DGS 198: A Simple Solution To Eliminate Landlord Paid Water Utilities In Your Property Management Business With Kal McDonough

landlord paid water and utilities artworkIn this podcast episode, property management expert Jason Hull talks to Kal McDonough from True Submeter about how their product helps eliminate landlord-paid water usage and increase net operating income in rental units.

Kal explains how their product is different from competitors, how it works, and why property managers should consider using it to benefit both themselves and their clients.

You’ll Learn…

[01:18] Introducing True Submeter

[04:06] A Submeter that uses WIFI?

[08:48] Tracking Usage in Multi-Family units

[10:24] Warranties and Replacements

[11:25] Early Warning Systems and Alerts


“True Submeter eliminates a middle ground and coordination with the tenant and the city.”

“We have finally developed a significant product that is used across the country to eliminate landlord paid water usage and increase net operating income in rental units.”

“A lot of owners are paying for their tenants’ water usage.”

“It also eliminates you having to kind of coordinate with the tenant, coordinate with the city. That’s completely on us.”


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[00:00:00] A lot of owners are paying for their tenants’ water usage. We have finally developed a significant product that is used across the country to eliminate landlord paid water usage and increase net operating income in rental units.

[00:00:17] Welcome Doorgrow Hackers to the DoorGrowShow. 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 in business and life, and you’re 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 business owners and their businesses. 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.

[00:01:18] My guest today is Kal McDonough. Did I say it right?

[00:01:22] Yes, you did. Jason, I appreciate you having me here today.

[00:01:25] Glad to have you. So Kal, you are with a company called what? What’s the name of the company?

[00:01:32] True Submeter.

[00:01:33] True Submeter. Okay. So can you explain to us a little bit of background on yourself and how you got really excited about submeters?

[00:01:43] Yeah, absolutely. I’m a recent grad from the University of Minnesota and we started this company, me and my partner, in 2016 because we got interested in real estate. Now being so young, we didn’t know how to start investing with nothing. We didn’t have the capital to do it. So we tried to figure out a product that real estate investors would like to have, that we could make that no one is really doing. And that’s how we figured out a lot of people, a lot of owners are paying for their tenants’ water usage. So we wanted to create a product to eliminate that, which is our True Submeter. It’s a true submeter. We started this project in 2016 and we have finally developed a significant product that is used across the country to eliminate landlord paid water usage and increase net operating income in rental units.

[00:02:40] Okay.

[00:02:42] Yeah, so basically we have two major products. We have our main line meter and our point of use meter. And the main line is our biggest seller, as you only need one per unit. These get attached to the plumbing to each, and it remotely tracks bills and shows live coverage of water usage for each month. So if someone were interested in purchasing our product, we set up an account for you. We send you our product, you install it, and from there on we take care of all the billing that is necessary for your tenants to receive the water bills, and then they will pay you, the landlord, and it’s completely covered from there.

[00:03:23] Got it. So people aren’t using anything like this currently? Often?

[00:03:30] So we have few competitors, however their products do not do the same thing as we do. Most of the time. If you would like to buy a submeter, you get the physical submeter and it has readings on it that you can physically take. Most people will need to hire someone to go read those. However, ours connect to wifi and automatically trans mit that to your account and to the tenants. So it eliminates a middle ground there. And it also eliminates you having to kind of coordinate with the tenant, coordinate with the city. That’s completely on us.

[00:04:06] Got it. How do you solve the wifi challenge, or whose wifi are these using?

[00:04:12] Right, great question. So we set up our own routers and ship them with each order. These are specifically only to connect to our sub meters, so no one else can use these routers. There’s special wifi, username and password that only our meters get connected to and we completely take care of the cellular payments and everything. So this has nothing to do with the landlord. You don’t have to set up a new wireless connection. And it’s great that we can troubleshoot it knowing that it’s our own wifi.

[00:04:42] Got it. Okay. So tell me, what are some of the big questions that people have about this and why should they do the extra work to get this set up and pay attention to this? Most property managers are probably thinking: how’s this going to make me more money? How’s this going to benefit my clients? Maybe you could go into that.

[00:05:01] Yeah, absolutely. I can start off with a pretty simple example. Just saying if a landlord that owns a simple duplex is currently paying for their tenant’s water bills because the property only gets one water bill. A lot of cities have a legal rule where you cannot split it down the middle because one tenant is using less.

