Let’s talk about property management automation.
Automation has transformed every industry, and property management is no exception. Automated tools can transform your property management workflows and processes and deliver benefits to your business like saving time and money, helping boost resident satisfaction, and more.
Let’s dive into the benefits of automated and AI property management, the best tools to use, and where to implement automation.
What is Property Management Automation
Property management automation refers to using technology and software to automate various tasks and optimize processes related to managing properties. It can involve using property management software to streamline tasks such as rent collection, applicant screening, property maintenance requests, and accounting, among others.
If it sounds great, you’re right! The point is to reduce the amount of time and effort property managers need to spend on manual tasks, allowing them to focus on more strategic tasks that add value to their business. The more processes you can standardize and automate, the more quickly and accurately you can get tasks done without hiring additional staff. The benefit is that you can grow and scale your property management company while keeping costs and pricing down.
Doing more without adding cost is a win for you, your investor, and your residents.
We recently spoke about Property Management Automation with Pete Neubig, Co-Founder and CEO of VPM Solutions. According to Neubig:
“For the triple win: You have better communication, and things are getting done more efficiently for your resident, so they're happier. If the resident is happy, they will most likely re-sign the lease, which obviously is a win for the owner. And [it’s a win] for the property management company because now we're making more money because we're…reducing churn and capturing some opportunities to make more revenue.”
10 Ways You Can Use Property Management Automation to Streamline Your Workflow
Property management automation tools handle time-consuming, repetitive tasks, speeding up the workflow process, creating fewer mistakes, and freeing us up to do more valuable work.
Without property management workflow automation, we find ourselves losing time with busy work like:
- Manually entering data
- Writing and sending emails
- Collecting rent physically or through clunky processes
- Using phone calls to schedule showings and followup
- Keeping track of to-do lists
- Fixing mistakes in spreadsheets or other work
- Reminding team members how to do day-to-day tasks
In the single-family property management space, we’ve seen new technologies adopted quickly and effectively. Automation is coming for nearly every stage of the real estate, leasing, and management process.
Here are a few of the most common areas where property managers are standardizing and applying automation tools.
1. Rent collection
Automated rent collection systems mean that residents can easily pay their rent online, reducing the need for physical checks or in-person transactions. Automatic reminders, payment receipts, and late fee calculations are all parts of an efficient, hands-off process that saves time and effort for all parties involved.
2. Marketing and Lead Generation
Automation tools can significantly enhance marketing and lead-generation efforts. Property management companies can use automated email campaigns, social media posting, and online ad placements to reach a wider audience. Advanced CRM systems can capture leads from various channels, track interactions, and even auto-respond to inquiries, ensuring potential tenants always receive prompt attention.
Oh, property showings. Such an important and time-consuming part of the property manager’s life. The key to automating showings is to reduce the workload for your team while not losing the human touch and sales component. Already, so many property management companies have found incredible solutions to deliver the best showing experience while building in technology to support.
With smart scheduling tools, applicants can book showings online at their convenience. Some automation platforms even offer self-guided tour options enabled by smart-lock technology, allowing prospects to view properties without a property manager's physical presence. Video tools allow leasing agents to still get “face-time” with prospective tenants without needing to be there in person every time.
Tools like Tenant Turner manage granting property access and ensuring security onsite.
4. Applications and Tenant Screening
Here’s a space where technology can be far more effective than human effort. Online applications and tenant screening tools can significantly streamline your leasing process – and help take out the subjective aspect of approvals.
Screening tools automate the collection of applications, credit checks, rental history, and background checks. This reduces manual work, accelerates decision-making, and provides a more seamless experience for potential tenants.
Many property management companies use virtual assistants to help with applications and keep the process objective.
5. Leasing and Lease Renewals
Lease automation tools are a game changer for the leasing process and lease renewals. These tools automate lease drafting with pre-set templates, online signing, and auto-reminders for renewals. This reduces paperwork, ensures legal compliance, and helps retain residents by making the renewal process smooth and easy.
6. Maintenance Requests
Automated maintenance request tools revolutionize property management by allowing residents to submit repair requests directly through a digital portal. These tools can auto-assign tasks to maintenance teams, track progress, and send updates to residents, streamlining communication and response times.
A 24/7 maintenance portal means you don’t have to take calls every time they come in, and you can quickly and easily triage maintenance requests. A Resident Benefits Package can include these portals in their offerings and add on pest control services and other critical quality-of-life products.
7. Property Inspections
Technology makes property inspections a breeze! Automation tools allow for scheduled reminders, digital checklists, and automatic report generation. Photos and notes can be added in real-time, ensuring efficient documentation and communication between property managers, residents, and maintenance staff.
8. Property Management Accounting
Accounting is one of the most obvious – and critical – areas where technology can help property management. Automation tools significantly streamline property management accounting through processes like auto-generating invoices, tracking expenses, managing budgeting, and integrating with other accounting software.
Automatic rent reminders and late fee calculations can also be implemented, ensuring timely payments and financial stability.
9. Resident Onboarding
Automated property management tools make resident onboarding smooth and efficient. These tools can deliver digital welcome packages, set up automatic utility transfers, and schedule move-in inspections. They can also automate communication, ensuring new tenants receive key information and reminders for an outstanding welcome experience.
