Understanding Harmony: Quick Access

Hunting and pecking is for chickens. You’re not a chicken, you’re a property manager!

Don’t hunt around for the options you need in Harmony. When you see a favorite menu icon, click it to add it to your custom menu. It’s then available from the menu (hamburger) icon in the top left of your screen. You can sort the menu so your most used functions are up top, or grab a menu icon and drag it off the menu to remove it forever (although you can always add it back the same way you added it the first time).

Visit Settings, Menu & Guides, Preferences to see Quick Launch buttons. These are the most commonly used options throughout the system. Turn one on to add it to the Quick Launch bar at the top right of your screen, beside your profile.

If something’s been added and you need to process it, there’s no searching required. Simply click or tap the white alert icon at the top center of your screen – it’ll be the one with a number in a circle (that number is the quantity of those items waiting for you to process). Whether it’s a bank deposit, email message, or rental application that’s waiting for you (or many other things), you can quickly jump to it and do your thing.

Have you been somewhere recently and want to get back there? Show your page track with the footprints in the bottom left of your screen. Each screen you’ve recently visited will display across the bottom of your screen. Hover over one to see details including when you were last there, and click or tap it to visit it again. Want to see a full list of everywhere you’ve been since you last logged in? Select your Session History (the first icon in the page track bar) to get a complete list since the beginning of your session, and click or tap an item to magically jump to it.

It’s our goal to eliminate the need for gallus gallus domesticus behavior in the world of property management. We all know our industry has been plagued by this for far too long, and we’ve all had those days where we feel like we need to go home and bandage our beaks. We want Harmony users to avoid this tragedy. If you have ideas for how we can make things faster, easier, and simpler, please send your suggestions our way and help us improve your life.

Understanding Harmony: Dress it Up

Did you know you can give Harmony a look that sparks joy when you pick it up?

From your Settings, select Menu & Guides, then Theme & Background. Set the color scheme that looks best to you; experiment if you want. Set your preferred sound theme for alerts – click the sound icon to hear it. Then set the background image you find most intriguing, and save the theme.

Do you have an idea for another color scheme or background you’d just love? Send us your ideas, we may add it to the theme library.

There’s nothing that looks better than you, so make sure your smiling face shows in throughout the system in place of that boring grey silhouette of Nicolas Cage. Select your profile with the round icon toward the top right of your screen, and scroll down to the Photo. Drag and drop a happy picture of you, and you’ll see yourself every time you look at a Harmony screen. Others will see you, too, when they look at the Team, or Chat with you, or view an Activity that you’re involved in.

In Harmony, you can also use guides to ensure that each screen and function provides your team with the information they need to get the job done right, every time. Have your users memorized the guides and no longer display or read them? Fear not, when you change a Page Guide, even previously hidden guides will display again, with an alert that there’s something new there.

Harmony also adapts to fit information well on the size of screen you’re using. On many pages, extra information like previews show up to the right of the content, but if you’re on an eensie-weensie laptop, you’ll still see the core information nice and big, and the extra information simply hides itself.

Have an idea for how we can make Harmony prettier (or more handsome)? Drop us a line, we want your workday to be filled with joy!

Understanding Harmony: Let’s Agree

Whether you manage for yourself or others, lease to tenants, or have vendors provide service, everything you do as a property manager is governed by agreements. Every dollar that you collect and process, and every action that you take, is related to some form of agreement that you have with someone.

Agreements are the backbone of Harmony, and they’re a big part of what makes Harmony more flexible and powerful than any other property management software.

An agreement always has one or more people (a company can be a person, too), and one or more units, along with the terms and values for the agreement. Once you’ve recorded the data for the agreement (like the rent, or the management fee), you’ll create an agreement form, your template-sourced narrative of the details of the agreement for your tenant(s) or owner(s) to sign, which they can do electronically.

Each agreement then creates an accounting ledger, where you can record all the money in and out on the agreement. This provides tremendous flexibility – you can properly record all the money billed to your owner Jim McDonnell for both the unit he co-owns with his brother, and the unit he owns in a separate LLC with 5 other partners. It’s practically unlimited.

Each agreement can also have addendums and notices; you’ll find yourself using these regularly.

When creating an agreement form, if you have addendums that apply, they’ll be automatically added to the agreement form. For example, you may have a lead paint disclosure for all tenants in units built before 1978. When you create the lease agreement, it will automatically add your lead paint disclosure as an addendum to the lease.

