Sabrina Padilla, Property Assistant (at ECR), conducts an in-depth interview with Tiffany Lauchlan, CPM and Managing Director of Management Services (at ECR), covering various facets of a flourishing career in property management. The discussion encompasses mentorship, career objectives, the significance of education, and other critical aspects of the industry.
What interested you most in developing a career in property management?
One of the most exciting aspects of working in property management is the incredible variety of tasks and responsibilities that come with the role. From budgeting and accounting to nurturing tenant relations, organizing events, curating tenant gifts, and cultivating relationships with vendors, tenants, team members, and owners, each day presents a diverse array of responsibilities.
The dynamic nature of the job ensures that there is never a dull moment. You have the opportunity to engage in a wide range of activities, ensuring that no two days are alike. Whether you’re analyzing financials, fostering positive tenant experiences, coordinating special events, or collaborating with various stakeholders, the constant variety keeps the work interesting and engaging.
How do you think ECR serves tenants differently than other property management companies?
We prioritize our tenants and hold ourselves fully accountable to property ownership. It is of utmost importance to us that our clients and property owners are continuously informed about their tenants’ satisfaction and their likelihood to renew their leases. To achieve this, we strive to provide exceptional service, ensuring that tenants receive top-notch support and assistance.
The value our tenants perceive in the building is a direct result of the outstanding efforts made by our dedicated property management and engineering professionals.
You’ve achieved a lot during your tenure in property management, what’s the next step in your career?
In short, growing ECR’s property management footprint. In the early stages of ECR’s journey, we were picking up little things here and there, but by 2020 we really started to make a statement. The goals I strive for would include increasing our managed square footage to 4 million sq ft and to grow our construction management division. Now that I’ve stepped out of managing properties, it gives me the ability to really grow the ECR management and construction management business.
What CRE trends are you predicting in 2023?
In the ever-changing landscape of property management, one trend that demands our attention is the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and its impact on tenant and vendor interactions. We recognize the potential of AI technology in transforming various aspects of our operations, including how we respond to emails and compile memos.
As we navigate this exciting frontier, it’s crucial for us to remain proactive and adaptive. AI has the potential to enhance our service delivery and streamline our processes, enabling us to provide a more efficient and personalized experience for our clients. By leveraging AI tools, we can augment our concierge services, tailoring our approach to meet the evolving needs and preferences of our tenants and vendors.
This is a two part question. The first part is how do you see young professionals integrated property management? Additionally, how can we expose property management and commercial real estate to young professionals?
We recognize the importance of providing comprehensive education to young professionals in the field of property management. The foundation’s course with BOMA offers a well-rounded exposure to various aspects of the industry. It covers not only operations, mechanical, and electrical aspects but also delves into accounting, budgeting, and tenant relations. Moreover, participants learn about leasing and marketing, gaining a comprehensive understanding of the entire spectrum. This approach enables them to make informed decisions about their career path within property management.
To enhance awareness of the property management career option, we need to take proactive steps. BOMA Austin has discussed engaging with high schools and colleges to educate students about this rewarding profession. Traditionally, many individuals stumbled upon property management due to family connections or by chance, such as their parents’ involvement in commercial property management or their background in building engineering or apartment management.
Okay, based on your experience and credentials, many see you as one of the “G.O.A.T.S.” in commercial property management. Did you have a role model or mentor that heavily inspired you in your journey?
During my time at Red Mountain in Phoenix, I had the privilege of working under a boss who became a mentor figure to me. I was determined to achieve the title of senior property manager, as I had been working as a property manager for a significant period. However, when they hired someone else for the senior PM role, I couldn’t help but challenge the decision. I questioned why I wasn’t considered for the position, believing that I had put in enough time to earn the title.
In response to my challenge, my mentor engaged in an open and transparent conversation with me. She explained that being a senior property manager wasn’t solely about the length of experience, but rather about possessing a specific skill set. It involved effective employee mentoring, cultivating strong vendor relationships, and taking property management to the next level.
Ultimately, the transition from property manager to senior property manager turned out to be one of the most fulfilling changes in my professional journey. I am grateful that my mentor didn’t simply grant me the title based on my tenure alone; instead, she challenged me to elevate my skills and capabilities. It was a rewarding experience, and I have since carried this mindset throughout my career, applying it to guide and inspire all my team members along the way.
Education is a major key in succeeding throughout property management, would you agree?
100%, I still continue to take classes. I earned my CPM (Certified Property Manager) at a young age and my RPA (Real Property Administrator) designation was the next goal for me. I highly encourage all my team members to take classes to get designations. A mentor in Phoenix told me she didn’t entertain hiring property managers that weren’t interested in pursuing a designation, because that told her they weren’t serious about the career field. To earn a designation in the field, it’s very specific to what we do, which I deem highly essential.
A follow up question. What are your feelings toward ECR investing in education for the property management team?
During my interview process with ECR, one aspect that was crucial to me was ensuring that Matt Levin, the key decision-maker, shared my commitment to providing education opportunities for our employees. I strongly believe that investing in education is of utmost importance.
By prioritizing education and professional development, we can empower our teams to grow and reach new levels of expertise. This, in turn, allows us to serve our clients with enhanced capabilities and excellence. I understand that investing in education is not without risks for ECR. There is a possibility that after we provide our employees with valuable education and certifications, other companies may notice their talent and attempt to recruit them.
Despite this risk, I am willing to embrace it because I firmly believe that providing education and facilitating the attainment of professional designations is critical for the success of our business. I recognize the significance of continuous learning and development in our industry, and I am dedicated to ensuring our employees are given opportunities to acquire additional knowledge and skills through these educational initiatives.
If you could pick some characteristics that match our ideal property management candidate, what would those be?
To excel in our team, individuals must embody certain qualities. First and foremost, they need to possess flexibility, as our industry is dynamic and ever-changing. Open-mindedness is also essential, as it allows for new ideas and approaches to problem-solving. Being a team player is crucial, as collaboration is at the core of our work.
A strong desire for personal and professional growth is vital. Our team members must be motivated to embrace challenges and continually seek opportunities for learning. Moreover, fostering a supportive and collaborative environment is essential, where both giving and receiving mentorship is encouraged. It’s worth noting that even entry-level team members can contribute as mentors in their own ways, drawing from their past job experiences or college knowledge to contribute to our collective growth.
In the field of property management, a genuine love for numbers is essential. Since we engage with financials extensively, individuals must enjoy and possess a solid understanding of numbers to advance in their careers. This aspect is given considerable weight in our hiring process, as it is critical for success and progression within our organization.
That skillset would be for just one individual. But what makes a good property management team, in your opinion?
To form a strong and well-rounded team, it is essential to have individuals with diverse skill sets. When these skills are combined, they create a cohesive and exceptional team. It takes a collective effort and collaborative thinking to determine the best strategies for managing properties, portfolios, and meeting client needs. That is why we emphasize the importance of sub-teams, such as portfolio management teams, within ECR.
One of the most rewarding aspects for me is witnessing the interconnectivity and support among team members. It brings me immense satisfaction when I hear that an Assistant Property Manager (APM) reaches out to another APM or a Property Administrator (PA) seeks advice, ideas, or a sounding board from their peers. I strongly believe in fostering a culture where everyone helps one another.
In my view, this cross-pollination of ideas and support is critical to our success. It enables our team members to leverage each other’s strengths, benefit from collective wisdom, and find innovative solutions. By encouraging this collaborative spirit, we foster a sense of unity and create an environment where everyone thrives together.
CONTACT TIFFANY LAUCHLAN