Managing multi-family properties isn’t really magic, but Jesse DiCamillo, Business Development Manager of Commercial Facilities at PRIDE Industries, makes it seem that way. By day, it’s all business for Jesse. But after hours? He transforms into Magician Jesse Dee—a persona he’s inhabited for over four decades, performing at myriad venues, including L.A.’s famed Magic Castle.
When we asked about his top six tips for managing multi-family properties, we were struck not only by his wealth of knowledge, but also by his flare for turning the ordinary into something marvelous. So, without further ado, here are six tips—The Amazing Jesse Dee style—to thrive as a multi-family property manager.
1. Make dirt and clutter disappear.
According to Jesse, “Any property is judged based on its cleanliness.” It makes sense. The pandemic underscored the ways in which cleanliness is linked to safety. Moreover, research illuminates the ways that clean, tidy spaces enhance mental health. Given its importance, cleanliness should begin (much like a good magic trick) with a plan, and a long-term one at that. Develop a maintenance schedule, one that factors both indoor and outdoor spaces and levels of usage throughout the day and night. And maintenance doesn’t stop there. It includes the tools and machinery used to clean those spaces. Preventative maintenance of vacuums, pool pumps, and robotic cleaning devices will mean less downtime—resulting not only in spaces that are clean, but also in lower costs associated with breakdowns. Cleanliness takes more than the wave of a wand, but so does all the best sorcery.
2. Prioritize teamwork, and presto!
Jesse encourages a facilities management culture of teamwork, where no one has an “it’s not my job” attitude up their sleeves. Garbage cans are overflowing, but it’s not your area to clean? Within a culture of teamwork, cleaning staff members won’t think twice about emptying it. A spill in the rec room? Whichever staff member has first availability will leap in to clean it. And how do you build and maintain a culture of teamwork? It begins with thorough training—providing enough information to empower employees to be self-reliant decision-makers. When employees are well-trained, they are equipped to meet high expectations, so set them, yes, but also provide support so that they are attainable. Cultivating a foundation that supports teamwork—undergirded with integrity, inclusion, respect, and a commitment to clear and honorable communication—is also vital.
3. Spotlight productivity.
“Recognition and reward programs are a great way to improve productivity and performance,” says Jesse. Much like any successful magic show requires a spotlight—one that’s directed at the right person at the right time—so does business success. And recognition doesn’t need to be elaborate. A simple certificate, a callout in the property’s newsletter, or even a lunch is enough to show employees that they are seen. Given that property maintenance and custodial work often take place behind the scenes, ensuring your employees’ visibility becomes all the more important.
4. Nobody will really be cut in half.
“It’s about building trust through communication.” Like all good magicians, Jesse knows, first and foremost, a trust-based relationship must be established with those in the room. When the audience knows that a saw will be employed or flaming arrows flung, they need to trust that the magician has everything under control. The same is true in the world of multi-family property management. Communication needs to be regular and consistent. Actions need to follow words. Relationship building is also proactive. Try to get ahead of potential issues and solve them before they become major issues.
5. Timing is everything.
“Timing—and timelines—are an imperative part of operational planning,” Jesse says. When it comes to magic, a timing misstep can be the difference between success and failure. But timing is also vital in business, especially when it comes to keeping a property clean and tidy. Wait too long to clean, and you’ll have clutter at best, and a safety hazard at worst. Clean a particular space too often, and you’ll waste products and hours that could be spent on other tasks. Keep a timeline in place, with measurable goals. To meet those goals, foster a culture of supportive accountability. To pull off the best magic, everyone on stage needs to know not only what to do . . . but when to do it.
6. And, poof, help appears!
“Today’s tenants expect instant availability.” Remember that trick where someone appears, poof, as if out of nowhere? Responsiveness is especially important with residential properties. Because tenants are present 24 hours a day (in many cases), requests can come at all hours. Technology has also created a higher level of expectation, when it comes to property managers and maintenance staff. The good news is that property management tools—automation software and cloud technologies—make this wizardry easy to pull off.
So, there you have it. Six tips for managing multi-family properties—proof that making magic, whether on stage, in an apartment complex, or in a commercial facility, requires a practical approach. In other words, at the end of the day, magic is real.