DGS 10: Automating Maintenance in Property Management with Property Meld

Learn about Property Meld, a new technology solution to save you time and money by automating your maintenance coordination between tenants and vendors, from CEO Ray Hespen.

Take Our Property Meld Maintenance Quiz (and get 15% Off): https://doorgrow.com/maintenance

You’ll learn…

  • What is Property Meld? [1:29]
  • Is this relevant if I already have a tenant portal to submit maintenance requests? [2:08]
  • The problem with your property management software only taking requests instead of handling them [3:09]
  • How much work and time is this saving property managers? [4:25]
  • How it benefits small property managers [5:04]
  • Will vendors use it? [5:55]
  • Tenants & vendors don’t like being on the phone [7:15]
  • Simplicity is the key to getting tenants and vendors to use it [7:57]
  • Vendors are pairing up with Property Meld [8:31]
  • How does it work? [9:33]
  • Their web app works on any device, without downloading [10:50]
  • What if a vendor works for many property managers using Property Meld – how many logins do they have? [13:16]
  • How easy their software platform is for tenants, vendors, & property managers [15:05]
  • Does this compete with or work with NightTenders or Appfolio’s maintenance call center? [15:59]
  • What about emergency/after-hour maintenance? [17:51]
  • The first thing you should get rid of [19:18]
  • How systems trump staff/people [21:15]
  • The hidden cost of not having systems [25:17]
  • Pairing this with GatherKudos could be a game changer [27:50]

Tweetables

Resources

Take Our Property Meld Maintenance Quiz (and get 15% Off): https://doorgrow.com/maintenance

[typeform_embed url=”https://kingjasonhull.typeform.com/to/onrCdp” type=”embed”]

Transcript

Jason: Welcome! If this is your first time listening, then thanks for coming. The DoorGrow Show is a podcast for residential property management entrepreneurs that are interested in growing their business and life. If that is you, be sure to subscribe and rate us in iTunes and join your fellow DoorGrow Hackers online at doorgrowclub.com, our free community for property management entrepreneurs. I’m your host Jason Hull, the founder of OpenPotion, GatherKudos, and of course, DoorGrow. Now, let’s get into the show.

DoorGrow Hackers, this is episode number 10 of the DoorGrow Show podcast. We’re going to be talking about Automating Property Management Maintenance with a new software called Property Meld and my guest is Ray Hespen, the CEO of Property Meld. Let’s get into it.

Alright, we’re live. Jason Hull here with the DoorGrow Show and I’m hanging out with Ray Hespen of Property Meld. Property Meld is this really cool new software that is the first to tackle the issue of Automating Maintenance between vendors and tenants. Does that sound accurate?

Ray: Yup, that sounds accurate. The number one pain point today for property managers is trying to figure out how to get that repair done for the tenant. They got to coordinate with vendors, when can we get out to your property, tenants, when can we get in. Our software basically coordinates that with quite a bit of automation using our software.

Jason: I think a lot of questions that people have related to this is if I’ve already got Appfolio, or I’ve already got Buildium, or I’ve already got Property, or I’ve got this software and if I can get them to log into this, they system submits maintenance request through that or we force them and say, “You have to do it through that,” which makes the hurdle difficult. But then, the challenge there for a lot of property managers I think would be how would I use the software? I’d love to tackle that question and I’d also love to hear what your software does.

Ray: Honestly, the first question that myself or any salesperson that we have is I’ve already got this, and this is how we submit maintenance requests. Our usual follow up is saying, “Well, that’s excellent. We sell the people alongside that software.” That gets people thinking, “What do you mean? You’re not competitors?” “No, we’re not.” I said, “But what happens after you receive that request?” We start getting to talking about what our software tackles, which basically is all after the receiving it part.

It’s a very manual process. We have a tenant that submits a request. Well, guess what? That property manager got to get to the vendor, “Hey, when can you get out of the property? Give me some time.” They get back to the tenant, “Hey, when can we get inside your unit?” Going back and forth. Phone calls, emails, and that’s just a schedule of time. You still got to call to make sure it’s done. You don’t want an angry tenant. But then also, you want to check on the tenant and make sure that they’re happy, satisfied with the work.

These are all very manual processes that based on the level of sophistication process of this property management companies can really leave some gaps that can either cost them in not only man hours, but online reputation as well. We take that coordination piece of maintenance and we automate that through our system and the beautiful thing is we take care of it. We also keep the property manager up to speed on what’s going on every step of the way. When it’s scheduled? When it’s done? What the tenant thought of the repair? We do that all for them.