When it’s time to send an agreement notice, let’s say a notice of renewal, the notice will be sent to all the people on the agreement. If the lease agreement has 4 tenants, each one will receive the notice, and each one can sign it with wet ink or electronic signatures, if your notice requires signatures. Each one will also have the notice in their portal documents.

When you have a lease with 4 tenants, each one of them can pay on the lease – either in person to you, or through their portal. When the payment is received, it will be recorded from the paying tenant, against the lease they’ve paid on.

If you have a management agreement with 3 owners, you can easily send their distributions proportional to their ownership – even if they own units in another agreement, with other owners.

When it’s time to view money, you can view anything from anyone. In the above Jim McDonnell example, you can see all of his money for everything he owns, and easily filter to only the agreement where he co-owns the unit with his brother. He can also easily see this in his portal.

All agreements have dates, when they start, when they end, and what happens for renewal. Harmony reminds you when these dates come due. You’ll get a dashboard indication of any agreement that’s ending or coming due for renewal, and you can easily send the corresponding notices. When you view an agreement where something needs to be done (like a termination or a move-in), you’ll be prompted to process the action and it’ll help you with the corresponding money in a wizard.

Managing your lease agreements with tenants, management agreements with owners, and services agreements with vendors may have been a time-consuming part of your management business, but you can put that in the past with Harmony. Your software will now guide you through every part, and allow you to easily keep everything organized and current.

Where is the Map of all My Listings?

You may have noticed that the map at the top of your listing page is gone.   We know that there have been quite a few changes to the Internet lately, and it can drive someone mad trying to keep up with all of it!  Google recently announced updates to their Google Maps Platform and you’ll need to make a change to accommodate it:

You’ll need a valid API key and a Google Cloud Platform billing account to access our core products. Once you enable billing, you will gain access to your $200 of free monthly usage to use for our Maps, Routes, and Places products. As your business grows or usage spikes, our pricing plan will scale with you.*

*There is also a pricing calculator that may help.

If you read the comments at the bottom of the announcement, you will see that you’re not alone with the frustration this has caused.  This change is upsetting people and developers everywhere.

In order to continue using the Google Maps service on your website, we will need you to set up a Google Cloud Platform for your organization and generate a new API Key for your website.

Why does this affect me?

Previously, HERO PM  was able to take care of this service for all client websites under our account and use our API Key to generate calls to Google Maps for your website. With these new changes however, the daily quota of API calls has been reduced, and HERO PM can no longer cover the usage of all of our members in one account.

Your website is still likely to fall under the $200 free monthly usage, but you’ll to have a separate account under your control so that your usage is isolated. Your  Google account and API Key stays with your organization no matter what changes occur in the future.

What do I need to do?

You have several options on how to proceed

Option #1  –  DO NOTHING – If the listing maps are not important to you, you can simply leave them off.

Option #2 – GENERATE YOUR OWN API KEY WITH GOOGLE – Follow the instructions below under “Generating an API Key” and enter that API key in your HERO PM Control Panel on the Configuration Tab under RP/VR Preferences > Listing Webpage Options.  Select “On, billed by Google” in the drop down under Map Option.  This will bring up a box where you can enter the Google Maps API Key that you created following the instructions below.

Option #3 – ALLOW HERO TO BILL YOU FOR MAP USAGE – If you don’t want to go through the process of setting up your own Google Maps API Key but you want to use the map on your listing page, you have the option for us to bill directly for the calls to your map.   Simply go to the Configuration tab and select Listing Webpage Options from the RP/VR Preferences drop down menu.  Select “On, billed by HERO” in the drop down under Map Option.

 

Generating an API Key:

Sign in to your Google account

If you don’t have a Google account, you will need to create one.

Google Maps Platform Walkthrough - Create a Google Account

Getting started

Once you are logged in to your Google account, navigate to https://cloud.google.com/maps-platform/#get-started.

Google Maps Platform Walkthrough Step 1

Select the services relevant to your site

Which are Maps and Places, but if you’d like, you can also add Routes – you’re only “charged” for the services you use.

Enter project name

Create a name for your project and agree to the Terms of Service and click “Next”.

Google Maps Platform Walkthrough Step 2

Create a billing account

If you do not have a billing account associated with your Google account, you will need to create one by clicking “Create Billing Account”.

