With so many technologies available for communication these days, how do you know what to use and when? Or is it just better to pick up the phone instead of using email? Our team share their tips for communicating clearly and effectively with owners and tenants, and share insights on how the Kolmeo app is designed to make communication simple and easy for everyone in the triangle.
As a group of people with decades if experience between us in property management, we know just how much communication goes on in this industry. There are constant requests from tenants and owners on things like move-in dates and inspections plus all the routine communication on lease renewals, reference checks and so on. As a property manager, you’re gatekeeper for all this information flying back and forth so it’s no wonder it can get on top of you.
It’s such a big headache, in fact, that Kolmeo has created a whole module in our app to help property managers level up their communication with a helping hand from technology and automation. But before we get to talking about the wonders of our request workflow, let’s get back to first principles. Having some best-practice ideas to follow in your communication routines will help you keep tenants and owners happy and informed, whatever type of technology you’re using at work.
1. Choose an effective channel
While notifications and messaging with dedicated apps and social media are gaining ground in property management, a lot of communication still happens on the phone and with email. And the paper trail is often seen as the best way to demonstrate that a business is doing the right thing by its customers and limit liability if a dispute happens. But going back and forth with emails can sometimes be far less efficient way to get something resolved. As the saying goes: ‘why make one phone call when 10 emails will do?’
If an email exchange isn’t getting you anywhere, pick up the phone to save everyone from wasting time and make a dated file note of any important points in the conversation. On the other hand, if a tenant emails or sends an SMS about something simple, it’s probably the channel they find most comfortable and convenient. So stick to their preferred mode of communication, unless there’s a good reason to switch to a different one.
2. Speak first, solve later
When is the best time to answer a call or an email? As soon as you receive it is the ideal response time, because the longer a question from a tenant or owner remains unanswered, the more emails and voicemails you’ll be getting from them. This is a big factor in the communication overload that is so often the norm for so many property managers.
Staying silent is a false economy and a quick reply now is going to save you from spending time and brain space filtering a lot more communication in the near future. If you can respond quickly, even when you don’t have an answer to give, this will buy time instead of wasting it. Plus you’ll have a tenant or owner who knows you’re listening and feels more positive about their experience as your customer.
3. Commit to a timeframe
When you make contact, commit to a timeframe for your next communication. Again, this doesn’t mean you’re promising to have an answer by this deadline. It’s more a matter of setting expectations for your customer that are reasonable and giving yourself some accountability too.
If you feel overwhelmed at the thought of making a commitment like this and sticking to it, then it’s time to get organised. There are many workplace tools out there designed to help you stay on time and task management. Trello, Monday and even good old Outlook have a lot of the features you need to set up tasks and status alerts to keep you on top of communication.
4. Get our workflow working for you
At Kolmeo we’ve gone a step further than these task management apps. Using our industry knowledge we’ve created an integrated and flexible workflow to keep track of both the routine and random communication in a property manager’s day. We call it requests, because we’ve designed it with features that support the more human and intuitive parts of task management.
Let’s say a tenant asks to change the date for their rent payment. You start a request from scratch, save their email into the request, along with any forms or documents needed to action the change. Add in a reminder to process forms once received and you’ll have a mini workflow all set-up in a just a few minutes.
For routine tasks like lease renewals you can automate a workflow so that a request pops up 90 days before each tenant’s lease expires. From a request, you can make notes, take actions, send SMS and emails, merge documentation, hit “snooze” until the next action needs to be taken, and even assign requests to others.
In the future, we’ll be creating a request view in our owner and tenant apps, so customers can check on the status of a request, with no need for an email or phone call. Instead of being a traffic cop for all this information, you’ll have more time for the conversations that are more rewarding, for you and your owners and tenants.
5. Keep the human touch
We’re really passionate about what automation and tech can do for communication and customer service, but we also know it can’t take care of everything. A slick and streamlined tech-enabled rental experience is great for tenant and owner as well as helping businesses handle scale and drive profits. But leaving out the human element altogether can have some customers feeling like they’re not worth a phone call or visit.
Thanks to our request system, the Kolmeo app can flag when an owner hasn’t received rent on their vacant property for the last two weeks. But it can’t make the call to the owner and use the right tone and approach to address their anxiety about this. Nor can it come up with suggestions and strategies for how to get tenants in a tough market. AI hasn’t taken us that far yet and we still need the human touch to make communication in property management a five-star experience.