What gets measured gets improved. No question. That’s why, at the beginning of this year, we reviewed exactly what we expected from our resident managers, put it in writing, and rolled out a bonus program.
The different areas the program include:
- Cleanliness and serviceability of the building.
- Vacant unit prepping – monitor the progress and the timely completion of the vendors.
- Vacant unit leasing and 100% occupied – OPEN HOUSES REQUIRED
- Rent collections – tenants paying on time, rent roll, 3 days, posting notices, rents 100% correct.
- Tenant issues – customer service, repairs being on time and tenants satisfied.
- Tenant recycling program.
- Paperwork – vacancy report, petty cash, time sheets, traffic report, move out notices.
There were some concerns about accurately measuring results, and sticking to clear-cut definitions of what qualified and disqualified a resident manager for a bonus. That’s why the writing that defined the program was detailed and specific.
It’s not our purpose to go into all details here of the seven topics above. Let’s focus on just how one critical aspect of effective resident management was handled.
For #1 above, the ‘Cleanliness and serviceability of the building’, a checklist was developed for me to walk the properties with. After half of a year of site visits with this new form and bonus plan, here’s what we’ve learned:
- CONSISTENCY. Being consistent is critical. When managers, indeed any employees, know they’re work is measured continuously, they bring their A game. Schedule the walks in regular intervals. But don’t be afraid to show on different days. The less they know to expect you, the better.
- COMPLETE UNDERSTANDING. You increase the buy-in when there is no uncertainty.Having the resident manager understand the system, sharing the results with them. For example, share the walk checklist with them when done, having them sign it. All of these are critical to the success of the incentive system.
- MIX IT UP. Bringing others on the inspection walks are important. When you perform the same function again and again, you get comfortable. That’s why I’ve had different staff members walk the buildings with me. Seeing things through a fresh pair of eyes occasionally is priceless. Also when resident managers see office staff members leave the LAPMG office to drive specifically to their building for inspection, to witness that manager’s work first-hand, they recognize the importance of their work. And they also understand that favoritism doesn’t come into play because new ‘visitors’ are continually weighing in with their input.
- DRAW A HARD LINE. Simply put, I’ve had to make grading a black or white process. I put on blinders and do my thing. There’s no other way in this type of process, and that’s my job here. Enforcement.
- RAISE THE BAR. If everyone’s making their bonus every month, it’s time to make it a bit tougher. As with any incentive program, you want to make sure that it doesn’t become too easily attained, and then assumed. When that happens, you’ve effectively doled out a raise, and defeated your original thought to improve performance.
The bonuses range from $100 to $200 per month, depending on how many units each resident manager manages. And here’s how the award is made:
0-2 mistakes / Award = 100% of set bonus amount.
3-5 mistakes / Award = 50% of set bonus amount.
6+ mistakes / No Award
From time to time we will offer additional incentives, a quarterly “Best Manager”, or “100% occupied” awards. At the end of the day, it all comes back to monitoring performance, and letting your on-site managers know their work is measured, appreciated, and worthy of recognition.