DGS 248: What is a Property Manager?

Are you a property manager? Do you hire property managers? Can you answer the question: what is a property manager, and what do they do?

In today’s episode, property management growth experts Jason and Sarah Hull discuss what a property manager is and what they should be doing in a property management business.

You’ll Learn

[01:14] Million-dollar question: What does a property manager do?

[06:25] Siloing information to protect your business

[10:26] Hiring specialists instead of people who can “do it all”

[12:20] What should a property manager’s role be?

[16:31] Property managers as client success experts


“There’s a lot of confusion as to the definition of a property manager in the property management industry.”

“When your company grows, what we’re going to hopefully have you do is shift into specialists, so that you won’t have a property manager that just does everything.”

“Effectively cloning yourself or duplicating yourself in the business usually means getting 10 people, not one.”

“It’s not hard to be exceptional in property management.”


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[00:00:00] Jason: Business owners, we need to stop trying to find people that can do everything. We need to find people that are really good specialists. 

[00:00:08] Welcome DoorGrow property managers to the DoorGrow show. If you are a property management entrepreneur that wants to add doors, make a difference, increase revenue, help others, impact lives. And you are interested in growing in business and life. And you’re open to doing things a bit differently, then you are a DoorGrow property manager.

[00:00:28] DoorGrow Property Managers love the opportunities, daily variety, unique challenges, and freedom that property management brings. Many in real estate think you’re crazy for doing it. You think they’re crazy for not because you realize that property management is the ultimate high trust gateway to real estate deals, relationships, and residual income. At DoorGrow, we are on a mission to transform property management business owners and their businesses.

[00:00:56] We want to transform the industry, eliminate the B. S. build awareness, change perception, expand the market and help the best property management entrepreneurs win. We’re your hosts, property management, growth experts, Jason and Sarah Hull, the owners of DoorGrow. Now let’s get into the show. 

[00:01:13] All right. So one of the things that’s come up, we just did a DoorGrow boardroom event.

[00:01:18] And one of our clients that was there was like, “I need to hire a property manager.” And we’re like, “okay.” And what we noticed in talking there and going deeper and digging in deeper is that there’s a lot of confusion as to the definition of a property manager in the property management industry.

[00:01:37] Sarah: Yeah, it’s like a catch all. 

[00:01:39] Jason: So the challenge is it can mean just about anything. 

[00:01:42] Sarah: Yeah. The definition of property manager is: “do anything and everything that the company needs.” 

[00:01:49] Jason: And so I’ve noticed this for a while. we’ve had a lot of clients and they’ll say, “Oh, I need another property manager,” or “I need to hire a property manager.”

[00:01:56] “I need to get a property manager.” And it always means something different. So like some people think a property manager does everything, and this is the portfolio style property manager. They’re like, “they need to go get business.” And so they’re a BDM, they need to handle and do some of the bookkeeping accounting stuff.

[00:02:17] They need to do maintenance coordination. They need to do the leasing. So they’re trying to find somebody that’s basically an entrepreneur. They can do everything that’s probably going to run away and steal half their business. Right. Which happens. It’s happened quite a bit. I’ve seen it. And that’s, I think the wrong way to build a property management business, it’s the wrong way to hire and build your team.

[00:02:36] So let’s figure out. What is a property manager? What is it? 

[00:02:41] Sarah: Love it. 

[00:02:41] Jason: What are your thoughts? 

[00:02:42] Sarah: Well, so I think that there’s an important distinction, especially when it comes to the size of your company. So in the beginning, When it’s just you do everything. It’s all you, you, and then you some more.

[00:02:58] And I think this is why then when they go to hire a property manager, they’re like, “Oh, well I did everything and I want to replace myself. So I need a property manager to replace myself and then they’re going to do everything because I did everything.” So in the beginning. When you are in the day to day and it’s just you and you haven’t built a team yet and you’re functioning as the property manager because you’re in the day to day and the tactical work, yes, you are technically a property manager.

[00:03:26] And then when your company grows, what we’re going to hopefully have you do is shift into specialists. so that you won’t have a property manager that just does everything. You’ll have people who are really good at the one thing that they do and will be able to then segment the business and split that out into multiple roles instead of just having a property manager that does everything.

