We often get requests from clients and prospects that are looking for best practice guides, checklists and other tactical tips for improving tenant service, mobility, risk management and a number of other operational areas. While we love to create these how-to lists (you can find a number of them in our Resource Center), it’s sometimes necessary to take a step back and review the bigger picture. So, when reading an article in the Wall Street Journal this morning, written to give advice to recent college graduates, I couldn’t help but think how some of these high-level tips for adulthood survival could also apply to property management.

The Rules for Recent Grads and Property Managers:

Guide for Millennial Property Managers Entering CRE1. You’re going to buy a bad bed. You can’t help it. You just graduated college. You don’t know anything about beds. You’re going to sleep on the worst bed for at least seven years. It might even be a horrible futon. This will be funny later.

Property Management: Wisdom comes with trial and error. As more and more new technologies are added to the real estate operations mix, it’s inevitable that you will try a few duds. This is why it’s so important to do your research up front and select providers that will be a true partner, rather than just send you on your merry way with a new tool.

2. Never enter an IKEA without your game face on.

Property Management: Never enter a tenant meeting without being armed with a full history of the service you have provided (including you responsiveness to service requests)

3. You don’t have to let the boss win at golf. You do have to let bosses talk about their vacations to Patagonia and the 100-mile bike rides they did last weekend. Sorry. You just have to.

Property Management: See above.

4. Your 20s are not the time to be babbling about a hot new restaurant with the amaaaaazing chef. That’s what 40s are for.

Property Management: There is nothing worse than a property team that touts amazing amenities, the best service in the business, and the city’s best tenant appreciation parties…with no real life data to back it up. People can spot a fake a mile away. Get your processes in order, start capturing the operational data that actually proves your team are rock stars, and then you will be living the dream rather than talking about it. It’s much more attractive.

5. Don’t spend too much time worrying about the approval of Bill Belichick.

Property Management: DO spend time worrying about tenant satisfaction.  And track satisfaction with the work provided on a work order by work order basis (no: once a year surveys don’t cut it).

6. The human experience is too beautiful to waste by being profound on Twitter. Wow, that is profound. Please tweet that.

Property Management: Just get on Twitter- profound or not. The excuse that the commercial real estate industry is a hand shake business no longer flies. Your prospects are on social media, your tenants are on social media, and the future generation of property managers are on social media. Now is the time to join the club and set yourself apart from the competition.

7. Every once in a while, you’re going to throw a bad dinner party. You’ve got to shake them off, like blowout losses.

Property Management: Every once and a while, you are going to have an angry tenant. Shake it off and show them a tangible plan for how you are going to do better next time.

8. Spend a summer sleeping out underneath the stars. Or just Facebook that you did.

Property Management: Take some time to step back from the hustle and bustle of the day-to-day and review the basics. You’d be surprised what you can improve when you stop just doing things because they have always been done that way. What are your service response times? What’s your escalation and notification process? Is it time to implement a mobility program? Do you have any vendors working at your property that aren’t properly insured?

9. The future is going to rock your world. By the time you are in your 50s there may be humans living on Mars. And Derrick Rose may be back playing for the Chicago Bulls.

Property Management: Don’t be the property management group that talks about how you “walked five miles to school in a snowstorm, barefoot.” No one driving an electric car and wearing a new pair of Nike Lunar Eclipse running shoes cares. In fact, they just feel sorry for you and want to go hang out with people who “get it” like they do.  Embrace that there are going to be constant advancements in the CRE industry and make an effort to not only embrace these changes, but become industry leaders.

10. When the waiter asks, “Another round of margaritas?” the answer is always, “Another round of margaritas.”

Property Management: See above.

12. While you’re still young, stay up to watch the end of “Monday Night Football.” After the age of 35, it’s physically impossible.

Property Management: Stay young by investing in, and attracting, new talent from the next generation of property managers. While they may do things drastically differently than you are used to (“Wait, we send emails here?”), they will bring a fresh, modern perspective and big ideas you may have never considered.

13. To be real for a moment: Don’t listen to rules. Anyone you admire in life almost surely made a significant choice, somewhere along the way, to break the rules, to be brave and do things differently, and change their world.


(Excerpts from original article: 29Rules for College Graduates, by Jason Gay, Wall Street Journal)