We have all experienced transitions – one minute your high-performing team is working well, and then a key team member leaves and you’re faced with onboarding someone new. The inconvenience of staff changes occurs in a community association as well. Even if your property manager is the perfect fit for your neighborhood, they might look for new opportunities or a change of pace.
While manager transitions are a fact of life in the property management industry, constant manager turnover leads to instability and could signal a larger issue with overall employee satisfaction. Successful, resourceful property management companies minimize employee loss by offering ongoing education, mentoring, recognition and an excellent support structure.
Those firms are also diligent in planning for how to smoothly transition leadership when a manager moves on. FirstService Residential has developed a proven process to transfer management efficiently.

Keeping All the Balls in the Air

Managers are responsible to all sorts property management duties and keep track of myriad details as a matter of course. If they move on, you may wonder how soon the new manager will be able to pick up all the ongoing projects and the institutional knowledge they held. Residents may wonder who to contact and what will happen to their open requests.

A regional director who has been overseeing your manager’s work will already have a good working relationship with the board. They will also be familiar with the specific budgeting and financial matters of your community. Their connections to the management company’s accounting, insurance, customer care, administrative and technology departments will ensure that work in progress will move forward smoothly. This is the “dream team” approach. To learn more about the value of an ideal management team approach, see our guide, Dream Team: The Key to Exceptional Service.

Standard operating procedures, checklists and a schedule of property walks keep the management duties on track. These organizational tools also help an interim manager step in and take control without skipping a beat.

Technology: Keeping it Together

The role of technology in a manager transition cannot be over-emphasized. By keeping resident accounts and financial information in a digital, centralized location, other team members can step in and check statuses, communicate with the board and residents, and track projects from beginning to end. Good property management companies have strict procedures for property manager recordkeeping for just this reason. This means that all team members have the information they need at their fingertips and can step in to help effectively.

A mass communication system is essential during a transition. The board and residents alike will want consistent updates during the transition and the process to bring a new manager onboard. Without a good mass communication tool, communication can be spotty and misinformation will spread. A regular cadence of status messages, frequently asked questions and other key messages will keep the community up to date and aware of who to contact when necessary. When the communication system is fully integrated into the rest of the apps used to manage your property, your management team will respond more quickly and reach all residents – or certain groups – in an efficient manner.

It is said that people need to hear a message several times before retaining it. If you use several different vehicles to keep residents informed, they will absorb more of your important updates. You can work with your management team to use a community website, mass emails, virtual or in-person meetings to communicate the staff transition process from start to finish. And when you’ve found the perfect fit for your community, make sure to set up a meet-and-greet with the new manager!

Finding the Perfect Fit

The way in which a new manager search is conducted and brought on board will set the tone for future success with the community. The culture of your community, your goals and challenges will be considered during the search. Because the regional manager has been involved all along, they will understand the special nuances that make your association unique.

The new candidate’s skillset and experience are also evaluated; for example, if you have many capital projects in the works, extensive project management experience is necessary. Or if you live in a community with many amenities and events, we will look for a manager with a lifestyle background. Each manager also has their own working style which will be considered when bringing in a replacement manager.

Whenever possible, the previous manager and new manager will work side-by-side to become familiar with the schedule, ongoing projects and recordkeeping for the association. Great management companies use a consistent onboarding process for all employees. They invest time and energy in training managers both on roles and skills, but also on the values and expectations that ensure their services remain top-notch. A mentorship program is invaluable for increasing the skill level of newer managers. All these efforts are focused on bringing the best property managers to each valued association and ensure you receive the same level of exceptional service regardless of who your property manager is.

Mindset: Change Can Be Positive

Manager transitions are an ordinary practice in the residential property management industry. Good management companies put great thought and processes in place to prepare for it, and work to minimize employee turnover through good business practices. However, a board of directors might see a manager’s exit as a red flag regarding the management company.
"Boards often perceive the value of property management services solely through what their manager does," says Brian Butler, senior vice president at FirstService Residential. "The larger picture is the total team support that their association receives from the management company.” In strong, well-staffed companies, that team of experts remains in place even if one person leaves. In fact, a change in manager might lead to new ways of approaching issues and working together.
Change may be inevitable. But when it is handled properly, it can be an excellent opportunity to revitalize the community. Approached properly, the transition can generate new energy and build a new sense of purpose that will benefit your entire community. 

Friday June 25, 2021