Emma Gordon, Group Head of Property Management, The Barry Plant Group
If your property management business does not embrace PropTech, chances are you can say goodbye to a profitable business. In Australia, staffing costs and therefore the cost of running a business have rapidly increased in the last few years.
Many property managers have left the sector on the back of the sustained stress they suffered during the Covid-19 lockdowns. For those that remain, they are grappling with more responsibilities than ever before - particularly in the critical areas of compliance and risk management. These requirements are onerous and time consuming and without the use of good technology tools, the number of properties that a property manager can look after is significantly reduced - which increases costs.
“Gone are the days when you installed software and used it for the next ten years. A business owner needs to plan for a major upgrade or new software, roughly every two years.”
To continue to be profitable we have to embrace PropTech. But we have to do it right or we risk wasting a lot of money and frustrating our team members. The developments in property management specific technology over the past few years have revolutionized the service offering of those businesses that have embraced it. But the tech is changing and evolving rapidly. Not all the hyped software delivers what it promises. Not all software developers understand the nuances and requirements of the highly regulated sector we work in. It’s time-consuming to keep across product developments and it’s easy to be convinced by a good sales pitch. Mistakes in this area are expensive. The impact of implementing well designed, proven PropTech is great, but it’s a big job and we must have someone on our team that is responsible for this.
Businesses need a team member to manage their technology and then to implement new platforms and support the team during any change. A “Technology Change Manager” needs to be someone who has their finger on the PropTech pulse, is aware of upcoming software developments and whether now is the time to pivot to a new system. Someone who can look under the glitz and hype to how good the innovation is, analyze the timetable for upgrades, do due diligence on the supplier and what their support systems are like, negotiate a fair contract and plan for the implementation - with one eye on the horizon for the next groundbreaking piece of tech. Gone are the days when you installed software and used it for the next ten years. A business owner needs to plan for a major upgrade or new software, roughly every two years. And that’s where the other part of your technology change manager’s role comes in: managing the change, holding the hands of your property managers as they transition to a new system. Training them to not fear change, to embrace it and invest the time learning a new system to reap the efficiency benefits down the track. Clients are looking for a fast self-serve in every aspect of their lives including management of their investment property. The new generation of investors is tech savvy and looking for a business with a model that allows them to get what they need, when they need it - remotely. They want transparency over every aspect of the management of their property. Similarly, renters are looking for systems that allow them to pay their rent, submit a maintenance request, agree to an inspection, and give their notice - all on their phone. And while they are on their phone they won’t hesitate to give businesses a one star review if the process frustrates them. Those property management businesses that can’t adapt, that aren’t strategic about the implementation of PropTech, will be left behind.
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