Are you a property manager who spends too much time struggling with leasing requirements? It may be time to automate rental property management and focus more on how to grow your business.
Today’s guest is Faizan Khan from LetHub, an AI leasing assistant service for property management businesses. LetHub utilizes AI to interact with renters, resolve their problems, and get them to the doors.
[03:40] Why LetHub? Opportunity to use AI to automate rental property management.
[04:21] Myth: AI is a simple chatbot with multiple threads of what needs to be done.
[05:00] Reality: AI goes beyond basics by understanding how the human brain works.
[05:26] Good vs. Genius AI: What’s the difference? Ability to learn and fix mistakes.
[06:39] How to build an AI: Data scientist, algorithms, machine learning (ML), and supervised learning approach are needed to get started.
[07:29] LetHub’s Goal: Make experience for renters and landlords very easy.
[07:55] Property Management Problem: Difficult to get a rental apartment. Demand is high. Everyone is looking. AI can help.
[09:05] Why LetHub uses AI? AI is not going to replace humans, but it’s a substitute.
[09:19] Retention Rate: Property managers want to get the best tenants and keep them.
[10:25] LetHub’s AI: Replies to questions, books tours, provides CRM, handles emails.
[12:15] LetHub’s Automated System: Requires less staff and time to generate results.
[15:35] Pre-call Process: Top four questions focus on pets, moving date, student or employed, and tell me about yourself.
[17:25] API and Integrations: Connect to Buildium, Yardi, or other account.
[20:00] LetHub Listings: All channels have Web link; connect email with Web platform.
Jason: Welcome, DoorGrow Hackers, to the DoorGrow Show. If you are a property management entrepreneur that wants to add doors, make a difference, increase revenue, help others, impact lives, and you are interested in growing your business and life, and you are open to doing things a bit differently, then you are a DoorGrow Hacker.
DoorGrow Hackers love the opportunities, daily variety, unique challenges, and freedom that property management brings. Many in real estate think you’re crazy for doing it, you think they’re crazy for not because you realize that property management is the ultimate high-trust gateway to real estate deals, relationships, and residual income.
At DoorGrow, we are on a mission to transform property management businesses and their owners. We want to transform the industry, eliminate the BS, build awareness, change perception, expand the market, and help the best property management entrepreneurs win. I’m your host, property management growth expert, Jason Hull, the founder and CEO of DoorGrow. Now, let’s get into the show.
Today’s guest, I’m hanging out with Faizan Khan. Faizan, how are you today?
Faizan: I’m good. How are you?
Jason: Welcome to the DoorGrow Show. I’m doing great. Faizan Khan has one of the coolest names that we’ve ever had on the DoorGrow Show. We were joking in green room that it sounds like he’s a gangster rapper, just cool. Actually, you made that joke, because I’m a nerd I said it sounds like some badass […].
Faizan: That’s right, yeah. It’s a different name. I haven’t heard this name myself before.
Faizan, I’m really excited to have you. You have a service that we’re going to be talking about today called LetHub. I know nothing about it. I’m excited to ask you a lot of questions. I get curious. Before we get into that, let’s talk about you. Where this guy with this cool name came from, what your background is, and why people should listen.
Faizan: As a child, I had been involved in entrepreneurship stuff and starting businesses small or big. I’m originally born and brought up in Dubai and Pakistan, considered like a mixture. Then I moved to the UK for a bit and after that I have been living in Canada. I’ve lived in five different countries throughout my life. I love traveling. Whenever I get a chance, I try to go to any other spot that I can go to, provided there’s no Coronavirus over there. I’m really interested in real estate. I’ve had a bunch of start-ups before. I saw this opportunity of using AI to automate rental property management, so I started this company called LetHub.
We are in our start-up phase but we’re doing pretty well working with a few clients in Canada and States. We’re trying to help people to automate all of their leasing requirements so they could sit down and focus more on how to grow. Right now, we’re using a very sophisticated AI to interact with renters, resolve their problems, get them to the doors, and all that stuff. We can get deeper into that. That’s my background of why I started and who I am.
Jason: This sounds really interesting. A lot of people talk about AI and you hear that thrown around. I think the term can sometimes be used very loosely. Their version of an AI is they’re creating a chatbot with multiple threads of what they need to be done.
Faizan: That’s a very good question. I think a lot of people are sort of sold on the idea that AI is basically just like a pre-made thread of questions or a pre-scripted bot. But the truth here is that it understands something in a similar way as a human would, like the sentences or words I’m saying to you, your brain is breaking them down, understanding the context of that, processing it, and then replying. That’s how our brain works.
A good AI would understand that, even a better or a genius AI would really learn. If it creates a mistake, you can teach it what to do or it could teach itself what to do next. An example would be if someone says hey, do you allow pets, or hey, do you love furry friends? The AI would respond saying that, hey, we do. This is our pet policy. The renter would say, hey, is a small dog or cat okay? The third thing that the renter says is context. The context is do you allow any pets. Truly, I would not understand that, but an actual AI would understand the context.
