We are all searching for more time — and one way to find that elusive scarce commodity is to eliminate repetitive or hands-on tasks that could be delegated to automation. This article outlines the benefits and many of the tasks you can start automating to help make your rental business soar.
Benefits of Automating Common Rental Tasks
The one thing that can not be replenished is your time. Automating tasks allows you to reclaim and reallocate your valuable time so you can spend it on those other important property management tasks. Wouldn’t it be great to have extra time to reach out to your tenants more often, grow your portfolio, or who knows, even take a much deserved vacation?
Time saved is money earned for sure but there are other financial benefits to automation.
For investors and private landlords, you can skip paying management fees and manage properties yourself. For property management companies, automating common tasks can give you the ability to scale your business.
Yes, there are a few costs associated with automating your rental business such as purchasing and getting familiar with your property management software — but the return on investment far outweighs the upfront expense. Labor costs alone saved from repeated data-entry is well worth the investment.
Other benefits to automating your rental business:
Accuracy and Compliance
Automation improves accuracy by reducing data-entry errors. Human error is common and costly in terms of both time and money. Audits, taxes, and other regulatory compliance doesn’t have to be complex or frightening with the right tools and automation in place.
Reputation and Relationships
You’ll see below the options to automate contact with your prospects, tenants, and clients. Good communication affects not only your tenant turnover rates and reputation but can impact your overall profits.
Agility and Flexibility
Automation allows you to see at a glance important data points so you can respond quickly to your business needs and industry trends. Not only can you have added business agility, but you could have the flexibility to live remotely or take your business on the road as your data will be at your fingertips.
Types of Automation for the Rental Industry
You could (although not recommended) find separate software programs and online tools for each of these different rental business tasks but that defeats the purpose for both time and cost savings. Because it’s in your best interest to find one solution to provide all the support you need, property management software is the way to go.
If you already have a robust and easy to use system, great! Check out the below to see if you are utilizing all the features available.
If you don’t have something in place, here are the types of automation features available in landlord software these days:
Rental Bookkeeping and Accounting
It goes without saying that data-entry is one of the most time consuming tasks as a landlord. We’ve covered above that you can automate incoming electronic rental payments. But did you know that most property management software has tools like bank sync for speedy data-entry. Connect your bank and pull in transactions for a quick match up. Those not already entered can be added with a click or two of your mouse — exponentially faster than manual data entry.
Automating bookkeeping tasks is at the heart of landlord accounting software. You’ll find that the software can post recurring charges, auto-generate invoices and statements, and even offer you bulk action tools like batching transactions and owner disbursements.
Let’s not forget that all that automated data-entry converts to easy-to-pull reports. Speaking of accounting, automation doesn’t stop at expenses and outgoing transactions — incoming rent payments can be automated too.
Tip: Let the software do the heavy lifting. But software is only as good as the setup so now is a good time to check to make sure you’ve set up your ledgers, profiles, and categories completely and accurately.
Automating Rental Payments
With a simple tenant portal and enrollment in online payment processing, you can streamline your tenant payments in a snap when you collect rent online. Tenants could be paying their rent by credit card or ACH (funds transfer from their bank account to yours) all set up on a scheduled and automated system.
But in this day and age there is even the ability to let cash and check paying renters have an electronic option so you no longer need to handle the physical cash and checks in your office.
Wouldn’t it be great to open your landlord accounting software and see payments received without the need for you to manually enter those cash and check payments and drive to the bank to deposit?
Whether alternatives to cash and check payments, or credit card or bank transfer, each time someone pays electronically is a time savings for you. Your software will post the transaction on the ledgers automatically and accurately. You’ll have payment and income reports at your fingertips.
Tip: Tenants who pay by money order or cashier’s check will appreciate an electronic payment option such as PayNearMe as it’s usually more convenient and less expensive.
Rental Marketing and Tenant Screening Automation
When you customize your online rental application and connect it to online payment processing within your landlord software, application fees automatically populate on the ledger and deposit to your bank account. When the applications come in, get an email notification as well as a status update in the software of pending applications to review. Want to delegate the application review tasks? Some programs allow you to add and assign managers and the system will forward them the notifications.
There is an abundance of rental listing sites and it would be tedious to manually post rental listings to them all. Why not take advantage of built-in syndication? Create your rental listing once, and with a push of a button you can have your listing sent to multiple listing sites at once.
Once the application is received, a simple button push should connect you to the built-in tenant screening reports available. With a great tenant screening partner, your rental software should bring you back near instantaneous results.
Tip: Check if your software has a component to track prospects and leads to automate your waiting list for vacancies.
Establish and Renew Leases Electronically
Now that you found the perfect tenant — it’s time to automate those new tenant tasks. From lease forms that auto-populate specific renter and lease information to electronic digital signatures, lease signing and lease renewals can be streamlined with automation.
Not only are there tools within landlord software for the creation and execution of signed agreements such as leases, rental agreements, property management agreements, and the like but in many systems you can configure automated rent escalations so the software does the work for you in making sure those tenant statements are accurate when the lease is renewed.
Tip: Fill out the details fully when establishing your tenants in your software such as lease begin and end dates. The more information you enter at the start allows the software to do the heavy lifting for reminders, renewals, rent increases, and the like.
With a long term lease, having your landlord software automatically update with the rent escalations you’ve established in your lease agreement is a huge time saver. It’s easy to enter that information in so the software adjusts the rent amount based on those terms. For example, in a good property management system you can set the rent escalation to increase by a percentage or fixed dollar amount. You can also set the intervals of the increase whether that’s weekly, monthly, yearly or some other set timeframe.
Tip: Rent escalations aren’t only handy for long term leases — they can be very useful for month-to-month and weekly rental agreements as well.
Property Maintenance and Repair Requests
The human element of prioritizing work orders and choosing a vendor are still important manual tasks – but you can create some work order automation. For example, tenants can submit work orders, include pictures, and even grant access through their tenant portal. Those work orders can be automatically assigned to a maintenance manager if your software allows. As a property management company, you could configure the system to allow owners to view those work orders and details from their owner portal.
Tip: If your software has this feature, set email and or text reminders for routine maintenance and inspections.
How can you keep on top of it all when you wear so many hats and juggle so much responsibility? One sure way is to set reminders and notifications so you don’t lose track of what’s important to get done. For example, you can set reminders that show up in your property management software notifications with the added bonus of being able to have those same reminders emailed and sent by text message to your phone one time, or in intervals like daily, monthly, or yearly.
You can set reminders and notifications for maintenance items like checking fire and smoke detectors yearly, for scheduling inspections quarterly, for calls you need to make, and for tasks of any size and importance you’d like to remember and accomplish. Wouldn’t it be great to get all that information off your mind and into a system that supported you and your business? Automated reminders is like having a personal assistant at your fingertips.
Tip: In a great property management software system you’ll be able to set up these automated reminders not only to be sent by email, text, or both to yourself, but also to anyone you wish (like your maintenance team or office staff) to help remind them of important tasks as well. In addition to the automated reminders you send them, if they have their own user access, they can use the tool to create their own notifications and reminders.
Why Automate My Rental Business?
Because your time is valuable, it makes sense to lean into technologies and solutions to automate your rental business workflow.
If you don’t have systems in place, look for automated time-saving features in property management software that is both easy to learn and easy to use. If you already have software at your fingertips, dive into all it has to offer. It’s likely that you are not using all the features available such as group texting or automated reminders.
Workflow automation doesn’t eliminate the personal touch needed in property management but it can free up valuable time to devote to those connections and to other important tasks. Using automation is a smart move towards making your rental business soar to even greater heights.
*This updated article original published December 10, 2021