- Jan 11, 2012
By Keat Foong, Executive Editor
In the late-1990s, Jake Harrington’s family owned a small portfolio of apartment properties. As an apartment owner, the family observed that it was difficult for companies to manage many of the leasing functions remotely. Fast forward to 2012, and today, On-Site.com has become a leader in the use of electronic signatures in the apartment industry.
The Silicon Valley company offers its clients a completely paperless, online, lease-management process from property listing to the signing of the lease contract. In effect, the service tries to allow renters to secure apartments online much as they may book a hotel room.
According to Harrington, On-Site co-founder and CEO, many apartment owners and managers today still think of the various stages of leasing an apartment–listing the property, qualifying the prospect and signing the contract with the renter–as separate “silos,” or “departments,” of the company. They think of these functions as falling under the marketing, risk management or operations departments. However, all of these different stages of the renter lifecycle, in fact, compose “a single user experience for the renter,” Harrington points out.
On-Site, says Harrington, offers a seamless platform to bridge all the apartment leasing functions. “In our world, the renter types his or her name once and the information flows from the lead to the prospect to the applicant to the approved applicant to the resident,” he says. “The manager does not need to type information more than once.”
Today, On-Site serves about 750 property management companies, representing 3 million apartment units that employ the company’s service, says Harrington. On-Site’s clients encompass owners of market-rate, affordable, seniors and military multifamily housing. And the company has processed 4.2 million electronic signatures to date, Harrington says.
Next up may be aggressive progress for the company. Harrington was promoted to CEO effective January. He succeeds his father, Tom Harrington, who remains chairman of the company. “The foundation is in place now for rapid growth in the next three to five years,” says Harrington, who will focus on the day-to-day operations of On-Site, while his father will pay attention to driving company “expansion that goes beyond organic growth.”
Perhaps one of the keys to On-Site’s philosophy is its concentration on the end-user and delivering a seamless process on the Internet. Many technology companies design their online systems for the apartment operator as opposed to the renter, says Harrington, who thinks this is a mistake. “Their definition of the user is one who is paying them, that is, the property manager,” says Harrington. “They forget who our customers are—the end users, the renters.”