Mike Mumford has been involved in property management since 1996 when he joined Bennett Property Management. From 1996 to 2007 he managed between 100 and 250 units, handling all the day-to-day operations. In 2007 he took over as Office Manager / Chief Financial Officer for Bennett Property Management in Mesa, AZ, overseeing all the accounting and data entry staff. He is also responsible for maintaining the phone system, computer server, office network and workstations. Mike was the local NARPM® chapter treasurer from 2005-2009 and the Phoenix Chapter president in 2010. He achieved the NARPM® RMP designation in 2008, the MPM designation in 2011, and was instrumental in BPM becoming Arizona’s first CRMC recognized company. He was recently approved as a NARPM® instructor and has visited other chapters teaching accounting procedures.
How did you get into property management?
MM: I had been working for an electronics company, and an old high school friend who runs a property management company convinced me to come work for her. She said it was great – I’d be able to set my own hours, it was an easy industry and lots of money – and I believed that. So 16 years ago I got into property management. I started off as a Property Manager, worked my way up to a Senior Property Manager Team Leader, and now I’m the Office Manager/CFO. I’ve been with Bennett Property Management, which is a family-owned business, the whole time. Frank Bennett started it back in 1972, mostly focused on sales. He sold the company to his daughter and his son. His son runs the sales division, and his daughter, Anne McCawley, runs the property management division. I went to high school with Anne, and so here we are.
How many units does your company currently manage?
MM: We currently manage 2,300 units, we have 24 licensed agents, and we’re valley-wide in the Phoenix metro area, which covers about 19 cities. In 1996, when I started with the company, we had 600 units, and right around that time is when they decided to separate into two companies, and so made a sales division and a property management division. So Anne took over management, and determined we’re not going to do any sales, we’re just going to make the property management business work. She joined NARPM and we grew from there 10% a year for quite a while after that.
The topic of this newsletter is “Using Mobile Media to Market your Business”. Do you use any Mobile Media tools to market your business?
MM: We do have a mobile version of the website that people can get to with smart phones. We’ve bought sign riders with text codes, and I’m working with our managers to adopt them. I think the text response tool is a great idea. It’s an awesome tool to pre-screen tenants. If they’re right there, and they text the code and they get a response back that the house is a 3 bedroom and they need a 4 bedroom, you’ve eliminated a lot of work.
What are some of the challenges that you’ve faced in your business, and how do you effectively deal with those?
MM: We’re in the Phoenix marketplace, and our biggest challenge over the last few years has been foreclosures. Our company alone has lost over 300 houses to foreclosure. So we have had to change how we do business. We’ve had to adopt new policies and procedures, we’ve had to change our rental criteria. We’ve had to put clauses in our contracts to help make sure we’re compliant and taking care of the tenants and dealing with the owners properly. So that’s been a real struggle for us, and we’ve just had to stay ahead of the curve to stay on top of it, and make sure we’re complying with all the new Federal regulations.
The market seems to be stable now and doing better. With the foreclosures the rental market has actually been really good. If you think about it, a foreclosed home is one home off the market, and one new tenant on the market. So that really hasn’t been bad for business – we’ve gotten a lot of new properties from investment clients coming in and buying things cash. They’re buying 100 houses cash, because they can get a better return on that in the long run then they can in the stock market. But dealing with the owner that has the home in foreclosure and the tenant that just got the red notice stapled to their door, has not been fun. Again we’re pretty much over it…it’s gotten much better.
How has HERO PM helped to benefit your business?
MM: We started as a HERO customer back in the late 90s, using them to manage our listings. Since then, we have integrated a lot of the options they have. We use them now for not only our listings, but also owner statements. We have them run our tenant applications, application payments, and we use them as a communication tool for our owners and tenants. We use them to be a paperless solution for us to manage all of our documents in the cloud. We integrate with PROMAS Central. So it’s been a huge win for us. HERO makes us much more efficient – allows us to enter listings once and be done rather than entering them on multiple listing sites. We don’t have to have a separate document manager, since it’s all integrated. So they’ve truly helped us be more efficient.
So you started out with the Listings system, and over time incorporated more and more of the systems and features as they became available?
MM: Right. When HERO first started out it was just pretty much a listings platform, then they integrated with PROMAS. We use PROMAS so that worked well for us. We can enter a unit into PROMAS and have it automatically create a listing in HERO, so that’s one less data entry point we have. They started off with the online statements several years ago, and we’ve adopted that and it’s saved us a ton of money. The estimates are between $5-$10 to mail something out and the cost of everything else. We manage 1,800 different owners, so the fact that we don’t have to mail 1,800 statements out every month is tremendous. The process takes us now 20 minutes, rather than several hours. So it’s been a great win for us.
Do you have any advice for someone just entering the property management field?
MM: I do. Join NARPM®. NARPM® has been huge for me personally, and also for our company. Their focus is on education and on single family home management. They’re the only organization out there that does that. So as a source for everything such as software, to ILS’s to information and education, it’s the best thing out there. It’s made our company quite a bit more profitable, made us more professional with the education, and it’s been great. If you were going to do one thing, I would suggest joining NARPM®.