Just last week, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared coronavirus or COVID-19 a pandemic. This means that coronavirus has become widespread around the world, with an impact on society.
As a property manager, you’ve probably experienced disruptions to daily life and business activities due to the outbreak. You might be wondering:
- Should I still be conducting routine inspections?
- How do I follow up on maintenance issues?
- What happens to open for inspections?
- How do I market my properties?
While we don’t have all the answers, we’ve come up with some options in our list of coronavirus preparation ideas for property managers to help you mitigate risk and ensure business continuity.
1. Practice basic protective measures
First and foremost, make sure you are adhering to the following basic protective measures as prescribed by the WHO:
- Wash your hands frequently: Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with hand sanitiser or wash them with soap and water for 20 seconds.
- Practice social distancing: Maintain at least 1.5 metres distance between yourself and others.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- Practice respiratory hygiene: Cover your mouth and nose with a bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Dispose of any used tissues immediately.
- Stay home if you feel unwell: If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, be sure to seek medical attention early.
2. Conduct inspections virtually
If you have any routine, entry or exit inspections scheduled, you can opt to conduct them virtually using modern technologies like Skype, Zoom, Whatsapp or Facetime. Not only are you practicing social distancing, but you are also ensuring the safety of your tenants.
You can video call the tenant at the time of the inspection and ask them to walk through the property and show you different areas as you would during a normal inspection. Alternatively, you can email tenants a checklist of areas to be inspected and ask them to send through photos via email on the inspection date.
Additionally, if there are any outstanding maintenance issues or concerns, you can ask your tenants to send through photos or notes via email.
3. Prepare to work from home
Many offices in central business districts across Australia are trialling or have switched to working from home. If your office is currently using cloud property software, making the switch should be relatively easy as cloud technology allows you to work from anywhere, as long as you have a working internet connection.
If your office is in the process of preparing for this transition, be sure to run a few trials and ask the team for feedback. Any feedback can be used to inform policies and procedures moving forward.
Additionally, be sure to download our free work from home checklist for real estate agents to improve ergonomics, workplace safety and productivity.
4. Go paperless
Another way to prepare for coronavirus as a property manager is to go paperless. This way you’ll be able to access all your images and documents even when you’re working from home or unable to access your office.
To go paperless, scan all relevant images and documents and upload them to a cloud storage solution like Google Drive or attach them to the relevant contact, property or job in your cloud property software. Moreover, you can go virtual with your note-taking and task management using tools like Trello, Evernote, Google Keep and Todoist.
There are many benefits to going paperless that extend beyond the ability to work remotely. You can also reduce overhead costs, decrease clutter and increase business efficiency. Learn more about paperless property management.
5. Film video tours for OFIs
You might be wondering, “How do I market my properties during the outbreak?”
We’ve got you covered—you can do so in a safe way by filming video tours or property listing videos for your open for inspections (OFIs) once your tenant has vacated. Be sure to capture the interior of the property, any notable details and amenities, as well as the exterior of the property.
In addition to that, take lots of photos including 360 photos as online services like BoxBrownie.com can enhance images, add virtual furniture and help you remove items in post-production for your listing.
6. Hold virtual OFIs
If a potential tenant is adamant that they want a walkthrough of the property, you can hold a virtual open for inspection via Skype, Zoom, Whatsapp or Facetime. You should only do this once the existing tenant has vacated to ensure the safety of yourself and your previous tenant.
If you happen to touch anything while you’re at the property, avoid touching your face and make sure you wash your hands and sanitise your device afterwards.
7. Host virtual team meetings
Once your office transitions to working from home, you can host virtual team meetings using Zoom, Skype or GoToMeeting. For one-on-one meetings, you can always use Slack’s built-in video call functionality, Facetime, Whatsapp or simply call your team member.
For regular internal communications, you can use Slack or Skype, start a Whatsapp group chat or use PropertyMe’s @mentions feature to leave messages for your team directly from the activity feed of a property, contact, inspection, job, task or message.
8. Consider outsourcing work
If you’re planning for or anticipating a shortage of staff, you can consider outsourcing administrative and repetitive tasks to minimise disruption. There are many real estate outsourcing companies that can assist you and if you’re using cloud property management software, you will be able to provide the outsourcing company with the relevant level of access to your portfolio.
9. Help your tenants out
During these uncertain times rife with panic buying, your tenants may be experiencing difficulty purchasing basic necessities. While Woolworths and Coles have rolled out a dedicated shopping hour for seniors and vulnerable persons, your office can also extend a helping hand to those in need, especially those who are unable to leave their homes.
To help you out, we’ve drafted up an email template that you can copy and modify:
Dear [tenant name],
During these tough times, the team at [Your office name] is here to help. If you are elderly or unable to leave your home for any reason, we can assist you in purchasing basic necessities.
If you need any assistance at all, please feel free to call or text me at [your mobile number] or email me at [your email address].
Furthermore, you can extend this assistance to your landlords, suppliers and neighbours if you feel compelled to do so. You can also let local property managers know that you’re available for remote administrative tasks if needed. This will help support your local business ecosystem during the coronavirus crisis.
10. Develop a business continuity plan
A business continuity plan (BCP) is a set of guidelines designed to help your organisation through any interruption to the business whether it’s a disease outbreak like coronavirus, a burst pipe that floods your office or an extended power outage. So if you don’t currently have a BCP, it’s time to develop, test and implement one.
Having a BCP allows you to prepare for the unexpected and put contingencies in place to mitigate risk and ensure business continuity in the long run.
Here are 10 coronavirus preparation ideas for property managers:
- Practice basic protective measures
- Conduct inspections virtually
- Prepare to work from home
- Go paperless
- Film video tours for OFIs
- Hold virtual OFIs
- Host virtual team meetings
- Consider outsourcing work
- Help your tenants out
- Develop a business continuity plan
Thanks for reading! You might also be interested in Gmail Hacks for Real Estate Agents, Preparing for Coronavirus: Business Continuity Planning for Real Estate and How PropertyMe is Different.