The Half Turn

Go back, right back to when you were in high school. Picture the time you were thinking about what your mark on the world was going to be. Picking subjects in year 10 that could shape the rest of your life. Were you going to be a doctor, an actor, a firefighter or a professional sport person? I bet you never said I’m going to be a Strata Manager.

What is a Strata Manager? Well, they are a part-time psychologist, mediator, insurance expert, project manager, counsellor, policeperson etc. the list goes on. Who wouldn’t want to be one? I’m sure we all agree that working in the industry is hard, at times stressful but also infinitely rewarding. So, are we attracting the right people? Are we assisting clients in the correct way? Is our customer service up to the level it should be?

When I was new to the industry, I attended a training course which outlined the basics of Strata. During this course, one of the facilitators revealed that when they were a Strata Manager, there were competitions in the office to see who could get though an AGM in the fastest time. They were acting like it was a badge of honour to be able to knock off a meeting in 15 minutes or less. This attitude shocked me! This is a customer service industry, isn’t it? AGM’s are the one time of the year where owners can spend time together as a group, build relationships and get to know new members; why would we not encourage this kind of behaviour between owners? If the meeting is enjoyable, surely the client is going to be much more likely to keep you on as their manager on a long-term basis.

So, where are we going wrong? Why do some people believe that if you know and understand the legislation in the Strata Schemes Management Act then you are a good Strata Manager? To me there are many more important things than being able to recite the Act word for word that makes a good Strata Manager. While it is important that we make a profit – in fact it’s imperative – profit cannot be our primary motivation if we want to survive in the service industry. Yes, clients need to be number one. I have seen multiple times over the years Strata Managers who believe it’s alright to tell owners, committee members and even chairpersons that the client has no idea what they are talking about and that they must do what the manager is instructing. Let’s stop talking down to clients and start actually listening and reacting to them.

The ‘Half Turn’ is how we can get out of a reactive mindset and move to proactive

Let me introduce to you the ‘Half Turn’; a figure of speech that’s useful when trying to get ahead of the challenges of managing a large, demanding portfolio.

One of the major challenges of the job and service is the high volume of requests and jobs that need to be attended to on a daily basis. The many emails, the back and forth process of setting up meetings, chairing meetings, putting into motion all the actions that come out of meetings, day to day repair requests, projects, owner issues and a myriad of other ‘to do’s’. There is no wonder we can fall behind and not service the clients as we would like, but maybe we can, with a half turn.

The ‘Half Turn’ is how we can get out of a reactive mindset and move to proactive, how we anticipate issues and questions before they happen, how we go from slow service to excellent service. I want to challenge everyone to get on the front foot, to inform proactively before being asked.

Let me give you an example. You are working through a project with a committee. A milestone has been reached that can be communicated to the committee, but you are too busy, have too much to do, so instead of reaching out, you do nothing. The chairperson calls up a few days later to check on progress with the issue at hand. You give them the good news, and though the client is happy with the outcome, they are partly annoyed that they had to follow you up to hear about the outcome. What should be a positive piece of news is a neutral piece of news. “Why do I always need to chase them up?” the chairperson is thinking.

What if as soon as you got the news of the project milestone you immediately contacted the chair and committee to keep them updated? It would have been less work, and the difference to the chair and committee enormous. If this had been your course of action, the positive news of the milestone would have been reinforced with the positive emotion of being kept up to date. What a difference! The neutral reaction is now a double positive, with less work required. This is the half turn, it’s quite often less work, but its informing before being asked. It’s acting before the email comes through.

Not more work, just proactive work which will equal a happy client.

The ‘Half Turn’ is also helpful when delivering bad news. Early in my career, a colleague said something to me that I have never forgotten: “Good news is bad news delivered ahead of time.”

I didn’t understand what he meant at first, but when he explained, the concept went on to shape the way I approached the job. If you get some bad news regarding a property – and there are plenty of examples to choose from; burst pipes, concrete cancer, Council fire orders and many more – don’t bury your head in the sand until the client rings in a panic when the news finally gets out. If you organize a solution – arranging plumbers, for example – you can call the clients with the bad news, but at the same time, present them with a solution. Instead of being the bearer of bad news, you look like a lifesaver.

View Comments


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *