Consolidating processes after a company merge

"Before we merged companies, we didn't need systems like we do now... but after the merge we clearly needed consistent processes... Now communications are consolidated in one place, processes are allowing us to grow into other locations, and we can better integrate our remote team members!"

~ Sean Whitacre, CEO Holland Properties

A bit about Holland Properties

Sean Whitacre started Innovative Property Management in 2013. In October of 2019, they merged with another company and became Holland Properties. They currently manage around 700 residential homes in the Portland Metro area and are continually working to grow their portfolio.

Sean is the CEO and Hannah is their process & operations manager.

The Problem

It's difficult to overstate how challenging merging companies can be, and a large part of that challenge is consolidating the back office systems and processes between the two companies.

Prior to the merge, it was easy to handle a little over 100 properties without optimizing processes, but when you have more team members, more clients, and more properties the manage, that all changes. A few of the goals Holland Properties particularly wanted to hit were:

  1. Provide consistent service to clients all the time so work always gets done the same way no matter who is doing it
  2. Consolidate the back office of their company so all processes were the same after the merge
  3. Timely communication with all clients so they feel cared for and prioritized
  4. Consolidation of systems to reduce mistakes and make it easier to track data
  5. Better collaborate with and track remote team members and streamline their tasks

Streamlining communications with their clients in each process was a prominent goal above the rest, since property management is 90% communication.

How did they attempt to solve the problem at first?

Trello - Trello got them thinking about processes.

"Trello was good for checklists and keeping track of the status of a process, but it was only one step above paper really."

~ Sean

"Trello was lacking in automation capabilities... you could not build consistent customer communication into the process."

~ Hannah - They looked at, but opted to start with Trello due to cost limitations.

Appfolio - While Appfolio does a good job on the accounting side of things, they found it lacking in communication capabilities,

"Appfolio was not the best way to integrate communications into our processes. Setting up emails to send out is difficult and isn't always reliable. This made consistency difficult."

~ Hannah

The Solution

With the goals of consolidating processes into one between two companies, streamlining communications in every process, and consolidating the systems they use, Holland Properties needed a system that was built for the unique property management use case.

There are plenty of generic options out there that allow you to build a custom solution, but most companies either don't have the time, knowledge, or desire to finish building them out, OR run into limitations with the underlying data model (i.e. Hubspot) since isn't built with property managers in mind.

LeadSimple, on the other hand, has always been focused on property management, first in sales and business development, then in operations and process management.

What attracted them to LeadSimple?

Sean's company, Innovative Property Management, already used LeadSimple for sales and business development, so they had already verified it was an effective solution for that use case.

"We liked using LeadSimple as our CRM. And we liked the LeadSimple team. We were convinced we could trust them and work with them as they continued adding to and improving the software."

~ Sean

Also, the quality of the user experience made it an easier choice.

"LeadSimple is very user friendly. All the information is there to help us do our job... and we can put new people right into a process and they know what they need to do."

~ Hannah

What was the learning curve?

While their previous process manager took time to get up to speed, as LeadSimple's new educational resources came out, Hannah (their current process manager) was up to speed in just over 1 month.

"The courses, articles, and training videos alongside LeadSimple's chat and email support for immediate assistance helped a lot"

~ Hannah

Monitoring LeadSimple's constant improvements and new feature updates helped, and continues to help, them optimize their processes and improve them.

Also, dedicating a person on the team to building processes, monitoring how they are working and making improvements allowed them to make much faster progress.

Getting the team to buy-in

If you want to change the way you do things in your business, you always have to get the team to buy in, no matter how simple or powerful the new system is. Holland was no exception, but there are a few tricks they implemented to get there faster.

1: Their leadership had already proven LeadSimple as a quality CRM for sales. This helped build trust with the team.

2: Getting the team involved in BUILDING the process made a huge difference.

  • Simply throwing a finished process at your team is more likely to make them feel unappreciated and undervalued, not invested in it.
  • They are the ones doing the work every day, so their input is important to build the process right.
  • If your team is invested in the process, they'll be much more willing to experiment with new ways of working and give you the feedback you need.

Some favorite things about LeadSimple

The Lease Renewal process is one of their most heavily used processes currently, and the most optimized. A few capabilities they've built into their process in LeadSimple are:

  1. Deadlines are built into the process - tasks are scheduled X days prior to the lease expiration date so they happen on time
  2. Team members are assigned to specific tasks in the process so they always get reminded what they need to do and when
  3. Stop tasks schedule tasks in "blocks" instead of flooding the team with tasks that aren't due for weeks
  4. Move Outs, and other processes can be triggered from a Lease Renewal; this allows them to re-use the Move Out process everywhere instead of building it over and over into every process that might have move out steps
  5. Saved views allow them to see all the tenants that are coming up for renewal in a given timeframe
  6. The Tasks page gives admins a view into the tasks for anyone on their team - great for keeping track of what everyone is working on
  7. Automating emails & texts in the process - a gamechanger for their processes because communication makes up 80-90% of the process
  8. LeadSimple's free process templates are a powerful starting point when building new processes, whether you have documentation or not

Holland Properties' advice to other property managers

We'll let Sean and Hannah close this one out.

"Get the team involved in building the process. The hardest part is getting the team to change the way they do things, so make them a apart of it. This totally changes the way they react to the change."

~ Sean

"Having a qualified member of the team dedicated to the project is important to making sure it actually gets done, and done well."

~ Hannah

How can you get the same results?

Do you have a dream about where you want your property management business to end up? In the future, Holland Properties are looking forward to scaling their business into other locations, something they can do because their business is run on systems and processes.

That can be true about you too.

Schedule a time to talk with us about systematizing your business so your dreams can come true.

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