In this episode, we revisit Property Meld with Ray Hespen after he reached out to let me know about some updates.
Now you can hand off all of your property management maintenance coordination, calls, data entry, etc. to Property Meld!
Take Our Property Meld Maintenance Quiz (and get 15% Off): https://doorgrow.com/maintenance
[02:15] Background on Property Meld
[03:33] Exciting new announcement from Property Meld
[04:47] How much can they actually take off a property manager’s shoulders?
[05:58] What impact does Property Meld have once implemented?
[07:04] The importance of leveraging technology to keep staffing costs low.
[07:56] Focusing only on maintenance makes them more efficient at it
[08:29] Common questions PM’s ask Property Meld
[10:04] Their typical 3-stage onboarding process
[11:50] How they can help you improve your maintenance strategy and keep you informed
[13:10] How they represent your business to your owner/clients
[14:03] Is their call center is based in the US?
[14:34] How to find out more about Property Meld
[15:09] Can Property Meld actually save a property manager money?
[16:21] Their competition, including Night Tenders (now SuperTenders) & Appfolio’s maintenance.
[17:32] Why you should ask yourself if you would rather do maintenance coordination or spend that time growing your business?
[19:42] Why you should focus on technology & systems before incurring the expense of hiring.
[21:45] Be sure to get a competitive advantage of getting more done with less.
Jason: Welcome. If this is your first time listening, then thanks for coming. The DoorGrowShow 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.
This is DoorGrow Show Episode number 14. In this episode, I bring Ray Hespen from Property Meld back on. He reached out to me and said, “Hey, Jason. During the last interview I mentioned I didn’t have this feature of having a call center and now we can build phone calls, and I’d love to come back on.”
Here’s Ray Hespen and I talking again about Property Meld. The main take away I want you to focus on is what’s the opportunity cost of trying to do everything in your business? The thing you should be focused on as a business owner is growth. Business development, putting systems in place, sales, these sort of things; growing the business.
If you can offhand one piece, and maybe it’s property management maintenance coordination using a service like Property Meld, maybe it’s something else, you should do it. You can create a little more space to get on more business and keep doing that. Here’s the interview with Ray and I. I hope you enjoy it.
Alright, great. I’m here with Ray Hespen. Ray, glad to have you.
Ray: Hey, thanks Jason.
Jason: We’re gonna be talking with Ray about his company, Property Meld. Ray, can you give us a little bit of background on you and Property Meld?
Ray: Actually, Property Meld, the way that I got involved into it is I basically started as an experience of being a tenant and renting and travelling across the country, and realizing out of all things that are self-service in this world, everything from scheduling and appointment with my car to get service, turning on utilities, mail forwarding, everything is self-service these days. But it seemed everywhere I rent, the only thing I could do was submit a maintenance request. I had to wait on a phone call or a knock at the door.
We looked into what the implications and what tools were available for property managers to offload some of the work off of them, offload the phone calls and allow people to do more of a self-service.
Property Meld is a great tool that coordinates repairs between maintenance or vendors, and tenants. Keeping the property manager up to speed without them having to make phone calls back and forth to coordinate, confirm that it happened, make sure that the tenant’s happy.
Jason: It sounds really great. Basically, it’s a maintenance coordination tool and software. But you also recently emailed me and said you’ve added a new piece to that puzzle.
Ray: Yeah. We’re really excited, and it’s been phenomenally successful because one of the few things that we get is we can give a tool to property management. We can say, “Hey, we can streamline a lot of this.” They still ask, “Can you take my phone calls?” “Can you coordinate with my vendors?” “Can you do this?” Basically, “Can we perform the maintenance for property managers?”
One of the really exciting things that we’re able to do now is actually do that. We use obviously a very powerful platform that is Property Meld but we can take day time calls, night time calls, dispatch emergency maintenance, non-emergency maintenance, follow-up to make sure that the work’s getting done, owner approvals, and even warranty work on homes. We can actually coordinate those repairs so it’s literally taking what you probably call like 40% of the headache of property management and maintenance, and giving it to us to manage it, so you can continue to use people like DoorGrow to expand your business, and grow doors, and let us manage the maintenance aspect.
Jason: Yeah, maintenance. Every property manager, whether they realize it or not, also has a maintenance company. It’s a huge piece of the puzzle and that’s where the bulk of the headaches are, and the challenges.
Jason: Realistically, can you give some examples? How much of this can you really take-off of a property management business owner’s shoulders?
