Tips and Tools to Help You Reach Your 2013 Business Goals

As we approach 2013, many of us have already considered the goals (dare we say resolutions!) we’d like to accomplish in the New Year. Of course many of our goals are personal (lose those last 10 pounds, take an underwater basket weaving course, sail around the world, etc.). Many of us also set professional goals. Because of this, we’ve put together a list of common goals that may be on your list as property managers. And we’ve outlined some tips, tools and ideas to help you reach those goals. Of course this list isn’t comprehensive, so if you have other goals not on our list, please let us know. We’d be happy to send you some specific ideas and tools we have available to help you accomplish them.

 

Goal: Fill Vacancies Quicker

Consider the following tools and tips to help you market your listings more effectively, and fill your vacancies quicker:

  • Confirm a competitive monthly rent for the listing – use the Comparable Rents report in your Control Panel (RP Listings > Reports > Comparable Rents) to view comparable rents in a zip code region. (requires RP Listings system)
  • Most people conduct their rental search online, so give them a good feel of the property by including at least six photos, plus a video walkthrough or virtual tour in the listing.
  • Make sure the property is appealing in photos, videos, and in person, and pay attention to details. Pick the right angles that best highlight the property (i.e. avoid taking a photo of the master bedroom with the full laundry basket in view).
  • Place a QR and/or text code on your print media – property flyers, yard signs, etc. for potential tenants to conveniently access listing information.
  • Determine your listing’s market effectiveness by running a Marketing Audit report in your Control Panel. This report rates your listing’s marketing effectiveness and provides suggestions for making your listing more market ready. (requires RP Listings system)
  • Write effective property descriptions – since many Internet users glance through text instead of reading it, use short bullet points to highlight the property details. List the most important “selling points” in the beginning to get their attention quick.
  • Get maximum Internet exposure…HERO PM has the largest syndication/distribution list in the industry. This means your listings will get viewed on more sites by more people with our Listings systems. (requires RP Listings system)
  • Market your listings on social media.
  • Offer an online application for prospects to quickly and conveniently submit their applications and pay their application fee online. (Submitted online applications can be instantly screened in real time by one of our Integrated Screening Providers.) (requires RP Listings and RP Management systems)

 

Goal: Improve client satisfaction and retention

At the very core of every successful business is the relationship that it has with its clients, so connecting with your clients and improving client satisfaction is important! Consider the following tools and tips to help you improve client satisfaction and retention:

  • Start at the top! Your team will follow your lead…so make client satisfaction your top priority and it will work its way down through your business.
  • Many times client dissatisfaction is due to a lack of communication. So, communicate with your clients regularly through multiple medias and venues. Consider sending a regular newsletter to clients with updates on industry news, opportunities, interesting articles, etc. or adding a blog to your website.
  • Use the owner marketing report to keep owners updated on activity generated on their property. The marketing report displays the number of times the property has been viewed, the number of online inquiries that you’ve received, the number of days the property has been advertised online and more. (Email the report to your owner directly from your Control Panel in the Listing Master View > Flyers/Reports > Marketing Report.) (requires RP Listings system)
  • Create an online website feedback form and request candid feedback from clients on what your company and team does well, and ways you could improve. Then use their responses to make positive changes.
  • Be tech savvy…and advertise it. Make sure clients understand what tools you use to market their listing and maintain their property through the course of the rental period.
    • Give your owners the most online exposure for their listings by using the RP Listings system. The HERO PM RP Listings system exports (syndicates) listings to the nation’s largest network of rental and housing related websites. (requires RP Listings system)
    • Promote your listings with social media – post your listing to Craigslist and Twitter from the Listing Master View in your Control Panel.
    • Create a customizable online application that allows prospects to fill out the application through your listing; the application data displays in your Control Panel for quick and easy processing. (requires RP Listings and RP Management systems)
    • Use one of our Integrated Screening Partners to screen submitted online applications in real time and quickly determine whether applicants are qualified. (requires RP Listings and RP Management systems)
    • Utilize Online Workorders to make it easy for tenants to submit structured maintenance requests from their phone or computer, ensuring repairs don’t go ignored. The workorder is sent to the vendors quickly so they can respond and react quickly and accurately. (requires RP Management system)
    • Accept rent payments online via the HERO Payments system to increase on-time rent payments. (requires RP Management system)
  • In today’s world, most clients want to be able to access information, make payments and execute other routine processes online, so offer useful and convenient tools and options to your owners.
    • Allow online account access, so owners can view activity and monthly statements. Give owners access to see all current income and expenses pertaining to their property as well as monthly statements online. (requires RP Management system)
    • Give owners the convenience of making online payments through their account. (requires RP Management system)
    • Order a mobile website, and give owners access to their online account from their mobile phone to access their information anywhere. (requires PM Website)
  • Set client satisfaction guidelines and make sure your entire team is on board with them. It will take an effort from your entire company to boost client satisfaction levels, but it’s worth it!

