If you’re a property manager, you know that there’s rarely enough of you to get to all of the people who need you on any given day. So how do you keep up with all of the demands on your time? Since cloning has not yet come to the human sphere, you’ll need to maximize your efforts by working smarter. To do that, you’ll need automation, which is the key to divesting yourself of time-consuming processes. Why kill yourself doing what a computer can do for you with great precision and accuracy?
Even though you may know somewhere in the back of your mind that digitizing your property management can save you time, you’ve probably thrown out all of these excuses for not automating your workflows.
- I don’t have the money for sophisticated programs.
- I don’t have the time to learn these programs.
- I doubt my ability to learn these programs well.
Fair enough! These are very natural concerns shared by many of your peers. However, it’s important to keep a broad view here. Chances are, you stand to save far more money than you spend on these programs (and you might be surprised at how affordable your options are anyway).
The same goes for your concerns about your time. Yes, it may take a while to learn the ins and outs of new software applications, but it will be a drop in the bucket compared to the time you will save when you can simply “press go” on computerized processes that used to take you untold hours to accomplish.
Finally, even if high-tech is a foreign language that you do not speak, you’ll be surprised at how intuitive today’s apps are, and many come with training tutorials and ongoing customer support so that you can learn as you go.
And best of all, these apps don’t just help you be more efficient, they can also help with critical things like safety compliance so that you, your properties and your tenants are better protected.
So what exactly can you automate for greater efficiency and safety? Let’s take a closer look.
Compliance Management. There’s plenty of legislation out there to govern how secure your properties are, and unless you want to avoid financial penalties and even lawsuits, it’s critical to comply. The challenge is that keeping track of critical tasks like inspecting and updating smoke alarms, complying with pool safety requirements and updating insurance can be overwhelming. Many property management software suites include compliance components that alert you of needed tasks, help you monitor what has and hasn’t been done and generate reports to show your compliance history. This can give you peace of mind and help prevent disasters.
Property Inspection. These inspections are critical at the start and end of each tenancy. They help ensure that everything is safe and ready for move-in, pinpoint any maintenance issues that need to be addressed and establish important baselines that you can measure wear and tear against. And fortunately, “there’s an app for that!”
Property inspection software can help you identify damaged (or unsafe) items, document them and arrange for repair or replacement. These software suites also track guarantees and warranties so that you’re not paying to fix something that the manufacturer should be covering. They can generate checklists for tenants and your maintenance/cleaning crews. Some software can even facilitate and track communication with third-party maintenance contractors.
Many apps have special components to manage safety-related inspections as well, including fire, gas and electrical safety checks. Trying to track property inspection items over multiple units and/or sites can be overwhelming, but these apps help take the pain out of the process.
Maintenance. If you haven’t yet automated maintenance management, now’s the time! Not only will this put hours back into your weeks, but it will allow you to stay on top of maintenance requests more effectively than ever—which leads to happier clients. Consider the benefits:
- Allow your customers to request and schedule maintenance online
- Allow customers to check on the status of their work order
- See the status and histories of all completed and open work orders (and other analytics to help you track trends and increase efficiency)
- Automate preventative maintenance (no more worrying about who has or hasn’t replaced their A/C filters, which HVAC systems have been serviced, etc.)
- Manage your stock room inventory
Programs like eMaint, UpKeep, and eWork Orders can reinvent your maintenance processes.
Scheduling. Consider this imaginary email chain. It may look strangely familiar.
Prospective tenant: I’m interested in renting your property.
Property manager: Wonderful. Let’s set up an appointment so that you can view it.
Prospective tenant: Sounds good. What times do you have available?
Property manager: How about Tuesday after 1 p.m.?
Prospective tenant: I’d like to come with my partner. Let me check her schedule.
Property manager: Great. I’ll stay tuned to hear more.
Prospective tenant: (no response)
Property manager: Hi. I haven’t heard back from you on viewing the property.
Prospective tenant: Sorry, it took me a while to coordinate schedules. Tuesday at 1:30 would be great.
Property manager: OK, that slot actually got taken. How about if we shoot for 2 p.m. instead?
Prospective tenant: I have to be out of there by 2:30 so I think that would be cutting it close. Could you do Wednesday?
And on, and on, and on. It’s not unusual for property managers to generate 5-10 emails on the way to a preliminary appointment with a prospective tenant.
As an alternative, consider scheduling software. Then, all you have to do is send the prospective client a link that shows them what’s available on your schedule. The software can then notify you when the client has signed up for a spot and forward you all of the contact information that it has gathered from the client. You’ll see it all on your calendar, and the software can generate reminder emails for both you and the client.
There are a number of free scheduling apps to choose from: HubSpot Meeting Tool, Calendar, Calendly, SimplyBook and Square Appointments are some popular ones. Playing tag may have been fun when you were a fifth grader at recess, but email tag is no fun when time is of the essence. Let software do the heavy lifting for you.
And when you are ready to show your properties, consider self-showing technology that helps safeguard your leasing staff. Rently and Tenant Turner are just a couple of apps that help make this possible with lockboxes or digital entry codes. Your leasing staff will thank you when they don’t have to show up at vacant properties with people they’ve never met before.
And for situations where you or your staff are meeting people in person, make sure everyone has a personal safety app on their phone (bSafe, Scream Alarm!, Circle of 6, etc.) These allow you to turn your phone into an alarm or contact the authorities easily (with the shake of your phone or a touch of a red panic button).
Being a property manager isn’t easy, so let technology share your burden. At The Disaster Company, we see what happens when Davis County properties are not properly safeguarded as we move in for flood restoration or fire clean up. Applying the right technologies can put time back into your schedule and also ensure that your properties are safe and well-maintained, which in turn can help you avert property disasters.