You might have valuable time saving tools at your fingertips that you’re not using. If you’re in the rental real estate industry you know that time management and efficiencies are vital to not only your bottom line but also to your well being.
For the most part, we are likely working with an email program, a smartphone, and property management software for our day-to-day tasks but we might not be using them to their fullest potential. From software to apps to processes, let’s take a look at some features and tools that you likely already have available that will help you reclaim your day and take back control of your time – and who doesn’t want more time?
Communication Tools to Save You Time
Safe to say, communication is a large part of your day and any time you can automate the process or make information easily available then that’s time saved.
1. Email Templates and Auto-Responders
Almost every email program these days has communication tools that with a click of a button can make your load lighter. You might have to go digging a bit into the settings or advanced settings to enable templates and auto-responders but once enabled, can make a world of difference in handling your communication tasks.
Check your email program settings to enable:
An email template saves you time by having common replies ready at your fingertips to reuse over and over.
An email auto-responder can be set up with frequently asked questions, business hours, and information someone can access while they wait for your formal reply.
2. Automated Tenant Reminders
When working in your property management software, set up automatic reminders that get emailed to your tenants. Most applications will allow you to send reminders for items such as:
- Overdue account notification sends an email to the resident when they have an unpaid balance on their ledger. In some software programs it will send out weekly reminders.
- New recurring charge posted to the tenant ledger such as a utility bill or pet fee.
- One-time charges for reimbursements, fines, or other charges.
In addition to reminders, your landlord software can likely send your tenants an email receipt when a payment or credit is posted on their ledger and an email when a work order has been completed. Often, you can set up your software so a copy of these reminders and automated emails can be sent to yourself and if you’re a property management company, to the owner of the property.
3. Use e-Signatures and Custom Forms for Documents
Gone are the days where you have to wait for the mail or a face-to-face meeting to get documents signed or spend hours drafting a new lease or agreement.
You may already have tools from Adobe or your landlord association to send documents out for electronic signatures. But did you know that a robust property management software not only will have that built-in but will also allow you to customize your leases, rental and management agreements, or any document that you often reuse.
The benefit of using that over a stand-alone program is that your software will already have all the information about your tenants, properties, owners, and more and it will use that to auto-fill your document for you.
4. Text messaging
Texting is quick and easy and can save a lot of time when trying to coordinate or disseminate information. Tenants love text because they can view and respond when convenient for them. It saves tons of time over playing phone tag.
Of course, you could text from your personal or business phone but if you’re using property management software, check to see if they offer texting capabilities. If so, you can send and receive important texts directly into the software which saves you time keeping track of that information and you could set up text messaging templates to use as well.
5. Tenant Portals & Owner Portals
Speaking of communication tools, having a place where tenants and owners can self-manage information can save you loads of time.
Instead of a phone call or email from a tenant asking you about their account, save all those hours by giving your tenants access to a tenant portal. From a tenant portal they can enter a work order or repair request, set up an online payment schedule, check their account balance, see their payment history, and must more, all without a single interaction with you.
If you run a property management company, you’ll want to consider offering your clients access to an owner portal. From a simple login owners can see each property ledger, portfolio statements, work orders, and shared documents, files, and receipts. They can electronically pay their owner contributions and pull their own financial reports at any time of day or night.
Marketing and Advertising Time-Savers
Craft one great rental listing and save time by listing it to multiple rental sites simultaneously. The way to make your marketing automatic is by using your property management software that automatically syndicates your vacancy listing to multiple rental sites simultaneously with a push of a button.
Once you have your marketing automated, take advantage of the software lead tracking system to manage your prospects. You can also automate your rental application process by using any online rental application tool within your software. From listing vacancies to processing applications, all that can be accomplished in one place.
Time saving marketing tip: Answer frequently asked questions in your rental ad, in your rental application, and on your website to reduce phone calls and emails. Also include the qualifications for approval.
Organizing and Planning
Today, programs such as Outlook and Google allow you to set up tasks lists, reminders, and scheduling all in one place so don’t be afraid to try out a new tool that you already have at your disposal. For example, Gmail lets you create a task or event directly from an email (look for the icons above your email) and Google Keep is a perfect spot to save important information, create checklists quickly, and more.
You can use spreadsheets for keeping track of important details, but usually landlord software lets you keep track with handy file libraries, notes and history, and other tools for at-a-glance reference.
Other Time Saving Tools to Consider
Any good bookkeeping or accounting program, including landlord software will have great tools that you might not be using that could save you time. For example, look for bulk entry and deleting tools, bank synchronization to pull in your bank statement data, and automatic posting of recurring expenses and charges.
Of course there are thousands of shortcuts and tools from your keyboard or smartphone to make your life easier like the ability to dictate instead of type.
For example, did you know that in a Chrome browser on a PC control+shift+T brings back accidentally closed tabs? For other time saving computer tips, check out this resource:
Sometimes we look for alternatives and new software or programs when we get stuck in a rut without checking out all the features of what we already use. Oftentimes, they get updated with new features and tools that you’re not aware of or haven’t fully investigated. Of course, busy as we all are, it’s easy to lean into the status quo. But, to make progress regaining control of our time it may take a small investment of time upfront to explore what is already at our fingertips.