The Evolution of the Web…Is Your Website Evolving With It?


Technology changes rapidly, and keeping up with the latest and greatest is a challenge. In the world of the Internet, the technology for websites is constantly changing, and the way people interact with the web is continually morphing. The result? Your website may hurt your business more than it helps. Like it or not, an out-of-date website can affect your business’ credibility and potential clients will make quick decisions about whether or not they want to work with you – based on your website.

If you want to remain competitive in today’s property management industry, then it’s vital to keep abreast of emerging technologies and implement ones that will benefit your business. Your website is one of the best (if not the best) marketing tools you have available, so ensuring that it’s up-to-date, responsive, mobile-friendly, SEO-optimized, well maintained and easy to use is essential. If visitors can find you online, easily navigate your site to find the information they need (whether they’re on their computer, phone or tablet), and gain a positive impression of your business, then your website has done its job. However, if you’re unsure whether your website is pulling its weight, it may be time to consider a website revamp. Luckily, HERO PM has the perfect solution!

 

HERO PM Introduces Websites Version 5

Keeping our members well-informed of the latest updates, and providing the right solutions to property managers, is our constant goal. We’re excited to introduce our new PM Website System version 5. Websites version 5 is by far our best ever…it’s based on HTML5, the new language of the Internet, and has stunning visuals, interactivity, mobile tools, and SEO tools that can’t be beat. Website version 5 is optimized for the latest generation of search engines, and makes mobile site additions easier than ever. In many ways, the jump from HTML4 to HTML5 is like upgrading from a 1997 car to a 2012 car – it’s still a car, and still does all the same things, but is loaded with new features, new comforts, and new efficiencies. With Websites version 5, we include Portals version 5 – the next generation portal for your owners, tenants and vendors. Portals v5 includes the same fundamental features as the current v4 portal, in a cleaner, slicker, faster, and easier to use interface. It also improves vendor tracking, workorder mangement, and document management.

To help you determine if your current website is doing it’s job, and if Websites v5 is right for you, consider the following:

Is your website… HTML5-based?

HTML5 is the new language of the Internet, and is the successor of HTML4, which has been around since 1997…an eternity in tech time! Among other things, HTML5-based websites function better, they work better on new devices and screen sizes, and they have improved performance. Eventually, the entire Internet will be based on HTML5.  Websites v5 is based on the new HTML5, and provides you all the benefits of this new technology.

Is your website…. Property Management Specific?

Is your website system trying to fit the square peg of property management into the round hole of retail or e-commerce? Are you settling for limited template options, or having your site look like another property manager’s site? We offer options to ensure your site is unique to your company! Have us convert any design from your local designer or have our designers create a custom design from scratch. Websites v5 offers the best price and the fastest setup and desing options in the industry. The user-friendly interface allows you to easily edit your own website, or take advantage of our personal webmaster service and we’ll make the changes for you. Did we mention our websites have dedicated email that can stand-alone or integrate with Google or Microsoft? Having customized email addresses for you and your team add an element of professionalism and credibility.

Is your website…. SEO Optimized?

Websites v5 is structured exactly as Google likes it. With native keyword conversion, page titling, header controls, site map generation, embedded listings, and SEO audit reports, you’ll get to the position you want to be. The new V5 sites offer real-time SEO analysis, letting you know exactly how you can change your site to improve your ranking.

Is your website…. Fully Customizable?

Are you tired of paying a website designer or manager to make small changes to your site? The ability to control your site ensures positive user experiences. The more information a user can find on your website, the higher retention you will have. HERO PM websites allow you the option to include snazzy pre-defined interactive WebGadgets or create your own. Forms, FAQ’s and Blogs each have multiple layout themes and unlimited custom design options. Manage images, files, and videos through powerful libraries, helping you store and organize files easily.



Is your website…. User Editable?

Are you tired of paying a fee every time you want to make a simple update to your website? Edit your website with management tools designed for anyone who can edit a word document. Make the changes you want, when you want, without paying a fee. For more advanced users, you have access to optional advanced editing tools for under-the-hood control.

