The Secret Core Values of Amazing Property Management Companies


I love the naval warship parable that speaks to the idea of being inflexible or self-absorbed. As the story goes, the captain of a massive, heavily armed warship is summoned to the bridge at some crazy late hour. One of his officers briefs him; there is an oncoming ship that will not yield to their right of way.

The captain retorts by telling the officer to respond to the ship by telling them to acquiesce to their position. He does and the light out in the distance flashes a message that flies in the face of all logic, “No. You get out-of-the-way.”

Baffled and disrupted, the captain puffs his chest and tells the officer to send a message that includes the fact that they are a massive warship armed for freedom and willing to assert their wherewithal. The message comes back out of the shadow of distance:

“I am a lighthouse.”

Property Management Companies Serve the People that Serve Them

I like to think of core values as being akin to lighthouses: Permanent fixtures against which to break yourself in the quest of being the most amazing person you can be. And it is no different for property management companies.

In that respect, I think the companies that make the transition from status quo to greatness understand that people are at the heart. And a strict adherence to a concrete set of core values diminishes the need for stringent policies, procedures, carrots, and sticks. People are motivated and compelled to action because they understand that they are part something bigger than themselves.

Turn Up the “Wow” Factor

Wow those residents that choose to make your community their community. Wow the people who are thinking about choosing your community as the place to create the next chapter of their lives. Wow the property management professionals that you work with and for. Wow the people who offer the goods and services that make your world just a little bit better.

And believe it or not – I have the secrets for wowing them all.

The Super Secret Core Values Revealed

Now get ready. I am giving away the most tightly held, over-the-top, wowing secret of all time. Really prepare yourself as this may in fact take you so far aback you may have to get out of bed again this morning.

It’s everything you learned in kindergarten that nobody in their right mind uses anymore because it’s just the way we do business. Catch someone doing any of the following and you’re in the company of greatness. Partake selfishly.

Here they are:

  1. Say “please” and “thank you.” But don’t just say it—stop and feel the meaning of it.
  2. Ask someone if you can help. But don’t just ask; ask while expecting nothing in return.
  3. Call people by name. Also, say hello on a Friday night as you walk out the door for the weekend, even at the risk of someone needing a piece of your time.

Quite obviously, these are not secrets and they are not the only core values that create excellence in an organization. What about you? What value(s) do you consider to be core in your organization?



Vice President of Operations, Mills Properties

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I’ve spent the last 15 years in the real estate business, working my way up from earning a license to sell single-family homes in New Mexico to my current position–managing a portfolio consisting of multiple sites and thousands of multifamily units in Illinois and Missouri with Mills Properties. Before landing in Missouri, I spent 10 years on the West Coast, moving between San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland, working as a regional manager with Equity Residential—one of the largest apartment owners in the nation. Along the way, I’ve experienced a lot—not only about what engages our various constituents, but more importantly, learning how to leverage that knowledge to improve service and the bottom line at the same time.

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