Ray: I just talked to a guy actually today. He says it’s a nightmare, he’s attached to this phone at the hip, whether it’s an eve, and has a call center that helps kind of try and intercept some things. But he says, “The reality is I’m constantly, ‘When can we do this? When can I do that? I need people to get in here.’” He told me, he says, “I’ll be driving down the Inner States 75 miles per hour and I’ve got phone calls that I gotta get back to.” He says, “I’ll be on the phone with them on my Bluetooth.” He says, “Then I’ll forget five minutes later because they called me and I was driving, I was focusing on that.” He says, “It ends up creating a whole bunch of problems, both with the experience of his tenants and obviously the operations of his business.”
Just having somebody that’s gonna make sure that it’s gonna continue to happen and get done, and someone’s taking care of it, and they can just focus on the work that he has, whether that’s driving, or doing a deal with an owner, or even just making sure that the real estate deals are going down correctly and not focusing so much on trying to catch those calls, and make sure those tenants are happy.
Jason: That’s why they would need you. Could you give an example of somebody that’s started using your service and what’s changed? How would that be different?
Ray: You look at the software, it’s powerful as it is. But the reality is, we’ve got a client. Actually, the one I’m thinking about is in California, they’re near Neck of the Woods. It’s about a 300 door operation. The reality is they’ve allowed to completely shift even their management structure because they’ve had different work split up amongst a few different people. They’ve been able to consolidate and actually turn and focus. The owner of the company is actually a lot more able to and I’ve used the example a little bit before, actually focus and go get new business. He’s so drowned down by the fact of having to do this, make sure his teams are following up and doing everything. They’ve also offloaded that work to us.
The cool thing is because we’re using Property Meld, they can still check in, they can still get updates of what’s going on. But they’ve been allowed to completely reorganize their team, offloading the maintenance for us for our pretty small marginal cost, and really push towards the growth of the business.
Jason: We recently had Steve Murray on of REAL Trends. He spoke of the NARPM Broker/Owner Conference. He said that the companies that are able to leverage technology are the ones that are going to do well and survive, because one of the biggest challenges in property management that he sees coming is the rising cost of staff and team members. If they’re dealing with all of the maintenance coordination, usually, no matter how small they are, they eventually need a maintenance coordinator than they’ve got maybe several team members that are fielding phone calls related to maintenance, the property managers are getting involved somewhat. It takes a lot of resources. That gets really expensive, handing that to people. Because you’re able to leverage technology, that’s cutting down the cost significantly. But then you also have a team, they’re able to field the phone calls and handle that for them.
Ray: Absolutely. Because the nice thing is that’s our only business, and that’s exactly what we focus on, we’re credibly efficient at that. We got a very powerful platform in Property Meld, and we’re utilizing it to where the people day in to day out are doing nothing but maintenance, maintenance, maintenance, whereas a lot of property management company that maintenance coordinator might be helping with this, hopping over and doing another different task. You got people that are completely dedicated to it, and very good at it that can more or less do it at a cheaper cost than even it is to worry about it with your own staff.
Jason: What are the typical questions that people have when they’re talking to you on your sales calls? They’re skeptical, they’re a little nervous. The first one that comes to mind is how are you gonna get all of this information connected to my property management software? They’re using AppFolio, or Buildium, or Propertyware, or some sort of back office and they’re concerned because they don’t wanna go and do double data entry. Does your team help with that as well?
Ray: Absolutely. I appreciate you bringing that up. Yes, we do. At the end of a repair, whether you’re using AppFolio, Buildium, any other accounting systems that are out there, we’ll actually put that request in at the end for you with full service. Yeah, some of the questions that we get, number one, it’s kind of like how can you do it this cost effectively? Because that’s a thing, and I’m not just sales pitching that on here, we can do it really cost effectively. It’s again, because we’re able to solely focus on it and use a powerful tool that we have that we use day in and day out, we’re able to sit there and we’ve got our own systems to manage it and we’ve got our own our own best practices that are really effective at minimizing the amount of work that we have to inject into making sure that the maintenance happens while still making sure that quality is there.
A lot of the times, people are like, “How can you do it so cost effectively?” Versus, “I’ve got 150 doors and I’ve got to hire somebody, and we’re doing it at a margin of the cost.” A lot of the times, that’s kind of how we have to explain is we use a powerful system in Property Meld, and basically, utilizing that in our best practices, we’re able to do it very cost effectively.
Jason: Explain to me the onboarding process, some companies have been doing this for over a decade and they’re really stuck in their ways, they’ve got their processes and whatever – how do you transition a company from fielding all the maintenance phone calls, handling request themselves to shifting them towards us? What does that look like typically?
Ray: It’s a two stage, three stage approach. The first thing we do is we collect their property and tenant data. That’s done pretty easily. Most of the accounting systems already have that available in the forms that we need them. They merely send that to us, and we’re able to load the software.
