February 15, 2011

Task Management Vs Portfolio Management

In recent years, task management has become very popular within our industry. This may have occurred for a number of reasons such as increasing legislation and demand for increased services from clients. It also may have occurred due to risk management.

Of the many agencies I have had the privilege of working with over the years; most have portfolio traditional management with a touch of task. Many successful agencies have created separate roles for leasing, new business and general routine inspections.

Some task operational businesses are now returning to Portfolio Management; why?

One of the most common complaints from lessor clients is ‘who is managing my property?’ as the tasks are divided amongst different team members. For task management to really work, the tasks have to be so defined and streamlined to allow for very little miscommunication.

Communication and systems is most certainly the key. The trouble with task management for many is that one staff member may speak to the lessor about maintenance, another about account and then another about lease renewals. This may well provide a sense of frustration to lessors when they ask the lease renewal task manager about the maintenance issue and they are unable to answer. Sufficient file notes can mostly alleviate the problem, however there is still a possible element of doubt installed in the lessor mind as to the overall management of their investment. It takes a lot of education of lessors for them to understand how the task business operates and how it does benefit them. For most of us as consumers, we are all so busy and would prefer to deal with one client manager who knows my business as opposed to speaking to three or more etc. in order to have my questions answered.

I certainly am not suggesting that task does not work in today’s real estate operation. For task management to be successful, it must be a very smooth well defined operation where each team member understands that although leasing is your role, you may well need to assist a lessor or tenant when it comes to maintenance etc. as opposed to saying that “Maintenance manager will call you back”. This may well be needed sometimes due to the specifics of some cases; however my point is the attitude and service provided to lessor is that we are all managing your investment rather than that is not my department.

Portfolio management has long been my preferred way of managing property; however this is not without its own pitfalls and dangers. In days gone by, there have cases of a handful of portfolio managers who ‘hid’ problems within their portfolio only to be found some time later after they had left the business. I must say I don’t believe many of these case were intentional; maybe more due to lack of knowledge, confidence, education and negotiation skills.

Portfolio management with a splash of task is ideal for most operations depending on their own business goals and size. If a business is serious about growth and has a business plan for growth, a Business Development Manager is an ideal investment. It can be said that leasing is a specialised role that requires a great deal of time management and selling skills. For some businesses, combining the leasing and new business role is ideal; both roles compliment the other.

Administration assistance is a must for most businesses today; there are so many administration tasks in property management that could be handled by a capable assistant or personal assistant to the property manager.

Property managers should be just that; managers. They should actually be called people managers given that a large part of the role is the management of lessors, tenants and other third parties such as contractors.

There are many critical factors needed for either model to succeed such as

• Job descriptions for all staff

• Key performance indicators

• Weekly meetings

• Regular reporting

To name the key matters that should be part of the business.

One of the key factors regardless of the model used by a Property Management Real Estate Business is the reminder to staff of what our businesses really are; customer service focused. Property is almost an afterthought.

Stacey Holt Real Estate Excellence provides private consultancy services to the Real Estate Industry.

Stacey Holt



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