The Landlord Profitability Playbook Podcast

EP010: Meet The Team Then Decide – Part 3 of What To Expect From Your Property Manager

June 27th, 2024

Welcome to The Landlord Profitability Playbook Podcast! In this third episode of our 12-part series, "What To Expect From Your Property Manager," hosts Chris McAllister, Laci Leblanc, and Gretchen Mitchell dive deep into the importance of meeting your property management team before making any commitments.

In "Meet The Team THEN Decide," we explore the foundational role of trust in managing your valuable assets. We'll discuss the value of local expertise, the collaborative nature of the property management relationship, and how to get a feel for team dynamics. We'll also cover key performance metrics you should inquire about and the overall structure of an effective property management team.

By tuning in, you'll learn how to assess whether a property management team is right for you, ensuring they have the necessary tools, clear roles, and the commitment to high standards that will help optimize your investment returns.

Join us for insightful tips and strategies that will help you make informed decisions about your property management partnerships.

• Chris McAllister
• Laci Leblanc
• Gretchen Mitchell

Key Topics Covered:
• Building trust
• Importance of local expertise
• Collaboration in property management
• Assessing team dynamics
• Understanding key performance metrics
• Effective team structure

Ensure your properties are managed effectively by teaming up with professionals who view your investments as their own.

Don't miss this episode for valuable insights and actionable advice!


  • We discuss the critical importance of building trust with your property management team, emphasizing the value of face-to-face interactions, whether in person or via Zoom.
  • Chris highlights how local expertise in property management can offer significant advantages over national companies, especially through intimate knowledge of neighborhoods and market dynamics.
  • Gretchen explains the necessity of clear role definitions and compliance with licensing laws within a property management company to ensure smooth operations and accountability.
  • We emphasize the need for a well-structured team with designated roles for tasks such as accounting, maintenance, and leasing to enhance efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Chris talks about the importance of evaluating property management companies by understanding their team structure and distinguishing between front stage and backstage activities.
  • We explore key performance indicators for property management, including 'time to turn,' 'days on market,' 'rent collected,' and 'three-day notices,' as essential metrics for evaluating effectiveness.
  • Gretchen underscores the importance of balancing legal, moral, and professional responsibilities while maintaining trust and respect between property managers, tenants, and owners.
  • We discuss the advantages of having a geographically focused team for property management, particularly for investors looking to expand their portfolios.
  • Chris shares insights into the internal dynamics of Roost Real Estate Co Property Management, detailing the roles of key players and the importance of providing the team with the proper tools and resources.
  • We advise prospective clients to inquire about job descriptions and take office tours to gauge operational readiness and ensure the property management team can meet their needs.

    Show Notes

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    (AI transcript provided as supporting material and may contain errors)

    Chris: Hi everybody, welcome back to the Landlord Profitability Playbook Podcast. I'm Chris McAllister and it's my job to create and coach business opportunities and strategies that support and add value to the lives of residential real estate investors. Today I'm joined not only by my podcast partner and digital marketing guru, Laci LeBlanc, but also by our Director of Property Management at Roost Real Estate Company, Gretchen Mitchell. So this is part three of our series what to expect from your property manager, and today's episode is titled meet the team, then decide. Get the boots on the ground, you can trust. Nice long title, but you get the gist.

    We'll be delving into the importance of building trust with your property management team, understanding what their local expertise exactly is. We're going to talk a little bit about the nature of collaboration, some team dynamics and performance standards. By the end of this episode, I think you'll get a clear understanding of why actually sitting down and meeting with the team or Zoom, if actually meeting in person is not a viable option is crucial before you make any final decisions on hiring a property manager. So let's get started. Good morning, ladies.

    Laci: Morning, good morning.

    Chris: So we all seem pretty excited this morning, huh.

    Laci: Well, anytime you tell me I have to meet someone in real life, versus just like texting with them or talking, I'm going to. My excitement is going to wane just a bit.

    Chris: So I think that you're going to have to do a really good job out there, who don't ever leave our house anymore, you know they say, sales is a contact sport and I do think that you've got to be belly to belly with somebody in order to get a feel for exactly.

    You know who they are, where they're coming from. You know trust. It's really about building trust and, yes, I absolutely believe that a lot of that can happen on Zoom, but at the end of the day, there's just no substitute for you know actually, you know being in a room with somebody, so that's the ultimate goal, especially when you're making a commitment like this. That is, it's a high dollar transaction. You know, let's face it, if you've got, you know maybe you have 10 rental units that you need to have looked after. You're talking, you know that's a $10,000 to $15,000 investment in this relationship that you're going to pay out in property management fees and so forth, and I think it's critical that you know what not just what you're paying for, but who you're going to pay out and property management fees and so forth, then I think it's critical that you know not just what you're paying for, but who you're paying.

    Laci: That's why Nana still manages all of her own properties.

    She hasn't found anybody she feels like she can trust. And, coming from a car dealership family a family full of car salesmen, the belly to belly part I think it's really cool to think about how. Yeah, as a salesperson, we think sales is a contact sport and it's good for the you know the person making the sale to be face-to-face and one-on-one with somebody, but it's also advantageous for the person who is investing. You know who's buying, who's purchasing, who's entering into that relationship from the other side of the coin. So that's an interesting outlook.

    Chris: Well, it's not just about the amount of money you're going to pay the property manager over the year. It's also about the fact that these assets are worth hundreds of thousands and many cases with our owners millions and millions of dollars in assets. So who are you going to trust with that kind of responsibility and what's your criteria for establishing that trust? So I guess my question is Gretchen what's it feel like when we're working with an owner that absolutely trusts us?

