10 Ways to Recession-Proof Your Property Management Business

As 2023 begins the economic outlook is uncertain at best. Inflation has put a lid on household spending, and interest rates are rapidly rising. Across Canada (and around the world) companies are tightening their purse strings, slowing hiring and scaling back growth projections. It seems inevitable that a recession is on the horizon. 

More and more multifamily brands and property management companies will be looking to help ease the pain of a potential recession by integrating technology to increase business resilience and streamline operations. While the industry has been slowly adopting technology to help automate processes, we will see a huge uptake in 2023 as property professionals strive to reduce manual work, standardize workflows and improve efficiencies.

Let’s dig into ways to help recession-proof your property management business.

1. Improve Cash Flow

The flow of money is always a top concern for business owners, but it becomes especially important during a recession. In the year ahead, property managers will have to easily be able to call up their rent roll and see which tenants are paying on time and which ones are late. Payment platforms, like our Vista Pay, help to reduce delinquencies, and speed up the cash-to-bank time.

In addition to improving on-time rent payment, property firms will also be taking a closer look at where they can increase rent prices as well as add income streams, like parking, advertising and storage. There will be an emphasis on lowering costs through improving efficiencies.

2. Track Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

It's critical to monitor KPIs to be able to monitor your property company’s fiscal health, especially in these uncertain times. However, if you are tracking metrics in Excel spreadsheets, stop now. It only results in “data silos” and offers no transparency and very little accountability. 

Use your property accounting software to set up KPI dashboard reports. For example, at a glance, you should be able to see various arrears KPIs – the total number of arrears, arrears by X number of days, and by percentage of arrears per building or per portfolio. Your vacancy KPIs should include the number of vacant units, days vacant, lost income, market rent vs. previous tenant’s rent, net lease exposure and lease expiration dates. 

3. Empower Tenant Self-Service 

To save administration time and money, the self-service aspect of property management software is invaluable. Building residents are empowered to go online and use the portal to book party rooms for events or check in visitors and even update the way they pay their rent. As well, the ability to view and sign documents online makes for a much better customer experience, as your tenants can do so at their convenience and don’t have to call the property management office. This can save hours of a property manager’s time every month, allowing them to focus on higher-value work.

4. Little Things Make a BIG Difference

Can something as small as digital signatures make a difference? You bet! When you can secure an application and convert it into a signed lease using digital signatures you dramatically increase your closing rates.  

A recent report showed that companies who do not use digital signatures, half or more of their electronic document workflows are interrupted by the need for physical signoffs. And, for 23% of those organizations it resulted in a week or more of delay on average. Factor in transportation costs to meet the tenant for a signature, and over time, the dollars quickly add up.  

Switching over to e-signatures helps to completely sidestep all that time-consuming work of chasing down a traditional pen-in-hand signature. These little things are the low-hanging fruit that all property firms should be looking for to make big differences.

5. Do a Maintenance Makeover

One of the biggest challenges in property management is optimizing your property maintenance strategy. Property professionals must strike a balance between satisfying tenants, ensuring owner value and driving down costs where possible.  
Forward-thinking property management companies view maintenance as a profit centre rather than a cost centre. If you can continually tweak and improve maintenance performance, you can impact organizational performance, decreasing expenses and business risks at the same time.  

Remember: A good property management system has a maintenance and inspections module, which integrates and helps digitalize and streamline property inspections, PO management, work order management, maintenance requests and tracking. 

6. Streamline Marketing Efforts 

The more marketers can automate, the more efficient the marketing process. Faster, less manual marketing initiatives save money and yield better results. This means being able to automate responses to requests for more info. It also means streamlining the digital marketing process. When ads are spread across multiple ILS, staying on top can be time-consuming. 

Property management marketing software makes it a snap to keep your listings current and up-to-date, helping improve turnover times, which is vital during a recession. Just log in to upload and update photos, information and availability all in one place with a few simple clicks. 

7. Easier Lease Conversions 

During a recession, property professionals will want to keep a sharp eye on their lead-to-lease conversion rates. With property management software, you can track the number of new leads generated by your ads and see which leads turn to applications and, ultimately, to successful approvals. This permits you to evaluate the effective closing rates of your leasing agents.  

When you shift to a digital environment, including online applications, digital signatures and improving lease conversion rates is so much simpler. From the tenant’s application through to screening, lease signing and concessions, leading-edge leasing software can deliver a frictionless experience to you, your staff and your tenants.

8. Improve Collaboration – On-Site or WFH

A company is only as good as its people, and how they work together. Property management software should enhance collaboration between teams and better coordination of tasks. Things like at-a-glance dashboards, digital records, communications tools, and anywhere/anytime access play a huge role in managing your business more efficiently and effectively. 

The availability of online leasing capabilities, virtual tours, communication portals for tenants and maintenance, and online payment solutions were invaluable tools for property managers throughout the pandemic. And now, as life returns to normal, the concept of hybrid work with some workers in the office and some at home, seems to be the prevalent working model across the property industry. Collaboration tools that helped teams function remotely during the pandemic will ensure that teams that are in the office can work in tandem with employees who are working from the home office. High communication and collaboration are key ingredients to being able to increase organizational agility and resilience.

9. Go Green

When you can eliminate paper, you save trees as well as eliminate your role in the tree-to-paper manufacturing process to reduce your organizational carbon footprint. Beyond becoming a more sustainable property management firm, going green helps you drive down your costs.

Internal property management operations have a significant impact on the overall budget. If you are still using manual, paper-based processes, you are wasting a lot of valuable resources. Stacks of paper and rows of filing cabinets translate into increased paper and printing costs, admin costs and storage costs. Going digital makes a lot of sense when budgets are being reduced. Digital files are quick and easy to search, and don’t require large physical storage spaces.  

10. Ditch the Low-Value Work 

If your people are cutting and pasting information between systems, or manually entering in leasing details or updating vacancies on ILS services by hand, it’s low value work. Rethinking how you work and bringing in automation that bridges the gap between your workers and disparate systems removes friction and makes for highly productive seamless work experiences. 
Eliminating low-value repetitive tasks allows you and your property teams to focus on more purposeful higher-value work that makes a difference to the company’s revenue. 

The Bottom Line

Property management is a complex process that requires a lot of time and effort to be done properly. It involves managing the operations of a property, from maintenance to tenant relations. By using tools such as automated workflows, analytics, and AI-based solutions, organizations can reduce manual tasks and increase efficiencies throughout their operations – all crucial factors in recession-proofing your business.

See How Property Vista Helps You 

From digital signatures to online portals to marketing automation, Property Vista has all the tools to improve efficiencies and can be leveraged to streamline operations and drive down costs in marketing, leasing, maintenance, rent collection and more. To see how we can help your company improve revenue and lower costs, see pricing and book a demo here.