As a landlord or property manager, do you ever feel like you just can’t take a break from your property management job? Keeping your eyes on the ball so nothing falls through the cracks at your rental properties can be a never-ending concern. Maintenance requests, property viewings, leases to review and sign, tenant move ins, rent collection. Yikes! Research shows that many small business owners either don’t take vacation, or when they do, it’s a “working vacation”.
On this episode of Property Management Brainstorm, Bob's guests are Kathleen Richards of PM Made Easy and The Property Management Coach in Santa Cruz, CA; Liz Cleyman of Grace Property Management in Thorton, Colorado; and Kellie Tollifson of T-Square Properties in Bothell, WA. Bob and the panel discuss the top five reasons why, even property managers, should take a vacation from their business. They will also share their own personal tips and secrets on planning that occasional escape and how it benefits their companies when they do find time away.
[2:40] Kathleen, Liz, and Kellie introduce themselves, tell us about their companies, and how they spent their most recent vacation.
[10:15] Kathleen explains the inspiration behind writing her recent article in Residential Resource magazine about the importance of taking a vacation.
[12:50] #1 Brainstorming New Ideas: this may at first seem counter intuitive when trying to get away from it all.
[16:12] #2 You've Earned It: it is not selfish to take a vacation, it’s a necessity!
[23:00] #3 Work/Life Balance: getting back in touch with the "why".
[30:55] #4 Improve Productivity: achieve a happy, more satisfying life.
[34:40] #5 Show Your Team You Trust Them: let your team demonstrate they’ve got things under control.
[40:00] Summary with Kathleen, Liz, and Kellie sharing their closing thoughts and how you can reach them to learn more.
Connect with Kathleen Richards
Connect with Liz Cleyman
Connect with Kellie Tollifson
Connect with Bob Preston
This episode is always available for listening, sharing, or download at Property Management Brainstorm. Subscribe to Property Management Brainstorm on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, TunedIn, iHeart Radio and YouTube.
Transcript of This Episode
Bob Preston: 1:03
Hello, brainstormers and welcome to the show. Do you ever feel like you just can't get a break from your business, keeping your eyes on the ball so nothing falls through the cracks can be a never-ending concern: maintenance requests, property viewings leases to review and sign tenant, move ins rent collection who sound familiar? Research shows that many small business owners either don't take a vacation or when they do it's a working vacation. Just ask my wife about the ladder. I know this summer I had hit a wall and jokingly proclaimed just say, no. July is a month to focus more on my family. On the show today, I have a panel of guests who are at the top of their game as property managers and members of the National Association of Residential Property Managers. NARPM, if you will, Kathleen Richards of PM Made Easy, and the Property Management Coach, Santa Cruz, California, Liz Cleyman of Grace Property Management in Thorton, Colorado, and Kelly Tollifson of T-Square Properties in Bothel, Washington. We're going to be talking about why even property managers should take a vacation from their business. They will also share their personal tips and secrets on planning the occasional escape and how it benefits their companies when they do find time to get away. And by the way, this panel is made up some of the top NARPM leaders at the national level. So, I'm sure we'll hear a little bit about that as well. Hi everyone. So great that you're all with me today to discuss this cool topic. To kick things off, I thought it would be great if each of you could just introduce yourself, your business, how you're involved in NARPM, and if you're willing to share maybe how you spent your most recent vacation. I would be fun to hear what it meant to you to have some time off, away from your job. So, Kathleen, how about we start with you on that one?
Kathleen Richards: 3:04
This is such a great topic and happy to be here with you. Um, so I've been a member of NARPM since 2005. I have served on a variety of boards, state, and otherwise have all my designations broker owner of a company in Santa Cruz. My biggest thrill was it had the CRMC that meant more to me than my individual designation, because it meant that the company was run well. Right. And that sold that company in 2017. I am a certified business coach, and I founded the property management coach. And I've been doing that for the last six years, coaching over 300 businesses and property managers on specifically property management. And then also PM Made Easy, formerly landlord source. So, for those of you that have been around for a long time, you know, landlord source and I rebranded it. So, my summer vacation, I kind of feel like when you're back in school, you know, what did you do for your summer vacation? This year I took a month, my husband willing to serve us up at the Columbia River Gorge between Washington and Oregon every summer. And back in the day, I couldn't be away from the office. I would like to fly up for a three-day weekend. And, um, this year I went for a full month and did no work because pastures, I would still coach I'd be writing new content or whatever. And this year I decided, no, I'm not going to do any of that. So yeah, the pre-planning part of making sure things were done ahead of time or clients report. But when I got back, um, I'm not going to lie. It was hard as an entrepreneur. Um, it felt really, really, uncomfortable to not kind of be working in doing something when you're used to always doing that.
