The Impact on Property Management in the 2021 Labor Shortage

I’m sure you’ve seen the signs – both literally and figuratively.

“HELP WANTED!”

“Please be patient as we’re short-staffed!”

Or even…

“We’re sorry. We’re closed due to lack of staffing.”

Even if a sign isn’t posted, you’ve probably experienced longer waits at restaurants or longer lead times for a variety of services.

THE LABOR SHORTAGE IS REAL

Yes, workers are difficult to find.

Many businesses, individuals, and industries have been impacted by the labor shortage due to issues involving the pandemic and general, overall working conditions.

And, it’s not just the United States that’s having difficulties due to the shortage. There are countries all over the world who are experiencing low numbers.

Indiana – and property management here – is no different. 

As we’ve discussed for the past several weeks, our contractors are struggling to keep up with our demand. And, as a result, projects are taking longer to complete.

Every week – nearly every business day, in fact – we’re sending work to our contractors to complete.

And we’re not only talking about simple maintenance issues, but also major rehab projects that need a lot of work.  

This work comes from our current inventory of Tenant move-outs, new purchases from our brokerage or other new Client’s properties that need freshened up.

It never stops and EVERYONE wants the job done yesterday. 

But, in a labor crisis, it’s hard to keep everyone happy. 

Let’s dive into this a bit. 

WHAT IS CAUSING THE LABOR SHORTAGE?

Although there are several reasons for the labor shortage, let’s discuss some of the main ones to give us a better understanding of what is happening.

  • People just aren’t returning to their previous jobs. Numerous individuals have decided not to go back to work or at least not back to their original positions. In the US, some workers have decided to retire early or stay home for a while before going back to work due to stimulus money, unemployment benefits or simply using backup funds.
  • Workers are seeking remote positions. Another reason is that individuals in every industry are changing career paths and acquiring skills to find jobs that meet their individual needs, i.e. remote working. As you can guess, remote workers aren’t fits for contractors .
  • The Great Resignation. As I’m sure you’ve read, there is a Great Resignation going on right now and it continues to accelerate. There are simply less people available to fill open positions. 

HOW DO THESE FACTORS IMPACT DEADLINES?

Bottom line, there is a contractor supply and demand imbalance.

Many contractors have left the industry. Whether it’s from career changes, population and demographic changes or other factors, there are just fewer people in the field… especially ones with an ample amount of skill.

Meeting Deadlines

At the same time, there is an increased general demand for residential and commercial development. Real Estate sector is very hot right now. This is a perfect storm of high demand and low supply.

With fewer contractors available, delays are inevitable. Deadlines, clearly, are getting extended.

As a result, according to this article, about 35% of contractors are actually declining work because they are overbooked.

Think about that.

More than ⅓ of all contractors are turning away work.

With the increase in workload, decrease in availability, and low amount of construction workers and contractors, projects have become harder to complete on time. 

Because of this, many companies in the property management industry have been falling behind on deadlines and processes are slowing down.  Finding a contractor has been more difficult than usual which has added to the time needed to complete our projects and find bids. 

Property management companies all over the United States are experiencing delays, even right here in Central Indiana.

WHAT TO EXPECT?

In a word?

Delays.

In the near-term, projects will take longer than normal to complete.

For the reasons we discussed above, we’re maxing out our contractors.

We’re experiencing delays to get bids, delays to start jobs and delays to complete the jobs once started.

Everything is just taking more time. 

WHAT T&H IS DOING 

We are working very hard to improve our ability to complete maintenance and other projects more quickly.

We have several dedicated and talented employees dedicated to daily maintenance and project management. We meet weekly to discuss and troubleshoot issues to overcome all our labor challenges.

In addition, adding to our already expansive contractor base is currently our #1 priority.

We have many individuals that are actively searching for and vetting contractors to join our network.

We’ve even offered monetary incentives to employees who bring us general contractors.

So, we’re taking this initiative very seriously.

But, as you can imagine, it’s a grueling process. Good people are hard to find and good contractors are already busy. For many reasons, we can’t just throw unproven contractors into homes and hope for the best. It’s critical that we bring in highly skilled and highly professional contractors and that’s going to take a little time.

But we are committed to overcoming this challenge. We are optimistic that our project capacity and completion timelines will be better in 2022 as we bring on additional contractors and some of the current economic and labor pressures ease.

Written by McKenzie Zacha

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