15 Lessons learned from the Covid 19 Pandemic

When I look back at the outbreak of the corona virus pandemic, I see a few similarities to a hurricane that is preparing to slam against the coast of Florida. Why Florida? Because I am a relatively new arrival to Florida and Irma made an unexpected landing as I just moved down to the sunny state.

The uncertainty and fear of the pandemic mirror that of a hurricane, yet the pandemic has brought about a heightened level of fear what everyone is now calling a “new normal”.  Once the hurricane has left, we are left to rebuild, similar to this pandemic that is hopefully getting ready to die off. Unfortunately, a hurricane affects only a certain geographical area, while the pandemic has wrought destruction and devastation throughout the U.S and the rest of the world.

Listen to the audio version of this article, narrated by Gino Barbaro:

In this article, Jake & I want to share with you unforgettable and important lessons that we have learned during the pandemic. We would like to share them with you so that you can prepare yourself for the next one.

I would like to list these lessons and then dive into several of them and give you our perspective. Here is the list:

  1. Evaluate your partners and vendors.
  2. Be grateful.
  3. Real estate is local.
  4. Don’t take things for granted.
  5. Coach employees.
  6. Have empathy and try not to judge others.
  7. There is no such thing as over communication.
  8. Turn problems into opportunities.
  9. Use the time for personal development.
  10. Have enough funds in your cap ex accounts.
  11. Stick to our core values and mission statement.
  12. Create core values if you don’t have them.
  13. Strengthen customer service in your business.
  14. Adopt and utilize new technology.
  15. The numbers can lie.

Listen to the podcast:

Once the pandemic hit, we were setting our second quarter priorities for each of our entities.  For us, the pandemic created even more work, due to the new rules and regulations that we had to implement. The extra communication with the team, the burdensome paperwork that came with filing for the Payroll Protection Plan, the new systems that were created during the stay at home lockdown, and on and on and on….

Not once did my partner Jake ever complain or bicker about the extra work created. He just put his head down, and proceeded to attack the work in Jake like fashion, running through a brick wall headfirst. Twelve and fourteen hour days have become the norm, and putting people first (one of our core values) has been the top priority.  Needless to say, I have the right partner during good times and bad.

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A crisis is always a good time to assess your partnerships and vendors because most of us can perform relatively well during the good times.  But when the crap hits the fan, a person’s true colors will only amplify.  And Jake’s true colors of no excuse, MIH, run through a brick wall personality came through.

Be grateful

When things are going well, we expect them to continue and take them for granted.  One thing that this pandemic brought into light was for me to focus on and be grateful for all the blessings that I have in my life.  So how did I focus on the great things in my life? When I wake up in the morning, I write in my “gratitude” journal all of the things I am grateful for and anything positive that has occurred. I have noticed that if I focus on the positive as I start my day, it sets the tone for my day and raises my level of energy. Remember, whatever you focus on grows!!

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Turn problems into opportunities

Problems are a chance for us to experience pain, reflect upon that pain, assess the pain, and seek the opportunities that will reveal themselves to you.  An example of a pain point throughout the pandemic was that property management in Tennessee was deemed an essential business, but how can you correspond with tenants if your offices are closed to the public? Our amazing team went to work, created the “Covid task force”, and began to revamp our systems. What solutions did we create?  These are only a few examples.

  1. Virtual leasing and virtual tours to fill the void with having contact with potential residents. This will not replace property managers as the pandemic subsides, but will enhance the customer experience.
  2. Revise and complete our customer journey for our residents in the property management company and the investors in the syndication company.
  3. Work on marketing for each entity and become better communicators to our residents, investors, employees and Jake & Gino community members.
  4. Complete projects that were priorities, but were constantly being pushed to the next quarter.
  5. Live and instill our core values throughout our organization.

The numbers can lie

As we have seen throughout the pandemic, the numbers are constantly changing. We once thought the pandemic could claim in excess of two million lives in the U.S., but the number has been revised downward to around 60,000.  Although this number is still horrific and large, the response to the pandemic may have been radically different if the estimate of 60,000 would have been used to create a response.

Jake & I preach to our community members that they analyze and know the numbers in whatever market they select to invest in, along with creating their own criteria when “Buying Right”.  Fall in love with the numbers, not the property, and stick to your parameters.  What numbers am I referring to?  What cap rate are you purchasing the property at, what is your cash on cash return, what is your debt coverage ratio, what are you projecting rent growth for the next three to five years, what are you underwriting expenses at, what is your IRR for the project?

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These are only a few metrics to focus on when executing the Buy Right framework. Don’t pencil whip the deal (make the numbers work), as our coach Bill Ham likes to say, just to make the deal work. I guarantee you that if you do, the deal will come around and whip you right back.

These are only a few of the lessons that we have learned from the pandemic.  As a leader, it is our job to stay calm, not overreact, exude realistic optimism, continue to over communicate and receive input from your entire team. A pandemic is a huge and life changing event, but it can also usher in growth and opportunity if you can reflect upon it and maintain your composure throughout the ordeal.

I would love to hear what lessons you have learned during the Covid 19 crisis. Please leave us a comment down below.

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