Jason: How does one go about starting to build an AI thing? Is there an AI system that you are leveraging to build? Is that how this works?
Faizan: Yeah, that’s a good question. You need a data scientist, number one, and you need to build some algorithms. You need to understand how machine learning works. It’s a lot of techy-techy stuff to get data, to train the AI from an infant to a child to an adult. It’s a simple process like any other human would be trained, how we grow up, we learn a few words, and then we’re taught a few things. Pretty much like that. We use a supervised learning approach. It’s a very sophisticated machine learning approach. Our goal is to make the experience for renters and landlords very easy. From our tests, we see that a lot of people ask the same questions. We cut that down, get people to the door rather than them giving you a call or sending you hundreds of emails.
Jason: Let’s talk about the problem first. What problem have you seen to the property managers you’re dealing with that you thought maybe AI can help with this?
Faizan: First and foremost in a very dense city where I was living in Vancouver, it’s very hard to get a rental apartment. The demand is high. Everyone is looking. For us as renters, it was getting impossible. It would take two months to get something, that’s how I started. I was like, why is this process not solved? If I send an email to a landlord, why am I not getting a reply? If I show up there are 20, 30 other people, I need to fill out a new rental application every time. If you go into 10 units or 10 different spots or places, it will be 10 different applications and that’s all while you’re working [9:00] to [5:00] as a professional. That’s how I started.
Why do we use AI? AI is not going to replace humans, but it’s going to substitute a lot of their work that they do so they can focus on other stuff. A lot of the problems that property managers face are mostly around getting the best tenants and then keeping them. What’s the retention rate? That’s one of the bigger problems in multifamily and also single family.
I believe that you can cut that whole process down to finding someone from a listing, to getting them to the door, and to sign the lease. You can cut the time down by around 60 to 70%. If you’re spending four to five hours a day, if you have a lot of vacancies or spending a lot of time just on replying to people with the same questions and it gets monotonous, you might lose focus. You’re not that happy talking to people. That’s where an automated system comes in.
People like to chat, especially millennials. They don’t want to call. They want instant replies. Our product comes in there and solves this problem. It replies to everyone’s questions and books you a tour right away into the leasing team’s calendar. It provides a nice CRM for property managers just to have a look at who’s coming when, weather details, do they qualify, all that good stuff. It also handles emails coming through. We see that 50 to 60% of property managers get emails than calls. Emails and texts are the king right now in terms of communicating. We deal with that as well.
Jason: LetHub is handling emails?
Jason: It’s dealing with text messaging too?
Faizan: Yeah. Apart from calling, everything. Our AI assistant is dealing with all the online web chat. You can put it on your website or you can just post it on ours. It would reply to your emails. It would reply to the text. It will send reminders, all that good stuff. Honestly, there’s a lot of companies that have already built this, but the automation piece is missing. There’s always some manual work. We built it in a way where you can just click a button and start using it. There’s no need for a three week training. I hate that.
Jason: What are you seeing in terms of how this is impacting the clients that you brought on some of your initial prospects? What are you seeing? What are they noticing? What’s different for now?
Faizan: I don’t want to jump the gun on this one, but I think it’s helping people not to hire more which is scary. An example is one of our clients, they used to hire interns who would take calls, reply to emails, and then give the lead to a leasing agent who would go out there and show the unit, do a tour and then sign the lease and all that stuff. They stopped hiring an intern because now the system’s so automated, they’re getting good results. From a leasing agent’s perspective, they’re leasing faster. Those hundreds of emails they get, because it’s automated, they can filter through renters faster and get signed leases faster. The rate of listing to lease, the timeline has decreased. We’ve been measuring that very specifically. Minutely looking at is that the USP, is that actually the time spent by a leasing agent, but it’s both. If someone spends on these activities, that goes down and the time to lease goes down as well.
Jason: Let’s go through the lifecycle then. I want to understand which pieces of the lifecycle of dealing with prospective tenants, showing the property, getting the lease, then on boarding, how much of this is LetHub connecting with and helping with?
Faizan: Our goal is to get people to the door.
Jason: It’s getting people to the showings and getting showings scheduled and that sort of thing?
Faizan: Yeah. It’s answering our questions, dealing with increased, pre-qualifying people, and getting them to the door according to your schedule. Just get them to the door and then after that you could do the rental application or whatever you’d want to do, but also we get feedback as well. We’re getting them to the door. If they don’t like the property, we’re getting some feedback as to why they didn’t like the property or something like that.
The goal is to get them to the door fastest with good pre-qualification, answering all their questions that they might have, and booking tours in a smart way. If you manage more than 400 units, 1000 units, or even 2000 in our case, then your time is money in that sense. There’ll be no shows. There’ll be people who are not that qualified. You’ll always be dealing with not a higher quality of tenant like prospective renters.
