National Property Managers Day with Abbey Berry

This week the team are joined by 4one4 Property Co.'s Property Management Director (& Pats wife), Abbey Berry, to discuss an initiative started up recently to celebrate the work of Property Managers across Australia, the National Property Management Appreciation day #NationalPropertyManagersDay Find out more here: https://www.nationalpropertymanagersday.com.au/

This week the team are joined by 4one4 Property Co.'s Property Management Director (& Pats wife), Abbey Berry, to discuss an initiative started up recently to celebrate the work of Property Managers across Australia, the National Property Management Appreciation day

#NationalPropertyManagementAppreciationday

Find out more here: https://www.nationalpropertymanagersday.com.au/

Transcript of National Property Managers Appreciation Day

Episode: | EP87
Show Title: | National Property Managers Appreciation Day
Cast: | Aaron Horne, Patrick Berry & John McGregor
Guest | Abbey Berry
Show Length: | 25 minutes 20 seconds

Abbey: But so many of our owners were so generous in the rent reductions that they would give to their tenants and that was just really heartening to see that there really are still a lot of people out there prepared to do good.

[intro music]
Going once... going twice... SOLD! You're listening to The Property Pod!

Aaron: All right, guys! Welcome back to The Property Pod, your weekly engagement here into real estate in the Hobart marketplace. I'm your host, Aaron Horne, and as you can see from my lips moving, I'm the only one in the room that hasn't been to mainland Australia in the past a little period. Just moving around the room from a visual point of view for everyone out there watching, you'll see that we have a masked up team here in the pod studio. I'm joined, as always, by John McGregor 

John: Hey, how are you?

Aaron: How are you, mate?

John: Doing good. I feel really...I feel it's almost like "V for Vendetta" style where I'll just have to be... you can't see my facial expressions so just be deadpan for the entire bloody hell entire episode. [laughter]

Aaron: Yes, we'll have to do a lot of eye communicating; talk with your eyes on this one, buddy and Pat, how are you, my friend? 

Patrick: I'm over this mask, but I'm doing my part.

Aaron: No look, it's it's one of those little things where we  
here in Tassie, being really lucky with the COVID restrictions and things that have been bestowed upon us, so yeah, if you guys have to do a a little bit of mask wearing in the office because you've visited... it's finally y'all went to Victoria on the same weekend for different reasons, but you just happen to be there and then you come back you're like: "ah... we've got a directive that we need to wear our masks''

Patrick: Yeah, it was supposed to end last night but they've just extended it to Friday so a couple more days of this beautiful thing.

Aaron: That's all right. It's nice to see you guys going around. I actually think Shredder more than I think V for Vendetta. I kind of feel like ninja pedals.

John: You know, I take back my previous statement and I'm going to go with yours Aaron: Speaking of Friday, jumping straight into things that are coming up this week other than the masks being removed--oh it's almost like the "Masked Singer" as well, you know that TV... [laughter]

Aaron: Lots going on! Speaking of Friday coming up, it's a day I didn't know existed. I don't think it existed before... last year, we'll have to check off with some facts, but it's actually National Property Manager's Day

Patrick: Yes, it is.

Aaron: So who wants to jump in and tell us about National Property Managers Day?

Patrick: I'll jump in as. So you are correct. It only started last year during the first outbreak of the pandemic and it really came about because of all of the legislation that changed and the hard work that a lot of the property managers had to go through last year sort of navigating tenants and landlords and trying to, in commercial properties, trying to make sure everyone was able to stay afloat. So RIE New South Wales (REINSW) obviously brought it in.  

Aaron: Yeah, that was where I was reading off. It was kind of the REINSW which is a mouthful; we've got the nice REIT that's easy to roll off the tongue. I'm sure they're used to saying REINSW [laughter] but I read that they started off this year and then all the other institutes around Australia are kind of picking it up this year. A lot of them are jumping on boards and yeah, REIT are jumping on board, as well as 4one4!

