What has it been like directing a real estate business in Sofia, Bulgaria for the past decade?
I remember when one of my clients, a bank director, called me one evening and said he had no electricity and had to use a candle to see. It turned out he had never paid his electric bill. This was the impetus for the invention of my bill-paying service. It helps assure that clients’ bills are paid on time with me being promptly reimbursed. This avoids needless and expensive late fees and reconnection charges from CEZ Electro Bulgaria, the electric company.
Other problems that have arisen over the years include: leaks (from terraces and roofs); toilets not working; losing the garage’s remote control; outlandish requests or demands; and missing items.
When I get a telephone call from a client, the first thing I do is listen intently to hear what the nature of the problem is. I then reassure them that the problem will be resolved in a timely manner. As soon as I hang up, I mobilize key members of my core team to address the problem.
Although solving the problem is my goal, I always bear in mind my renter’s schedule. As pressing as the problem may be, a visit from the plumber, for example, must happen at a time that is convenient to the renter.
Diplomacy is key
In the high-end, residential real estate business, diplomacy is the key to a satisfied clientele. It’s vital to respond to individual needs while at the same time affording renters their privacy, giving them their space. It’s important to be friendly without being chummy; professional without being cold; and clear without offending.
Delineation of duties
One of the key factors that makes my business run smoothly is a clear definition of roles among my staff. There is no overlap or redundancy because everyone knows exactly what they’re supposed to do. From the manager, to the lawyer, to the accountant to the handyman, everyone has a job to do.
Rights and responsibilities
My renters have rights and responsibilities. They have the right to prompt, polite, efficient service and privacy; yet they must, according to Bulgarian law, be “good caretakers.” This means that they must treat the rental apartment as if it were their own.
The baroque-style furniture, creature comforts, modern amenities and attention to detail all play a part in providing a luxurious, high-end, rental experience. When my clients are satisfied, I’m satisfied. When my attitude is such that clients know that I genuinely care about them and will do everything in my power to ensure that their stay is pleasant with everything in the apartment working as it should, their satisfaction leads to the reputation of the business growing, an increase in profitability, and a sense of personal satisfaction on all sides.
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