We just finished celebrating Memorial Day. It’s helpful for me to remember that’s the day when Americans honors men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. I want to pay my deepest respect to their memory and to their loved ones. Originally known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official, very significant federal holiday in 1971. It reminds us that in all aspects of our human journey we want to have something bigger than ourselves to live for and to stand for.
If you’ve not thought of it lately let me be the first to remind you that you’re in one of the most exciting and relevant businesses available today. Whether you manage residential or commercial real estate for owners and landlords, you’re providing a vital service. You also serve your residents who need clean, safe and affordable rental housing. They want to pay the rent to a property manager that they respect, who’s responsive, that they can’t push around, and who hasn’t let the nasty side of human nature cause them to be calloused.
Some people say that rent levels have topped out for now. Others see them rising higher in the next year or two. The question is what do you believe and is your belief based on research and careful analysis. An honest, rational and analytical property manager is a highly-valued asset to their clients. In a recent interview with one of my colleagues she was asked why she sells and manages commercial real estate investment trusts (REITs). When asked why she doesn’t get involved in other types of businesses her answer was a good example of standing by your convictions.
“One of the things we like about commercial REITs: Property owners get paid rents” she reflected. “It’s not the same as buying Acme Manufacturing because you like the potential for their widgets. Instead, you buy the stock … [or the property] that rents manufacturing space to Acme.” When the famous bank robber John Dillinger was asked why he robs banks he responded unflinchingly, “Because that’s where the money is.” When I ask Property Managers why they chose their profession they often say, “Because it’s a rewarding way to help other people succeed while I succeed.”
Unlike robbing banks, managing property is good for everyone involved. It will be an especially rewarding career if you’ve taken the time to create a “mission statement” as well as a “statement of purpose” that defines your convictions, goals, and expectations. Whether you make this public on your website or in your promotional literature is up to you. The most important factor is that you’ve taken the time to formally compose these two vital statements that define you as a property manager professional and as an individual.
I’ve often told the clients and professionals that I consult with that people really don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. The same holds true for your values, convictions and courage. When I was a young man making my way in the world one of my mentors told me, “Marc, if you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything.” He encouraged me to define my convictions and my professional ethics carefully and to review them annually. It was some of the best advice I’ve received.
Perhaps it’s especially poignant to remember this when we reflect on the meaning of Memorial Day. Like those we pay our respects to for serving their country, we can utilize the courage of our convictions to be the best property manager we can be. The rewards are not just monetary. Our self-respect and the upholding of our reputations as outstanding, integrity-based professionals are on the line. We’ll enjoy what we do and feel a greater purpose in life, and the value of all these benefits is, as the credit card commercials say, priceless!