How to Hire the Best Receptionist for Your Property Management Company

Samir Sampat

Property management is an industry that already comes with tons of tasks and daily to-dos to keep you busy. In the meanwhile, who’s manning the phones, answering the Facebook messages, and making sure that tenants get everything that they need?

Whether you’re in the business of commercial or residential property management, you need to have a staff of assistants and support to ensure that everything gets taken care of. The last thing that you want is to have your leasing agents field their own calls in between showings, appointments, and other duties. Your clients and potential lessees will also appreciate a prompter response than they might get this way. 

Enter the receptionist, but not just any receptionist. Today’s version is a multifaceted, multitasking professional that can field all of the needs that your property management company has. We know what you’re thinking—that might sound like it’s way too good to be true. In some ways, it could be. However, if you know what to look for, you just might find the perfect receptionist, even if you started out skeptical. 

You have a lot of things to do in a day. Whether you’re the one following up on leads, showing units, or even if you’re running the entire show yourself (and perhaps especially so), we’re here to help. Take the time to read through this guide and you’ll find everything that you need to know, from how much a property management receptionist will cost to where you can find them, and more. 

Your tenants don’t deserve to have to wait until you have time. Your prospective renters are an even more pressing need when it comes to communications. What are you doing to make sure that you’re managing your properties and your people in the best ways possible? If a receptionist isn’t on that list yet, now is the time to add one. 


What a property management or real estate receptionist costs


Receptionists come in all shapes and sizes and thus have various rates and salaries for their expertise and skills. A general receptionist in the U.S. currently garners $10-$14 per hour for their skills. Those working in real estate or property management may be at the higher end of the range, but this is a fairly safe estimate to keep in mind if you’re hiring someone in-house. Of course, then you’ll also have to factor in:

  • Hiring, training, and onboarding costs (currently averaging around $4K per hire in the U.S.)
  • Benefits and other employee-related perks
  • Overhead expenses related to having another employee

This is where some companies find it better to outsource because they can get a lot more talent for a fraction of the cost. Most importantly, there’s no huge initial investment like there is when you have to hire and train someone. Regardless of how you source them, a receptionist is an essential investment. Let’s talk more about that. 

What will a receptionist do for me?


In property management, there’s a lot that a receptionist can do for your business. Not only can they field calls and messages, but they can help with:

  • Collecting rent payments, security deposits, late fees, and other monies
  • Building and maintaining relationships between tenants, property owners, vendors, and others
  • Scheduling and following up on repairs and maintenance calls, etc.
  • Handling after-hours and emergency calls from tenants 
  • Creating memos, newsletters, invoices, and other correspondence and content for the company as needed
  • Answering questions about properties and renting from your company
  • Scheduling and following up on unit showings and potential lease agreements
  • Maintaining the physical and/or virtual office, including supplies, data and files, equipment, and more
  • Answering and directing calls appropriately based on the caller and content of the phone call

Today, when you hire the right receptionist, there’s nothing they can’t do to help your property management business thrive. Need someone to follow up on late rent payments? The receptionist can make some calls. Looking for someone to take those payments, too? When you hire the right receptionist, they can also take care of accepting and processing payments for tenants on behalf of your company. 

Imagine how much peace of mind you’ll have when your phone isn’t constantly ringing at 3 AM for emergency calls—that alone could be reason enough to invest in a virtual receptionist, at the very least, to take care of those pesky after-hours and emergency calls. After all, if it’s a real emergency, they’ll let you know. If someone just locked themselves out or thinks their cat is stuck in the rafters, it might be less urgent and have a better resolution than getting you involved at some odd hour of the night. 

Of course, now that you’ve seen all that a receptionist can do, you’ll have to decide where you want to find the people that you put to task. There are two options: hiring an employee or outsourcing to a third party. There is no right or wrong answer, so long as you choose what’s best for you. Let’s discuss that further. 

Hiring versus outsourcing: the great talent debate


The first concern you’ll have to sort out is whether you’re going to hire a receptionist that will work inside your agency or if you are going to hire someone that works remotely. Still, you could even outsource to a third-party service that not only handles the receptionist tasks but also manages their own efforts so that you don’t have to. 

