The line between great property management companies and merely acceptable ones can be difficult to discern if you don’t understand what the best companies do differently. If you’re not already looking for the key differences, you may not realize you’re working with a mediocre or subpar management firm until something goes wrong, because simply staying the course when the course is clear is quite easy. To make sure you’re getting the service you should keep an eye out for these key differences:

The best property management companies…

…understand the importance of relationships.

Whether you’re looking at property management, computer support, or haircuts, one thing unifies all top notch service providers—an emphasis on developing effective relationships. That means developing a healthy relationship with you, the customer, and with all the vendors, regulators, and other organizations relevant to the task. Good relationships improve efficiency and thus profits.

…respond to your emails and calls.

A good property management company doesn’t treat you as an annoyance after the initial arrangements have been made—it understands that your property is your property and that you deserve prompt responses to any and all inquiries. If you have a question, problem, or suggestion, someone should hear you out and offer an answer. It shouldn’t take weeks or even days to hear back from your contact at the management company, no matter how hectic things may be.

…keep you up to date.

You shouldn’t be the last person to find out about important changes affecting your property, whether those changes are good or bad, internal or external. Any significant shift in stats, any legal considerations on the horizon, any necessary shifts to operating procedure, any news stories that might positively or negatively impact your property—you should hear about them all promptly from your management company.

…handle everything on your behalf.

While the best property management companies are glad to hear from you and keep you informed, you shouldn’t need to do anything to keep the system flowing. Any responsibilities you take on should be optional. If you want to take a wholly hands-off approach to owning property, the best management companies have the competence and confidence to make that happen with minimal intrusions. If you have to confirm every single detail of every single decision, they’re not managing your property—you are.

…work towards quantifiable goals.

Most effective service providers prefer quantifiable goals and quantitative feedback, for a few reasons: one, they can be used as effective guideposts and milestones for improvement. Two, they serve to show the client the value provided in an easily demonstrated fashion. If a property management company isn’t confident that it can show real results, then it won’t offer to work towards anything which could be easily quantified. Thus, you should be on the lookout for vague, aimless plans to avoid bad companies, and detailed, concrete plans to find the best ones.

…give you ideas to increase property value or rent.

A passable property management company keeps your business successful without requiring your input. A great property management company helps you push your property to new heights, by advising you on your options to push the raw property value of your property higher, increase rent without increasing vacancies or improve efficiency to maintain higher profits.

…do what’s best for you and your property.

A property management company that cuts costs to improve their own profits at your expense isn’t one you want to do business with. A top-notch property management company makes the best choices for its clients’ profits, confident that their success will follow YOUR success. The companies that endure and thrive are those that demonstrably improve the bottom line for their clients. Make sure you’re not being taken advantage of by a company that’s going to dry up after mismanaging clients’ properties for a few years.

…pay attention to the community.

Properties don’t exist in a vacuum. Highly effective property management companies understand that the world beyond your property line matters to that property, and pay attention accordingly. This means maintaining a good relationship with neighbors, noticing trends affecting the area, paying close attention to relevant politics and laws, and otherwise maintaining situational awareness. This requires a lot more effort than merely paying close attention to what happens on the property, but it is well worth the investment of time and effort.

Parting thoughts

As you can see, there’s a single consistent point that drives every difference between the best property management companies and their peers: an attention to the unique circumstances of each property and client. When a property management company tries to foist off generic solutions with minimal attention to the details of your property, your community, your renters, that’s when you lose money. Take the time to find a management company that cares to get it right.