Talk to any business owner in any industry and ask them to give you their wish list. Do you know what you’ll almost always hear? More time off, less stress, recurring revenue, etc. And what they’re really saying is, “I’d like to automate things so that the business runs without me.” The same is true for landlords with rental property portfolios.
As a landlord, learning how to automate your rental property business could mean the difference between feeling chronically stressed over your one rental property and being a hands-off landlord with a dozen doors in town.
In this article, we’re going to give you some helpful tips for automating your business so that you can enjoy more of the benefits of being a successful landlord.
The Case for Automation
The irony of automation is that it takes some time, effort, and money to set up. It’s not like you can just deploy a piece of HTML code or buy a robot and your business will run on autopilot. There’s some legwork that must be completed on the front end. And if you’re going to invest those resources, you want to know that it’ll work. With that being said, here are three tangible benefits of automating your business:
- Saves time. This is the obvious benefit of automation. When tasks get streamlined, it frees up hours of your time each week to dedicate to more important responsibilities. Better yet, it might actually give you the flexibility to spend more time with family and friends.
- Reduces frustration. There’s something extremely frustrating about doing a task manually that you know could be automated. Take fielding service request phone calls on the weekends. How much better would it be if you could automate those calls to someone else so you aren’t bothered by tenants complaining about a smoke detector chirping?
- Improves scalability. If you’re serious about going from one or two rental properties to 15 or 20, you need scalable processes in place. Automation allows you to scale without putting much additional pressure on your plate.
5 Tips for Automating Your Rental Business
Now that we’re clear on the benefits of automation as a landlord, let’s explore some of the different techniques and strategies you can use:
1. Use Templates for Everything
Templates are your friend. Anytime there’s a repeatable process, you should create a template to make it faster and easier to do. For example, you can develop a template for property listings. Then, every time one of your listings goes on the market, you just update a couple of details and it’s good to go.
2. Accept Online Rent Payments
Stop accepting paper checks in the mail! You’re absolutely killing your productivity (and introducing a totally unnecessary stress factor into your life). Start accepting online rent payments instead.
There are plenty of different ways to accept online rent payments, so you’ll ultimately have to decide which one is right for you. There’s PayPal, for example, which is simple but requires a fee. Then there’s Zelle, which is inexpensive, but may not offer the kind of protection you need. Finally, there are online rent collection services that are specifically designed for landlords and tenants. These usually work best. Popular payment portals include Stessa, RentTrack, PayRent, and Apartments.com.
3. Streamline (Most) Tenant Screening
You can streamline most of the tenant screening process if you use the right tools and platforms. One of the easiest ways to do this is by screening with online forms. Auto-generated email applications can check the applicant’s identity, and auto-report criminal history and payment history. It may even be able to pull a public history report for any general information available online.
If you’re really serious about thorough screening, you could pay a virtual assistant (VA) a couple bucks per hour to find your applicant on social media and browse their profiles for any alarming signs that they might not be a good fit (such as illegal activities). Your VA can also call references – including employers and past landlords – and ask a series of screening questions on your behalf.
4. Automate Reminders
Always get tenants to opt-in to receive reminders by email and SMS. Once you have their permission, you can use an automated communication platform to send out things like payment reminders, late rent reminders, maintenance and repair notifications, etc. You can even send reminders for things like swapping out furnace filters and other basic maintenance tasks that your tenants may be responsible for.
5. Hire a Property Manager
As you read these tips and ideas, you might be wondering if it’s even worth it.
By the time I create templates, set up an online rent payment portal, develop a thorough tenant screening process, figure out how to use electronic signatures, and establish reminders, will I really save any time?
The answer is yes – yes, you will. However, as we mentioned at the beginning, it does require some legwork. If you’d prefer to just automate things out of the gate without all of this upfront investment of time and energy, there’s an alternative option: Hire a property manager.
With a professional property manager overseeing your property, you don’t have to get bogged down in the minutiae. Instead, you can focus on the big picture of adding new properties to your portfolio and increasing monthly cash flow.
A good property manager will oversee as much as you’d like. This includes marketing your property, finding and screening tenants, setting the right rent rates, maintaining the property, balancing the books – even handling evictions when needed. The only big decision you have to make is finding the right property manager.
Automate With Green Residential
Green Residential is a Houston real estate management company that specializes in helping Houston landlords and real estate investors take care of their properties, grow their portfolios, and ultimately embrace the lifestyle they want.
For more information on our comprehensive property management services, which include everything from tenant screening and rent collection to property maintenance and bookkeeping, please contact us today!