Google Maps Platform Walkthrough Step 4

Name your billing account and Continue

Google Maps Platform Walkthrough Step 5

Select your Country and Currency and Continue

Google Maps Platform Walkthrough Step 6

Create your Payments Profile

Then fill in your Customer Info and Continue.

Google Maps Platform Walkthrough Step 7

Enter Payment Info

Provide either a Credit Card or a Bank Account for the Payment Method and click “Submit”.
Google Maps Platform Walkthrough Step 8

Enable your Google Maps Platform

Now you can enable your Google Maps Platform APIs by clicking “Next”.

Google Maps Platform Walkthrough Step 9

Copy your API key

You will be given Your API key –  Enter that API key in your HERO PM Control Panel on the Configuration Tab under RP/VR Preferences > Listing Webpage Options.  Select “On, billed by Google” in the drop down under Map Option.  This will bring up a field where you can enter the Google Maps API Key.

Google Maps Platform Walkthrough Step 10

You did it!

Feel free to reach out

If you have any issues or questions, feel free to reach out to our HERO PM Support Team at 1-800-770-4376, option 1 for assistance.

New and Improved HERO Help Sessions

Do you wish that there was a training class for HERO PM that would let you get help with the parts of the system that are troubling you? Would you like to interact with other HERO PM users in the industry so that you could share best practices?

You are in luck!! We are switching up our HERO Help sessions to be more in line with the support you are looking for.

When will the sessions be held?

We will schedule several different times per month so that you can choose the one that best fits your schedule. The dates and times will be included in the invite

What types of topics will be discussed?

  • Online Applications
  • Online Payments
  • Setting Owners Up Online
  • Inspections
  • Listing Reports
  • Online Work Orders from Configuration to Completion

We will also be looking at the most commonly asked questions coming into our Support Team and making sure that we are addressing them during the sessions.

How Do I Get An Invite?

Go to https://heropm.com/register-for-a-hero-pm-event and click on HERO Help Online and sign up.

Invites will be sent out at the beginning of the month so that you can get them added to your calendar.

We look forward to meeting online with you as we help you to get the most out of your HERO PM software.

Introducing SSL Certificates for HERO Websites

Are you interested in adding HTTPS compatibility to your website, with the lock icon in the address bar when someone visits your website? HERO PM has your solution!

A Little Background

HTTPS means that your website is being encrypted with additional security, using a secure certificate and a secure protocol. With all HERO Websites, transactions are always secured and sent over HTTPS. This includes things like listing inquiries, applications, and portal access. However, viewing your website is not encrypted by default – unless you upgrade to the Secure Website option.

Why HTTPS?

There are two primary reasons to upgrade to a Secure Website with HTTPS:

  1. Trust. There are a growing number of internet users who are learning to have a higher degree of trust in websites that display the lock in their address bar, indicating that they are secured. As time goes on, HTTPS and secure websites will be the standard, rather than the exception.
  2. SEO. Google has been saying for quite some time that they want a more secure web, and when the time is right, they will begin weighting secure sites higher in the search results than standard sites. Google’s present position is that they “encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.” It has been the assumption of industry insiders that they will do this when the number of secure sites reaches critical mass. With the changes to security in February, 2017, this is getting close to reality. Already, Google is providing preferential display to secure websites, though not yet significant preference in ranking.

What is Required to Use HTTPS?

There are three different components in setting up a website for HTTPS. HERO Secure Websites takes care of all three for you.

  1. Website Structure. Since Websites v5, all websites have been structured for HTTPS compatibility. It’s always good to keep your version current to make sure you have all available updates.
  2. Website Protocol. The site must be accessed using the HTTPS protocol. Google detects when this is available and directs users to the most secure protocol. For visitors directly navigating to your website, they type “https” before your domain name to access your site securely. All Websites v5 support the secure protocol.
  3. Secure Certificate. Every company offering a secure version of their website must purchase a secure certificate. This is the file that is assigned to your company and must be installed to your website and domain. You may have seen secure certificates, also called SSL certificates, available online for $50 to $5000 per year. There are numerous levels of certificates for all sorts of different encryption needs. It can get pretty complicated, but HERO Secure Websites provide you with high security on a domain validated certificate, meaning that you do not have to file special paperwork or show up in person for a security audit (as required for the higher levels) – we make it super-simple. The certificates we offer are provided by industry-leader Symantec.

Why Not HTTPS?

