THE SECRET TO AVOIDING STRESS AND BURNOUT IN PROPERTY MANAGEMENT
My guest today is one of those superstars stepping up to provide much-needed solutions to help reduce stress and burnout and property management. Jess Whatman started in real estate straight out of school but recently realized there was room for a different approach to the offshoring solutions currently available to real estate businesses. She’s managed to successfully combine her passion for real estate and helping others to bring agent sync to life. Now, agent Sync was created to provide the perfect mix of procedural streamlining AI software and offshoring, which will provide valuable efficiencies within your agency, allowing your team to focus on customer service and dollar-producing activities.
TELL ME A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND HOW YOU GOT STARTED IN PROPERTY MANAGEMENT?
“My name is Jess, and I am the owner of Agent Inc. I have been in real estate for about 20 years now, and ever since I finished school, I just fell into it, and I have never left. I think when you start that young, you sort of start in admin or reception, and you work your way up and that’s what I’ve done. But it’s only the last year or so that I started my agency. What I focus on is helping agencies with coaching, training and offshoring.”
WHAT IS OFFSHORING AND HOW DOES THAT WORK?
“I was working for an agency in Sydney, and I was at the management executive level, and one of my roles was to go over to the Philippines and learn about offshoring and how to implement it into the agency. That was about eight years ago, and I took a couple of trips over there because at that time we quickly saw the positives that it can bring to an agency in terms of, structure and of course cost efficiencies and things like that. So, I did that for them and I saw a few gaps in the market then for offshoring in terms of really having that hands-on approach. I think there are a lot of offshoring companies out there, and you could go to any of them, and they will find you a team member. But I like to have that hands-on approach with agency owners, property managers, agents and help them with that, how to do it and how to streamline their business to incorporate an offshore team member and get the best use out of them and working well as a team.”
WHAT ARE YOU SEEING NOW THAT CAUSES A LOT OF STRESS AND BURNOUT?
“I think it is no surprise the last few years with Covid and the bushfires and all of that has caused a lot of stress and a lot of property managers to leave the industry. We also have a few older PM’s that really get stuck in their ways and there’s so much tech available, AI and prop tech, but also systemizing what you are doing every day. I think we really need to get out of that mindset that we just keep doing our job the way we have always done it. There is so much available to us, and it is not at all always about offshoring. It is about automation and using the best tools that are available to us. So, I think I’ve really helped a few owners in the last 12 months in finding what is the best program, the best system, how to change their procedures to make the best use of the PM’s time, and whether that is offshoring or something else Offshoring has been a huge factor of that because you are freeing up that property manager to focus on the tasks that are really important to the client facing business growth activities, and you are offshoring those, boring, Monta mundane, repetitive tasks that really we don’t want to be doing. But they love it. So, you know, if you can incorporate a bit of offshoring, but also learn about how to systemize and automate some of your business, it can make the world of difference.”
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE AI OR TECH SOLUTIONS THAT YOU HAVE BEEN IMPLEMENTING INTO BUSINESSES AND THE TOP SYSTEMS THAT BUSINESSES SHOULD BE LOOKING AT?
“There is a lot out there because there are tons of different companies that I like and you can even bring it down to something as basic as Trello, which is a free platform I, use it in a lot of sales offices as well just to make all of your checklists digital and that way you can have multiple people in your office or offshore using the one Trello board and you have got all your checklists there, you can move your board to another team member and they can pick up right where you left off. So, the days of having a bit of paper and you’re putting it on your desk and you’re moving it to someone else’s desk, or you are scanning it, putting it in a file and hoping to God that it is all completed correctly. Something as easy as that and that’s free. I think you get up to 10 boards for free and implementing that can seem overwhelming and daunting. But once it is set up and there are loads of help there, myself, I’ve got friends in the industry that do this for a living, and it is, once it is set up, it is a game changer.”
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE TOP SYSTEMS OUT THERE OR YOUR RECOMMENDATIONS?
“One that I really like is PropertyMe, which is constantly changing and evolving. And I have found, it is funny because when I interview a lot of my offshore VAs who would like to work with me, they are all using Property Me. So that shows that, if they have had experience in property management previously, that is one of the best tools that is available. And the bigger agencies are using that as well. So that is all, a good indication of something that is working well in the industry. Another one is inspecting real estate and all the changes that they have made lately.”
WHAT ARE YOU FINDING WITH THE OFFSHORING SOLUTION THAT IS HELPING YOUR BUSINESS RETAIN STAFF?
“As I said before, you want to look at the roles that each of your team are doing and pick them apart, I guess and find out what that PM wants to do and what they are really good at and take all that mundane admin stuff away from them. What is the point of someone with that sort of skill set, sitting at a desk doing admin and invoicing all day when their skills are better? Going out and meeting the landlords and the tenants and inspecting the properties and doing those things that are really going to is the best customer service for the clients.”
HOW IS YOUR OFFSHORING SOLUTION DIFFERENT FROM OTHERS?
“I have structured mine a little bit differently just as a point of difference. I am the face of the agency, but I like to have that hands-on approach with interviewing, with getting I guess down and dirty into the agency finding out exactly what they would like to offshore, but also what would be a good benefit for them and their staff. And like I said, pull everything apart and restructure it to what is going to work well. And then find the right person for the role, and I train and coach them. And ongoing, there is lots of training and support from myself for not only the VA but for the agency. So, I’ve heard of lots of agencies where they will hire someone, place them there, and then that is sort of it, you are left by yourself to train and onboard them. And yeah, that isn’t my style, I am a little bit different in how I like to do things, and if I see something where, you know, it is not necessarily the best option to offshore, maybe there is automation available, we will go down that path. It is whatever is best for the agency.”
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE TOP TASKS AND DO YOU DO SALES TASKS ASWELL?
“I started Inc because my background is mainly sales and that admin, marketing executive support to sales agents. And, over time, I have had a lot of property managers, and property management agencies come to me and say, we need your help. And so, it has evolved very quickly into servicing property managers as well. Because it is not primarily my background. If I need assistance, I’ve got lots of friends in the industry and I pull them in, and we work together on solving the agencies whatever their problems are and coaching and training them.”
CAN YOU SHARE A RESOURCE BOOK OR PODCAST THAT YOU THINK OUR READERS WILL LEARN AND GROW FROM?
“So, I’m really big on listening to podcasts. I love to multitask, so to put on a good podcast and you know, take a drive or clean the house. So obviously listen to your podcast quite a lot. There are loads of others I really recommend listening to podcasts on the industry because you will always learn something. I’m also now listening to an audiobook from Grant Cardone. It is called “the 10 X Rule” and it is about 10 x in your business and what that would look like. So, do you have the systems in place? Do you have the staff in place? Do you have everything in place? If something, for example, if a developer came and knocked on your door and said, “I have got a block of a hundred units and I want you to manage them starting tomorrow”, do you have everything in place to be able to do that? A lot of us don’t, but we need to start thinking like that. So, putting, in new software in place or procedures in place to really be able to do that and do that quickly.”