With integrations, you can add new properties, trigger automatic processes, and reduce vacancies more quickly. For example, after entering a new property in your CRM, automation can launch a new property checklist and notify your whole team.
Automated communication tools enable property managers to maintain consistent, timely interactions with residents. They can automate notifications for rent due dates, lease renewals, and maintenance updates and also provide automated responses to common queries. This ensures effective, 24/7 communication and enhances resident satisfaction.
These tools also streamline communication within your team. Many property management companies are using workflow communication like Slack, Leadsimple, or HelpScout.
Automation can feel alarming to some at first, but the best property managers are embracing it. They’re quick to do the hard work of developing policies, documenting the process, and then using tools to systemize their expertise and automate the work. The result is more reliable and likely less expensive than having your team do it all by themselves.
Automating Property Management with Automation Tools
After identifying the processes you want to automate, the next step is to adopt the best tools available to property managers. We’re seeing buzz from PMs across the industry using automation tools at every stage of their operations.
One of the more visible examples out there is Peter Lohmann, CEO of RL Property Management. He has outlined several no-code tools that he uses to automate his property management business. No-code tools are easy for anyone, and most can “talk” to other software through APIs.
Here are some of the tools we like the best and how Lohmann has used them for his PMC:
LeadSimple is a sales and operations CRM geared toward property and real estate management. You can approve a rental application in the CRM and trigger other automation like emails, checklists, and more. LeadSimple recently added workflow automation and an inbox product that works like a ticketing system.
Zapier is a workflow automation app that connects all your other apps. For example, when you mark a new property in your CRM, it can “zap” your checklist software to start a “New Property Checklist.”
Process Street is an automated checklist software that gets your entire team on the same page. You can assign management tasks, mark priorities and completions, schedule, and more. It also has email templates that can be automatically populated from your CRM.
We all know Slack. Slack is the communications app that puts your whole team in one place, sets up groups, streamlines topics, and more. Zapier can automatically send notifications through Slack about new accounts and assignments.
MailChimp automates and sends professional emails. Through integrations, you can connect it with your CRM and other automation, so emails are automatically populated and triggered at the right time.
Lohmann explains that he has transitioned all non-financial data from their legacy system into Airtable, where they have control of it and can connect it to other tools.
Buildium is a property management software for PMs with 50+ doors in their portfolio. With a monthly fee, you can use Building to set up recurring rent payments with credit cards or ACH and use other property management features.
Benefits of Using Automated Property Management Workflows
Professional property managers don’t just manage property; they manage projects, workflows, and processes. Here are some of the top benefits of automating property management to improve those processes and workflows.
Automated property management processes can drastically reduce the time spent on repetitive tasks, allowing your team to focus on more strategic activities. Use rent collection as an example: Instead of manually tracking payments, an automated system can collect payments electronically, keeping records updated in real time.
Automated workflows minimize the chance of human error in tasks like accounting, tenant screening, or maintenance scheduling, ensuring accuracy and consistency. For instance, in accounting, automating calculations and data entry can reduce errors that may occur due to manual entry, ensuring the accuracy of financial records.
Increased Resident Satisfaction
Automation can speed up response times to maintenance requests, rent payment processing, and communication, leading to a better tenant experience. Using maintenance as an example here: Tenants can submit requests online, and the system can automatically assign a service provider and update the tenant with progress in real-time.
Automated reminders and notifications keep all stakeholders, from tenants to service providers, informed and engaged, improving communication. For example, automated reminders can notify tenants about upcoming lease renewals or rent due dates, ensuring they're well-informed and reducing late payments.
Automated systems allow for easier scaling of operations as your property portfolio grows. It's much simpler to manage increased workloads when processes are automated. As your property portfolio grows, an automated system can easily handle adding new tenants, properties, and corresponding data, without requiring more administrative effort.
With automation, real-time reporting becomes possible, providing valuable insights into your business's performance and enabling better decision-making. An automated system can provide real-time occupancy rates, rental arrears, or maintenance costs, enabling you to make data-driven decisions.
By streamlining operations and reducing manual labor, property management automation can lead to significant cost savings in the long run. By automating routine tasks like tenant screening or lease agreement generation, you can save administrative time and associated labor costs.
Automated systems can help ensure compliance with housing laws and regulations, reducing the risk of legal issues. For example, an automated system can update you on changes to housing laws and ensure all lease agreements are compliant.
Remember, automation doesn't mean losing the personal touch that sets your business apart. Instead, it's about freeing up time and resources to focus more on those areas that truly require a human touch.
Automated Property Management System Example
One innovative example of automated property management is right here at Second Nature.
Our service help manage and automate the resident experience to be the best that it can be. Our Resident Benefits Package allows property managers to deliver premium services – without the hassle of managing the programs in-house.
The RBP offers benefits that residents pay and stay for, like rent reporting, renters insurance, filter delivery, identity protection, resident rewards, and even a move-in concierge. With the RBP, you can essentially automate resident happiness.
How SecondNature Helps With Automation
Automation sets professional property managers apart. As property management workflow automation is adopted across the industry, professional PMs are more likely to build the right systems and put together the right tools faster than people who aren’t as motivated or skilled.
At Second Nature, we believe in the power of innovation, and we see it every day in property managers around the country. Our tools, like the Resident Benefits Package, aim to bring more ease and automation to your work processes so you can get out there and grow your business. Learn more about our benefits and tools at rbp.secondnature.com.