Investor Spotlight: Olympic Rental and Landlord Services

Since 1985 Todd Monohon has owned and managed rental properties. For a short while, he had other property management companies manage some of his properties. It is out of this experience that Olympic Rental & Landlord Services grew. It is Todd’s commitment to create and run a dynamic people-oriented company that goes well beyond the basics of property management in all aspects of service. His team is living that vision now.

We recently had the opportunity to meet with Todd and we are grateful to him for answering a few questions!

Thurston EDC: What is your product, and who is your customer?

Todd: We are a residential property management team. Our product is the renting and servicing of single-family or small multi-family residential properties in Thurston County and south Pierce County. We have two sets of customers –  property owners (with whom we are contracted) and the tenants of their properties. We are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Thurston EDC: What inspired you to start Olympic Rental?

Todd: Over 30 years ago, I became an accidental landlord. We moved from Seattle to Olympia when I accepted the job as school principal here. We rented our Seattle home, and I managed the property through the school of hard knocks. Eventually, we sold that house and began investing here in Olympia. Along the way, I had other firms manage my rentals, but when I retired, I decided to manage my rentals. Soon, friends were asking for my help, so 14 years ago, I decided to open Olympic Rental & Landlord Services.

Thurston EDC: What inspires your work and sets you apart from the competition?

Todd: At the core of our business model is our mission to provide outstanding customer service. We do this through a team-management approach rather than a portfolio approach. Our decentralized approach means we can serve both tenants and owners quickly and with a high level of service.

Thurston EDC: What has been your most significant success to date?

Todd: Finding and retaining people is our secret — the service we provide is very high for our industry, and we hope to take it yet to the next level over the coming year as we redesign our office space to reinforce what we are doing as a team.

Thurston EDC: What has been your biggest challenge to date?

  1. Expectations for housing are high. That’s good, but it is also a challenge. Rentals are, for the most part, probably in better shape than many privately owned homes because we need to meet these expectations. This was not the case 30 years ago. Perhaps everyone is watching too much HGTV!
  2. We have a tremendous shortage of housing in our region. This is great for the owners because rents have gone up quickly in recent years – making up for eight years of stagnation, but it is tough for the renters to see this increase happen quickly.

Thurston EDC: What does your typical day look like?

Todd: I’m usually at the desk no later than 6:30 a.m. and often have evening meetings. I’m home from the office at 6 or 6:30 p.m. but at least two times a week I’m at community organization fundraisers or board meetings. We make our living by serving our community, so volunteering our time in our is part of the job. Beyond that, in emergencies, I am available any time.

Thurston EDC: What is your best advice for someone for an aspiring entrepreneur?

Todd: Plan and make sure you are well-capitalized in both skills and finances before you begin. Many aspiring business owners fail because they don’t have enough capital to see them through a startup period. Scale appropriately. I spent four and 1/2 years before I was able to hire the first team member. I took the slow route, and that has made all the difference for my business. As we have grown to manage over 600 properties, we have the human and financial capital to handle the cash flow needs of the company. Freedom from cash flow worries allows us to focus on service.

Thurston EDC:  Do you have a business or personal mantra or an inspirational quote you would like to share?

Todd:  “Get it done.”

Thurston EDC: Is there a common misconception about your business within Thurston County that you would like to address here?

Todd: There is a good deal of mistrust and vilification of “big” business today (just listen to our presidential candidates). Many people hear this and assume all businesses are greedy and do not care. That’s not how we operate. We work hard to do an excellent job for our clients and develop personable relationships with all involved. We try to create a partnership with owners, tenants, our maintenance team, and the vendors who help us serve the properties and residents living there.

Thurston EDC: What are you reading?

Compelling People: The Hidden Qualities that Make Us Influential   –  John Neffinger and Matthew Kohut

It’s Better Than It Looks: Reasons for Optimism in an Age of Fear –  Gregg Easterbrook