Years ago, James Alderson of OnSight PROS witnessed challenges in property management. So, he decided to step in and step up to help property managers get better at what they do.
James wanted to develop a user-friendly and easier way for tenants to do walkthroughs. The missing piece is a new app called MyWalkThru.
[06:10] MyWalkThru app nags tenant to do walkthrough.
[06:40] 3 options on MyWalkThru: Doors are 1) not applicable, 2) observed with no problems, or 3) picture and comment of problem.
[08:15] App solves various problems by making sure tenant does what they need to do.
[08:39] MyWalkThru is contribution focused and fills a need.
[08:56] How does it compare to other software? MyWalkThru is tenant-driven.
[09:50] Add a charge to cover cost of MyWalkThru for property managers.
[10:16] When a tenant is set up in MyWalkThru, tenant info (as well as property info) stays in app account.
[12:15] If you want to be a MyWalkThru member, you have to be given permission.
[12:36] DoorGrow listeners, try MyWalkThru for free to test it and offer feedback.
[13:28] MyWalkThru uses the OnSight PROS logo; separate but related.
[15:00] MyWalkThru can be used for both move-ins and move-outs.
[15:35] All reports are identical to assist objectivity and offer summary of issues.
[19:20] MyWalkThru is for the tenant; that’s the difference between OnSight PROS.
[19:40] MyWalkThru was just released; only are few are using it; there may be glitches.
[21:35] Benefits of signing up for new software; shape it with your input.
[23:30] Future Possibility: Ways to connect with tenant and automatically send them info.
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Jason: All right. We are live. Welcome, DoorGrowHackers 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 your business in life, and you are open to doing things a bit differently, then you are a DoorGrowHacker. DoorGrowHackers 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 the 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 hacker, Jason Hull, the founder of OpenPotion, GatherKudos, ThunderLocal and, of course, DoorGrow. Now, let’s get into the show. Welcome, everybody. Today, I’m hanging out with James Alderson and a lot of you know James or have seen James connected to OnSight PROS, a really awesome service. I recommend you check it out. Check out our previous interview about that. Today, James, you’re here to talk about something new.
James: Yeah. Jason, I love what you just said, transform your business, and that’s what I’ve been all about when I joined property management, 13 years ago, I saw some real challenges and wanted to step in and step up, if you will, into that place where I helped property managers get better at what we do. We haven’t had a good reputation over the years and it’s been fun to change some of that. We’ve been told because of OnSight PROS that we’re changing the industry, and that’s kind of pretty exciting to me to be a part of and especially to hear that being said to me from other property managers. Yeah, it’s been a real challenge but a fun challenge and exciting to watch.
Jason: Yeah, we’ve heard great things about OnSight PROS. I’m excited to hear about this new service, and the service is called MyWalkThru.
James: You know Hampton. I’m in Texas. Most of you know that or some of you know that, but I’m in Texas and we have forms that are put out by our Texas Association of Realtors that we use in leases and management agreements. One of those forms is six pages of walkthrough that we printed out, give to the tenant, tell them to do a walkthrough, mark down anything that they don’t want to get charged for, so to speak, on their security deposit, saying that it exists there today and get that back to us as soon as you can or, in my case, we give them five days.
It’s a blank you fill in on the lease. I’ve seen property managers fill in as few as 48 hours and as much as seven days to get that back to us. Security deposits have been a contention of my own ever since I’ve been in the business and I want them to go away. I know that’s a pipe dream but security deposit disputes have just been a real issue for us. Anyway, this six-page antiquated–and I call it an antiquated form because we print it out, we hand it to the tenant, they do their walkthrough and we hope to get it back.
I will tell you, honestly, I get about 50% of them returned back to me and my business. Pulling other property managers, I’ve heard as few as or as little as 30% and as much as 80%. I’ve even heard some say, “We get 100% of them back. They’re not touched but we get them back,” because they have to sign it and automatically comes back to them. MyWalkThru basically was designed to be that, to become that six-page antiquated form that the tenant–I mean, we’re all tech savvy now. We’re all moving that direction and most of our tenants are millennials anywhere and moving that direction. They want something that’s technologically sound and something that they can use and get back to us.
