a couple of meeting rooms for lease sign-ups and so on. We had to train our team not to meet and talk to people in the reception area because what I’ve found is that when people talk in the reception area, they’re on stage; they know they’ve got an audience. So the length of conversation doubles, the volume doubles. Bring them into the little soundproof booth, the conversation is more effective, more personable, and a result is going to come.”

Regarding the number of properties that they wanted to have, Colin is of the view that, “More properties don’t necessarily mean more profit. And it’s a full-time job and a balancing act to keep the two in concert with each other. You really need to set the number of properties that you want to achieve, have your action plan and target, and stick to it, and live and breathe it every day. We set a profit target that we want to achieve, and I have that in front of me every day.”

Profit

Colin says that it seems silly to identify it, but profit is often overlooked in property management. They put profit at the heart of the business. Colin explains “We had to look at it not only just for when the thing’s being sold down the track, we had to look at what can we deliver to the shareholders - because I’m accountable to a group of seven shareholders so I had to deliver profitability, create income streams, and different income streams over and above your traditional letting fees, management fees and other ancillaries. So we really had to push the paradigm as far as that is concerned. Customer service is the number one priority, but return on investment to the shareholders is a top priority as well. In property management, a lot of work that we do is for zero. And the more work that we do for zeroes, the more that landlord and tenant clients want to pump into us to do more for zero as well.”

By looking at the seven buckets, Colin and his team have taken the corner store and become a supermarket!

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Colin Rodgers, Taking over the street