    Gretchen: Oh, it's wonderful. I mean we get along really well. We're very transparent, we have open and honest conversations. We talk about different options. You know, when it comes to like a big maintenance issue, we tell them openly we can do it in-house. For this much we contract it out. Here's your quote for this. You know, be aware it may end up being a whole manifold instead of just the surround, and we just have open and honest conversation and working together with them. When they do trust us to make those decisions or help make those decisions or help make those decisions, it makes it a lot easier to get through a problem together.

    Chris: Well, it's also easier to have problems because, at the end of the day, the nature of this business is there's going to be problems, there's going to be things that are beyond our control, beyond the owner's control, and if we don't have that basic level of trust, it's impossible to get through those. And you know, like we've talked about throughout this series so far is you know you're you are hiring a partner, but you're really hiring a collaborator. You know you're hiring somebody to be your partner, to be your eyes on the ground, your boots on the ground. You know somebody who's going to tell you like it is. And again, things happen all the time.

    But I think it's safe to say that it is so much easier to if there's a trust in the relationship and it goes both ways, you know we're going to get to a far better solution faster and I'd also say we're less likely to make the same mistake twice, if indeed we do make a mistake, or oftentimes the owner might make a bad decision or a decision that could have been a different decision. Looking back, what else about trust? What's it like when we're dealing with somebody who doesn't trust us, or what's it like when we're dealing with somebody that we don't trust?

    Gretchen: It's super stressful. So you know, actually right now I'm kind of dealing with an owner that is a little bothered, I guess, by the amount of an invoice. You know he's asking to see all these different things and proof of pictures and things and we have it. You know we're going to show him everything that we have and why it costs as much as it did. And you know just getting on the phone and having that conversation helps that. But it is very frustrating. You know there was a lot of elements to this situation and just being that open and honest makes it much easier. But it is kind of frustrating when someone doesn't trust you. It feels like a problem can't be solved or it takes longer than it should have. But if there's something that we can do to make sure someone does trust us better, we are 100% open and honest with that.

    Chris: Well, I think a lot of folks. We got to kind of meet them where they are. I mean, there's a lot of people who have had bad experiences with other property managers or bad experiences with their investments anyway, and they absolutely believe that everybody's out to take advantage of them and that for some people that outlook never changes. For other people You've got to prove to them over time that's not who you are, what you're doing. But without that basic level of trust it's like every small thing becomes a flame. And you know, I've watched it.

    And the thing that's frustrating, I think, for owners and for us is email is the thing that sort of. I don't want to say it destroys trust, but holy crap, it stress tests trust on a weekly basis because depending on how an email is read or perceived, you know your mind flies to holy crap, they don't trust us or they think this, or they think we're stealing from them or taking advantage of them or whatever, and it all. And every time that happens I think you'll agree I always say get on the phone, get on the phone, get on the phone. And the amazing thing is almost, I think, 99.99% of the time that you get on the phone with somebody, you immediately deescalate the situation. Everybody understands and that's something to keep in mind. You know, if one of the huge frustrations I've had lately is, well, let's start with that folio. You know, we've got this issue with that folio where their compliance team realized that we moved our office a few years ago and didn't tell them so. Based on that, we have to do a new inspection or something so that we can, you know, run applications and pay bills and things like that.

    And it is super frustrating because with Appfolio which is a fine platform, don't get me wrong but you can't talk to anybody. You don't have an assigned sales rep. You have to interact via chat and sometimes they'll say on chat I'll get back with you within the hour. Quote keep this window open. If you are able to request a phone call, they tell you right out in front we will get back with you within five to seven days. It's super duper tough and it destroys trust. The fact is, if somebody would have just got on the phone with us and said yep, I see it, this is what you have to do. Thank you very much. You know, I think we all would have felt better, and there's just so much in life these days, whether it's dealing with Amazon. I think, lacey, you and I were talking about that yesterday that you know Amazon used to be.

    If Amazon made a mistake and sent you the wrong thing, you know it was super easy to get credit or to get another one and so forth, and it's not that way anymore. You know. It's another example If you don't fit into the system, into the technology, it's so hard, if something goes out of whack, to actually speak to a person and get something fixed that it destroys trust and I would say, even with us. You know we're probably any given month a minimum. Everything is for 90% of the owners. Maybe 95% of the owners the month is a non-event right. Maybe 95% of the owners the month is a non-event right, but it's the 5% of the owners where there's a glitch or a problem or somebody moved out or a contractor, or there's a bill problem or whatever. You know, if we don't get to those people before they get to us, it bends trust. Is that fair to?

    say so when you're interviewing for a property manager, you know it's not so much about the 95% of the things that go right or the properties out of 10 that you know are flawless any given month. What you want to know is what is their strategy for dealing with the anomalies? What's their strategy for dealing with the you know the nail that's sticking out of the floor, right?

    Laci: I think that's really interesting. We talk about it in our house, my husband and I, and we talk about giving each other the benefit of the doubt, right? So if somebody seems short, or if a text message seems angry, or if you know somebody's off in some way, then first things first, we give each other the benefit of the doubt in our household, and that's because we trust each other, we know each other. We've had the opportunity to like to verify for lack of a better word that we're always really trying to do the right thing by the other person, and that is a an absolute function of taking the time to really get to know one another.

    So what does that look like? I guess, is my question. How do you build this? How do you get to this point where you can, your owners can give you the benefit of the doubt when you say something and they're like oh, that doesn't seem like them, or that doesn't seem quite right, or so that they can approach it with kind of an open mind and vice versa? How do you get to that point? What are the steps to getting there?

