Transitioning from Desktop-Based Systems
Before At Home Properties, Melissa managed a helpdesk for a major telecom company. Her past experience and technology savvy unknowingly put her on a path that would drive her future growth. A self-proclaimed early adopter of technology, she looked at how the business she was accepting applications, managing paperwork, communicating to residents and owners, and accepting payments. She also found inconsistencies and inefficiencies in how the growing team worked together—and particularly in the tools they were using.
At first, Melissa focused on the obvious issues: upgrading their office server and the entire team’s computers, standing up a new network, getting all their listings on MLS, building a website, and fine-tuning the collections process. Next, she turned to the technology that her team used to do their jobs.
After 7+ years on an outdated, desktop-based system, Melissa was frustrated by how it seemed to be “a glorified database,” only accessible in the office—and that core operations, like advertising vacancies, remained entirely manual. She knew there had to be a better way than to manage properties in excel sheets, send out leases through fax, and rely on paper documents overall.
At the end of 2008, Melissa knew they were at a turning point. She felt that the faster she made improvements, the faster the business could improve and grow.
The Game Plan
As 2009 approached, Melissa realized that the only way her business would be able to scale and maintain the same high-quality customer service was by investing in a system that could grow with them. After evaluating the available cloud-based options, Melissa decided to invest in Buildium as their new day-to-day solution and partner.
Flexing her tech know-how, Melissa committed to being the “technology guinea-pig”—piloting new processes and tools herself before rolling out changes to her team. She immediately loved how she and her team could log into Buildium from any device, anywhere, and could continue to get work done. Here are a few of her favorite features that she put into action:
- Rent Collection Simplified: Buildium’s ePay has been a huge improvement and time-saver for her team. Giving residents the ability to pay online from anywhere drastically reduces the time required to track down late payments, process checks, and record the transaction.
- Leasing at Hyperspeed: Melissa says, “online rental applications are a life-saver all day, every day!” The ability to create a digital pathway for applications from her listings all the way to transitioning someone to a tenant record in Buildium saves her team countless hours.
- Resident and Owner Hubs: Likewise, the Resident Center and Owner Portals allow residents and owner clients the ability to self-serve instead of calling the office to get what they need. Adoption of the owner portals is very high: out of their current 300+ owners, only 5-10 don’t use it. The vast majority “absolutely love the freedom and transparency” the portal provides.
- Communicating How Residents Like It: With close to 70% of their portfolio being student housing, the power to quickly communicate through text has been crucial. Buildium’s texting capability cuts down the number of calls and emails from residents, as well as their response time to Melissa and her team.
A Better Business with Buildium
Over the last 10 years, At Home Properties has come a long way and Melissa’s perseverance to improve the business has paid off. Melissa says her team has been far more efficient and productive, and her bottom-line growth reflects that. When she started using Buildium, the company had 5 employees on board (including Melissa) managing a total of 100 units. Now, At Home Properties has 10 staffers and over 800 units under management.
Before Buildium, she had two property managers, each responsible for 50 doors. Today, the average number of units each property manager can comfortably handle is 150-200. Melissa says,
“We are better at our job because of Buildium. It has improved everything, including our ability to provide a high level of customer service. In pretty much every aspect, Buildium has helped us grow and improve our business, and we wouldn’t be where we are without having made the decision to use Buildium.”
Now, Melissa is able to do what she does best: focusing on strategic planning, innovation, and finding ways to keep a leg up on the competition. Next on the docket for 2020: putting her processes to the test through a professional efficiency audit, looking into a bill-pay solution, adding another 50 units, and implementing a new showings process.
3times units managed per agent
97%of owner clients use Owner Portal
10%average growth YoY