“I want to take you back for a second to the ancient days of property management. Well, it wasn’t actually that long ago, but take a read of this. So when I first started in property management, we would hand write our entry condition reports or routine inspections. We would take photos on a digital camera and then have to upload those photos onto our computer hoping that first of all, the photos weren’t all blurry, and secondly, that the computer had enough memory left to store them. We would take cash over the counter and have to give handwritten receipts or carbon copy receipts to people. We’d then have to make sure that everything was saved into a hard file and stored in a filing cabinet. We had to have everything either signed in person, posted, or wait for it faxed through to people. But boy, have things changed and thank goodness for that. And thank goodness for technology, especially the creators of digital signature platforms and cloud-based property management software. And if you are anything like me, you probably hate doing entry condition reports the most, especially on a large scale new property. This can literally take hours and requires good attention to detail. Something that I am majorly lacking. There are a thousand things that I would rather be doing, including poking hot rods in my eyes. But it is a necessary evil in doing your job as a property manager, right? Wrong. Have you ever thought about outsourcing these tasks, not to someone overseas, but to someone locally based who meets all the compliance and regulations, as well as conducts themselves as a professional member of your business? Where is this unicorn you might be asking? Well, her name is Shannon Welch and she is the director of Property Assist, a western Australian outsourcing company that provides much needed support to property management businesses. And not only that, she’s also an amazing working mom with a two-year-old and a four-month-old. Yes, you heard me right, but she juggles it all so seamlessly. Her team provides accurate and precise property condition reports, final bond inspections, routine inspections, and literally everything in between. And the vision of Property Assist is to make a difference to the quality and perception of property managers enabling you as the business owner to keep your clients happy, whilst improving the efficiency of your staff. Property assist aims to provide you with the best outsourcing available, effectively delivered by registered or experienced property managers with hands-on experience and current industry knowledge. Yes, please. Where have you been? All my property management life. Ultimately, with more time and less tasks, business owners are able to create better performing property management teams, which ultimately means happier clients and more time to work on bringing in those new clients. So, if you’re curious about outsourcing, then take a read to my chat with Shannon.”
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF AND HOW YOU GOT STARTED DOING WHAT YOU ARE DOING NOW
“Thanks so much for having me, Kylie. I really appreciate it. Well, I started in real estate like most people do, I guess on reception straight out of school. It was my first job and I was seeing the property managers out the back essentially really stressed and overwhelmed and I guess just not enjoying it. And I thought, I want to try and give it a go and try and help these people that are calling and having problems, the tenants and owners and things like that. It seems like it didn’t have to be that hard, if that makes sense. So, I went out and did my property management course, went into being assistant and then I got thrown into a portfolio I think three months in. So that was like, it always happens, I guess as well and then ended up being in property management for eight years. And I was a BDM for the last three years. And I absolutely loved it. I definitely took a little step away from the day-to-day property management and I just really enjoyed being a BDM, did really well at it, which was great. And then, I ended up having not the best ending to my career in property management with the business that I was working with. It just wasn’t a very nice ending, which I guess a lot of people can relate to as well. And I ended up sort of leaving that property management space thinking, what can I do? Do I just go back into property management and hope that I find, another great employer, or do I do something different? I ended up falling into the inspections where obviously I’d been in it for eight years, so I knew quite a lot of people. I had made a really great rapport with people and different licensees, and they were screaming out, they needed a hand. So I thought I’ll just give inspections a go. And within six months I was fully booked on doing PCRs and routines. I ended up hiring my first staff member and teaching her what we were sort of offering. And then we’re now eight years down the track. It’ll be our eighth birthday for properties this month. So, we’ve got 15 inspectors on the roads. It’s been 16 years in real estate but that’s kind of how we came about.”
HOW ARE YOU HANDLING JUGGLING THE BUSINESS, STAFF MEMBERS, AND A TWO-AND-A-HALF-YEAR-OLD AND A FOUR-MONTH-OLD?
“Yeah, it’s a juggle. I’m sure a lot of moms know that. I guess like I have to say, I am lucky that I started my business eight years ago. So for us to have got to this point, I have an office manager, I have a scheduler in the office that assists her as well, the office manager. So I kind of got myself to that point where I was able to have that support and that assistance to manage the team, obviously. So it is definitely putting a second child into the mix has really been a typical. But yeah, I wouldn’t be able to do it without my team, that’s for sure. Honestly, they’re amazing. It’s definitely been a juggle, and we’re definitely getting there, and I couldn’t do it. I know I’ve had quite a few people contact me recently on Instagram just saying, how do you do it? I really want to do the inspections. I know it’s a really like incredibly needed thing over in the east coast and they want to try and get started, but they don’t have I guess that huge amount of time if they’ve got children as well. And I did do the hard yards that first, you know, six years I was up late and it’s always, starting a business is always going to be difficult in the beginning. But yeah, I found that’s probably how it’s got to that point is because I didn’t have the kids to begin with. I just had me to worry about.”
YOUR CATCH PHRASE: USE OUR TIME TO SAVE YOURS. HOW CAN OUTSOURCING HELP CREATE BETTER PERFORMING PROPERTY MANAGERS?
