Guest Feature

Best Practices at Work AND at Home

By Brent Rivard, Managing Director

Brent RivardDo you find that your business and personal lives sometimes blend and blur into one? I find myself discussing real estate with our investors one minute and negotiating the pickup of kids from school another. Although my wife and kids don’t always like for me to apply business principles to our home life, there are great examples where best practices in business apply perfectly to best practices at home.

Do you find that your business and personal lives sometimes blend and blur into one? I find myself discussing real estate with our investors one minute and negotiating the pickup of kids from school another. Although my wife and kids don’t always like for me to apply business principles to our home life, there are great examples where best practices in business apply perfectly to best practices at home.

Best practices for building strong relationships can definitely apply both in business and family life. Great relationships are rooted in trust – which is built on clear communication and transparency. For our team at Pathfinder, we take the building and maintenance of the trust our investors place in us very seriously. Of course, trust is a key component of a good marriage and family life. So here are a few trust-building best practices for both personal and business:

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  • Consistent Communication – Trust is built by not leaving anything to the imagination. We are consistently communicating with our investors so they know the status of their investments. The timing of communication is also important. For our investors, quarterly reporting (and sometimes more frequent) has been the best cadence. In my personal life, daily communication is necessary to keep everybody on the same page. I believe a high level of responsiveness is also key to consistent communication and building strong relationships. When investors (or family members) reach out with questions or communication, responding as quickly as possible (within 24 hours at most) not only builds trust and confidence, but also shows others how much you value them.
  • Transparent communication – There are many definitions for transparency, but the ones that fit best here are: “readily understood” and “honest and open: not secretive.” At Pathfinder, we strive to provide our investors with both summary level updates on our fund and property performance, as well as detailed project narratives for those that want to dig in deeper. We believe in delivering good news regularly and, when there is bad news, delivering it right away along with our recommended resolutions to potential problems. Getting out in front of challenging situations builds investor confidence that we are actively, constructively and proactively dealing with issues. A key component to transparency, especially when dealing with complicated investments, is education. We strive to couple our detailed communication with education and details to help our investors understand how their money is working. At home, “honest and open” communication is a key component in building trusting relationships. Detailed communication of intentions and motives helps build trust and avoid the negative consequences of misunderstandings or miscommunication.
  • Communication Format – In today’s environment, there are an almost unlimited number of ways to communicate and you can’t just focus on one format and expect to get optimal results. At home, knowing my audience and how they best communicate is key. Text and email seem to be the best way to communicate with my kids when not at home (or FaceTime with my daughter, who is obsessed with it!) and phone calls with my wife. At Pathfinder, we have a wide array of investors and find that providing a variety of communication formats and distribution platforms helps to build strong connections and relationships. Here are some examples of what we’ve found works best:
    • Email – we use email as our primary mode of investor communication. Whether it is our quarterly fund updates, distribution notifications or this newsletter, email is a great way to deliver information to our investors.
    • Webinars and Conference Calls – When the topic is more complicated and requires a venue for Q&A or additional education, webinars and investor conference calls are efficient and effective tools.
    • Annual Meetings – We held our annual investor meetings a few weeks ago. Although these take considerable coordination and effort, nothing can replace an in-person meeting and the positive impact it can have on building trust and strengthening relationships.
    • Social MediaSocial Media – Over the past few years, we’ve become more focused on social media. Many of our investors come from the business community and are active on platforms such as LinkedIn. We’ve made it a point to post press releases on property acquisitions, speaking engagements and company events. It serves as another touch point with our investors and business network.

Although this focuses on investors and family, best practices can be applied to any situation where you want to build a trusting relationship. At Pathfinder, we apply these same principles to our relationships with real estate brokers, property managers, joint venture partners and, most importantly, residents in our properties. We believe that our success and reputation has been built on the strong relationships and trust we’ve built over the past ten years. Good luck and keep communicating!

Brent Rivard is Managing Director, CFO and COO of Pathfinder Partners, LLC. Prior to joining Pathfinder in 2008, Brent was the President of a national wealth management firm and CFO/COO of a one of southern California’s leading privately-held commercial real estate brokerage firms. He can be reached at brivard@pathfinderfunds.com.