Jason: The software takes care of all of that. How much work is this saving a property manager or a maintenance coordinator usually?

Ray: Just in maintenance coordination, it’s a heavy burden and just to exclude the follow up process, it’s about 10-25 hours for about 500 unit operation depending on sophistication of their processes, it’s pretty significant, 10-25 hours a week.

Jason: A week. Okay.

Ray: Yes. 40-100 hours a month and it’s just making sure things are going according to plan. It’s quite a bet.

Jason: Yes. It’s sounds like even small property managers could probably benefit from taking this burden off of their shoulders in negotiating.

Ray: What we like to do, with the small ones, they recognize us as automations and systems are going to allow them to examine your portfolio without having to worry about hiring somebody, bringing another person on board, another head because that’s a job on it’s own, managing personnel.

If they can increase the number of doors they manage by utilizing smart systems such as Property Meld and others, they kind of want to go that route. Even small ones are able to centralize, automate some things, get some things off their plate as well.

Jason: Yeah, really cool. Here’s another question. A lot of times, I spoke on the phone today, forgot what website that was, a carpet cleaner. One challenge, I think, property managers deal with vendors is that a lot of vendors are really low-tech.

How does this work? How intuitive is the tool? How would this work with vendors? Because carpet cleaners, handyman, and a lot of these guys are not real tech savvy. Is this something a system? Because the number one challenge with software is adoption. Getting people to use it. Tell me how that works with vendors because I’m really curious about that.

Ray: The demographics in handyman services are changing. If you’ll look even in the last five years, plumbing statistics for you, an average age of a plumber, I think it was 5 years ago, is 50 years old. You have these plumbers that come in older generation but the medium pay is like $56,000. You’re having this employment gap to where there’s actually a big gap in plumbers coming into the market. What happened is these kids are actually going to trade school and we’re starting to get some younger people and then the demographics are changing.

But that’s not everything. What we do is we try and make our system as simple as possible for vendors. You have to remember, they don’t like talking on the phone. Basic example of that, we were demoing for this one lady down in Atlanta and she basically, as we were demoing, she was having one of her plumbers text her saying that the tenants is not answering the phone and she’s texting the tenant, “Why aren’t you answering the phone?” “Well, I didn’t recognize the number.” This is happening as we’re selling to her and we were like, “Boom! We got her.” The same frustrations happened for property managers being on the phone stuff. Same things happens with vendors. They don’t want to be on the phone calling up.

The number one issue for them is actually getting the tenant to figure out when they can get in the unit. We’re doing some automation for them. Our rule of thumb is basically for the simplicity of the system, if Joe Schmoe, I use that name just purely as anybody, if they can’t learn the system in two minutes or less and the training video, it’s too complicated. We design the vendor side, the maintenance side to be extremely simple that anybody can learn it and it hasn’t been a hurdle for anybody.

Jason: Okay, cool. That has not really been an issue, getting vendors to use it. Feedback from vendors is probably pretty positive then, if this is the challenge for them as well.

Ray: One thing worth having too, Jason, is these vendors are trying to team up with our system to say hey, we love this system. Can we get it into our property management because you’re saving us time and not to mention if they’re in the system and there’s an easy way to bill out work, what better way to solidify yourself as the primo vendor if you’re in the system and you’re using the easiest way to assign and complete work? We actually just have some pairing up with vendors and find ways so we can strengthen those partnership.

Jason: Yeah. It’s a pain point with vendors, It’s actually an annoyance of property managers. The vendors are always clicking on the pay per click ads, the vendors are always calling them up, vendors are always trying to get on board as an approved vendor, and they’re always targeting them.

It’s like me, I have guys from India for example, always trying to become my next web designer like, “Sorry guys. We’ve got it handled.” They’ve got vendors contacting them all the time for these sort of things, so this would be this way of them securing their spot. How difficult is it? Is the easiest text message? How does this communication happen between a vendor and a tenant?

Ray: The way it works is we’ve got a cool little scheduling piece where basically a vendor is able to pick availability right from their phone of when they could make it out to that property. The tenant, right from their phone, they can select when it’s  there. We’re notifying the property manager all the meantime. The way that people are let known that, “Hey, you’ve got work.” Or, “Hey, we need to schedule something at your unit.”

We employ both email and text messaging so that way, we’re sure that they get it and it’s great, they can send it right through their email, they click the button and it will take the right way you need to go or even on the text message, they click on the link right on the text message, it takes them right to that scheduling piece that they need to go to.

