When you’re running a business or supervising a shop floor, the issue of responsibility is a big one. How much responsibility are you really able to take on at any one time, and are you OK with this? As I’ve mentioned before, in my past life I used to be a part-time property manager. Owning nearly a hundred properties was stressful, but satisfying work. Giving homes to hundreds of people around the city felt good and knowing that their safety was in hand was of paramount importance. Despite my diligent efforts and constant communication, I still received a consistent stream of complaints and suggestions. These ranged from the ludicrously demanding to the infuriatingly meek. Either way, I forced time out of my day to attempt to deal with these daily requests, with very little thanks given to me.
Getting peace of mind on a day to day basis, is a huge part of feeling well and good. If your finances aren’t well, then you’re not good – and that’s not OK. The following examples, taken from my time as a property manager, should help to highlight what problems you should address when in a similar position—and what to do:
1) A tenant calls you up, claiming there is an emergency. He states that there are inches of water gathering in the basement (which is meant to be locked at all times) but that it has stopped rising. What do you do?
The knee-jerk reaction to this would be to panic, call the plumber and get the water pumped out as soon as possible. However, if we approach this situation logically with all the facts in mind, then the solution is simple.
The basement should not be lived in, there is a lock on there for a reason, because its not safe. For all we know the water could have been there when you bought the house, Lord knows you’ve never been down there – you can’t actually recall ever physically seeing this property.
The correct way of dealing with this situation is to completely ignore the tenant. If he tries to bother you again, you can tell him that he’s in breach of his contract and threaten to sue. This should sufficiently scare him, he’ll leave the damp basement the way it is, and the next tenants will inherit the situation.
2) A client in a high-scale out of town house has a few concerns over an indoor pool that came with the house. Nothing major, just an after thought really, doesn’t even need looking at.
You need to react to these situations like you would a house fire or a stroke. Speed is absolutely of the essence, because the longer you leave this task, the more difficult it will be to ingratiate yourself with the client later. He may have sounded like he wasn’t too bothered about the problem, but he’s just playing it cool. Swimming pools can be dangerous places, especially if the skimmer is broken, and if he’s gone on re
cord as saying that he has concerns, he will sue you if there’s a problem. Don’t panic. Just do these things as quickly as possible:
a) Send a large bunch of flowers with an apologetic letter
b) Call your pool maintenance expert and have him completely service the pool. Pool skimming, new pumps, new filters, smooth over any sharp edges in the tiling. Make this area as perfectly safe as possible; disregard the cost.
c) Once work is completed, send a large box of chocolates (ALWAYS check your client files for dietary requirements and adjust orders accordingly) with a congratulatory card; making sure to mention the improvements you have made.
d) Follow up this last gift with a phone call, a day later, to ensure ABSOLUTE customer satisfaction.
3) A reliable tenant calls you up in the middle of the night. They say they can smell burning and there are wisps of smoke collecting through the cracks in the floorboards and walls. They are unsure whether this is an emergency or if you’ve scheduled a gas extermination without informing them.
Try your best to answer this fool’s questions in a polite way, but don’t worry too much if you fly off the handle at him (I mean, its the middle of the night for Christ’s sake). Tell him to check the ashtrays round his house for burning cigarette ends. Then formally tell him that you’ll be inspecting the property the following day to ensure there’s no evidence of smoking. Smoking inside is a violation of his contract, this would result in termination and eviction.
Remember, in order to feel OK, you need to be confident in your day to day work decisions. What I’ve laid out above is a blueprint for how to deal with a client or customer. Always remember: how much money they earn is equivalent to how important they are to you. And lastly DON’T forget that those with less power can always be convinced in to keeping quiet, or ‘changing their minds’. In the business world this is called ‘influence’ and once you’ve mastered it you will feel more than OK. You will feel well and good, with the confidence to say: ‘How dare you call me at this hour, who do you think you are? Do you know who I am? I will make you pay for this, you filthy serf.’