Ever wondered how to travel as a property manager? In this interview, one Buildium customer reveals his secrets for traveling the world with his family for seven months out of the year, all while running a thriving property management company. We hope you’re just as inspired by his success as the Buildium team has been!
A Buildium Customer’s Story
Could you tell us how and why you got into property management?
When it comes down to it, I was born into property management. My family has been buying properties since the 1980s, and I have worked for them since I could push a mower.
During and after college, my wife and I worked [for their company] in the summers, then traveled for the rest of the year. Then, four years ago, my parents decided to retire. It looked like our free-flying lifestyle was about to end abruptly. We had two choices: Either we were going to take over running the company, or we were going to quit and move to Australia. We decided to give running the company a trial year and see what happened…
Which aspects of your job are you most passionate about? What do you struggle with?
I am the most passionate about working remotely, creating systems to make us more efficient, and keeping my employees as happy as possible.
The biggest aspect of my job that I struggle with is rent collection. My employees oversee the rent collection process, and they do the best they can; but collecting rent is hard. Right now, we do all of our rent collection in-house, but I am working on a new system that will make everyone’s lives easier and less stressful.
Do you see yourself staying in property management in the long run?
I would be crazy not to! Right now, my family and I spend May through October in running the company from the ground, overseeing improvements and upgrades, plus implementing changes. The rest of the year, we run the business remotely from tropical surf destinations. I would be pretty insane to quit my job!
What drove you to invest in property management software for your business?
My hatred of paper and its inefficiency is what drove me to invest in property management software.
Our company was built in the 1980s, and when I took it over, it was still run like it was 1980. We had absolutely no property management software in place at all. We were 100% paper: paper leases, paper task management (sticky notes—thousands of them), paper flyers, paper advertising, fax machines, copiers, scanners, three printers… paper, paper, paper!
For a year, I was the office guy, working on streamlining our paper process so that I could free up some time to look for a more efficient way to do things. I don’t think in the beginning I even knew there was such thing as web-based property management software. I was surfing the web, looking for some software to purchase and run in-office, when I came across Buildium. After signing up, I went from the front office guy, to the back office guy, to the office guy who worked from home, to the office guy who was never in the country and worked remotely.
It has been about a three-year process fully eliminating our paper systems, but we’ve done it. This year, we can finally claim to be 100% paperless!
How has property management software changed how you run your business?
Before Buildium, I sat in the office; with Buildium, I sit wherever I want!
Buildium [takes care of] our website, advertising, online application process, accounting, task management, tenant finances, bill-paying—basically, you name it, and we do it through Buildium, and it’s all online.
Which aspects of your job have you automated with property management software; what do you outsource to other people; and what do you still handle yourself? How did you make those decisions?
With Buildium and the help of Grasshopper, Intuit, and Docusign, we have automated everything we can. [This includes] the application process, lease signing, emailing, communications, recurring task management, rent collection, bill-paying, payroll, phone system, lockouts, plowing, lease violation charges—the list goes on and on. If it is something we plan on doing more than one time, we are doing our best to automate it.
The jobs I kept for myself are managing the finances and overseeing major upgrades. I am the only one on our Buildium account who has banking access or can make changes on tenants’ financial accounts. I also put my final signature on leases and create tenant portals. I pay all bills and keep track of the accounting. In the summertime, I organize building upgrades. Other than that, my employees run the rest of the business quite successfully without me!
How would you feel if you couldn’t use Buildium anymore? What would change in your business?
If I could not use Buildium anymore, at first, I would be sad—I love Buildium! But if it did happen, I would hire all of the Buildium employees to create a new Buildium, then pick up the 20,000 other Buildium customers that lost their property management software and were looking for where to turn.
Do your residents know that you’re working “on the go”? How do you handle tenant and owner communications and challenges from afar?
None of my 200 residents have the slightest idea that I exist! As far as tenant communications and challenges go, I leave it to my awesome team.
What would success look like for you? Are there certain goals you’re working toward?
I don’t want to sound like I am tooting my own horn, but right now, I am sitting on a sunny deck in Princeville, Kauai overlooking palm trees and the pool after just returning from 5 hours at the beach with my wife and two kids. This looks like success to me!
My main goal today is to keep my employees happy and continuously improve our properties.
What’s your favorite part about being a Buildium customer?
My favorite part about being a Buildium customer is that it lets me work remotely and spend lots of time with my family.
Also, a few years ago, my wife, my son, and I were in Boston. I said, “Let’s swing by the Buildium office.” We took the elevator up, and it opened onto a huge, open, cheerful space. Everyone working at Buildium just looked like they were having fun. We walked in kind of feeling like, “Should we have called or made an appointment?” but the closest Buildium employee just grabbed us and said, “Hey, welcome to Buildium!” and gave us an amazing tour. We met just about everyone in the office. Lots of employees I recognized from calling the support team! Everyone gave our son toys and treated us like royalty. It was awesome!
Which countries have you visited with your family, and which have been your favorite? What else is on your bucket list?
Since I started using Buildium in 2013, my family and I have been to Puerto Rico four times, usually for three months; Australia three times, usually for four or five months; Costa Rico once for a few months; Hawaii once for three months; and hung out in the Outer Banks once for a few months.
Kauai is the best! Every day, I get up early and work on the computer; we all go to the beach; the kids take naps; I work on the computer some more; everyone wakes up; we go to the pool; my wife makes dinner; I squeeze in a few more work items; we eat dinner… sleep… repeat!
Life with Buildium is awesome. Our bucket list includes the entire planet!
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We’re so grateful to have him as a customer, and for his willingness to share his family’s story with us! Do you have an incredible story about how Buildium has impacted your company and your life? We’d love to hear it—leave us a comment below, and you could be featured in a future post!Read more on Property Manager Stories