Are your reporting process slowing down your property inspections? How do you carry out reports when you visit a property or need to carry out inspections? And for letting agents, your check ins and check outs?
For property managers and letting agents, reporting is a never ending, and integral aspect of the day to day running of the business. The way you report, how the information is collated and presented, and how the information can be shared should be a very smooth and automated process. Yet for many professionals, it’s a task that is laboured and monotonous. In 2021, there are enough options that this doesn’t need to be the case. So why then is reporting still so laborious for many property management and lettings professionals?
I think one of the biggest reasons for sticking to the known, is the fear of automating or moving to a new way of doing things. Which might often boil down to the culture of the business – an unwillingness to take calculated risks, fear of ‘the new’ or hierarchies that don’t allow for ease of communication which exacerbate the resistance to change. I’m not saying change isn’t scary. But underlying fear is probably the biggest driver of the ‘reasons’ (or excuses) business people give for not changing. Change has to be embraced in order to stay competitive and stay in business.
Does your business need to implement some changes to make your team more efficient? We’ve answered three common barriers to change that might debunk the hesitancy around switching to a new reporting process.
We don’t have enough budget
Changing to a new system, or automating is often perceived as being too expensive. True, it will cost something to move to a new system. But when did you last assess the true cost of how you are doing things currently?
Let’s take a look at what’s involved in inspecting a property’s fire safety report. Whether that’s inside or outside, for property managers or letting agents, if it’s being done manually, the report has to be printed off as a blank report. It’s an annual, mandatory inspection which has to be done for each building (or home) in the portfolio so it’s a large number of reports all being carried out from the start every time. And when photos have to be taken to provide evidence or support a question, it has to be done separately using a mobile or camera.
Each time an inspection is completed, it’s returned to the office and uploaded onto the system to be kept on file. Along with the photos. The results also have to be noted so that any outcomes can be arranged (replacement items, repairs etc.) Management also have to see the report as it’s such an important aspect of the business – particularly now.
If this entire chain of tasks is carried out manually, there will be printing costs, ink costs and labour costs, all accruing from start to finish. And with it being a manual process, there are potential costs of mistakes being made. And in the case of fire inspections, those costs could be lives.
What happens when you change to an automated reporting system? You call up the last report that was carried out, which has address details and all of the previous answers stored. A new copy is made with the new date added but all other details are held from the previous inspection. The latest inspection can then be carried out without having to enter every piece of information again, only requiring changes when changes are needed. Photos can be taken and attached to the report simply and easily using the same device. Once the inspection is completed, it can be signed by the property manager or letting agent, and emailed directly to everyone who needs to see it.
So whilst you might think you don’t have the budget to implement a new reporting system, by sticking to what you’ve always done, you could be throwing money down the drain in ways you can’t see.
We don’t have time
This ties in with the budget reason. It’s a paradox. You don’t have time because you are spending time doing things you could be doing better – by automating them. This includes your reporting and inspecting.
So alongside assessing the amount of money that the business wastes on the manual process, you could easily assess how much time is wasted. In fact, you can’t really do one without doing the other.
We don’t know how we would implement it
Another common stumbling block is the ‘how’ to implement new ways of doing things. Someone needs to take responsibility for it – the planning, the communication, the testing, the roll out. Which is all time consuming. And will most likely land on the (home office) desk of someone who already has a task list as long as their arm. But what if you pulled a team together? Or what if the supplier can help ease the burden? When you choose a business that can help you through the change, you take the pressure off you and the team.
Some of the team are technophobes
If there are people on the team who are resistant to new technology, then this is something that has to be overcome with gentle persuasion, reassurance, maybe a bit of hand holding. It’s understandable, but anyone in the business that’s holding everyone else back has to be challenged, in a positive manner. If the technophobes are the ones at the top, well then the business will most likely become stagnant and a culture shift needs to happen.
The last time we tried to change something, our team were unhappy and we lost good people
This one goes back to the point about implementing change. Learn from the mistakes in the past, instead of shutting down or being resistant to more change. Ask why it happened? What could have been done better? What worked well? Mistakes are an opportunity for learning and growing and isn’t that what a successful business leader would want?
If your manual reporting processes are slowing your business down, it might be worth taking a step back and asking for some help. If you’ve read the article and some pennies have dropped, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us as we are more than happy to have a chat about where your business is, and where it could be with the right technology.
Crawford Burns is Product Manager for INSPCT. Please contact Crawford to chat about upgrading the reporting processes in your property management company or letting agent. email@example.com