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All Things Property Management

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A Healthy Property Management Style

By Linda Day Harrison, theBrokerList, Chicago, IL

If you like to read great business books and gobble up terms that help managers get the job done, there is one I want you to never forget, MBWA! Not only is it effective and powerful, but it is also good for your health! Here are variations on its commonly known names:

The Acronym: MBWA
Management by Walking Around
Management by Wandering Around
Management by Walking About
Manage by Walking Around

My own version and personal favorite is - Property Management by Walking Around (PMBWA). It is not easy because you have to push yourself away from the desk. Get out and just start walking around. Do nothing but walk. That is all you have to do. Start at the top, the bottom, the outside, the inside, or any part you would like. If you push yourself away from the office you will be out there in the thick of things. Walk around the parking lots, mechanical rooms, corridors, vacant spaces, other departments of the company, but just walk. Or as a former, very successful boss of mine said, "Get out there in look ‘em in the eye!"

While you are walking ask questions, talk to people, make inquiries, and introduce yourself to strangers. Ask technicians what they are working on and ask contractors what project or task they are performing for the property? Do not have a plan or carry anything with you but your smartphone. If you must take a note, just use the camera feature, call yourself and leave a voicemail, or a record a message. Do not carry notepads or anything else at all, because the notepad might make you think you need to find things to write down. It can also be a intimidating if you’re taking notes during a conversation with a colleague that is supposed to be casual. Let your mind be free and just walk. Wherever you go, information will be gleaned. There is insight to be had from the properties you manage, as well as your own property. It is talking to you, you just have to listen.

It is not easy, but consider doing PMBWA regularly. Nobody expects a property manager to just walk around with no plan, direction, or destination! It will puzzle your staff, intrigue your customers, and create interest from your contractors. Remember, this is NOT a building inspection. You are managing your property just by walking around. It sounds unbelievable, but I bet you that you will learn so much and find out so many things that it will spark enthusiasm, excitement, or bring resolution to a matter you have contemplated or been challenged by.

Try it and let us know how it worked for you!

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Linda! I learned about this concept in business school. A great idea to start using at the office. Thanks!

  Nathan Borne
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This is cool, I honestly never thought about walking around with NO agenda!! I will keep you posted!!;)

  Caprice Stokes, MBA
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Something similar was posted on another apartments board, on Facebook, I believe. My response was as follows--Take the same approach that I took last summer when I decided to do a few self-guided walking tours of NYC, armed with my camera. I found myself in areas of town which I generally had never spent much time, looking up, down, sideways, noticing perspectives that most people going from A to B in a hurry would never catch. If you regularly practice PMBWA (or if you are about to start the habit), don't walk the same route every time. Look up, down, side-to-side, stop for a few seconds and do a 360. Bring a camera, take lots of pictures and then review them at leisure on your computer. Try and leave your electronics in the office, keeping with you only what someone could use to reach you in an emergancy. Bring a notepad and maybe even a pair of binoculars to check out hard to reach areas, like under the eaves. A flashlight wouldn't hurt. Go at different times of the day as the lighting and the people who are in certain places will change.

That should get you started. Thanks to multifamilyinsiders for the opportunity to comment.

  Charles Fiori

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