    Gretchen: I think it's kind of exactly what you said. You have to get out in front of it, tell the owner there's an issue before they realize there's an issue. So you know, when we enter Section 8, rent and maybe Section 8 didn't pay for this one tenant, I don't wait for them to find out. They didn't get paid on that. Check rent. I'm going to send an email to them right away. Hey, we didn't get money, but don't worry, I reached out to Section 8 and I'll keep you updated. Or you know, a tenant comes in and the upstairs is flooding into the downstairs. Before we make that meld for the owner to see it, we're going to pick up the phone. Hey, you're going to see this meld. Come in, here's what happened. You know we'll work through it together, but we get out in front of it before they're shocked via email or on their statement.

    Chris: Yeah, I think that's absolutely critical. We talked about that the other day and we're going to talk about it on our next podcast in this series when we talk about maintenance. But the meld is a whole other topic, a whole other podcast. But the MELD thing is interesting. It's helped us so immeasurably getting our arms around intended repairs and so forth. But the system is set up that it's up to the owner to decide how much information they want to get and how many emails and texts they want to get, and we have no control over that globally.

    And you know, I'm the worst case as an owner. I mean, I can't stand to see them, so I turn them off, and then I get surprised. And then you know I'm like the 10% owner this month or the 5% owner this month, so I get it, and I think that's why you know I'm so sympathetic to the owner's plight. I will give you a shortcut, though, and this is a great interview question as soon as something feels off in a communication, as soon as you sense that there's just this little smoke like, or maybe even an ember shut down that email thread. Look, I just don't feel good about continuing this conversation on email. I feel like we're kind of talking around each other and I just want us to speak as soon as you're able. So give me a call back. You know, I think that's critical and I think business in general has stopped doing that.

    Laci: Yeah, I mean that's certainly one of the standards that we use in our house. Texting is not like we can be in this in separate rooms texting one another and if it feels a little off, like just walk, just make the call or walk. So I feel like that's a. I didn't anticipate comparing this to something to like a marriage or a familial relationship, but it always seems to come back to that with, especially with you guys, because you that's how you treat this, everybody's kind of everybody's kind of like family. You want the best for everybody and you really have the best of intentions. But I think it's really telling.

    Chris: And honestly, it's important to us. There's some reciprocation here. We want the owners to want the best for us as well.

    Laci: Yeah, well, you know that's a big marketing tool, right. Reciprocity is my favorite marketing tool, but it's also, you know, in life it just works that way. But then when somebody inevitably does make a real mistake right, when there is something real you need to address, or somebody messes up or something happens that didn't go exactly to plan, then you get some grace there too.

    Chris: Let's talk a little bit about local expertise. This is something that's kind of near and dear to my heart, because we've seen many competitors come and go over the years because they got into the business, because oftentimes they're realtors that weren't getting the sales they wanted, so they thought that they'd do some management for a couple of clients, and you know, and they saw it as easy money. You know, some people are a little bit better funded. They get into the business because you know rental properties are big business and they think that they can, you know, skim a little of that cashflow off the top.

    The problem is with these approaches is it doesn't, it's not grounded in the local neighborhoods, it's not grounded in knowledge of the local markets.

    Right, it's a I guess it's a business opportunity perspective and I'm all for capitalism and so forth.

    But you know, if they don't really understand the home that you need to have managed, if they don't understand the neighborhood where that home is located, if they don't understand the market dynamics of the city, if they don't understand what's going on in the residential investment space, I don't care how good they are at business or operations they're not going to give you the level of not so much care but detail that you're going to want and need as you progress as an investor.

    So I think local expertise is critical, that's grounded in experience and that's going to make the difference. I mean, gretchen, you know that you can be in a neighborhood and you know that one block, this is what you can expect in one block, this is what you can expect in the next block. And that kind of knowledge, that institutional wisdom whether you have it or Brenda has it, or Heather has it it, or Tina has it or what have you is that's the kind of thing that sets us apart. Quite frankly, it's what sets us apart from a lot of the national companies that are all coming into Columbus because they think it's a great market for them.

    Gretchen: Absolutely.

    Laci: There are some logistical challenges there too, I imagine right. If they're not. Like, if you're trying to be everything to everybody, geographically speaking, then you can't possibly have, you know, a maintenance team right up the road to everywhere, right? You can't possibly have a, you know, a Gretchen right up the road to everywhere. If you're trying to be, you know, if you're trying to manage every neighborhood in Ohio, right. So there's some logistical advantages to that local kind of niche focused company as a property manager, because if they're really focused on certain areas and certain neighborhoods, their resources are going to be right there too, right.

    Chris: Yeah, I think that's important too, and it's funny because it's not funny, it's just dovetails to some things I've been thinking about. You know you can't be an expert everywhere, right, but you also can be an expert at becoming an expert, right. So you know we may not currently manage a home, you know, in this neighborhood, but we are going to go deep in understanding that neighborhood and we're going to share what we learn, you know, with that owner and you know the trust factors there and we're going to go in together. The other thing that I've really been flashing on is I had a meeting yesterday with some gentleman who called in, who you know. They've got some cash there, they have full time jobs and they want to invest in property and they saw on the Internet that Columbus was a great place to invest. And they're legit guys. They have money, easy to talk to, open to learning. Clearly it's an opportunity for really good collaboration. But what they want are 15 to 20 properties that single-family maybe doubles, that they can purchase and then rent out using Section 8. And there's nothing wrong with that strategy. It's a great strategy but the only way to do those folks justice is to.