Jason: Okay, cool. Is your system texting, and emailing, and doing this?

Ray: Yeah.

Jason: Okay.

Ray: There’s a platform that the app resides on, Property Meld’s app. The piece of getting people in there, we don’t expect people to go on and just hang out on Property Meld all day long. We’re sitting there sending them an email, sending them a message, “Hey, just letting you know, you’ve got something that you need to address.” They click right through there and take them right where they need to go.

Jason: That sounds genius. The app, tell me about the app. Is this is like an iPhone app that you download from the App Store or is this like a web app? How does this work that the vendor would need to set up?

Ray: That’s a great question and one of the original things when we came in to look and putting this together was, “Let’s get an app for tenants.” The first thing we did is we actually went to different companies that have worked to try and get apps and consulted and really web app is the future.

If you can get away with not installing something on a tenant’s phone, that’s one barrier that you could do to get that to submit something. It’s the same with vendor, property managers, tenants, all web based app. It’s built on responsive web platforms. Basically, they can use their phone, their tablet, computer obviously.

Jason: It’s like a link on the website, on your property management website. They can click a link, it pulls up this web app and they can work it right on their phone. It’s intuitive. Or they can click a link and email signature that the property owner had sent them? Or the owner could just text them the link and say, “Go here,” this sort of thing?

Ray: Right.

Jason: Okay. Alright, great. The same thing on the vendors side as well?

Ray: Yeah. Everybody actually logs in on the same login screen. Depending on your credentials is where we rank what kind of features and stuff you have.

Jason: Okay.

Ray: One point as well on the web based app, you do have to have, I think we can support everything down to Internet Explorer 7 or something like that.

Jason: You’re nicer than I am.

Ray: Yeah. It’s like Facebook. People don’t realize this, they have a Facebook App on their phone, but if they went to facebook.com, they’s be surprised how they can do the same thing.

Jason: It’s pretty much the same, yeah.

Ray: Yeah. Except that you don’t even have to download something. That’s a big barrier for tenants. They’ve got to download something on their phone that they’re going to use once or twice a year. They’re not going to be inclined to use that. That’s why the web based app really had to be the platform for our system.

Jason: If this goes fairly viral in the property management community, which I’m sure is a goal of yours. Say a vendor has 20 property management companies in his area that are using your software. Does he have one login or does he have 20 logins?

Ray: One login. We actually designed it for that because vendors can be our biggest proponent. Hey, this is a way that we can automate some things, simplify some things. They just got one login and there’s a way that within the app that they can sit down and kind of segregate out who’s working for what. From a operational standpoint, if they’ve got service agreements or whatever, they can kind of manage those independently. Yeah, one login, they can login and see all their work for all their property management companies.

Jason: You really probably should make an affiliate program for vendors because these guys will be pushing. I imagine they’d be pushing property managers. I would imagine once they’re working with your tool once with one company they’re going to be like, “Man, I wish every company had this.” They’ll probably think, “How can I use this with normal people. Is that possible?”

Ray: Well, we definitely are. We’ve got our vendors that have become cheerleader for us and we definitely capitalize that. Another thing that we try and do is we try to make their lives easier because if they like the software, then they’re going to be cheerleading for us.

Jason: Yeah.

Ray: One of the things we do is we even allow them to get paid right through our system as well. We pride ourselves in the least amount of strokes, keystrokes to getting paid on the menu system, I mean, they line item something so I’ll automatically attach that property, property manager can utilize our system stripe credit card ACH and they can pay it directly. They can get paid really quickly with very little work, not sending any email, not licking a stamp.

Jason: Nice. This has been designed from the beginning to be as intuitive as possible for the tenants, for the vendors, and for the property manager to see transparently what’s going on, is what you’re saying?

Ray: Right. We don’t do trainings for vendors and tenants, we don’t need to. We’ve got short little videos when we do invites for them, that have been quite frankly enough so we don’t have to. The only thing that we have to do is for the property managers, and we can train somebody on the ins and out of the software and make them the trainer, you know, train the trainer kind of thing in 1 hour and 15 minutes. It’s very intuitive and there’s no retraining required. Once you’re in there, you click in, everything’s built to be intuitive, where’s this at, right where it should be.

Jason: Yeah. Another question, popular name that I hear are services out there like Night Tenders and some of these services, where it’s phone and AppFolio recently added their own sort of phone service like that I think to compete but they’re largely for emergency maintenance. Your tools still could automate that instead of using a human being service to try and negotiate all this stuff and to streamline, the whole process make it easier for vendors still. But would you still be able to use the service like those for the emergency stuff?