 

Goal: Streamline processes in my office procedures

Streamlining processes in your office involves reducing duplications and automating office procedures where possible. This increases productivity and efficiency, minimizes unnecessary costs, and promotes a better working environment for your team. A win-win-win!

  • Research all of your company’s procedures, and determine redundancies. If there are duplicate processes that occur, such as the review of a document by several different people when only one reviewer is necessary, then eliminate the duplication.
  • Request input from your team about how to improve efficiency. (Be sure your team knows the goal is not to improve their efficiency, but rather work-flow procedure efficiency…there’s a difference!)
  • Make marketing your listings work for you…rather than posting rental listings to multiple sites, post your listing once to your Control Panel, make it active, and it’s exported to your website (with the integrated listings page), our company websites, our partner sites and more. (requires RP Listings system)
  • Instead of mailing online statements each month to owners and tenants, consider posting statements online. With the HERO PM RP Management system and PROMAS (and even without PROMAS!), you can easily publish activity, documents and monthly statements to your clients’ accounts. (requires RP Management system)
  • Utilize the Online Workorders tool that allows tenants to submit an online work request to you. View the work request in your Control Panel, and generate a workorder, which can be emailed directly to your vendor, and posted to their online account. (requires RP Management system)
  • Create a customizable online application that allows prospects to submit an application from your active listing. The data is posted to your Control Panel, and from there can be submitted to one of our Integrated Screening Partners. (requires RP Listings and RP Management systems)
  • Offer online rental payments to your tenants via the HERO Payments system, which saves you time and money processing their checks each month. (requires RP Management system)

 


Goal: Increase company revenue by growing my client base

Consider the following tools and tips to help you increase company revenue by growing your client base:

  • Make sure your current clients are happy! Word of mouth from satisfied clients is the most powerful tool in your arsenal, and can save significant money spent on other forms of marketing.
  • Give your PM website a facelift to improve your marketing efforts – most new clients will visit your website before contacting you, so be sure your website makes a good first impression…and makes them want to work with you.
  • Ask current clients for their referrals and consider providing an incentive for the referring client.
  • Include client testimonials on your website…they help to add credibility and trust in your business, and may be the needed “push” a prospective client needs to work with you.
  • Reach out to other successful professionals – both within the property management field (i.e. NARPM®) and outside it – for ideas on how they grow and develop their client base. Meet with them regularly to share ideas and get input and feedback.
  • Connect and network with clients via social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), which enables them to easily share your message with others.

 

Goal: Improve communication within my team

Effective communication is an important part of any successful team. It helps to boost team morale and improves efficiency and productivity. Consider the following tools and tips to help improve communication within your team.

  • Encourage an open work environment, and be available to meet with team members. Keeping the communication channel open encourages your team to come forward with any problems they may be experiencing before they become too big, as well as helping to establish two-way trust.
  • Part of good communication involves conducting meaningful meetings. Regular team meetings help keep everybody in the loop, but many of us spend time in meetings that are unproductive and often unnecessary. Have an agenda for your company meetings, be sure the necessary people attend, and keep to the appointed start and end times.
  • Utilize the Calendar tool to keep your team organized and on the same page with activities and events. Your team can schedule projects, tasks and appointments, and easily access and view the events in their Control Panel > RP Management > Calendar. (requires RP Management system)
  • Connect with your team outside the office – through community service activities, sports activities, company picnics, etc. Sometimes interacting in a different setting with your team helps to open the doors of communication.
  • Communication breakdown is often caused by ambiguity, so be clear in your objectives, expected outcomes and deadlines. Consider using Virtual Boards to easily track and manage team tasks such as new owner onboarding, move-outs, marketing campaigns and more. You can set deadlines, assign tasks, and track progress all in one location. Everyone can see who’s responsible for each task, its priority level and when it’s due. (requires RP Management system)
  • Empower your team and involve them in company goals. Put together a task force and ask them to help you create the plan. Or hold brainstorming sessions to deal with issues that arise.

