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Planning your way to success with Sue Tilden

With Sue Tilden Raine & Horne Gosford

Property Management is all about strong systems, good communication and robust checks and balances according to Sue Tilden, one of Australia’s leading property managers from Raine and Horne Gosford.

Systems and checks and balances enable Sue and her staff to provide a consistently high level of service. She can relax knowing that all her team members are delivering the same quality standard of service, every single day.

It’s really important says Sue, “… that every client that comes our way - owners, tenants and people that walk in the door - get exactly what we’ve set out to prepare and offer.” She adds, “We don’t want stress. We don’t want to deal with stress in a way that creates more stress. Service is actually about how the interaction with the client is and how they feel throughout the process, and this is where our words are so important.”

Sue firmly believes being systematic minimises stress and facilitates quality service delivery. Sue says, “One of the things I do know is that I’m a systems lover. I love a system. When I interview a new applicant, they’ll always go, ‘Yes, I love systems’. My experience is that they don’t necessarily love anyone’s systems but their own. A big challenge is to work to somebody else’s system which, in this case, obviously is mine. Systems for systems sake can also be detrimental to being productive. It's no good having 50,000 systems in place if nobody takes any notice of them, or if they’re completely irrelevant and people are bypassing them. Systems will work if they’re needed and if they’re relevant to what you’re doing. You’ve got to be careful, I think, about the concept of systems. It's got to be actually applicable to what you’re trying to achieve at the end result.”

With regard to property management, Sue believes that good systems must go hand in hand with good time management, a strong code of ethics and a commitment to detail. Sue says, “Property managers come unstuck if they lack time management skills. Running around in circles, not prioritising their day and being what I call ‘reactive’ property managers - they only move when there’s a problem - if you do it that way, you will constantly be on the move dealing with putting out one fire or another. I am a great believer in being systemised. In every moment of the working day, I believe if you’re accounting for your time wisely, you’ll find it's a very easy job and one that gives you a great deal of pleasure.” Sue adds, “I actually think most people with a logical mind can learn property management and be very, very good at it. If you don’t have an eye for systems or if you don’t have a disciplined mind, I think you would find property management quite stressful.”

Sue oversees all aspects of her property management division to guarantee continued quality. Sue will “… go through the agency agreement to make sure that everything is signed and dotted in accordance with what we do. Sometimes we notice that owners have a tendency to want to alter things on the agency agreement, and you can’t opt out of the law, so there are certain times when we need to turn that agency agreement around and go back to our owner and say, ‘Look, I’m sorry, but you can’t cross that out and the law doesn’t prevent that. We have to honour that’.”

Once the agreement is completed Sue explains, “It comes to me. I go through it, make sure it's okay. I follow up with a letter back to the owner thanking them for their business and welcoming them to our company. I send them some information on our company that they haven’t had prior. I give them my card, my after-hours number, our communication guarantee, and a few other things that we offer, and write to them and let them know that not only do they have their property manager to look after them, they also have me at any time they like, seven days a week. If they can’t get satisfaction, call me.”

Further, once a tenant has been approved, the tenant will come in to sign the tenancy agreement and be briefed on their rights and responsibilities. Sue says, “We have identified the areas that cause the most grief - arrears, routine inspections, pets in property, and parking. These are areas that consistently cause problems. What we do with that is that we actually sit down with the tenant. They actually sign off to say they understand it.”

She continues, “We explain the, ‘You need to be paid to date at all times rule – but let us know if there’s a problem. You ring us, we’ll help you if there’s a problem with you losing your job or whatever’. These awful things happen to people and they do happen. The other thing of course is routine inspections. We have to do these routine inspections at a time that suits us.

It can’t be always be accordance with what the tenant would like. We can’t come in after-hours; we can’t come in on Sundays. There are all sorts of rules. We’ve got quite a few properties where we have to give the required notice. You have to have seven days plus four days passage, allowing for public holidays. We usually give 11 days notice. Our letter goes out 11 days prior to needing to come through. We then let a tenant know right at the outset that, yes, we’d love them to be present. They can have anyone they like present, but we will be coming through. We will try and adjust to a time on the day to suit them - we’re happy to do that, but we can’t change days.”

With systems and the right approach, Sue believes a property manager can then provide the consistency and mindfulness to create productive and harmonious long term, working relationships with both owners and tenants.


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