In this episode of CPMP, Carla and Adrian break down the buzzwords that surround technology in the property management and real estate industries. FinTech & PropTech... What are they? What do they mean and how they affect the industry.
Welcome to Canada's Property Management Podcast, your number one resource for investing, managing, and maximizing the value of your real estate assets. And now here's your hosts, Carla Browne and Adrian Schulz, Canada's rental property experts.
Carla Browne (00:19):
Adrian, today, we're talking about tech, your favorite topic.
Adrian Schulz (00:23):
Yeah, my only topic.
Carla Browne (00:24):
Your only topic, yeah. I'm going to use all of the buzzwords that are out there though, just so I can be cool, and you can believe that I know what I'm talking about. So, PropTech.
Adrian Schulz (00:35):
You're actually a lot more savvy than you think. You're one of the only people that can ask me questions about technology, and I sometimes get irritated by the way that you position the question, because it's going to require me to think about my answer. So, you're pretty savvy.
Carla Browne (00:53):
Oh, I thought it was more that I irritate you, because I always think it should be easy. It's just a little piece of technology. Can't you just fix that by doing something?
Adrian Schulz (01:01):
You should all know, when Carla sees a piece of technology, she just asks me, "That's easy to do, right?"
Carla Browne (01:09):
I think it should be. So, PropTech, FinTech, I don't know. I used to think-
Adrian Schulz (01:16):
What's the difference?
Carla Browne (01:16):
Well, and FinTech come from a real estate background. So I was really confused, because I thought that somebody was mispronouncing FINTRAC.
Adrian Schulz (01:23):
Right. Yeah. Yeah.
Carla Browne (01:25):
Which we won't talk about that one. So PropTech, property management technology. FinTech, financial technology. I guess that's the difference. But is there really a difference, Adrian?
Adrian Schulz (01:36):
I think they're very intertwined, and I think it's a play on words. I think in real estate, we're hearing FinTech, but in most cases, I think we mean PropTech. Both of them are made up words. They're financial technology, property technology. And I think in real estate, they collide on a daily basis. Even more so, Carla, in our world, where the companies that were associated with being real property management, Century 21 and CENTUM Mortgage or CENTUM Financial Services, those three brands themselves have technology that can integrate and collide at times. And is that property? Is that financial? It's both.
In our title though, we had tech, tech, tech, which is your marketing skill at its finest. And I'm reminded, my daughter, this morning, she said, "Can we play Avicii?" And I'm thinking Avicii? Who is Avicii? Now luckily, the car has Alexa, play Avicii. And it's this techno dance music. And she's barely six years old. So it starts playing, and she starts bopping her head. What are they doing in public school kindergarten that the kids want to listen to techno music?
Carla Browne (03:01):
Well, you never know.
Adrian Schulz (03:01):
That's it. That's that's my story.
Carla Browne (03:02):
I don't know how they pick up on some of that so quickly, but I don't know if she watches the kid's YouTube or anything like that, because I know there's a lot of that kind of stuff. But technology is something that if you allow it, it's like this rabbit hole that you can get into so quickly. I get emails daily, LinkedIn inbox messages daily, from tech companies that are surfacing all over Canada now that have products that relate to the property management business. So they've done some searching, they know who I am, and they're now inundating me with all of this information. And all of them, you just want to jump in and start researching, and you kind of got to stop and you got to realize anybody can be a tech company, right?
Adrian Schulz (03:44):
Stop, look, and listen.
Carla Browne (03:45):
Yeah. This is something that you have to be so careful of as a real estate investor, that technology is the way we're going. That's a given. COVID has just really accelerated that. We've talked about that many, many times in our podcast. But what kind of technology should our investors really be looking at? Where should they be looking at it? I mean, you and I have been working for 9, almost 10 months together, on the technology solution for Real Property Management Canada. This is a very complex thing. These tech companies basically feel like they're all-in-ones. They're far from it, Adrian. They're far from it.
Adrian Schulz (04:20):
Yeah. So I think a terminology that most business people will be familiar with is tech stack, or technology stack. And that just refers to all the different layers of technology that you use in your business, specifically in your real estate business. And the first filter that every piece of technology needs to be put through is how does it connect? How does it integrate? How does it talk to the other tech stack pieces that you have? Because if it doesn't, full stop. And the reason for that is if your technology is not synchronized and integrated, then additional tech stack tools have no value, because you lose the most important thing in technology and data, which is something called single source of truth, right? You do not want your technology and your data to be fragmented in a way that you have irregularities, because that in itself defeats the purpose of having technology in the first place.
