Tackling efficiency, one step at a time

Efficiency, when it comes to property management, is without a doubt a win for both the owners and the tenants all the way around.


Hi, my name is Justin Becker and I am a builder and developer in the great state of Michigan. Our family-owned and operated management company, Brookfield Management, owns and manages nearly 1,000 units, which includes both apartment complexes and manufactured homes in Michigan.

We have witnessed and encountered, first-hand, the challenges of solving efficiency issues, along with noticing the immediate benefits once a solution has been identified and executed.


My sister, Stephanie Trivax, and I meet every week (same day and time) to discuss the various issues going on at each of our properties. Stephanie is the day-to-day operator of our company, or what I like to call “The Integrator.” She gives me detailed and extremely valuable insight every week on where our problem areas are, and her thoughts on what needs to be done to solve them.


I, on the other hand, am more of the strategic thinker/big picture guy, or what I like to refer to as “The Visionary.” I do my best to try and keep a pulse on what’s going on in our industry and attempt to connect the dots in order to keep our company growing.


With that said, I hold my sister’s opinion much higher than I do my own, but nevertheless we come together and attempt to solve the various property issues. We then go around to the different properties each day of the week and meet with our property managers individually to go over the same kinds of issues, along with getting insight from each of them.


In those meetings, we come up with a weekly plan for each property, meaning what we want to accomplish for the week. Those same property managers then meet with their various maintenance teams, discuss the weekly plan in detail, so everyone is on the exact same page. Then, what I like to say is, “the walls go up,” and everyone is super focused on accomplishing the week’s tasks.


This is how we accomplish making sure everyone, from the top down, understands exactly where we want to go, and how we are going to get there. Not saying we are perfect at it, but I like to think we improve week over week.


I went through all of that because I wanted to give a full picture of how we come up with solutions efficiently for our communities.


One solution that stands out to me in particular that I would like to share with you is when we recently upgraded the shared entry doors at one of our apartment communities.


We own Botsford Place Terrace Apartments, a 98-unit complex in Farmington Hills, Michigan. The community is broken up into 12 buildings of eight units each, along with two individual townhomes. The eight units per building each share an entry door, which is operated on a buzzer-entry system. Once a person enters, they walk through a shared hallway until they reach the desired apartment, then access the apartment through the unit’s private door.


Back near the end of 2020, Stephanie brought to my attention that we were constantly receiving complaints from our residents about the shared entry doors not closing properly, leaving them feeling unsafe since anyone could enter at any time. Along with that, we were constantly needing to send our maintenance over to adjust these doors in an effort to get them to operate properly. Let alone, in the winter our heating bills were going way up because these doors were constantly left open.


After discussing this and doing much research, due to the constant usage of these doors, we decided to upgrade them from residential doors to commercial doors. After pricing out this job, it came out to be about $3,000 per door to replace them. This includes the commercial-style closer, the metal framing around each door, and the installation.


So, we decided to make a goal for the year 2021 to properly replace all of these doors. Without getting into all of the detailed financials of our community, taking on this cost all at once was far too expensive for a 98-unit community. Instead, we decided to go around and create a list of all of the doors, putting them in order from worst to best condition. We then budgeted to complete one per month.


We, of course, communicated this to the rest of our team through the structure we have in place, which I outlined above, so everyone was on the same page, and we went to work. Now it being January, 2022, I can proudly say that we successfully changed out all 12 shared entry doors in the community.


As we changed each door, we noticed:

  1. The complaints from our residents dropped significantly

  2. The need to send maintenance technicians over to service the doors was nonexistent

  3. Our gas bills to heat our buildings dropped dramatically


Completing this one task saved us money, time, and made our residents feel more at ease. Win-Win-Win!


If you ever would like to discuss ideas on making property management more efficient, or have any questions that you believe I could be of assistance, feel free to reach out to me at any time at jbecker@brookfieldmgt.com.

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