The Art of Stakeholder Communication in Property Management
Stakeholders come in many different forms in property management. Depending on your organization, owners and investors are probably the first groups that come to mind. Then, there is senior management. Lenders are now a regular stakeholder group because of the documentation requirements in their loans. Sometimes our tenants are also stakeholders. Finally, asset and property managers and accounting staff have an important stake in your business.
Each of these groups has their own unique information needs. To be an effective communicator, it’s your responsibility to transmit this information in a way that is both thorough and easy to understand.
The evolution of information sharing
When I started in real estate, I created my first reports by lining up tabs on an IBM Selectric typewriter. I moved up to spreadsheet programs when computers became available. I went from Visicalc to Lotus 123 to Excel. In my last real estate position as COO of a regional property management company, I was responsible for reporting requirements that could change month-to-month and week-by-week. These spreadsheets were created and updated monthly or weekly in Microsoft Excel.
Spreadsheet programs have always been the de facto report writer for real estate organizations. Let’s face it: Excel works for most companies because almost everyone knows how to use it, and it offers basic functionality.
It is the collection, collation and formatting of information that presents a problem. For property management operational and financial data, it goes far beyond a rent roll and an income statement. In today’s world of overly structured lender requirements and investor demands, NOI is just one evaluated metric. What about your loan-to-value and debt coverage ratios?
Maximizing the tool for your property management business
Because of their ease-of-use and availability, spreadsheets can be helpful. What is important is to find the tools that make them even more robust and easier to use.
Think about it— if it is part of your Office Suite of products, you are going to use it for an income statement, even if it requires you to either import the information or manually key in the numbers, it is a usable tool. However, if you had a tool that made your spreadsheets an extension of your current property management accounting database, wouldn’t that make that spreadsheet exponentially greater in its utility?
Where do the mistakes occur? In the transference of data. Where do the formatting errors occur? In the transference of digits.
Sure we use spreadsheets. And we probably will never get away from them. But given exposure to more functionality, spreadsheets can be an even greater tool. And with the right tools, every job is easier.
To learn more on this topic, don’t miss the upcoming webcast, “7 Must-Have Reporting Tools You Can Afford.”