Is your website…Video Integrated?

Video is the new standard of the Web – having effective videos integrated into your website puts you into the class of the website elite. Websites v5 offers point-and-click video integration to showcase your company and listing videos online.

Is your website… Responsive?

Responsive web development is an approach aimed at creating websites that optimize the viewing experience, independent of the device a visitor uses. To test your site’s responsiveness, go to a site such as ami.responsivedesign.is and enter your website URL. How does your website display on the various devices? With today’s wide range of devices and screen sizes, it is imperative that your website is a responsive site. Thankfully, HERO PM website v5 gives you that option.

Is your website…. Interactive?

Websites have evolved over the years from being static one-way communication channels (i.e. a company brochure), to being social and interactive. An interactive website draws visitors, holds their interest, and encourages them to take some kind of action. Making your website interactive can be as simple as adding a contact form for people to easily reach you, integrating social media feeds on your website for people to comment on, or including various WebGadgets like clickable maps, scrolling featured listings, featured blog/video blog posts, , etc. to customize the visitor’s experience. These functions, and many more, can be easily incorporated into your site with the Website v5, and best yet, you can add them yourself.

Is your website…. Visually appealing?

Having relevant content is essential for your website but visitors build their first impression around your website’s visual appearance. Some studies reveal that users make a decision about your website in approximately 50 milliseconds ( That’s just 1/20th of a second!) That being said, is your website esthetically pleasing? Can it captivate users within seconds and hold their interest? With our custom design services, and experience building more property management websites than any company in the world, we will create a website that represents the professionalism of your business, exactly as you want it.

Is your website…. Mobile?

Mobile technology is becoming increasingly popular. It’s nearly impossible to go anywhere without seeing someone browsing the web on their phone or tablet. And it’s no wonder! Mobile technology allows us to access information from practically anywhere, not just the confines of our desktop computer. Since more and more people are viewing your website on their mobile device, it’s imperative that your site is optimized to provide the best mobile user experience. A well designed mobile site improves user satisfaction with easy access to information, has faster download speed, allows for mobile-specific features like click-to-call and mapping, and helps you present a positive, contemporary brand identity for your business. Thankfully, with the v5 website, a customizable mobile version of your website is included to help you effectively deliver the goods to phone and tablet users. Combine this with HERO Listings Mobile Marketing features, and you’ve got the mobile market covered.

Is your website…. Blog Integrated?

Having an active blog with fresh content embedded in your website helps people and search engines.. This feature was available in V4 through blogging sites, and V5 has built it into the structure of your site. Blogging relevant industry related information and company updates are a simple way to keep a visitor on your site longer, encourage repeat visits, and boost SEO.

Is your website…. Supported?

 At HERO PM we understand your website is your livelihood, which is why we are dedicated not only to continually making improvements and fixing bugs, but to ensuring you and your end user have the best experience possible with your website. Our support team works around the clock to provide you with the quickest, most efficient customer service.

 

Getting Started with Websites v5

If you’re ready to upgrade your current v4 website,
 we would love to help you upgrade to v5. Do you currently have the PM Website in your HERO PM package? If so, you can order an upgrade to your current site. When upgrading your site, we will also include a fresh, new design suitable for HTML5 and Websites v5. Even if your web design was very good a few years ago, it still needs to be updated in order to appear fresh and relevant! If your website is lagging behind in terms of looks and functionality, we recommend you consider an upgrade.

If you do not currently use the PM Website System, you can start with a converted design (if you like the look of your current website), or order a custom design. With our custom design services, we will make a website that represents the professionalism of your business, exactly as you want it. With any design, your website will be built on our new v5 platform, and you’ll have access to all the tools and features of the v5 platform. When you want to make website changes, you can easily make them yourself, or order a project for one of our personal webmasters to make changes.

