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Epic proptech fail — for me anyway

By Sadhana Smiles
29 July 2022 | 1 minute read
Sadhana Smiles 2 reb

There is no doubt that COVID was a catalyst for our industry embracing products quicker than we perhaps would have done. It was also the perfect environment for the emergence of many new proptech companies.

However, I have always had an issue with proptechs developing products with little or no consultation with the industry that will give us high levels of efficiency and automation. 

I recently had an experience with a property management product where a feature clearly had a design flaw; however, I was told that it was our processes that were incorrect, and they were setting the industry benchmark!

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To get high levels of efficiency in our business, where we have over 70 per cent of admin tasks automated, we use three different software systems.

We recently decided to move our arrears process back to our base product as they had “automated” the process. For an additional cost. Now, be aware that there are clearly different understandings of what automated actually means here.

For me, a process is automated to the point that it doesn’t require an additional process to support it and nor does it require human intervention.

As we all know in property management, our arrears are worked out on current tenancies. I can print a list or view it on screen and connect with tenants and owners.

However, when tenants move out, from time to time, we have to keep the tenancy inactive and not archived due to unpaid water bills, VCAT hearings, bond claims etc.

What we discovered in this “automation” process was that not only were arrears notification sent to the current tenancies but also to past inactive tenancies that hadn’t been archived.

What I find even more frustrating is that nowhere in the tutorials is this mentioned clearly; a warning that if you use this “automated” process, then you have to manually untick tenancies that are inactive with funds owing or they, too, will get messages.

See what I mean! I am not sure how this is creating efficiencies and saving time!

So over the last few days, my owners and tenants have gone from a previous seamless process to one where they are getting messages about their tenants being over 50 days in arrears, but their current tenant is up to date and they have received the rental payment.

This flaw in this so-called automated process creates issues with our clients, and what I find even more frustrating is that the proptech provider isn’t interested in fixing the issue.

As an industry, we have been dictated to by so many of these proptech companies on what we should be doing and how we need to run our business, but when we provide them with obvious flaws in the system, we get told that best practice is to do it the way they have built it — Bullshit!!!!

So here is my call out to these proptech companies: work with us to create the best technology.

We pay far too much money that eats into our profit margins to be dictated to. When we give you feedback, take it on board, go to your real estate advisory council (if you actually have one) and then make your decision. I don’t want to be told what best practice is based on what your product is capable of doing.

So now I will go back to the seamless system we had previously, cancel my upgrade with this provider, which in itself will be painful, and wait until something better comes on the market.

I hear you asking: “Why did we change in the first place?”

We wanted to remove a layer of tech in the business. I am yet to find a property management provider that does it all well.

Remember, we need to build systems that create efficiencies, are transparent, remove human dependency to a large extent, are easy to use, reduce the workload of our teams and help us create a stress-free environment for people to work in.

Sadhana Smiles is the chief executive of Real Estate Industry Partners and the director of Harcourts Move.

Epic proptech fail — for me anyway
Sadhana Smiles 2 reb
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