“Virtual Assistant” is a new buzzword for most people, but for many of the people that use them, they are a cost effective way to expand their property management company’s capabilities. So, in the Fourandhalf blog today, we are talking to Noel Pulanco from HomeQwik, who manages properties in Phoenix, Arizona. Phoenix is one of the toughest property management markets in the country, and his company has been very successful. One of the reasons that HomeQwik has grown so rapidly is through the use of virtual assistants, or “VA”s. Noel likes them so much, he started a company, HQ Virtual U, that helps other property managers leverage virtual assistants – so we invited him to teach us about them.
What Can Virtual Assistants Do for a Property Management Company?
HomeQwik has been using Virtual Assistants for about four years, and began selling the services a year and a half ago. To start, the VAs took care of a lot of back end administrative tasks such as accounting, posting properties, adding new leases, and sending out lease renewals. These were activities that were taking Noel’s local employees a lot of time. Next, he had the VAs take over his leasing call center. At the time, he was getting 600 to 700 calls a week, and his agents were spending a lot of their time pre-qualifying people who might not ever show up to see a house. So, handing off the incoming calls was helpful because the VAs could pre-qualify callers and then send his agents prospects who were more likely to rent a house.
Why Isn’t Everyone Using Virtual Assistants?
At the most recent NARPM conference in Atlanta, Noel found only three companies who are providing them, and last year, there were only two. Many property managers are uncomfortable hiring Virtual Assistants, because they think they aren’t familiar with the concept. But, if you think about it – using after hours maintenance companies and outside tenant screening services are basically the same thing. You’re outsourcing work that someone else can do more efficiently. At HomeQwik, they have put those assistants to work in every facet of their business. Noel believes they are doing what anyone in his location could do while sitting at a desk.
How Long Does it Take to Get Started with Virtual Assistants?
Using Virtual Assistants can be a tremendous opportunity for businesses to save costs and invest more money in growth rather than in mundane processing work. But, many business owners are concerned about timing and how long it takes to get a VA up and running. Generally, at HQ Virtual U, it takes about a week, depending on the size of the company and the types of systems that are being shared. Often, it’s easy for a VAs to jump in right away. If a customer is willing to follow an established process, they’ll be able to customize it to match the customer’s forms and get started in just a few days. The hardest part for new clients is usually providing written instructions so HQ Virtual U can have their team trained. They always set clear expectations because they want to do it expertly once they take over the work. So the first conversation they have with a new client is about expectations and time frames.
Can Virtual Assistants Provide a Great Customer Experience?
At Fourandhalf, we like this idea because it’s similar to what we do with our online property management marketing services – you have an expert team in place to help you, even if we aren’t sitting right beside you. We love helping property management businesses grow, and we think Virtual Assistants can take a huge workload off your plate and still provide great customer experience. If you hire the right company, they are trained professionals who can answer the phone 24 hours a day, extending your capabilities as a property management company.