I did check my email. I'm usually in the morning and sometimes I would do some quick responses, people that were inquiring about coaching, I let them know I'm on holiday. Can I get back to you on this date when I'm back? And people were good with that? Um, that literally was the extent of my work. Um, but it's still, like I said, kind of felt uncomfortable cause I'm used to like putting work in for years. Conferences were my vacation. Okay. Let's get real. That's not a vacation people, but that's what, when you're a business or property manager, that's you take what you can get. Right. So, I did have a month off and it was lovely. And um, after a couple days it was so awesome to not always be thinking about, I need to check this or is the shoe going to drop over here? Oh my God, I forgot that my mind got to relax. And that was like a new thing. I'm 50, almost 57 years old. I think the last time I really had a break was probably in between college. You know, those rates that you have from summer before you start the next semester. So, it was good, but I won't lie. It wasn't easy to be committed to the no work thing.
Bob Preston: 6:20
We can't wait to hear more about that and how you pulled that off. You know, I want to hear about that here in a minute, but let's pop over to Liz. Why don't you tell us about yourself and what you do in property management and about how you spent your most recent vacation.
Liz Cleyman: 6:30
I am with Grace Property Management in Denver, Colorado, and I also the 2021 Narcan president elect this summer. We had the pleasure; my husband and I travel a good bit. We try to travel three weeks out of the year, every year religiously. So, this summer we went to Cancun, Mexico for a week to celebrate our 22nd wedding anniversary. It was fantastic. It was relaxing. And I cannot say I did not work. I did work while I was there. I even had a closing on a triplex. So that's kind of the give and take of traveling a good bit. Being able to keep up with my duties while I am away. And of course, keeping everything going in a forward motion. Absolutely. It's great. Being here with you.
Kellie Tollifson: 8:00
I'm Kelly, Tolleson MPM, RMP and with T-score properties up in the Seattle area. And um, my current role with NARPM is immediate past president. I was the 2020 NARPM national president, and I like to call myself the pandemic president. So, uh, as far as vacations, you know, we've had Tom and I, my husband and I own the company together and we have not taken a true vacation probably since we've owned the company as far as completely disengaging. And we struggle together. I really work hard to disengage every weekend. Um, and that gives me, uh, the energy to come back and give it all on the weekdays. So, the weekends really worked for me. Um, but what I will say is that he likes that blended lifestyle, that work-life integration. And um, so when we go any place, we have a place up in Montana that we like to spend a week there. It's got great internet, but it's right on the river. And for me, it's like what Kathleen was describing is doing some emails in the morning, maybe checking in with the team later in the day. There's not anything that can't happen. Everything can operate while I'm gone, but it gives me a better opportunity to relax. When I know everything's kind of smoothly running, which I know it is. They know how to reach me if it's not, but that's never happened. So, I am kind of in a, like, I've never not been in a phase where in the last, since 2000, so 20 years where can really step away a hundred percent. And I have to say, I'm not too upset about it because I think I have a pretty good balance of when I need to get away. I do. And to what Kathleen's point is, some of my best friends are an NARPM people. So going to a convention I'll extend out or stay get there early and have a couple of days with people that I love to spend time with. And, um, so it, it is kind of, for me, it's been a vacation in a way that I'm out of the norm and refreshing myself a little bit. So just a different perspective. Look forward to the day when I can take a month and not worry about anything. We must get rid of our dogs first though.
Bob Preston: 9:39
Yes, our dogs get in the way too. I took, I took two weeks off and I thought that was a big deal. You know, taking two weeks off. I can't remember the last time I did that, uh, before this year. So, thank you all for your comments and introducing yourselves. And it was fun hearing about your individual philosophies. You know, I'm taking vacation and how you go about it. Kathleen, you wrote an amazing article for the July 2021 NARPM magazine. That's called residential resources. That article was called five reasons to take a vacation from your property management job. It was from your business, but we're going to address it a little more broadly today about your property management job. So, let's start with you on some broader discussion here. What was it that inspired you to write that article? And could you share it?
