There’s an old sports adage that “your team is only as good as its weakest player.” This wisdom can be applied to any industry, but I’ve found it especially true of property management. Successful property management requires a joining of professionals with vastly different skill sets all working toward the same goal: maximizing the quality and profitability of their clients’ investments. In other words, it’s a team sport. And, just as in sports, some organizations are better than others at assembling a championship team that stays great.
For evidence of that, look no further than LA’s two baseball teams. The Dodgers were 2020 World Series champions playing for a repeat win in 2021, and they’ve made the playoffs for nine straight years, whereas the Angels have only made the playoffs once (2014) in that time span, and haven’t won a ring in almost 20 years. My point is that building a successful team is a skill all its own, and if you’re a property manager, it’s a skill you can’t afford to go without. In this article, I’ll lay out the best ways to improve your hiring practices and field a contender.
At the risk of sounding like Tony Robbins, attitude truly does matter. If “love covers a multitude of sins,” attitude covers a multitude of deficiencies. This is not to say you should hire somebody on attitude alone if they lack the skills necessary for the job in question. But if you’re comparing two A-quality candidates, one of whom is slightly less experienced but has a significantly better attitude, that’s the one you should hire. With that type of positive outlook and ambition on their side, chances are that this candidate will compensate for their comparative lack of experience with dedication.
Don’t Settle for a Passing Grade
You don’t want anybody on your team whose “grade” as an employee will top out at a C. You want A-grade players. Keep this rule in mind when you’re looking into an applicant’s employment history and talking to their references. I find that asking for a number evaluation often cuts through the vague niceties that this kind of conversation typically includes. It gives people an opportunity to tell you the unvarnished truth about an employee in ways they might hesitate to with words alone. Anybody listed as a person’s reference is likely to say something positive about them, but when asked for a number, they’ll be more straightforward. Of course, it’s impossible to reduce the complexities of a person to one number, and I always start with that caveat. I say, “I know you can’t fully assess a team member on a scale from 1 to 10, but if you had to, what number would you put them at?” I’m often surprised to hear somebody rank a former employee at a 7 out of 10 after talking them up for the better part of our conversation. My rule of thumb is to never hire anybody whose former employer doesn’t rank them at least an 8.
Culture is Key
Finding team members who elevate your company requires that you know your company. Taking into consideration the unique personality and culture of your business will help you hire people who aren’t just good at what they do, but who fit in with the atmosphere and make your team greater than the sum of its parts. Even if you’re in the early stages of building your team, and it doesn’t have a defined ethos just yet, you should know what your vision is for the culture, and let that guide you.
Putting together a winning roster doesn’t happen overnight. You’ve got to be patient in seeking out the best possible candidates for your specific organization. Sometimes, the extra week or two it takes you to fill a position with an A-grade player (as opposed to the B-grade one you can hire tomorrow) is what keeps that position filled for five years instead of one. Nothing at your company matters more than the people who comprise it, so choose those people wisely.
David Crown is the C.E.O. of Los Angeles Property Management Group, and has over twenty-five 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. He can be reached directly at 323-433-5254.