04/12/2017 by Rod Askew – RCA Business Brokers

This is a topic that is raising its’ head more and more these days, and some people feel it is a taboo subject as it raises connotations of racism that could set bodies corporate against managers of non-Australian heritage.

There have been comments floating around our industry for a number of years about issues with managers who have recently come from overseas and bought straight into these businesses.

Never one to shy away from a topical discussion or argument, I thought I would attempt to tackle the subject from both sides. I would be delighted to hear other people’s opinions on this subject, whether you agree with me or not that’s fine.

Body Corporate Concerns.

First, put yourself in the seat of the body corporate committee or investor owner in a typical management rights complex where there are for discussion sake, 100 units made up of 50 rentals and 50 owner-occupiers.

What are your principle concerns for the day to day operation of the complex?

  1. The complex is kept clean and tidy as per the caretaking duties.
  2. Repairs and maintenance around the complex is carried out in a timely manner.
  3. Communication is cordial and professional between the committee and the onsite manager.
  4. The rental units have few vacancies and the tenants are well scrutinised for quality.
  5. All documentation is up to date in the latest format and inspections are being carried out.
  6. Payments to owners are on time, statements are well set out and invoices explained.
  7. Preventative and schedule maintenance issues are dealt with on time and efficiently.

There are probably plenty more points that managers and bodies corporate can add to the list, but I see these as the main ones.

So, why would a committee or investor owner in a unit or townhouse complex have issues with a management rights owner who has only been in Australia for a short time?

Under the government’s 457 visas for work or business based immigration, certain guidelines are set down before residency is granted to people or families wanting to buy a business or work here in Oz.

They must be financially independent, have a reasonable degree of education, be sponsored by a business here or buy a business that employs a set number of people, and have some ability to speak the English language.

If that is the calibre of people coming to Australia to buy businesses then what could be the problem with these same people buying a management rights business?

I see three main issues, Culture, Communication and Patience.

I should stop and say right here that there are many very capable, professional and diligent new Australians running management rights complexes in Queensland.

We, as a company have no issues in dealing with business people, who have recently arrived on our shores looking to buy a business.

For the most part these folk are courteous, professional, capable and have no issues in running these specialised businesses.

Let’s look at the three points raised above (Culture, Communication and Patience) to see where the problem may lie.

We as a society we are creatures of habit that don’t readily accept change.

People from different cultures will obviously have their own idiosyncrasies and may do things differently to what we see as “the norm”.

Does it really matter if people do things differently as long as the end result is the same?

The old manager had the latest state of the art hedge trimmer for the gardens, but our new (foreign)manager likes to use a pair of shears to do the job because he says its’ tidier. The hedge gets trimmed, it’s their time they are taking to do the job, as long as other jobs aren’t being set aside then it shouldn’t matter.

Communication. Now, this is a big one for many people. It is no industry secret that a large number of management rights sales in the last 5 years have been made to Asian purchasers.

Having dealt will a number of Asian buyers, I can honestly say that some, but not all can be a little difficult to understand at times due to a very strong accent. This comment doesn’t insinuate that these people are dumb or can’t do the job, it just means they have a different accent to what we are used to hearing and it can take some time getting used to it.

I’m sure that some of these buyers go home after speaking to me and comment to their families, “Gee he was hard to understand, we had to listen really carefully, funny Australian langauge”!!!

This issue of accent and communication can become even more of an issue when discussions take place over the telephone. The secret is to slow down.

The third point I raised is really the answer to most of our problems being experienced in both of these areas.

Patience, we all need to use a bit of patience when negotiating or dealing with people from different cultures. Take a little bit more time to explain the job or the business and try to look at what you are explaining from their point of view. Not only do they have to learn a new job, but also a new language, learn the currency, learn our peculiar driving habits, it must all be quite daunting don’t you think?

Patience is the key.