Aaron Robertson and Authority Property Management have built out a whole series of unique processes to solve problems the company was experiencing.
Prior to LeadSimple, bringing new team members on board was a challenge.
“You don’t get to hire a new team member when you have lots of free time. You always have to hire them when you’re about as short as humanly possible, so that makes it very tough to deal with. So that first day, when we used to hire people, we were never able to incorporate them in on a Monday, because someone basically had to be pulled off the floor after a weekend and spend time with them; it was too difficult.”
Now they’ve incorporated an onboarding process that provides the new team member with all the info they need to get started, from the software access they need, to information about the company’s values and the employee handbook, to a scavenger hunt around the office.
“Literally on the first day of their training, we’re able to instill all of this with us only having another team member interaction of about an hour - getting them on board, getting them around the office, sharing where to park. And then once they’re on board, they go through this process of really just delivering an incredibly large amount of information in a small amount of time, consistently, the same way, every time. So we just love it; it’s worked out really well for us.”
This ensures that the training is delivered the same way every time. Aaron even built in fun elements into the process to help lower stress and make the whole experience more enjoyable, while making sure that they understand everything.
“Then they start going through some fun tests and things. These are all questions that they have to answer that are sent to one of my trainers. So they answer all of these questions and have to dive in and put all of these in. So we can find out if they were really paying attention or if they just really clicked through everything. LeadSimple also awards us the opportunity to have some followup systems built in without having to have the trainer sit down with them at that point.”
LeadSimple also makes it easy to make changes to the process later on.
“One of the things we really like and enjoy about having a process software is the simple fact that if I need to communicate a change in something - say we’re going to change our employee handbook - I can make that change very quickly here, and it will be wrapped into every team member going forward. I don’t have to announce that to the team, send out emails, hope my trainer picks that up and remembers it four months down the road. It’s just automatically incorporated in here for every team member going forward.”
Aaron started out in the restaurant industry and he attributes his dedication to processes to that experience.
“That’s what really got me into processes. I think when you have a business that is process driven, it’s so much easier for your team, especially if those processes are mapped and available to them. Because it’s really easy for somebody to take care of a task that they’ve never done and be highly successful if there’s a roadmap right in front of them. I mean, I can read extraordinarily well, and if I can read it, I can probably do it. If there’s nothing to read, I’m probably going to figure out a way that wasn’t close to how the proprietor wanted it. So I think that’s where I took on the value of processes.”
Another passion of the Authority Property Management team is providing the best experience. That includes the tenant experience and the employee experience.
“I’d say experience helps generate revenue. Your processes help generate profit.”
“If your team members have a bad experience [with your company], how can they put forth the best experience to your property owners and tenants? How does that happen?”
“I think really stopping and asking how something would look to a team member. Not 100% sure? Go out and talk to your team! Does this look right to you? Is this what you would do if you owned the company? Doesn’t mean you take all their direction, but they have some really good insight. You might have an idea of it, but they really give you all the nuts and bolts, which is really what you need.”
For tenants, Aaron has carefully built a tenant onboarding process to help tenants through the move in process, including details on how to change their air filters or handle a lockout after hours.
“Tenants should be treated like gold, for a lot of reasons. … I want them to rent from me again.”
“Probably 25% of our tenants have never rented before at all. … If it’s your first apartment you’re applying for and you don’t know about credit, deposits, rent, etc, your stress level probably doesn’t get much higher.”
“So if they forget to turn in their move in checklist, I kinda feel like it’s just as much our fault as theirs, because we knew they were really busy, and we can very quickly build this into our processes to remind them. …That avoids security deposit disputes later.”
Aaron has even spent time making his communications in all his processes fun, interactive, and personable.
“It’s so strange in our industry: I see communications from our competition and they are short and dry, but they really don’t have to be. They could go a long way by interacting with people. I have to be honest, when people send me stuff that might have a funny meme in it, I’ll read that whole email top to bottom, but one dry email, my integrator will probably read it and tell me about it later.”
Aaron’s team also utilizes a monthly audit process to ensure accuracy of owner statements before paying their owners each month.
“It takes us an hour to run through this, but this ensures our success every month. We [now] have very very few complaints as to the accuracy of the owner statements. … These sorts of things are life saving, because it takes a half hour worth of work, replacing 5 hours worth of work on the backend, finding out that we paid the owners wrong.”
They even have a process to ask for reviews, triggered at points when the owner or tenant are most likely to leave a positive review.
“We really like that one, because everybody knows that your business really runs on reviews, so there’s absolutely no doubt about it. It’s very difficult to remember to ask, and if you do ask, there’s zero follow up. Most folks when you ask them the second time, they’ll jump in and give you a hand and help you out.”
One of Aaron’s favorite features in LeadSimple is the task instructions.
“One of the things that I like about LeadSimple and one of the reasons why we switched from our last processing software is you can click “show instructions”. Our last process software didn’t have that; it showed instructions for everybody every time, which wasn’t great for your team members that have been with you five years and their checklist is nine miles long of instructions with three questions to answer. So I like that you can only grab the instructions if you need it.”
Aaron’s final advice to other property managers looking to systematize their business was:
“We never automate anything that would require sympathy or empathy. I think that’s really important. My team is not allowed to send out emails on things that might be tough - like a credit denial. …Those things seem like they would be some of the easiest things to automate, but I think it could very much damage your reputation.”
“So I would encourage everybody - don’t automate empathy or sympathy; don’t do that. Try to stay as far away from that as you can; try and make those still personal contacts, verbally. Let your team handle them that way; I think that’s really valuable.”
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