Which is the right choice? Well, that’s different for every business. Some companies find they have plenty of reason to hire a receptionist in-house. Others decide that outsourcing is the way to go. There are a lot of things involved in this decision. However, to help you make the best decision, you’ll want to consider factors like:

  • Whether you need a full-time (or part-time) person on your payroll. Some companies just don’t need someone to be an employee and can get better deals and more services by outsourcing to a contractor or receptionist service that can deliver the solutions they need. 
  • Do you want to find better talent without spending a fortune? The Internet makes it easy for you to find experienced virtual receptionists all around the country that can deliver a higher level of service without the high price tag of some local talent. Take advantage of that when you can. 
  • Can you afford to hire someone? Investing in an employee, as discussed above, is quite the investment. Therefore, you’ll want to make sure that this is something that you can afford so that you’re not stretching yourself too thin. If paying a salary and the onboarding costs is out of your league, get quotes on outsourcing receptionists to see just what you can get for your money when you go that route. 
  • Do you have the time and wherewithal to manage and delegate tasks with an in-house receptionist? Again, if this is something that you just don’t want to deal with, you can outsource or hire a third-party service that also manages their own efforts while acting as the face of your property management business. 

You could add any other factors to this list that cross your mind in your search. However, these should at least get you started on a solid path to making the right decision. You’re a property manager, not a communications expert or a front desk specialist—leave that stuff to those who are. 


How to choose the ideal candidate for your property management group


When it comes to hiring your ideal receptionist, you’ll have a different idea of what that means than others. You’ll want to focus on their communication skills and administrative abilities because that’s where you’ll use them the most. However, there are also some valuable soft skills that often get overlooked and shouldn’t. 

Consider things like flexibility, attitude and willingness to learn, communication skills, interpersonal skills, and more. When you find people with these skills in place, you’ll find that they’re easier to train on the other aspects of the job so that they can deliver the dynamic solution that your property management company needs. 

Consider hiring those who are:

  • Friendly, personable, yet professional
  • Flexible and adaptable
  • Able to build and maintain relationships
  • Skilled in conflict resolution and problem solving
  • Able to work in a fast-paced environment and switch gears quickly
  • Able to multitask 
  • Confident and able to take control when necessary
  • Quick learners

When you start with this as a basis, the technical skills will come easily. Even if you have to do a little more training, you’ll appreciate knowing that you have a better fit for the job than if you’d just hired the first receptionist with the right WPM and buzzwords on their resume. 

Experience can also help, but it’s not essential. The people who possess the skills above will also be able to learn new things simply and without a lot of extra coaching or assistance. Therefore, any experience will be helpful, but it shouldn’t make or break your decision. 


Hiring FAQs

Before we close, let’s look at a few of the most common questions we see about hiring receptionists in the property management industry, and in general. These will bring together everything else we’ve covered and give you a little bit more insight so that you are ready for what comes next. 


Does my receptionist really need property management or real estate experience?

Although it’s not a hard dealbreaker, you will always benefit from hiring someone that has property or real estate experience in addition to understanding the duties and responsibilities of a receptionist. This could allow you to take more tasks and contacts off your hands and free up your time even further, or it could just give you the peace of mind that you’ll have someone with less to learn on the job because they’ve already got the knowledge and the skills. 


When should I hire a receptionist?

If you have reached the point where you think you need a receptionist, it’s probably time to hire someone for the job. After all, you have a lot of options, so even if you’re on a tight budget, you can find the perfect fit. If you notice that client and tenant satisfaction rates are down, or if messages and calls are going unanswered for too long, you might need to enlist some help and a receptionist is a perfect solution. 


Can I hire a receptionist on an as-needed basis?

If your property management company doesn’t have a regular need for a receptionist, outsourcing could be a great choice. You can outsource to an individual or a receptionist service that will allow you to utilize their services when you need them, and then end the relationship when their services are no longer required. This works great for small companies or those who are in-between receptionists and just looking for someone to fill the gap.


What’s a virtual receptionist and what can they offer?

A virtual receptionist is an assistant (or team of them) that you can hire and outsource your various needs. They can handle most of the same tasks as a traditional receptionist, but from a virtual location so that they’re not costing you more in overhead, salaries and benefits, and other costs. Virtual receptionist services are also often available 24 hours a day, giving your business a chance to never miss a single contact, question, or concern. 


Partner with Smith.ai and take your property management to the next level when we handle the rest


We know that you’ve got a lot on your plate when you’re running a property management business. Whether you have one property or a hundred, you’re responsible for keeping them in good shape, keeping them rented, and keeping the money coming in. Otherwise, this investment is just an expense that’s not creating the value that it could. While you’re busy taking care of your business, let Smith.ai lend a hand with the details, thanks to our 24/7 virtual receptionists

When you partner with Smith.ai, you’ll have a dedicated team that can handle answering phone calls, fielding live website chats, and even helping with lead and new tenant intake, scheduling, and other tasks as needed. And of course, we’ll also help you create the perfect strategy to manage all of it. 

To learn more, schedule a consultation to discuss what the 24/7 virtual receptionists at Smith.ai can do to help your property management business thrive. You can also reach us at (650) 727-6484. 


Samir Sampat

Samir Sampat is a Marketing and Events Associate with Smith.ai. He has experience working with businesses of all sizes focusing on marketing, communications, and business development.

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