With the February updates, most of the technical reasons from the past are no longer a factor. However, there are a few things you need to be aware of before upgrading to a Secure Website.

  • Cost. HERO PM provides the Secure Website upgrade for an initial fee of $100, then $50 per year for subsequent years. This fee covers the acquisition of your secure certificate, installation and configuration, and annual updates. Secure certificates don’t last forever, they’re only good for 365 days, after which we acquire an updated certificate and install it for you.
  • Flexibility. As security increases, there are slight reductions in flexibility. Here are two things you should be aware of:
    • Single Domain. A secure certificate can only be installed to one domain per site. If you have multiple domains on your site, you can keep them all, but only one can use HTTPS.
    • Email Switching. You cannot automatically switch between email services when you have a Secure Website. You can still use all supported HERO Websites email services (HERO Mail, Self-Hosted, Google, and Microsoft), but you’ll have to submit a request to us when you want to switch from one to another, and we’ll handle the change manually.

OK, Let’s Go!

When you’re ready to increase trust, and position yourself for the forthcoming SEO benefit, it’s easy to upgrade to a Secure Website. From your Control Panel, select Configuration – Orders & Upgrades – Order a Website Upgrade. Choose the Secure Website upgrade, and we’ll get to work on your certificate order and installation.

New 2017 Website Rapid Start Designs are Now Available

If you have been considering a new website, but aren’t sure what you want, HERO PM has two excellent routes for you:

Rapid Start Website

A Rapid Start provides you with a new website in days, rather than weeks or months. Choose from 10 different stunning designs, made specifically for property management, and “have a new website by the weekend”.

Our new-for-2017 designs are now available. Preview them at http://websitesv5.com/examples-of-rapid-start-hero-websites

Quick Delivery Custom Website

Quick Delivery Custom websites are websites that we’ve already designed for our QDC catalog, and it becomes unique to you once you purchase it. It will be different from every other property management company’s website, and still have the excellent design that comes with all of our custom websites. Preview the catalog of available quick delivery custom designs from the Orders page in your Control Panel.  Once you purchase your selection, it is removed from the catalog and becomes uniquely yours.

All Websites

Whether you choose a rapid or quick website, or you wish to go through the process of consultation and custom design, all HERO Websites have the full power of the complete website system. This gives you property management specific functionality, along with easy editing, excellent mobile optimization, awesome SEO, and everything all in one place. Nobody has built more property management websites, and nobody does it better! We’d love to help you get into a new website in 2017.

2016 System Upgrade

We have completed the bulk of the system and infrastructure upgrades that started on December 16th.

What was done?

There were three parts to the upgrade, completed in two phases:

  1. We upgraded almost half of our cloud servers to the latest and greatest machines with the latest stable versions of all security, application, and server software.
  2. We upgraded databases to a much faster, more scalable database engine.
  3. We moved core servers to the newest available facility within our cloud environment at IBM, which provides additional speed, fault tolerance, and manageability.

Why was this done?

When newer technology becomes available, we evaluate it to assess the benefit of upgrading, compared to the cost to you (primarily in terms of potential service disruption). We have some hard-and-fast rules on how old we will allow our technology to get before we replace it proactively, but usually there is a compelling case to upgrade sooner. In this case, we had the chance to take advantage of a number of benefits, all in a single upgrade window (minimum impact to our members). This was the biggest single upgrade we’ve undertaken since 2012.

Additionally, we are scaling up dramatically for the upcoming public release of HERO Harmony. Since Harmony includes accounting, CRM, and all of the other features of HERO PM, it requires a boatload of capacity to securely handle all of the transactions and messages that you deal with daily. This step allows us to smoothly jump a few rungs up the ladder, ensuring that your business can grow with us, or continue reliably and securely.

How did it all go?

All things considered, pretty good. We did have a couple of problems that deserve an apology:

  1. We were a little too ambitious on the configuration of the new database engine. This left some users with the inability to add new leases, reservations, workorders, and listings for a few hours until we could adjust the settings to exactly where they needed to be.
  2. Distributing the data over to new database/facility took longer than we planned for. Although the new database engine is blazing fast, the old one is not quite as amazing. We ran multiple tests and determined that we could get all of the data from the old to the new in plenty of time to ensure no disruption, but in real life, it didn’t work out as planned. This meant that it was still in process when users showed up for work Tuesday morning. The result was that we had to keep some systems on the old database engine for a part of the business day Tuesday. The impact to you was that things were slow – not what you want to see when returning to a wonderful new upgrade that is supposed to improve speed!

