How to Stay Organized During the Busiest Rental Season
Renters Warehouse Blog
Feeling swamped with work? Relax! You’re not alone. The spring and summer months tend to be a tremendously busy time of year for property managers far and wide.
It’s a popular season for moving, and chances are you’ll have tenants coming and going –it’s also the season where there’s often maintenance and repairs that are being carried out on rentals. And if you have staff, there’s the annual excitement of summer vacation schedules to juggle. It’s enough for even the most organized among us to feel overwhelmed.
The good news, though, is that there’s a lot that you can do to prioritize and manage your workload. Getting organized will help you to streamline your processes allowing you to work as efficiently as possible. This will lead to a significant time-savings, which means less time searching for documents and more time spent on high-level tasks.
If you’re overworked, here are some ideas for staying organized and on track during this busy time of year.
Manage Incoming Papers
Organizing your papers is a great place to start. The simplest solution for dealing with paperwork is to have a slot where incoming mail comes in. Place items that require immediate action here, and then file things away as soon as you’re finished with them. Ideally, you’ll want to try to tackle paperwork as it comes in so it doesn’t pile up.
Developing a filing system will help you to quickly stash your paperwork in the right places, and makes it easier to find important documents come tax time.
One idea is to have a file for each property, and to keep everything pertaining to the property there. This includes rental applications, the tenancy agreement, and any other information regarding the lease or the property. You can also work to reduce unnecessary paperwork by using a cloud-based storage solution like Shoebox to scan and store receipts, and by choosing e-receipts whenever possible.
Take Advantage of Helpful Tools
There’s a wealth of web-based tools and software available today that can help you to save time, allowing you to automate and simplify many time-consuming tasks.
Consider using Google Documents or Dropbox for working documents and collaborative projects. You’ll also want to consider taking advantage of software, like Quicken, that will automate paperwork and make it easier to keep up with reports, financial statements, bills, and more. Finally, consider implementing an online rent payment system –like eRentPayment, to simplify rent collection as well
Focus on Time Management
A lot of time is wasted with mundane activities or needless interruptions. In fact, it’s estimated that just 60 percent or less of our workday is actually spent productively.
To improve your time management, you’ll want to start prioritizing! Consider creating a list at the start of each day with important tasks that you need to finish, organized by priority or urgency. You may also want to break up your day into sections, and assign all related tasks to time blocks. For instance, admin work can be done between 1:00 and 2:00, and paperwork can be done between 10:00 and 11:00. Try to find a timetable that works best for you.
Develop a System for Emergencies
As a property manager, it’s safe to say that you’ve faced your share of emergency call-outs. Leaking pipes, broken windows, and A/C units that go out during a heatwave are just a few calls that you might have already received.
It’s a good idea to develop a call-out procedure to ensure that you’ll be able to address tenant concerns quickly and efficiently. Planning in advance how you’ll deal with potential situations will allow you to respond promptly to resolve the issue in a timely manner. Remember to tackle problems as soon as they arise, to keep tenants happy and to prevent small issues from becoming worse. Finally, keep in mind that many emergency repairs can be mitigated by performing regular maintenance, so consider implementing a routine maintenance schedule for your properties, to help prevent disasters.
When a tenant leaves, it’s often a scramble to find someone new. Vacant properties are also a liability risk, as well as a huge expense for both you, and the client.
Streamline the transition process by developing a tenant move-out procedure. This is a guideline that’s included in the lease which outlines the exact notice that tenants are required to give, as well as the specific condition that they should leave the rental in. It also spells out your protocol for the inspection and return of the security deposit. This will help to make the transition in-between tenants as simple and straightforward as possible. While you’re at it, you’ll also want to perfect your tenant placement procedure and implement a solid tenant-screening process to help ensure fair screening, and to ensure that only qualified applicants gain access to your rentals.
Phone calls, emails, and texts can quickly eat into a busy schedule. Plus, interruptions can be costly –it takes an estimated 23 minutes to recover from one. While communication is important, you don’t want to spend all of your time fielding calls.
Save yourself from unnecessary interruptions by streamlining your communications. Try to set aside time blocks for answering emails and returning calls –say, one half-hour window at 11:00, and another at 4:00. It’s also a good idea to try to schedule calls that could be especially time-intensive. This will allow you to tackle everything at once, helping you to operate more efficiently and preventing things from piling up.
Embrace Old-Fashioned Organization Methods
While technology is good, old-fashioned organizational tools can be helpful too. Consider keeping a dry erase board at your desk, and using it to replace those little scraps of paper that always end up cluttering your desk. You can jot down phone numbers or important tasks, and then erase them when you’re finished with them or the info has been transferred into your computer. Or simply use a notepad in your computer! You can remove tasks as you complete them.
Likewise, using spreadsheets can also be a great way to create a work schedule for your properties. Consider putting the weeks along the top, and clients down the side. Then, when you have appointments or tasks concerning the property or meetings or calls with clients, you can schedule the tasks easily and see at a glance what your commitments are, and how much time you’ve spent on different tasks each week.
Plan for Emergencies
While no one wants to think about emergencies, it’s important to plan for them nonetheless. Having a contingency plan in place can prove to be invaluable for helping to mitigate damage in case a problem arises.
Having a plan that you can refer to in the event of an emergency situation allows you and your team to know exactly what to do if there’s a fire, flood, or another disaster at a property. Your plan should outline the steps to take in case of emergencies, and the procedure for informing emergency services, tenants, and insurance companies as well.
Finally, if you’ve progressed to the point where you’re in need of extra help –congratulations, you’re doing something right!
Take advantage of the opportunity to delegate certain tasks. If you’re still mowing the lawns at your properties, for example, consider hiring a maintenance crew. Outsource bookkeeping, or find a good accountant to handle taxes for you. Hire a virtual assistant (VA) –to offload even more of your workload.
Outsourcing will free you up to concentrate on the big picture of property management; allowing you to focus on running your company, instead of running circles in it!
If you’re feeling overwhelmed just looking at the above list –don’t be! Just choose one or two areas to tackle, and work from there. Even simple steps can yield big results. By striving to implement efficient systems, you can help to reduce unnecessary hassle –helping you to stay calm, and productive, even during the busy season!
Landlords and property managers: how do you stay organized? Share your tips!
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