HERO Payments System: Pre-Authorized Payment Solution

The HERO Payments system includes two payment solutions: the Standard payment solution, and the Pre-Authorized payment solution. This article specifically highlights the Pre-Authorized payment solution, its features, benefits and configuration.

The Pre-Authorized payment solution allows tenants to authorize rental payments for the entirety of their lease for only $0.50 per transaction. Once tenants have pre-authorized their payments in their online accounts, they simply logon to their account each month, click the Payments tab, and initiate their one-click rental payment. Or, if they’ve authorized you to collect their rent, you can conveniently process the payment in your Control Panel on or after the due date. The Pre-Authorized payment solution is the most convenient, cost effective, time saving rental payment option available. And best of all…it’s already included in your RP Management system!

 

Pre-Authorized Payments: Features

  • The tenant can schedule pre-authorized rental payments (via ACH) for the entirety of their lease. (Application fees, owner charges and credit card payments can be made using the Standard payment system.)
  • The cost per transaction is only $0.50…the lowest averaged payment cost anywhere. (Property management company is charged the $0.50 fee.)
  • You may charge a convenience fee for the clients’ use of the electronic payment system, either as a percentage of the payment or a set dollar amount.
  • Once tenants have pre-authorized their payments, they logon to their account each month, click the Payments tab and initiate their one-click rental payment.
  • With the tenant’s authorization, you can process the tenant’s pre-authorized payments on or after the lease payment due date. Process the payment in your Control Panel under RP Management > Tenants > Process Pre-approved Payments.
  • The Pre-Authorized payment solution is fully integrated into your RP Management system. You can configure online payments in your Control Panel, lookup payments, process payments, export payments to a lockbox file and more, all through your RP Management system.
  • You can enable or disable online payments at any time.

 

Pre-Authorized Payments: Benefits

  • It’s cost-effective!
    • The Pre-Authorized payment solution via ACH costs only $0.50 per transaction (fee charged to property management company by PayPal), which is the lowest averaged payment cost anywhere.
    • There are no setup fees, no monthly fees and no hidden fees associated with the Pre-Authorized Payment Solution.
    • You can reduce delinquencies and collection challenges, and reduce paper check processing time and cost…saving you (and your tenant!) time and money.
  • It’s convenient!
    • The HERO Payments system is seamlessly integrated into the RP Management system. One logon, all the tools you need in one place, integrated with each other. You can configure the online payments in your Control Panel, lookup payments, process payments, export payments to a rent payment report or a PROMAS lockbox file and more, all through your RP Management system.
    • Tenants can conveniently pay online from anywhere, or authorize you to process their payments.
    • You can free your staff from chasing rent payments each month.
    • You can instantly turn payments off or on manually at any time, freeing yourself from the headaches related to terminations or evictions.
  • It’s Secure!
    • The HERO Payments system offers the most comprehensive security and fraud protection you can find for your company and your tenant, and protects you from liability.
    • Online payments are made through PayPal as the payment processor. This results in the most comprehensive security and fraud protection available for you and your tenant, with the utmost protection from liability.
    • It protects the privacy of its users. When tenants make payments through their online account, you never see their bank account or credit card information.
  • It’s Trust Accounting Compliant!
    • Fully qualified trust accounting ensures all transactions are properly handled. You and your tenants can be assured that financial transactions and records will always be accurate, always detail each transaction fully, and provide a complete audit trail.
    • Trust account funds can be tracked separately from other funds in accordance with the Real Estate Commissions rules prohibiting “co-mingling” of funds.