I didn’t ever want to be in the app business. Honestly, if I wanted to be in the app business, I would have created an app and thrown it out there. OnSight PROS, we’re one of the first to build an app for our technicians to use and we’ve been asked many times, “Do you want to sell your app? We do our own inspection,” that type of thing, but my thought was always, “You can sell me all the apps in the world. You can give them to me. I don’t care. I just don’t have time nor do I want to do inspections, and my time is better spent doing something else.”
That’s why we never have sold the app and why I never did want to be in the app business, but this has kind of pushed us in that direction in that I want the security deposit disputes to go away and I want the tenants to have a more user-friendly and easier experience doing their walkthrough. By the way, they also have a tendency to lie on that form because they can. They’re just writing down like if there’s stains in the carpet, there’s no proof unless I go back out to the house as a property manager and check to make sure that there really are no stains in my floor.
I had one tenant tell me this. One time, he said, “I always, always put that there are knife marks in the countertop because I know when I leave, there are going to be knife marks in the countertop.” It prompted me to say, “Okay, they’re lying on the form anyway so let’s fix it where they can’t lie, at least.” The app has several features built into it in that you will nag the tenant for the five days that I give them to get it back to me. It will tell them every day, “Hey, you’ve got to do a walkthrough of your home.” Tomorrow, it’s going to do the same thing.
On the fifth day, whether they’ve done anything with it or not, it does get automatically submitted back to me as a property manager, no issues; I accept the property as is. Whether they do it or they don’t, it still sends it back to me so I can have it as part of the file. The other thing that it does is if you want to point out a picture, there’s only three things that you can mark on the app. If you go to mywalkthru.com, you can kind of read through and see how it operates.
The thing that the app will do, also, is only three things. It will actually nag them and then once they get into it, it gives them three options. They can say the doors are not applicable, they are observed with no problems or the option is they have to take a picture of it. If there is an issue, they have to take a photo of it. If they take a photo of it, they have to make a comment about what they just took a picture of.
It’s made it really user-friendly but it’s also making them do their job and do it well for us as property managers so we can make it a part of the file, make it simple, make it easy. We all have heard this. “The house was better-shaped when I left than it was when I moved in,” and we’ve also heard, “It was that way when I moved in. I just didn’t write it down,” or whatever. If you didn’t write it down, you really don’t have a leg to stand on. All those disputes, hopefully, will change the industry, change the way we do business. I actually started this to do in Texas but in talking to some property managers over the country and through the NRPM circles, I have found that other states have a similar product so we’ve kind of opened it up to where this could go further and further, across the country.
Jason: Cool. James, let me point this out. Some of the problems it solved, it solved with nagging the tenants and making sure the tenants are doing what they need to do. It makes sure that if the tenant doesn’t submit it, that you’re getting something and that that’s coming through to them.
James: I just had the opportunity to use it, and they know that because you get notified as a property manager that they did get notified.
Jason: If they want to report an issue, then it forces them to take a photo and, if they take a photo, then they have to add a comment to that photo to explain what’s going on. You’re digitizing an antiquated form. It’s better for millennials. The other thing I noticed is this is very contribution-focused. This isn’t like you decided to build an app because, “Hey, there’s this way I can make more money.” This sounds like something that was needed in the marketplace. Now, there’s other inspection software out there and so how does this differ and stand out?
James: That’s a great question, and I looked at the marketplace to see if there was anything that was tenant-driven, meaning that instead of the property manager–we all do, as property managers, move in and move out, so periodic or have them done. In a lot of cases, where we are in the areas–I say “we” OnSight PROS in the areas–we do a lot of business for property managers, but this one is actually-tenant driven, meaning that the tenant can actually go to the App Store or the Google Play Store–and by the way, it’s both Android and iPhone users or device.
They go to the App Store, download the app, and the property manager is in control of the app. The property manager sets up an account and what I recommend, because it’s a value add, is in order to get it paid for, they increase some type of charge that they have in their industry or in the property management company to cover that expense because the app is free at the App Store but the cost is covered by the property manager.
