Peter Barker is a knowledgeable, experienced property manager with a passion for providing great value to both his customers and their tenants.
Born in Orange County, California, Peter continues to call Orange County home. His aspirations were varied while he was young. He attended the University of California, Los Angeles as a Political Science Major. In time he realized this isn’t where his passion is. He spent time working in various aspects of property management during his time out of school. Once he completed his time at UCLA, Mr. Barker explored several other options but was always drawn back to the same industry.
His father founded Barker Management in 1969. Peter eventually came back to the business he knew and loved by joining his father in the company. In his time since taking over, he has been able to grow the company in a professional and lasting manner. They currently have more than ten thousand affordable housing units in their portfolio.
Additionally, he has made it his mission to empower his staff, improve their overall experience, and encourage them to grow with the company and job. Employees who are proud of their work environment leads to loyalty, positive office cooperation, and overall success for everyone involved.
When Peter Barker is not managing his company, he is enjoying time with his family. Peter met and married the love of his life 30 years ago. They have enjoyed mutual success and raised two incredible children.
Where did you get the idea for Barker Management? What inspired you to start the business?
The idea for the company was actually my father’s. He began the business in 1969 after a company he joined for property development went bankrupt. He had a passion for providing affordable housing. Living around that passion made it contagious.
By the time I became completely involved with the company, my father went from novice and unaware to the expert who taught me everything I needed to know.
How do you generate revenue for the business?
We maintain three separate revenue streams. We manage properties in exchange for fees. We have a construction division that works on renovations and maintaining the properties we work with. We also have a division dedicated to restructuring existing developments building new housing. From there we then rent our new housing units through the property management division.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Starting my day is pretty routine. Wake up, enjoy breakfast with my wife, then head to work. Making the day productive takes some effort. I oversee the big picture projects and the development thereof. This requires me to allow my division leaders to manage the day to day business. We use the best technological tools for enhancing our customer experience, client conversations, and communications between the divisions. It is also good to have the most up to date processes for analyzing the vast amounts of data that comes into our companies every single day.
By taking those specific items seriously, I’m proud to say we’ve been able to grow effectively, maintain quality relationships with our long-term clients, and develop positive results for everyone involved.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Bringing ideas to life takes a group effort. We gather together, discuss the ideas and the associated challenges. From there we determine the most appropriate steps to take. Once we have put the actions into motion, we then get back together to collaborate and give feedback.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
By the time I took over from my father we were already a thriving company, however, that doesn’t mean we are always profitable. In this industry there are many ups and downs, and each one affects us differently. That in mind, if we are not profitable for a given year, it isn’t an issue. We are always striving to increase our profits, maximize our staff talent, and grow our bottom line.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
With every business and entrepreneur, there are times of doubt. Years ago we grew rapidly. We outpaced what we could maintain. While this may have been good for our bottom line, we were unable to maintain the level of quality our clients were accustomed to. This was a significant issue. To correct it, we adjusted our focus from growth and acquisitions to client relationships.
Now, when we grow, we make sure we have the right tools and people in place to manage the growth and the relationships. This has allowed both our customers and our staff to continue to feel comfortable with us. We have been able to limit, or eliminate stress associated with that kind of out of control growth.
How did you get your first client?
The company was full of clients when I began working with it. I can’t recall how my father obtained his first client. Since then our growth has come through a variety of methods. We generated new referral from our existing clients. When we were presented with the opportunity to expand into managing both commercial properties and residential, we did our research and grew. Additionally, we’ve made it a point to stay up to date on every applicable regulation which empowers us and our clients both new and old.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
The most important one is knowing our client’s end-goal. Once we understand what our client needs to reach their goal, we maximize our resources to make that possible for them.
The other thing I believe has helped us through this process is maximizing our technological resources. We ensure that we have the best options available for maximum productivity and efficient resource management.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I have been researching various management styles and many of the new tech companies seem to have something impressive going on. We have made it a point to emulate the aspects that fit with our company best. Things such as providing the best options available to our people and leaving it open to each division and team leader to use it as they see fit. When we need to, every member of our team is trained on new products, software, and services.
We find making our employees feel both empowered and confident is one of the most critical components to our overall success. Many of the small tech companies are doing it right.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Routines are my bread and butter. I keep my day very structured and this allows me to plan the day to day efficiently. Through that process, I have learned how to be truly transparent with decision making. This is particularly applicable when the decisions affect my staff.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
One lesson I had to learn was when to keep a client and when to let them go. There was a client that I accommodated to the point of changing our company policies. This was not a positive choice on my part and cause upheaval among my staff. We have standards and policies for a reason. Going out of my way to keep a client that wanted to go was not the right direction to take my company. Since then I measure each relationship by what is best for both parties. This means that I had some clients, at different times, that wanted to find another company. I opened the way for that to happen.
For as much as I value our clients, it was a hard lesson to learn, but I am happy I learned it.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers? (this should be an actual idea for a business, not business advice)
One good business idea would be the creation of an app or portal for residents to improve communication with their management company or landlords. I have worked hard to stay up to date with trends in technology. This is one area where I see room for improvement. The goal should be to make the end user experience as smooth as possible, giving them options so that we as the management company can serve them better.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
We have made structural changes to our company and that originally worried some staff. Now that those changes are completed everyone sees the positives in the changes.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I believe I was a bit too confident. A little humility goes a long way and over time I did come to terms with that. I would tell myself to tone it down a bit. I would also encourage myself to be patient, listen to others carefully, and be more collaborative in the decision-making process.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on?
I believe it’s possible to run a company without using paper. We don’t require hard copies in much of today’s society. As such, I’m working to remove much of the paper from Barker Management.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
Learning from the experiences, good and bad, has made me a success.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I take an active role in improving myself by learning how to be a better listener and meditating. Whenever the opportunity presents itself, I also encourage my team to meditate.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
The greatest feeling in my career has been helping those who are less fortunate. It is thrilling to see a special needs housing unit, or one for those form that are formally homeless fill with new residents. It is also enjoyable to see any of our new, affordable income housing buildings fill. I know there are so many people who can live richer, fuller lives just having a home when there was none before, or there was housing uncertainty.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
We are striving to create software that will make things more efficient, thus trimming down time we are spending in various activities. It’s exciting to see a way to make that happen and we are focused on developing this for our team.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Smartsheet is a versatile project management software that we have been able to use in a wide variety of projects. We would be lost without it.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The first book that comes to mind is Principles. It was written by Ray Dalio. It allowed me to consider our company carefully with a focus on how we were running it. He really provides a lot of insights into business innovation for company management.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why? (personal or professional)
Staying fit helps me to keep a clear mind. That in mind, I just purchased a new pair of workout sneakers.
What is a recent purchase you have made that’s helped with your business?
I’ve recently purchased 10 laptops for my staff. It will give them the ability to work anywhere, be responsible, and still responsive.
What is your favorite quote?
“The future depends on what we do in the present.” Mahatmas Ghandi.