[00:03:56] Everything. Yeah. So I created a Facebook post, cause 

[00:04:00] There was some heat on that post. Well, I like this. I don’t know if you read the comments. 

[00:04:03] Jason: I like to stir the pot a little bit. For those that are watching this on video, this is what it looks like, right? So join our Facebook group, go to doorgrowclub. com, get in there. So I said, if the property manager role on your team is not your maintenance coordinator, operator, bookkeeper, leasing agent, then what is their role? And so people are like “define operator, like what’s an operator?” So then I was defining what an operator was, but Michelle Miller, shout out to Michelle, she commented. She said, “in other words, if they aren’t doing everything, what are they doing?” Right. Brian Nelson said “delegator.” And I like that. That’s I think 

[00:04:39] Sarah: I don’t like 

[00:04:40] Jason: that. 

[00:04:40] I like the idea that they are not the person that’s doing all this stuff. Maybe they’re orchestrating, maybe that’s what they’re doing.

[00:04:47] They’re maintaining the relationship with the owner. Sean Foster, he says “PM’s number 1 job is to be the middleman between the owner and the tenant advising and the correct path of the most profitable investment.”

[00:04:56] And “but that one responsibility branches off into another 20, doesn’t it?”

[00:05:00] And then, “depends on the systems.” There’s a little dialogue going back and forth there. So if you do property management, you manage the property. And to manage the property, you’re doing leasing, maintenance, inspections, all this stuff. But that doesn’t mean that the property manager in your business is doing all this stuff or should be.

[00:05:17] Usually you don’t want somebody that’s a jack of all trades and a master of none trying to do stuff. And if they’re actually good at everything, they’ll probably just go start their own business. And I think that’s the other challenges that we often mistakenly fall into this clone myth. And this was what was going on with our client at the DoorGrow boardroom event.

[00:05:35] He thought, he’s like, well, “I was a property manager at another company for a while. Now, I have my own business and I’m doing all everything and I need to go hire a property manager and I was doing everything at that company. I’m doing everything in my own company. Now, I need to go find somebody else to do everything.”

[00:05:50] And when we finally identified this. I call it the clone myth. We think, “I just need to go find somebody just like me. I need to clone myself.” Effectively cloning yourself or duplicating yourself in the business usually means getting 10 people, not one. Like 10 different hats, 10 different specialists in the business.

[00:06:07] And so just want to address the clone myth real quick. So I think we want to find a way, I think in the industry, it might make sense to eliminate the term property manager. If they’re not actually the one doing all of the little pieces, unless you’re portfolio style. So what are your thoughts on that?

[00:06:25] Sarah: Well, I think the other thing too, that I want to bring up about him at the boardroom event is he’s like, “I need a property manager and they’re going to do everything. And I do everything. And I also did everything at my other company when I worked for them as a property manager. So I need one. How do I make sure that they don’t just steal my business and steal my clients and walk away though, because they’re going to be doing everything?

[00:06:48] Jason: Yeah. 

[00:06:48] Sarah: And that’s a really good reason to not have them doing everything. 

[00:06:52] Jason: Most business owners eventually figure out you need to silo information. So for example, when I ran a web design agency, I had an intranet where all the information was stored and I had how I sold, how I found clients, like all this was built out in the intranet.

[00:07:07] All the sales related stuff. And then I had all of how we build the websites, how we put them together, all this kind of stuff. And I would hire web designers to build the websites and to do work and they would get access to the intranet. They would read the sales stuff and then figure out how to get their own clients and then they would quit.

[00:07:25] I kept having them leave and they’re like, “Oh, well, I’ve got so much business. I don’t have time to do your projects now.” And I was like, “what?” it happened over and over again. So I was like, “okay, something’s going on here.” So then I realized I needed to segment the information because the stuff that I figured out was pretty effective and pretty valuable.

[00:07:40] Sarah: And essentially you were paying them to train them to then run their own business and not work for you anymore. 

[00:07:47] Jason: What a deal. So, okay. Yeah. So then I started siloing that information. And so I think I think I shared a TikTok or a reel or something with you where a guy was talking about siloing the information and he was talking about sales and manufacturing and a product business.

