Fort Features: What Makes a Great Property Manager?

Fort is built around a strong passion for innovation and entrepreneurship. This passion entails a constant drive to improve, whether that be through building our own software or finding ways to make our daily operations more efficient. When we saw an opportunity to expand into property management, we decided to build our own team. You can read more on ‘Why We Launched Management’ here. Since its launch, property management has transformed into a vital component of Fort’s operations.

We sat down with Steve Bailey, Executive Vice President of our Property Management Division, to examine the company’s success. More specifically, we wanted to know: what makes a great property manager?

Steve oversees all Property Management and Construction activities and is responsible for executing all critical business plans to ensure superior service for our 360+ tenants. Steve outlined three main points: building trust with tenants, time management, and striving for continuous improvement. 

1. Building Trust with Tenants

Relationships between a Property Manager (PM) and tenants can be tricky. It is important to be empathetic but also respected. Steve uses the analogy of an “emotional bank account” when describing his relationships with tenants. “If tenants trust you, you aren’t just the PM but a person, and it becomes much easier to have those conversations that can be difficult. It takes a ton of deposits in that emotional bank account to establish trust, but sometimes all it takes is one bad thing to bring your balance to -10”.

Property ,anagement prioritizes constantly dropping in and checking on tenants to build relationships that go beyond an occasional email exchange. Making the time to build these relationships can seem difficult, but Steve says it is all about intent. “You need to be intentional about it. If you schedule yourself it will happen, and if you don’t… it won’t. Sometimes opportunities can present themselves as well. If you are at a property to meet a landscaper or any other reason, you are already out there. All it takes is the initiative to pop in, say hey, and do some spot checks which goes a long way with most tenants.

2. Time Management  

To be efficient with their time, Steve and his team place a strong emphasis on prioritization. “Prioritization and time management go hand in hand. While it’s important to have a sense of urgency to get everything done, not every task can be treated like a code red”. Steve often uses the saying “eat that frog”, meaning it is better to tackle difficult tasks first rather than put them off. “If you push back something that you are stressed or worried about, it’s going to affect your productivity for the whole day. I find that I am much more efficient with my work when I take care of the hard stuff first.

Steve also outlined an exercise that he utilizes when he is feeling too busy or working long hours. “Document every single weekday hour for a month—literally everything from getting stuck at the water cooler to getting lunch to time spent on social media, and most likely you will realize how little you are actually working. People who wear busyness as a badge—news flash, everyone is busy. Don’t brag about being busy, rather, try to find a more efficient way to manage everything.

3. Continuous Improvement

Despite the successful implementation of, Steve is always looking for ways to improve. His goal is for the team to be an efficient machine from a process and procedures standpoint. In a kickoff meeting in January, the team talked through questions such as:

  • What are we doing well?
  • What are we not doing well?
  • Where do we want to be?

We came up with processes that we felt we needed to implement and committed to doing them every single time. That way, at our next evaluation we can identify where we improved and are able to focus on improving other things. It is good to have a vision and a goal you are trying to achieve. However, in real estate, it is very difficult to plan five years out. It’s another reason that we strive for operational excellence, as it is something that we can control. We want to be known for efficiency in how we operate.”

In addition, the property management divisionholds a process meeting every Friday to examine the team’s consistency. “This is important for scaling the business in a sustainable way and is becoming more important for our processes as we expand. If it’s not sustainable we won’t make it a process”. Steve references McDonald’s as an example of supreme consistency. “A quarter pounder from McDonald’s tastes exactly the same from every location. They don’t have variation in their results. We want to be the same in our operations, providing consistent and outstanding services no matter how much our company grows. For us right now, the focus is on improving consistency among our data collection practices.”

What do you enjoy most about your leadership role in Property Management?

Fort takes great pride in its people, and our management division is no different. I absolutely love building this team and have enjoyed watching them grow. I’m always thinking about how I can cultivate a positive culture. When it comes to the hiring process, I look for hard workers with great attitudes–people that I could sit down to Sunday dinner with (as East Texas as that sounds). It has been a rewarding experience and I’m excited for the future.

What advice would you give someone who is interested in Property Management?

I believe that if you are truly passionate about something, you can achieve it. Manifest your goals in your mind and have the persistence and passion to not take no for an answer. It is important to prioritize your mentality. Those days where you find yourself stuck in traffic or spill coffee on your shirt – you can have a bad 10 minutes right now, or you can have a bad day. Those people who are stuck in negativity are too hard to be around. And finally, focus on learning and gaining experience rather than having the perfect GPA. Those who develop a thirst for learning tend to go further in life.

If you are interested in hiring us for your property management needs, please contact Steve Bailey at

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