Automated property management might sound like a dream if you’ve been in the game a while, but it’s a reality.
Sure, you can’t automate everything (yet), but there are quite a few key management tasks that you can either semi or fully automate right now– with the right tool.
So, below, we’ll be covering two things:
- Every property management task you can automate, and
- A list of some of the best tools that allow you to automate those tasks
If you’re new to software automation, don’t worry. We’ll be breaking down each major property management task you’re familiar with and how the automation works in a basic sense.
Plus, the best part is you don’t need any special knowledge to take advantage of the automation tools we’ll cover in part two.
In fact, most of them are super simple and take only minutes to set up.
So, let’s start from the top:
What is property management automation?
First, if you’re new to automation in general or how it might apply to property management: what exactly is property management automation?
Property management automation is the automation of any property management task through the use of software.
We’ll talk about this later, but a great example is in screening new applicants.
What once took time and effort for multiple types of screening can now be done automatically with some tools with the click of a few buttons.
The result is that you save time on each and every applicant you screen.
Times that over the course of multiple years of owning the property, and you may say hundreds of hours in total.
That brings us to the grand point of why automation is so powerful: it saves you time, effort, and often money.
If automating a single task can save you and your team hundreds of hours– and reduce stress and headache while you’re at it– imagine automating multiple key tasks.
Now, let’s talk about what you can automate and then finish with how to make that a reality.
6 Tasks you can automate with property management
Below are six examples of key property management tasks you can automate through the use of property management software and other tools:
1. Rent collection
Rent collection is the first item we’ll cover, given its sheer importance in the scope of owning and managing investment property.
After all, how effectively you can collect and manage rent can dictate the entire success of your business.
Depending on the tool, property management software can include a set of useful automation features that make collecting rent easier.
Most notably, that’s automatic rent payments, which allows tenants to schedule their rent to be automatically withdrawn on the specified date each month.
That’s already a huge step forward compared to the old way, but there’s more.
Some tools offer a tenant portal where you can schedule automatic payment reminders to post to the tenant's dashboard to remind them to pay.
Even late payments can be set up to be tacked on when relevant with some tools.
2. Maintenance requests
Maintenance is another big one, as property management software and other tools can allow you to automate one of the biggest pain points regarding maintenance management: managing requests and work orders.
Some tools allow you to automatically accept maintenance requests straight from a convenient dashboard.
Often, they give your tenants access via their smartphones– and you access to viewing and editing those requests and work orders via your smartphone as well.
Depending on the tool, you can even automatically assign that work order to one of your vendors and even pay out your vendors.
Taken together, you can greatly streamline a large portion of one of the biggest timesinks in property management.
Another major benefit of software automation is that it can automate some accounting tasks.
Much of accounting remains a necessary manual task, but ever more tasks can be taken care of automatically as those same tools become more sophisticated.
Tasks that can be fully or partially automated now include:
- Rent payments (we separated that above due to its importance)
- Maintaining many aspects of your bookkeeping including transactions, payables, and receivables
- Account syncing and reconciliations
- And more
Given how time-consuming accounting can be, automation of any ongoing accounting tasks is hugely beneficial and frees you up to focus more on high-value tasks such as marketing, or simply giving you more free time.
4. Leasing and screening
Leasing and screening offer some interesting automation options as well, tools that really help streamline the leasing process as a whole.
It’s no surprise that an ineffective leasing process can greatly impact your turnover rate, as that initial impression and establishment of expectations is key.
But with property management software, you can soften that burden a bit.
First, tenant screening is a key task that can be effectively automated. Many tools can automatically scan multiple databases and run multiple simultaneous checks.
This not only saves you time but also ensures the information you’re receiving is high quality, allowing you to make better and more informed decisions.
An example of semi-automation is the way that property management software automates other parts of the leasing process.
Property management software will automatically keep records of all applications and signed lease agreements to help you stay compliant without having to worry about it.
Plus, it cuts out steps by allowing you to complete entire lease agreements online, including digital signatures.
This is one area where innovation is just getting started, but it promises to help automate parts of a process that were thought to require multiple touchpoints of human interaction.
We’ll cover a few example tools that offer this type of automation in the next section, but suffice it to say that some property tools have been specifically designed to make the process of setting up showings easier than ever.
For example, tools now exist that allow a scheduled visitor to access a unit via a secure lockbox through their own smartphone’s Bluetooth technology.
Pretty cool, right?
Plus others make the process of copying keys simpler than ever, allowing you to create a copy of your client’s key without the need to pick up their keys at all.
6. Lead generation
Finally, there’s lead generation.
Some property management software tools offer the ability to automate or semi-automate aspects of lead generation.
For example, DoorLoop’s automatic listings feature allows you to automatically create listings for new vacant units on major listing platforms.
With it, you can automate the process of bringing in new applicants the moment you have a unit that needs filling.
4 Tools for automated property management
So far, we’ve covered a number of ways that property management software and other tools are allowing landlords and property managers to automate their processes.
Now, let’s talk about a few of the tools that give you access to the above-mentioned automation tools.
Here are four great tools that allow you to automate part of your property management process:
DoorLoop allows you to automate many of the property management tasks we just talked about.
Not only that, it offers a full all-in-one suite that simply makes managing your properties easier as a whole.
Some examples of tasks you can automate with DoorLoop include:
- Rent collection: Like the sound of automated rent payments? Your bank account will too.
- Maintenance management: Receive requests from tenants, assign a vendor, and keep records of all jobs all from within the app automatically.
- Bookkeeping: No more mounds of paperwork or confusing Excel spreadsheets. Instead, say hello to one organized location that automatically keeps records of all your transactions. Plus, it’s built for property accounting (unlike other tools).
- Lead generation: Automatic listings allow you to stay on top of vacant units with less effort.
- Leasing: While automated screening tools make it easier to onboard the high-quality tenants you can count on.
Schedule a free demo of DoorLoop to see what it can do for you.
Rently is an interesting inclusion because it allows you to automate something you may have never thought possible: showings.
Showings are one of those things that– up until now– have absolutely required someone to be on-location due to the need to open the unit via the key.
With Rently’s Rently Blue service, you can automate that process by giving scheduled visitors access to a (Bluetooth) smartphone-activated lockbox.
So, it’s not only highly secure, but super convenient and offers a great first impression.
This is especially useful if one or more of your properties is a long distance away, as it can give you a way of offering showings to interested leads without having to travel back and forth multiple times.
RealScout is another interesting tool. This one allows you to automate a key part of the lead generation process: lead nurturing.
With the tool, you can send automated emails and SMS messages following up with leads, or even automatically pull listings from your MLS to send directly to your leads based on a large number of pre-set criteria.
So, you not only get automated follow-ups but highly targeted follow-up messages that are more likely to convert.
Similar to Rently, KeyMe allows you to automate a part of the showing process you never thought possible: copying keys.
With the tool, you can literally be in two places at once.
It works like this: have your client send you a smartphone pic of the key. Then, download the KeyMe app and upload the image. Finally, head to a KeyMe kiosk to pick up your key.
Pretty convenient, right? And particularly useful when your client is a distance away, allowing you to make a single trip for the showing as opposed to potentially two trips to pick up the key and then present the showing.
Start automating your property management
For property management, the future is very much here.
As hokey as that might sound, the ability to automate some half a dozen (or more) key property management tasks is a reality, and they can save you potentially hundreds of hours and a ton of headache along the way.
Property management automation is something you need to take advantage of if you want to get the most from your properties– while retaining your peace of mind.