Property Management 101 – How great relationships take you far in management 

Property management is not for everybody. I like to think I got into management on a dare and over time recognized that the shoe fit. It’s been 11 years since I put on that shoe. In that time I’ve seen the ups and downs but most importantly have used both to come to the realization that there are three key things that differentiate good management service from the not so good, or even the horrifically bad. These three core competencies are good relationships, communication, and transparency. In this article, I will focus on relationships and break down the subtle benefits a good relationship can add to vendor, client and tenant relations. 


Without good relationships with our clients, we probably wouldn’t be in business. Good relationships with owners develop over time through demonstrating great communication and transparency which leads to building a good rapport and trust. As property managers, we need our clients to trust us as fast as possible so we can really start having the hard conversations and get them on board when special needs or issues arise. I often joke with our clients and tell them that our team is very good at giving bad news and let’s face it, sometimes in property management as well as other customer service jobs, it seems we are constantly giving bad news. So the relationship we form with our clients needs to happen quickly yet organically so as it doesn’t seem rushed or fake. Also, a great relationship buys us more time when things go south because of the rapport and trust we have built with our client. 

A friend of mine here in the Valley runs a locally owned auto repair shop. His mantra in his business is “truth builds trust”. When I saw how he implemented this into his business first hand I was really impressed. He turned my personal business away and let me know the WHY behind it. Totally made sense to me and as you can imagine I now consistently refer him business as much as I can. Using this example, one of the ways to build the relationship quickly is to “rip the bandaid off” and have the hard conversation quickly, being as truthful as possible and being sure your clients know the WHY behind your actions.


In our experience, when a tenant likes the management company or manager that is taking care of their property, they tend to stay in the property longer. What builds relationships with tenants? A couple of things can help:

    1. Setting proper expectations – I see it all the time with new employees. The tenant has an issue and instead of correcting the issue and really using the opportunity as a way of educating the tenant, the employee capitulates. This usually leads to expectations that are completely out of sync of what we can or are authorized to do. Letting the tenant know quickly and in a respectful way helps keep expectations on point and helps foster a better relationship. 
    2. Consistent communication – the biggest complaint I hear from tenants about bad experiences with property managers almost always ties into poor communication from the manager or management company. The easiest way to get around this, as stated above, is setting proper expectations around communication and secondly, adhering to this process or system religiously. Tenants don’t expect us to connect even when we don’t have much of an update so when we do, it really tends to go a long way. 


The hot Phoenix real estate market, strong economy and overall lack of skilled tradespeople in the industry right now seem to have created the perfect opportunity for many of our vendors to be exceptionally busy. Finding a great vendor that communicates well, has their billing in order and offers reasonable pricing can often seem impossible. When we foster great relationships with our vendors it can help alleviate the following potential stressors:

  1. Response time – better relationships with vendors can help when you need to pull out the stops and ask for a favor. When the water heater at a property ruptures on a Sunday night of a three day weekend who are you going to get out to the property to fix it quickly at a good price?
  2. Trust in bids – In this market, a strong relationship can help answer why a bid may be off, especially when a vendor is very busy. The better the relationship with the vendor, the easier it can be to get the WHY out of hard conversations, both good and bad. 
  3. Confidence in getting the job done right – The better we know the vendor the more we know their strengths and weaknesses. For some vendors, it’s hard to turn away a job when one of their better clients is requesting it. A better relationship with the vendor can be just what they need to be able to say “no” on a job they are not best equipped and/or staffed to handle. This can lead to fewer issues in the future. 

In conclusion, the ability to build good relationships in the management business can be the difference between getting positive reviews and losing clients. Through better systems and processes, relationships can build faster by getting to the truth quicker and with fewer touches. As the market changes and technology makes everything easier to access good relationships will remain the differentiator between keeping your client happy or losing it to the competition.