Property managers have what can be a thankless job, and it shows. One-third will switch jobs within the next year, higher than most other full-time careers. Given the high demands and expectations, many discover they aren’t a great fit for the position and move on within a couple of years.
Denise Childs with Corner Property Management never got that memo.
“I’m probably the oldest property manager in the universe,” she says with a warm, full laugh. She’s driving through the D.C. Beltway from her home in New Jersey. There, she’s spent the last thirty years in property management — and she’s never quit a job in her life.
Starting as a receptionist in ’92 with a New Jersey management firm (she remembers that year’s Nor’Easter), Denise worked her way up the company ladder. Every time her property management company was acquired, she went along for the ride — eventually accepting a management position with Corner Property Management.
“When people hear the pool’s not open, it’s pool-mania. ‘When’s the pool going to open?’ ‘When’s it happening this year?’ So it’s always a stressful time of year. But it’s very rewarding, because those are the kinds of things that bring a community together.”
Reflecting on the property management role she shared,“It’s not glamorous, that’s for sure,” she says with a laugh again. “But I liked the chaos and the volume, and I just stuck with it.”
Property and pool management have a lot in common: You can do everything in your power to craft the perfect experience and someone will still have a problem with it. She recognizes how difficult this can be, especially during the summer months. That’s when residents begin dialing into pool season, a moment she’s already planned nine months ahead of time.
“When people hear the pool’s not open, it’s pool-mania,” she says. “ When’s the pool going to open?’ ‘When’s it happening this year?’ So it’s always a stressful time of year. But it’s very rewarding, because those are the kinds of things that bring a community together.”
Her recommendation on getting through it? “You have to be in the weeds,” Denise offers. “You cannot do this job behind a desk.”
Part of that means working with vendors she can trust to get the job done — it’s her name in the game, after all. And because she needs a vendor she can trust, Denise recommends American Pool to her communities’ HOA boards.
Why Denise recommends American Pool
There’s never a question of whether something will go wrong during pool season, but when. Perhaps it’s a burned-up pool pump, or a lifeguard calling out sick.
The year 2019 was a challenging one for Denise’s pools, due to electrical issues and late seasonal starts across the board. This was at a time when several different pool management companies catered to her portfolio, but only one of them was capable of opening their subset of pools on time.
“The only pools that were open on time were American Pool’s,” she says fondly. That’s due in great part to Matt Hackett, our New Jersey office’s regional manager. “He was at the pool until 7 or 8 at night, just getting it ready.”
Matt’s a textbook example of how American Pool can expand early experience into an aquatics career. Denise has known Matt since he was a lifeguard, describing their relationship as “mama and baby bear.”
“It’s been a wonderful experience to watch him grow from a lifeguard to regional manager,” she notes. “I want Matt assigned to my pool, no matter where it is.”
It’s the kind of connection we strive to set. For many property managers, it can also be the determining factor when selecting the right pool management company.
“The only pools that were open on time were American Pool’s.”
When so many HOA boards focus on fiduciary responsibilities alone, it’s easy to fall into the trap that value is in price alone.
Denise recognizes dollars are important, but the sense really lies in finding value. “It’s the seasoned people that you’re working with that really makes a big difference.”
Keeping it in-house
Most commercial pool operations don’t have the resources to take care of big jobs alone, so they have to rely on other contractors to respond to most mechanical remediations.
That might be good news for subcontractors, but not for Denise and her business.
“There’s nothing worse than a pool breaking down in the middle of the season and having to subcontract,” she says. “That’s one of the things that I like about American Pool, is that it’s all in-house. They have everything I need to handle a situation when it happens.”
And when things do turn south (it’s only a matter of time), Denise doesn’t have to stress about whether we’ll get the problem fixed.
“I base my recommendations on someone I work with; someone I know can get the job done. I find that the people that [American Pool hires] are able to reasonably handle the situations that come up along the way.”
When you’ve worked three decades in property management, you’ve earned the right to recommend the right choice.
“Every single time I’ve given a good reference,” she says. “There’s really no reason for me not to. I’ve had a pretty good life with American Pool.”