Kathleen Richards: 10:19
What inspired me was knowing that we were coming into summer, right? So, I was trying to think of what a good topic for summer would be. And what's a common struggle that I've had my whole career and whether you're a property manager or a team leader or the broker owner of a company, whatever role you play, it is tough to disengage. And the one thing I find in my coaching practice that people come to me by the time they come to me, they're flaming out. They're like hitting the wall. They're burnt out. And it's like, okay, as a reminder of the importance of taking time away from work, because if you get to that point where you're burnt out, you're no good to anybody. We shouldn't be a slave to our business or to the job itself. That's no way to live life. So that was the main reason for writing the article. You know,
Kellie Tollifson: 11:18
Kathleen, you bring up a great point. Um, when you were talking about burnout, I was thinking about boundaries. And what you were describing is setting boundaries for yourself. For, for me, it was my spouse to say, Tom it's Saturday. I don't really want to talk about that one client. Can we table this till Monday? And it was a lot of repetitive, sometimes conversations like that. And sometimes if he just wanted a simple answer, then I would say, okay, I can do that, but I don't want this drawn out conversation on a Saturday morning while I'm having my free time or whatever, but setting those boundaries with staff, with those around you, with your clients saying I'm out, you know, there's nothing better than the out of office message when you can give that, give them another email. And you're at peace knowing that the person that you're referring them to is going to handle it. But those boundaries, I think are super key to making sure that whatever works for you can happen.
Bob Preston: 12:16
I've noticed that even you mentioned that the out of office on your email or on your voicemail, my amount of email and voicemail will go down by like 90% and how respectful people are of that. If they know you're away provided, you've told them where to go to get their answer. We're on video here for our listeners today. And I see everybody nodding, right? I love the article, Kathleen. I thought it'd be fun to discuss maybe each of these five reasons for heading out on vacation and taking time away. So, we'll take one at a time. If that's cool if the group group's nodding again and get comments from the panel. So, let's start with the number one reason and that's brainstorming new ideas. And when I first read the article, I thought, hmm, this is a little counterintuitive, right? If you're trying to get away from it all, you want to leave it behind like Kelly, hey, I don't want to be talking about property management on Saturday, right? But I think the point is when you relax in the open your mind to it, new ideas pop in and naturally come and Liz, have you found this to be true when you take time off and you get away from your
Liz Cleyman: 13:13
Absolutely a hundred percent, I think it takes a day or two to kind of decompress to get to that level. But once you relaxed, you really find yourself thinking about all the ways, all the problems in your life. Once you arrive back home and taking the time to write it down can kind of get it out of your mind. And then you can move on to the next idea. But absolutely, I find that when your relapses, when you can really take the time to have clarity about a lot of situations, absolutely agree with Liz a hundred percent. I was just thinking one of the best times is when you're on a flight, if you get to fly on your vacation, I remember going to the national convention, again, not a vacation for everybody, but for me, we went out a few days early and went to Kauai. So, we did get some time off there, but you don't get any internet over the Pacific Ocean. So, you can't work. I remember back, you know, I'm a little bit older than you Kathleen. So back in the day, when I used to travel for my job, you didn't get internet on the plane. So, you had to, you know, you've read an actual book, or you did something that wasn't electronic. We didn't have electronic devices. So, when you don't have internet, especially like I said, on the flight to Hawaii or over an ocean, usually you don't get internet. It really forces you to maybe think about those ideas that are running around in your head and, and just, you know, it's kind of like we get our best ideas when we're driving or in the shower. Right. When you're just not thinking about anything, you're just kind of on autopilot, maybe a little bit. And for me, yes, agree. It's a great time to think outside the box.
Bob Preston: 14:50
We go to the mountains a lot in California, the high Sierra, and we do a lot of hiking. Hopefully I don't have a bad song in my mind, that's playing over and over. That can ruin all creative thinking. But you know, sometimes I'll be treading along, you know, uh, high Sierra trail and it's just like the sceneries incredible. And it's amazing what will pop into your mind? You know, sometimes I’ve got to write that down. So, then you must remember them, all right, when you get off the trail or whatever, Kathleen, how about you, uh, brainstorming new ideas when you're waking.
Kathleen Richards: 15:17
It's just the different perspective. You know, like Kelly was saying, when you're out of your routine and when you mentioned the plane, I can't tell you any time I get on a plane, whether it was going to a NARPM event or whatever. Seriously, I learned after a while, just have a pad of paper on my lap. Cause everything's packed away. Right. Literally when the wheels would come up, my brain would just, and I'd have to write down as fast as I could. I would do this big brain dump of ideas that would start popping into my head. It was kind of hilarious that it would like to happen like that all the time. Um, and yeah, like Liz said, write it down. And so, you're not worried and obsessing over. I got to remember that. I got it. I, that was such a great idea. I've got to remember that. Right. So yeah, write it down. So, I think getting out of your routine and part of taking a break is getting out of your routine. And so, it does, it gives you a different perspective or different triggers that remind you of a solution. Super
Bob Preston: 16:12
Let’s go to number two on your list, and this is the one that I always find the hardest, right? And you’ve earned it. Look, you've worked hard for your clients or for your business or for your team. You have personally, and you've contributed a lot. So, you've earned it, treating yourself to time away for me at times, I always kind of feel guilty about it, right. Which is totally the wrong way to view it. So, let's tackle this one, you've earned it. Right?