Patrick: Yeah, so we see it as a good opportunity just to recognise some of our staff and the work that they do, because let's face it, the property management job is a hard job [everyone agrees]

John: It is. It goes to show that I'll be the way in which we do business and interact just completely changed in an instant and so many people were just as a result of that change, so many laws changed, so many expectations changed, so many responsibilities changed, and with that then, the roles of real estate agents have actually, as far as I'm concerned, you know concern and become even more important as these roles you know, this is the world changes because we're the means to help people connect to get to where they need to be in amongst all this chaos [Aaron: indeed] and I think the property managers had to deal with people in probably the most stressful situation that on a blanket scale because all of a sudden, there was so much uncertainty and there are the ones that had to bear the brunt of being able to give certainty to our clients as well as landlords and tenants and guide them through that extreme situation--they did a phenomenal job. 

Patrick: Yeah, and that's why this year, we thought we'd get on board with National Property Managers Day and celebrate it a bit this week [Aaron agrees] so we thought we'd start off by getting my wife, Abbey, in. 

Aaron: Welcome to The Property Pod, Miss Abbey Berry! 

Patrick: First thing I'm mostly excited about is this will be the first episode she's ever listened to because she's in the room with us and she has no choice [laughter]

Aaron: I was going to say, "you think she'll listen back after it?"

Patrick: I don't think so [laughter] 

Abbey: I don't know you tried to trick me in the car the other day and put an episode [laughter]

Patrick: Don't touch…

Aaron: No, thank you so much for coming in. I think we're up to episode 87 and then I'm happy to know that 87 of those have not been listened to by yourself, [laughter] but we do appreciate you coming in and being a part of the show for us. 

Abbey: Thanks for having me! Finally, after 87 episodes... [laughter] 

John: Oh yeah, there it is…

Aaron: So, Abbey, for all those people out there that are not aware, Pat doesn't just bring his wife to work every day. You don't just bring your wife to work every day, she's an integral part of our team here at 4one4. Can you explain to our listeners how you are involved in the 4one4 Property Co.?

Abbey: Sure, I am the Director of Property Management, so I look after the entire property management team and I have been doing that now for 10 years.

Aaron: 10 years? How did you get yourself into this little adventure called property management?

Abbey: Well, so the story goes... when I met Patrick, obviously, his mum and dad and himself were in real estate and every time we would be together, they would be talking about real estate things, talking about work, and I'd be sitting there twiddling my thumbs not really understanding what they were talking about so…

Patrick: I kind of feel like that hasn't really changed [Abbey: No, no... that hasn't changed]
we still talk about it and you get sick of it [laughter]

Abbey: And so when the opportunity arose to join the business, I decided to take that leap and here I am, 10 years later.

Aaron: And how do you feel 10 years in?

Abbey: Depends on it…

Aaron: Remember this is an episode to celebrate [laughter] the joys of property management... 

Abbey: I still enjoy it 10 years later. I still enjoy waking up each morning and coming to work and mostly that is because I enjoy coming and working with my team that I have and we have a really great group of people around us here, which no matter, what else is going on, it's always great to come in and see the team and be surrounded by them. 

Aaron: Well, I guess that's a testament to yourself running the department and kind of coming in to a family business and stamping your own kind of personality on it. Patrick wants to jump in and [Patrick: I do, I do] give his wife a compliment

Patrick: No, actually… I actually think it's been really clever as well with how she's integrated over that 10 years, the sales and property management as well. When we first started, they were two very different departments and it still is today in a lot of agencies that sales have seen is the premium product and rentals is just like the leftover stuff, and I'm lucky here that we have Abbey running in our department because she's been able to make me and my dad Paul realize that it is an even playing field and property management is just as important as sales and now we have this new sort of setup where we're all in the same room together, like sales and property management, we're all in one big space and it just seems to be a lot better cohesive feel between the two departments these days which is really exciting,  I think.

Patrick: Yeah, I guess like we're trying to do with celebrating property managers this coming Friday. I guess it's something that's celebrated here in the office throughout the whole period of time that you've been here and it's kind of a testament to you creating that environment as I was saying, is that something that you've brought in from other industries or you've just kind of made your way here and this is just the way Abbey Berry operates?

