Property managers must prioritise building knowledge, stay up to date with the latest industry trends and collaborate with clients to deliver the best service for customers.

Karl Ardern - Head of Business Development

Karl Ardern - Head of Business Development

Our common aim as property managers in a service industry is to recognise, understand and deliver on customers’ and clients’ individual and collective needs. It’s as simple as that.

How management companies approach this will be different, but it’s crucial the industry keeps this at the top of its focus.

Collaborative Working Relationships

Key to this aim is for property managers to know and individually cater for each of the developments they manage. They need to make sure they have an intricate understanding of their developments in order to succeed. Too many times, property managers fall into the trap of following processes that are ‘one size fits all’ without proper consideration to the individual requirements of a specific building and its unique service needs.

The more that property managers know about a development – from the small details around the landscaping plans to the precise workings of the facilities available– the better they can cater for their customers. If we can get that right, then we show an ability to better understand and deliver for both the customer and the client.

Property Manager with tablet

Property Manager with tablet

The relationship between developers and management companies has seen a positive shift in recent years. If you go back 15 years, managing agents got involved at a much later stage in the build process. Several years ago, developers started to realise that property managers are key parts of the process of creating a development that’s built with customers in mind. We now tend to be appointed at a very early stage, and our role will often include delving deep, like speaking with the landscape architects, advising on staffing and contractor options, and speaking with technical teams about the building design to enable us to effectively deliver for the customer. This kind of collaboration and integration with developers is a lot more prevalent than it used to be, and good property managers will embrace this and adopt a collective approach.

Adapting to Industry Trends

The way property management companies approach industry trends are important too. Understanding trends, and how we can adapt them to a development’s specific needs, helps set a property manager apart. Covid certainly provided an extra dimension to this. Post-covid, we saw developers considering more open spaces, where residents have somewhere they can walk outside, somewhere that’s green, and somewhere they can simply enjoy. Our homes became more than ever a place where you could spend time and feel safe. And this was a trend change that we had to quickly adapt to.

Arguably, covid was not the only trigger for this change – it was already happening, but it gave developers the focus to make the shift where customers wanted them to. As a result, at some of the larger developments, we are seeing more communal lounges designed for home workers, on-site cafés, a gym, and in many cases, a cinema room. It’s fantastic that in our role as managers we can maintain these complex but wonderful communities so that residents can truly feel safe and happy where they live.

We’re also seeing a desirability from both customers and clients for environmentally friendly approaches to the buildings we manage. It remains to be a strong theme across the property industry at the moment. In reality, this needs to be much more than a trend. It needs to be embedded in what we do, and we’d expect our clients and residents to absolutely call out ‘greenwashing’. At FirstPort, we’ve invested in a dedicated Sustainability Manager to oversee our sustainability plan and we’re already seeing results. It’s really positive to see more companies within the property industry adopt this approach to understand and respond to the sustainability agenda, for the benefit of customers.

Future trends, alongside customer and client needs, will always shape how we manage property. While there are still areas in need of improvement, the fundamental principle of what our industry thrives to do is still the same, and so too is the motivation to get it right. How we, as managing agents, respond in the future will be key. Being responsive and customer-focused will allow good property managers to flourish, be inventive and make a positive contribution that recognises, understands, and delivers for customers and clients. It’s a simple brief, but with transformational outcomes.

Karl Ardern, Head of Business Development, FirstPort

About FirstPort

FirstPort is the UK’s leading residential property service provider, caring for 310,000 homes in England, Wales and Scotland, across 5,600 developments.

With over four decades of experience and 4,000 employees, FirstPort works with developers, investors, freeholders and over 1,500 Resident Management Companies.

Find out more here