IS THIS THE FUTURE OF PROPERTY MANAGEMENT SUPPORT?

I am not the only one out there providing support and training for the property management industry. My guest today, well, she has found a gap in the market and I think you will want to hear what she has got to offer. Nina Sutton is the founder and managing director of Property Management Partners, and it’s single mission is to be the most successful creative and groundbreaking property management consulting agency initially in Melbourne. She has branched out and is Australia wide with the wealth of knowledge. Nina and her team have capabilities and expertise to support businesses on a whole new level like nothing before. At Property Management Partners, they combine their insights and skills to transform your processes and strategies and your company. They provide solutions including full portfolio management, training, consulting, offshoring, and events just to name a few of the things that they can do to support you and your business. They have got over a hundred years combined property and business management experience from training and consulting to setting up and running departments. Property management partners are a power packed solution that you might just be looking for in the current property management climate.

 

TELL ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSLF AND HOW YOU GOT STARTED DOING WHAT YOU ARE DOING?

“Those that don’t know me, my name’s Nina Sutton and I’m the managing director of Property Management partners. So, we partner with the property management industry to fill those gaps within their business. Kind of when they’re in between hiring staff or their staff are on leave, we can provide them property management support or if they’re very busy we all are in property management, we can offer that additional assistance both remotely and, in their office, to help with routine inspections and those kinds of things to help them catch up.”

 

WHAT IS YOUR BACKROUND AND HOW YOU GOT STARTED IN PROPERTY MANAGEMENT?

“Yeah, so I have been doing property management for a long time now. I’ve lost count over the years, but I was in a corporate position managing a global property management department all across the world. So, lots of travel and those sorts of things. And basically, what happened was that company was closing down, so I took a voluntary redundancy and I thought just while I’m, looking for a similar type of role, because they don’t come around very often, I’ll just temp in some businesses and help them out during those difficult periods. And it kind of just grew from there. So, I originally started four years ago now where I was in client’s office doing temporary property management and yeah, COVID kind of hit and everyone was, in staff shortages and those sorts of things. And we just grew from there and now have a team of 50 staff.”

 

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE TASKS YOU GUYS CAN DO FOR PROPERTY MANAGERS TO HELP THEM OUT?

“Sometimes we just do it for two days. Other times we have been there two years later. So, we have got some clients that we started with just on a temporary assignment and we have ended up still staying there as one of their permanent staff. So basically most, I would say 90% of our work is done remotely. So, all of our property managers do work from home and they all have on the ground assistance that help them with all of their on the ground appointments. So, we can cover all aspects of property management and basically they just need to contact us. We generally always have a few staff available on calls, so to speak, so that we can fill those roles. But all the staff are permanently hired through our business. So, it is not like we’re fishing from a temp pond or anything like that. They work for us, they’re employed by us and trained with us for an eight-week period on all of the software programs that we use. We induct them into those businesses and, and they just take a property and portfolio right from there and help them for as long or as little as they need.”

‘So what about the out of office tasks like, you know, open homes? So, so the agency would still have to do those, you know, routine inspections unless, cause you’re Melbourne based, right?’

 

WHAT ARE THE OUT OF OFFICE TASKS YOU OFFER? BECAUSE YOU ARE BASED IN MELBOURNE

“We are in Melbourne and our business is Melbourne based, but we are also covering new South Wales and Queensland now. So, we do have on the ground tasks that we can complete. So, all of those routine inspections, we have a full team that can help with those tasks. So, basically if they want a portfolio managed end to end, we can cover all of those tasks for them.”

 

WOULD YOU SAY YOUR BUSINESS IS MORE OF A ‘DONE FOR YOU SERVCE?’

“I think the biggest advantage was we have always worked remotely. So, our team has always been based that way and even before covid. So, we were very set up and very prepared for that before the pandemic hit. So, I think property management directors and things like that realize that you can actually do this job from anywhere really. You don’t have to be sitting in an office. But the best thing I think with our team is we also have a full leadership team as well. So, they oversee all of those property managers that work within those different offices. So, it is just an extra layer of protection, making sure all their KPIs are up to date and those sorts of things. So yeah, we kind of cover all aspects to make sure that the job’s done right and people keep getting us back so we must be doing what people want. So yeah we do get from both sides. We have just launched actually our PM startup, which is helping, you know, those sales agents that do want to bring property management into their business. So that is another aspect. Obviously, a lot of sales directors don’t really know property management, so we’re there to help them get set up and started and manage their portfolio until it is at a sustainable size and then we can hand it back to them and help them put a PM into their business. But yeah, of course we also do a lot of work with directly property management only officers, whether they’re small sole traders that finally want to have a break and have someone look after their portfolio while they go on leave, which is almost impossible when you’re a sole trader. We do end-to-end for all of our clients so we can cover the trust accounting and all of those sort of tasks, but we don’t solely do just trust accounting. We do work with a, a partner that does specialize in trust accounting, but we definitely have trust agents on our team that can assist those end-to-end clients.

