Property management software is helping estate and letting agents transform the way they handle business. Depending on the software package, agents can use their programmes to manage sales and marketing tasks, upload property data and manage sales, lettings and applicants quickly, efficiently and productively.
While software programs share many common task-based features, the best programmes should meet six key tests:
- They should be cloud-based to scale easily and enable mobile working.
- They should support high levels of automation.
- They should integrate data across all aspects of the program.
- They should cover the complete transaction lifecycle.
- They should incorporate an efficient workflow process.
- They should be compatible with other related agency systems.
With a cloud-based system, any employee with a secure Internet connection can access all the features, services and agency data they need, wherever they happen to be working. In some cases, they could be working from home, visiting a property or travelling to a meeting.
Location makes no difference; employees can work as efficiently as if they were in the office, using laptops, tablets of smartphones. That level of mobility is important because employees in the field may need to respond quickly to a sales opportunity or an issue with a transaction.
Cloud-based systems also provide scale. That makes it quick and easy to add other users to the system, or roll out the system to other branches without having to install special equipment at each branch.
High levels of automation
Routine tasks like updating client records or transaction details can prove very time-consuming and prevent agents from their real role, which is dealing with customers and growing the business.
The best software packages feature high levels of automation across the entire sales and property management spectrum. Matching applicants to properties, uploading floor plans to property details, posting content to social media or property portals can be handled automatically to improve marketing.
Property management tasks like collecting rent, generating landlord statements and reports, and tracking property maintenance can also be automated to free valuable time and ensure that essential tasks are not overlooked.
Data is one of an agency’s most valuable resources but, frequently, it can be fragmented in different databases, customer records, filing cabinets and other forms of storage.
To make the most effective use of agency data, online letting agents, Portico Direct, say it should be available to employees in a consistent form at every stage of the client/agency relationship: “Employees should be able to view the entire lifecycle of a client’s dealings with the agency from initial enquiries, promotions and correspondence through to sales and property management issues in a ‘single pane of glass’.”
That enables employees to see at a glance the client’s history and use that to provide a more personalised service. A record of sales and marketing actions can help employees identify the most successful campaigns for each client and create more targeted marketing.
The software should enable agency employees to complete all the tasks associated with a client on a single system, rather than using several standalone systems.
Using a single system means that employees use a consistent interface and set of data for every task. That reduces the need for training and ensures employees can switch tasks and work productively at any stage of the process from uploading contact details, creating and posting marketing materials, recording property management details, invoicing or tracking sale details or rental payments. Everything happens in a single system.
The software should allow employees to carry out their work in a familiar way, following the same workflow that they would use in a manual process.
The system should incorporate automation within the workflow to ensure leads are followed up quickly, for example, sending messages when new leads come in, track all the steps in a sale or adding new leads to a customer management system so they can be moved into a campaign process.
It should also incorporate a workflow manager that allows employees to create their own custom workflows so that they can work the way they want to, rather than having to follow a standard one-fits-all process.
Compatibility with other systems
The best systems support integration with a wide range of other related software programs. For example, sales and marketing teams might want to integrate with SalesForce, a mailing program like MailChimp or social media sites.
Administrators might want to simplify property uploads through integration with major property portals. They may want to use specialist accounting packages to manage transactions or agency finances.
Software websites provide lists of their range of integrations, making it easy to choose the most suitable package.
A digital future
Investing in the right property management software is now an essential move for estate and letting agencies that want to improve their competitive position. A digital solution can help agencies reduce costs, automate and streamline time-consuming processes and create more time for marketing and building customer relationships.
To find more about how our property management software could help you and your agency, try a free trial by clicking here.