Guest Blog with Chris Thorman: Six Things Property Management Software Makes Easy
- Oct 20, 2009
If you’re like most property managers, your work day is stuck in the 20th century. Rent checks are collected through a metal drop box. Brochures sit idly by outside of your office. Your web site consists of one page with a phone number, e-mail address and a few photos. Enough paperwork is collecting in your office to create a fire hazard.
I want to point out six things that property managers can really master in the 21st century, thanks to the latest property management software systems.
Managing Leads to New Tenants
According to Apartment Internet Marketing, 46% of apartment prospects inquire about a property after normal 9 AM to 5 PM office hours.
How are you currently tracking these? Through e-mail? Scrolling through your Caller ID to check missed calls? Do you even know how effective your current advertising methods are?
Fortunately, many property management software applications will collect and organize your leads from all sources, even after you’re out of the office. Rent Manager is one company that is integrating marketing with it’s property management software.
A modern property management application can:
- Collect call information from prospects inquiring after hours
- Respond automatically via e-mail to internet prospects
- Track e-mail open rates so you can follow up with those who haven’t seen your response
- Broadcast e-mails to the leads you’ve collected but haven’t converted
- Log the source of leads to your web site (Craigslist.org, Apartments.com, etc)
- Track leads from offline sources through the use of specific phone numbers
- Integrate with your online advertising methods (pay-per-click, banners ads, etc.)
In our opinion, this is the wave of the future in property management software. With more and more people every day going to the internet to look for properties, integration of web services with your property management software will be the difference between surviving and thriving. Connecting with Your Tenants
Don’t be that property manager on ApartmentRatings.com whose tenants claim is never around.
Running your office on one of the leading property management software applications will allow you to:
- Generate e-mail blasts to your tenants and rental owners
- Create community forums to discuss important topics and feedback
- Manage online calendars of events and important dates
In short, your property management software becomes your communication hub between you, your tenants and your rental owners. There’s no need to combine three of four different, separate services that don’t talk to each other. Moreover, you’ll be present without having to knock on every door.
Automation of Regular Tasks
If the rent deadline has passed and a tenant has not paid their rent yet, what do you do?
Typically, you either call them on the phone or drop off a notice at their door. That’s too much manual effort. Your property management system should email them an alert or late rent notice immediately. No need for you to type, print, mail or deliver.
Property management software can even ease the pain during one of the most stressful times of the year – tax season. Buildium’s property management software will automatically generate 1099 tax forms for vendors and rental owners and even file them electronically to the IRS. All of this is done from within the software itself.
The advantages of automation are clear: more time to focus on more important tasks (like finding leads), fewer mistakes and an overall higher level of efficiency.
Others tasks that have been automated by property management software are:
- Rent increases
- CAM charges
- Preventative maintenance scheduling
- Lease expiration notices
- Tenant log in to view account details
Many of your automated notices to tenants can be emailed directly from the property management software or even sent to mobile phones.
Advertising with Popular Web Sites
Put yourself in the shoes of a prospective tenant. Where are you going to look first for a new apartment or home? More than likely, you’re going to start your search at Craigslist or another website.
Property management software company Appfolio integrates the ability to post listings to Craigslist directly into its software, making posting vacancies to the hugely popular web site that much easier.
Appfolio uses the information you’ve already entered and are managing about your properties and ports that information directly to Craigslist. No double entry and no time wasted managing your Craigslist account separately.
And it’s not just about making it easy to post to Craigslist. Appfolio allows you to design a custom template (pictured right) that makes your Craigslist posts stand out among the typical, text-only ads.
Building a Web Site that Integrates with Your Software
If you can count the number of pages on your web site on one hand, chances are it’s not doing much to help keep your occupancy rate high. You need more than a digital business card. What you need is a web site that appeals to prospects, tenants and property owners alike.
A good number of property management software systems out there give you the option to build a slick, fully functional web site that integrates directly with their software.
Property Ware and Rentec Direct are a few of the many property management software suites that give you this build-a-web-site option in addition to their other property management software services. They’ll build a fully customizable web site with all of the features you need.
Advantages of customizable property management web sites include:
- No coding or site maintenance is need on your part
- Installation is quick and painless
- They’ll manage your domain name
- Web site analytics built into the software
- Built in forms increase your lead generation
- All of this is integrated directly with the property management software
Instead of having one company handle your web site design and hosting and another handle your property management software needs, why not have one company do both?
Eco-conscious tenants are increasingly concerned with the environmental footprint of their home, even if they are a tenant rather than an owner.
Here’s a list of ways that property management software helps property managers save energy and save paper:
- Storing documents digitally, resulting in fewer lost documents and less paper
- E-mailing renter’s statements at their request instead of printing out paper statements
- Scan renter’s checks and upload them electronically
- Web-based property management eliminates the in-house server, saving energy
Going green isn’t just about saving energy and trees. It also helps you increase your efficiency:
- Digital document storage cuts the time searching for documents dramatically when you can type in a search instead of rummaging through a massive file cabinet
- E-mailing out monthly statement’s is quite a bit quicker than printing, stuffing envelopes and making the rounds on your property dropping off statements
- Imagine eliminating those weekly, sometimes daily, trips to the bank when you can scan and uploading a renter’s check from your desk
- Web-based property management software virtually eliminates IT headaches (and time spent dealing with those headaches) because your software vendor hosts the software on their own servers
If you do take these energy saving measures and advertise them, you’ll attract more customers. And depending on the extent of the “greening” of your properties, you’ll be able to charge more in rent too.
What else does property management software help you do better? What things do you want your property management to take care of that it currently doesn’t?
(Chris Thorman is social media manager at Software Advice. He can be reached at 512-364-0118 or firstname.lastname@example.org)