As jugglers of multiple and oftentimes complex tasks, property managers must be adept at mediating between board members and unit owners, as well as resolving all manner of maintenance and legal issues. To this end, property managers don’t have 'typical' days, but rather varied and challenging ones that are often complicated, and require a particular skill set to navigate.
“A working relationship with the board is important, and being a conduit between them and the residents,” says Randolph Bell, CEO of BeacCorp Property Management in West Palm Beach. “You’re the person residents vent their frustration to. You have to have negotiation skills. Being able to draw up an action plan, you go to the board and they say they need this, this, and this. You try to identify the problem areas, and draw up a definition and get it structured. It’s being able to coordinate, articulate and execute on the direction of the board, and do it as quickly as possible,” he says.
The Juggling Act
In order to do their respective job well, managers require a wide array of both concrete skills and specific personality traits. And while the size of the property dictates a manager's involvement and responsibilities to a large degree, there are a few traits that are common to any good manager. These professionals understand not only how to deal with boards and residents, but vendors and the ever-changing status of the property–whether it’s due to the environment, a lawsuit, dishonest contractors or changing board members. In the end, it is the board that ultimately entrusts the property manager to make the right call regardless of the situation.
“Being a good listener as well as having a lot of patience are important property manager traits,” says Bill Worrall, vice president of client relations and business development for the Hollywood, Florida-based FirstService Residential, one of the nation’s largest property management firms. “A manager needs to spend time with the board and unit owners to know their issues and understand the community lifestyle they bought into.”
“One of the most important duties of the manager is to educate their board members. These members are volunteers and don’t receive any compensation for their efforts aside from the satisfaction of contributing to their community,” says Dixie Carlotti, director of association services for Ruskin-based SouthShore Property Management. “A great manager will do everything possible to educate them on the governing documents for their association, as well as the Florida statutes that are applicable so that they are able to make informed decisions and choices that are productive in moving their community in a forward direction.”