Going Digital: Transitioning From Spreadsheets to a Modern Software Platform


Since the founding of the property management industry, property managers have used pen and paper to run their businesses. When it came to managing residents, financials, and anything else relating to their community, every task was done by hand.

Enter property management software.

More than 30 years ago, our President and CEO, Dave Hegemann, experienced these daily processes firsthand at his family-owned and -managed mixed-portfolio property. As there were no software solutions available to simplify the work, Dave used his passion for computers and set out to revolutionize the way property owners and managers conducted business.

Property management software platforms are solutions designed specifically for property managers, helping them manage all aspects of working with manufactured housing, multifamily, single-family, and commercial properties.

  • Property tracking
  • Accounting
  • Collections
  • Maintenance
  • Marketing

As technology has advanced, property management software has advanced to meet the ever-changing needs of the industry.

Today’s property managers have more responsibility than ever before, and demands and expectations have never been higher. Tenants expect convenience and excellent service. Nearly 70% of customers leave because of poor service, according to data from CRMGuru.

Challenges facing property managers

  1. Accounting/Financials
  2. Recurring charges
  3. Communication with residents, prospects, owners, vendors
  4. Handling maintenance issues and scheduling
  5. Applications/Leasing/Screening
  6. Marketing

Taking your community digital can seem like a daunting commitment. You have a system in place and you’ve managed your properties just fine through your system of paper and spreadsheets. The benefits of property management software, though, will enhance your performance in every facet of the business, freeing up time to focus on the bigger picture, saving you money, and assisting you in ways you didn’t even know were possible.

 

Benefits of Property Management Software

Time Savings Through Automation

The daily processes of a property management business can be extremely time-consuming—with so many to-do’s on a property manager’s plate: collecting rent, marketing units, completing service requests, conducting inspections, and much more. When operating without software, a great deal of your time is spent on these repetitive, routine efforts. When you and your staff are so focused on these redundant tasks, it’s easy to become disengaged with the work.

Property management software was created for this exact reason—to replace countless day-to-day processes with automation. Not only does it save you time, but it helps ensure that these essential tasks are completed without errors.

Do you ever need to make announcements to a large group of residents or an entire community? Spending hours dialing the phone just to relay the same message over and over is a waste of valuable time. Property management software opens up features that let you send mass voicemail distributions in a few simple steps and deliver news to as many contacts as you need, in a matter of minutes. For example, let’s say one of your communities is going to have temporary utility shutoff on Tuesday. Instead of making 34 phone calls to inform your residents, you can build a contact list that filters these specific contacts and send it out in one message at a set time the day before the shutoff.

In addition to saving you time, it’s also saving you money. Think about how much time your staff spends on redundant tasks like this. Freeing your employees from repetitive daily assignments and allowing them to focus on efforts that will help grow your profits is where the value of property management software becomes undeniable.

Financial Reporting & Simplified Accounting

There is no better way to accurately gauge the success and performance of your business than by seeing your financial data first-hand. But if you’re still clunking through the numbers in a spreadsheet, getting a clear picture of where your business stands can be quite the challenge. When partners and staff are asking for financial information regarding your community, software gives you the power to produce reports that meet the exact requirements you’re looking for. When using technology for reporting, property managers have the ability to drill-down for deeper insights on their property, saving even more time and eliminating the need for guesswork. Property management software makes it easy to check on your operation’s fiscal health—and quickly answer important questions about your business—with built-in reports and templates that are just a click away.

Most property managers aren’t certified accountants, and without a robust accounting program, keeping careful tabs on your financials can be a hassle. Comprehensive property management software helps keep the books streamlined, organized, and most importantly, accurate. When a property manager’s books are recorded via pen, paper, and Excel®, it leaves a lot of room for human error. Not to mention, manually updating spreadsheets can be an extremely time-consuming task depending on the size of your community. By relying on a program’s algorithmic power, you minimize user error, miscalculations, and misunderstandings, which greatly improves the accuracy of your numbers. That’s why it’s optimal for your property management platform to provide  a comprehensive accounting system that manages accounts payable, accounts receivable, electronic bank reconciliations, financial reports, online payment processing, and more in a single location.

At-A-Glance Access to Information

If you’re not using property management software, you likely have a lot of files around your office. As a property manager, organization is a must-have skill in order to be successful. But no matter how organized you are or how well you know where each specific document is filed, you don’t have immediate access to your information every time, everywhere you need it.