Abbey: I think it's probably a bit of an Abbey Berry thing. When I started, I definitely felt like property management was the poor cousin to sales and for the first few years, that's really how it felt. You know, I had to fight to get new computers or whatever for my department or new technology for my department, while the sales team was getting whatever they clipboard. But now, I definitely don't feel that way. I think we're very much on an equal playing field with the sales team. I think my department is just as well looked after and recognised as the sales team.

Aaron: Most definitely, most definitely.

Patrick: And I think in that time as well, like you've been really good at helping us bring in a lot of huge amount of technology that runs that department better and if anything, we've systematised it so well now that it probably almost runs better than sales because it's just set and forget almost, isn't it?

Abbey: Yeah, look I'm married to you; technology is unavoidable [laughter] I don't know how much of it, I just say: "yes, sir"

Patrick: Correct answer! [laughter]

John: One of the things that I've observed in my time is that within sales, obviously,  it can have the expectation of a very small time frame of relationship, so you've got an intensity with one person, but in property management, you're required to extend that relationship over the course of some... well a decade.

Abbey: Yeah, I have owners now that I've been working with for 10 years which is crazy to say that yeah…

John: What's that like, Abbey, when, you know, being able to continue to nurture that relationship with those people over such a long period of time?

Abbey: Yeah look, sometimes it can definitely be a challenge; other times it's an absolute joy. I have owners that I have now been looking after for 10 years and I see them coming into the office and I'm like, "yeah, they're here" Like I get to go and have a chat with them. We have more of a friendship now, so we can sit down, have a coffee, have a chat and talk about their properties, but then, they also want to tell me about what's going on in their lives as well, so I really enjoy that.

John: Yeah, definitely.

Aaron: So just pivoting from there, let's jump into kind of this National Property Manager's Day initiative that's been started by the REINSW. I'm getting better at it... they'd be good at it too now. 

Patrick: Yeah, it's easy over time.

Aaron: Once you've got your tongue wrapped around, it's a piece of piss. So no, they've started it up, obviously, kind of here in Tassie, those legislation changes there's things that got in the way of you doing your job or maybe got in the way is the wrong word, but yeah, it changed everything you had... [Patrick: --how you do your job] yeah yeah definitely. How did it affect the whole business, basically? We're kind of in this second round of COVID and yeah, so what's to look back on? 

Abbey: At first, it was just a lot of keeping on top of the legislation changes; the legislation was changing from day to day. Patrick and I were overseas when it all first started to happen, so we were trying to work on getting home from overseas as well as managing the business remotely and all the changes, and it was hard for us to really grasp how bad the situation was until we actually arrived home. I'm pretty sure the first three weeks, I spent every afternoon laying on the floor, crying, because it was so uncertain. We didn't know what was going to happen from day to day, but we worked through it, dealt with the changes that were handed to us each day,
had a lot of Zoom meetings with the staff because we were all working from home and then it just everyone... took every day that came at us.

Patrick: I think that was one lucky thing that we had was that we were set up to start working remotely, straight away quite quickly, so we were lucky that we had a full digital solution and we were able to send our property managers home to work in those early stages very fast and they were able to communicate and still do their job.

Aaron: Yeah, I guess it was kind of forward thinking without forward thinking kind of just being prepared for a digital revolution. You guys were already in a position where it was…

Abbey: ...so fortunate because especially... because Patrick and I had to quarantine for 14 days when we arrived home and we still needed to manage the business. We were straight away able to do that from the day after we arrived home. We were able to tell our team, "head home, work from home". They had everything they needed right there on their computers, so it made the transition to home really easy which was one less thing to have to worry about with managing the covered situation [Aaron: yeah, 100 percent!]

