Once they’ve found security and established themselves within their careers, most people aren’t willing to strike out in the direction of a new, potentially more fulfilling path.
Luckily, Property Management, Inc. franchisee Nicole Reinhardt isn’t one of those people.
In 2013, after 15 years in healthcare as a registered nurse in Colorado Springs, Reinhardt knew it was time for a change. She’d climbed to a place of financial stability for herself and her family and she was, as some might say, “all set.” Except she wasn’t.
“I’d come to realize [nursing] wasn’t something I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” Reinhardt said. “I’d lost the passion for healthcare.”
Instead of settling, Reinhardt partnered with an independent franchise consultant to learn about alternate career paths. After initially reviewing healthcare-related franchising opportunities and sensing Reinhardt’s reservations, the consultant changed tactics.
“She said, ‘Let’s look at a different pathway. What about property management?’” Reinhardt said.
Reinhardt was intrigued. She was already the owner of several properties and working as a landlord to supplement her nursing income. After hearing about Property Management, Inc. franchise—at the time only three years old but with an impressive track record—Reinhardt got on a call with Jeremiah Cundiff, now a VP with Property Management, Inc. He connected her with the president of Property Management, Inc., Steve Hart. Hart and Reinhardt immediately connected.
“He caught on to my personality and he gave me a shot,” Reinhardt said.
With this moment and interested in the existing management systems that Reinhardt would be able to utilize to develop her business as a PMI franchisee, Reinhardt signed on, opening the doors of her Colorado Springs Property Management, Inc. location in January of 2014.
“I said, ‘here I am, property management!’ And we ran for a couple of months, and then I met my mentor,” Reinhardt explained. “I did marketing and back office stuff, but I couldn’t negotiate or sign leases or property agreements—he had to do all that. We ran that way for a couple of months and then I met my mentor.”
Reinhardt met her mentor, Jeanie, through a third party. The company Jeanie worked for at the time was closing the property management side of the business, and she had experience managing multiple properties—18 properties, in fact.
“I met with her and [Denver-based broker] Joe and got her to come over to our side. She took me under her wing and taught me property management,” Reinhardt said.
Building from Jeanie’s 18 properties, Reinhardt utilized third-party lead generators and attended copious networking meetings. She closed her first year in business with 50 properties. With Jeanie signing leases and Reinhardt daily soaking up information and coordinating marketing efforts, the two made an effective team. Over the next four years, Reinhardt’s location saw considerable growth: they ended 2015 with 101 properties; 2016 with 250 properties; and 2017 with 410 properties.
“So we doubled in size every year except for 2018,” Reinhardt said.
The move to focus on management over growth was strategic, though; after acquiring a significant number of properties from other property management companies going out of business at the end of 2017 and beginning of 2018, Reinhardt realized she needed to re-assess.
“I wanted to provide the owners [from the acquired property management companies] the support they needed during that transition and with hiring new staff. So, I told my team: ‘I’m not looking for more properties because I want to take care of those owners and tenants we have and provide them quality service before we look for new business,” Reinhardt said.
Reinhardt closed 2018 with 370 properties, and Jeanie departed from the business. With four years of experience under her belt, earned expertise with PMI’s management systems and greater confidence in her business acumen after prioritizing quality over quantity in 2018, Reinhardt entered 2019 ready to make moves.
“We’re going in with a full-fledged marketing campaign for commercial management, residential community associations (HOAs), vacation rentals and then a sales division,” Reinhardt said.
It’s important to note that this success didn’t come to Reinhardt overnight, nor without its challenges.
“I had a pretty large hurdle to get over and I did it. All I’d done was nursing, but I knew how to talk to people,” Reinhardt said. “The day I woke up and said, ‘Okay, I’m going to quit nursing now and give 100 percent to my property management company’—that was a very scary thing knowing that, every two weeks, I wasn’t getting a paycheck. It takes a lot to know I’m going to have to look my kids in the eye across the dinner table and say: ‘Christmas might be different this year,’” Reinhardt said.
Amidst the uncertainty of the early days, though, Reinhardt said she could always count on support from Property Management, Inc. leadership, and that she knows the corporate team is an ever-present resource.
“I’ve always had support from corporate,” Reinhardt explained. “They provided a turn-key option for me—they had the systems in place, I just had to go out and find my business and follow through. And I didn’t know anything [about the business], but they taught me. If I ever needed help, they provided it immediately.”
Thanks to her fearless mentality and willingness to take advantage of corporate’s expertise, Reinhardt now serves as a regular point of contact for franchise candidates thinking about opening a Property Management, Inc. location. And she doesn’t beat around the bush.
“I say, ‘Where are you in life? Why are you looking for a change?’ Most folks are looking to know why I changed careers. Things like, ‘How fast will I be able to sustain my family, do I need two jobs, how long until I can pay my bills?’,” Reinhardt said. “And I tell them: ‘I don’t know. But I know this: If you treat your decision not as an option, it has to be done. There is no option to fail.”
Reinhardt certainly hasn’t failed. She built a new career even with the risks attached to being the primary breadwinner in her family, she learned a new industry from the ground up and she keeps plowing ahead thanks to a balanced perspective that celebrates those around her.
“I had a guy say to me: ‘Isn’t there a lot of competition in your area?’” Reinhardt said. “Sure, I could go through the phone book and pick out 200 other property management companies. But I don’t want the pie—I want a piece of it. I don’t need to be top dog in Colorado Springs; I want a legacy I can leave my boys, if they want it; I love the people that work with me. My vision and my passion is to be able to provide nine other people the opportunity to be something more than just a team member of mine. They’re learning from me, from each other, and they will one day be bigger than they are now. And that is a success.”
“It takes a lot of courage to take that leap,” Reinhardt said. “But looking back? Yeah, I’d do it again.”