"If I have to check one more voicemail, I'll scream!"
I am not a phone person. I love talking to people, but my phone stresses me out. I don't pick up if I don't recognize the number. I hate the back and forth of leaving messages and waiting for people to call back. I much prefer the check-when-I-want-to-ness of email and the cut-to-the-chase-iness of texting.
So becoming a landlord was not easy. People call you all the time. And you need to pick up! You need to be available to your tenants. You need to know if there is an emergency or a lockout or a leaking tap. You need to be contactable when people want to contact you.
You need to be all-available all the time.
Or do you?...
Because the thing is, you don't need to be available all the time, someone does. And that someone doesn't have to be you.
Enter the Gatekeeper (or my heroes and sheroes, as I call them).
Gatekeepers can be many things, but for our purposes, they are the ones who do the screening and the filtering and the responding for you. They are the ones who get the calls, who take the messages, who arrange for the plumber to fix the tap. They are the ones who get things done so you don't have to.
Now the most typical way landlords and property investors get gatekeepers is by using lettings agents. But the problem with many lettings agents is that you pay a lot of money and you don't always get the service, responsiveness, or quality you want. Things may not get done to your standards. The tenants they find may not be working for you. They may take weeks to get basic repairs done and then charge you an arm and a leg to do so.
We self-manage all of our properties (and always have), and have found a way to use gatekeepers that is better, saves money, and guarantees the quality and service standards we want, because our reputation and service commitment is really important to us. Our tenants are our customers.
So, one of the gatekeepers we use is a call answering service. Anyone who calls our office number gets routed to them, and the service is 24/7. Our answering service takes down the important information and then emails it to us so we can address whatever the call was about. We don't leave emergencies hanging (there is a different process we use for tenants to report emergencies), but for the everyday, non-emergency, routine stuff, we don't need to be on-call all the time ourselves.
Our call answering service has a script we give them and that means they get all the relevant information AND the person who is calling is taken care of. Simples. It clears head space and eliminates the stress of "who could be calling me now" for us and means we are not slaves to our phones. And it means our tenants and clients can get important information to us whenever they need to.
It makes it much easier and less stressful to manage the day to day running of our property business, and allows us to effectively use another time-saving and stress-saving practice: batching (my tip for tomorrow).
As you'll be starting to see, all of these tips fit into a bigger picture. And that bigger picture is focused on making sure you can build and grow the property business of your dreams without sacrificing your time or compromising on your ideal lifestyle.
There's no point in building a property portfolio that will one day replace your income if you're going to be swapping your current stressful job with an equally stressful property business job.
So please, start using these tips! The sooner you do, the sooner you will see the benefits in time saved, sanity gained, and money not thrown away.
It is worth it. And you are worth it.