The duties of a property manager are multiple and multifaceted. Starting the day before dawn, and remaining on-call throughout the night and even on weekends, managers have to deal with a dizzying array of challenges and tasks—everything from the physical upkeep of the property, to staff management and vendor procurement, to dealing with interpersonal conflicts and communication—not just with boards and residents, but with vendors, service providers, and municipal personnel, too. Managers are responsible for protecting and maintaining the integrity of properties that in many cases represent owners’ single biggest investment, as well as their quality of life. That’s a lot of pressure.
Given these high stakes, one might reasonably assume that burnout is rampant among property managers. But the managers we consulted for this article conveyed something quite different; according to them, the stress and variability in their daily tasks are what make the job interesting. The rewards of seeing the effect their work has on people keeps them going—over lifelong careers in the industry, in many cases. And while each has their unique personal approach to the different types of communities they manage, they have all learned lessons on the job that allow them to provide essential services for their clients, in both normal times and in crises.
Lesson 1: Be Prepared
Jeremy DiFlaminies is the general manager of Pier4, a full-service, 106-unit condominium in Boston. The building is not even a year old, so DiFlaminies and his staff—along with the newly moved-in residents of the building—are still getting acquainted with one other, and coping with the operational challenges that come with brand-new construction. Add to that an unprecedented global health crisis, and you have a potential recipe for rapid burnout.
Luckily, DiFlaminies has a secret weapon: a hospitality background, including 10 years managing the residential portion of the Four Seasons Hotel Boston. He has taken this experience to his new role, and infused it in his staff as well. It’s proven essential to maintaining and even ramping up the full-service offerings at Pier4, while simultaneously adjusting staff roles to accommodate enhanced cleaning schedules and other shifting priorities brought about by the pandemic.
But how does he accomplish all of this without getting completely overwhelmed? “Having a plan is essential,” DiFlaminies says. “The unknown is stressful, but that stress can be mitigated by policy and preparation.” Knowing this, DiFlaminies took a proactive approach to the impending COVID-19 crisis and acquired plenty of personal protective equipment (PPE) and sanitizing products early on. Having those in place, in addition to a plan for package deliveries, amenities, and—perhaps most importantly—communication about all of it to residents, made the challenges easier to face. Keeping himself and his staff educated and prepared allows the building to function smoothly while avoiding the kind of compounded stress that can lead to burnout.