Help Wanted! The Industry Career Path Millennials Aren't Taking
Why are Millennials not interested in property management?
"Sixty percent of everyone in commercial real estate services will be at retirement age in the next five years," said Rob Bridges, Transwestern's national director of property management. "A huge population is nearing the end of their career life. There's a huge gap in between generations."
Whether it is from unexciting recruiting practices, comprehensive training scaring off potential hires or poor implementation of technology, young professionals are not joining property management quickly enough to replace retirees.
Bridges is working to pass on expertise from his decades-long career to ensure a quickly aging workforce stays ahead of the curve, but replenishing the workforce is not easy.
"Our big problem is that our industry is under the radar. We're not sexy right out of the gate, so we tend to not attract the people we want to attract. Our recruiting platform needs to be robust at spreading the word so we can recruit a different type of professional," he said.
Bridges loves looking at the hospitality sector and military for recruits to the property management industry. Hospitality professionals understand the mindset and veterans understand the operational aspects. Bridges is particularly interested in Navy veterans.
"A ship is an office building that floats," Bridges joked.
Changing culture also complicates things.
"People learn differently today. When I first entered this industry in the '80s, everyone had a mentor. Those days are over with," Bridges said.
Training is now more comprehensive. Property managers are taught how to do their own job but also trained on how to do the job of everyone around them so they understand the full picture.
But much of being a good property manager cannot be taught, Bridges said. It is an innate ability to have things under control and express that confidence to clients. Bridges tries to instill that in his team by preparing his new recruits for anything. In his 30 years of experience Bridges has dealt with earthquakes, snowstorms, floods, hurricanes, people climbing buildings, people jumping off buildings and Pokémon-related incidents. "Hurricanes are the worst [because] they just do so much damage between the wind and flooding," Bridges said.
Property management itself is also changing. Despite professionally managed global real estate investment topping $7 trillion, the sector has lagged behind in technology. That trend is quickly changing as more companies find success offering software and platforms to improve property management operations. The result is a more proactive approach to property management.
"During and after an event, it's too late," Bridges said.