President Multifamily NW
Let’s face it: you will be hard pressed to find anyone in this business who went to college with a goal to get into property management. Most of us fell into this industry by chance and found out quickly this could actually become a professional career. One common question I get asked is “What is your advice for planning a career in this industry?” The reality is there are many different places you can start and paths you can follow to advance in your career.
Get started. Starting in an entry level position has advantages. You have a chance to learn the basic skills which are the key ingredients to success. Leasing and grounds keepers are the front line for our customers. The first thing they experience is curb appeal and customer service which are foundational concepts.
Look for guidance. Ask for a mentor or if your company does not provide mentors, seek one out on your own. Look for someone whose work you respect and ask them if you can spend some time with them to observe their techniques. Even at an entry level position you have the opportunity to become the best at what you do and to stand out and be noticed. Learning all aspects of operations will help you in the future when you are leading a team. Understanding each role will provide insight when training or coaching a team member.
Dress for success. One of the things I recommend is dress for the position you want, not the position that you have. Every office team member should own a blazer to dress up any outfit. It may seem very basic but how you present yourself can have an impact on opportunities that open for you. Someone that looks organized and put together demonstrates they are someone that has respect for their role. If you are someone who is required to wear a uniform, make sure the clothing is washed appropriately and pressed if needed. A wrinkled, untucked uniform shirt looks disheveled and can appear that you don’t care. There is a reason every military member you run across has a pressed and clean uniform. This is a standard required by all military members that represents discipline and attention to detail. The same standard applies to our industry. Invest in your wardrobe every year adding more professional items that can mix with your current collection.
Supplement your education. If your company offers free education, take it. Sign up for any classes that are offered and go above and beyond in your personal time taking additional classes. Don’t just take the required courses but look for additional offerings that may help you understand all aspects of the business. If you are in maintenance, sign up for a sales and customer service class. If you are in management or leasing, sign up for a maintenance class so you can better understand what it involves. In your personal time pick up reading materials and publications related to property management. These materials can be found online or you can have newspapers and magazines delivered to your home or office. Websites to check out include: multifamilyexecutive.com, multifamilyhousingpro.com, naahq.org (sign up for the online publication UNITS), multifamilynw.org, multifamilybiz.com, nmhc.org, and ccim.com. Additional reading materials recommended are books on leadership, sales, customer service, team building and conflict resolution.
Obtain certifications. This may require personal funds to complete, but it is an investment in your career and future growth. Multifamily NW offers certifications for all positions through the National Apartment Association. These include NALP (leasing), CAMT (maintenance), CAM (manager), and CAS (industry supplier). You can also obtain certifications through IREM that include ARM (manager), and CPM (regional).
Attend industry events. Multifamily NW offers many events that will help you network with others in the industry. This helps you to better understand industry best practices and offers opportunities to brainstorm and share ideas. You can also hear from industry experts to gain perspective on the local market conditions. NAA and other national industry organizations offer annual events located in various locations across the U.S. and bring a broader perspective on the market and trends happening nationally. If given the opportunity, attending one of these events is strongly recommended.
Go above and beyond. Don’t ask for more money in order to take on more responsibility or challenge. Raise your hand to take on new assignments that will help you grow as a professional. When you are the “go to” for special projects or challenges and you deliver solid results, it builds your good reputation and more opportunities will surface. Be the person that handles things and gets the job done. The less work you create for your supervisor the more confident they will become in your abilities and when they need someone to fill a promotion they will be able to recommend you.
Set your standards high. Your reputation, your ethics and professionalism are so important in this business. It’s a small world in this industry so make sure the mark you leave behind is a positive one. These tips have helped me along my journey as I’ve grown in my career. I am proud to be part of this industry and to see the endless opportunities for growth. You may not have set out to make property management your career but the potential for a rewarding career is there for you.