Ray: Absolutely. We’re always looking for ways to better capture the market right. One thing that we pride ourselves on is taking customer feedback and utilizing that to improve the system. That’s been a big one. How can we get even emergencies to be handled? We’re working on some solutions there.

Absolutely, you can use NightTenders to help you for those emergency situations and kind of what’s an emergency and what’s not and get those proper people out for that flooding basement or my house is on fire, hopefully they call 911.

Jason: Yeah, right. I know on websites a lot of times on the submit a maintenance request sort of page, we might build into a client side or for a client, usually have the emergency steps that they want people to take beforehand, maybe turning off water mains and stuff like this kind of thing.

Ray: Yup.

Jason: There is sort of that thing. One thing that you have mentioned to me when I was asking you and grilling you before when we had spoken the other day and I was like this sounds really cool is I’d asked you about the emergency maintenance and you mentioned some numbers and you mentioned that a lot of your clients aren’t really having as many emergency type of things going on or it’s not that big of a problem. Can you explain that?

Ray: Yeah. For us, going in, we try to build to the best of our ability to serve our current customers as well as the ones that we continue to go after. We ask them a lot of times, you had mentioned on the website, this is the phone number you can call if this is an emergency and this is what constitutes an emergency, but a lot of times property managers do want to be in the know. They want to know when there is an emergency and they want to be called in an hour or their staff called so they can address this as quickly as possible.

Because when you are dealing with flooding house or something pretty serious, you’re talking about your money taking away when if it becomes too bad. There hasn’t been too much of a barrier for us to sell, not being able to do the emergency, but like I said, a lot of our clients we’re kind of working on for building this perspective emergency feature. And then I said I still want to be in the know of what’s going on at that night when that comes, that basically is flooding, I want to be in the know.

Jason: I share this for those that are maybe watching this later that are interested in this. A friend of mine, Clint Collins, high level Property Manager for company called BMG Rentals. He’s got like 2000 doors. Did a webinar with him recently and he recommends that the number one thing you should get rid of right away is dealing with emergency maintenance.

He’s like, “You should not, if it’s your business, you should not be worrying about that at all. It shouldn’t be interrupting your Christmas dinners, your Thanksgiving.” He’s like, “I don’t care how small you are. You should not be dealing with that first.” They should be getting rid of that.

I think if property managers are using your tool and they’re still saying, “I want to be involved in all of the emergency stuff and notify me in the middle of the night.” I think there’s a mindset problem that their business is running their life instead of them being an owner of a business. That’s a mindset problem. If you’re watching this, do not handle the emergency maintenance yourself. You should be running a business, not a slave.

I’ll compare this to an industry that I come from. The tech industry, I used to do IT stuff and IT is the absolute worst. If you are an IT, you can be the highest paid person next to the top people of the company in the organization, but you are still the company bitch. You are on call at [3:00]AM. You don’t get any love because if things aren’t working, everyone blames you and if everything is working, nobody knows you exist. That’s the world of IT. I hated IT. The only IT guys that really do well are the ones that are constantly noisy that they’re making everything work well. These introverted guys are not usually really good.

Ray: Yes, you’re absolutely right though. It’s about systems.

Jason: Business owners. The goal of a business owner is not to eventually manage a bunch of people. The goal of the business owner is to manage systems that manage people.

Technology is always cheaper than people. They’re looking at a Property Meld and they’re thinking, “Well, we’ve got all these systems set up.” What they mean by systems is Steve handles the phone call and he goes through a list of vendors and finds out the area and sorts all this out and then he’s calling them and negotiating all this and it’s a full time job for Steve. Meanwhile, they’re showing out probably how much do you think for a maintenance coordinator of the company? Full time employee.

Ray: About $30,000 to $50,000.

Jason: Full time employee. Yeah. At least $30,000 to $50,000 a year. Even a minimum wage employee will be like $20,000 a year, full time. A decent pay, probably $30,000 to $50,000 grand annually and if you can replace a good portion of an employee’s work, you’re basically saving tens of thousands of dollars on staffing, on people. That doesn’t mean you go fire Steve but I’m sure you can find more effective stuff for Steve to do at the organization than handling phone calls and leaving voicemails between tenants and vendors and negotiating this stuff which could be handled by a robot called Property Meld.