Kellie Tollifson: 16:36
You know, one of the things I've how I built my company is I don't really ask anybody to do anything that I haven't already done myself. So, in building a company, I make sure that I understand what their position is about because I've done it and starting the company and so on. And it's like, what Kathleen said earlier is that everyone else is getting vacation. So why am I exempt from that? And I need to do that self-care that we are as entrepreneurs and leaders, that we are maybe the last ones to take that self-care. But even on the airplanes, they say, put your mask on, you know, your oxygen mask on before you help those next to you. So, I'm, I've shifted and looked at it as self-care. And again, what I think one of us said about making yourself available, if necessary, but, or just saying, hey, I'm, I'm here from, you know, for an hour in the morning and then I'm going to be gone all day. If you need anything, I'll be touching base later, but you're all good. You're all capable. Um, so to me that it's almost twofold, self-care and expressing capability in your team. I
Bob Preston: 17:40
Think a lot of property managers to have come into the business as kind of a lifestyle job, right? They, they view it as something that could be flexible for their schedule. So, I think us taking time off whatever role we play in an organization supports that company culture that, hey, we value people's time off. Liz, do you find that that at your company?
Liz Cleyman: 17:57
Totally agree. Absolutely. The hardest part because of our flexibility is doing that complete cut, like killing and say, even when I'm in Mexico, my phone still works like it does in the states. I mean, that's how far technology has come. So, I remember a trip last year, the fire department ended up at one of my properties and we had an emergency service and I dealt with it all. It took like 15, 20 minutes. It wasn't a big deal, and I wasn't upset by it at all. So, I think that that is kind of a fine line of being able to completely cut ourselves off, um, in our industry because it's so easy not to, and we're all kind of control freaks, right?
Bob Preston: 18:35
That's true about property managers. We're all a little bit of a control freak. Type A's, whatever you want to call that. So, Kathleen and your article, you wrote about, hey, not being resentful, that you're not getting the same time off, maybe that you're allowing for other team members. Right. Is that aspect just like
Kathleen Richards: 18:53
Kelly said, you know, I, I did everything, and I would never ask my staff to do anything that I hadn't done. Right. Um, over time, what would happen is we would schedule out the vacations and we had a calendar for that. And then people would come and say, hey, you know, can I change it, or I want to go do this. And I didn't want to say no. Right. So, I say sure. But then it cut into my time. So, I was the one that was always compromising. And so, it took me 10 years to figure out once I did, this is brilliant, but I'm like, why did it take me so long to figure this out? I, um, my husband is retired fireman and in the fire department, literally for like the first 10 years of our relationship, we never had a real vacation together because they had to book their vacation literally a year in advance. And in the office that I worked in, I worked at Microsoft at the time, as lucky if I'd say, I want to take next week off. And they're like, no, you can't. You know? So it was, it just never lined up. Right. So, what I realized as well, again, I'm the boss, I get to make the rules. So, I told everybody at year end, think about your holidays for the coming year and what you want to take off and so forth. The beginning of the new year, we're going to all bring our calendars and we're going to negotiate for our time off. So, the brilliant thing there was, my staff loved me and wanted me to have the time off. Right. They didn't realize they were impinging on my time off. And so, they would negotiate amongst themselves. Oh, I was thinking of taking that week off and oh, they wouldn't negotiate, but I picked mine first. I say, well, this is, they'd say, Kathleen, what do you want? I pick the time I wanted first. And then they worked around me, and I finally got time without feeling guilty about it, which is kind of crazy, but it worked for me, and it worked for them and then it allowed them to negotiate amongst themselves. So, I didn't have to be the bad boss to say, no, you can't take the time. Right. So, um, that worked beautifully for me. And so again, it's those setting, those boundaries and things and finding a system that works for you.
Bob Preston: 21:03
I go through that process, that negotiation process, every year, when we're talking about the holiday season, we sit down at a conference table or via zoom or whatever and okay. You know, we've got the holidays coming up between Hanukkah and Christmas and new year's and what's everybody planning. Let's talk about it now. And I usually, and Thanksgiving gets thrown in there too. Right. Who's going to cover, who's going to be on call. And I pretty much always take that week off, but I allow people to kind of work on a skeleton crew because typically the inquiries and the maintenance requests go way, way down, but somebody's still got to be there to answer the phone, you know? So, I think that's a really, great strategy and a good time.
