PROPERTY MANAGEMENT MENTOR
From database and administration apps to major accounting and file-sharing platforms, Natalie Hastings looks at the cloud technology that is moving the industry forward.
Remember the advent of the internet and mobile phones, and the technophobe principals who thought the internet and real estate portals were just a fad? The ones who believed newspaper adverts and letterbox-dropping would continue as the best way to advertise property and market their brand? It's likely that those initially-resistant principals went one of two ways: they either adapted their thinking, or they melted into retirement or obscurity.
Real estate businesses are essentially marketing businesses with a local focus. Just like hastings + co (as a business we rely heavily on the cloud), they would not be able to exist without the assistance of technology. We rely on technology every day to help train our clients from afar, providing a personal service despite the tyranny of distance. We regularly access our clients' office computers remotely to transfer funds on their behalf to their clients, including landlords and tradespeople. As estate agencies across Australia and New Zealand use a variety of real estate accounting packages, our team employs technology to stay up-skilled in over 17 banking software platforms – no mean feat! Naturally, we love technology in our office as it allows us to be nimble and virtually paperless, too.
I think it's safe to say that many estate agencies' efficiencies could be improved by the use of cloudbased applications across the business. By deleting clunky, easily-destroyed paper-based systems, you're enabling your agency to go truly mobile, which is what the market demands. hastings + co's operation is wholly managed by cloud-based applications; here are our favourites:
Dropbox: A secure filesharing platform which allows teams to access information they all require via permissions. Great for collaboration with photographers, floor planners and copywriters too – they can upload media directly into your private agency Dropbox.
Xero: An incredibly powerful Australian-built cloud-based accounting platform! Allowing principals to gain a better understanding of their cashflow is just the beginning – you can even reconcile using a Xero app while on the road!
GoToMeeting: A screensharing application that allows you to work together with team members when you're not in the same location. Great for problem-solving in property management where software can be complex.
REST Mobile: Your entire REST database can fit in the palm of your hand on any device. REST Mobile means you can retrieve owner, tenant and property details on the go, saving you from embarrassment next time a landlord whose details you can't quite recall catches you on the fly. You can also call, text or email contacts live from the app, in addition to seeing creditor details – and even property key numbers, alarm codes and maintenance details! A real lifesaver.
realbenchmark: New Rockend technology, this is a KPI and benchmarking tool which makes connecting to your business pulse a doddle. Accessible from any device, realbenchmark offers an intuitive platform which allows PMs to compare and analyse their KPI performance data results in one place. The data is already prepared and can be filtered to produce reports based on your own needs.
Inspect Real Estate: RegisterOnline is a property manager's right hand. This clever tool schedules, registers, books and reports on open for inspections. Offering a booking system which allows tenants to make appointments to view property, it cuts down on admin and confirmation. Upon registration, tenants receive confirmation regarding their open for inspection appointment plus an application form. They also receive an inspection reminder.
Other hastings + co cloudbased favourites include WORKetc, Gmail, LogMeIn, join.me and TeamViewer.
This technology decreases running costs, and we don't require a costly server or any third-party IT support. ■
NATALIE HASTINGS is the Managing Director of hastings + co. For more information, visit hastingsandco.com.au.
BY DELETING CLUNKY, EASILYDESTROYED PAPER-BASED SYSTEMS, YOU'RE ENABLING YOUR AGENCY TO GO TRULY MOBILE.