There is not a day that goes by that we don’t have something new that we must deal with. It’s a challenge that we are in the middle of, and if we don’t have the skills to find those solutions, then all of a sudden that creates stress and it’s the stress that creates burnout. So if we are not equipped with the information and the learning, then the job will be too hard and we’ll go and do something that’s easier. And I think that’s a real shame because there is so much joy in property management when you do have the skills to be able to deal with really difficult situations.
When was the last time you did some personal development? And if you’re asking yourself, what the hell is that? Then this blog is for you. Now, personal development is essentially defined as looking inward and focusing on ways to better yourself. Personal development increases your self-awareness, your self-esteem. It increases your skills and fulfils your aspirations. And usually before you embark on a self-development journey, you get to the point where you are feeling unfulfilled and stuck. There are days where I wake up and I just go through the daily motions, and I’m sure you can relate to this. I make a coffee, I sit down at my computer for a day at work. I usually work out, walk the dogs, make dinner, then read or watch a show and go back to bed. The next day I wake up and I do it all over again. And if you’re feeling like that and you’re not happy with it, the good news is you’re not alone. And personal development is here to help. For me, it was the pandemic that highlighted how much I was resenting the vicious monotony of my life. I felt so unhappy and unfulfilled. It wasn’t just property management, it was everything about my life at the time. So after getting stuck in Sydney for three months away from the business and my real-life responsibilities, I used it as an opportunity to dive into personal development. I’d always been a reader, so I always had a personal development book or two on the go. But I really did a deep dive into personal development. During this time, I embarked on an intentional personal development journey well before I knew what it meant. And I knew I wanted to see real personal growth and had reached a point in my life where I needed real change. I needed to learn how to regulate my emotions. I needed to shift my mindset in so many ways. And I needed to know that there was hope for a brighter future. And so I did the work and I did some more. And to be honest, it never actually stops. You have to keep learning, evolving, and reminding yourself when new challenges come up of the tools that you used previously to get through those difficult periods. But if you never have those tools and that personal development learnings, well, I honestly don’t know where I would be today, and I don’t know how I would’ve survived through some of the challenges that have come after I did all that personal development work. So if you are feeling stuck, unhappy, and know there is something missing in your life, personal development just could be the answer you’re looking for.
My guest today is Michelle Williams, and she’s the founder of Launceston’s first independent real estate brand, at home property management. She and her husband started the business from scratch and now manage 800 properties. She has put a large portion of her success down to the personal development work she has done over the past 20 years. And now she’s laying out all of those foundations and the lessons she’s learned at the upcoming P P M conference on the Gold Coast so that you too can learn from her lessons and create a sustainable property management business. Now this conference event is 100% property management-focused, and it’s a fantastic two-day event full of new ideas, concepts, and strategies to get your property management switched on. I’m also presenting a session on social media at the event.
SHARE A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF AND HOW YOU GOT STARTED IN PROPERTY MANAGEMENT
“It’s been lovely having a quick chat with you prior to the interview. A little bit about me, how do I keep this short? So I’ve had 26 years in property management, so it’s been a very long journey and it started with like most property managers by accident. So I had no idea what property management meant when I fell into that role. And like a lot of property managers started at the bottom in reception and worked my way through. So I had 12 years in property management before starting our business at home property management in Launceston, Tasmania. And prior to that, I guess I found there were a lot of conflicts between sales and property management where I tried really hard to make some improvements within the property management department that I worked in. But it seemed that sales were always king and always the focus. And I think everybody that has been in property management in that environment will understand what I’m saying. And there were just a lot of things that I found potentially were never going to change. So that’s when I realized that it was time to be brave and step out and do something new. And we were one of the first to start a property management-only business in our area. And we went in with a plan. And I guess that’s the critical element. And obviously one of the things we’re going to be talking about today is development and planning and having that drive to really understand what it is that you’re setting out to achieve. And we certainly did that. We had a five-year plan when we started our business to grow to a certain level, and there was a lot of structure around that. So, when we opened the doors, we didn’t go in blindfolded. And I think that’s some advice to some newer businesses that are starting up now. There are a lot more independent property managers going out and actually doing this. So that’s something I will share at the P P M conference in more detail because it’s so important that you do have the model set up so that it’s sustainable long-term rather than diving in and hoping that it’s going to do well. And then when it does, you don’t know what to do with that and it’s what’s the next level. So, within the first five years, we’ve grown organically to close to 500 managements, and we continued that organic growth right through to now. Today we manage 800 managements within about a 15-kilometer radius of our area, and we have a team of 13. So it’s been obviously something that was incredibly in demand at the time. And from there we’ve had to be able to create a model that allows us to maintain the consistency within that service through growth, which is one of the most challenging parts. That’s why you see a lot of businesses get to around that 300 level and potentially sell out because it becomes too difficult to go past that point.”
WHAT IS SOME WISDOM AND THE JOURNEY AND THE PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT YOU’VE LEARNED THROUGH VARIOUS CONFERENCES BEEN A CONTRIBUTOR TO YOU HAVING THAT CONFIDENCE AND ABILITY TO STEP OT AND START YOUR OWN INDEPENDENT BRAND?