Kathleen Richards: 21:41
Stay with that just quick before we move on is, um, back in the day, the only way I could really get a time off was because if I took time off, I was still getting calls and requests. Right. And, um, so then I decided just to need to close the office. So, nobody's there, right? And then I'm only dealing with an emergency. So, then I'll truly get like a day off. So, I got to the point where I didn't experiment with my office, and we just closed the whole week of Thanksgiving. We let all our owners know ahead of time. We took care of stuff ahead of time. Oh my God, my employees loved it. We really got a break. And then the next year I tried, um, Christmas Eve through new year’s, you know, you look at the dates. So, my office for the last, like six years before I sold the business, and the new owner continues. This is closed for the week of Christmas and Thanksgiving and clothes for the week of new year’s, um, Christmas Eve through new year’s. And you know what? I was really scared that my owners would push back on that. In fact, they didn’t, um, my owner is email me going, Kathleen, it's about time. You took some time off. We're so happy for you. We know you got things covered if something really happens. Right. So that was affirmation that I was overly worried and concerned about the optics and all of that. But because the trust had been built up over the years and they knew the staff was good, but it worked. So, I'm just putting that out there to people. Great,
Bob Preston: 23:00
Number three, as we head down this list here work-life balance. And sometimes I always wonder, is there such a thing and you could probably ask my family about that too. And I saw Kelly shake her head. No, not really. And I know it's a struggle for people in our business because we've already talked, hey, we're kind of control freaks type a personality. And this was in your article too. Kathleen is why did you start in this profession? I don't think. And I remember Kelly, you and I talked about this once before in a podcast, none of us grew up, went through college thinking, oh, I want to be a property manager. When I grew up, all of us have kind of backed into this profession for some reason why. And like we mentioned earlier, flexibility, I can keep my own schedule. I maybe I don't have to be in the office all the time. And those are the things I think we must remind ourselves, Liz, any comments?
Liz Cleyman: 23:45
I mean, when I started the property management accidentally, of course I was all in every client, had my cell phone number. I work twenty-four, seven-night weekends, all of it. And fast forward three to five years, I was so burned out so quickly that I learned to set some boundaries. So now luckily nobody has my cell phone number. We can text through our software and things like that, which is super great. Um, and even if I choose to work at night or early in the morning, I don't even send that, leave it as a draft until business hours. So, I'm no longer working nights. I'm no longer working weekends, of course, unless there's the fire department that mature to your property that you're dealing with. But I think just experience we do to setting those boundaries, which helps with the work-life balance. For sure. Yeah.
Bob Preston: 24:32
Kelly, how about you? How do you stay present for your family and friends and that's I guess part of the question?
Kellie Tollifson: 24:37
Well, again, I think what, like what Liz said, Kathleen affirmed as those boundaries. And I, I don't look at it as a work-life balance because that feels like you’re, for me personally, it feels like that terminology is, is you're straddling a fence and neither side wins. And so, I look at it at, like I said, oh, an integration of how is you going to work? How are, how are you going to have your work integrate into your personal life and vice versa? You know, there's, you know, there's times when you're at work and you need to take a call from your doctor, or your kid school is calling. So, there's, it goes both ways in that integration for me, like I said, on Friday evenings, um, throughout the pandemic, I've been getting together with three of my very closest friends in the area and we call it our little COVID tribe. And, you know, when we're masks were mandatory and we couldn't meet inside, we get heaters and meet in the open garages of somebody. And we just stayed present with each other, you know, after work and just the, the 48 hours between a Friday and a Monday for me are just, I make the time count. Um, I got a bike for my birthday last year, so I've been out riding my bike whenever I can, um, you know, set up a gym in my garage, which is important to me to have my fitness routine. That was really part of my sanity. Um, and one of the other things too, is knowing when to retreat, we are so there for everyone else that if we're not in tune with, with our level of like what Liz was describing our level, as we escalate towards burnout, if we don't retreat, when we need to, then it's not good for anybody. So, for me, my weekends are sometimes it's a retreat on the couch, binge watching Netflix. And sometimes it's, you know, spending time with my friends or going for a hike or, you know, whatever it is it's knowing that retreat time or what I need to keep myself balanced. So that for me, that's what works. Yeah.
Bob Preston: 26:39
That's all-great input. Kathleen. Any, any comments on this one?
