The Zen of Property Management

Zen simply means meditation.

But, what does 'zen' have to do with property management? An expanded definition of zen may be helpful. Zen is the principle inspired striving for excellence in all that is done in the reality of the here and now. Zen is not merely having right concepts without practical application. Zen is not merely doing right things without intellectual understanding. The practice of zen is to be constantly discovering 'something better' AND putting it into action WITH your whole being. Zen is awareness that results in meaningful action.

The zen of property management results in the harmonious action of both the science and the art of the business, pursued with a wholehearted desire for excellence. In other words, what good is a complete understanding of all the laws and principles of property management, but your heart is not in it? What value is it to have exercised awe-inspiring creativity in marketing and staging a home if you don't know and appreciate the laws and practices involved in property management? Why extend every fiber of your being into your business practice without a desire to be an innovative expert in all that you do?

Zen is stopping in the moment to examine the fullness of the moment. It is permitting yourself to become aware of your strengths and your weaknesses, to observe where you have placed your greatest efforts and where you tend to neglect effort, to hear the voice of others that are there to help you succeed, and even to allow your imagination to exceed anything anyone has ever done in property management.

The Zen of Property Management includes:

  • Education - strive to be an expert in your profession. Keep up with the applicable changes in property management laws and practices from both the federal and local authorities. Be a lifelong learner. Read. Take continual education courses. Attend relevant seminars. Continually build up your knowledge and develop your skills.
  • Innovation - be curious about better ways to accomplish and even to perfect the many tasks of property management. Are you merely doing what everyone else is doing or doing it all only a tad better? Are you only living out someone else's ideas? Do you tend to rush to apply the latest in 'cutting edge' technology into your business simply for marketing purposes without ever thinking about how it will actually better serve your particular clients/community or actually improve the efficiency of your operations? Do you tend to steer away from new ideas because you dislike change? Allow yourself to think outside the usual box.
  • Stop, Look, and Listen - take the necessary time to notice what is really going on. Don't be in so much of a rush to get a rental sign up that you never get to know the property. Stop and carefully 'see' the property you are about to market. How can the house be seen as a home? Don't be in such a rush to get an agreement signed that you don't hear what your prospective tenant is trying to say. How can you help your property owners and your tenants know that you have their best interests at heart? Pay attention.
  • Wisdom - efficient, automated systems are abundantly useful, but never lose sight that it is a living person that is involved - whether owner, tenant, or prospective tenant. While a credit and criminal background check might raise a red flag or two, don't permit the mechanism to become the tail that wags the dog. A flagged account doesn't necessarily require a decision to automatically exclude the applicant. It is simply a caution to be mindful, to investigate further. Listen.
  • Oneness - you and your business are 'one'. In other words, you may operate an efficient, modern property management company, yet if you lack integrity, compassion, and a desire to serve the needs of each unique client, you may not find the kind of success you had hoped for. Worse, you may find yourself in court more often than you prefer.

Zen is the process of being what you are doing, whether others notice or not. Zen is being aware of everything you do amidst all that is happening. Zen is treating everyone and everything around you with genuine respect.

The zen of property management leads others to say, 'of course you must be my property manager', though they may not know exactly why they have come to that conclusion.

Many years ago, (1974), Robert Pirsig wrote the well known classic, 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance'. Here are a few quotes from his book which, if you take the time to meditate upon them, may inspire a whole new approach to the way you practice property management.

"You look at where you're going and where you are and it never makes sense, but then you look back at where you've been and a pattern seems to emerge."

"The truth knocks on the door and you say, 'Go away, I'm looking for the truth,' and so it goes away. Puzzling."

"The place to improve the world is first in one's own heart and head and hands, and then work outward from there."

"The real cycle you're working on is a cycle called yourself."