Jason: Give listeners an idea of the pre-call process, like some of the questions you might ask or what property management might have connected or built out in that piece.
Faizan: I’ve built the algorithm myself with the help of my CTO. It’s highly customizable. Obviously staying within human rights, there’s some questions you cannot ask but it’s customizable. You put your criteria and river our AI. We’ll make sure she gets those answers from people.
Jason: What are some of the questions that it’s asking? You had mentioned earlier like maybe pets, maybe if they’ve had an eviction before.
Faizan: You could ask anything from if you had an eviction, do you smoke, do you have any pets, how many people are moving in, why are you moving, are you a student. A lot of people ask this. We suggest people not to ask more than four questions, otherwise, that drives renters away. The top four I’m telling you is number one is pets, what’s your moving date, when do you want to move in, are you a student or do you have a job, that sort of thing, and then the fourth is please tell me a bit about yourself. Generally, tell us whatever you would want. Though you can keep the criteria strict. If they don’t fall under your criteria, they don’t actually book a tour. We’d show them other properties.
Jason: I understand the idea of decreasing the amount of time wasting type of calls where they’re just asking details about the property. Will this be able to pull in some of the data on some of the properties through API or connect, because most property managers have all this in their property management software? If somebody’s getting into your chat tool or the system and asking what’s the square footage on this property or where is this located, how many of these things can it feel?
Faizan: All we ask people to do is connect their Buildium or Yardi account and then go from there. We are constantly working on improving the integration and it will have enhanced integration with time. Right now if you as a property manager want to have a taste of LetHub, just let us know and we’ll add a few of your properties. You can have an experience and then we can attach your integration and all that stuff. But we’re not really partners with any of these companies, we just want to be clear. These are one off requests from property managers where they say this software, can you integrate so that we help them integrate. There’s some softwares that do not have APIs.
Jason: What manager has a full API, I guess property now has an API?
Faizan: Yeah, probably Rent Manager. I was talking to the folks at Rent Manager as well. We’re in moving talks with them soon. We’ll meet with them at the conference as well. With Buildium, they don’t really have an open API, same way as bigger companies like Yardi or RealPage. They have a paid API so they have this whole program. But we’re happy to work with anyone. The key is to cut down the time it would take to on board anyone if they are using a very sophisticated software. We’re happy to work with them and help them set that up while not changing anything. That’s the important part. They keep doing what they’re doing, we’re just going to be working on the side getting them into leads.
Jason: LetHub can operate as a chat tool on their website for people that are coming there. How does it help them via their listings that are out on the internet on various channels?
Faizan: All the channels, email, text, and just having a web link, when you list your property, all you do is you just connect your email with our web platform. When you list your property just in the description and say, hey, click here to book a tour, or you can just redirect users to your own website. If you spent a lot of money on branding and making your website amazing, which a lot of people have, just redirect them to your own website and the river would just pop up and guide the user to book a tour or answer any questions.
Jason: What questions are property managers asking you that are a little bit curious or wary or whatever? What are some of the most common questions they’re asking about LetHub before they’re willing to take it for a full spin and utilize it?
Faizan: That’s a good question. I think it depends on the size of the company. We were in talks with Aimco which has 10,000 units, bigger company, and multifamily. Their number one problem is integration so they would want integration with their current software which is totally fine. Make sense, bigger companies, got more complex. With the smaller property managers, I think their major concern is that will people be okay chatting with an AI versus a human.
I want to be clear on this that nobody’s replacing nobody over here. We’re just helping people and we’ve got the tests to show you that that’s the future. There’s a lot of banks using this technology and you can order a pizza. I don’t know how smart it is, but you can order a piece of pizza through an AI assistant.
Jason: Anything else you want to let people know about LetHub before we wrap this up and how can people get in touch and maybe check this out?
Faizan: Yeah, for sure. I think if you’re a property manager who is looking to automate things so you don’t have to run after renters and if you’re looking to really use the latest and greatest tech, then please get in touch with us. Our website is lethub.co. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I’ll be happy to do a demo myself or one of my team members would do it for you. Happy to chat about your problems and see if we can build a more customized solution for you. Yeah, that’s about it. Keep growing I guess.
Jason: Faizan Khan, really great having you on the show. I appreciate you hanging out with me today and we’ll let you go.
Faizan: Awesome. Thank you so much.
Jason: Awesome to have him on. Check out LetHub and let us know inside the DoorGrowClub Facebook group what your experiences are if you decide to try them out, what you think. We’d be really curious to hear about your feedback. Go post an update inside the DoorGrowClub. Get to that on doorgrowclub.com. That’s our community for this property management podcast. If you are wanting to figure out how to grow your business, you’re struggling to grow, you’re running into issues, reach out to our team. Check us out at doorgrow.com. Until next time everybody, to our mutual growth. Bye, everyone.
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