By Neil Fjellestad & Chris De Marco
A “best practice” is a method or technique that has consistently shown results superior to those achieved with other means, and that is used as a benchmark to measure performance. Often the term is used to describe the process of developing and following a standard skill set or process that can be taught and tested. Demonstrated proficiency can be valuable to multiple organizations. Sometimes it is the recognition that as conditions change or improvements are discovered standard practices must evolve to keep up.
So it is with property management as it has grown into a major industry where best practices are expected at all levels. This is true for several defined reasons including –
• In major population centers rental living continues to grow as either a household financial requirement or a lifestyle choice. Here in San Diego nearly half of our households rent.
• The effect of property management on renter satisfaction is both substantial and constant. There has been increased demand for standards of performance and customer service. This will continue at even a faster pace.
• Rental housing is increasingly in the center of public policy and liability issues. Property management is crucial to the risk management that surrounds this type of real estate ownership.
• Property management is complicated by changing demographics and additional regulation while becoming a vanguard industry for the daily use of integrated technologies.
• As property management companies become larger and dispersed regionally and nationally standardization has increased exponentially as both external customers and internal stakeholders have demanded a sea of change.
• Colleges and Universities are becoming aware of the fact that by 2015 this industry will face a major shortage of qualified professionals. These institutions must produce relevant business graduates.
Many rental properties are owned and operated by independent owners. Though their rentals are subject to all the above market requirements some owners operate under the philosophy that they are in the best position to decide their operating practices and they choose who and how daily management, leasing and maintenance are done. These can be decisions of commission or omission. The question is two-fold: are best practices being employed? How does an independent rental owner identify best practices?