Today’s show is sponsored by LeadSimple and Fourandahalf. Together, they’ve come up with one of the best conferences for property managers, called the PM Grow Summit. This event is laser-focused on growth strategies and brings together some remarkable thought leaders from around the country. I attended last year and was thoroughly impressed all around -- and that was just their first year! The next conference will be in San Diego in 2018, and I’ve already booked my spot. Go to pmgrowsummit.com to learn more, and enter promo code “Brad” to get a $100 discount on your ticket!
We’re are also sponsored by Marc Cunningham of Grace Property Management. Marc has created some amazing products for property management companies, which we can say firsthand as we’ve implemented his systems here. Visit their website and try out their products! To get a 10% discount on any of Marc’s products, use the promo code “Brad”!
Today’s show is also sponsored by Virtually Incredible who provides tenant screening services, call center services, and video production services to property managers. You can visit them at VirtuallyIncredible.com.
With hurricane season in full swing, I have a very timely interview for you. Today, I am talking to Pete Neubig and Steven Rozenberg from Empire Industries out of Houston. This interview is golden with lots of lessons learned on how to handle natural disasters. These lessons can apply to any property management company no matter where you are, and what natural disasters you may face.
Pete and Steve have both been on the show before and are old veterans when it comes to podcasting and talking about property management. They also feel as a company they have come out stronger. Today, they share how they managed 700 homes in the aftermath of Harvey. They share how they needed to act fast and be strategic with solving multiple problems. Then they share how they broke things down and created actionable items for each team member.
They share how they prepared the lines of communication in advance by creating one-way channels that could be used even during the storm and then organized their people into teams and groups to accomplish everything. They also remained helpful to everyone and shared communication through their channels while always remembering to put people first. They share their philosophies and strategic actions along with lessons learned through this catastrophic event.
Here’s where you can find Pete and Steve:
Steve Rozenberg on LinkedIn
Empire Industries on Twitter
Empire Industries on Facebook
[02:31] Pete and Steve kick things off sharing how Houston is still hurting, but Empire as a company has grown through the experience.
[04:12] Pete shares how they managed to stay on top of things by having a plan and a great team.
[04:57] Empire manages 700 homes in the Houston area. That's 700 families and 700 potential owners.
[05:52] Steve shares how taking action and coming up with a strategic plan helped them to respond and break things down into actionable steps.
[08:35] They let owners and residents know how to get updates through their portal and Facebook to create a one-way line of communication.
[10:20] The first thing they did was make sure everyone on the team was okay, then they took stock of available resources.
[11:03] Everyone at the company was assigned an emergency job. They used conferences calls twice a day to create an action plan. They assigned project managers to attend the calls to cut down on communication time.
[13:29] They used a spreadsheet to keep track of each property. They walked their vacant units to make sure they were rent ready because of the Houston housing shortage.
[16:08] Steve utilized social media for communication. They wanted to let the owners know that their properties were alright. He did a Facebook Live video every day.
[17:30] Steve shared all of the information he found out from FEMA and other agencies and then became a one-stop shop for tenants, landlords, and everyone. They combined forces and became a social media point of contact.
[19:52] They also created a Hurricane Harvey landing page on their website that answers all kinds of emergency and hurricane questions.
[20:54] They also filmed a public service announcement to help people find information and properties.
[21:48] Using a voice over IP phone system. These phones aren't down like a flooded landline would be.
[23:25] What happens when a home gets flooded out. If the house is uninhabitable, the tenant can break the lease.
[24:31] They made a company policy that residents who have lost everything get their security deposit back.
[25:06] How property management is a people business at the end of the day.
[26:11] Helping tenants by getting repairs done right away.
[26:38] Using Facebook groups for communication with owners and tenants.
[27:30] Creating expectations to eliminate too many phone calls.
[28:29] It's important to create the job roles in advance before emergencies happen. Also, have a list of emergency vendors and contractors.
[29:31] Treat people well, value relationships, and be calm, structured and organized.
[30:17] Trusting your current vendors instead of onboarding new people who come into town for the disaster.
[30:57] They have had about 350 homes that have reported issues.
[32:32] They had a vendor who waded through water to light a pilot light and didn't charge for it. They also found a new house for a family that lost everything and they donated things to help the family.
[35:12] The best thing a property manager can do for the community is doing their job.
[36:28] How Pete ended up adopting a dog with a broken leg.
[37:54] They waived late fees this month and think their new leases will make up for lost rent from people who have damaged homes. They have estimated to collect about 90% of rent this month.
[40:33] Pete shares a story about a homeowner and a tenant who lost everything. The owner didn't have a lot of compassion and is no longer a client.
[42:48] Problems that happen when owners bypass the property managers, and how it's better to worry about people, not property.
Links and Resources:
Jean Storms Property Management Manual
Citizen Home Solutions