As a property manager, efficiency is your best friend. Implementing property management software can streamline your workload, allowing you to focus on the big picture and get properties rented, says Jayci Grana, 2012 president of the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM).
Property management software can also help you gain document storage space, quickly process maintenance requests, market listings and receive rental applications.
Planning to invest in new management software? Here are five things you should consider:
1. Evaluate the Need
Before buying a new software program, determine whether you need it by balancing the pros and cons. You will likely be charged based on the number of units you handle, Grana says. If you are managing a few properties, it may not be cost-effective for your business, she says. But once you reach 25 to 30 properties, Grana recommends purchasing property management software to help with the workload.
2. Prepare for the Transition
Implementing software or upgrading to a new program will require manual labor, Grana says. “There’s going to be a lot of time involved. It’s important to ask a lot of questions about the process and what you really need to do.” Before you purchase a program, be sure to ask what type of training will be available to you. Some software companies host webinars, while others have a trainer fly out to your business to train in person. Either way, Grana recommends having higher-level employees within your company, such as an accountant and managers, to be trained by the software company to gain a full understanding of the program before transitioning
3. Choose the Right Program
Deciding which software platform best suits your company’s needs is often the most important step of the process. To do that, assess your business needs to decide which modules best fit your company. “Make a list of what is important to your company,” says Bryan Pritchard, principal at Tricap Chicago, a property management company in Chicago. Ask yourself if you want Internet- or server-based software, or if you want to include a marketing solution, he adds. Pritchard uses software for several company needs, including advertising, inventory management and lease administration.
Keep in mind that different software or software levels will accomplish a variety of tasks. Once you know your company needs, Pritchard recommends researching online demonstrations, client references and any other information vendors provide. Based on this research, determine if the software will meet your property management needs. “Take your time and do your homework before making an investment in a software solution,” Pritchard says, because “the company you choose will become a daily part of your work routine.”
4. Know Who Will Use It — and How
Some software programs have user restriction capabilities. Before purchasing, consider “how you want to set that up and how the various software companies are able to accommodate your needs,” Grana says. For example, you may want your accountant accessing information that your other employees are restricted from, such as the direct deposits that go into an owner’s account.
5. Simplify Communication
Above all, Grana and Pritchard agree that property management software eases communication with tenants. It’s a great tool that property managers can use to communicate directly with one or more tenants, like sending out important communication documents like newsletters and surveys to tracking capabilities, in case there are discrepancies between the resident and the property manager, Pritchard says. “By using a system to track communication and billing, you can greatly reduce or eliminate misunderstandings with your residents,” Pritchard says.
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