Misconceptions about Property Management Leasing Automation
We’re talking about leasing automation today on The Property Management Show, and our specific discussion centers around what it is and what it isn’t. We’re also talking about how it can help property managers save time and improve their reputation. Our guest is Abi Wasserman, sales manager at ShowMojo.
What is Leasing Automation?
Simply put, leasing automation is the removal of any manual effort from the leasing process.
With automation, you’re reducing the cost of manual effort that you put into the entire leasing process. From the moment the listing goes on the market to the way the application process begins can be completely automated for property managers. It includes syndicating the listing, screening a potential resident before they even visit the property, and coordinating showings. That’s the scope of leasing automation.
One of the main misconceptions about leasing automation is that it simply means lockboxes or self-showing technology.
Those things can be one component to leasing automation, but there’s more to it.
Automation contains a lot of the self-showing process. It covers the way prospective tenants see a property.
You can also still automate your leasing process without using lockboxes or self-showing technology. For example, for an occupied property a lockbox isn’t going to work. You can’t have prospective tenants showing up to take a tour of a home where your tenant still lives. Not owners want self-showing technology available, either. Showing technology might be part of what you do, but it’s not the entire automation process.
What Leasing Automation is NOT
There are some property management companies that have taken steps to implement workflow automation. A lot of sales people use canned responses to emails. That makes your process similar, but it doesn’t mean you’re automating that process.
If you’re still picking up the phone to schedule and reschedule appointments or manually checking your calendar for times that are available to you or your phone is still ringing with inquiries – you’re not using an automated leasing process.
If renters cannot self-screen before scheduling a showing, that’s not leasing automation.
To be fully automated, you need to incorporate an entire process instead of taking one or two steps towards it. From the moment a property is available all the way up to a prospective tenant filling out an application, you can automate the process without any of your own labor.
Once the screening starts and the move-in checklist comes out, you’ll need a high-touch plan to work with your tenants. The tech moves aside to the high-touch property management.
Automation Does Not Mean Artificial Intelligence
Maybe you’re worried that automated pre-leasing means people will try to call about a listing and get caught in an automated phone tree that takes forever to navigate and still ends up at someone’s voicemail.
That’s a misconception. It’s also a misconception that robots will take over all of the pre-leasing work if you automate.
According to Abi, you have to set up your process for best practices.
Some property management companies want prospective tenants to be able to schedule their own showing online, without talking to anyone. Others prefer to have interested tenants talk to a live person. The automated process does not take out the human. It’s instead a prospect-driven leasing process that allows the renters to be in the driver’s seat. There’s an immediacy to it that prospective tenants want. A lot of times, tenants aren’t looking at listings during business hours. They’re scrolling through sites at 8pm or 11pm.
When tenants schedule a showing or express an interest in replying, automated systems will still send a personal reply. It won’t be from ShowMojo if you’re a property manager using that software. It will be from a human inviting that tenant to schedule a showing.
Most tenants prefer to schedule online. They’re more likely to use an automated form than they are to call the management company and spend 10 or 15 minutes trying to find a good time to see a property. They’d rather answer the five questions on a pre-screening questionnaire and move on.
Automation Saves Property Managers Time
For ShowMojo customers, the average amount of time saved is about four hours per day. That’s how long it takes to answer calls, coordinate showings, respond to voicemails, answer emails, and then reschedule showings. A lot of time can be wasted showing up at a property and having the tenant not be there.
The automated process includes a rigorous confirmation procedure. Those tenants are more likely to show up and there are steps to manage cancellations or notify property managers if a tenant is running late. Less time is wasted.
Instead of an inbox with dozens of emails that say showing requested, property managers using automation will have dozens of emails saying showing confirmed. They don’t have to do anything.
Another misconception is that automation will reduce the need for people. That’s not exactly true if you’re a growing property management company. Take a look at the strength of your team members. Now that they have more time available to you, how can you best use their talents to grow your business?
If you’re a smaller company or you’re doing all of this yourself, you can avoid the need to hire extra people.
Automation and Reputation
There’s also an impact on leasing automation and property management reputation. Many times, property managers get negative reviews from prospective tenants who are upset they applied for a property, paid an application fee, and then got rejected. Automation can make expectations more reasonable.
Automating every part of your process provides a better experience for prospective renters. It starts with sharing your criteria and expectations. Each interested tenant will get a pre-screening tenant questionnaire before a showing is scheduled. That questionnaire can candidly lay out the criteria you will require tenants to meet before they’re approved for a home you rent. This can cover:
- Income requirements
- Credit score minimums
- Rental history
This information will depend on your standards and even where you are, because you don’t want to ask a question that violates the law.
With this type of self-screening, you’ll have only qualified renters coming to the showing. The people filling out applications will be those who know they’ll meet your standards. This can prevent negative reviews.
Automation also allows you to ask for feedback throughout the process. When a potential renter finishes a showing, you can ask about the property and you can also ask about the showing agent. You’ll get valuable feedback on rental value and you’ll also have some insight about whether your agents are showing the home the way you expect.
Asking for feedback provides an outlet for tenants to vent before they go to a public review site. You can also uncover things you might not know are happening.
Automating your pre-leasing process allows you to save time, improve tenant relationships, and increase your reputation. Those are wins whether you’re a growing property management company or a small business looking to maximize what you can do with the hours available to you and your very small staff.
Questions? Contact us at Fourandhalf.