John: Because the idea being is if no one had any infrastructure whatsoever, and they can't come to the office, then they can't do their job and then they can't communicate properly either like [creates a sound] I mean, I know in our situation, we were fortunate in our business because we had an office that had large separate rooms all the way through, so we were quite different. At the time, we didn't have the same setup that you both did, but fortunately enough, we had a building that was able to compensate for that. So basically, everyone had their own like four by four room in separation just so we could adhere to the laws and with... I mean, when you... what was it-- I know you said like taking it day by day because then you said like it is a reality just with the stress that was thrown onto your shoulders then... 

Abbey: Yeah and I think the stress from the point of view of the business, but also from a personal level and being a human like all these people are losing their jobs, what's going to happen to the world and all of that on top of, we've got all these poor people who have lost their jobs who can't pay their rent and it's going to be our responsibility to help them out with what's going to happen with them being able to pay their rent, but also, our property owners, they need their rent to be able to pay mortgages, so how are we going to manage that situation? It was a lot... 

John: Yeah, exactly.

Abbey: I implemented with my team, we would have a Zoom meeting each morning with the team and when we started, I told them every day they had to tell me one positive thing before we started the meeting even if it was something stupid, I remember one day that I'd been looking for track pants for like months and had never been able to find a padded fit and I found a pair and they arrived so one morning, my positive thing was I finally have a pair of track pants that fit [laughter] like positive for today. 

John: That's a positive every day [laughter]

Abbey: So, just to try and keep the morale up because obviously, as well working from home, it was quite isolating. Not all of my team live within a family situation like I do so sitting at their computer--day in, day out--with no one else around them was challenging, so I just tried to start every day with one little positive thing, so that we felt a little bit happier during the day.

John: Yeah, absolutely.

Aaron: Yeah, I guess another little thing there was kind of implementing the digital knock-off drinks or kind of the little things that we would do in the office together to keep that social interaction going was kind of, "look everyone, at four o'clock drop tools and have a drink". At the moment, if it was happening, it'd be "Dry July" [laughter] so a lot of the staff members would be having soda, water, or actually some of the guys had no alcohol beer the other day-- [John: that was me.] Yeah, it was pretty good. I didn't mind it. I was like, "I don't think this is cheating, this is okay" one, it's just like having a soft drink. You can buy it from the um from the [ __ ] and it counts Yeah, but something like that was another thing that the team arrived was kind of was built and bolstered in this uncertain time, everyone was quite scared, so it was a really good idea to kind of continue those kind of things to keep a sense of normality. 

Patrick: And I think, obviously, with this new sort of National Property Managers Day thing, it all came about by all of these things that happened last year and the stress that a lot of our staff were under and the industry was under last year and I think it's a really good opportunity to actually celebrate our property managers and that's what we're really focusing on this year is really getting behind it and trying to focus on it, like we've got Abbey in today, I think Niño's got a blog going up about property management later in the week. [Aaron agrees]

Abbey: I've answered all the questions this week. [laughter]

Patrick: We can let everyone in on a little secret because by the time this goes to air, Abbey's got a little party celebrations organised for the property management team on Friday, so we're trying to get behind it [Abbey: of secret] [Aaron: yeah, in the show notes...] goes live it'll be all out, so it doesn't matter. 

Aaron: In the show notes here, there's a little bit in italics and it says, "not sure whether we can reveal it yet, you'll have to ask Abbey"

Abbey: Yes, so Niño asked me about it yesterday and I was sitting right with all the other staff. I said, "Niño I have to leave, You can't do this interview in this room." [laughter]

Aaron: I thought it was a technical issue

Patrick: Oh you played off very well... [laughter]

Aaron: So, I guess we want to celebrate because it can be a thankless job. It can be a job out there where you're kind of seen as the middleman or the the person telling somebody like you're staying in this place that you call your home, but it's actually owned by somebody else and I'm going to have to get you to take those pictures down or…

Abbey: My mother-in-law, when she trained me, Robin, she always told me that we're the meat in the sandwich.

Aaron: The meat in the sandwich…

Aaron: That's my favorite phrase to use with a meat in the sandwich [laughter]

John: I mean now, 10 years have passed. I mean, obviously, it was... that was the fresh introduction into real estate. I mean, thinking back and this hard time of the year, has it really changed the way in which you interact with your clients and your staff or has it made you think differently about how you need to manage that?