What still needs to happen?

We’re still doing some fine-tuning. There is nothing that we expect to impact users, and it will get even faster as we make a few minor adjustments.

HERO Harmony: What is CRM?

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. An expansion of letters doesn’t really help us understand its meaning.

As a property manager, you have hundreds of communications that come in to you, and need to go out. People tell you things, they ask you things. Then you need to tell them things and ask them things. This occurs in every area of your business: finding and attracting owners and tenants, managing ongoing transactions and interactions, collecting input, and informing people of the things that affect them. The idea behind CRM is that it helps you do this effectively and efficiently, with software.

Harmony embeds CRM into every part of it. There is no separate set of CRM features, rather, the entire software is built to include the CRM model. Here are some places you’ll see CRM in action in Harmony:

Automated notifications of actions you take.

You can set up templates for notification messages for the different actions you take. Are you scheduling a work-order? You can automatically update the vendor, owner, and tenant with unique messages containing the information they need. Did you receive the tenant’s rent? You can automatically notify them. Did you distribute money to an owner? Send them an automated message to let them know how much you just sent to their bank account.

Campaigns and process-involved communications.

Create a series of communications that are launched from a single action. Did an owner inquire about your management services? Set them up with your campaign that begins with a request for them to provide property information, continues with sending them your marketing packet, sends them a prompt to review all that information three days later, and follows up to check in on their decision a week later.

Unified messaging.

Keep all of your incoming and outgoing emails, chats, texts, voicemails, and more all in one place – automatically organized by agent and categorized by tenant, owner, or vendor. View an entire communication history for a person or company, all in one spot. Even track the amount of time you spend in communication with a specific owner.

Integrated communication.

Schedule a follow-up email at the end of a meeting, or schedule a meeting at the end of a phone call. Set a task to pick up the company car from the mechanic after you hear the voicemail letting you know the alternator will be replaced tomorrow by 3pm. Set up a lunch meeting with an owner when they send the email saying they’re coming to town, hungry, next Wednesday.

HERO Harmony uses CRM solutions to ensure you get more done in less time, and nothing falls through the cracks. Your owners, tenants, vendors and staff will love you, while you relax on the beach with the assurance that everyone is kept informed, all the time.

HERO Harmony: Where is the money?

Trust accounting swings on a single hinge: where is the money?

In the most simple trust accounting relationship, a tenant pays money to an owner. This is how basic trust accounting software works.

whereisthemoneya

This works well when you have one tenant in each property, each owner owns only one property, and each property has only one owner. If this describes all the properties you manage, then any property management trust accounting software will work. However, most property managers are faced with one of these scenarios:

  • An owner has more than one property.
  • A property has more than one owner.

In these cases, a more complex financial relationship exists. One method to handle this is to make the owner an afterthought – putting the money into a property. (This is how the most well-known cloud-based software for residential property managers does it.)

whereisthemoneyb

However, this doesn’t really work. What happens when owner Jim has three properties, each with $200 in reserve, and one property has a water heater fail? That property has only $200, but the water heater replacement is $420.88. You cannot replace that water heater, because the property doesn’t have enough money. You can ask the owner to send you a check, but that seems odd, as the owner has $600 on account with you. So you move money to Property A: $200 from Property B, and $20.88 from Property C. Then you cross your fingers and pray for no emergency expenses on Property B or C. On rent day, you move the money back, and get the properties all back to normal. What a headache! What is a simple solution in real life – an owner paying a bill – becomes more work for you at the busiest time of the month.

HERO Harmony has a structure that represents the reality of your financial relationships.

whereisthemoneyc

A property management agreement can contain any number of owners and properties, and a lease can contain any number of tenants. This sure makes life easy! What’s more, it solves myriad other problems that formerly caused property managers to pull their hair out!

There are many problems that exist in current software offerings related to “Where is the money?”.  HERO Harmony solves them all.

So why are current software programs so limited? The answer is simple. Property managers have been willing to go through workarounds because there were no other options. Why didn’t cars have cruise control until the 1970’s – when the cruise control was invented in 1788? Drivers were willing to endure the problem until a fellow named Ralph became completely annoyed by a roller-coaster-like ride, and set about to fix it. Property managers have spent long enough creating workarounds. It’s time for a solution that works.  It’s time for HERO Harmony.