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The New Normal – A Property Managers Guide to Remote Operations

The New Normal - A Property Managers Guide to Remote Operations

 

Remote operations have become more prevalent throughout the property management industry. Many businesses forced into remote work environments due to the COVID-19 pandemic are now realizing how beneficial it can be. In fact, remote operations equal opportunity! Read on as we discuss how companies are adapting processes to working remotely, added benefits, plus how to prepare your employees to go remote and be business as usual.

 Adapting to Remote Operations

Technology can now aid in all sorts of processes to make your business run more efficiently. Before taking the plunge into fully remote operations, consider this question – What can you outsource? Specially designed platforms efficiently perform many daily analog tasks throughout the industry. These tasks can then be monitored by your work from home employees by quickly transmitting the information digitally. Below are some tasks and software suggestions to help you go remote.

What Tasks Can Benefit from Technology?

  • Accounting
  • Marketing and Tours
  • Leasing
  • Customer Service Tracking
  • Inspections
  • Applicant Screening
  • Maintenance Tracking
  • Online Rent Payments

Top 3 Full-Service Property Management Platforms

  1. Appfolio: Appfolio boasts comprehensive management tools in a very user-friendly environment. They offer the ultimate in streamlined data, allowing you to access records, metrics, reports, and statements easily. Their online portals also provide convenient access for owners and tenants alike. Additional features include online rental applications, screening of potential renters, online rent collection, digital maintenance requests, accounting and leasing functions, as well as lead tracking!
  2. Buildium: Take advantage of a free trial and see if Buildium is the right choice for you. This easy to use option includes a variety of services such as property management functions, accounting, business operations, and leasing tools. Whether you have ten properties or 1,000, it is worth researching.
  3. Rent Manager: This is a highly flexible platform designed for portfolios of all sizes. Easily track and manage finances, tenant issues, work orders, and marketing from this mobile-friendly service.

Benefits of Remote Operations for Property Management

Working from home has not only proven to be possible for property managers but, in some cases, better. Many industry professionals agree that the concept is here to stay. Check out these benefits of the remote processes below.

  1. Increased Productivity: Thanks to fewer social distractions and the ability to easily take necessary breaks, employees are more efficient. In fact, studies show employees working from home are around 25% more productive then if they were in an office environment. The freedom being at home boosts creativity and performance.
  2. Better Communication: Staying connected while remote does take some effort. However, the opposite of what you may think, working remotely can enhance internal communications. Being apart forces employees to communicate on a concise and consistent basis. Use technology to organize files, so collaboration between employees or departments can be more efficient.
  3. Improved Morale: A happy employee is a productive employee. Working remotely allows them the opportunity to work where they are most at ease, avoid stressful commutes, and dress how they are comfortable. If you, as an employer, encourage a healthy work-life balance, employees are more likely to return the favor in their productivity.
  4. Expand Horizons: In a remote environment, anyone could be working from anywhere. If you are looking to hire new employees, this significantly adds to the potential talent pool and can even extend internationally.
  5. Added Savings: Even if you need to pay for additional services or platforms to support a remote operation, there are still savings opportunities. Consider how much you would save each month by not having a physical office, space rent, taxes, or utilities. While eliminating an office is not for everyone, it is worth considering.

How to Make Remote Operations Work for Property Management

The pandemic has forced many companies in the property management industry to take a hard look at their processes. What many have discovered is there is room for improvement and a chance to grow. As employees settle into working from home, follow these tips below to maintain business, as usual, moving forward.

What Is Your Company Plan?

  1. Safety: Employees want to know how they are going to be safe. As a company, formulate and implement a social distancing plan, added cleaning practices, as well as lay out expectations for anyone coming to the office. Also, set up guidelines for vendors and customers that may need to see someone in person still.
  2. Reduce Impact: Ideally, try to keep the impact on your customers to a minimum. Many are worried about their property status already and look to their property manager for reassurance. Maintaining business practices and daily tasks are critical, whether in the office or away.
  3. Communication: We are all in this together, and changes can come on a weekly or even daily basis. Maintain clear and transparent communications from the leadership of your company, addressing pertinent information for employees, vendors, tenants, and clients.

Remote Solutions for Tenant Services

  • Address Tenant Concerns: Just as you would in the office, responding to tenants promptly is still vital while at home. If you do not already have a CRM software such as Appfolio, maintain a list of tenant contact information. This will allow you to contact all tenants with updates via email or messaging quickly.
  • Online Payments: Your owners and your company count on rent payments to be on time. Therefore, accepting direct payments online is a convenient solution for both you and the tenants. Utilizing platforms such as Wave or PayYourRent is a simple solution that receives and quickly processes a variety of payment types.
  • Client Screening: Screening tenants is more important and more accessible than ever, thanks to technology. If you do not have a reliable system in place, take advantage of online screening services. In addition to tenants filling out the application digitally, these services can run a background, credit, and rental history report for you. Take the time to call the tenant with any follow-up questions and always strive to speak to their references.

Best Practices for Working from Home

  • Stay Connected: As employees now work further apart, it is easy for communication to begin slipping. So, utilize services such as Zoom Meetings to stay in contact with your team. Depending on the needs of your department, set up weekly or monthly check-ins to see how everyone is doing and discuss any issues.
  • Be Flexible: There is a lot of uncertainty right now as areas continue reopening. Courts are back in session for evictions, properties still need to be rented, and maintenance issues never take a holiday. That said, as a company and as employees juggling work and family, stay open to flexible work schedules to meet these changing needs.
  • Maintain Balance: Working from home has its upside, but also some drawbacks. While working from home, unplugging from it at the end of the day can be a challenge for many. As a company, it is essential to know that this increased productivity can also lead to burnout and unhappy employees. Encourage your team to make balance a priority with some of the tips below.

Tips for Maintaining a Work/Life Balance While Working Remote

  1. Keep Your “Office” Hours
  2. Create a Dedicated Workspace
  3. Eliminate or Minimize Distractions
  4. Establish a Break Area
  5. Control Non-Emergency Communication After Hours
  6. Shut Off Your Computer to End Your Day

A Guide to Marketing Remotely with Virtual Tours

Virtual showings reach a wide variety of clients on their computer, tablet, or mobile device instead of in person. While this has been especially important during the pandemic, companies are seeing the everyday uses and benefits. Customers appreciate the convenience of touring from home before they take the time to travel. Also, this helps your agents focus on leads that are serious about coming to view the property and are ready to move forward. Read on to learn more about the types of virtual tours you could utilize.

  1. Photo Gallery Tour: Landlords upload a gallery of images for clients to go through as they please. This is standard and should be the minimum effort you take to get your property noticed
  2. Video Walkthrough: Use a video camera or smartphone to film a walkthrough tour of the home. Adding narration can also highlight various amenities.
  3. Interactive Floor Plans: Offering a blend of still images and a floorplan, this option is a great way to showcase a home. An added benefit is that users can navigate through the space and select photos of each area as it pertains to the overall layout.
  4. Panoramic Tours: Created by a series of photos or panning video, this is the most advanced option. However, this typically yields a professional result. The added effort may be well-spent to produce a fantastic showcasing of the property.

 

In Conclusion

So, are remote operations right for you and your property management firm? The answer will be dependent on how your company embraces the technology out there in the industry. Adapting to these practices may take planning and hard work, but there are significant benefits to weigh. Are you a landlord searching for a stress-free property management solution? Contacting a Washington DC property management company is the first step to seeing how a professional property manager can maximize your investment. Reach out to Bay Property Management Washington DC today!