[00:08:02] And if they know where to source all the manufacturing stuff and they know how to acquire business, they don’t need you anymore. So he had to segregate that information. I was like, that’s the same thing. You need to segregate knowledge in your business. Your goal is to hire specialists on the team, not generalists that can wear multiple hats.

[00:08:22] You’re the business owner. You have to wear every hat in the business that is not currently worn by somebody or is not being done properly. You have to step in. It all falls on you. That’s the job of the CEO, right? You have to do it. If you have a good operator, then they step in and some of that stuff, too.

[00:08:40] You have to do stuff that’s uncomfortable. 

[00:08:43] Sarah: Well, let’s just pause for a moment. Your operator is not going to do your day to day stuff in property management. 

[00:08:47] Jason: They shouldn’t do your day to day stuff. It sounded like. A lot of people get confused. 

[00:08:50] Sarah: I know what you were trying to say, but people are going to hear that and go, “Oh yeah. And then my operator is going to do everything.” 

[00:08:55] Jason: I just wanted to include you. I didn’t want to say you don’t do the hard stuff too. 

[00:08:59] Sarah: I do the hard stuff when I have to. 

[00:09:01] Jason: Yeah. 

[00:09:01] Sarah: Until we can hire somebody else to do it. Because I hate doing it. I hate certain parts though, then we hire somebody and they do it much better.

[00:09:11] Jason: Yeah. So I think it might make sense unless you’re portfolio style, which I’m not a real big fan of. I think there’s a lot of downsides to portfolio style management. I think it’s really rare that people are good at everything. And so I think it’s a lot more effective to get somebody that’s a really great maintenance coordinator that can handle maintenance for probably thousands of units, right?

[00:09:32] If they really know their stuff and have the right systems and tools and you can take that off of your property manager’s plates. You need probably accounting or bookkeeping or a team that helps with that kind of stuff. There’s vendors that can help with some of those pieces, especially if you don’t enjoy, or aren’t good at that piece, there’s a lot of available resources, but if you get specialists that are really good, they will surpass your ability in that particular category.

[00:10:00] Sarah is much better running the planning system that we have DoorGrow OS, running the operations of the business than me, I just like, when I was doing it between having operators I just stopped planning. I didn’t want to do the meetings. It was, “anybody stuck? Let’s move on. And now it’s meticulous and it’s detail and we’re moving forward.

[00:10:19] And everything’s focused and we’re hitting all our goals and we’re making progress. Right? Because I have a good operator. So I think the business owners, we need to stop trying to find people that can do everything. We need to find people that are really good at specialists. So, I met with this entrepreneur a while back named Joe Abraham.

[00:10:39] He gave this cool Ted talk that I liked and I checked out his book and I took his online quiz and he has a book called entrepreneurial DNA and he created this score similar to an assessment like this, but it’s BOSI. B O S I. And it talks about the four different types of entrepreneurs, which are builders, opportunists, innovators, and specialists.

[00:11:01] And you need to figure out what you are, the book talks about, and then build the right team around you. So, historically, I was more of a specialist, which means I’m dedicated my craft for over a decade to coaching and supporting property managers, right? And like figuring out how to grow businesses and then I’m an innovator.

[00:11:17] I like to take in lots of ideas and formulate new ideas and create stuff and that sort of thing. So more of a specialist, innovator and specialist, and most of the coaches and mentors I’ve hired have been builders. Builder, innovators, stuff like that opportunists are always looking for the next way to make money or the next vehicle or this sort of thing.

[00:11:38] Think like Ray Kroc, who took the McDonald’s brothers’, intellectual property, because they were innovators and specialist, and he blew it up and he was a builder and an opportunist so, opportunists make great salespeople. For example, builders make good CEOs. And so I wanted to be a better CEO.

[00:11:56] And so I’ve worked with a lot of coaches to become more and more of a builder to develop that skill set. And I’m getting better. Better and better. So, so I think we need to as entrepreneurs figure out what are our strengths and then what are we lacking? If you need to get around maybe coaches that can help you with with some of the gaps that you have in your own personality or your own knowledge base, then that can help you get to the next level.

