Move Your Fulcrum

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Move Your Fulcrum

A few weeks back I wrote about 2017 as a fulcrum year…..if you missed it, here’s the link: http://danbaldini.com/2017/02/20/2017-is-a-fulcrum-year/
Since that post, a few enterprising individuals have emailed or PM’d me asking for more clarification on how they can make 2017 a great year fulcrum year for their rental operation.  (Actually, one of my more direct coaching clients comment was,“Baldini–I’ve read your article 3 times now…What the Hell are you talking about?”…….I love it when people are direct.)
Here’s what I told them:  Move Your Fulcrum
Imagine the classic teeter-totter from a playground.  It has a long beam with two seats at the ends and a fulcrum in the middle.  Well, if there’s a heavy kid on the one end, in order to lift the heavy kid up, you either have to have an equally heavy kid on the other end or use an immense amount of force to push down your end, right?  Hours of endless fun that kids enjoy.  Now, instead of kids being on each end, imagine that you’re on one end pushing down to lift a heavy weight on the other end and that heavy load is an important task or problem on your To-Do list today for your rental operation.
How hard do you want to have to push on your end to lift that weight up?  As little as possible, right?  Especially if this is a task or a problem that comes up quite frequently.
There is a mathematical formula to determine the precise amount of Force required to raise a weight up.  It’s on this neat little calculator website I found:  http://www.engineersedge.com/calculators/levers/page_levers_1.htm
Go ahead and open a new web page and play around with it.
For example, let’s assume the full length of your teeter totter is 400 inches.  In this example, I’ve made the length from the weight to the fulcrum equal to the length from the fulcrum to you on the right side.  Essentially, just like a playground teeter totter.  As you can see, to lift 1,000 pounds, you need a force equal to 1,000.
Now, let’s see how much force is required when we move the fulcrum closer to the weight.  Simply by moving the fulcrum closer to the weight, we’ve reduced the amount of force required to lift the weight by 66%.
Folks….this is what Archimedes was talking about when he called it “leverage”.  Simply by moving the fulcrum closer to the weight, it takes less effort, less stress, less resources to lift the same amount of weight.  Does that smell something like “increased efficiency” or “lower costs” “higher ROI”?  It should!
So, now that we’ve gotten our physics nerd full on here, let’s shift back into how 2017 can be your fulcrum year by applying what we’ve re-learned above.
  • Identify what you’re doing not quite so well in your operations.  These are things that you might find yourself procrastinating about, putting off, or just find tough to complete without remembering,”How did I do this last time?  How did I fix this issue last time?”  Here’s the classic example:  Many property managers and landlords struggle with their Make Ready preparations when turning a unit over from one tenant to the next.  What should be a natural happy event can cause ulcers in people, full of high stress, just a headache.  It’s a mad dash to get the property ready.  Tenants can lose confidence in their landlords, property managers can lose confidence in their skills.  Investors can get frustrated at the increased inherent risks of the transaction.
We’ve all been there.  We know the struggle.  But it doesn’t have to be.
  • Using the concept of “moving your fulcrum”, let’s create a way to lengthen the distance between the fulcrum and you at the other end of the beam so that you don’t have to push down so hard every time this situation comes up.  The simplest way I have found to “move your fulcrum” when solving process oriented problems is to create a process checklist for each task in your rental operation.  Every time a tenant moves in or out of a property, there are items that have to be done regardless if the tenant leaves the property in impeccable, hospital-level cleanliness, right?  Think about what those mandatory tasks might include…..
–rekeying locks
–testing garage door remotes
–utility transfers
–returns of deposit money
–renter insurance verification
–rent and deposit verification
–scheduling of the move in appointment with the new tenant
–confirming of appointment the day prior
–photographing and documenting the property condition prior to the appointment
–checking furnace filter
–checking water softener salt levels
Now, instead of mentally having to remember each of these tasks, make a document, a checklist, that you can use for each time you run into this scenario.  The checklist my company staff uses has 42 different tasks on it to ensure that all our bases are covered.  The best part is this:  You’d think that my property managers would HATE having to check the boxes….you’d think they would complain, scowl, and gripe about the extra time it takes them to follow the checklist.
In reality, they LOVE it.  They know that by using the checklist, their workflows are EASIER, their stress levels are LOWER, and they actually have built-in safety days in their schedules to deal with unforseen issues before the move in date.  They have more confidence in scheduling those critically tight move in dates between tenants in order to make that lease deal work, so our investors can pick up that extra week of rental revenue.
In essence, the checklist allows my property managers to move their fulcrum closer to the weight so they can lift more while working less, without any increase in their skills, and still ensuring a high probability of reaching the desired outcome.
So, at the end of the day, 2017 can be a fulcrum year if you’ll adopt the concept of Moving Your Fulcrum. Start with a simple, but important process problem in your operation.  Diagnose what needs to happen every single time.  Write it down.  Try it out.  Revise it.  Move the fulcrum back and forth to find the ideal point where the effort is the minimal amount required to lift your weight, to solve your problem.  There’s more techniques to creating excellent checklists including formatting tips, questions to ask when creating the checkings, even types of checklists such as Doing checklists vs Confirming checklists; if you’re interested in learning more, send me an email and I’ll help walk you through them.
Then attack your next problem.
You’ll find soon, just like Archimedes discovered, that with a long enough lever you can lift your world.

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