Kathleen Richards: 26:43
People use the term work-life balance. I see it more as like a seesaw there's seasons in your life where you're really working hard. Like Liz said in the beginning, like 24 hours a day, everybody had access to her and then you wise up and realize this isn't sustainable. And so, then you start putting up the guard rails. Right. And so, a lot of times too, when you're single and you're starting the business or whatever, you're, you're in it a hundred percent, then you start having kids. And so, it's like more like the Seesaw kind of in a way. Um, the one thing that always really helped me reminding myself of about why, why I got into the business, but also kind of looking back, um, there's a great book I'm going to put out it's it sounds horrible, but it's really, good. Um, five regrets of the dying. Okay. I must bring anybody down, but this was a hospice nurse in Australia that cared for people. And I read this book and it was amazing because it was all these things that people had regret on at the end of their life. And now it was too late to go back and do anything about it. And so, for me, always in my husband, being a fireman, typically when firemen retire, if they make it past the first 10 years, they tend to live to be old, but a lot don't I went to two to three funerals every single year for the first six years. And for me it was like, oh my God. But it always forced me to come back and say, at the end of the day, what's important. You know, am I going to say, hey, I wish I installed that water heater at X, Y, Z property. No, it's going to be like Kelly. She made it a priority to stay connected to her friends. Right. It's the relationships I wish I hadn't missed that wedding or the birthday. I wish I went on that trip of a lifetime or whatever. So, it's, it's, that's part of your, why, you know, why are you doing this? Not just to get your kids through college or to pay for the house or, you know, yes. We identify our business makes us feel good and it is a representation of our identity, but we're more than that business, right? We are many things where husbands, wives, sisters, parents, whatever , uh, friends. And so, it's, it's, that's what I mean by kind of balance, making sure that that wheel kind of stays round. It doesn't go flat because all your time and intention are on what you do for work. And you completely neglect the other aspects of your life that are more important than that really. You know when you look at the big scheme. So that, that's how I always kind of remind myself for sure.
Bob Preston: 29:12
I look around my office and I'm surrounded by pictures basically of me and my family on vacation. Right? It's not pictures of me at work. And so, it's important to have those memories and, you know, grained in your mind as a family, all those, all our scrapbooks at home, same thing. They're all the kids growing up, uh, being out skiing, snowboarding, hiking, whatever we do together as a family.
Kellie Tollifson: 29:33
It’s like Kathleen said, remind me of what I tell my team when they, um, when they kind of get all wrapped up in work, you know, they get in a whirling dervish and kind of get to that either burnout stage or they just feel so overwhelmed. And I just look at him and I say, it's just work. It's just your tomorrow. I don't ever say everything will be okay. I, what I say is everything will work out. Everything will work out. Let's just work through step-by-step, but it's just a job it's just work. And, you know, business owners or people that manage a portfolio to them, they see this big overwhelming, you know, responsibility maybe on their shoulders. But I tell you what, no one is thinking about your business. As much as you are your clients. Aren't thinking about it, your tenants, aren't thinking about it, your vendors, aren't thinking about it, but you are, and it's just work. And that's what I tell my team when they start to get, you know, when that balance comes off or that Seesaw feels too uncomfortable or whatever.
Bob Preston: 30:38
When I take a vacation away, sometimes coming back to work can be painful. I call it the black hole, right? There's this vortex of all this work that I must catch up on, but I will say this, that I've always put myself in a mindset where I'm much more productive and that's number four on Kathleen's list is improving your productivity. So, when you step away, you come back, you're more productive. Is that kind of what you mean by that in your article?
Kathleen Richards: 31:05
Yes, it is, a big part of productivity is making sure that your team is trained. So, you know, a big thing in my company didn't matter what your job description was. Everybody knew how to do everybody else's position so that not just for vacation, but God forbid, if something happened to somebody like the business must keep on functioning. Right. And I always used to joke with, if something happens to me and them, they used to get upset that I'd say that all the time I go, okay, what if I won the lottery and decided to not come back tomorrow needs to run without me. Right. And so, um, really showing them that when somebody goes on vacation, who's doing what so that when that person comes back, I remember I had an office manager, my client care manager, she took a trip, she came back and she was like, oh my God, counseling. I've never worked any place where I came back, and I didn't have tons of emails and my box wasn't focused. Everybody stepped up and did it. And, and, and that was like, amazing. Cause now you're like the trade off as well. I can't really take a vacation because now I'm going to spend three, three weeks just catching up from it. Right. That's not right. That's not how it should be. So, in an ideal world, I know things reality is different sometimes, but as much as the team can support each other. And when they saw like how great it worked for her, guess what everybody stepped up because they knew when they were going to take their time that they negotiated for somebody who's going to be covering their back. Right. So, they truly got a break. And so, um, it took time to get there. That was not like overnight believe, but eventually getting people kind of trained so that they really felt like they could step away and relax and not be fearful about that black void waiting for them when they get back.
Bob Preston: 32:50
Liz, do you find that at, in, in your role with your team that you want to show each other, you've got each other's back, you know, hey, go take a break. We've got your back go, go, go. That's kind of a cultural thing. Right?