    It's almost like where do you start? Do you start with a neighborhood that you know like the back? Like where do you start? Do you start with a neighborhood that you know like the back of your hand and work out? Do you work from listings and work in? And I would tell you that the long-term success factor here is pick a market that you know and introduce them to that market and explain why you know, take your time as the opportunities come up and go deep. The alternative is and so many agents do this is you just sell them any property that you know. The list price you know matches up with what they said they wanted to spend, regardless of where it is, with not any consideration for how well that home is going to rent or where it's located or anything like that. I'm sort of going around in circles. But local expertise starts with when you begin to acquire properties and you create an acquisition strategy and it continues throughout the life cycle of that property and the management of that property. So I know we're getting off the topic of interviewing property managers and this sort of that property. So I know we're getting off the topic of interviewing property managers and this sort of goes to when we'll start talking about expanding your empire, but I will tell you that your very best opportunity to buy a successful next property is going to rest with the knowledge and expertise that your manager has, possibly less so than the knowledge and expertise that your real estate salesperson has. So sorry, to get off on a tangent, we'll table that till that episode comes up. I think.

    And again, like we said before, this whole thing is a collaboration. Right, you're not looking for an employee. You're looking for somebody who is going to complement your strengths, your skill sets, your goals, et cetera. So you're looking for a collaborator and, yes, it will have its ups and downs, but that foundation, that trust foundation, has to be strong enough to handle both the ups and the downs with grace and professionalism. And one other tip on this, before we kind of move into team dynamics, is you know you can find the greatest. You can find who you think is going to be the greatest property manager in the world, the greatest partner, the greatest collaborator. You know it's going to be great, but the one thing I want to say to you is you want that, but never, ever abdicate your responsibility as the owner of that property to anybody.

    At the end of the day. It's your decision, it's your money, it's your future, it's your retirement. So you can't just hire the manager and turn your back. That's going to get you in trouble. It doesn't mean that you have to look at it every day, every week, even every month. Maybe you get to the point where you're taking an interest once a year, you know a tax time or whatever. But it's your property, it's your ultimate responsibility. So you've got to stay informed and you've got to stay involved to make sure you know that over time you know you and your managers still share the same priorities and have the same standards. So at a minimum, you know, as you go forward in this relationship, you probably want to have a formal scheduled meeting you know phone meeting or Zoom meeting or whatever with your property manager. I'd say at least once a year, if not twice a year, as things go forward. How often, gretchen, do you think you get to meet with your owners face to face? Well, you had somebody show up last week, right?

    Gretchen: Yeah, sometimes they just kind of show up from Texas or California. They just kind of pop in sometimes, but it's actually really fun to sit down and talk to them. You know we come in and they get to actually meet everybody face to face, you know, instead of through email and we just sit down and go through their portfolio. We print out a rent roll when we talk about problems or what's doing really great and rent increases, whatever the detail may be. But it's cool because they get to talk to each person that they've been interacting with. I love when they come in.

    Laci: They're actually just secret agents for Appfolio, making sure your office is where you say it is.

    Chris: But that guy I don't remember the gentleman's name and we don't have to, you know, talk about it out loud here, but you know you'd been managing with him for quite a few years and he got to the point where he has people working for him that I think that you and the team interact with. But he still was in town and he wanted to take the time to see you face to face Cause you hadn't even seen each other since what before COVID?

    Gretchen: Oh, we didn't see each other. It must've been 16 or so since we last saw each other. Yeah, and he just came in to say hi. We talked on the phone for like an hour beforehand when we set up a date for him to pop in and he just came in and showed me pictures of his grandkids and, you know, we just kind of hung out, met the team and talked about, you know, his properties and then he went on his way. But it was fun.

    Chris: Yeah Well, and I think taking the time to do that just reinforces that relationship and the collaboration and builds trust. So let's talk a little bit about getting a feel for the team dynamics, and the main point that I just want to make sure we discuss here is who is ultimately responsible for the brokerage's success, the property management company's success and, ultimately, your success. I don't think this is always clear, especially with some of these national companies that have these regional offices and headquarters and everything else, and the question that you want to ask is who's actually in charge? Who is the licensed broker for the office? Is that licensed broker involved on a day-to-day basis or is the ultimate responsibility, you know, left to somebody else who may or may not have a license? Does that make sense? It?

    Gretchen: does yeah.

    Chris: I mean, we've had situations where and I know that there's companies in town that I don't know who has the license and you can't really tell if they're compliant with licensing law. They're not compliant with licensing law which, at the end of the day, I guess if you're getting your rent, that's fine until it's not. I mean, in our situation, we all know I'm pretty useless on the day-to-day. I only cause you grief if I happen to log into Appolio, correct?

    Gretchen: That is correct, but they're legitimate questions.

    Chris: But I am involved in the business on a daily basis. I know the numbers, I know who does what. I know, you know I can see the history and the different metrics. We watch the dashboards, we look at, and nine times out of 10, I can tell if something feels like it's going off the rails. The other side of that, though, is you, as our director of property management. You are also a licensed managing broker in the company, so you are well-versed in licensed law and fair housing and and everything else, and and yes, you're ultimately responsible for the day-to-day that happens and for us. That works, and I think that works for our owners.

    It doesn't mean it's the only structure that works, but I want you to ask the question as you go out and interview, you know, in some instances, the property manager is also the office manager. In some instances, the property manager is also the office manager. In some instances, the property manager is actually an active salesperson. You got to find out. You know who's actually ultimately responsible? Are they ultimately invested in what you need to be, what you need them to be invested in? And then you want to ask you know let's talk about the specific tasks who's in charge of accounting and who's in charge of maintenance and who's in charge of running applications. Ask those questions.

