It has been five years since Trevor and Sandy Giles first entered the specialist property management arena – and the pace of change in that short time has been hectic to say the least.
Their original company, apartmentsonline was founded in April 2004 when choosing apartment accommodation from a website was still relatively new. Now in 2009 it has almost become the default way for tenants to go prospecting.
The Giles’ biggest milestone since starting up business has been joining forces with the Quinovic franchise in June 2007. Today, from their office in the Viaduct, they operate one of eight Quinovic franchises in
To mark the company’s fifth anniversary, the Giles recently rolled out a total refresh of their website www.quinovic-apartmentsonline.co.nz – a site dedicated solely to the medium-to-high-end apartment market in
The property management industry has gone ahead in leaps and bounds in recent times, which partly explains the company’s remarkable 400 percent growth in less than two years – but there are other contributing reasons why the Giles have been so successful in business.
From day one the couple made the decision to focus heavily on communication with clients and the service they offer tenants – going that extra distance to look after people and treating clients as they would want to be treated themselves (Trevor and Sandy are also property investors).
“Good communication is simply common courtesy,” says
Having a strong web presence from the beginning has also been a contributing success factor – as has the decision to specialise in apartments.
The Giles focus on the transition process between outgoing and incoming tenants – endeavouring to make that process as smooth and seamless as possible. Property inspections and apartment presentation are also high on the priority list.
And in an industry where it would be easy to regard tenants merely as a means to an end, the Giles stand out for their respectful attitude towards tenants.
“Treat them well and there’s a far better chance they will look after the property,” says
Five years in the game has not come without its lessons. Trevor says it’s all very well to be extremely proficient property managers – but managing a business and staff required different skillsets. The key, he says, has been securing good advice in areas such as marketing and promotion, and HR. Fortunately they have a knack for matching peoples’ personalities with specific roles – and point to their current showing manager Val as a good example of this. “You couldn’t find anyone more passionate about presentation,” says Trevor.
The Giles are extremely satisfied with the performance of their business. In their first year with Quinovic they were the fastest growing franchise (choosing to opt for a Gold Coast property seminar over a
So far in the current year they have maintained their number one position – which Trevor attributes to hard ‘slog’, good communication and top service. Things progressed to the extent that they could employ a full time ‘new business’ manager.
If you’re wondering just how easy it is to be successful in the property management sector, the Giles have some cautionary words.
“The residential tenancy act is very complicated, and it’s easy to come a cropper before you’re familiar with it,” advises Trevor. “You have to be disciplined and you must know the law inside and out.”
Long hours, plus demands on your spare time (you’re on call 24/7) are also ‘par for the course’ in this game. Be prepared for some interesting incidents, say the Giles.
Trevor recalls the tenant who phoned in to say that it was ‘raining in my apartment’. And there was the call from a tenant at three in the morning who was installing a cabinet on the wall (definitely a no-no), only now ‘there is water coming out of it’.
Such stories serve as a reminder that property managers are very much dependent on strong support people whom they can trust to come to the rescue – such as sparkies and plumbers – not to mention building managers “who become your eyes and your ears”.
While there are plenty of tenant horror stories doing the rounds in property management circles, there are also tales of property owners getting burnt – often by property managers with no track record.
The Government is aware of the differences between private service providers and the licensed real estate fraternity, has called for a review of legislation, and decisions on whether there is a problem and whether new regulations are required are expected to be announced later in the year.
Meantime, Trevor and Sandy advise owners to look carefully at the longevity and experience of property managers. Reputation is everything – ask for references.
“You’re looking for someone who’s totally focused on renting the property, with no hidden agendas, and only one master – the owner,” says Trevor.
While it’s true there is a recession happening, the Giles haven’t seen much evidence of it impacting on their sector, apart from a slight increase in the number of fixed term tenancies being broken. They believe apartment owners would be wise to hold onto their properties for some time yet, and predict a major shortage of units in around 18 months to two years as new development projects have now virtually ground to a standstill. Rents will eventually rise, spurred on by the rise in popularity of apartment living – particularly in CBDs.
Not surprisingly, given their track record so far, the Giles are also predicting continued strong growth for their business – and they’re enthusiastic about the impact of their newly launched website on that growth.
“The ‘Talking Tour’ feature is especially exciting,” says
“The website essentially qualifies people before they go to view the actual apartment. And we’ve even had overseas people send in an application form based purely on information from the site.”
Glenn Baker is editor of NZBusiness.