Abbey: Particularly, the COVID situation, it made us see the very best in people, but it also brought out some of the worst in people and understandably, so there was a lot of stress at the time, but at the time, I remember thinking how wonderful and generous so many people were and understanding because it really was a tough time because more so than ever, we really were the meat in the sandwich, because we had tenants, "I can't pay my rent, can I have a rent reduction?". Owners, well, "I need the mortgage paid", but so many of our owners were so generous in the rent reductions that they would give to their tenants and that was just really heartening to see that there really were still a lot of people out there prepared to do good.

John: Yeah, that's so interesting because it's, I suppose, you're getting to see the real human nature of it, but from the way they're portrayed many times, landlords are just seen as these, you know, fat monopoly guy people that hate the world and just try to steal every money but that's just not true. 
Abbey: And many many of our owners are just mum and dad investors who have one or two properties. There were so many owners where the tenant would say, "could we have a $50 a week reduction on our rent because we've lost our job?" and we contact the owner and you know what? "Give them a hundred dollars a week or give them all three weeks rent" and that was always just so wonderful to be able to go back and then give that news to the tenant because they were always so grateful for that help that they were being given by the owner who was also going through a really tough time.

Patrick: But I think it's because of that mum and dad investor aspect because they're experiencing a very similar scenario themselves so there, I think that helps definitely in that regard to understanding the tenant situation and that's what I think like John said, a lot of people forget that most investors are just mum and dad that have one or two or three just one trying to get their retirement sort of set up or things like that. It's not people that aren't like obviously, we have landlords that own five, ten, fifteen properties but the majority of them only owned one or maybe two properties.

Abbey: Yeah, that's right.

Aaron: Is it in the language? Is it something to do with the word 'landlord' like to lord over somebody that sounds like you're obviously...  

Abbey: I think it is and I think that's why we often refer to them as 'owners' more so. 'Landlord' has some connotations that are, you know, sometimes a bit negative.

Aaron: Yeah no, it's just as you guys are discussing it that's where my brain's gone to I
was like, "oh, maybe it's just this idea of this". You said the fat monopoly man, yeah, picture that kind of he's yeah rubbing his greasy fingers together thinking like, "all right, give me my money" like your mate... they're not a problem that money can't fix [laughter]
there ain't…

John: Yes, right. There ain't a problem in real estate the price cannot cure [laughter]

Patrick: This is why you don't listen to it

Abbey: And this is why I didn't hear the 87 episodes [laughter]

John: Well, I'm pretty sure, in one of the states, they're actually changing the terminology for that reason just…

Abbey: I believe that's the case…

John: Yeah, which I certainly can... when at first, there was that part of me that goes, "oh, that's just silly" but when you stop to think it through, well you're right, like if you refer to them as owners or investors, there's a different connotation to it than your landlord, you know so...
Abbey: Like even in maintenance, we write notes about maintenance jobs and we use the abbreviation "PO" for property owner, not "LL" for landlord yeah I don't know that's just... we generally tend to go for owner over landlord. 

John: Yeah yeah yeah, it is interesting just that difference in the terminology, how can it have a different meaning? [Abbey agrees]

John: Well, is that, I mean, now again has the meaning that you draw from your job, like you say you still enjoy coming to work and wanting to work with your team, has that changed? Would you draw fulfillment out of your job now since your first year?

Abbey: Yeah, it has. I'm not so hands on with managing a portfolio these days because we now have a much larger team than we ever have had before, so now, my my job more revolves around ensuring the happiness of my team and ensuring that they aren't stressed and helping them out where I can to make sure that they aren't overloaded with work and so yeah, now, my fulfillment from my role comes from making sure my team are well looked after.

John: Yeah, and then in turn, I mean, once if they're looked after, we know the clients are getting looked after as well. 