[00:05:20] Right.

[00:05:20] You can’t have them billed for more than what they’re using. And that’s one of the key reasons why our product is so great is if you’re now recording the specific usage for each tenant, now you’re able to bill them. A lot of people question is it worth the money? Is it worth the investment? A great thing about our product is for a lot of the people that we sell to, this is a one-time investment that now you’re saving all of this monthly revenue that you don’t have to pay for your tenant’s water bill. I would like to get into that a little bit more as we do charge a monthly service fee, which is $5.90. Per unit. So say you have a duplex $5.90 per unit, that’s $11.80 per month. However, we are able to bill this to the tenant. So this could be a one-time investment for a landlord owner or a property owner or property management company. And I think that’s really what sets us apart of from any competitor that we have as well is we minimize our costs of the investment there. There is no one else that is able to accommodate the pricing of this for an original investment. Like I said, we have two main products, our mainline meters, which I touched on a little bit, and then we also have a point of use meter. Now the difference between these two products depends on the plumbing of the property. If plumbing is separated between units our mainline option is going to work fantastic for you because you only need one meter per unit. And these come at a flat price of $79 each. Now if plumbing is not separated and it flows through the entire property, we have our point of use option, which gets attached to every single point of use in the unit.

[00:07:11] For example, a kitchen sink, a bathroom sink, toilet washer, shower et cetera. Now, this is a little bit bigger of an investment being that you need more meters and it comes at the same price per meter, $79 each. But it does the same function. They do the exact same thing. We group these point of use meters together. They all still connect to the same wifi router and still bill monthly. Now this is another reason why we are kind of special in that we are the only people that have this point of use option. Otherwise it’s completely mainline meters from our competitors. And that’s really something special that we set ourselves apart from. Although we recommend if possible, our main line meter is just easier and more affordable. We can accommodate those interesting plumbing scenarios.

[00:08:04] Got it. And so how difficult is it to attach the mainline meters or the point of use, meters? Is this something they need plumber to install or is this something they can typically do?

[00:08:16] Yep. So we do not do installation as we’re based out of Minnesota and we sell to across the country. A plumber is recommended. Although we do know a few of our customers have a maintenance team on hand if it’s a property management company or whatnot. We send an installation guide that goes step by step. If someone wanted to save money and do it themselves, they would have the opportunity to do that, although we do recommend a plumber on site.

[00:08:43] Right. That’s probably a good idea for liability reasons.

[00:08:47] Of course.

[00:08:48] Alright, cool. So how do you justify this to people that have multi-unit properties and, they’re low rent. How are you convincing, the property managers to do this and how are they convincing the owners to do this? Right, of course. Well, a great tool that we have, which is included on our website, is an ROI. This is a simple tool that you can plug in simple math equations and find out how much money you will be saving or how much return on the investment you will get from us. I think that’s an easy way to, really show that we are worth it. And if that’s not enough, then we just want to provide the simplicity of eliminating something like this for a property management company. What’s nice for multi-home owners is that the account that we will set up for a personal owner, all of your properties in one are in one. It’s easy to use. We, like I said before, we are very pleased with the simplicity of our website, our accounts, how they function. And along with that, I would like to offer my support and troubleshooting techniques to give any customers that we have an opportunity to connect with someone real instead of just looking up on our website and trying to find a solution.

[00:10:01] So Kal, you mentioned your website several times. What’s the website address?

[00:10:05] It’s simple. It’s truesubmeter.com.

[00:10:07] Okay. And there’s no clever spelling with True. It’s t r u e.

[00:10:11] T r u e s u b m e t e r.com.

[00:10:16] Got it. Great. Truesubmeter.com. Okay. What other questions might property managers be curious to know about this or concerns?

[00:10:24] One question that we get quite a lot is, do we have a warranty? As our warranty is that if our meters break due to natural use, we’ll replace ’em. We have a few to minimal to none replacements necessary in the time that we’ve been a company, which is quite impressive. We do know that some people have interesting tenants that will like to not cooperate in the ways that we would always like them to. And we offer a major discount based off of that if a meter happens to get tampered with broken due to outside circumstances. So that’s one question that we get quite a bit.

[00:11:02] And they can pass that along, to the tenant. They can fee the tenant for damaging. You agree?

