Become an Award-Winning Property Manager
An industry award speaks volumes. “It shows someone who walks into your office that you are passionate about the industry; it’s a validation of all the hard work you’ve done.” That’s how Leeann G. Ghiglione, RMP, MPM, views the plaque on her office wall, which she received as the 2010 recipient of the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM) President’s Award.
Like many award winners, Ghiglione was recognized for a steady stream of contributions over the years, from welcoming volunteers to chairing the NARPM national convention in 2010 to holding association positions, such as NARPM national membership chair 2011. A senior property manager at Dave Poletti & Associates in Seattle, she will also be the incoming (2012) northwest regional vice president of NARPM
The field of property management is brimming with opportunities for recognition, and the first step often involves becoming a member of an association like the NARPM. In some cases, you’re nominated by your peers; in others, you can nominate yourself. The major awards typically require years of service, but countless smaller ones are given out annually—and may be easier to get than you think.
The key to qualifying
First and foremost, becoming an award-winner requires being proactive in your industry, so Ghiglione urges property managers to take on roles in NARPM or other property management organizations so that they can become leaders in their community. “Leadership is an important quality,” she says. “It’s easier to stand in the shadows than walk out in front of the crowd.”
The awards process—which may include submitting paperwork, answering essay questions or gathering letters of recommendation—drives some people away. But it shouldn’t, says Kimberly Smith, who manages furnished residential properties as the owner of AvenueWest Corporate Housing, based in Denver. She says some people nominate themselves multiple times before finally getting the recognition they seek.
“The biggest mistake people make is thinking that it’s their bigger body of work that will win them an award and that everyone is familiar with their achievements,” says Smith, who won the self-nominated Corporate Housing Providers Association (CHPA) 2010 Company of the Year award. What matters most is adhering closely to application instructions, down to the word count, she says.
Most cities are connected to local, state and regional organizations that recognize small, positive changes property managers have made on the job. For example, Stephanie Gordon, president of Gordon Property Management, says switching software programs was one of the factors that helped her become San Francisco Apartment Association’s 2010 property manager of the year.
Getting a Trophy Award “was a lot of work,” Gordon says. Nominated by an unknown source, she had to answer numerous questions in writing. For one, she described how switching to a cloud-based software program enabled tenants to pay their rent online, allowed resident managers to easily access payments and permitted Gordon to respond to emergencies on her smartphone.
“It really feels nice to be recognized by my peers,” she says. What’s more, mentioning awards on property management websites can give comfort to potential tenants or property owners that find you online.
Think outside the box
For Smith, seeking recognition—or having a PR person do it for her—is a natural part of the marketing process. “Property managers don’t really think of themselves as a small business, but they should,” she says. In particular, Smith recommends searching for opportunities in your local business community. For instance, by inquiring at her Chamber of Commerce, she won its local emerging business of the year award.
Newspapers, local business journals and Power Book awards for real estate professionals are hot spots for recognition in areas such as growth revenues and community involvement, and Smith points to niche organizations as an opportunity to nominate your peers for recognitions, and vice versa.
“Having awards helps solidify you as a company,” Smith says. “It shows that you’re not just fly by night, but that other people respect who you are.”
Property Management Awards
When looking for opportunities to earn recognition, start with these top award-givers:
Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM)
IREM gives out three awards on a periodic basis:
• Louise L. and Y.T. Lum Award: Honors people who have made a distinguished contribution to the real estate management industry through education, publications, and/or the advancement of ethical and professional standards.
• Lloyd D. Hanford Sr. Distinguished Faculty Award: Recognizes members of the IREM faculty for their dedication to the educational process and the advancement of knowledge in real estate management.
• J. Wallace Paletou Award: Recognizes individuals who improve society as a whole through property management.
National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM)
NARPM members achieve professional designations by meeting certain criteria in education, experience and service. Two notable awards:
• Rocky Maxwell Award: Annually honors a new member who has gone above and beyond in the first 18 months of membership.
• President’s Award: The NARPM president honors a member who has gone above and beyond the call of duty.
Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International
Gives out several awards, most notably The Outstanding Building of the Year (TOBY) Award.
National Apartment Association (NAA)
Annually recognizes the contributions to the multifamily housing industry of builders and other professionals through the PARAGON Awards.