Meet Lorelai Gilmore. Proprietor of the Dragonfly Inn. Entrepreneur. Single Mother. Fictional Character.
The role of the effervescent hotel manager was created by Amy Sherman-Palladino and portrayed by Lauren Graham. Behind that fast-talking façade, stands a manager of a respected housing establishment with a passion for people. In the show, Lorelai lives in the small, quaint town of Stars Hollow and is forced to deal with some of the craziest, most extreme types of clientele.
But what can a real property manager learn from a fictional television character? More than you would expect.
While running an inn is different from managing a property, the similarities outweigh the differences. Both managers are tasked with helping individuals feel at home, a job only those with a special set of skills can excel at.
What makes her great? Here are 3 key lessons Lorelai can teach us about succeeding as a property manager:
1. Be Considerate
Lorelai puts the needs of others before her own, and will go above and beyond to make her guests happy. She’s a property manager who is willing to make sacrifices and go the extra mile when it comes to customer service. In season three, Lorelai accommodated a guest who changed the theme of his retirement party four times, creating new decorations and menu options each time to ensure he was satisfied.
Get in the habit of thinking proactively and putting yourself in the shoes of your residents and prospects. Follow up with residents after maintenance requests, socialize discounts from local businesses, and offer treats for residents with pets. Small gestures on behalf of the property manager can go a long way, whether it’s a mint on a pillow, a welcome home packet in the mailbox, or a community brunch on a Saturday morning.
2. Listen Up!
Lorelai works with even the most stubborn and odd guests. She never gives up on anyone and treats every concern as legitimate. A routine maintenance request is as important to the manager as it is the resident. One of Lorelai’s powers is the ability to listen to any complaint, no matter how mundane or outlandish. Being there when a resident not only needs a solution but also someone to talk to shows them they are your priority.
“Spend a moment putting yourself in their position, what’s going through their head and what it must be like for them,” listening expert Paul Sacco, Ph.D told Huffington Post. “Understanding what their experience is even before you talk to them [can help you connect with them].”
The importance of communication is not to be taken for granted – empathize with residents and respond to concerns on an emotional level. Addressing matters of the head and the heart can at times be a balancing act, but find a happy medium.
3. Stay Agile
Lorelai Gilmore has grace under pressure. Back when she managed the Independence Inn, a fire devastated the property and left guests without a place to stay. In the midst of a crisis situation, she was able to act fast and not panic, a good trait for property managers to possess. Lorelai found new accommodations for each guest, entertained their children, and used her connections in town to provide meals for them during the remainder of their stays.
While you can’t control a crisis, you can control how you react to it. Establish a crisis plan that will leave you prepared for any scenario, and keep a proactive vs. reactive frame of mind. Maintaining optimism and a positive attitude can be the difference between poise and panic. In the words of the philosopher Epictetus, “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”
While the force of nature that is Lorelai Gilmore is a figment of our imaginations, fostering the right skills as a property manager is as real as it gets.