What can Real Estate learn about workflow from Coffee Shops?
If you’re thinking nothing…then keep reading. When it comes to consistency in service there’s a valuable lesson there. If you’re confused, fear not, all will become clear.
I love coffee, and we are spoilt for choice when it comes to coffee shops near the STAFFLINK office in Brisbane.
There are at least 6 places within 200 metres of our Head Office that make a semi-decent brew.
The one that makes the best-tasting cup is called Anna’s Cafe (not her real name). But the problem with Anna’s cafe is that there is only ever one staff member working there. It’s a one-person operation.
Her name is Anna (not her real name), and she’s a real pro barista.
So when it’s quiet, Anna gives you incredible service. She takes responsibility for every part of the process. She greets you, takes your order, also makes it for you, and then cheerfully hands over the finished product.
Where are you going with this?
I’m getting there! You see, Anna has a problem, when it gets busy, her service levels drop.
It’s not Anna’s fault, she’s there trying to take orders, pull shots, steam milk, and pour coffees. No wonder sometimes she seems a bit stressed. A bit less up for a chat.
It’s not surprising that sometimes the milk is a little hot or cold, a bit less silky and textured. The coffee shot might be under-extracted or burnt.
And, of course, the wait time gets longer, so much so that most people in the office will avoid going there if they see a line.
Cool story bro, but what has this got to do with Property Management workflow?
Bare with me! One day (as I was waiting for ages for Anna to make my coffee!) I realised that Anna’s predicament was a bit like the portfolio model of property management, its greatest strength is also its greatest weakness.
Imagine Anna is a Property Manager, and a really good one. She is responsible for all the processes involved in managing her portfolio. She started off giving amazing service, and her clients were really happy with the quality of her service.
As a result, her portfolio grew. But that’s when the headaches started.
She was so busy that she felt beyond her capacity. No longer was she able to focus on each of her client’s satisfaction in the way she did before. She started getting stressed because she knew that she wasn’t giving the service that she was capable of.
She started missing things, suddenly now she had unsatisfied clients, she was putting out fires and dealing with complaints rather than focusing on delivering exceptional service and even attracting new clients.
Righto, so what’s the punchline?
No punchline, all I’m saying is that Anna’s story neatly encapsulates the problem facing real estate agencies who use the portfolio model of property management.
Its biggest weakness is that there is a natural capacity limit to the size of the portfolios that property managers can handle. The exact number of properties that a PM can handle varies a little bit and depends on things like the abilities and experience of the PM, but generally, most can’t handle any more than 150 PUM (properties-under-management).
Compare this to PMs who operate in a task-based model of property management can comfortably handle up to 350 properties. They are still responsible for the forward-facing, client-focused aspects of their jobs but have behind-the-scenes support for some of the repetitive, administrative aspects of their role.
So you’re saying that every agency should adopt a task-based model of property management?
Not necessarily! There are pros and cons to both models, and many agencies end up choosing a hybrid version, giving them the best of both worlds.
One reason to consider moving away from the traditional portfolio-based model of property management is if you want to build capacity. If you want to scale and grow.
If you want to delve deeper, we recently published a blog about the pros and cons of choosing a Portfolio model of Property Management vs choosing a Task-based model of property management. Check it out.
Final thoughts? Consistency in service is paramount
When it comes to assessing the quality of service (whether it be managing someone’s investment property or making their morning coffee), what matters is not only the quality of the product or service itself but also the company’s capacity for actually delivering it.
In an age where online reviews are everything, if your clients are waiting too long for a flat white, or if they need to follow up on where their rental applications are up to, your service will probably end up being questioned.
Overall, the parallels between ordering a coffee and applying for a rental property highlight the significance of customer service across industries.
When it comes to consistency in service, there are serious parallels between Anna, the Barista and Anna, the Property Manager.
About the author: Brendan works for STAFFLINK, but never forgot his barista background.