And what happens if an issue arises after hours? Anybody who has spent any time as a property manager understands that this industry is not the typical 9-5 desk gig. You can’t take all your files home with you every night. When a resident, prospect, or property owner calls you, are you driving back to work or taking handwritten notes at home to then transfer to that specific file when you return to the office? There’s a lot of room for important information to fall through the cracks.

With software, all your resident, prospect, owner, and vendor data is easily accessible—along with contact history and account statuses that are displayed within a single dashboard. There’s no risk of misplacing information. Technology also enables you to filter your files, searching by zip code, property, owner, account balance, and more—with just a few mouse clicks.

Have you ever been in a “he said/she said” scenario with a resident or owner? Property management software can also help eliminate these incidents and provide clarity in difficult situations. Certain property management software solutions have features that automatically capture and time-stamp phone conversations and store then in that resident’s account history. If a resident tries to claim you never gave them a late notice, you can find the call or message records quickly to provide evidence to the contrary and resolve the situation.

And thanks to powerful online platforms and mobile applications, the software is always with you. You can rely on immediate access to the information you need, at your fingertips, whether you’re sitting at your desk, or at home on your phone or laptop. No more late-night trips back to the office. Manage your properties from wherever you are with ease.

Improved Workflows

In property management, like any industry, customer service is the key to success. Property management software gives you and your staff the ability to seamlessly interact with every member of your community, from current and prospective residents, to property owners and maintenance providers. With built-in tools like integrated phone calls, customizable email letters, web chat, and text messaging featured within the system, property managers can easily handle day-to-day communication regardless of the format the individual resident or owner prefers.

Easily customize your communications by pulling information from your database and track every touch-point with your residents. For example, you can create a lease-renewal letter and email, and then print and mail or send the document electronically. If you have to contact multiple recipients—for instance, when contacting all overdue accounts—you can utilize batch letter functions to identify past-due accounts and automatically generate the necessary correspondence right in the software.

In emergency weather situations, or during a boil water notice, do you find yourself scrambling to gather contact information to alert your residents? This is another scenario where having access to phone broadcasting and text messaging features through your software enables you to quickly deliver messages to a group in just a matter of minutes.

Beyond the technology features that give property managers deeper abilities to connect with their current and potential residents, the time savings that software delivers enables property managers to spend more time focusing on interacting with their community.

For example, at our annual Rent Manager User Conference, we often share tips and process that directly impact our customers’ daily lives. When discussing improved workflows and communication, a customer mentioned that she would create letters in Microsoft Word and then look up individual tenant information in Rent Manager and add it to the document manually—all in order to send a monthly letter. She repeated this process each month, for each resident.

When she learned about Rent Manager’s letter templates that can generate customized documents for each resident with just a few clicks, she broke out in tears. She was so happy to win back time and make her daily process faster, easier, and more efficient. The subsequent ability to focus more time on customer service can play an important part in reducing churn and minimizing vacancy costs.

How to Make the Transition

It’s understandable that a property manager who has operated on pen, paper, and spreadsheets for years would be hesitant or nervous about transitioning to a property management program. After all, you have a system in place that got you to where you are today, and change can be overwhelming. But taking your community digital will result in a much more efficient operation, eliminating a lot of the day-to-day stress you deal with. And getting started is easy.

Property managers shouldn’t look at their technology vendor as just a software provider, but as a business partner for growth. Is your office full of stacks of papers and filing cabinets? Don’t worry about entering that data manually. Many property management software solutions offer implementation services that can help set up your business’s database. Implementation specialists are in place to learn the ins and outs of your specific operation and help you set up your database of customers, prospects, owners, and vendors in a way that makes the most sense for you. Expert customer service teams will then support you and your staff as you continue to learn the program’s features, setting you up for sustainable success. The right software provider will act as an extension of your staff, with training and support that helps you make the most of the software.

Conclusion: Grow & Scale

When it comes to property management, time is money. In today’s landscape, property managers are responsible for more than ever before, and the expectations for outstanding service are extremely high. Resident expectations have evolved over time. Customer service expectations have evolved over time. Technology has evolved over time. It’s important to adapt the way you manage your business to meet the exacting needs of tenants and owners. Taking your community digital might feel like a tall task, but it’s a move that will result in time and money savings that give you the power to grow your operation. With software automation managing many of your daily repetitive tasks, you can focus on your renters, keeping your staff engaged in the community, and becoming more profitable. By upgrading your system to a comprehensive property management software platform, you will have newly discovered free time to focus on the big picture of your business.

Ready to learn more? Schedule your own personalized demo of Rent Manager and see why we’re your partner for growth.