So that's one filter that I always put it through right away. My second filter, and I know you may not like it, but my second filter would be is have they been in business for two or three years? Because, 9 out of 10 tech startups fail in the first 12 to 18, 24 months. Right? Do you want to trust your data? Do you want to trust your business to a technology product that could fail within a year or two? So there's a lot of caution to be had, unless, of course, they're well capitalized and backed and we know that they could in fact be acquired by another player and then we're okay. Right? But it is the most exciting time to be in PropTech, FinTech, just in technology, in general, in real estate and in finance, ever.
Carla Browne (06:27):
Yeah. So point number one, you probably, when we first met, cringed, when you got to take a look at my tech stack then because, obviously, I was very challenged. I knew the challenges that I had already got myself into in my property management company, and I didn't have that single source of truth. Right? I had a lot of different pieces of technology that all worked incredibly well. None of them talked to each other. So it actually causes a lot of stress.
I mean, when I introduced four different programs to my staff in one year, I'm lucky that I retained them, quite honestly, because they were like no more technology, Carla. They were all benefits, but it's a lot. It's a lot to learn. It's a lot to input and all of that. So number one is something that I'm so glad that we're getting over that hurdle, with some of the work that you're doing with us. And number two, it's not that I don't like it. Like your comment, I agree with it, and I think I've probably learned that from you, Adrian. And so I'll give you a compliment here on the podcast because I don't get to-
Adrian Schulz (07:29):
What? Full stop. Full stop. Get the calendar, get the pen. Compliment coming.
Carla Browne (07:34):
Clip this one piece. You really have taught me a lot and forced me to slow down, because I am that shiny object chaser, especially when it comes to what technology could be doing for us and our businesses to provide a better experience for our investors and our residents. And you're like, Carla, we need to slow down and make sure that this is right. So thank you for doing that. And I think that's one thing that even though you and I both like to move forward very quickly, you have allowed me to slow down that pace a lot, make sure that we are researching, making sure that we're making the right move to tie everything together, so that we're not having to do this two years down the road.
Adrian Schulz (08:10):
Two things. In your defense, all of the tech stack items that you had were actually best in class. Right? That's some of the pleasure of having gotten to work on this with you is the tools you had have are best in class. Right? And then it's determining how can we in fact integrate them and get them connected. Number two, I'm blushing, and my ears are probably red underneath the headphones from the compliment, just in case you can't see. But by the way, I have shiny car syndrome, too. Right? So once the kids are in bed, I think I'm always car shopping, even though my car leases are two or three years at a time. I'm always car shopping, because I, too, get shiny car syndrome. As I get older, the cars seem to be getting bigger, instead of smaller and faster, which is confusing.
Carla Browne (09:01):
That'll probably change. You hit a certain age and then they become smaller and faster again.
Adrian Schulz (09:06):
Right. Yeah. Yeah. I'm hoping for my midlife crisis anytime soon, but I'm still trying to fit in three booster seats into the second row of the SUV. Anyway, different episode, different time. But like I said, it's the most exciting time. And I think the things that we're doing at Real Property Management are cutting edge for a couple of reasons. Number one, when we vet our technology partners, we spend really endless amounts of time and energy creating a relationship with them first, vetting their technology second, right, in all the necessary features and abilities and technical background of the technology. And then we actually go and test it at one of our offices to make sure that in real life, day-to-day application, it functions for the property management business. And then we take it out to our offices to deploy, knowing that we can be confident.
And that's a luxury that you wouldn't necessarily have if you're a standalone one of property management firm. Okay? You couldn't afford, frankly, to invest that amount of resource into the research and selection of technology. And I think that's one of the biggest benefits of RPM is just that power of the network, not only of RPM Canada, but again, of our, do we say sister brands, brother brands nowadays? What's politically correct? Anyway, Century 21, CENTUM Financial, and then, of course, our distant cousin, Uniglobe Travel. So that value proposition, it's unsurpassable by anything that you could do on your own.
Carla Browne (10:51):
That is such a good point. And I'm just going to add one thing to that is that people sometimes say, well, what business are you in? And it's so easy to say we're in the property management business. Quite honestly, we're in the people business. And our business is built on the relationships that we build with our residents/tenants, call them what you will, our investors, and that third piece is our vendors. And creating solid relationships with those people that are an extension of what we're trying to do across Canada is so, so important. So I'm really glad that you brought that up.
So for a small investor, technology is here. It is not going anywhere, so grab hold of it. You will not be able to do without it, even if you are a smaller investor or landlord trying to do this. And we're hoping that we can kind of point you in the right way. Our solutions probably are not going to fit the small landlord, because we're doing it on a much larger scale. But there's lots of them out there. But just do what we've said on the podcast, I guess, and do some research to make sure they're the right fit for you. Anything else to add on that one, Adrian?
Adrian Schulz (11:52):
I feel like we need a techno beat background music, but for now, that's Real Property Management.
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