[00:11:08] Correct? Correct. We have had a couple of issues with some tenants that were not supposed to be there anymore. And we had to redo an entire project based off of that. And they weren’t, they were not happy with that bill. But yes, we’re very confident in our products which also I think sets us apart. And. . I’m trying to think of all–

[00:11:25] So curious, related to that, if a property is vacant, is there any sort of warning system that could be in integrated with this? Maybe in the future if somebody is flushing toilets or using the sink or something and no maintenance people and no tenants are in place like it’s vacant? Absolutely. I mean, one of the key things to that is if the property is vacant and there is usage going. You will get a monthly bill saying there’s usage. Obviously unless we know from the landlord that the property is vacant and there shouldn’t be we’re going to be assuming that it should be in usage. But otherwise– another thing just to add on to that is our leak detection system where if we get weekly usage rates that show us if there’s a abnormally large amount of usage at a property which will trigger us to contact the landlord and say, Hey, there’s quite a bit of usage here. There could possibly be a leak. We know sometimes tenants do use this amount of water, but if not, this should get checked on. And then that’s saving the landlord numerous amount of money as well. They don’t have to pay the city for all the leaking.

[00:12:34] Got it. Okay. Yeah. Very cool. All right. Did we miss anything?

[00:12:40] Not off the top of my head. I think we kind of covered everything. Very cool. Leak detection. If it’s vacant, you’ll be alerted by the monthly bill. Like, Hey, what’s going on here? You’ve got the main benefit. Why don’t you sum up the main sort of benefit here and we’ll wrap up.

[00:12:56] Right. I mean, like we’ve stated a couple times here, the main benefit of our product is to eliminate landlord paid water utilities. I mean, that’s the main goal of our company. It’s a small investment to a large return. And I think that’s why people should look into our company and partner with us going forward.

[00:13:15] Cool. And this can be a profit center for property managers.

[00:13:20] That is a good question. This cannot be a profit center for property managers. As there is strict rules with how much tenants get billed for usage and utilities we make sure that they are only getting billed for what the city bills them. And that is due to legal terms.

[00:13:36] Got it. But they can charge a monthly fee for the use of this tool or service?

[00:13:42] Correct. That is correct.

[00:13:44] Okay.

[00:13:44] And this monthly fee is from True Submeter ourselves.

[00:13:49] Yeah. Can they mark that up?

[00:13:51] We have had a few customers in the past mark this up to combat the investment, and that is allowed. However, we don’t recommend it as tenants most likely would not like to pay higher bills for, probably for something that they might not have wanted in the first place.

[00:14:09] Sure. Okay. But at least they don’t have to pay the water bill for their neighbor.

[00:14:15] Correct. Correct.

[00:14:17] Okay. Very cool. All right, well Kal appreciate you coming on the show and sharing this. Everybody, check out truesubmeter.com. And thanks for being on the DoorGrowShow.

[00:14:27] Jason, I appreciate you being– letting me be on here. Thank you.

[00:14:31] Awesome. So if you are a property management entrepreneur that wants to add doors, you want to scale your operations, you’re tired of being frustrated with your team, then reach out. We would love to see if we could help you grow and scale your business, get the right team in place. You can check us out at doorgrow.com and we hope to hear from you soon.

[00:14:54] Bye everyone.

[00:14:55] You just listened to the #DoorGrowShow. We are building a community of the savviest property management entrepreneurs on the planet in the DoorGrowClub. Join your fellow DoorGrow Hackers at doorgrowclub.com. Listen, everyone is doing the same stuff. SEO, PPC, pay-per-lead content, social direct mail, and they still struggle to grow!

[00:15:21] At DoorGrow, we solve your biggest challenge: getting deals and growing your business. Find out more at doorgrow.com. Find any show notes or links from today’s episode on our blog doorgrow.com, and to get notified of future events and news subscribe to our newsletter at doorgrow.com/subscribe. Until next time, take what you learn and start DoorGrow Hacking your business and your life.

Enjoyed this episode one how to eliminate landlord paid water utilities? Get equipped with more content like it by exploring past episodes of the #DoorGrowShow.

Jason Hull

Jason's mission is "to inspire others to love true principles." This means he enjoys digging up gold nuggets of wisdom & sharing them with property managers to help them improve their business. He founded OpenPotion, DoorGrow, & GatherKudos.

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