    In a small boutique type of property management firm, it could be one person, or it could be one person and an assistant, but whichever it is, you need to know that. You need to know that. You know you said that it was nice to have what was his name, john Come in the other week and you know, put names with faces. But you know we try very hard to introduce all of our owners, you know, from the first contact to who's responsible for what. So we let them know that Josie and Angela, you know, handle the accounting right. We let them know that Heather and Jade and their team handle maintenance, that Brenda is the person they're going to interact with when they have a vacancy that's ready to rent. So it's important to find out, first of all, who's ultimately responsible for your financial well-being, but it's also important to know who they have in the office that's going to be responsible for the nitty-gr day to day. You know 5% of the things that become problems. You know who's in charge. Who are you going to interact with?

    Gretchen: Yeah, I like to have that conversation with them. On the initial phone call of the property management conversation, I like to tell them this is how it's all set up. So you'd have one designated person for maintenance, one designated person for accounting, one designated person for renewals or leases or advertising applications, and then you have me if you need me to go over any other questions. So we just make that very clear. I think that makes them very comfortable, because I explained to them this is truly all that Heather and Jade do. It's maintenance all day long. We don't ask them to go off of it. We don't ask them to do anything different. They're good at it. That's what they do. They focus on it every day.

    Chris: Yeah, and we finally got to the point where we've got people that have been in position for a decent amount of time and, god forbid, they're not going anywhere, and that institutional knowledge, again, is just so critical to where we've been able to find some success. So do they have job descriptions for each person in their team? Are the tasks distributed in a way that ensures efficiency and effectiveness? Just like you said, we don't want Heather and maintenance to suddenly have to, you know, run leases for Brenda, or you know what I mean it's. You know, sometimes in a small boutique, you know, a few people do a lot of things and that's just fine. But if you're getting to the point where they've got more than even a hundred properties under management, maybe even more than 50 properties under management, then you need to be looking for a more defined division of labor.

    The other thing you want to ask is you know, do they have the tools and so forth to do their jobs effectively? And this is another reason why to actually take a tour of the office matters. If you walk in and the printer's broken and the Wi-Fi is down and people are complaining, it's a problem, right? So you know, does everybody have a computer that works? Does everybody have Wi-Fi that works? You know I bitch and moan all the time about what it costs to maintain equipment and printers and everything else, but if we don't do it we can't do anything effectively. So does the team have the tools and resources and the software, quite frankly to do the job?

    Laci: Well, what happens if somebody is sick? What happens if somebody leaves or somebody can't be there to do their job? That's my question. Right, as it's so attractively called, which is just really a one woman show, I have to set the expectation that you know if I were to get sick, chris Gretchen, I'm, you know there's no backup Lacey to write the emails, right? So what's the expectation that is set and what is the question as an owner that I would ask you know about? You know what happens if a Heather gets sick or what are your you know about? You know what happens if a Heather gets sick or what are your you know? Do you go that far in that interview?

    Because, if somebody gets sick and is gone for a week, then what you know does everything shut down, you know.

    Gretchen: So we actually June was a crazy month for us in the office. So Brenda went on vacation one week, heather went on vacation the next week. I was gone the following week. Jade was gone for a couple of days in there, but we worked so well as a team that we knew who was going to be gone when right. So we prepared. We knew that Jade was going to help out Heather and Jade and I can go walk properties. When somebody moved out, brenda was gone. Marcy, who does tenant relations. She knew she was going to help back up Brenda. We like to Marcy, who does tenant relations. She knew she was going to help back up Brenda. We like to make sure everybody gets their time off. Or, you know, unfortunately you get sick sometimes, but no, nothing stops. We make sure someone has a backup. Or when we plan for someone to be gone, we have a perfect plan in place. We leave sticky notes on applications, if we need to, whatever it takes to make sure nothing gets paused.

    Laci: Yeah, that's excellent and some of it has to do with.

    Chris: You know the volume that we're lucky enough to have at this point. But you know, jade and Heather work in the same office together. Heather does maintenance, jade does dispatch, basically for the maintenance guys. When there's a problem in an occupied unit, they can back each other up. Brendan Marcy, you know, between leasing and tenant relations they can back each other up. Between Kelly and Josie and Angela they can back each other up, and now we've got Taylor starting as Gretchen's assistant, that they're sharing an office so they'll be able to back each other up.

    Things are in place to make sure that the business doesn't falter. But it's also critical for us that everybody gets the time off that they deserve. And you know, to be honest, I think we structured this to make sure that everybody could have a life. And you know, 40 hour a week, 50 hour a week, whatever. But we structured it so that everybody could still have a life, go on vacation. You know we structured it so that everybody could still have a life, go on vacation.

    You know, obviously rent weeks probably require more hours, more attention than the third week of the month, so to speak. So there is a flow, there is a balance, but selfishly, we built this team in such a way that everybody gets some time. And by doing that, you know, we're making sure that the owners are never noticed right, that they're taken care of as much as they ever were. And by doing that, you know, we're making sure that the owners are never noticed right, that they're taken care of as much as they ever were. And everybody knows that sometimes they've got to step up. You know Gretchen knows that she's got to go out into the field and take pictures and do things from time to time. You know everybody has to be willing to pitch in, but we do everything we can to make sure that there's never a massive vacuum that just derails the whole process. And I guess if I had a job, that's sort of my job.

    Laci: Yeah, there's that. I mean there's something to be said for that kind of midsize, because I don't think that you can do this effectively as a really large business, right, if you're a super large property management company, I think that you sacrifice that at a certain point, maybe some of that, a personalization, and be a lot of times some of that kind of selfishness that you're talking about, where everybody gets their time, and you know, once you reach that point, you know kind of you do have to sacrifice a lot more, I feel like. And then as a super small business, you know my dad and my brother can't go to lunch at the same time every day when we go on our family vacation, they have to close the car lot for a whole week, you know, because they're super small. So I think there's something to be said for, like, a midsize.

