I wanted to take some time today to go into a little discussion on our company mission statement and our values here at Realty Trust Services. Whether you’re a new employee, a potential owner who’s considering using our property management services, a current owner we work with, a tenant, a potential tenant… whatever the case may be, this is meant to be an exercise in one of our guiding values: education.
Our mission here at Realty Trust Services is to deliver peace of mind. Why is this our mission and how do we work towards it? Well, there are two reasons why it’s our mission. One, I think it’s what people want more than anything when they deal with our company. Two, I couldn’t remember anything longer than that. So it had to be something simple and direct that we could focus on and strive to deliver. I want to create a certain end effect when anyone associated with Realty Trust Services dealt with other people. Whether those people be owners, tenants, co-workers, vendors… whoever it might be… when they go to bed at night— at least if they’ve just interacted with us— to hopefully sleep a little better; a little more peacefully. Now, obviously, achieving peace of mind is a little more complex than interactions with your multifamily property manager at whatever level you’re interacting with them on, but that’s the idea. I believe that, if we can deliver peace of mind, it’s kind of a win-win solution. It’s something that we can give to others that they can, in turn, give back to us. That’s a lifestyle choice and that’s what I want. Everything we do at Realty Trust Services should be focused on creating a positive feedback loop. We can all accomplish so much more if we’re in that mindset as opposed to the less-than-positive interactions that often pervade this industry. So how do we deliver peace of mind? To that end, I came up with three values that I feel are foundational. I believe these three things will help us to accomplish that mission of delivering peace of mind. This is how I visualize this system… The mission is a golf ball sitting on a tee. Or, in this instance, a T.E.E. T.E.E. stands for Transparency, Empathy, and Education. Let’s break that down.
Transparency means that you tell the truth, even if it’s bad news or no one wants to hear it. You know people will be upset by it, but you tell them anyway because they need to know. You tell the truth even though it might be painful at that moment. Transparency gives you the freedom to get on with finding a solution. There’s no need to avoid or doge or hide from the issues. And that’s important because trying to avoid dealing with an ugly truth just fuels negative energy. Instead of being a positive cycle or productive change, it becomes a negative cycle. It becomes all anyone thinks about. “What’s wrong?” “What aren’t they telling me?” “What do I need to hide?” “What don’t they know? What do they know?” All of those things are distractions from providing the excellent service it takes to create positive, trust-filled interactions. So the idea of transparency is that we admit our mistakes. There’s no room for ego in a high-performance team. Once we agree that everyone is on the same side and we’re all trying to provide each other peace of mind, we can bring people together. So owners aren’t just trying to operate their property for the cheapest price possible, tenants aren’t just trying to get whatever they want out of any given transaction, but everyone’s actively trying to work together. At first, that may seem a little more expensive one way or another, but, when you’re working together for a common purpose, things start to happen that are synergistic. Maybe the tenant takes care of the property a little bit better so the owner is a little more willing to see to the tenant’s concerns and spend money to make things better for them. These things work in a positive circle. If you look at it systematically, oftentimes what you do will be different and the vision and values are what organize the system and allow us to get the result we’re after. That’s why it’s so important to talk about it and think about it. Ultimately, the effect of high transparency is that the trust in a relationship is much higher and that gives us the framework to work together more effectively.
