Is it possible to process thousands of leasing applications, submit thousands of background checks, complete thousands of maintenance requests and conduct thousands of property turnovers and not have one thing go wrong? Or, in other words, is it possible to have zero defects in property management processes? Yes, it is. It will be a long journey and it starts with a shift in mindset. Below I will recommend an old book that will get you started on your journey to zero defects in property management.


Other Industries Have Done It

Manufacturing, healthcare, pharmaceutical and other industries had to embrace the zero defects philosophy in the 1980’s and 1990’s and they have achieved enormous transformations since. They invested heavily in employee training, they documented their processes, and they applied continuous improvement methods to achieve this. Today, some automotive suppliers can produce a million parts without a single one being rejected.


But Property Management Isn’t Like Manufacturing

You might say that property management involves a lot of human touch, so it should not be compared to manufacturing, which involves machinery. My take on that is that high quality operations rely on “systems” that include people, technology and processes. Property management involves a lot of repeatable processes (see my video on the property management business model). Therefore, leaders who can embrace the philosophy of zero defects in property management will distance themselves from their competition.


What Can a Property Management Executive Do?

Property management executives can borrow a lot of ideas from process improvement methodologies such as Six Sigma,

Lean Management, Agile Management, Business Process Reengineering, Total Quality Management, Just-In-Time, Kaizen and Design of Experiments.  If this topic is new to you, see the books whose covers in the above header of this posting. These books have been around a while, but are still very relevant. I recommend looking at Philip Crosby’s Quality Without Tears before you get into the process improvement methodologies I listed above.


Exploring Zero Defects in Property Management

I was introduced to these concept in the 1990’s when I worked at General Motors. Quality philosophies were being embraced from the top down in the Big 3. Ford’s advertising slogan was “Quality is Job 1”, and it was also an internal call to action on culture change. These methods were not just applied to the manufacturing floor. They were also applied in the finance department, the purchasing department, in HR and in customer service.  The quality philosophy does work, and it results culture changes and behavior changes that your property’s prospects, tenants and vendors will all notice. And you will notice improvements in the property management metrics that matter to you.


Philip Crosby, “Quality Without Tears”

To keep it simple, I recommend getting started with a book by Philip Crosby, “Quality Without Tears.” This book was published more than 30 years ago, but I am recommending it because of its simplicity, and you’ll be reading a book that has had enormous influence in some American industries.

Even if you only flip through Philip Crosby’s “Quality Without Tears”, you will buy into the most central, foundational ideas in the quality improvement:

  1. Quality means conformance to requirements
  2. Quality comes from prevention
  3. The Quality performance standard is zero defects
  4. The Quality measurement is the price of non-conformance


Now, what does all this have to do with property management analytics? It has everything to do with analytics, because quality improvement programs in property management cannot be successful without data collection and data analysis. Big changes in business can’t happen unless an executive gets behind big ideas. If you were not aware of Six Sigma, TQM etc, I hope I have sparked an interest in learning more.

zero defects in property management philip crosby