The next piece is getting all the vendor information that they currently have, or they want to use, or if they want us to help them find them. But they give us basically who they want doing what.
Then the last piece is how do you want us to handle your flow? There’s the best practices that we have. We kind of have a general framework we put together form saying, “This is an instance that I would like to be notified.” Whether that’s warranty work, or do you want us to notify you when we get an ownership approval? Some of the things of making sure that we’re gonna run it in a way that that property manager wants to be notified, wants to be kept up to speed, so we kind of find out exactly how that’s gonna work. Then, of course, they say, “go.” We’re able to basically kind of take the reins from there working with their vendors, utilizing Property Meld to basically start shifting that information over, start shifting all that workload over to us.
Jason: Imagine a really good benefit then of going through even just your onboarding process is you’re improving probably most clients process for dealing with maintenance in general by having them create a system, figure out who the preferred vendors are, figure out how to handle emergency stuff, after hours stuff. They’re having to define the stuff that some of these guys probably just been kind of cowboy shooting from the hip constantly.
Ray: Right. It is good, we’re able to ask those questions, and yeah, start to formulate maybe a strategy that we’re able to use moving forward. The cool thing is the fact that they can stay up to speed as much as they want. We have things that are very popular, it’s called our daily summary, because Property Meld, the way it works, that property manager even though they’re not dealing with maintenance, they’re gonna see how many new request came in, how many are in progress, how many got finished that day. They’re able to see what’s going out with their operation. They can even get us in-depth as finding out everytime something’s scheduled, every time a tenant submitted a feedback request, they can really get involved if they want to, but obviously the whole goal is we wanna take as much of the workload off keeping as much transparency as they need to run their business.
Jason: Okay. Property managers that you’re closing on this software and service, and getting them onboard, besides the thing that I brought up, how are you gonna tie it into my existing property management software? What other concerns might they have or do they typically ask about?
Ray: A lot of it is owners. How do you contact the owners? Do you call them on behalf of us? Or do you call on behalf of Property Meld? We work with the owner. We work for the property manager. We call on behalf of them. We really become an extension of their business. When those tenants call, they’ve got their own unique 1800 number so we know exactly who we’re representing. We basically get to be in extension of their business so they can continue with their brand.
The tenants are very familiar with the brand, the owners are familiar with the brand and we’re kind of this actor on the shadows that’s allowing everything to kind of progress on the maintenance side. We’re trying to think what the other big headaches are, it’s more just specifics of how the call centers and staff work, it’s all domestic, there’s no foreign call centers. It’s all stuff here in the US. We make sure that we like to keep the things domestic.
Jason: That’s a big thing.
Ray: It absolutely is.
Jason: There’s so much outsourcing going on and people get really frustrated. That is a big value add that you have domestic or US based, North American based reps manning the phones, representing the company.
Ray: Yup, that’s important to us.
Jason: Okay, great. Cool. It sounds really great. How can people find out more about Property Meld and your software?
Ray: What they can do is go to www.propertymeld.com. There’s a button right there on top to contact us, and we can setup a free live demo and kind of go over the system with them. We can also go over the options of the full service package.
If people wanna just check out the software, they wanna see what it’s like, how the interface works, we also have a free trial that they’re also able to click right on and get a free account and test out the system. It’s pretty simple.
Jason: Awesome. Let’s talk savings. Are there savings by doing this, or they’re just reducing the headaches? Property managers love the numbers, let’s talk the financial side.
Ray: I love the numbers too, man. I love the numbers too. It’s a fun thing to talk about. One thing, especially with the full service, I talk to people. Usually when I’ll talk, I’ll sit there and go, let’s say the average rent roll is a grand a month, just your average rent roll. I said, “You’re managing for 10%, so you’re getting $100 a month to manage this property.” I say can you sit there and focus on keeping that thing occupied and collecting a rent check for $95 a month, because that’s basically what I’m allowing you to do when you’re shedding probably 30%-40% of the workload at 5% of the marginal cost, it’s a huge cost benefit for the property manager. Of course, you extend that beyond just one property, 100 properties, 200, 500, 700. The fact is you can sit there when people are going, man, we need to bring on another person, you’re talking about adding a very, very marginal cost versus hiring an entirely new employee that’s gonna cost thousands a month.
Jason: Let’s talk about competition just a little bit. I know there’s players out there. There’s Night Tenders, which has a fantastic reputation. There’s also AppFolio decided to duplicate their services to step into the game, but they’re just phone support, but they’re also [inaudible [00:16:37] entry into the service. Explain the difference in how the coordination and the software actually helps and works and what really makes you guys unique?
