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Interview – Finnella Morrison

Interview with Finnella Morrison – Co-Founder & Operations Director, Quick Fix Property Management

 How did you end up in property management?

Our Ghanaian culture allows us to live with our parents until forever, however by the age of 28 I had had enough of my mother’s bullying and decided to move into my own apartment.

I have to admit living by myself for the very first time and taking responsibility of my needs and expenses was not easy in the beginning. Slowly but surely I began to make some strides.

I found myself living in this lovely apartment with beautiful finishing, bright lights, good wood work, a fancy kitchen and bathrooms with large enough mirrors where I could stare at myself for as long as I wanted. (I am a little vain I have to admit). I realized that I was the happiest whenever I came home to my apartment or was just relaxing in it. It was my haven, no doubt the stylishness and modernity of the apartment added to my feeling this way.

A few years down the line, my haven started to exhibit some issues. Plumbing and electrical issues once too often. The response time by service providers i.e. Plumbers, electricians, tilers, plaster board repairers was appalling to me. Things simply did not get fixed fast enough after a complaint was issued. If I said, “My water faucet is leaking!” the response would be…“aww Madam the plumber cannot come today, you’d have to wait till tomorrow.”

This was highly frustrating for me but it was the norm.  I loved my apartment so much I was not prepared to let go of it, so I began to find ways to fix things myself by figuring out what had caused the issues in the first place. I began to amass a team of service providers who I could count on to rapidly assist me and work on the issues I encountered in my apartment. After 4 years of dealing with issues and learning from experience in my own apartment, it hit me like an arrow of wisdom from above – I could be great at property management.

Next thing I knew, I was at the registrar generals department, opening my Property Management Company with the main aim of creating the best rapid response maintenance team for prospective clients. This is how Quick Fix Property Management came to be.

What does a day in the life of a property manager look like?

I cannot speak for other property managers, but my day as a property manager starts with me grabbing my phone and saying the silent prayer that goes like, “let nothing be awfully wrong at any of the properties I manage today.” In the event that I oversleep from exhaustion by a few minutes I wake up in panic mode because the trails of emails received, calls missed and WhatsApp messages on my phone. It can be petrifying to say the least.

On a regular, my duties entail checking on my properties from afar or by being on site. It is good to have site managers on each site who are always abreast with exactly what is going on per the site they are assigned to. This makes the flow of information effective.

Responding to tenant’s requests and the owner’s needs rapidly – either by email, phone or in person is crucial to being a good property manager. This makes up part of my daily routine. I make sure I am easily accessible and available to the people who need me the most in this business. In this case they are the tenants and the property owners.

I also endeavor to be relatable to the people I need the most, these happen to be the service providers. All property managers must have a great working relationship with their service providers.

Another vital aspect of my daily routine, is working with service providers to ensure maintenance works and other issues to do with property are done or resolved quickly. Not only quickly but also professionally and up to code. High standards must apply, even in the event of an emergency. It is important to have some working knowledge of the works the service providers have to carry out on the properties. This will avoid falling into problems caused by poor quality work or duplicity.

Working on rental agreements, ensuring revenues are collected for rentals, paying service providers on time all add up to my daily tasks.

By the end of the day, my feet are achy, I am oily, I am sweaty and haggard looking. Often I find myself thinking I’d be better off on an island somewhere. However, there is nothing more fulfilling than knowing I solved problems and made people comfortable, by giving them what they needed or requested.

You cannot please everyone but if you know what you did during the day was right, the fulfilment and self-satisfaction is more than worth it.

What in your view are the most important skills when it comes to Property Management?

The most important skill in property management I believe is problem-solving. To be able to find solutions quickly to problems. Rapidly responding to issues and solving them after a few attempts is imperative. Persistent problems that are worked on and are never really solved make tenants and owners lose their confidence in the property management team.

Another skill is tenant management. Every human being has their own temperament, you need to be patient and overly understanding with especially tenants to effectively carry out your duties as a property manager but also ensure that you are not bullied by them.

You also have to have the skill of bargaining and this comes in when you are dealing with your service providers. You need to ensure you get the best deals and prices.

Careful decision making is also key. Wrong decisions can drive tenants out of the property, have the landlord displeased or cause physical damage to the building. Since you are dealing with tenants who are very important to you, the landlord and a number of maintenance workers or service providers, you need to make careful wise firm decisions and stand by them.

And finally I would say the skill that will ensure that you are a property manager on top of your game, is to be organized. Your documents, processes and time should be well organized.  You constantly need to refer to documents and schedules to ensure things are being done when they are supposed to. You need to ensure your processes are not unnecessarily laborious creating more time wastage than efficiency. You need to organize your time to perfection because you are dealing with tenant complaints, overseeing repairs and maintenance works, working on leases, paying service providers, looking for tenants to fill up your properties and I can go on and on.

What are the Ups and Downs when it comes to Property Management?

The ups of property management are that if done well, you can get highly recommended and have a lucrative venture going.

Secondly there is a rewarding feeling about being able to solve so many problems in a day. You realize you are being productive and making a difference daily in the lives of people.

Managing properties gives you the experience in terms of what it takes to succeed in the property business. This usually starts with renovation and slowly progresses to building and construction. Once could grow their business from just managing properties, to actually renovating and constructing properties in the future.

Networking is one of the invaluable ups. Managing properties gives you the chance to meet a lot of people and it is important to meet as many people in your lifetime because the worthwhile ones might be able to influence your life positively.

The downs of property management is the fact that it can be very stressful and can take a toll on the body. You are constantly worried about one issue or the other and thinking logarithms to solve them. Very often persistent problems can give you sleepless nights.

Also in Ghana property management is not the most sought out service. Property owners in Ghana tend to micromanage their properties instead of hiring skilled property managers and this shows a lack of a market for this sort of service.

Dealing with service providers or maintenance workers also possess a downside to property management in Ghana due to the lack of expertise and craftsmanship. Works might not be carried out properly by service providers and this reflects badly on property management team. The lack of a rapid response fashion to problems by service providers and delays in works getting done also serves to cause problems for property managers.

Property management if not done smartly can actually lead to losses rather than being a lucrative venture.

What do you envision going forward for Property Management in Ghana?

Considering the property boom in the Ghanaian market property management should have a great future and be a highly sought out service by property owners. It will take time however, for property owners to warm up to the idea of soliciting property management companies to manage their properties since it is not exactly a common practice in Ghana. With the influence of social media however this trend is likely to catch up in the country whereby property management could become very competitive and lucrative and advance into something very interesting.