“Yeah, absolutely. I think, use our time to save yours. So it just sort of made sense and we kind of ran with that right from the start. I think I needed a business name and a slogan essentially like you do. And yeah, it just works. I guess it’s what we do. We save the property manager’s time by going out on the road and doing that. I guess everything that you need to do to be able to get to a property is drive. You’ve got dead time there. Hopefully people are making phone calls and doing things on their way. But it’s definitely for a routine inspection, I guess it’s at least an hour sort of by the time you take the time driving to the property, doing the routine inspection and driving home or going to the next one, finishing, typing the report, that sort of thing is the long time. So yeah, that’s what we’re there to do for our Perth clients and it really worked, I guess. Yeah, I guess it’s one of those things that hopefully people can see the benefit in the outsourcing and the inspections over east. I think it’s becoming more talked about that they’re needing it. It’s definitely what we obviously help with is we have the staff, so it’s us that are managing the staff and we’re taking on those things that go wrong potentially when they’re sick or I don’t know, wake up late one morning or something like that. That’s all obviously on us to sort that out. So if you book an inspection in, you know it’s going to happen. Or if you have a busy month, essentially, I have a few clients that will just outsource their inspections every second or third month. They take the whole portfolio, they give it to us, we do the scheduling, we have the inspector go out, it just gives that property manager a breather for that month essentially. Sometimes they might know the business owner might say, okay, let’s really work on calling our owners and checking in and you know, doing those reason calls as we like to call them. If I outsource your inspections, what else can we do to sort of get ahead? So I think in terms of the management, obviously we want to keep people in jobs and things like that, but it is a lot to manage that staff member. You’ve got the holidays and you’ve got the pay that comes with that. As a business owner with this, you just pay the report price and you know that it’s done as well. I think that’s one thing. I spoke to an agency over East the other day and they said that they didn’t always do their inspections every month. It wasn’t something that was a priority for them, which I thought was really, really interesting because they’re then not getting that income every month as well. And you know what? I’ve never thought about it. I’d just thought I’d give my property managers a break. But I think if you can still get them done, you’re still incurring that income into your business. Hopefully you’re charging more than what the outsourcing company’s charging you. And then yeah, everyone’s happy, essentially moving forward.
COULD YOU SHARE SOME EXAMPLES OF BUSINESS OWNERS THAT YOU ARE CURRENTLY WORKING WITH AND HOW THAT HAS HELPED THEM ELEVATE THEIR TEAMS AND MAKE THEM BETTER PERFORMERS BY JUST TAKING THEIR JOB OR ONE TASK OUT OF THE EQUATION?
“Like I said before, we have some businesses that will only outsource every second or third month to us. So that just gives them that breather. In terms of final bond inspections, we’ve actually had a few recently where they’ve been really tricky ones where they know that they’re going to court, so they need that third eye essentially, or that other perspective. Someone that’s not had any relationship during that tenancy whatsoever. So we’re coming in with a fresh set of eyes, there’s no thought in the back of our mind, oh, well they didn’t pay rent, you know, they were always annoying with paying their rent. So we’ll really get our red pen out and make lots of notes on the final bond it does just come down to the original report and what was said in that, and then how it looks now. And that’s what we do. We just make comments on what is different at the end of the tenancy and then create that report from there. So that’s been really handy for a lot of property managers that do feel if it is a real sticky situation, they’ll ask us to attend rather than do it themselves. Yeah, I guess that’s probably one of the main things. And obviously property condition reports, I know there’s probably a lot more involved over here in WA in terms of the descriptions and things. I think we go a bit overboard here, but for us, I did a poll the other day and most of the people that reacted to it said it took them four hours, four to six hours to do a property condition report from start to finish. So that’s just unbelievable to me. Like I don’t understand how any business would want their property manager out and then typing it. Obviously when they get back to the office, they’ve got to remember that time as well, or finishing it off. So they obviously outsource that to us. We have it done and they’ve got four or six hours to do something else. You know, it seems silly to have to keep that in-house. It’s crazy with the cost as well for four hours of your property manager’s time, when realistically you’re only getting sort of on average, and I guess between 30 to $50 per property a week in the management fees back. Yeah. So that’s a lot of money you aren’t getting back through the service you’re providing.”
TALK ME THROUGH YOUR PROCESS, AND HOW DOES SOMEONE WORK WITH YOU GUYS?
“Pretty hands-on. So we like to come out and have a chat with the office first. Once someone inquires, we’ll sort of have ask what programs they use. So we use any of the inspection programs that are on the market. Obviously, we just want to assist the property management teams. There’s no one way that fits all for property management as we know. So, we just want to be there to assist that team. So we’ll ask what they use, we’ll go in and have a chat and just make sure that what we’re offering is definitely what they’re expecting. If it’s something different, then we’ll obviously chat to the client and sort of say, look, what are the reasons you need it done that way? Have you thought about doing it this way? That’s pretty standard over here anyway, in terms of the expectation. And then, they will book through our online booking form. There’s a really easy form online that we’ve created, spent a lot of time creating to make it easy so you guys don’t have to remember to tell us how many bedrooms it is or if it’s got a storeroom or what level the car bay is on and that sort of thing. So we ask all those questions, we get it booked in, we run out to the job when it’s needed. Obviously at the moment, sometimes we’re getting some clients that really need reports last minute because they’re leasing their properties so quickly they’re not even realizing that they’ve had the home open and then they’ve got a tenant moving in, you know, so we’ll jump in and more than likely get it in pretty quick. And then we go out, do the report and we get the report back to our clients within two business days. So, if we did a report on a Wednesday, they would have it by 5:00 PM Friday ready to go send it off to their tenant. So yeah, that’s sort of how we work.”