A well-established property management company has distinguishable attributes that differentiate it from the competition. Among these attributes are a name that is synonymous with a good reputation within communities, proven leadership capabilities, responsiveness, and a strong foundation of efficient standards of practice. Trusted and capable property management companies don’t view themselves as managers, but rather as owners of properties under their stewardship.
Perhaps the most significant attribute of a knowledgeable and committed property management company is that it offers the peace of mind that comes with knowing valued assets are in capable hands – that property investments are being managed in accordance with their own unique, specific requirements. This is the company philosophy upon which Larlyn Property Management Limited was founded in 1975.
Headquartered in London, Ontario, Larlyn Property Management began with the vision of Larry and Lynne Holmes, who, after forty three years, have seen employee numbers grow to over 600. As a family-owned business, Larlyn provides property management expertise to approximately 600 to 700 communities across Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia. Today, the total value of these properties is in excess of six billion dollars.
The properties managed include commercial, condominiums, industrial, residential and properties under development. Speaking about new clients and their accompanying business plans specifically, Michael Holmes, son of Larry and Lynne, shares that, “We look to assess their business plan,” which entails consideration of the plan, expectations and the time line for execution. “That kind of sets the starting stage for us,” he says, which subsequently ensures that the appropriate resources are allocated such that a business plan will always be executed in a manner that works to the client’s advantage.
Larlyn has its own “internal metrics for monitoring performance,” continues Michael, explaining that clients receive management reports on a monthly basis related to their particular business plan expectations. The company also utilizes dashboard software for measuring, monitoring and managing many of their key performance indicators (KPIs) so that, “we actually see how we’re doing for our portfolios on a day to day visual basis.”
Along with Dashboarding solutions, Scorecarding is utilized to assess performance in relation to specific predetermined goals, which assists in the implementation of strategic initiatives. As a tool, Scorecarding “lets us know who is performing and who is not and where assistance is required or where a business plan is starting to get off track,” says Michael. “Many clients have the vision of what they want, but they don’t know how to execute.”
With Larlyn’s established experience with business plan executions, “We can let [clients] know where others have run in to problems and try to steer them clear of those obstacles so that they can have a successful project,” Michael explains.
Also, over the past twelve months, Larlyn has, “invested heavily in upgrading our IT systems,” he continues. “All of our employees have 24/7 mobile access to be able to pull up the information that they need for their clients while they’re out in the field servicing them.” Client portals have also been upgraded to enable access to their own files and information without having to go through the manager. “Rather than being the gatekeepers of information we [allow] our clients to have access to that information without having to come through us, if they want.”
Larlyn’s VIP Program offers some unique value added services to its clients through its head office procurement team that can negotiate better rates, as opposed to market rates, for such things as insurance, maintenance service and supply purchases. “We negotiate directly with those vendors for preferred pricing,” says Michael. “We’ve also rolled out programs for homeowners and tenants in our buildings where they have the ability to get national discount rates on things like travel and movie tickets.”
Although affordable housing constitutes a small portion of Larlyn’s property management services, the company is devoted to the cause, working with a number of associations such as the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), Ontario’s Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, and regional municipalities, for example. Larlyn has also conducted feasibility studies for clients so that submissions to provincial governments may be made in an effort to create affordable housing.
The company has also worked with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) to, “put buildings into communities that are geared toward affordable housing and the integration of individuals back into society, but under their controlled environment,” explains Michael. “A lot of those plans have been very successful and continue today.”
Larlyn’s certifications include the Association of Condominium Managers of Ontario (ACMO) 2000 – it is Ontario’s first property management company to hold such a certification – and the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) Accredited Management Organization (AMO) certification. Earlier this year, the company was recertified for ISO 9001:2015, the newest version of the standard that replaces ISO 9001:2008. “We’re now certified to the most current standards in respect to best practices,” explains Michael. “It’s more designed to be the foundation for the roots of Larlyn – kind of how we’ve grown – keeping our culture focused on the best practice.”
Also awarded to Larlyn Property Management in 2018 was the Consumer Choice Award, the sixth year in a row that the company has received this accolade. Commenting on this Award Michael says that, “It’s a nice recognition for our team on what they do day to day.”
New initiatives have been implemented this year with respect to the safety of tenants and properties. “We look after compliance in the buildings which is a requirement under the various provincial laws,” affirms Michael.
Regulatory compliance training is conducted online through webinar videos that are recorded and documented for such things as annual fire safety training, Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) training, and other requirements to protect employees and individuals in a community. Michael shares that Larlyn has “moved to an automated system just to make sure nothing falls through the cracks.”
Another initiative implemented this year is the expansion of Larlyn’s brokerage services. There are a number of clients who, aside from property management services, require an overseeing of leasing, sales or dispositions of their real estate. “We do have a division – Larlyn Commercial – which is involved in the sales side and a lot of additional focuses on our commercial real estate side to service our clients better,” says Michael.
Although Larlyn doesn’t have any offices outside of Canada currently, the company does manage numerous Canadian properties for those clients that live outside of the country. “Right now, we see opportunity for growth and expansion in Canada,” states Michael, who also maintains that, “We’re currently looking at opportunities in eastern Canada. We’ve had a number of requests to look after portfolios in those marketplaces.”
He also shares that the United States market “would probably be the next feasible step for us. Obviously, the United States is a big market with a lot of players; once we feel that there are no further opportunities for us in Canada, then the international step would be our next growth opportunity.”
Summarizing what the Larlyn Property Management appellation represents to him, Michael says that, “We’re still a family-based business with a number of years and generations still employed and working today. Our philosophy is that we’re approachable. We still believe in that personal link.”
Concluding, he further explains that, “When it comes to real estate, we look at everyone’s real estate as if we owned it. That’s how our whole business has been founded and continues to grow.”