Liz Cleyman: 33:02
Absolutely. So, we have cover buddies. So, we're, we're teamed up and we have cover buddies and that we're each other's lifeline. So, if we need a break, we just reach out to our cover buddy. And they're more than willing and able to step in and take, take over for us if needed. And as far as productivity, when you're away, you're coming back relapsed. And we talked about the brainstorming that happens when you have that relaxation, that time away, you can kind of see the bigger picture. So then when you're coming back into, into your seat, whatever you keep, maybe that's when the fun activity takes place.
Bob Preston: 33:44
Yeah, I like that. That's snappy too. I mean, it's kind of a cool,
Kellie Tollifson: 33:47
But what I, and I think this kind of dovetails into the next, um, the final point of the article, but it gives the opportunity for you to see where the weaknesses might be in your company and the, the, uh, cracks in the armor, if you will. And so, while you're out and when you come back and I don't mean this in a negative way, I mean, in an all in a positive way is that you can say, okay, I need to work harder or work on this area to make sure this is covered next time. It's kind of like when we're in our busy time, we see where the stresses are and where we need to improve our processes. And so, we can fix it that way. But when you step away, you can, that productivity might come even after you get back to see, okay, where were the, the, um, areas that we need to improve on the opportunities for improvement. And I mean that in a positive way, not, not a negative way at all.
Bob Preston: 34:41
I like that. It is kind of a segue into number five here, and that's just showing those around you, that you trust them. One property manager on our team came back from vacation and she got back, and she was kind of bummed out the first day and I'm like, oh man, is it really that bad being back at work? And she said, no, everybody did my job while I was away. You know, she was sad about it. Like she expected to come back and realizing that nobody could do her job better. Right. And so, you know what I'm saying? So, I thought that was kind of, I said, no, it just shows that your team had your back and that you trust them, and they got it done for you. So, panel, what do you have to say about that?
Kellie Tollifson: 35:14
I tend to fill in, even when I shouldn't, you know, to step in and here let me do it. Or, and I think that can, I'm conscientious of it. So, I really try not to. Um, but it gives my team. It may be saying, sending the message that I don't think you're capable. And when we step away, I think it's the message that we are leaving. One of our most valued, um, entities with people that we trust. And it gives them the opportunity to elevate themselves, to feel good about who they are when, you know, maybe they're called upon to do things they wouldn't normally be called upon to do while you're there. And I think it's a great opportunity, not just for trust, but for them to feel a sense of accomplishment, achievement, and betterment, when, when we can step away and be out of contact and know that it's going to get handled because they're all very capable people. Yeah. You know,
Bob Preston: 36:12
Sometimes you mentioned covering or stepping in, maybe when you shouldn't, our marketing manager is out on maternity leave and I brought in a contractor to help cover for her, but she wasn't available for a couple of weeks. Right. So, I stepped in, and you know, I like to do that every now and then actually, because it opened my mind to, okay, wait, I had forgotten how to pull all these levers and push all these buttons when it comes to a process for a social media post, whatever it might be. Right. Liz, do you ever find that to be the case, you know, trusting your team or maybe they trust you? Do you ever step in, how do you, how do you manage that? That
Liz Cleyman: 36:46
I've really come a long way with delegating. I was the type of person that it was just faster for me to do it, then to explain it to somebody else. And we've all had those thoughts and feelings. So, I've come a long way with that, to the point where I do trust. Um, it's just a job. Like Kelly said, it's just work. Nothing is going to completely bottle the sky that we can't pick the pieces back up and put it back together. So yes, I do trust the people around me and my team.
Bob Preston: 37:14
Even if it means watching someone fail temporarily or struggle, right. It can be painful at times. Like you just want to jump in and do it, you know, because I know how to do it, but you must build that trust and to build their capability and to build their self-confidence. You must let them tackle it. Kathleen, you are building trust a
Kathleen Richards: 37:31
A couple of quick things that triggered for me was, um, Kelly talking about, um, the employees of kind of like testing them almost a way. You know, you train them, seeing what things work and then where it didn't work, you plug it in, um, knock on wood. I'm a super healthy person. I never get sick. So, when I I'd be training employees on something and I knew that we had a rough Monday coming up, I would occasionally call in sick because I was testing them. I wanted to see how they did. Could they, do it? How did they deal with that difficult situation? Right. And then I'd come in on Tuesday. And they never knew that I was doing this by the way. Um, but I would say, well, how did yesterday go? And I could kind of see from emails, they'd copy me on. And well, what worked, what didn't work. And so, it was like a little coaching session. Well, what could we do next time? You know if I'm out of the office, you know, unforeseen or something. Right. And then as far as jumping in, yes, I'm guilty of that as well. But like you were saying, Bob, every now and then it was good because I'd have employee’s turnover and I get younger ones coming in. They weren't with me when I started the business. Right. And they'd be saying, oh my God, I'm so busy. And I can't get all this stuff done. And I'm thinking, oh my God, I did all of this before you people were even here. Right. So occasionally I would jump in, and I would help. And then they'd sit there with their jaw open going, oh my God, I can't believe how quickly you got that done and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And to be honest, because I am a very hands-on person, I kind of liked it every now. I mean, no, I don't want to do that every single day. I don't want to deal with a tenant stuff every single day, but every now and then it was fun to jump in and it'd be a little boost to my adrenaline. Oh my God. That was kind of fun to get in and do the nitty gritty and crank out a bunch of leases or whatever. Right. So, it's a training process. We can't expect our team to know how to do everything overnight. It's step by step, like Luce was saying earlier. And I, I love the idea of having the, you know, your buddy partner there. I think that's a great idea. I was
Bob Preston: 39:40
I was thinking to myself when Liz was talking about cover buddies, that sometimes I’m the cover buddy, the, and I can just see the rest of the team sort of ducking for cover. Oh, that's
Kellie Tollifson: 39:47
That is how it is in my office. Don't let Kelly get involved. She'll just mess it all up. Right?
