Property management has many repetitive tasks, but that doesn't mean that property managers need to stay bogged down by repetitive tasks, day after day!
While owners and tenants change, the process of onboarding them and managing their property either does not change or changes very infrequently. Why keep spending time on the routine aspects of managing properties when you need to spend more time building relationships and growing your business?
What's the solution? When you define your workflows and standardize methods, you can look for tasks that can easily adapt with property management process automation. Utilizing automation will save you and your team a significant amount of time that you can devote to connecting with new leads and adding more doors!
What tasks can you automate, and what tasks should you automate? Glad you asked! RentBridge believes process automation in these five areas will lead to significant savings of time and effort for property management company owners.
1. Client and Property Onboarding
The onboarding process is one of the most critical steps in starting a new relationship with property owners. It sets the tone for the level of professionalism that your new clients and tenants will love about your services from day one. When adding a new property from an existing client, your onboarding process needs to make it efficient and straightforward to help that property generate income right away.
Think through your current process for onboarding:
- How much of the process is managed digitally?
- Do you still have to put together new owner and tenant packages with printed paper?
- Do you have to sit with a client and manually enter information to get them started with your services?
If your copy room is a focal point in your office, then you have room for improvement. When working in a remote environment or adapting your work style to accommodate social distancing, waiting to meet with clients for an "official" onboarding can delay your process.
Automation Improves Your Onboarding Process
Make onboarding easier for everyone! Take the manual, repetitive tasks, and streamline them with property management process automation to keep things moving and impress new clients from the start.
- We suggest an operational review and revision of your workflows first. Once you have everything documented, pick a project management software (like HubSpot), and create a client onboarding and tenant onboarding template.
- For every new client, tenant, or property, copy the appropriate template to their folder. Your team will have a task-by-task list that includes every action necessary to complete a comprehensive onboarding.
- Great software solutions will have document storage in the cloud, as well. Adding an e-sign option will allow your tenants to fill out necessary documents which can, with the right software, be emailed straight to their file.
No more stacks of papers or wasting copier paper and ink!
If you aren't able to conduct a full operational review to implement significant automation, there are still some tricks you can use to save time. Create email templates and attach the PDFs to them, change names and dates, then send. The less paper you are pushing around your office, the faster everything will move.
2. Expirations, Renewal Communications, and Processing
How much time do you spend on the routine tasks associated with lease expirations and renewals? We're guessing you spend more time keeping track of dates, tenants, and leases than you should be spending on those things.
It's critical to keep track of and manage those details to keep income flowing. However, it's also critical not to spend valuable time on these things when you could let your established property management process automations do it for you!
Automation Helps You Manage More Renewals
Your property management software should already be set up to send automatic renewal notifications triggered by a date. However, we know this isn't always the case. In my early days of property management, I had a colleague that would create outlook reminders for lease renewals. That process might work if you have less than five tenants—but as you grow, you need more sophisticated options.
- Automation helps you manage more doors! If you're still relying on manually-set reminders or spreadsheets to keep track of lease expirations and renewals, you will quickly become overwhelmed when adding new clients.
- Continuing to serve owners and tenants with excellence means you have to adapt better processes and use technology to enhance what you do.
- Use software that automatically calculates the date of renewals based on the lease terms and your criteria (we recommend 90 days out).
- Create a form for communication complete with documents that a tenant needs to process their renewal or give notice.
With the right mix of technology and the benefits of property management automation, you shouldn't have to do anything once you have it set up correctly.
When tenants can renew without manual effort from you, you have more time to follow up on new leads and grow your business!
3. Collections Communications
Writing emails (and remembering to send them) to the right tenants or owners at the right time can be an overwhelming part of your job as a property manager. Forgetting to send a payment reminder can mean you aren't able to collect the rent on time for your owners. When customer service matters in a competitive rental market, it's not okay to let a simple thing like an email cost you an owner relationship.
If you're still relying on an Excel workbook and reminders set up in your phone, you are risking your business when it comes to emailing collection reminders. Maintaining your current client base and managing more doors requires you to upgrade your process.
Automation Saves Time and Helps You Collect
Email templates and automation will save you countless hours and make you more accurate and efficient! When you aren't spending the time opening your email and typing out (or copying and pasting) email text to send a payment reminder, you have more time to devote to your efforts in growing your business.
Most sophisticated accounting systems can automate collections communications. Write a series of form letters that include the appropriate text for nonpayment reminders, then and let your property management process automations do the collecting.
Of course, some tenants will still require a personal touch to collect—but for the average tenant, a series of electronic reminders will get the job done.
Are you using a CRM? Leasing is a sales function—and there is a world of fantastic software meant to track contacts, nurture leads, and manage the customer relationship. So many leasing communications work wonderfully as part of your automated sales funnel in your CRM.
Automation Helps Nurture Leads
If you aren't using a CRM, you're not only spending more time chasing your leads manually, but you're also losing good contacts that aren't ready yet. Prioritizing the best leads through your sales funnel maximizes the time you spend on more qualified leads. When you focus time, energy, and resources on better prospects at the right times, your marketing ROI and close rates improve!
A robust CRM automation can nurture your prospects until the right property comes vacant, building that relationship, so you get the lead when the time is right. Growing your business isn't about chasing every lead or adding any available door. Automation helps you pursue the right leads and add doors that fit with your business and boost your income.
5. Task Assignments
Property management is full of recurring tasks, but "recurring" doesn't always mean "efficient."
Applying property management automation helps you fix common problems for property managers, including:
- Forgetting to complete tasks on time or duplicating efforts means you're wasting time and losing business
- Scrambling last minute to complete a missed task leads to mistakes that take even longer to clean up
- Team members who don't know what to do means you have people with either too much to do, or not enough to do
This is where using an online project management software is going to make your life easier. You'll also serve clients and tenants better when everyone understands the tasks for each lifecycle stage of a property, and who owns that task.
Automation Helps Everyone Do Their Jobs—Better
Some people love working from lists—but lists can leave room for errors and waste time. With property management process automation, you will save the time it takes your employees to make a list and determine what it is they need to do each day. Starting each day with task "lists" already created for your team helps everyone do their jobs better!
Setting up recurring tasks keeps everyone on the same page, too.
- Instead of regular meetings to follow up on the status of tasks, you can look at your task management software and see who is on track or who needs help.
- If you have employee turnover, it will be easier to maintain your high levels of service for owners and tenants because you'll know precisely where a former employee left off with their tasks.
Don't Lose Business: Automate Today!
Hopefully, we've made an excellent case for why you can't afford not to automate! We firmly believe in automation to help property managers grow their businesses and serve clients better—and now you might wonder how to get started and make it work for you.
While we can't give everyone step-by-step instructions here for automating these tasks in-house, RentBridge can still help you set up the right property management process automation systems for your business. There are just too many different mixes of property management software, file storage software, and project management software to begin to cover it in one blog—but we're here to help!
If you need help automating your operations, contact us. As part of our Game Plan, we work with property management companies to better document their workflows and increase automation, so you spend less time in the office while growing your doors.
Updated and republished 7/6/2020.