 

Pre-Authorized Payments: Configuration

Before a tenant can setup and make pre-authorized rental payments, you must first configure the Pre-Authorized payment option in your Control Panel:

  • Go to Configuration > System Preferences
    • Link your PayPal account to your Control Panel (once linked, it cannot be changed)
    • Add Tenant ACH Convenience Fee if desired (should not exceed $1)
    • Add an ACH Pre-Approval Buffer up to 10% of the lease amount (adding the ACH Pre-Approval buffer will allow you to add late charges, maintenance fees, etc. to the total amount due)
    • Click Save Info
  • Go to Configuration > System Options
    • Check the Online Portal box to allow online account access for your clients
    • Check the Online Payments box to allow online payments
    • Check the Online Payments – Pre-Approved box to allow pre-approved ACH rent payments on a lease
    • Click Save Info
  • Go to Configuration > RP Preferences > Default Profile Authorizations
    • In the Tenant section, check Online Access and Online Payments
    • Check the box next to “o customize profile authorizations on an individual basis, edit individual client profiles through the RP Management tenant profile list

 

After you configure the Pre-Authorized payment option in your Control Panel, add a lease for your tenant:

(The lease must be added before the tenant can setup and make their pre-authorized payments. The amount due on the lease indicates what the tenant must pay each month.)

  • Go to the list of tenants in your Control Panel (RP Management > Tenants > Tenant Lookup > Find Tenant)
  • Click the View/Edit Tenant’s Lease option
  • Click Add Lease, and enter the Rent amount, Lease terms, Scheduled Payments, etc.
    • Add Scheduled Payments to be able to add late fees to the amount due if necessary, and to process tenant payments with the tenant’s authorization
  • Click Save Lease
  • Add a lease for each tenant who will make Pre-Authorized payments

 

Once the lease is added, the tenant logs in to their online account to setup pre-approved payments and make payments:

  • The tenant logs into their online account, clicks the Payments tab and goes through the setup steps for Pre-Authorized payments:
    • Step 1 is connecting their PayPal account
    • Step 2 is approving their payment arrangement
    • Step 3 is adding their bank account (if the tenant has already linked their bank account to their PayPal account, this step is complete)
  • The tenant then logs into their online account each month, clicks the Payment tab, clicks Go to Pre-Approved Payments and clicks Pay Now to make their lease payment

 

With the tenant’s authorization, you (the property management company) can process the tenant’s Pre-Authorized rental payment in your Control Panel on or after the lease due date:

  • Your User or Agent profile must be configured with authorization to process rental payments: logon to your Control Panel as the Master Administrator; in your User or Agent profile, check the Initiate ACH Payments box in the Special Authorization section and click Save User
  • Process the rental payment in RP Management > Payments > Process Pre-Approved Payments
  • Click Process payment

 

View and export the payment in your Control Panel:

  • When a Pre-Authorized rental payment is made, the payment record is immediately posted in your Control Panel and you will simultaneously receive a notification email in your business PayPal email account
  • View the payment in RP Management > Payments > Lookup a Pre-Approved Payment
  • Export the payment to a rent payment report or a PROMAS lockbox file in RP Management > Payments > Export Rent Payments (first transfer payments to the appropriate trust account before creating the payment export file)

 

The HERO Payments system is seamlessly integrated into the HERO PM RP Management system. If you do not currently utilize the RP Management system, please contact us for information. Or, you can upgrade your HERO PM account to include the RP Management system by clicking on Configuration > Orders & Upgrades > Company Upgrade in your Control Panel.

 

FAQ: Our website system was upgraded over the Thanksgiving weekend. How did this change benefit my company?

We performed an upgrade to all member websites over the Thanksgiving weekend, which involved relocating websites to bigger, faster, newer and better servers.  This also moved website servers out of the hurricane region, and upgraded everyone to the latest and greatest technology. Though we continuously upgrade our software and systems, this was a special sort of upgrade that won’t need to happen again for a long time.

For the majority of users, the server migration/website upgrade went smoothly. Unfortunately, some did experience issues with their ISPs not updating in a timely manner, and some members encountered challenges arising from having weak passwords. This necessitated a period of helping them update passwords, access webmail, and update email clients with new passwords as needed.  We’re happy to say that websites were not down during the migration, and the long-term benefits of this move will greatly help your business.

The benefits of the server migration and website upgrade include:

  • Your website is now on the newest technology, with increased functionality, flexibility, security and reliability in a hurricane-proof location.
  • Your email management interface is completely new – email administration is improved, email changes are implemented faster, bigger email accounts are included, improved webmail interface, and increased email performance.
  • All v4 users have been upgraded to the newest website admin functionality, with the latest SEO tools and friendly URL rewriting.