[00:12:20] All right, so I think if we could eliminate the property manager term from those that are not portfolio style, then what would a property manager that people typically think is a property manager do if they’re not the maintenance coordinator, they’re not all these things What do you think? 

[00:12:34] Sarah: Yeah, I think you can still call them a property manager.

[00:12:37] I’m not against the term like you’re like, “eliminate! Anti property manager term and industry!” I just don’t think that’s going to happen Okay. I do think though once your business grows and gets large enough you can have one person or team to do the maintenance coordination, and then that piece is handled by the maintenance team.

[00:12:58] Then you can offload the leasing part, right? They’re going through, maybe doing showings if you still do those, or at least going through applications and moving people along doing the move ins. Dealing with move outs and starting that whole process, kicking that off. You might have a leasing person, or a leasing team, and then the accounting piece, like your property manager probably should not be doing accounting.

[00:13:20] You should have somebody who is really good at accounting to do the accounting. And if that means you need to have a service, do it for you. That’s fine. Just make sure that they’re a really good reputable service. And there’s someone that can hopefully like triple tie out your books and make sure everything is correct.

[00:13:36] And then you, here’s the big thing, you still have to monitor it. Don’t just hand it off and say, here, please go do this thing. And then just sit back and never look at it and hope that it’s right. Because I’ve seen that a lot where people go, Oh, like I haven’t done the bookkeeping. I have somebody else do it.

[00:13:52] And then they start investigating because there’s a one little issue and they start to pull the thread. And it’s like, when you pull the thread of the sweater and it just all unravels. Okay, so don’t do that. Don’t do that. But then your property manager can be more like the person that deals with the relationships of between like clients and tenants.

[00:14:13] Right. So we’re bridging a gap. 

[00:14:15] Jason: So then technically they’re more of a relationship manager, right. They’re managing relationships. I think a big gap that we don’t see a lot of in the property management industry, that’s super common in every other industry is the category of client success. And the category of client success, their whole goal is to retain customers to keep customers, make sure that they’re happy.

[00:14:38] And so I think that’s the role that some people might say, “oh, that’s the property manager” is they need somebody that’s just focused on client success, loves on the clients, takes care of the clients, makes them feel valued. Maybe meets with them annually to make sure that everything’s looking good financially.

[00:14:53] Sarah: Portfolio review calls. 

[00:14:55] Jason: Portfolio reviews.

[00:14:56] Sarah: I love those. I will harp about that all day long. If you’re not doing them, do them. 

[00:15:00] Jason: Yeah. So, client success in a lot of industries. I’ve heard some of our coaches and mentors describe as your other sales team. Right. You’ve got those that sell people in, like your business development, your BDs, your business development managers, your BDMs that bring clients into the business, but then they are not responsible for retaining the clients.

[00:15:22] And you think you retain clients just by doing maintenance coordination and just by doing leasing, but these things don’t really develop or solidify or build the relationship. If you screw those things up, then you’re bound to probably lose clients. And so that’s the bare minimum. 

[00:15:36] Sarah: No one is going, “Oh my God. This leasing team is so amazing. I’m never going to leave.”

[00:15:41] Jason: Right. 

[00:15:41] Sarah: They just expect the leasing to be good because it’s what they signed up for when they hired a property manager. Right? They’re not going to go, “Oh my God, I can’t believe they got this maintenance thing done so so fast. And it was done in two hours and it was amazing. I’m never going to leave.”

[00:15:57] Jason: So Gallup organization wrote this book called first break all the rules. And then it has this customer satisfaction pyramid. And at the lowest level, there’s the lowest two levels are availability and accuracy. So these are the two things that if you’re always available and you’re always accurate in what you say you’re going to do and you do it, people just don’t even notice. And so it’s not hard to be exceptional in property management. If you do that, it’s expected and demanded. 

[00:16:24] Sarah: So this is like all the tactical stuff that we do. 

[00:16:27] Jason: Yeah. 

[00:16:27] Sarah: It falls into this. 

[00:16:29] Jason: Yeah. 

[00:16:29] Sarah: It’s just expected. 

