There is more to being a property manager than just collecting rent. In addition to worrying about maintenance and marketing, good managers also focus in on the budget. Even that is more than just tracking income and expenses. Managers in every industry need to learn how to forecast. Forecasting is trying to project the expenses versus income for an upcoming period of time – weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly. It is an ongoing event as market conditions change. Property owners will be looking at the property managers for updates on revenue and expenses to see where the business is headed financially and strategically. Predicting isn’t easy. Forecasting is primarily done on spreadsheets with the data accumulated, entered and calculated by a human. This leaves open the possibility for error, and errors can be costly to a business. They also take a great deal of time to do manually. Forecasting is a hugely important process fraught with the possibility of miscalculation due to bad data, entry errors or incorrect formulas. For this reason, using an automated forecasting program, is a much preferable option. There are many factors that can influence a forecast, such as rent, repairs, market and crime conditions, turnover, maintenance, utilities, landscaping, snow removal and other operational expenses. All of these factors can be accounted for in programming. When forecasting is accurate, property managers can find potential profits previously concealed from them. It can influence their decision making to make good on those additional revenues by identifying problem areas early and planning ahead for what is already known. There are some things that property managers can do to make their forecasting efforts as productive as possible. ⦁ Track performance so you can plan ahead. History has a cyclical way of telling the future. Pay attention to the same quarter last year and the year before. What’s the same? What’s different? ⦁ Start with good data. Do double checks to make sure it is accurate and clean. You need a baseline to identify trends and make the most out of variances in your forecasting. ⦁ Make it easy to access. The accounting package, including forecasting, should be accessible 24/7 from anywhere. You can work from anywhere and check how changes in the variables affect your forecast when they occur. ⦁ Pay attention to the seasons. Did you plan for snow removal? What about winterizing the pool? Expenses will change with the season as needs change. Pay attention to the trends and plan accordingly. ⦁ Share data through the portals on web applications. If you have a staff, put them in the loop. Authorize the property owner to see the figures, income, balance sheet and forecasts for his or her property. Using a web-based application is far easier than emailing spreadsheets or sending hard copies. When you adjust for trends shown in forecasting, you may find hidden profit potential. You may make informed decisions that influence financial and operational proficiency that can put more money in your pocket and that of your owners.