Looking at new software providers and undertaking a migration can be a daunting prospect for any property management business – but when done well it can pay dividends, as this agency has found.
Speaking on a recent REB Masterclass, “How to execute a flawless rent roll migration”, Nidus Group director Khurram Shehzad and head of property management Louise-Anne Herring were reflecting on their experience of migrating their property management platform earlier in 2021 when they acknowledged the “long-term” approach to their technology decision-making and ultimately, what that migration required of them.
“Our approach was long term, even from the start,” Mr Shehzad reflected, before adding that the business’ plans don’t centre on the next six weeks, six months, or even a year.
“We wanted to make headway in terms of the system, a process, and the people in the business, especially in property management where we can automate or at least get into more predictive strategy,” he said.
“For example, X amount of properties, X amount of resources, X amount of dollars spent on it, and what’s our expenses and profitability?”
The second reason for their pursual of a new property management system was arguably more important to Mr Shehzad, and that was “the overall happiness of our people”.
“Property management is such a thankless job that a lot of people put their heart and soul into it and then there’s very little reward,” he acknowledged.
Therefore, a major driver of Nidus Group’s tech implementation centred on providing “a good experience for the people working with us”.
Quoting Richard Branson, Mr Shehzad said, “happy staff is happy clients”.
“Once people are happy with the environment and systems and procedures they’re given and the tools, they will go out and do good business,” he remarked.
But just because seeking a new tech provider was a long-term play didn’t mean Nidus Group could spend months and months poring over solutions.
“We saw what we needed and what the clients needed too, and if we were going to delay it and delay it, it was just going to cause too many unsatisfied people,” Ms Herring flagged.
Nidus Group began contemplating a new service provider in February 2021. By March, they had made the final decision to go with Managed.
By April, they had soft-launched their new software provider before their full launch took place on 1 July 2021.
So, how did they migrate so successfully and seamlessly? It all came down to due diligence – and taking that long-term approach.
Before implementing any technological solution, Ms Herring said agencies must start with the question: “Is it going to be worth your while?”
Not only that, agencies should ask a number of questions of the people behind the technology. According to the head of property management, some of these questions can include: “Are they supportive with it? Are you going to get responses quickly from them? Are you going to get the help that you need, and are they looking to change and grow with the industry and all the changes as well?”
Once settled on a solution, Ms Herring said putting in place an implementation plan was key, which included things like what needed to be done to make migration possible, as well as things would happen.
Basically, it requires a plan and a timeline, as well as training – as emphasised by Ms Herring.
“Once we started, I just realised that some of the bumps in the road were just different personalities, different people as well. Some people accept change, some people don’t accept change, some people handle it very differently, and it’s how you can help that person understand it and show them the way with things,” she reflected.
In their experience, some staff jumped straight on board, while others were a little bit hesitant until they were shown a few things and “then they got into the groove of it all”.
It also helped that Nidus Group’s managers were “able to see past what’s going to happen in the next few months with a migration and look at what it’s going to be like”.
Ms Herring said that by explaining and showing the benefits of the new system to their staff, they were able to achieve far better buy-in.
“They ended up seeing it and were like ‘yeah, we’re completely on board’, we’ll look past all this nitty gritty stuff right now and see the end result,” she said.
That strong communication extended through to the notification they provided to landlords to expect a system change.
“We actually sent a notice to our clients prior to us even doing a soft launch to say that a new portal and program [would] be coming up, and we’ll be in contact with them to go through the steps and to introduce it to them,” Ms Herring outlined.
While acknowledging that you can’t please everyone, she said, “if you are proactive and you do it before you do the migration, your clients will be much happier with it”.
The decision to change software providers is already paying off for Nidus Group.
From Ms Herring’s perspective, the biggest benefit has been staff satisfaction.
She’s already noted lower stress levels from property managers “just being able to get their tasks completed and being able to actually go home and have those relaxing nights”.
From a top-level business perspective, Mr Shehzad said, “all the key indicators have gone up in the right direction: staff happiness, to client satisfaction, to the reviews, to overall the number of new managements coming in and overall satisfaction.
“I haven’t even received one complaint from any existing landlord that no one got back to them or they asked for a certain thing and it wasn’t done.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Grace is a journalist across Momentum property and investment brands. Grace joined Momentum Media in 2018, bringing with her a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Communication (Journalism) from the University of Newcastle. She’s passionate about delivering easy to digest information and content relevant to her key audiences and stakeholders.