In my many years as a rental housing professional, I have discovered that there are two camps with differing philosophies regarding continuing industry training. The first camp seeks out training with the belief that it is valuable and beneficial; not only for the employee, but the organization as well. The second camp believes that training is a waste of time and resources and avoids it.
Unfortunately, the second camp seems to be in the majority. While most Directors, Vice Presidents, and Regional Managers fall into the first group, they often work for a member of the second group.
Costs vs. Benefits of Training
Training costs are directly measurable. For example, sending an employee through an association sponsored training program will incur tuition costs, possible travel, and time away from their site. Let’s not forget the employee’s wages while attending the course. And, perhaps overtime or additional work load burdens for the other employees. Having a trainer come to your organization will also incur costs. The speaker will have a fee as well as material costs. Bringing everyone together will cost mileage dollars and refreshments. Not to mention closing the offices down for a few hours and the possibility of missing that cherished rental/sales opportunity.
There is no question that training can be expensive. But with proper planning and budgeting, the cost can be reduced. The real question to ask is “What is the cost of liability if the team is NOT receiving training?”
The benefits of training are easily measureable. For example, I have numerous clients tell me that leases increased the same afternoon as a morning leasing session, or the closing ratios improve dramatically. Customer complaints decrease after training, and employees tend to be more cautious about Fair Housing once they have proper understanding of the laws and guidelines. The right training can increase an employee’s motivation and enthusiasm. Continued, regular training will increase productivity, team morale, self-confidence, sense of importance, and communication skills amongst your team. Training should be viewed as a reward for continued employee loyalty. If training is marketed correctly as an investment in the employees, your team will be excited to attend and see this as an additional benefit to them.
Excuses for Avoiding Training
I have heard all the typical excuses for avoiding training. Here are some examples and my particular spin on how to turn these negative attitudes into positive solutions.
“It’s too expensive” Yes, it can be expensive. Or, it can be viewed as an investment into the future of your organization. What is the cost of defending a Fair Housing law suit? What is the cost of homes/spaces sitting vacant because your staff does not understand the concept pre-leasing? How much does your Worker’s Compensation insurance increase due to injuries that could have been avoided with proper training? What is the cost of defending a sexual harassment claim, or a wrongful termination? Each one of these scenarios has the potential to cost your organization thousands and thousands of dollars. Proper staff training can save you money due to increased knowledge and professionalism; not to mention decreased staff turnover.
“We don’t have time.” I hear this often enough to wonder if trainers are the only ones who have time for training! Property Management has its own monthly timeline that we all understand. Training should be scheduled after rent week, not on Monday mornings, and not on the day of month end for accounting. Yes we have renewals, inspections, move outs, move ins, bills to process, resident issues to address, and turnovers to complete. But each of these tasks can be scheduled around training. Try seeking input from your front-line team to determine the best time to schedule training. It is not okay to have our teams performing below standard or being assigned tasks that they do not fully understand. Taking a little time to show them the correct procedures will make their time spent on the job much more productive and therefore saving precious time. Not making time for training could prove to be costly to your organization.
“We can’t afford to have our team away from the property.” Understandably, closing the office may not be realistic as no one wants to miss a potential sale/rental. There are other options to employ; such as having two sessions in one day and alternating employees so the office remains open. Or, have staff participate in an on-line course or webinar. Blended learning opportunities, (offering both live and on-line training) has proven to be very successful as employees get a global perspective of the topic.
“Why do we need training when HR or a Manager can handle some teaching?” Your in-house experts are indeed valuable to your organization and they should be involved with training company policies and procedures. But what if they have not been brought up to speed with new laws? Or what if their work load is too heavy to expand into training? Even if you have an in-house trainer, sometimes the message needs to be heard from an outsider who is not entrenched with the various personalities and histories of employees. A knowledgeable in-house trainer will know when to outsource some of the training.
“Training is a chore, and boring!” Hire the right trainer! It is difficult for rental housing professionals to relate to someone who has not actually worked in our field. The most successful trainers are those who have paid their dues in the industry and have walked the same walk as their students. The stories we tell, of both successes and failures, are the best way for students to completely understand this wonderful, crazy world of housing management.
So, To Train or Not?
Housing continues to grow in sophistication and complexity. Our team members must continue to learn how to operate our communities with the newest ideas and technology.
Remember, the success of any property is a direct result of the competency of the front line team. Training breeds competent professionals. Competence improves performance
Whether you embrace it, tolerate it, deny it, or avoid it, regular consistent training is necessary in housing management. It always has been and always will be. I am still thankful to all the leaders I have worked with for investing in my career by exposing me to great training. Bringing in the right trainer, or sending your employees to industry training, will have your employees feeling privileged and thankful too!
Angel Rogers has over 30 years of Property Management experience. She has been teaching for various Apartment Associations for 15 years and has successfully launched her own training company, S.T.A.R. – Specialized Training by Angel Rogers. She is dedicated to providing educational sessions that are motivational and create a fun learning environment. Angel can be reached at (909)725-2700 or firstname.lastname@example.org – check out her website: www.angelrogers.com