[00:16:31] Jason: So the next level, if you really want to have great client, customer service and great client interactions is partnership and then advice.

[00:16:40] And this is where I think a property manager can really add value. This is where they are really a client success role where they’re retaining clients. They’re improving the relationship and the value that people see in the relationship and in the longevity of staying a client of your particular business, when there’s plenty of others that could do it, they can manage their property.

[00:17:00] You have team members that are managing the relationship and focusing on client success. So maybe there should be some client success managers in property management and less property managers. As far as terms go. 

[00:17:13] Sarah: He’s really trying to get rid of that term. 

[00:17:15] Jason: I don’t know. It’s just, it’s so ambiguous.

[00:17:17] Sarah: That’s why. So when we were creating R docs, like all of the job descriptions for different roles, he’s like, “I want there to be an R doc for every role in property management business.” And I said, “okay, I can create it.” Here’s the problem. The problem is that if I create one for an assistant, it’s going to be different from company to company. If I create one for a property manager, there’s going to be some similarities, but there’s always going to be things that are different from company to company. So there are great templates, right? And it’s they’re, it’s amazing. And then you just delete the things you don’t need and add anything you do need from there. There’s nothing that’s uniform. There’s so much that’s different from business to business. We all do the same thing. We’re all property management entrepreneurs, but the way the ins and outs, the inner workings of our business, there’s a million different ways to do it. 

[00:18:10] Jason: We did define those Rdocs though.

[00:18:12] We have Rdocs for each of the major roles. I think yeah, I think having recognizing that. You need a client success person to maintain the relationship. You need a maintenance coordinator. You need if all these things are segregated and you get really great specialists in each of these areas, then yeah, you’re going to have a much stronger lifetime value of your client.

[00:18:33] You’re going to make a lot more money. So I think that’s important. Anything else we should talk about related to property manager? 

[00:18:39] Sarah: I think that covers it. 

[00:18:40] Jason: All right. So figure out and I’m curious, go ahead and find my post in the DoorGrow club group, or go post or comment in the DoorGrow club community.

[00:18:51] I’d be curious to hear your thoughts. What do you feel a property manager is if you don’t do portfolio style? What are your property managers doing? How do you define that role? And are they really managing properties? Are they really managing people? Are they really customer success? Are they really supporting and taking care of owners?

[00:19:08] Or do you think they’re taking care of tenants and like maintaining a relationship there? So, all right, I think that’s our interesting conversation for the day for the DoorGrow show and do you want to give them a call to action? That’s a good call to action for the end of the show here?

[00:19:23] Sarah: Oh, well, we have a few events coming up. So go and check out our events that we have coming up. Don’t miss DoorGrow. It’s going to be a big one.

[00:19:31] This is like our big conference. We do it once a year. It’s here in Round Rock, Texas on it’s a Friday and Saturday, May 17th and 18th. And our theme this year is creating opportunity from uncertainty. So we have a lot of great topics, a lot of great speakers lined up for you guys. And I’ve got something special in the works that I haven’t really released yet, but It’s gonna be really cool because we’ve never done anything quite like that before 

[00:19:57] Jason: Yeah, all right.

[00:19:59] Cool. All right. Well on that note Until next time to our mutual growth. Bye everyone.

[00:20:03] you just listened to the #DoorGrowShow. We are building a community of the savviest property management entrepreneurs on the planet in the DoorGrowClub. Join your fellow DoorGrow Hackers at doorgrowclub.com. Listen, everyone is doing the same stuff. SEO, PPC, pay-per-lead content, social direct mail, and they still struggle to grow! 

[00:20:30] At DoorGrow, we solve your biggest challenge: getting deals and growing your business. Find out more at doorgrow.com. Find any show notes or links from today’s episode on our blog doorgrow.com, and to get notified of future events and news subscribe to our newsletter at doorgrow.com/subscribe. Until next time, take what you learn and start DoorGrow Hacking your business and your life.

Jason Hull

Jason's mission is "to inspire others to love true principles." This means he enjoys digging up gold nuggets of wisdom & sharing them with property managers to help them improve their business. He founded OpenPotion, DoorGrow, & GatherKudos.

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