Challenges faced during COVID started immediately, as they did for every industry. But, because our industry was deemed essential, it meant we kept going. This had its pros and cons.
Our first greatest challenge was operations. In March 2020, our leadership team was in Washington D.C. advocating at the capitol. We quickly new we needed to get home and get a plan in order. Now, we understand that in property management change is inevitable. But, going from a completely in office 8-5, M-F organization to a full time remote work was tough. All of our systems that used to involved passing physical files, now need to be done on a server, via email or zoom. We went to daily zoom meetings, many of our employees not physically seeing each other for over a year. Which brings up the next challenge.
Team Engagement in a virtual world.
After a while we needed to have some fun. Our first activity was a character game. Each employee took a photo and wrote a little bio of their new persona. We went through them all one morning and it got a lot of laughs! Our team got to be creative and silly. After that we engaged with our residents and did a Halloween decorating contest. Our residents really went all out!
In years past we would do an exercise called “pitch your property”. Typically, a challenge or new property to highlight to the whole company. This year we did “Pitch your Charity” instead. Each employee chose and pitched about their charity. At the end the idea was to vote on one to donate too, but our ownership decided to donate to them all! Our next activity involved being nominated for the BBB torch award. That, like this, has an extensive questionnaire and application process. So instead of one of us just doing it, we turned it into Torch Tuesdays. Every Tuesday we collaborated on answering the questions for the Torch application. It was great to get everyone’s perspective! When team engagement was a potential issue, our executive team dug deep to make it fun, collaborative, and creative!
Another challenge is obvious. COVID and all that came with it administratively and frankly emotionally. The legislative changes were a full-time job to interpret and then relay to our residents and owners, all of whom already scared, unsure and slow to trust. The ERAP – Once the application has been submitted, we must verify and confirm all information. As the property manager we are required to submit a copy of the property management agreement and a W9 to ensure the funds will be deposited and distributed correctly. Our team spent and continues to spend hundreds of hours helping residents apply, explaining the process to owners and doing all we could to make owners and residents whole again.
Lastly, dealing with the eviction moratorium and being unable to remove bad residents. While we were fortunate to only have a couple, the wrath that comes to a Property Managers perceived lack of action is merciless. We rarely discuss the emotional toll of this job, but it is heavy and leads to turnover. More about this in our Mental Health of Property Managers blog.