In our business as property managers, we recognize the importance of providing our tenants with a safe property in which to live or do business. If it’s within our control and area of responsibility, we eliminate obvious safety hazards, as an important aspect of our overall risk-management strategy.
Yet, how often do we consider our own safety?
The times I have felt most vulnerable as a property manager were when I was showing a vacant home or commercial space. Taking advice from experts in the field, I realized the necessity of developing a pre-screening checklist. That checklist gives me the opportunity to not only eliminate the prospects who are clearly unqualified to rent the home (or lease the space), but to learn a bit about these callers, before arranging a showing. My checklist includes such questions such as, “How soon do you need to move (or relocate your business)?” “How long have you lived here (or how long in business)?” and “Do you have any credit issues of which we should be aware?” These questions help set the stage for a successful first meeting.
Do you confirm the identity of the person you are meeting, before you meet?
Just about every article available on this topic speaks to the importance of meeting a prospect at your office, first. Do you actually do that? Or, is it more likely, you meet at the vacant property? At minimum, please get the prospect’s photo identification before you meet. With the ease of today’s technology, asking a prospect to text you a photo of his/her driver’s license is not a burdensome request.
Alternatively, you might wish to employ a widely-popular method of showing vacant properties – an access-controlled (self-showing) lockbox system. Companies such as Rently and ShowMojo can verify your prospects’ identity, schedule controlled self-guided showings, and follow up immediately on calls and inquiries. These systems relieve you of not only the safety risk, but the hassle of no-shows, and lost time in the showing process. Of course, not all properties lend themselves to using such a system.
A few tips for your safety, outside the showing process…
- Accept your rent payments electronically, rather than by personal delivery. And, “no cash” is a wise policy to adopt.
- Make sure lines of communication with your clients and customers are wide open, and potential conflicts are resolved in a swift, calm manner.
- You may, as I often do, work from your home. That’s great – it allows for a much more flexible wardrobe! Just be sure to never provide your home address to owners, tenants, or vendors. Use a P.O. Box for your mail, or the physical address of your office.
- Got speed dial? Use it. Make sure it includes at least 1 member of your office staff, a family member, and police or fire departments.
- Watch what you share on social media. Just because your Facebook page is set for optimum privacy, doesn’t mean it’s private. Think before you post, and limit the amount of personal information you share.
There are so many more great tips out there for those of us who work in this industry. Perhaps, you have some tips you’d like to share? If so, please comment on this post, or email me! firstname.lastname@example.org. We may include them in a future article.