This is an excerpt out of our Future Proof Your Property Management Agency guide.
Here are some of the changes and trends that are keeping business owners awake at night – and the counterstrategies many of our customers are using to “future proof” their businesses.
More and more and more technology choices:
Like all human-intensive industries across the globe, property management is facing both the disruption and opportunities that technology presents.
Unissu estimates there are over 9000 often overlapping Proptech companies globally. It can be overwhelming.
Business owners are frustrated by the fact there is a seemingly endless list of “plug-ins” that all add to the monthly cloud software IT bill. We often hear – “why doesn’t my core CRM provide this”? Over time, as the new technology is adopted more widely, inevitably the CRM / workflow providers will start to include plug-ins as new features.
But, in the meantime, you don’t want to get left behind.
Increased regulatory complexity:
As part of the Rise Taskforce, last year we completed in-depth research to – really – understand the value propositions that drive 70% of landlords across Australia in choosing professional property management services to manage their investment (vs self-managing). The number 1 reason is a lack of familiarity with regulations and processes to remain lawfully compliant.
In Victoria Australia, the regulator recently introduced 132 amendments that ultimately place a higher standard on landlords/RSPs. It’s a similar story in New Zealand with the new Healthy Homes Standards for the residential sector.
Whilst higher standards and complexity may add to the workload of property managers, we also expect to see increased interest in property management services from investors who previously self-managed.
The rise of the “mega-property-management” teams has been happening for years, pioneered by folk like Little Real Estate in Victoria who manage over 24,000 properties and has the ambition to double their rent-roll.
We have found that any misconception that mega-teams are not focused on service is simply a myth. The mega-teams that we’ve spoken to are run by arguably the most progressive thought-leaders in property management - and they know it’s a fine balance between technology and humans. Humans are here to stay, but they are increasingly being supported by significant investment in the latest automation technologies.
What does this mean for the “high-street” property management branches?
There is undoubtedly increased competitive pressure that requires smaller teams to keep up with the latest process and technology efficiencies. However, local branches will always have a key competitive advantage – being local. The opportunity is to build on that competitive advantage. More on that below.
As an agency owner or leader – what should you do to “Future Proof”?
Promote strengths that play to your competitors’ weaknesses.
If you are a local branch, it matters to many investors that a dedicated property manager will physically visit their property twice a year. If you are courting a new investor in the local area - meet them face to face. By doing so you are highlighting your “local advantage” and creating a competitive moat between you “centrally run” mega-teams who cannot do so.
If you have embraced new technology (like Rental Heroes!), talk about it. You now have a “digital employee” who is looking after your investor’s property and tenant 24/7. Let investors know that you use AI to keep up to date with the latest regulatory changes. Technology is not just for the mega-teams.
Unfortunately, pressure on property managers’ time will only continue to grow – driven by regulation, landlord expectations and fewer property managers to go around.
Now is the time to invest in some productivity-enhancing plugins for your CRM. We all don’t like new subscriptions on our credit cards, but if they save you time, they are worth trying.
Check out the Re-leased marketplace today. If a plug-in is in the marketplace, they should integrate seamlessly - meaning fewer logins and less data duplication. Most plug-ins (like Rental Heroes) will offer no lock-in contracts. What have you got to lose? Try a couple today and see if you can make it work for your team.
Fix the process first.
Interruptions. We all know that when you are engaged in a task (e.g. monthly reconciliations) answering “that quick phone call” both consume the 7 mins taken to have the conversation along with the time to re-engage with the task at hand. As Forbes found, it also leads to deep dissatisfaction when you end the day, because you often leave work feeling wondering “did I actually get anything done today?”.
Property managers are necessarily dealing with interruptions that relate to urgent issues, relationship management and business development. But not all interruptions are worth the hit on productivity to the task at hand; many things can wait.
In part to reduce interruptions for portfolio managers, many Property Management teams that we speak to are – or plan to - restructure into a “task-based” organisation. Essentially there is a dedicated person/function that handles “interruptions” like maintenance. Once the “interruptions” are centralised, it makes streamlining and digital automation of those tasks easier.
Use technology to deal with complexity
Compliance costs will inevitably increase for investors, but it doesn’t need to also impact the bottom line of your property management business. Technology can help pick up the workload.
Rental Heroes’ chatbot “Alex” is an AI system that has a conversation directly with renters/tenants about property related issues or questions. We often see questions like “can I have a pet” or issues like “I have mould in my bathroom”. It is part of our regular update sequence to ensure that “Alex” responds correctly based on local regulations – be it country, province, or state. As rules and regulations constantly change, this is where an AI system can really help.
Rental Heroes are our latest integration partner, offering a conversational AI chatbot that automates and streamlines tenant requests, including maintenance. After many years in communication and technology industries, Ben and Dom commenced Rental Heroes in 2019 with a vision to “create brilliant rental experiences” for both tenants, property managers and landlords.
This has been a excerpt from our Futureproof Your Commercial Property Management guide. We have created a valuable guide for Commercial Property Managers to help them build disruption-proof agencies and operations. Hit the link below to download your FREE copy of the guide today.