Departmenta or portxa what style you might ask? And why are we talking about this?
Well if you are a landlord looking for great service from a property management firm you should know this and be asking about this from the prospective firms you hire.
There are two major ways property management firms are structured to provide service as well as a multitude hybrids.
1) Portfolio – Properties are assigned to individual managers. The tenants and owners know who to talk with when they have a problem because there is one person responsible.
- Benefits – One person is responsible for the success of the client / customer. There is no confusion on the part of the client on who to call about a given issue. For the management company everyone knows how to do everything so the company is much deeper with more people around that can meet any need as it arises. This makes for a more stable situation.
- Downsides – This requires a lot more training. A portfolio manager must master a diverse set of skills sets. Collections. Maintenance. Sales. Marketing. Conflict resolution. Accounting. Its hard to find someone that has this wide breadth of knowledge to even start training. A manager is always going to have some strong points and some things he or she does that they are weaker at.
2) Departmental – There are multiple departments. A tenant or owner must call in and talk to a random person in the pertinent department when they want an answer.
- Benefits – It is much easier to train someone and get them good at doing a narrow area. At somethings they might end up getting a much greater expertise which means that item may be done better.
- Downsides – There is a disconnectedness between departments as each person has no context for the story of what is happening with a property, owner or tenant. People are less likely to take ownership. Proactive communication with the owner is less likely to happen and when there is communication with the owner it will be generally limited to the department of the person communicating. If an employee is on the phone about a maintenance issue they won’t be able to also say and by the way your tenant hasn’t paid either which might be kind of nice to know and even dictate how everyone precedes.
After studying lean service organizations and talking with many of our colleagues across the country we have found that the benefits in terms of using the Portfolio structure far out way the benefits of the departmental structure have have chosen to make switch our structure. This is also based on feedback we have gotten from talking to our own clients about what they want and need. Ultimately having better trained employees that know more about your properties and have a relationship will always benefit our clients.
If you are interviewing property management companies be sure to ask how they are structured to serve you.