Last modified on August 10th, 2021
By Megan Eales Monroe
Which comes first — happy employees, or happy customers? Of course, when your employees are passionate, enthusiastic, and driven, it’s no surprise that they can provide excellent service that will make a difference for your customers.
But in order to motivate the talented people on your team to provide that service each and every day, happy customers are also part of the equation. When customers love your brand, it brings out the best in their interactions with your team, and the virtuous cycle continues.
Although creating a service-oriented culture is a top priority for many property management companies, success in this area depends on attracting and retaining the people who can make it a reality.
At AppFolio, we’ve learned that focusing on company culture not only attracts more great people to our team, but it also makes it possible for us to provide an unparalleled customer experience.
Recently, AppFolio was honored with a Glassdoor Employees’ Choice award based on anonymous input from current and former employees, recognizing the company #45 on their list of 100 Best Places to Work in 2020.
“We know that focusing on employee experience and a strong culture that fosters innovation is central to our ongoing growth,” said Jason Randall, President and CEO, AppFolio, Inc.
In addition to the Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Award, in 2019 alone AppFolio was also recognized as a Best Small & Medium Workplace, Best Workplace for Women, and a Best Workplace for Parents by FORTUNE and Great Place to Work®, a global people analytics and consulting firm.
Want to build a service-oriented company culture for your property management business? Here are three lessons we’ve learned along the way that can help you get started:
1. Culture Eats Strategy For Breakfast
Peter Drucker famously said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” meaning that to attract and retain the best talent, the importance of building a strong company culture cannot be understated.
Although it’s still important to have a well-planned strategy and tactics to pull off whatever it is that your business aims to achieve, the culture will only amplify the value of each of those advantages.
With a strong company culture in place, it becomes much easier to steer your business to where you want to go. Having a great culture to build on allows your team to be flexible since they can rely on one another, and it will keep your team excited, working in unison to achieve ambitious goals.
At AppFolio’s 7th Annual Customer Conference, AppFolio CEO Jason Randall said, “…this is how we think about building culture — it’s an ongoing investment. We want to hire the best people we can find and give them room to grow. Happier employees absolutely equal happier customers. We truly believe this.”
2. Perks and Culture are Not the Same
One common mistake that companies make when they first begin to focus on building company culture is to confuse benefits and perks with culture itself. Adding a ping pong table and fully-stocked fridge with workday snacks is a great gesture for employees, but it is not the same thing as creating a culture where employees are empowered to do their best work.
Perks and benefits are a great way to show employees that their hard work is appreciated. However, building the kind of company culture where team members routinely pursue excellence and deliver outstanding service requires involvement and commitment from leadership.
For example, one anonymous Glassdoor reviewer said, “The management team is strong and I truly trust AppFolio leaders. They value employees and have a strategic vision for growth. AppFolio invests in employees by promoting internally.”
Another said, “Not only does AppFolio treat employees well, but they’ve made it a point to hire and work with good people. The culture here can absolutely not be beat.”
The benefits your best employees care about go deeper than fun perks — they want to work in an environment where they are empowered to creatively solve problems, learn from the people around them, and take bold risks that pay off.
3. Career Development is a Win-Win
AppFolio and John Burns Real Estate Consulting recently surveyed property management companies on the top factors inhibiting their business’ growth. The number one challenge reported? “Finding employees with the needed skills” — 45.3% of all companies surveyed said that this was holding back their company’s ability to grow.
Finding and keeping these employees may be more difficult due to the fact that we’re in a candidate’s market, with unemployment reaching a 50 year historic low in 2019. Employees are more likely than ever to leave their existing jobs to search for better opportunities, and competition to hire the best is heating up.
However, despite the competition, you can gain an edge by offering employees the opportunity to advance professionally within your company. The entry-level hires you are making today can become the managers and even executives of your business’ future. Hiring great talent is only one ingredient that goes into building a team of highly skilled employees — developing talent also plays a role.
Give your employees opportunities to learn more about the industry by attending local events, gaining certifications, or working closely with a mentor. Not only will employees appreciate the opportunity to move their careers forward, but your business will also benefit from building a strong pool of talented future leaders.