We have gone ahead and compiled a list of our frequently asked questions along with a portfolio of our most recent v5 sites for you to review. Go to websitesv5.com for answers and fresh design ideas!

We are excited to help you reach your business goals with the assistance of the fresh new look and functionality of our V5 technology! 

If you’re ready to upgrade your current v4 website,
 we would love to help you upgrade to v5. Do you currently have the PM Website in your HERO PM package? If so, you can order an upgrade to your current site. When upgrading your site, we will also include a fresh, new design suitable for HTML5 and Websites v5. Even if your web design was very good a few years ago, it still needs to be updated in order to appear fresh and relevant! If your website is lagging behind in terms of looks and functionality, we recommend you consider an upgrade.

System Highlights: Setting Up Clients Online

The RP Management system provides many tools and features to make your life easier, and your rental office efficient. One such tool is Online Portals, which allows you to provide clients secure online access to view statements, documents and activity, make online payments, submit online work requests (tenants), authorize work requests (owners) and more.

There are many benefits to using the Portal, including saving major time and money each month. According to one HERO PM member, he estimates saving between $5-$10 each month, per owner, by not having to mail statements. That figure takes into account paper, printer/copier, envelopes, stamps and mailing, staff time, etc. And his time savings is equally significant! Clients can also directly access their online filing cabinet of documents and transaction history anytime, giving them answers to many of their questions without needing to contact you. And you gain a competitive advantage over other property managers who do not use Online Portals by giving your tech-savvy clients what they want…their information quickly, and the convenience of making online payments, submitting online work requests, and more.

Do you prefer pictures over words?  Our diagram guides you through the A to Z of getting your clients set up in picture format: Xplain – Setting up Clients Online.

This article walks you through the steps to setting up owners and tenants with online portal access. (Setting up vendors and associations is a similar process.) Before setting up your clients online, you must either manually add profiles to your Control Panel, or publish from PROMAS. Contact us if you need assistance with adding client profiles!

Setting up client portal access includes three parts:

  1. Control Panel Configuration
  2. Introduction to Clients
  3. Client Steps

 

Control Panel Configuration

1) Add online portal access.

  • In your Control Panel, go to Configuration > System Options
  • Check the box next to Online Portal to allow online portal access
  • Click Save Changes

(In addition to viewing statements, documents and activity, you can also allow clients to make online payments, submit online work requests (tenants), add online reservations for vacation rentals (owners) and more, which require selections not discussed in this article.)

2) Create an owner invitation letter template.

  • Go to Configuration > RP Preferences > Letter Template: Owner (or Tenant) Custom Letters
  • Select New Template in the Choose Template drop down box
  • Enter a Name and Description for the letter (i.e. Owner Invite Letter)
  • Click on View/Apply Default Template under the Merge Fields list and click Apply Template
  • The letter’s content section will populate with the default template text and merge fields; edit the content as desired
  • Preview your letter, then click Save Template

You now have a defined letter template that you will print or email for each client later on in this process.

3) Set default profile authorizations.

  • Go to Configuration > RP Preferences > Default Profile Authorizations
  • Check the boxes of the options that you wish to enable for your clients; newly added or imported profiles will default to these settings, and can be individually changed from there
  • If you want to update all current profiles, check the box for Change All Existing Accounts
  • Click Set Configuration

4) Create a portal logon intro message.  The logon intro message displays when a client logs on to their portal; the message can be updated any time.

  • Go to Configuration > RP Preferences > Owner (or Tenant) Logon Intro
  • Enter instructions on how to use the system, updates for your clients, or anything else you want them to know
  • Click Save Info

5) Set statement and document notification messages.   To receive a notification message of a newly posted statement or document, the client must have a valid email address in their profile, they must opt in for statement and/or document notifications, and you must have uploaded a statement or document to their account. The automatic notification is emailed at the end of the day that statements/documents are added.