When they log in, they set up the tenant, they set up the property–and here’s another key point, too. When they set up that tenant, if that tenant moves from one of their houses to another house, that tenant information will actually stay in that property management account. The same thing is true about the property so you don’t have to add the property every time you change tenants but, for example, 123 Daisy Street, San Antonio Texas, 78111 or whatever and there’s a three-bedroom two-and-a-half bath and two-story whatever, if you type in “123” and Daisy Street pops up, you fill in the blank and that auto-populates everything that you previously put in. Now, if something changes, you’ve added a deck or added something that you want to add to that property, you can always add it and then update it as well. The property manager of the company is pretty much in control of all of those forms.
Jason: This is really well-thought out. I think a lot of apps were thought from the perspective of maybe a software nerd or from a programming sort of aspect. I love the idea that formed the foundation that this is tenant-centric because they’re really the most challenging person to take action. You can get your team to do what they need to do. You’re going to do what you need to do and you know and can keep track of those things internally in your business but the hard part is getting the tenant to move and do this. This really sounds like it really lubricates that process. It makes it really easy. I would have loved something like this when I moved into this property. It would have been so easy.
James: That was the whole key of the thing. I still want property managers in control of it. Could I have made this available to all the tenants everywhere? Yeah, but I’m property manager-driver and if they’re out there working with some self-managed owner, I don’t’ really care if they get it or not. If you don’t understand, I’m all about the industry getting better and, hopefully, this will help in that aspect.
Somebody online has already signed up. I want to let you know that I have to allow you to be a part of it. It’s kind of like your DoorGrow thing. If you want to be a member, you’ve got to be allowed, and I will do that just as soon as we’re done here. Whoever’s listening that just signed up, I will do that whenever we’re done but I have to go in. What I’ll do for your listeners, by the way, is I will give them a couple or three opportunities to do it free to test it, put themselves in it as a tenant, put themselves in or their house in as a unit or the property and let them test it and see and make sure it works.
Also, if you have suggestions to make it better, that’s one of my thesis, it’s all the things that are out there for us to use. Some of them don’t continue to get better as we get better in the marketplace. You and I know, Jason, that this is an ever-changing business and if we don’t stay on top of that, it’ll just get stagnant and we get complacent. I just like to see it continue move, and get better, and increase the value of what we have and what we do.
Jason: Awesome. A lot of people are wondering, is this connected to OnSight PROS? How does this work with OnSight PROS? Because you’re doing inspections, it seems kind of like they might be related somewhat.
James: That’s a great question and I’ve been asked that. I will tell you that I used the same logo. The main reason is because it costs a lot of money to trademark a logo as you guys probably know so I didn’t want to separate the two or I didn’t want to have to pay for another trademark, quite honestly, attorney’s fees and all that stuff. It’s similar and it’s kind of connected but it’s not so much. I want our guys and our team on Onsight PROS to focus on OnSight PROS. As we go across the country with OnSight PROS, that’s actually boots on the ground and it’s difficult to get in small areas, particularly.
For example, let’s just take New Braunfels, for example. There’s a lot of property managers in New Braunfels and we can handle that out of San Antonio but, let’s say, in other cities, it’s more difficult. Let’s say Waco. They don’t have enough property management companies for OnSight PROS to feasibly make that move or make that change into that marketplace, but they could certainly use MyWalkThru.
Actually, to just give you an idea, that will ultimately work towards doing a move-in and a move-out for the property management company to where they could use it if they chose to do so, but it wasn’t initially designed that way. I’ve been asked several times, “Can we use it for move-ins and move-outs?” and you actually could. You just have to distinguish between the move-in and the tenant doing their walkthrough and somehow maybe on the address or the tenant or whatever, put in “123 Daisy Street” move-in, “123 Daisy Street” tenant walkthrough, “123 Daisy Street” move-out, whatever.
The nice part about that, though, is the fact that all the reports are identical. Me, as a property manager, when I look at all the reports, the move-in, the move-out, if they’re all different, it makes it really difficult to be objective about what the tenant should be held responsible for–and even a judge, if you have to go to court–and you’ve got pictures and comments in one place and, in another report, you’ve got pictures and comments in another place, it’s just difficult to put it together.