    You know specialized, where you get that, you know that kind of personalized family approach that we've talked about. But you also get the redundancies and the processes and the systems and you know all of that that makes these things work and I think that's a good balance and I don't think that there's any like midsize could be 10 people or it could be 100 people right, but I think that's a good balance to find in a property management company for someone who is aligned with what we're talking about, who wants the trust and the relationship and the you know the treating their properties like our own. I think that's a really good balance to find. You don't have to sacrifice one for the other.

    Chris: Yeah, I agree completely. And just to sort of bring home the point here, when you're interviewing property managers and making sure you know what to expect, you know you want to. In summary, you want to familiarize yourself with the structure of the team. You know, you want to know. Does it include roles for property managers, maintenance personnel, leasing agents, administrative support? Does it not Find out what it is, find out who does what? If it's a smaller company, maybe there won't be a lot of players to speak to, but it's part of your due diligence to find out.

    Do they use remote people? You know, understand the role of remote assistants in the team's operations. They can be valuable too. But you know there's a whole different set of problems that could come up with remote assistants. And so many times property managers and brokers think they're being clever by half by saving some money by outsourcing some jobs. And again, not that it can't be good, it's not necessarily bad. But you want to know exactly how the firm you're interviewing is structured. So we've kind of done this now, but all we can speak to at the end of the day is how we're set up, because that's what we deal with every single day and I would say it's taken us almost what 15 years to get to where we are activities are.

    You know Brenda, who's constantly interacting with applicants. You know tenant relations. You know Marcy and Callie that are constantly interacting with tenants who have issues. Heather, at the end of the day, is front stage because she's the one that's talking to owners continuously about quotes that you know have come in to get vacant units ready to rent. I think those are great examples of front stage activities, backstage activities. You could say that Jade, who does dispatch, is more of a backstage activity and her maintenance guys, quite frankly, are front stage activities because they have to put their maintenance functions in front of tenants, right. So we try to think of things in terms of front stage and backstage and we try to make sure that front stage people don't have to go back and forth between front stage activities and backstage activities, right?

    Some people tend to be better suited for being front stage versus backstage and some people have to do a little bit of both. You know, you could argue, brenda is both. She's mostly front stage, but you know she still has to take some time to really understand and pour over applications. You know, gretchen, you're both front stage and backstage. You know you're the face of the show but at the same time you know you're meeting one-on-one with the team, which actually I'd say that's more front stage, it's just internal front stage. You gotta think about who does what in terms of owner orientation versus tenant orientation. Gretchen, you're primarily working with owners. I think we're at the point now where, gosh, I don't know how many tenants you actually interact with over the course of the week, unless there's just an absolute flaming problem or something to do with section eight.

    Gretchen: Yeah, there's a big problem. I'll help out. But yeah, normally it's Marcy and Callie that take it on.

    Chris: Yeah. So it's knowing who's going to be able to be there to take care of owners. Like Heather should never talk to a tenant but she should always be talking to owners. Jade should never talk to an owner, you know at this point but she should be talking to tenants when it comes to getting mills taken care of. So that basic split.

    You know who's going to work with owners, who's going to work with tenants, you know what's front stage, what's backstage and you know again, if you kind of envision we've got we've got me who's who's there but not there, right? You've got Gretchen, who who's there but not there, right? You've got Gretchen who's in charge. You've got Taylor who sits in her office with her who's going to be taking on some of the weekly repetitive tasks and also handling a new owner, new property and new tenant onboarding, and she also does some marketing for us. So you've got Gretchen and Taylor.

    And then you go across the hall and you've got Heather, who's our rehab and maintenance leader, and you've got Jade who's our rehab and maintenance leader, and you've got Jade who's our dispatch person. They share an office. And then they've got what do we have now Six W-2 maintenance people. We've got six that report to them. And then you go out into the front office area and you've got Marcy, who's in charge of tenant relations and answers the phone and greets anybody who walks through the door, and Callie and Springfield. And then you've got Brenda in that back office who handles leasing for the company through Tenant Turner and so forth.

    And if you run over to Springfield we've got Tina who's our property manager there, fully licensed, incredibly experienced, and it just so happens that our accounting team is based out of Springfield because that's where we started. So you know Josie and Angela are there, so accounting is separated and then down us and we've got some capacity to expand there at this point without bringing on extra people. But we also know, when the time comes, where there's going to be strain and where we're going to need some extra help. So I only say this in that if you want to know if your property manager is looking far enough ahead in the future to anticipate growth, to anticipate problems, to anticipate people leaving time off and so forth and that structure is critical and hopefully sharing ours gives you sort of a baseline to start asking questions from.

    Laci: So I have a devil's advocate kind of question here as an owner. So this all sounds great Like sign me up. Know, I want to turn off all the notifications. I don't want any of the emails. You guys make the decisions. I want to abdicate my responsibilities as a property owner because you guys sound so great. But how do I know, as an owner, that you are who you say you are like? Should I be asking for you know to talk to other owners? Should I be asking, should I be looking up to talk to other owners? Should I be asking should I be looking up third party reviews somewhere? Like what, how do I know that this isn't just all a pretty brochure or you know a nice conversation that actually is going to play out how you say it's going to play out for me as an owner?

    Chris: Well, Gretchen, you had somebody who spoke to you that wants to talk to some current owners, right?

    Gretchen: Yeah, just yesterday actually yeah.