  • Customize the statement and document notification messages in Configuration > RP Preferences  > Owner (or Tenant) Statement Notification / Owner (or Tenant) Document Notification
  • Enter the information you want clients to view if they opt in to receive a notification when a statement or document is uploaded
  • Click Save Info

 

Introduction to Clients

1) Save the invitation letter to the client’s profile, and invite the client to create their account.

  • Go to RP Management > Documents > Add a Document (for owners or tenants)
  • Select a client either by typing in the Assigned To box or using the drop-down menu
  • Click on the Create Letter/Notice radio button
  • From the drop-down box, select the invitation letter that you created
  • Customize the letter if you wish
  • Ensure that the client’s information is properly merged in the letter, and customize as desired
  • Save the letter to the client’s account by clicking Save Notice
  • Click the View/Print or Email icon beside the document to print and give it to your client or to email it (when emailing, ensure that the client’s name and email address are properly entered)

2) Verify client is set up.  Verify that the client has completed the account setup process in your Control Panel.

  • Go to RP Management > Owners (or Tenants) >  Owner (or Tenant) Lookup
  • Clients who have successfully set up their online account will display a notecard icon in the Details section to the right of their name; you can also view an client’s logon history in their profile under Online Activity
  • If the client has not yet setup their online account, send them an email reminder by clicking the email reminder icon to the right of their name on the owner or tenant lookup list; the message includes the client’s basic account set up information

 

Client Steps

There are three steps that owners and tenants take to create and link their online account. (The process for setting up and linking accounts is also documented in the Video Help of the Create Account/ Account Logon screen.)

1) Receive invite letter from property manager.  Once the client receives the invitation letter, they have the needed information to set up their online account, and link their profile. If you’ve emailed the letter to your client, but they do not receive it, have them check their spam and junk folders.

2) Create and verify their account.  The client clicks the link in the invitation letter to create their online account:

  • In the login screen, the client clicks the Create Account button; they can also watch the three-minute video to walk them through the process
  • After entering a username, password, and agreeing to the terms and conditions, an email is sent to the client with a link to verify that the email account is valid (if the client does not receive the verification email in their Inbox, they may need to look in their spam or trash folders)
  • The client clicks the verification link in the email message, and is now ready to link their profile

3) Link profile.  After the client has created and verified their account, they will link the profile that you’ve set up for them in your Control Panel. For clients to link their profile accounts, they will need the following information contained in the invitation letter that they received:

  1. The property manager’s PMID
  2. Their Client ID
  3. The email address associated with their account or the verification code

The client must enter the linking information exactly to be able to successfully link their profile. Once their profile is linked, they can view uploaded documents, statements, and activity, make a payment and more, depending on their profile authorizations and your Control Panel configurations.

 

If you would like additional information on how to help clients link their accounts, review the Xplain Owner Setup document, or consider attending a free online webinar on the RP Management system. Sign up for the webinar in your Control Panel under Help > Register for Training.

Portals v5 will include even easier setup and configuration options for your owners, tenants, vendors, and association members.  If you are ready to upgrade your website and portals, please read the article covering Websites v5.

Member Spotlight: Sandra Burkhamer

sandy2We had the pleasure of interviewing Sandra Burkhamer this month, the owner of Burkhamer Property Services in Montesano, WA. With over 30 combined years of experience in the property management and real estate fields, Sandy uses her knowledge and expertise to provide quality service to her owners and tenants. As a member of NARPM®, she has achieved the MPM® (Master Property Manager) designation. She is also a member of the Montesano Chamber of Commerce, EGHC Rotary, NAR, GHAR, NWMLS, REBAC and GH Chamber of Commerce.

How did you get into property management? 

SB: I’ve always liked property management. I’ve been licensed since 1974 to do real estate, and in the state of Washington you need your real estate license to do property management. Property management always interested me, and it was a steady income – with real estate sales, that isn’t always the case. So I always wanted to get into it and I had an opportunity in my office at the time to do so. The company had a small property management department, but for several years in a row they were unable to pass the audit by the state. It got to the point that they needed someone to go in and straighten out the trust account and get things flying right. Since I had owned a real estate company I had a lot of trust account experience, so I took it over and that is how I got started in property management. It’s been a learning experience ever since!