If all the reports look the same–and one property management company told me this: “Man, if we do this, this and this all in the same app, we could watch the trees grow.” Anyway, there’s some truth to that, but it would make it a whole lot easier for us as property managers, I think, if all of our reports are the same. One of the things that we’ve done with the report is very similar to OnSight PROS. We didn’t want to take away from that business, obviously, but if somebody’s going to do their own inspections anyway, they’re going to do their own inspection.
If they want to hire OnSight PROS, they’ll hire OnSight PROS if we’re in their area. If they want, take it off and have a third-party do it, but if they’re not, there’s not. I didn’t see that there was a report that was similar to an OnSight PROS’ report so I built it so it would look very similar to that report with all of it. The summary of issues is at the top of the report, which is all I care about as a property manager. I don’t care about all that other stuff that they want to point out, just the issues. That’s all I care about. That comes up to the top of the report and it makes it real user-friendly and easy for the property manager to go through that.
Jason: Awesome. What are the biggest questions that customers tend to ask?
James: One of the things is, “When are you going to fix this?” and we haven’t been on the market very long. We’ve been testing it. One of the things that me and the COO of OnSight PROS always say, “We’ve got to make sure they’re separate but they’re together, I guess, to the extent that they look together because we have the same logo.” The same person that created this or OnSight PROS created this. I get that, and I want them, in a sense, to be together, but we want to have the same perception.
I don’t want somebody to get upset with this at OnSight PROS because MyWalkThru doesn’t work the way they want it to or doesn’t function properly, and we’re in that process. As far as questions are concerned, that’s probably the number one question. “This looks like OnSight PROS. Is this OnSight PROS?” I’m related to both, but we want to make sure that people understand that OnSight PROS is boots on the ground, and this is an app. If you choose not to use OnSight PROS or we’re not available in your area, this is an option for you.
Jason: Can you use this without having to use OnSight PROS’ service?
James: That’s the way it was designed. It was designed for the tenant, but somebody asked us, “Well, this is an app that we could probably use for our move-in and move-outs,” and they were in an area that OnSight PROS is not and I said, “Yeah, you actually could as long as you distinguish the two differences.” Somebody said, “Well, isn’t this going to affect your business?” Here, again, I, as a property manager, don’t care anything about apps as far as my inspections are concerned because I’m not the one that goes up and does them anyway. I don’t want to be the one that does them so I don’t see that it’s going to affect–I hope it won’t affect. We have a great reputation with OnSight PROS and we certainly don’t want to hinder that in any way, form or fashion. That was not the intent but to get us better on the tenant side, and I hope they’ll see the difference that way.
Jason: Cool. You used this in your own business at first. You were the original guinea pig?
James: Right. In the same way with OnSight PROS, I was the guinea pig. I just wanted to see the result.
Jason: It’s working for you and your business, right, and how new is this? Do you have some people using this that you kind of use as guinea pigs as well?
James: It’s really new. I probably got maybe half a dozen that have actually signed up, paid the money and said, “We’re going to make this part of our business because this makes sense,” and that’s not a lot. We just rolled it out a couple of weeks ago, actually, because I wanted everything to make sure that we’re–and, here, again, you know me well enough to know that I’m not going to put something out there that’s just going to be halfway done, and that’s the main goal.
If we do get glitches–and, with technology, there will be glitches, I know that, and that’s what scares the crap out of me, if you excuse my French, but that does bother me, but we’re going to be on it as quickly as possible if those things happen. With technology, anything can happen. Part of that was assumed just a little bit ago, me trying to get on air. It’s just part of the nature of that beast, but I think it’s a direction we need to go, and we need to move in that direction or we’ll be left behind.
Jason: All right. James, it sounds really great. Is there anything else anybody should know about MyWalkThru?
James: Go to the website. It’s spelled a little bit different, just kind of like OnSight PROS: mywalkthru.com. You can go to the App Store, the Google Play Store and download the app, play with it. Send us emails, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, and let us know if there’s ways it would enhance your business. That’s what we’re all about and that’s been my personal goal. It’s kind of been my nature or my niche in life that I found, basically, to help property managers get better at what we do and validate the industry, so to speak. I just think that’s important and we’ve been treated as used car salesmen through the years long enough. This is a valid business and we need to treat it as such.