    Chris: So let me sort of answer that question, lacey, that devil's advocate challenge, with the fact that I think and this sort of wraps up the whole day but can that property manager articulate their performance standards right? How does the property manager know if they're doing a good job? Because if they don't know if they're doing a good job, you surely aren't going to know if they're doing a good job other than the fact that all the rent got put in your bank account this month, which is the number one priority. Don't get me wrong. But if we were going to run through a few performance standards that I think you should be asking in this interview process, one of them, well, let's just start at the top. So I made a list here.

    So the first one is time to turn. You know, everything can be going great. Somebody moves out. Every property needs something. When somebody moves out, how long does it take to find out what needs done, how much it's going to cost getting it done and getting it back on the market? That's what we call time to turn. So what is their average time to turn? Is it 30 days? Is it two weeks? Is it God forbid two months? Everything depends on the size of the job to some degree, but do they know what their time to turn is? The other thing is days on market. Once that property is ready to rent, it's back on the market, it's on Zillow, it's out everywhere in the world. How many days does that property sit live on the internet before an applicant is approved and a deposit is collected, right? So that's days on market. You know we really in a perfect world, we should have something rented within 14 days of it going live Internet. I think that's sort of like always been my internal standard Rent collected.

    Ask them, how much rent did you collect last month? For how many tenants did you collect rent? We don't care about occupancy Right, about occupancy right. We only care about rent collected, because you could say that you've got 90% occupancy but for the month you may have only collected 80% of the rent you were supposed to collect. So ask them about rent collected. And this sounds so primitive, but this is a sort of a secret sauce thing. You know, how many three-day notices did you have to post last month? You know we get a good feel for how the month is going by the fifth or sixth of the month, based on how many people have paid the rent and when?

    Gretchen, when you run the three-day notices, how many have to be posted? That is a great gauge and I got to tell you, if the property manager doesn't know how many people didn't pay the rent, based on the number of notices they have to post this month, I don't know what they do. Know, right, I don't know what is more important. At the end of the day, your property manager's job is to collect the rent. So how many three-day notices went up? Who didn't get collected? What are they going to do to get it? Number of evictions filed you know that's a good standard too. I would say that if the number of three-day notices posted is low, the number of evictions that ultimately have to be filed is low.

    Also, open work orders you know if you've got, if they have a maintenance crew and some of the smaller folks aren't going to have a, you know, a maintenance person on staff. They're going to use third-party contractors and so forth how many open work orders do they have? You know how long does it take to get them closed? You know how long does it take to get them closed. You know we say that a non-emergency request from a tenant should be completed within 72 hours. Now again, in some cases we have to get owner approval If it's sort of quote elective, you know, maybe there's some back and forth there. But basically non-emergency work orders should be completed in 72 hours. Is that still accurate, kretch?

    Gretchen: Yeah, that's accurate.

    Chris: And PropertyMill tells us exactly where we're at, and I haven't looked for a while. But as long as that number is going in the right direction, we are happy and Jade's done a heck of a job on that. But here's the thing, sort of speaking to what Lacey was just saying is, you know, one of the ways that you want to find out what's going on is what are their Google reviews look like? And I think we've talked about this before. You know, I just ignored Google reviews for years and years and years until I didn't even understand how it got out of control or what had happened and we finally, with Lacey's help, had to sort of start over and start fresh. And you know we're running it. I think we're still at like 4.9 right now, which is fantastic, but we are constantly coaching every member of our team that, with every interaction with a tenant or owner, is have I earned a five-star review today? You know I want it to be like McDonald's used to be before value meals, right, Would you like fries with that? So when you're looking to do your due diligence, check for reviews, and Google reviews is the number one thing to look for.

    I have lots of issues with Yelp. I have lots of issues with the Better Business Bureau, but Google reviews tend to be. I think that's a fantastic proxy for how the company does and their relationship with their tenants and owners. So take a look at that. Yeah, again, what are their performance standards? So, again, time to turn days on market rent collected three days, posted evictions, filed, Google review scores, open work orders. I think those are things that you want to ask about and I think, if they can answer them, you may have something there. If they can't answer them or they've never heard of these terms, then you need to move on to the next candidate.

    Laci: Yeah, perfect. I think that's really practical tips for owners and a list of you know bullet points of what to ask about I think is helpful.

    Chris: What else comes to mind, Gretchen? Anything I missed?

    Gretchen: I actually had an owner ask me, a potential owner for us, asked me how long we let someone go without paying rent. I guess their last property manager the minimum before they would file an eviction they had to not pay for two or three months and we don't let that go that far Stupidest thing I've ever heard.

    Chris: I know.

    Gretchen: But that's how you get those owners that have been burned in the past and they have those trust issues.

    Laci: So but yeah, we talk. I've got a friend. I've got a friend whose family does property management and a friend they know each other, they are also friends that owns properties and the properties that my friend owns the rent doesn't get paid and he was like you know, the sole reason I hired a property manager for these properties is because I've had trouble getting people to pay rent if I like.

    I don't need to pay somebody to not collect the rent for me if I wanted to, not because he's he has this like. He is a very mild-mannered conflict. Diverse person does not want to like a very the most, one of the most caring people I have ever met truly just the idea of having to approach someone first of all because they haven't paid their rent, be having to post some sort of notice and then see having to actually go through with an eviction is it's an impossible task for him as a human being. He does not have that ability or skillset. He just doesn't want to approach it and so you know that is a real problem for him. He would be the person who would ask you that, gretchen, but he's very property management company averse.