Ray: One of the things, and we’ll hear things like AppFolio and Night Tenders, and I’ve heard some very good things about them, but obviously, one of the extra value that we’re able to do is we go well beyond just receiving requests. When somebody calls a call center, they might put in a request form, still the property manager has to deal with it. They’ve got a coordinator with the vendor, they gotta make sure it’s happening, they gotta make sure the tenant’s happy at the end of it. Obviously, that’s the extension of where we go well beyond.
The cool thing is apart from just being a call center, we’re also making sure that the work’s happening from start to finish. Not just receiving the call and kind of organizing it for you to deal with tomorrow morning, we’re gonna start working on it right then to get it done.
Jason: What would you say, because a lot entrepreneurs try to do everything themselves. It’s so tempting, the mindset’s usually, I hear this all the time, that’s expensive, I wanna save a buck.
Jason: They try to save a dollar, and by doing so, go and do it themselves and then they’re doing all this extra work themselves, and not able to focus on their core business. What would you say to these property managers, because I know they’re listening to this, they’re paying small, they’re doing everything themselves. Why should they switch to using Property Meld?
Ray: That’s a great question. There’s two points to that question. Property Meld’s a very powerful tool for the tenant. Also, the experience of the tenant which is nobody has to look, and you know with GatherKudos how bad people get dinged on the maintenance on the tenant end. Making sure that it’s a better experience is the first part.
Then, the second part is how much is that property manager’s time worth? If you got one hour and you could spend that hour going after a new owner, a new investor, or you can spend that hour on the phone trying to coordinate work which we’re doing for pennies, you gotta really look at it in terms of if your objective and your goal is to grow your business, I know, Jason, that that’s exactly what you talk to people about is what they need to do, but instead of what you’re telling them to do, they’re focusing on the telephone call, trying to figure out what’s happening with this leaky faucet, and instead of working on the things to grow their business they gotta make some decisions of what the priorities are. Do they wanna stay plugged in and manage it or if they wanna to continue to grow the business in a way that I’m sure that most people, entrepreneurs, are wanting to do.
Jason: Yes. Property Managers, if you’re listening to this, then a question to ask yourself is if I could offhand all the maintenance stuff that Property Meld could take off my shoulders, how much more time and money could I make if I could focus on business development?
Man: Could I record that and use that on my sales pitches, Jason?
Jason: It’s a great question. If you can offhand even one role in your business and save yourself the cost of one employee annually, even if you’re hiring somebody that’s not really paid very well and they’re like a $15 an hour employee maybe, on a full time employee you’re saving like $30,000 a year, annually at least. Then, you’ve got benefits and everything else that might need to be included, so the cost gets really high.
What I find a lot of times, even in website design and some other things that we focus on is people will try to save money, but what they’re really doing is spending a lot more money by shifting that workload to their staff, which are far more expensive.
I’m a firm believer that leveraging technology is far more savvy, effective, and cost effective than using humans, than using people. If there’s a tool, or a service, or a technology, that should always be first choice. If you don’t have a system or a process or something that you can offhand that to, then you need to have team members in place within your organization to do that. But that should be last resort, because handling things to people is really expensive, and that’s a really poor practice in business to just, “Well, let’s just hire somebody.” That’s the first thing people usually think, “We need this role filled. Let’s hire somebody.”
I challenge everybody listening to make sure that’s the last thing. That’s the last thing. First, try technology. Second, set up systems. Third, make sure the systems are managing the people instead of you micromanaging people.
Cool, Ray. I really appreciate you coming on. Any last words for the DoorGrowShow audience here?
Ray: Just to kind of tack on a good thing to remember is it’s a competitive business out there, property management is a growing, but very competitive business. Remember if you’re not the one who’s staying on top, you might be competing with someone who’s able to do a more effective job with less and that’s gonna be tough to keep up with in the long run.
Jason: Basically, I think what Ray is saying is you probably should use Property Meld or your competitors might.
Ray: Yeah. Exactly, exactly. There it is. I like it, Jason.
Jason: Alright, great. Thanks so much.
Ray: Hey, thank you so much, Jason. I appreciate it.
Jason: Okay. Since doing these interviews with Ray, we’ve gotten to know each other and I really like this guy. Ray is a really cool guy. He’s entrepreneurial minded like me, and we get along really well. He’s willing to offer a discount.
We put a discount up on the DoorGrow Blog, you can get to it by going to doorgrow.com/maintenance. You can also get to it on this episode which you’ll find at doorgrow.com/14. Check that out. Get yourself a discount and try it out, and let me know what you think.
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