Hear it from a property manager VP of operations: How to get more done, faster with the right tech stack

Tara Mastroeni
Tara Mastroeni | 10 min. read

Published on September 12, 2022

To succeed in property management, you’ve had to become a master juggler. On any given day, you might field vendor calls while you manage multiple tenant move-ins and respond to email requests from your owners all at once. It’s a lot to balance and keep your cool at the same time.

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And that’s before we even talk about managing your team and business operations at scale.

It’s one thing to have the right technology solutions in place to help you keep track of it all, but how do you keep track of the tech solutions for property management?

We sat down with Jeannie Connors, Vice President of Operations for RealtySolutions, LLC, to talk about how her team is integrating automation and tech into their property management software solution to keep up with their never-ending to-do lists.

Jeannie is a longtime customer and beta tester for Buildium Marketplace, an ecosystem of proven software solutions that integrate fully with Buildium’s property management software platform.

Update: Many of our Buildium Marketplace partners will be sponsoring aspects of our annual PM Nation conference March 19 to 22 in San Diego, CA. Meet our partners in person and discover how you can build out your tech to do more with less. To learn more and get details on attending, check out our PM Nation site.

Here’s what she had to say about building the right tech stack and using Marketplace:

(The interview transcript was edited for brevity and clarity.)

Q: Are you using similar tools to help with other facets of property management?

A: Right now, we’re leveraging a few different apps that all integrate into the Buildium platform. In particular, we’re using Obligo, which is a security deposit alternative that collects any charges for damages or unpaid rent from the tenant and deposits it right into our bank account. No longer having to collect deposits saves so much time and prevents headaches.

We’re using LeadSimple to automate our workflows. It basically prompts our property managers to complete each step of the leasing process. It prevents things from falling through the cracks. We’re excited to see it integrated in the Buildium Marketplace.

Our senior property manager is working on a new workflow product in LeadSimple. He created workflows for our “notice to vacate” process and our process for onboarding new business. Everyone is really happy with it. Even though sometimes it’s a heavy lift trying to learn a new process, once you’re done, the benefits outweigh the time spent.

We’ve also been using Tenant Turner for a long time to market our properties. It’s just so much easier now that Tenant Turner interacts with Buildium.

It’s funny how many of the products we use are now becoming integrated. It’s really exciting because it feels like we made the right decision and it only solidifies our partnership with Buildium. I feel like they’ve grown with us.

Q: What are some of the things property managers struggle with most on a daily basis?

A: I think it’s definitely juggling. With some jobs, you come to work, you go through your to-do list, and you leave at the end of the day. Property management isn’t like that. It’s putting out fires and getting pulled in different directions, no matter what the clock says.

Basically, there’s a lot coming at you at all times. You can have vendors calling, plus residents and owners having problems. You have to be on your game and ready to handle whatever happens next.

Q: What skills have you found you needed to handle that kind of schedule and those demands?

A: It’s really about prioritizing, having good systems in place, and facilitating good communication. You have to have good communication skills to do this job. It’s something that we’ve worked on as a team and we’re leveraging technology to help us with it.

As far as our systems go, we’re also taking a dual approach. We’re utilizing our tech stack and different automation tools to help make things easier, but we’ve also restructured how our team splits up day-to-day operations.

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We’re now using a pod system where both a property manager and an associate property manager are assigned to a particular property. The associate manager deals with tenants and the property manager handles owner clients in addition to being there to answer the associate property manager’s questions. It’s sort of like dividing and conquering.

Q: How does technology play a role in your pod system?

A: If you’re going to use this type of system, you have to make sure that everyone knows what’s going on, right?  We use Buildium Tasks to keep track of all of that. We keep our tasks updated at all times so everyone knows what’s going on.

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COVID has really taught us the importance of utilizing technology to stay up-to-date. When people are working remotely, you can’t just pop into someone’s office and get an update. Things have to be in the system.

In our system, every task is categorized with a due date. They can even be assigned to a particular team member. That makes it really easy to keep track of what needs to be done so that we can ensure it gets handled, even if the person normally in charge of handling that task is out of the office. It gives us a level of accountability that we didn’t have before.

Q: What about automation? Has automating tasks helped your team?

A: It’s absolutely made things faster and more efficient.

Take the lease renewal process, for example. We used to do all of our leasing documents in Word and it took forever. We would have to look up all the information and manually enter it into the document.

Now, with Buildium’s leasing tool [eSignature], we can open up a template lease, and once the property manager selects the correct application, the information will automatically populate into the lease template. All we have to add is the rent amount and if there’s a security deposit. When it’s finished, we can just email it out for signature.

Then, once the lease has been signed, the tool will put the applicant into our system as a tenant and all of the financial information will populate there for us, as well.

Q: What would you say is the biggest benefit of bringing technology and automation into your business?

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A: These tools promote efficiency so that our property management team can do other things like put out those fires and talk to residents. Like I said earlier, communication is the most important thing and embracing technology gives us time to do that, to build those crucial relationships with our clients.

Reevaluating Your Own Tech Stack?

You can tack on as many disparate tech solutions as you want, but are you really building efficiency that way? When apps don’t work together, the time and resources spent managing all those processes and data can actually slow you down.

Jeannie Connors and the team at RealtySolutions have found that the more they can integrate with their property management platform, the more they can focus on their residents and owners.

If you’re ready to see how the right tech tools can work together to change the way that you do business, stay tuned for the launch of our Marketplace, coming soon.

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Tara Mastroeni

Tara Mastroeni is a real estate and personal finance writer. Her work has been published on websites such as Forbes Advisor, Business Insider, and The Motley Fool. She has also been featured as a subject matter expert on Innovators with Jane King and the American Trends podcast. Find her at TMWritingServices.com or on Twitter at @TaraMastroeni.

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