There is a theme I am witnessing in the industry that follows what is happening in society on a larger scale – Technology. Prior to the smart phone, which is, only 10 years old I carried with me excel spreadsheets with all my Owners, Tenants and Vendor contact info. There were limited options for property managers when it came to technology or software. In fact, advertising in the newspaper was the only option and it was very expensive. Now, I doubt anyone uses the newspaper anymore to advertise rentals.
Technology has changed every facet of the property management industry. It has changed the way we market our businesses, get new business, interact with our clients and tenants, screen and process applicants, and manage the paperwork in our office from lease signings to our accounting. It used to take two full days to do my monthly owner statements now it takes a couple hours.
With technology, we save money and time – think postage and paper but the trade off is we pay for the software monthly. So what is the shift that is happening in our industry?
- It is easier than ever to scale our businesses and grow portfolios
- Social media is now an integral part of marketing not only our services but our properties
- Mobile ready websites – from start to finish a prospect can view, apply, and sign a lease all on their mobile device.
- Property Management Software and plug and play apps now streamline how the property management office functions. This includes posting property ads to Craig’s List, providing tenants the ability to pay rent and report maintenance on line. Then there are apps that provide property inspections and move in/move out reports with photos attached; scheduling software and single entry lock box codes so prospects can view a property on their own and the property manager knows exactly who and when they were in the unit.
- Virtual Assistants are becoming a viable resource to help with administrative and repetitive tasks. This increases profits, saves on payroll expenses, and in turn frees up the office staff to perform higher skilled tasks and to manage more properties.
- There are now niche specific vendors to support the property manager. Some examples are:
- Call centers to handle maintenance emergencies
- Social media marketing companies that can help you promote your business
- Lead generation and CRM companies to help manage your sales team and close more leads
- Companies that screen and process your applications
- Virtual assistants to support the labor needed to scale an office
- Property management specific documents and manuals to create the foundation needed for a company to run effectively and the systems in place to support the staff to be more efficient
- Attorney’s that specialize in landlord/tenant issues
Technology allows property managers to be more efficient with their time but there is also the learning curve and the expectation that we need to be immediately responsive which can raise the level of stress to constantly being available to our tenants, owners, and vendors. As business owners and property managers it is up to us to decide how best to use technology to support us. Property Management is a people business and people do business with people they like.
Kathleen Richards, is the owner of LandlordSource, The Property Management Coach, and Portola Property Management. She has authored Property Management A-Z, and teaches regularly at community colleges and conferences about property management. She has been active in her field and holds professional designations as Master Property Manager (MPM®) and Residential Management Professional (RMP®) from NARPM®. Kathleen has served at the local and state level on the boards for NARPM® (National Association of Residential Property Managers).
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