Bob Preston: 39:52
Yeah. Can't wait for so-and-so to get back from vacation. So, we don't have to deal with Bob every day. You know what I mean? That's funny. Well, wow. This has been a super fun conversation and a valuable conversation at that. And thanks so much to all of you for coming on the show today. I'd love to continue, but we've got to wrap up the episode today. I think in summary, if I could sort of serve as the group panel spokesman here, we all unanimously say as a group of property managers and members of NARPM too, that we all agree and benefits of stepping away from the business on occasion, taking that clarity break. It's really, important. So, to the panel, I'd like to just go around here, ask any last words or thoughts for our audience. And if you're willing to share maybe how our listeners could contact you, if you want to share. Liz let's start with you. Any last thoughts on that?
Liz Cleyman: 40:36
Don't fear taking vacation guys, that you have things in place. If there's an emergency, it's going to be handled. And Bob, like you mentioned, when you have your out of office on people are respectful of that. And 90% of the time you're not getting that email or the phone call and neither is your cover, buddy. The people are just going to work the problems out on their own, or if it needs to be handled, they'll contact you next week. So don't be scared to take the vacation. You'll be able to find me if you need to contact me. I’m very available through the NARPM website firstname.lastname@example.org, happy to have conversations with anyone.
Bob Preston: 41:10
Kelly, any last words, and advice?
Kellie Tollifson: 41:14
I would want to say as a parting comment is self-care is not selfish care. Self-care is giving you the, uh, fuel to take care of others. And so, self-care is not something that you should feel ashamed about, or you should not do. And I would encourage anyone to take the self-care, whether it's a month, you know, a vacation or if it's just making sure your boundaries are set for the weekend or whatever. Um, and yeah, you can reach me through the Narcan website or at email@example.com.
Bob Preston: 41:48
I'd like to chime in on this one too. I think we touched on this, but one of the things I've noticed, especially with inexperienced people, sometimes who are going to be taking time off, they tend to want to just sort of pull the rip cord, you know, bail out right for a week. And no, you can't do that. You know, so there's a little bit of responsibility on us as owners or maybe supervisors or teaching our teams, how to go on vacation, right? Preparing, get that cover, buddy in place, come up with a list of action items before you leave on vacation. I found that is an important aspect for me. If I prepare well in advance, then people know what is expected of them when I'm out. And I have kind of all my assignments covered. Most people on the, on the show know how to get ahold of me. firstname.lastname@example.org can also contact me now through the NARPM website. I'm going to be, yeah, I'm going to be the Southwest regional, Hey Kathleen, let's wrap up with you. You know, you were the article writer and author, so, you know, wrap it up here.
Kathleen Richards: 42:42
The one thing that I'd like to say is just keep in mind that it is a job it's always going to be there the next day, the next day. Right. And train your people so that you're able to take time away, even if it's just a day, you know, do a three-day week. And that can be powerful. Right. Um, and self-care is not selfish. I always thought it was frivolous myself. Right. So, it's not it's important. Um, and there is no right or wrong. Everybody's going to be different about what works for them. Um, and so just get the time that you need or the breakaway that you need. Um, yeah. People can reach me on the NARPM website as well or email@example.com. Thanks Bob.
Bob Preston: 43:29
This is one of the more inspiring and fun podcasts I've ever done. So, thank you so much, Kathleen, Liz Kelly, thanks for joining the panel and being guests. Great episode. As we wrap up today, I'd like to make another quick plug to our listeners to please click on the subscribe button and give us a like also please pay it forward with the positive review to help encourage more guests like this great and amazing NARPM panel today to come on the show. And that concludes today's episode. Thank you for joining us. Catch you next time!