Homeowner associations and some property management companies have an often notorious reputation with the typical consumer. The expectations are high and the pressure for managers to do more with less is daunting. Plus, people are way more likely to remember a bad experience and share it with their friends on social media or by way of a negative Google review.
Fortunately, there are ways in which a property management company and your team (if you’re lucky to have one) can grow a successful business. They include:
- Focus on customer experience, not customer service
- Keep your books in the black
- Streamline and simplify your workflow with software solutions
Focus on customer experience, not customer service
Digital experiences and on-demand mobile services are changing the way customers interact with every business. Whether it’s placing a delivery order for dinner or buying a car or renting a property, Generation Z and Millennials expect simple and digital solutions. Older generations are becoming more comfortable with these options, too.
In order to stay competitive, maintaining the status quo isn’t enough. Property management companies need to demonstrate that they can meet and exceed the expectations of any client.
What are some of those expectations? Make it:
- Positive and memorable
Residents and tenants expect every company to meet them where they are, and increasingly that’s on their phone. That means having mobile solutions for rent payment, work order placements, self-touring, access to important documents and e-signature options (no more faxes, please). Going mobile helps residents put you on par with their favorite products and services like Uber, Instacart, and Amazon.
Make interactions with residents and potential residents easier by having a website that’s easy to navigate (and mobile-friendly of course). Also, be sure to have a presence on social media pages like Facebook, Google My Business, and Yelp. It’s important to remember that while many people spend time on social media, everyone still lives in the real world. Be sure to foster genuine interactions and connections IRL (in real life) too.
Keep old school options available for those who aren’t ready to make the switch to digital. This is especially important if your company manages properties in a market with a clientele that skews older, like Arizona or Florida. Instant solutions and positive experiences will also matter to those who call in a complaint or work order to fix a leaky faucet.
Measure your success (and opportunities for improvement) by sending your members and tenants surveys after certain touchpoints, like after finishing a work order or implementing a new association bylaw. Give them a voice when making changes. It’s better to hear from them first about any grievance in order to rectify the issue than to read a bad review online. If a client has an especially positive comment, be sure to share that on your social media accounts or ask them to post a review on Facebook or Google.
Keeping your books in the black
Another aspect of your property management company that should always be top of mind is cash flow. In order to maintain impeccable bookkeeping as a property manager consider the following:
- Make payments easier and communication more transparent for association members and tenants by creating an easy-to-use and mobile-friendly dashboard. Each dashboard should contain information relative to each group.
- Separate budgets and revenue by property and association. Quickbooks makes it easy to separate companies and create different classes to keep track of different properties owned by each client. Tax returns only require reporting based by location, not by individual owners or tenants. Under “Preferences” you can turn on a feature to enter bills by location rather than by individual. By breaking out and recording all rental or association income and expenses by properties will make end of the year reporting easier.
- Offer personalized reports for owners. This is a great way to keep your client up-to-date and build trust. Compile monthly reports of itemized income and expenses. For rental properties, income consists of rent, while expenses include maintenance, management fees, and other costs. For owners in an association, include information on reserve funds, code violations, late payments fees, and upcoming special assessments. You can make these reports accessible in an owner dashboard of your website.
- Expect ebbs and flows dependent on your local real estate market. Real estate can be an especially fickle market. The fluctuation is especially felt for property management companies. Not all the properties you manage are going to be filled with tenants, especially if you work in areas that depend on tourists for short-term rentals or in areas with sparse jobs. On top of that, there are surprise repairs and late payments. Consider the worst-case scenarios when planning financials. For associations, having a robust reserve fund is important to address the unexpected.
- Find preferred vendors who offer great deals. There are some common issues that every property manager has to deal with. Do your due diligence in finding reputable companies to fix common repairs. See if any local plumbers, cleaners, landscapers, and other professionals are willing to discount their work based on volume. Also, maintain a list of appliances that are cost-effective. This may not be the cheapest item available if it means replacing it within a year versus buying a product that costs slightly more but is better built and longer lasting.
Balancing a budget may seem daunting, but there are lots of great tools out there to help a property manager. Quickbooks is just one accounting software available to businesses. Depending on the size of your property management company, there are lots of options. You may want to consider how your accounting software will integrate with your management software. Some property managers find success by taking a hybrid approach of using software like Quickbooks for company accounting while utilizing software designed specifically for them to manage the property accounts.
Streamlining your workflow with software solutions
Going digital for your residents and tenants is one way to improve relationships with them, but it’s also great for your bottom line. In order to meet the challenges presented by improving customer experiences and staying on top of company financials, you’ll need the right software solution.
What are some of the features you should look for in a property management software?
- Social media account integrations
- Website builder and hosting
- Online Payment collection and invoicing
- Company accounting and budgeting tools or integrations with popular bookkeeping software like Quickbooks
- Document management (preparation, filing, and storing) with eSignatures
- Memberships/tenant management
- Tax filing automation
- Work order and violations tracking
- Project task Manager
All of these tips require some time for experimentation to determine what works best for your property management company and your tenants and owners as well as the general market. What works for one company in one area might not be the right fit for you. Managers of a 55+ community in Boca Raton will have a vastly different response to online payments than someone who oversees a loft apartment full of students and young professionals in Seattle. Be open to feedback from tenants and owners and take time to find the right software tools that work for you and your team. Planting the seeds of proper preparation and implementation will mean long term growth for your property management company.