How did you become the owner of your own property management company? 

SB: The little company that I was with was basically a real estate company, and the property management division was like the ugly stepchild at the back of the office. When the company moved into a new building, I got squeezed into a little bitty office. However the property management business was starting to grow because we were doing a very good job and I needed more room. I also needed an assistant and a bookkeeping system, as I was doing everything by the Safeguard system. My broker decided she didn’t want to do those things, so I stepped out, and opened my own office 12 years ago in October of 2001.

I had to leave everything with the other company and start out from scratch, but a lot of my owners came over with me eventually. So it’s been very, very good. Every year I have steady growth, and I’ve gotten to a point where I can be a little bit more selective. In fact, the last two years we’ve been voted Best Property Management Company in the Best of Twin Harbors!

What are some of the challenges that you’ve faced in your business, and how do you effectively deal with those?

SB: Technology is my biggest challenge. I’ve got the programs that I need, and it’s just having the time to implement all of the things that would make my business easier. I have to go outside my office to get the knowledge and people that know what to do to get this done. That’s probably the one biggest challenge that I face. Also just keeping up on the State and Federal rules and regulations governing property management is challenging. I belong to NARPM® and have ever since I got into property management…and thank God for NARPM® because it has kept me abreast on the things that are happening that I need to take care of.

How has HERO PM helped to benefit your business?

SB: HERO has always kept me ahead of my competition. When I opened my office, I had and still have, the best website in our area. The way HERO posts my listings on so many different websites has also helped me immensely. The fact that I was able to get a step up because of HERO has helped me instrumentally in becoming recognized as the best property management company in our area.

What is your advice for someone just entering the property management field?

SB: First of all, if you live in the state of Washington you really need to get your real estate license. Without it all you can really do is show rentals. To be able to adequately work in the property management industry in the state of Washington, getting that real estate license is really instrumental. If you’re in a different state though you may not have to worry about the license.

The second thing is go to work for the best property management company in your area. Do whatever you need to do to get in the door, because that’s where you really learn. The last thing is to join NARPM®. These are the three things I’d say to do if you’re trying to get into the property management field.

FAQ: Why should I submit my ideas and feature suggestions through the Idea Zone? Can’t I just send you an email with my ideas?

HERO PM is a company that has been built around understanding and meeting property managers’ needs. Ideas from our members are the driving force in our development, and your suggestions and ideas are what keep us ahead of the pack. By submitting your ideas and feature suggestions to the Idea Zone (in your Control Panel under Help > Idea Zone), it ensures that your idea is properly logged and acted on by our development team.  It also gives us the opportunity to notify you if your idea is already included in the system, or when it is implemented.

FAQ: How do I add my listing photos? The buttons to Add Another Photo and Save and Upload Photos aren’t displaying.

If you’re uploading a photo to a listing, and do not see the Add Another Photo button or Save and Upload Photos button, then you’ve likely not entered text into the Description field. Enter text into the Description field, and these buttons will then appear.  The description should accurately identify the room or feature displayed in the photo, in an appealing way. E.g. enter “Large Front Yard” rather than “Yard” if it better describes the yard.  This will make your listings more attractive to prospective renters.

From the Edit Photos screen, you can also add a watermark and logo stamp to your listing photos to help increase branding and deter people from using your photos for any misdirected purposes.

 

FAQ: I’m using Internet Explorer, and some HERO PM functions aren’t working properly. What should I do?

Microsoft introduced an update for all current versions of Internet Explorer in June of 2013. This was done in advance of their release of the upcoming Internet Explorer 11.  Unfortunately, this interim release of Internet Explorer has some compatibility issues with various websites, so we suggest either using another browser such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox until Microsoft releases a stable version of Internet Explorer 11.