Vera D. Kiser and her husband Timothy Kiser run “Perfect Fit Home Rentals, LLC” a property management company for privately-owned homes in the Atlanta area. And while it is great helming a family business, there are a few challenges when working with relatives. But when well organized, things can run maybe even more smoothly than other types of businesses, at least that is what Vera has found.
“I didn’t intend for it to be a family business. However, when my bookkeeper failed miserably, Hubby (Timothy) stepped in to get my financials in order. Being an engineer, he has a head for numbers and has done a masterful job. Additionally, we felt it was necessary for him to own a percentage of the company for ‘right of survivorship’ purposes. Should I pre-decease him, there will be no fights within the family on who gets what,” says Kiser.
The husband and wife team has been successful with the company. They handle anything but apartments. “That means, homeowners hire us to find responsibe tenants who will rent and take care of the home,” explains Kiser.
“Perfect Fit” is filling a niche in the Atlanta area. “During the housing bust, I got my real estate license, which is required in Georgia to manage multiple rentals in the state. Many owners could not sell their homes. They were ‘underwater,’ meaning they owed much more than what the home was worth, but they had to move on with their lives,” says Kiser. “A viable short term solution in this situation is for the owner to lease the home until it appreciated to a respectable value. Then, we can get it sold for them because who better knows the home than the person who has managed it for some time?” she adds.
Of course, even though this small business has been successful there have been some kinks that had to be ironed out. “As an electrical engineer, Tim is totally okay with talking numbers morning, noon and night. So I hear about accounting at dinner, on vacation, in bed, girls-night-out, etc. I can never get away from work if I’m with him. It drives me bananas, but I can’t complain because he is doing me a huge favor by keeping my books straight – something I don’t have the aptitude for,” shares Kiser. “I believe a true sign of intelligence is admitting to what you are not good at and handing the task over to someone who does. I don’t care how successful someone is, nobody is a jack of all trades. Nobody.”
But for Kiser, there are more plusses than minuses when it comes to working with her husband. “Since Tim knows and understands my work, it’s easier to discuss challenges. And he is naturally concerned about how the solution will impact our personal life. An unrelated employee wouldn’t be cognizant or care about the life/work balance,” she says.
Overall, running a small business is something Kiser says she finds fulfilling as many other entrepreneurs can attest to. “I can run/grow/shrink my business on my terms. I can fire my undesirable bosses, clients and customers at will without fear of paying the light bill. I’d just have to replace the client. As an entrepreneur, I don’t have to obey a power-tripping manager or supervisor. I only perform tasks that make sense to me and I can exercise fairness to all who I manage as supported by state law which has led to long tenancies that also benefit my client who is the homeowner; and my customer who is the tenant,” she says.