Fixing Staffing Issues During a Repositioning

Industry News,

Buying a new community means taking on a new staff. If the property is underperforming, it may mean refocusing onsite associates.

When Trion Properties takes over a new community, it uses a hands-on approach to address any issues in the quickest, most cost-effective way.

“We operate a vertically-integrated management platform, meaning throughout the entire process of repositioning a property, our team is there to oversee, make informed decisions and gather feedback from existing residents,” says Max Sharkansky, Managing Partner at Trion.

Often, feedback Trion and other companies gather concerns existing site staff. Sometimes, changes need to be made.
“It is important to assess the current team and to make sure the right team is in place,” says Wendy Dorchester, Vice President of Talent and Culture at Pegasus Residential. “Obviously, if there are occupancy issues and challenges there, it is reasonable to ask about the team.”

Melissa L. Smith, Chief Administrative Officer for Fogelman Management Group, says it’s a given that some attrition will take place when her firm takes over a community. She says the goal is to keep the current team in place.
“We understand we are disrupting their lives,” she says. “Onsite staff members are the ones who are disrupted most in a sale, we make a conscious effort to   communicate and make it as easy as possible for them.”

Pegasus makes it a priority to bring the regional manager onsite to understand what is really happening with leasing and other important functions. Problems often stem from lack of focus.

“Our number one job is to lease apartments,” Dorchester says. “People get caught up in so many other things that they forget that. We get bogged down in the minutiae and details of a running a community instead of focusing on leasing.”
That focusing does not come easier when a renovation is happening onsite, says Diane Batayeh, CEO of Village Green.

“Many times, investors underwriting [a value-add] acquisition assume the status quo with staffing the management office,” says Batayeh. “But when a renovation is occurring, a property manager is pulled to act as pseudo project superintendent with responsibilities for quality control and scheduling. Their job as a property manager becomes secondary to their job as a project manager.”

To ensure that her residents are being taken care of, Batayeh has a simple solution.

“I recommend to any owner to have someone in place who is dedicated to being that owner’s eyes and ears and making sure things are being properly scheduled and the quality of the renovation work is acceptable,” Batayeh says. “Having a dedicated renovation coordinator representing the owner to interface with the construction contractor is so important. This will allow the property manager and service team to focus on the day to day site operations. Not staffing appropriately during a renovation project is the one thing that gets missed the most.”