Are You Communicating?

I speak with many on-site managers each year – often about some problem they are having with a tenant, an owner, the body corporate manager or the chairman of the committee.

That list is not exhaustive, but I guess it covers the majority of cases.

One of the things that becomes apparent when problems arise, is that there has been a severe lack of communication somewhere along the line. From the list of people or parties with whom a manager may find himself or herself in conflict, two categories really stand out. These are your investor owners and your body corporate.

Let’s look at your investor owners first.

Your investor owners normally account for a large slice of your income. The more happy investors you keep in your rental pool, the more money you will make and the happier your bank manager will be. Anyone who knows me knows that I bang on all the time about the importance of writing monthly newsletters. A short monthly newsletter is a fantastic communication tool with owners who might live thousands of kilometres away from their investment property. You can keep them up to date with what the rental market in your area is like; you can get real estate comment from your local paper and pass on market snippets – absentee owners in Melbourne or Marrickville do not read about real estate in Runcorn or Robina in the Melbourne Age or the Sydney Morning Herald.

A trick I used use when I owned a permanent management rights was to hand-write a short personal message (in blue ink) on each owner’s end of month statement. Yes, it took a bit of time and effort but it endeared me to my owners because nobody writes hand-written personal notes any more.

But what about managers for whom English is not their native language? For many, many years the management rights industry was populated by native English speakers. Okay, you say, what about the Kiwis? Yes, I will admit their spoken words took a bit of getting used to but their written English is the same as ours. Only joking!

The industry is seeing an increasing number of non-English speaking overseas migrants buying management rights and these entrants sometimes struggle when communicating with their owners. There is no easy answer to this problem, other than for the manager to be diligent in their pursuit of mastering both spoken and written English. When composing newsletters, it might be possible to put the basic ideas on paper, then have a friend with good written English skills mould it into shape. While fluency in a foreign language can be of great assistance when dealing with tenants in certain suburbs, fluency in English is generally required for successful interaction with your owners.

Secondly, we have the body corporate. A good relationship with your body corporate results in a stress free life, while a poor one can make it a misery. Normally, you will only be required to deal with the nominated representative of your body corporate. It will be catastrophic for all concerned if numerous members of the body corporate have the idea that they can individually tell you what to do! Try to develop a close relationship with this nominated person. Chat to them regularly and keep them informed about what you are doing, and what you plan to do.

If your body corporate has formal committee meetings, prepare a short report for each meeting. Let the committee know you are on the ball. Get to know your owner-occupiers. They are not your enemies. Do them little favours from time to time and they will be on your side when you need their votes at an AGM.

The world revolves on communication. Make sure you are a contributor.

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