    Now because he's, you know, entered into this relationship with someone that he trusted right on a personal level and it turns out that on a professional level they're not following through with the. You know their responsibilities and I think that's a funny thing, because when I think of how many evictions did you have last month or how many three day notice did you post Like is that a good thing If you say you know one or 10 or 12, like what's the? Where does it become a bad thing? Right, because at a certain point it says, well, maybe they should do a better job of tenant screening, or, but if you don't have any, then that's a bad sign too. So I think that you have to have the right mindset around that Right.

    Chris: You can only improve what gets measured right. So three-day notices are something that you have to look at relative to previous months or relative to trend. So there are times of the year when three-day notices naturally tend to rise, there's no question. It happens at back to school and it happens around Christmas time, no question about it. So, but if you had 100 three-day notices last month, let's go the other way. Let's say you had 33-day notices last month and this month you've got 90. Okay, what the hell happened? Is it a calendar issue? Is it this? Is it that? Is something offline? You know what's going on.

    If you don't know the number for good or ill, you don't know what action to take. You know, if you don't know who you have to post immediately, okay, who do Marcy and Callie need to get on the phone with right now? What texts do we need to get out? What reminders? Where do we need to drive by in case somebody has moved out and we don't know it? Those three-day notices really drive the exceptions, because they are the exceptions and for us, a lot of companies, they will put three days up on the third day, the fourth day, fifth day, whatever. We do tend to be a little more flexible in that regard, because and maybe it's because you know we still have a pretty decent percentage of folks who don't pay electronically and they drop off money orders and so forth, because we do not take checks for cash and, quite frankly, in a lot of those types of properties, the payday on the calendar and the weekend matters. So if the fifth comes on a Friday and it doesn't make any sense at all to run three days and post them on Friday, what makes sense is okay, let's get through the weekend, so let's get the rent in on Monday, let's pull a Monday night, early Tuesday, and let's go post then. And but the key is, everybody who hasn't paid the rent by that date gets posted.

    Because if we don't post, we don't have any legal standing whatsoever to file an eviction. If it comes to that, and if we didn't post, and it comes to the fact that this tenant actually did let us down this time, finally, you know, and then we have to say to the owner well, we got to wait another 30 days, you know, because we didn't put the three day up. Nobody wants to have that conversation with an owner. So you know, and there's times when we'll post three days and Marcy will get inundated with calls saying you know, hey, I got a three day, I'm going to pay today or whatever, and but that's fine, that's what we get paid to do, that's our job, because if we don't get those three days up, we cannot legally move forward with an eviction and we can't take care of our owners or counsel them.

    Now, at the end of the day, you know it's the owner's decision to you know, spend the money and file an eviction and it's their decision, in collaboration with Gretchen or Tina or you know, as to whether or not they're going to give them another chance based on X, y and Z. But that's a collaborative decision and it's ultimately the owner's call that we have to make sure that we've done everything that we need to do legally, morally, professionally, whatever. We have to make sure that we've done everything that we need to do legally, morally, professionally, whatever you want to call it, to make sure that they can make the decision that they need to make.

    Laci: I mean the balance between legally, morally and professionally is such a difficult one and I feel like you guys have I mean you have a process for it. You really do, and I think that's it's just a testament to so many things. But trust being the first one, and the shelter business right, your tenants trust you. In addition to your owners being able to trust you, your tenants can trust you and sometimes that you know your process and system works in their favor, right, and gives them a little extra grace, and sometimes it may be a dozen, but they can trust you because they know they can also, you know, kind of rest easy, knowing that you have everybody's best interest at heart and you're going to balance that as best you can without, you know, sacrificing the profitability of your owners or yourself. So I think that's just a really you don't hear that a lot, you don't see that a lot. I think that's the goal and you just explained it in words, which is pretty impressive. I'm not going to lie.

    Chris: You know Marcy Morrow right, Our tenant relations specialist in Columbus. The five-star Google review she is most proud of, where she was called out in person, was for somebody who gave her a five-star review after we evicted them.

    Gretchen: At eviction court. They logged on and gave her a five star.

    Laci: I love it. I mean what?

    Chris: is real estate about if not love Well having faith and following the rules, there's something to be said. So, all right, as we wrap this up, meeting the team, understanding their operations, their capabilities, how they align with your expectations, is just a first step to doing your due diligence right. So you got to make sure you're teaming up with professionals who view your properties as if they were their own and they're committed to maintaining high standards of both performance and accountability. So meet the team right Before making a decision as crucial or as expensive and so forth as this. Take the time. Meet face-to-face if you can get on Zoom if not. Get a feel for who you're dealing with. And remember, a successful relationship with your property manager is built on clear communication, shared values and, above all, mutual respect. If you, as an owner, don't have respect for the property manager or their business, I guarantee you they're not going to have any respect for you. Taking the time to understand the team dynamics, their standards, how they handle day to day, you're going to be better equipped to make a decision that benefits you, your family and your investments. So thank you, ladies, and thank you everybody for joining us today on the Landlord Profitability Playbook podcast. We hope you found this discussion valuable and that it helps you in your journey to find the right property management team for you.

    All right, join us next time for part four, and part four is entitled can they control rehab and maintenance costs? Always a hot topic, right, and this episode coming up, we'll dive into this critical aspect of what to expect from your property manager. If you have any questions or concerns or comments about this, please don't hesitate to reach out. And if you're listening to this on a podcast platform, I understand there's a way that you can actually review this. So if you can take a moment and give us a five-star review, have we earned a five-star review today? We certainly would appreciate it. So thank you, gretchen, thank you, lacey, bye.

    Gretchen: Bye, thank you.

    Chris: Bye, and there we have it. Thanks for listening in. If you want to continue the conversation, go to That's the where we have additional information about the podcast and archived episodes. We'll be back next time with another episode of the Landlord Profitability Playbook podcast.