“A hundred percent. I would say that it was probably one of my main motivations and Debbie was certainly the first person to give me that confidence to start thinking about what that would look like. And I think at the time, Debbie and I were probably the two most passionate people about property management in the industry about 20 years ago when we first met. And I think she realized that when we did meet at her very first conference, that I was so excited about the product that she had available at the time, which was the P p M system. The P p M system for me was a bible. It was this amazing system that allowed property managers to sleep at night because before that we had nothing. Everything was very reactive. You were thrown in your desk and it was sink or swim. And anyone that’s been in the industry for as long as I have will know that that was the training. It was just learn as you go.
And at the time we didn’t have any of those resources that we have now, like podcast chat, GPT for example, that in Siri we had none of that. We didn’t even have maps on our phone, we had to use the atlas. So, there’s a lot of change that’s happened over the years and I think attending the P P M conference each year and other conferences along the way has been absolutely pivotal in our success because every time I attend I come across something fresh and something new. And what I like about P P M in particular is the diversity of the speakers that Debbie has in its such a broad range of experienced people right through to newer property managers in the industry who are achieving great results and sharing their stories. And that’s what I love and that’s what I’ve always taken away from the conference and also the networking. The networking is unbelievable. You’re in a room full of hundreds of people who have obviously all different levels of experiences in the industry and that is a huge part of it as well.”
DO YOU AGREE THAT ALL OF OUR PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT SKILLS, NEGOTIATION SKILLS AND OUR EMOTIONAL REGULATION ARE INHERENT AND NATURAL TO ALL OF US?
“A hundred percent. And 20 years ago, we didn’t have access to so many of the resources we do have now. And it’s unbelievable to me that we have all of this, and it’s almost like I can’t get enough of the information that’s out there. And I think for me that would be the advice I give anyone that’s starting out in the industry, someone that’s been in the industry for 10 years, you must continue to develop your skills; otherwise, the job just becomes really difficult. You’re dealing with so many different challenges every day, and there’s not a day that goes by that we don’t have something new that we have to deal with. That’s a challenge that we are in the middle of. And if we don’t have the skills to find those solutions, then suddenly that creates stress, and it’s the stress that creates burnout. So, if we are not with the information and the learning, then the job will be too hard, and we’ll go and do something that’s easier. And I think that’s a real shame because there is so much joy in property management when you do have the skills to be able to deal with really difficult situations because instead of having that stress and fear, you have that feeling of this is the challenge, and I’m going to fix it. I’m going to find a resolution. And you get to the end of that and find the resolution, and it gives you that sense of achievement. So it’s a whole different way of being in property management when you do have those skills. We currently have a lot of external training that we do, but we also have, we have the last think three years. One of our property managers went on maternity leave, and she was a highly experienced property manager, and after eight months, she wanted to come back into the fold a couple of days a week. And it’s when you’re a big office, we had a couple of people at the time on leave, on maternity leave go, how do I bring new mums back into the business who are highly skilled? Well, I can’t give this person a portfolio; what will I do with this person? And we instead developed a training and mentoring role for, for Maddie to come back into the office to be able to utilise her skills. So we now set up deliberate training within our office, and we register that with the property agents board, and we get points for it. And it’s been an amazing change within our office because we are constantly learning and developing every week we’re doing something new. So it doesn’t just have to be a great big conference, although you get so much out of that in a couple of days, you can continually be challenging yourselves to learn more. And I think that’s when you get the enjoyment out of the job.”
DO YOU WANT TO SHARE SOME OF THE SESSIONS THAT YOU THINK WILL BE REALLY VALUABLE AND MAYBE SOME OF THE SPEAKERS THAT WILL BE AT THE CONFERENCE?
“I think there’s a huge range this year, and as I said, it’s the diversity that Debbie always brings. And so for example, my session is very much about what it takes to build a sustainable business. And obviously having those different levels of experience has allowed me to learn from all the mistakes. So you are learning from so many years of experience broken down, and we are sharing the mistakes that we’ve made so that you don’t have to make them or you can try and navigate your way around them as best you can with the information. So you’ve got nuts and bolts speakers like me, and then you’ve got your motivational speakers who I think everyone feels a little bit burnt out. And I think people have stopped talking about covid, but for me, I realised that it’s been that lag time and now people are really starting to feel that stress as a result of what we’ve been through over the last few years. And I think you still need to be able to go to these conferences and have your speakers who are engaging with you from an emotional perspective and how to deal with balancing, work with family and all the things that you’ve got to think about. And so it’s the diversity that you’ll find with the speakers this year. Some fantastic speakers there, and we’ve got some, relatively new to the industry. Laura Shooter is one who I’ve had the privilege of meeting last year, just an absolute gun. And she’s so motivated, she’s got the motivation that I had 20 years ago. I’m feeling a little bit tired now, I try and stay in that zone. But you know how when you talk to someone, they’re just really excited about property management, and it just re-energises you. And so, you get to hear from people like Laura, and I love to see that because it takes me way back.”