Merriam-Webster defines the word Sustainable as “able to be used without being completely used up or destroyed; involving methods that do not completely use up or destroy natural resources; and able to last of continue for a long time.”
In everyday operations, we all do things that are not sustainable. Things like rent concessions can serve to get units leased up and occupancy rates higher, but it’s not a sustainable model, if the only way you can attract future residents is by offering incentives. Promptly addressing maintenance issues is important, but if the issues are being addressed in a reactionary mode, that’s not a sustainable model. If you live in an arid environment, maintaining a large expanse of grass is not a sustainable model, when you factor in the time, expense, and natural resources used in order to maintain that grass.
Sustainability is an investment today in order to reap the benefits tomorrow. There are many ways that property management offices can become sustainable, and many ways that properties themselves can become sustainable. Let’s start with the office. (I’ll cover the property in a future article.)
Where do you begin? You’ve made a commitment to become more sustainable, but what are some of the most important things that can be easily implemented today in order to reap the benefits in the future? Here are just a few suggestions:
· Lose the paper. More and more offices are finding that the key to organization lies in a paperless office. If you can’t bring yourself to cut it all together, at least reduce paper consumption by moving to online applications.
· Consider dropping any concession programs and use that money to shore up your property so that people want to live there, regardless of the incentives offered.
· Begin to create an integrated business solution for your office that you can build on moving forward. By introducing an integrated software solution, you can eliminate the need for duplicate work and constant upkeep of multiple systems.
· Maintain the same staff, and be sure to keep your sustainability goals in mind when hiring new employees. Constant employee turnover means more work for other staff members. Hire those that you believe can make a difference to your property management office and make sure they remain engaged and challenged.
By eliminating the quick solution, and working towards a process for the future, you will ensure a sustainable property management model well into the future.