The story: a client of ours neglected to pay the bill for their domain name, lost it to a speculator, and had to shell out $5,000 to get their website name back. It is not the most exciting story in the world, but it is important for you to understand what can happen, and avoid situations like these. For today’s blog, we go over how to protect your property management company and its assets.
Stay Informed About Your Domain Name
The problem for property managers is that when you sign up for and buy a domain name, you’re buying it for your company before you have your email set up. Obviously, you cannot use your firstname.lastname@example.org address to buy the example.com domain name – it doesn’t exist yet. You have to buy it with a personal address, like a Hotmail or a Gmail email address. When you do this, make sure that it’s an email account you look at on a regular basis. You have to check it, or you might not notice the email that tells you your domain name needs to be renewed, or your credit card is expired and you’re in danger of losing your domain, etc., and you lose it. Don’t let that happen to you.
Protect Materials from Natural Disasters
A big problem in many parts of the country as we write this, is weather. There is flooding in many areas, and many businesses are under water. If your business still works on older computer setups that have a Windows PC running Outlook or Exchange there in your office, you can lose everything when your place floods. At Fourandhalf, we use a hosted provider, which is safer. In our case, Google Apps takes care of everything. We can access our materials from any computer, even our phones. I don’t have to worry about this building falling down due to one of our California earthquakes. (I am worried about that, actually, but not about the information we could potentially lose). We know that our online assets are backed up. Google and other platforms like Microsoft Office 365 are using industry-best practices to back up your information so you don’t have to do it yourself.
Maintain Online Storage
Store files online with a cloud storage system by companies like Microsoft, Google, Dropbox, or Box.com. If something happens to your office or your computer is stolen, you know that your information is still safe. Again, a lot of our information is kept in these online storage places because we don’t want to have to worry about these sorts of things.
If you’re using a system like PropertyWare, Appfolio or Building, that information is already being stored in the cloud. But what about your logo? If you lost that, you would have to replace it, which can be time-consuming. You’ll also need a secure place for your inspection videos and photos. If you have them on a drive in your office, they’re not entirely secure – even if they’re in a safe. A better solution is online storage.
You can also make some spreadsheets with all your login information: your GoDaddy, email, website, and/or Facebook accounts. This information needs to be stored and safe.
Sign Up for Online Services
Early on, we made a mistake when we were signing up for a lot of the online services we use. Alex was building the company and looking at a lot of tools that we knew would help. As he signed up for them, he used his own email address to get information and original access. Later, we had a number of accounts that still used that address. He was the CEO of our company, and our account managers had to use his address to log onto certain sites. We got out of that situation as fast as possible, but don’t let it happen to you. Pick an email address other than the business owner’s main email address and use that to set up online services. It should be one you don’t have to worry about sharing with your employees. You won’t have to guess what email you used to sign into each service. Try to change those account emails if you have them in place on some sites already.
Along the same lines, try to make sure all your online services use one, secondary credit card. It doesn’t have to have a high limit, as most of these online services don’t have high monthly charges – with the possible exception of your property management software. With a separate card, if one site gets hacked, you go into that one card to change all of your online services. There is no business interruption. You don’t have to worry about that cancelled card affecting the credit card you use to keep the lights on and the business open.
These are just a few tips that can help you protect your property management company and its assets. These are things you don’t often think of, but they can be just as costly and problematic. Remember that just because it isn’t physical doesn’t mean it can’t be lost or stolen. These procedures provide another kind of insurance. If you have any questions or you need help knowing how to do these things, contact us at Fourandhalf.