Workflow automations has become some what of a buzzword, but what does it really mean and do for a business? More specially how can having automation in property management benefit the property manager, rental property investors and their tenants? Join Carla & Adrian us for this game changing episode on 'Automation is The Game Changer!
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 (00:18):
Okay. You said kittens and rainbows again, Adrian. You always bring kittens and rainbows into our calls.
Adrian Schulz (00:25):
Well, that's positive stuff. All the good stuff in life, we call that kittens and rainbows in the Schulz household.
Carla Browne (00:32):
Okay. Well, it is. Today, we're talking about kittens and rainbows.
Adrian Schulz (00:36):
See? It works every time.
Carla Browne (00:38):
We are talking about automated processes. And in my world, that is kittens and rainbows. So call it what you will. I'm light and fluffy, and you're more technical than me. RPM has recently adopted some technology that has brought a lot of automation to some offices. And I think it's a game changer, but let's dig into what does that mean. Automated, what does that mean?
Adrian Schulz (01:04):
Well, I think that property management companies today are all utilizing one or another property management software or system, where their data resides. Your tenant data, your rental owner data, your accounting data, your maintenance data, et cetera. Until now, you've always had to have true outside processes, be it simple checklists or spreadsheets or whatever you may have in your business to assure that the needful preventative maintenance and the needful regular reactive maintenance gets done in a systematic way.
Adrian Schulz (01:41):
I think it seems during the last two to three years, the word workflow automations has become very commonly talked about in the property management space. At Real Property Management, our property management platform is actually fully integrated with a workflow automation platform. What exactly does that mean? That means that when a tenant says they're moving out, you can initiate a move-out workflow so that you don't forget anything. Or when you onboard a new rental property owner, that you are in fact asking them automatically for a copy of their certificate of insurance and perhaps their status of title to prove that they own it, et cetera. Normally, I would never stop talking, but in this case, Carla, you want to dig deeper into some of the things to do with workflow automation.
Carla Browne (02:40):
Yeah, well, I think sometimes people think workflow automation is job elimination and robotic responses. I'd like you to speak to that piece a little bit, because from my mind, it is the furthest thing from it. I think that automating a lot of these workflows has allowed staff to be a lot more high touch in areas where they needed to be high touch, but they were too busy doing something else.
Adrian Schulz (03:05):
Most definitely. Workflow automation can actually include turning what would be regular template emails into living, breathing templates. Where it's modular in the sense, not only are you inserting the resident name or the rental owner name. But the property address in the conversational portion of an email. So, all of a sudden, what would generically feel like an automation is actually it looks like a sincere email. You can augment that with voicemail drops, you can augment that with SMS, text messaging. We know that email open rates versus text open rates, I think text open rates are in the high 90s for open and response. And email open rates are in the low 40s, and they're dropping more and more.
Adrian Schulz (03:53):
In your workflow automation and in your touch points with a tenant or a rental owner, you can't just do one. You actually need to automate touchpoints from portal to email automation to SMS automation to adding to a calendar automation to setting a reminder for team members in the office to check and balance to crosscheck and to assign tasks. You can do that now through workflow automation so that when you reach this point in the standard operating procedure, assign it, turn over to this team member. And you can't do that on a checklist or on a spreadsheet.
Carla Browne (04:35):
No, it's all those contingencies that happen along the way. Because property management is doing the same tasks over and over and over again. It's very, very task based. By adding that, I think you allow people to be working on other things that they could be doing to build the business, better communication and all of those things that no one seems to have time to do it. And also from an oversight perspective, so if you're looking at a larger property management company, you can really understand where staff are over-tasked, maybe where staff are underutilized. And you can try to balance out that workload a lot differently or when you need to hire that new staff member. I think all of those things from a little analytical ... sorry, I haven't been drinking.
Adrian Schulz (05:21):
Carla Browne (05:24):
Thanks. You can actually get a better handle on what's happening. Because sometimes we just like, oh, that staff member is so busy. They're busy, but are they being productive? And anyways, that was a whole different topic. So the other part of the technology that we've adopted is that it is a full blown CRM,
Adrian Schulz (05:41):
The contextual communication.
Carla Browne (05:44):
Yes. So we've added in the ability to have like a shared email inbox, which actually has been the biggest game changer, again to the kittens and rainbows, that I can see is that it's housing all of that information together. So a client card or client contact form, we'll call it. You go in there, you can see everything that has happened with that client. And you can really, really, really understand, pick up in the middle of a conversation, staff members are away. To me, this is really something that is changing our industry and for the better.
Adrian Schulz (06:18):
No more lost emails from a client when someone's on vacation. All the contextual relationship, what's outstanding, what's going on. Is there for any team member to see and to manage and to monitor. And that's a game changer.
Carla Browne (06:32):
Yep. As soon as a property management company implements something like benchmark of how many hours that an email has to be responded to. Now we're talking about great customer service. Now we're really talking about that consistent client customer experience across the board. So anyways, those are the things that get me really excited is seeing it in action and seeing how it actually helps the staff instead of making life feel so heavy. Especially in these months, we're dealing with summer right now, busiest time of the year. Lots of moving parts that are going on in these offices.
Adrian Schulz (07:04):
I want to tell you about an automation that we set up in the last few months that it's just something that I thought would be a good idea and interesting, it's a check and balance. So when we receive a client communication, a task is automatically generated that 24 hours later, regardless if the status has changed, this is my preference. I'm just giving it an example of an automation. 24 hours later, it sends a message say, "Hi, you submitted a request 24 hours ago. Are we handling it at this point to your satisfaction?" The reason it's a check and balance email is no matter what statuses it's in, the client is going to appreciate that you're checking in with them. And even if it hasn't progressed, it's like it has progressed because you're checking in with them.
Adrian Schulz (07:57):
And it's sort of like a little cheat check and balance because what it also does, if they reply and say, "Nothing's happened, what's going on?" It kind of puts it back to the top of the list and I know that the tasks would naturally show us open and outstanding. But it's just that extra little thing. And with workflow automation, we've been able to create this one sentence email, that is automatically checking in with our clients to see are we doing what they are expecting us to be doing? It was just an example of something you could do.
Carla Browne (08:28):
Yeah. Okay. We're going to wrap this one up. Kittens, rainbows, technology, they're all the same, right?
Adrian Schulz (08:36):
Yeah. Yeah. At least we didn't talk about kids toys and bubbles today.
Carla Browne (08:39):
That was in a different episode.
Adrian Schulz (08:41):
Carla Browne (08:42):
Now that's real Property Management.
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