CEO and founder of LA Property Management Group and Crown Commercial Property Management.
In 2019, I wrote an article called The Star Treatment: How To Manage Luxury Properties In Style, about all the ways property managers should manage luxury properties differently than other properties. A lot has happened since then — both globally and in the industry — but one thing I didn’t predict when I wrote that piece was how much my luxury real estate management would affect how I approach management in general. Yes, luxury real estate has different expectations and priorities, but it can also teach managers valuable lessons about other types of real estate, as I’ve learned over the past year since acquiring a larger luxury portfolio.
One way the lens of luxury changed my view of all management was through special requests from owners. We knew when we started managing significantly more units on the luxury side that high net worth individuals tend to expect versatile management, service that often goes beyond the usual work of servicing rental properties. For example, a customer living abroad recently asked a property manager to personally purchase a white grand piano for him and arrange for it to be transported to his property. The supervisor not only obliged, but also negotiated with the client a significant discount on the piano, saving him $8,000 and effectively paying his management fee for a year.
Adopt the mindset of ‘what can I do for my clients’ instead of ‘what do I do to have to do for my customers’, and you will notice your customer retention rate improve. Another customer, who lives abroad, asked one of my representatives to drive his Rolls Royce across town to have it serviced, which they did. Even though it may seem to have nothing to do with property management, it is all about accommodating a client in a way that builds rapport and trust. But don’t just answer such calls from luxury property owners. You should always strive to go beyond the typical job description of a property manager.
Another important practice I’ve adopted since moving into luxury property management is looking at the property through the eyes of the client. Is it a point of pride for them or mainly a source of income? It was a bit of a retraining for all property managers, to get a sense of how all of our owners view their properties. Frankly, I noticed that not all multi-family owners give much importance to the aesthetic and visual appeal of their property, while most luxury owners do. But it is important to know the preference of all owners because it will help you know whether or not you should suggest certain beautification maintenance measures to them. One owner may be thrilled that you’ve come up with a concept for a new fountain in the courtyard of their building, while another may find it unnecessary. This all comes down to clear communication with an owner and perception of their needs.
The saying that “a flood lifts all boats” applies here. If you haven’t branched into luxury management yet, I recommend you do because of the quality improvement it will add to all of your service. Your team won’t pick up the phone and think, “Is this a luxury owner/tenant or some other kind?” They just serve whoever it is at the highest level they know how. For example, consider asking your technicians to walk into your customers’ homes by first covering their shoes with surgical footwear covers. For luxury properties, this is standard practice – for others, it’s a sign of respect. In addition, inspect more closely than you are used to for ways to improve a property or the owner’s experience. If you manage luxury the right way, it will sharpen your eye and make you and your team more creative with ways to serve your customers.