Ray: Good point, man. A good point and the reality is we’re all human. We can make mistakes. Us that are more systematic, we have systems to remind us to keep track, keep everything going. But in reality, we’re still people. We can make mistakes. That’s the beauty of software. It’s a lot of the time able to make sure to do the things that sometimes you might forget to do.

Checking and make sure that that work was done. Steve has got to have a system of how he knows when stuff should be done and then call and find out and make sure it’s done. If Steve doesn’t do his job 100% accuracy, you’ll have some stuff slip through the cracks, you’ll have some angry customers, angry tenants, they’re going online to Yelp and they’re making a fuss out of something that can be solved pretty easily by utilizing systems and softwares. I know human being, Jason, I know you don’t make mistakes, but the rest of us.

Jason: No. I make tons of mistakes and if you’re an entrepreneur, that’s like what you’re in the business of. You make mistakes and you screw stuff up because that’s how you learn and you win. The people that don’t want to take risks, they go work for somebody that’s crazy. But if you’re an entrepreneur, you’re crazy.

Ray: It’s true.

Jason: If you want safety and certainty, you go work for an entrepreneur and the entrepreneur, just so you know, is crazy. That safety and certainty you think you have, it’s not really there.

We have a comment. It says, “I used to bill out 125-250 an hour for emergency calls and pay 35-125 an hour for a maintenance person.” It can be really costly to handle those, to have somebody taking care of those things, and you can turn around and have fees to do that but in order to do that, you’re penalizing them so they’re not going to want to deal with maintenance things and then you getting pushed back from owners and stuffs like that.

If you can put systems in place and that was a really good point, is that if there is any step in your processes where there’s manual human interaction, there are going to be pitfalls and mistakes. There’s always problems in there and one of those mistakes could easily cost you a door and a door in most markets could be $2000 annually or somewhere around that range.

That’s money and you may be able to keep for three years. One of those little problems, one of those slip ups, it makes you look incompetent as a company when you get your first maintenance request, when in you’re in this dangerous stage during the first year where they’re trying to see if you’re trustworthy and stable and they should stay with you forever to manage their properties. You screw up one simple maintenance thing, and the tenant’s complaining, and there’s a problem and this sort of thing. I’m a big fan of systems and automation. Cool. How do people find out more about Property Meld?

Ray: Jason, they can go to www.propertymeld.com. Basically, what they’re able to do is they can look through the site and see some videos about how it work and stuff and there’s actually a free demo.

They can sign up for a free demo up on the top of the screen and they can sign up and we’ll get organized with them. We will walk them through the software and see how it could work with their operations. We’ll do an initial follow up with them. It’s a pretty simple way to get a hold of us.

Jason: Alright, cool. I’ll put the link here, propertymeld.com. What else do you want people to know about your software? What are the typical questions that people ask? Concerns that people might ask? Did we cover everything?

Ray: We covered most of it. It’s all about taking the next step. It’s understanding in your system how to do things better and property management is a competitive industry. It’s always about trying to get a leg up on your competitor because tenants do talk, owners talk.

It’s always about finding the next thing that you’re going to be able to sit there and get those owners on your team, get those tenants and vacancies filled, get people to cheerlead for you on the internet. It’s always about continual change and it doesn’t matter what business you’re in. If you’re not changing, you’re falling behind. This is that next step for property managers to sit there and automate this sector of their business. That’s one of the biggest pains and one of the biggest black eyes that they can get on the internet.

Jason: Cool. I love it. I’m excited to see how this works for some of my clients so this could be really cool. I think this Property Meld, you coupled this with soliciting reviews and feedbacks like using our GatherKudos tool, it could be a game changer for growing their business.

Ray: Absolutely.

Jason: Automating all this stuff. That would really be cool to see how that place out for some of my clients. Check him out at propertymeld.com. If this is the first show you’ve seen from us on the DoorGrowShow, make sure you subscribe. Go to doorgrow.com/subscribe and get on our newsletter and you’ll get notified of these things when they come out onto our blog.

Ray, I appreciate you coming and taking time to hang out with me. It’s fun.

Ray: Thank you for inviting me, Jason. Anytime.

Jason: I want to do some cool stuff in the future together. I think it would be cool.

Ray: Absolutely.

Jason: I’m sure we’ll be seeing you around.

Ray: Alright, sounds good. Thank you, Jason.

Jason: Okay, be sure to go to doorgrow.com/10. Go to that and you can take a quiz there to see if this is good fit for you and if you do that quiz, you will also get a discount for Property Meld. We recommend you do it. Go to doorgrw.com/10 to get to episode 10. Take the quiz, get this discount, and check it out.

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