Jason: I want out to point to the listeners. A lot of times, listeners are thinking, “Well, I’m going to wait until this offer’s really seasoned and really well-used,” but here’s the advantage of getting signed up with the software early on. When you sign up with a software early on, you have an opportunity, through your feedback, to have more influence on shaping that software because, as time goes on, software becomes its own beast and it becomes a little bit more rigid and solidified.
Those of you that feel like you are tech savvy, you’re a more modern company, you’re willing to be a little bit of a beta tester, I say get on the software and you can help James shape this. He’s built it around his business. There’s going to be a few different scenarios and cases in which he might be able to build it a little bit towards your business based on your feedback, and there’s probably even a few ways he hasn’t even imagined that people might be doing things or different things that might be going on in your state in particular. My recommendation is check it out, sign up, start playing with it because it sounds like this has the potential to be something unique and different in a marketplace in which there are some other competitors, there are some other apps. We’ve had some of them on the show, and I think this really is the first that really is tenant-drive and tenant-focused. That should be exciting to you.
James: One of the things, Jason, that I’ll share with your group–one of the things we’re looking at is I’ve always been a stickler about having to type in the same information multiple times: tenant information, property information, et cetera, et cetera. In our zipForms in Texas–we use a website called zipForms–we type it one time and it auto-populates onto all the other forms. One of the things that I’m looking to–and it’s very difficult to get in that, in that there’s a lot of red tape for getting into that realm–that’s a whole different issue, but don’t’ think I haven’t tried and I haven’t given up on it yet, either. One of the things that we are looking into is the different tenant background check, all of that stuff.
Jason: Tenant screening and background checks?
James: Tenant screening, that was the word I was looking for. Thank you. In the tenant screening apps that are out there, the tenant has to put all of his information. He has to put the property information. I’m looking for ways to connect with them so when the tenant puts his own information in and he gets approved, the property management company would just click a button and automatically send them the directions and automatically populate into their system or our system, MyWalkThru’s system, so it’s already there so the property management company doesn’t even have to put in the tenant information or the property; it’s just automatically auto-populated. That’s the dream, probably, too, but I think it’s a possible thing. We’re on the ground floor. I wanted to make it available this summer so all of those bells and whistles that are in my head haven’t come to fruition yet, but we’re working on them.
Jason: All right. Keep us posted on the bells and whistles, and we’re excited to see what happens with MyWalkThru.
James: For sure.
Jason: All right, James. I appreciate you coming on the show.
James: Always a pleasure.
Jason: Thank you and, James, are you going to be at DoorGrow Live?
Jason: All right. If you guys want to see James in person, make sure you get your tickets to DoorGrow Live, and you can connect with him. James, thanks so much. We appreciate your support.
James: I would love to say that I’ll be there.
Jason: All right. Awesome. James, thanks so much. Anyone who has been watching this, if you are a property management entrepreneur and you want to stay connected to the things that are new, if you want to stay connected to the things that are moving the industry forward, if you want to be part of our mission to change the industry, to transform the property management industry, to bring it out into the forefront, out of the shadows and to establish it as a premium service, a service that is well-needed in this industry, I believe that property management can change the world.
I believe that, through property management, through good management, we can have a dramatic impact on owners, on their families, on tenants and their families, that we can shift the entire industry and that we can have a ripple effect, affecting tens of thousands of families and lives. We at DoorGrow want to work with contribution-focused entrepreneurs, people that want to make a difference and want to have an impact. Those are the people that we want as clients because we want to help the best property managers win. That is part of our vision. That’s part of my vision here at DoorGrow.
You can join us inside the DoorGrow Club Facebook group. You can get to that by going to doorgrowclub.com and if you are struggling your property management business, you’re tired of being where most business owners are, which is entrepreneurial poverty, if you’re struggling or you’re tired of that, you want to have phenomenal growth but you don’t want to be doing it through costly, ineffective, inefficient, cold lead marketing channels like SEO, pay-per-click and content marketing, then make sure you check us out at DoorGrow.
We do things very differently. We’re not your typical marketing agency, targeting the property management industry, and so we want to have a significant impact and we’re doing that by doing something very unique. Check us out at doorgrow.com and I appreciate you guys tuning into the show. If you find these shows useful or helpful, be sure to like us on iTunes and subscribe, and leave me a testimonial. I read those.
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