Abbey: Yep, and as I say to Patrick all the time, we have this conversation, if we appreciate our staff and look after our staff, well, they're going to stay with us for much longer which is a benefit to us, it's also a benefit to our owners, which therefore is a benefit to us because our owners like having the consistency of having a continuing property manager.

John: Yeah, I love that, you know. You think about this National Property Managers Appreciation Day, that's your job now. It's like you need to be able to lead and appreciate your staff so that they have the feeling they've got the capacity to correct, you know, to do that good work.

Abbey: For me, Property Manager Appreciation Day is every day [John agrees] because I have to appreciate them every day and let them know that they're doing a good job and support them when they're having a rough time and sort out solutions for them when they do have problems, so that's my role now.

John: Yeah, and that's so good because I know, with property management and other jobs, like there's often an ending to a relationship. As sales isn't there's a culmination of an end,
but in property management, it just keeps going, so there's no like finality to something, so being able to draw and understand that no, look, what you are doing consistently makes a huge difference every day is such an important message to try and portray and I really take a hats off, happy to be able to give that to your tanks and over it, from experience it's not easy.  

Abbey: Especially when you don't like the hug; I'm not a hugger. [laughter] But it's okay because my team knows I'm probably not going to give you a hug unless something really bad... [laughter]

Abbey: It was Grace's birthday yesterday, Happy Birthday, Grace! And she did ask me, "can we break the hug rule for my birthday, so I can have a hug?" [laughter]

Aaron: Due to COVID restrictions... I promise I'll give you one in a few days time... [laughter]

Aaron: No look, it's a testament to you and to your team and to everybody here at 4one4 Property Co., you are safe to say the backbone of us and without us, we'd be in a real pickle, yes so, just as a shout out of appreciation for our number one Property Manager, thank you for everything you do; thank you for joining us on this show 87 episodes later. We would have had you on much sooner, but we just had way better property managers to talk to [laughter]

Abbey: But honestly, I wouldn't be sitting here 10 years down the track as the Director of Property Management if I didn't have a wonderful team of property managers behind me because I always say to Patrick, I can't manage 800 properties on my own. It takes a team and I'm just part of that team.

Aaron: Well, as part of the initiative from the REINSW,

Patrick: Boom! Look at that!

Aaron: Yeah, the way their day works is that they can nominate Shining Stars and Superstars, so you would nominate them and pop them in the hashtag and we'll pop the show notes together and you can check this out if you want to nominate anyone out there at National Property Managers Day, but I think we've got a room full of superstars here at 4one4 Property Co. and as you say, you as a perfect property manager, you battered the compliment away and said it's all my team, but it takes a legendary leader to lead that team, so thank you very much, Abbey. 

Abbey: Thank you.

Aaron: We look forward to the secret party that we're now privy to it... [laughter]

Abbey: ...because there wasn't actually a party per se, so now, they're gonna hear this. [laughter]

Aaron: It might be like the story that comes up at the top in the social media clips. They might be like, "what? there's a party?"

Abbey: We didn't get a party, what happened?

Aaron: No, shout out to you, shout out to all the property managers out there, and shout out to all the people that you work with. We get so many wonderful reviews from Rate My Agent and some of the others... [Abbey: well deserved ones] that are constantly saying how tremendous all the work you guys do is such an underappreciated segment of the workforce, we really do appreciate what you do.

Patrick: Thank you very much!

Abbey: Thanks on behalf of the team!

Aaron: No problem! All right, guys. We will be back next week with more Property Pod. Thank you so much! Bye! 

[extro and disclaimer]

You have been listening to The Property Pod, recorded and edited by 4one4 Media House in conjunction with 4one4 Property Co. This podcast is general information only and the thoughts and views expressed are the opinion of our panel and listeners should always seek to use their own investigation into any topic we discussed to ensure they fully understand their own situation. It does not constitute and should not be relied on as purchasing, selling, financial, or investment advice or recommendations, expressed or implied, and it should not be used as an invitation to take up any agent or investment services. No investment decision or activity should be undertaken on the basis of this information without first seeking qualified and professional advice.

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