WHAT WERE THE STRUGGLES OR ISSUES THE INDUSTRY WAS FACING WHEN YOU CAME UP WITH THE IDEA TO OFFWE THIS AS A SUPPORT SOLUTION FOR BUSINESSES?

“To be honest, I think it is a problem that we have always had, and that’s just finding good quality candidates and having strong property management background. I think we find a lot of temps that are placed into businesses. I know myself; I had a lot of temps when I was in that corporate role and you could have a different person every day or they just didn’t show up, or after a few days they found that it was too difficult because their heart wasn’t really in it. So, I think for us the main point that we wanted to focus on was making sure that we had good quality talent that we could put into people’s businesses. And that why it was kind of a no-brainer for us that we would hire them directly and train them rather than just have a casual pool like some of those other recruitment agencies offer. Ours are permanent staff, so nine times out of 10 the agent can, or the agency will have the same property manager each time. Obviously, we face the same challenges. Sometimes property managers leave. Luckily, we don’t have a high turnover, so quite often they do go back into the same office once they request them a second time. But yeah, we have, and I guess the other advantage is they get service from us 52 weeks of the year. So, we train two people on each portfolio so that if someone is away sick or has leave during that period, then we can replace them with a second senior portfolio now. So, they have constant coverage.”

 

DO YOUR PROPERTY MANAGERS ALSO DO CUSTOMER SERVICE SPEAK WITH THE CLIENTS AGENCY’S AS WELL?

“They do, so we can do one of two things. It depends obviously on the office. Some officers prefer us to stay in the background and do those background tasks for us, for them. Others do prefer that we have that full portfolio management where we do contact the clients directly.”

 

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BENEFITS FOR THE AGENCIES IN USING YOUR BUSINESS?

“I think, all of us property managers are trained within our department and within our business first. So, we make sure that they go through an eight-week sort of program to make sure that they are exactly what we are looking for in a property manager, making sure that they have the right skills because we all know when we’re hiring people that we don’t know until a few months in if they are right for our business. We don’t want to put them into an office if we don’t feel confident. So, we make sure we hire them directly, train them up to the standards and the processes and procedures that are expected of our business. And then the other advantage is we offer a full handover at the start and the end of any assignment. So, the PM will actually get to meet the person going on leave, do a full thorough handover with them, and then we’ll do the same when we finish that assignment. So, when that property manager comes back, they have everything there for them and know exactly where they can take off from and not have to be searching around the inbox to try and find out what we have done and what we haven’t.”

 

BECAUSE YOU DO THE TEMP AND THE PART-TIME STAFF, BUT COULD YOU DO IT FULL-TIME IF AN AGENCY JUST SAID, CAN YOU MANAGE MY WHOLE RENT FOR ME?

“Yeah, we actually do, we have got, I would say over 50% of our client base are permanent portfolios that we manage. Um, so some we manage just one portfolio for them out of, you know, their whole entire team. But, um, others we manage their entire portfolio. Some have like thousands of properties and yeah, they have got quite a few of our staff working for them. So yeah, especially those people that kind of have got that headache I guess, of trying to find property managers and don’t necessarily understand property management. Mainly sales directors that have lost their teams and things like that, we can jump in and, and take over their entire portfolio for them so that they retain the asset but they don’t have to worry about all of the headaches.”

 

HOW DOES THE STRUCTURE OF PRICING WORK?

“So, we have two pricing structures in our business. So, if we have staff or agencies that just want us on a temporary basis, then we just have an hourly rate. So, a temporary management fee to manage their portfolio, which starts around that $60 per hour mark. And then we do end-to-end portfolio management for a minimum of six-month term. That way they’re guaranteed the same agent on that portfolio for that period. And that just starts from 1900 per week for up to around 180 properties.”

‘Yep. Fantastic. That is absolutely amazing. So with some of the, uh, businesses that you’re going into and working and, and when you are taking over portfolios, what are some of the big issues or struggles that you feel like the industry or businesses are facing right now?’

 

WHEN ARE YOU TAKING OVER PORTFOLIOS AND WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BIG ISSIES OR STRUGGLES THAT YOU LIKE THE INDUSTRY OR BUSINESS ARE FACING RIGHT NOW?

“I would say nine out of ten portfolios that we take over need a thorough cleanup. I do see that quite often. That is, I guess the advantage with our team is we’re used to doing that, so, they do have to clean up. But I think some of the challenges that people are facing is that burnout for their staff. I see it all over social media as I’m sure you do. People are really struggling and I think just having that additional support in all areas and providing that flexible kind of work environment for them really does benefit. One thing I can say is we deal with hundreds and hundreds of portfolios per month and everybody is in the same position. So, it is not unique. People are struggling to find staff, people are struggling to keep staff motivated and in the roles. And I think some just need a break. I don’t think that they really want to leave the industry. I think they just want to break and that’s kind of where we come in and we can even help in those periods. If it’s just one day wellness leave or something like that, we’re more than happy to just jump in and give them a hand to give them a day off.”

 

We would like to thank our Property Management Partners: