6 ways software can support agency growth
Choosing a software solution for your property management agency (or any business for that matter) is not a decision to be taken lightly. Although Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is often offered on a pay-monthly no-contract subscription in practice it’s not that easy to move on to another possibly better-fitting package once you’ve made an investment in terms of time, effort and money. Even in the face of blatantly poor software choices it’s often tempting to just “bear with it and see it through” rather than cut your losses. That would be a mistake, but you can avoid it altogether by doing your homework first and choosing a property management software system such as RentPro which not only suits your needs right now but is well suited to support your growth into the future.
Do you remember buying your first home, perhaps as a newly-wed couple? Trying to match your carefully planned budget with your dream home, and struggling to make an extremely important investment decision without really knowing what you were getting yourself into – sound familiar? What might seem to suit the needs of a 30-year old couple embarking on a life together may not be just as suitable in a decade for a 40-year old couple with three kids. Moving later on may well be an option, but it has stress and cost implications, so it’s best if possible to buy a home with a little potential if you know what your approximate plans are, perhaps some room for future extension or renovation, so that you don’t have to completely relocate when it will inevitably be much harder to up roots in a few years.
Who knows what the future holds for your business, but like a new family it will hopefully involve some growth, so have a read at the advice below to help you choose a software solution which can facilitate this expansion, not hinder it.
1. Usage-based pricing plans
SaaS cloud software solutions often offer usage-based plans whose cost varies with either the features you require or the number of units you manage. RentPro’s Solo package is geared for single landlords managing their own investment property portfolios. These landlords often branch into managing property for other landlords, opening an agency with scores or perhaps a couple of hundred properties and the Solo user can seamlessly upgrade to the RentPro Business plan. A few years later the successful letting agent may open an extra branch (or two) and at that stage can simply step up to the RentPro Max solution.
A good property management solution will not require you to install new software, but will simply offer you new suitable features to enhance your system as your agency grows.
2. A range of bolt-ons and integration options
A comprehensive software package may seem overwhelming to a small agent who has no need of many of the features it offers with larger, multi-branch agencies in mind. Similarly, there may be options which a small-scale agency may wish to avail of that a larger organisation may already take care of via alternative means. The beauty of an add-on model means that you can extend your system with a wide range of additional functionality as you require at affordable costs.
Whether it’s bolting on another batch of managed properties to accommodate the acquisition of additional properties, or purchasing SMS credits to send text message alerts to all your landlords or tenants, conducting tenant referencing via an established credit-check agency or sending tenancy agreements via trackable registered email channels, a solid software package like RentPro will have a host of add-ons to enhance your management processes as your demands change.
3. Scalable, future-proofed platform
You wouldn’t build a home on shaky foundations or in an area prone to disasters, and likewise you should ensure that your software package is underpinned by a platform which is still going to be able to support your business ten years from now. Established and professional web-based software providers will utilise the power of world-class cloud infrastructure such as the Amazon Web Services platform which RentPro is built upon.
These solutions allow software vendors such as ourselves to seamlessly and easily add more resources as user demand grows, tomorrow and several years down the line, without expensive hardware upgrades and the inherent delays in ordering and fitting new hardware. Indeed it allows us to carefully plan for periods of peak demand such as the start and end of each month when most agencies will be collecting the bulk of their rent, preparing statements, and making payments to landlords so that users do not notice any deterioration in service.
4. Well-established company
Nobody wants to take chances with their livelihoods, and entrusting your business and all of its data is a huge exercise in trust. In an online world peppered with startup companies looking to make a quick buck, take time to make sure that whichever provider you opt to delegate responsibility for your agency’s future to has a proven track record and is likely to still be around many years from now.
Call them up, get chatting to the people behind the website and the faceless emails, and test their support and responsiveness. Satisfy yourself that you have that warm feeling those people care about your future as well as their own. Check their credentials and their professional accreditations to make sure, for example, that they are registered with the relevant data protection authorities as RentPro is registered with the UK Information Commissioner, verifying that they can be trusted with your commercially sensitive data.
5. Active user community
In business as in our personal lives, a reasonable sign if someone is a good bet to embark on a serious long-term relationship with is to gauge what other people say about them, and how they treat those who already deal with them day in, day out. In our own company we have established close relationships with many hundreds of users who we have never actually met but whom we assist with support by email and phone, sharing our considerable property management expertise and discussing their own plans for the future and how those align with our own software roadmap in the coming months and years.
Indeed, since we first launched our letting agent software onto the market back in 2005 it has been much of our subscribers’ own feedback, requests and discussions which have driven the development of our product. We value all of our users’ opinions and we’re confident that is borne out in our great customer relations.
6. Metrics and figures to help drive success
Let’s not forget that the ultimate purpose of purchasing a property management software system in the first place is to improve your agency’s operations and efficiency, and whichever solution you choose it must actually help you run your business day-to-day, and grow it over time into a successful business. Take a free trial of systems which seem suitable, such as the 14-day fully functional free trial offered by RentPro, to check out the features such as metrics, reports, alerts, reminders, and dashboards which show you at a glance how your agency is performing and assist you with continual improvement towards your ultimate goals. Your chosen system must be complex enough for your needs today and five years from now, but simple enough for your current and future staff to use it without any obstacles.
Whichever property management software you opt for, do your homework beforehand to get a feel for the product, the platform and the people who you will ultimately be entrusting the future of your agency to. Look out for free trials such that offered by RentPro’s 14-day no-obligation, fully functional trial to ensure that it feels good for now and the future you aspire to.