The winner of the 2019 SCA (NSW) CHU Strata Community Awards essay award, Anthony Votano, General Manager of Premier Strata submitted a creative and interesting story about his early day as a trainee strata manager and a particular terrifying experience collecting unpaid levies.
Anthony is a fan of the written word and although he has dabbled in the past in writing articles for strata publications, he felt it would be inspiring to write for a competition. “I was motivated to tell a story. Every strata manager has a multitude of experiences to share and sharing a story always seems to strike a chord with others in our remote industry.”
“Winning the award actually meant a lot more than I thought it would. Being recognised for your written work is a major feel good and was an acknowledgement that people were genuinely interested in what I had to say “, he explained. Besides the positivity of being recognised by the industry Anthony said that he “was blown away by my children’s excitement in winning the award: my 18 year old daughter had given me advice on essay writing, while my 16 year old enjoyed my essay but didn’t understand it and my 11 year old was just excited that Dad won. Possibly the best feeling was my wife’s astonishment at me actually winning something”!
Circling back to Anthony’s narrative, the way that strata managers interact with their clients has changed a lot from when he commenced in the industry. For him, they work in a stressful and fast paced, ever-changing environment which demands immediate action to every problem. “The luxury of face to face communication has had to be scaled back from when I joined the industry in the pre-internet days.” By all means, owners appreciate a face to face meeting with their manager, but time tends to dictate everything in an industry that works on small margins but requires instant results.
According to Anthony, by creating relationships ‘in person and over the phone’ enable to make “sensory contact with the person, even if it is only through the sound of your voice”. An e-mail does not contain the sound, sight, or touch of the person you are dealing with. For that reason, when an issue becomes personal or serious it is best to pick up the phone. Anthony’s essay focussed on using empathy when collecting unpaid strata levies and he discussed his method being that prior to commencing any legal action, “I always ring the lot owner and discuss their situation in person. Through that phone call, I can generally tell a lot about the owner in arrears that an email would not disclose.”
His own piece of advice for the aspiring contestants of next year: “Just do it! Humour is a constant part of my working day and life in general so I didn’t take the essay competition too seriously initially, this however changed as I got more serious about writing something that I would actually enjoy reading myself. I ended up injecting my humour into a serious topic while still getting the message across.”