Sunday, August 23, 2015

Make Your Life Easier

I decided to start writing a little mini series of short articles on various aspects of technology that can help make your life easier. Lately I’ve been doing things with my company that reduce time and result in more efficient productivity.

I’m going to be honest with you. I would be considered a computer guru in comparison to most of the people in our group. And I am way behind the curve. I am not 100% up to speed with all of the new productivity tools that can be used today. So those of you who aren’t implementing technology in your company should consider trying out a few things that will make your life easy. Just one at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed with it. Step 1 would be a business expense. Get a used iPad and I’m going to explain to you why below.

I bought my property manager / contractor an iPad 2 to start implementing technology to increase our workflow. I chose an iPad 2 because they only cost about $150 on eBay so it didn’t bite the wallet too hard.

I’m going to give you the benefits of having a tablet with you or your property manager at the property you are showing to prospective tenants so you can understand what you can do with technology.

Lets say you had a Section 8 tenant that called you and you told them the key code for the lockbox on your house so they can have a look. They call you back telling you that they like it and you or your property manager do your background check and meet them back at the house to sign the lease and get the first months rent and deposit.

You bring up the app Hello Sign.  This is the best lease signing app that’s out now. I’ve checked them all and most are very expensive. Hello Sign has your lease, property checklist, lead agreement, mold addendum and everything else on it. Your new resident signs and initials everywhere on the iPad lease with their finger and you email it off to the office so it’s there to be printed if you desire. You also send an email of it to the tenants email address if they have one. Later when Section 8 asks you to bring the lease down you also save a lot of time because you already have it signed in electronic form. You can just email it to them.

This lease was from the start an electronic version so down the road if you have to print off one for court you already have it in the computer and don’t have to waste time scanning it or copying it. You can just print it off.

While you were there at the house with the tenant and in salesman or saleswoman mode there were some bad things you had to tell the tenant. And you hate doing that every time because you have been Mr. Nice Guy salesperson all of this time and now you have to lecture these people you don’t even know to make sure that they change the furnace filters, smoke detector batteries, let them know that if they break something they will pay to fix it, that rent will be paid on time or you will sue them, etc. There’s lots of bad stuff you have to tell them to train and condition your new resident on the way things will go down when doing business with you.

So instead of all of that nastiness, you bring up the Rent Talk DVD which is a training video that nicely tells the new tenants all of the bad things that you didn’t like telling them. You tell your tenants that this video is called Rent Talk and the local landlord association suggests using it to remind residents of the responsibilities that the resident has vs the responsibilities of the landlord. It also has some nice things in there that tell a great new program you are offering. Residents get a 10% discount off 1 month of rent after 12 months of living there, 25% after 24 months and 1 FREE month of rent after 36 months. I would give a free month to any of my tenants that stayed for 3 years. These people deserve a reward. You want to treat your best tenants well.

You also use the iPad to take pictures of the unit at the signing of the lease so your new resident knows that you have a record of the properties condition. And you may even record a short video of the resident saying that they are happy with the property and are renting it in it’s as is condition. This helps put the thought in their mind that they can’t legitimately call code enforcement on you for damages that they did or things that weren’t 100% up to speed when they moved in. It also helps prevent them from using dirty unethical tactics to justify the non payment of their rent by telling the judge that you are a slumlord when the truth is that they ran out of money. None of them seem to realize that the judges hear that same thing over and over all day long and they are wise to those scams.

Isn’t it interesting how a tenant can be as happy as can be when they move in but down the road when they run out of money you all of a sudden become a slumlord. I think psychologically it’s because everyone wants to feel good about themselves. People don’t like to think of themselves as dirty scoundrels that rip other people off. So they look around and see a couple things that aren’t in 100% perfect condition and they justify it to themselves that you are a slumlord for letting them live like that and they shouldn’t have to pay rent as a result.

Well I have news for them. On the Karma scale, I win points for that and they lose points. It’s important to live your life and always try to do the right thing and in the end you will be the winner. Never stoop to their level.

Back to the iPad. With your iPad you also take pictures of all of your receipts and put them in an app called Evernote. Then you can just pile all of your receipts unorganized in a box if you feel like keeping them. The IRS has said that it is acceptable to have your receipts in electronic form. And Evernote will organize your receipts in categories of your choosing.

Since you are eliminating paper you better be sure you have a good backup of your computer just in case something happens. So you get Crashplan which is, in my opinion, the best off site backup system around right now. I researched them all and for the buck Crashplan wins. It can be free if you are backing up your office computer to another computer at your house or something. And it costs $60 to backup one computer to the cloud or $150 for a family plan to back up several computers to the cloud. The backups are unlimited and fast. And one more thing, automatic. You just set it up and it backs up everything. Every single thing. Unlike many of them that will only back up videos etc if you go back into the software and find each and every thing that it didn’t backup and configure it so it will. What a pain in the A** that I don’t have time for. I like it easy and Crashplan is easy.

So that’s it for now. More getting you up to speed with landlording business technology later if our members respond that they like this kind of stuff.


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