“People don’t care what you know until they know that you care.” Empathy is when you have a sense of what others are feeling. And many people don’t know how to experience empathy, for a number of reasons. Sometimes it’s just how they grew up. You model certain things from your parents and other sources and they may not have demonstrated empathy for their own unique reasons. Trauma can be another reason why a person isn’t good at empathizing with others. Trauma can create the inability to have any kind of feeling, let alone an empathic one for someone else. If you start to feel like emotions are painful in general— positive or negative— you make yourself disconnect. That happens to more people than you might expect. But we always seek to insert empathy into our interactions. Empathy is one more thing that increases the trust in the process of what we’re trying to achieve. And trust is so vital. It makes everything else better. I recently read a book called The Upside of Irrationality by Dan Ariely. One of the interesting experiments he did was he would intentionally irritate people. The opposite of empathy. They created these situations where people had the opportunity to take advantage of them and they tested whether or not being intentionally rude to the person beforehand affected their behavior. What they found was that 70-80% of people wouldn’t take advantage of a difficult situation if they were feeling respected and there was a trusting, empathic relationship. On the other hand, an overwhelming majority of the people they irritated took advantage. These were ordinary people who weren’t really bad— you wouldn’t consider them to be dishonest or anything like that— but the same person that was not irritated would not take advantage of a situation where the irritated person would. My point here is that empathy is important, especially for landlords who offer property management in Ohio. It’s important that we show empathy to our tenants because it’s going to make a big difference in how they treat the property. Because if they’re feeling taken advantage of or that someone was rude to them or didn’t take care of their needs, they’re going to want to exact revenge. Revenge doesn’t have to have anything to do with killing someone or drastically hurting someone in order to get even. It might not even be a particularly rage-filled action they take, but— at least in most cases— people who feel slighted will still engage in vengeful behavior. Relationships mitigate risk. Having that empathic relationship and caring makes a big difference for everyone involved. Yet there’s this fear of empathy. Some people feel like they have to be mean or rude to someone if they disagree with that other person. Say, for example, that a tenant is being unreasonable in asking for something. One of the rules that I’ve created to help us maintain a high level of empathy is that we will always seek to find a solution, even if we aren’t it.
To illustrate this… Today, a tenant asked me to come plow their driveway. There was a foot of snow out in front of this duplex. Well, we don’t operate plowing services for properties under five units. So I had a choice… I could have said, “screw you, we’re not doing it,” or I could try to identify with their concern. I chose the second option. I expressed my sympathy with their situation and then I provided several potential solutions. I tried to provide some ideas on how he could solve the issue of needing the driveway cleared and I even sent him over some tips on driveway shoveling. The tenant came back to me and said, “You know what, I would be willing to pay for it. Could you provide the service and I pay for it?” So I provided him with some vendors who could do the job and, in the end, everything worked out as a win-win. I could have just said no. And, I suspect that, if I had done that, he might have dug in and started looking at city regulations trying to find an angle to force us to do what he wanted. There are two ways that scenario could have gone and I’ve seen it go the other way too many times because people weren’t thoughtful enough to make an empathic response. It’s not that hard, but it makes a huge difference, and that’s why I say empathy is such a big part of our mission here at Realty Trust Services.
Education is a long-term effector. It usually doesn’t get immediate results, but, over time, education improves us all. It improves the quality of our relationships, it improves who we are as individuals, it changes our character, it changes our skill level, and it changes our interactions. It gives you more options for doing more and getting more accomplished. And, on top of all of that, it makes people feel that you’re dependable and concerned with improvement and it gives them a little more peace of mind. Most of the time, education is an upfront expense. You have to spend time and— sometimes— money investing in resources and you have to put in the hours to get the work done to learn whatever it is you’re working toward. But it’s a worthwhile investment because it’s an investment in people. And education is universal. Employees should be educators, just like the business owners themselves. I’m doing putting together this blog to educate and I’m actively trying to get the people I work with to do the same and provide their knowledge to tenants and owners. Education happens at a lot of different levels. Sometimes you’re just educating people on the fact that you know what you’re doing and that they can depend on you to do it well. Manuals and processes are education because they let us learn important systems. By creating a manual that anybody can use to do something we can easily get everyone in an organization armed with knowledge that lets us deliver a consistent service and, thereby, peace of mind. If something is consistent, you can trust it to work out. Here at Realty Trust Services, we offer incentives to employees who actively read books and work to improve themselves with various training materials. I particularly recommend business-related and self-help materials that help people grow and interact more effectively. Education sharpens everything it touches and makes entire systems work better. The last piece is the systems we use to keep everything running smoothly. Having these systems in place makes our business much less chaotic and lets us set parameters on how we start and end certain relationships and how we do everyday tasks. CONTACT US Covering our T.E.E. with a “club” of streamlined systems takes us further and faster towards achieving our mission than we could ever do alone. To learn more about our property management services contact us today by calling (440) 220-7300 or click here to connect with us through our website.