Calendar icon February 6, 2023

Introducing Second Nature, The Preeminent Home Wellness Brand



What's in a name? Shakespeare would seem to argue not a whole lot given his infamous "a rose by any other name..." quotation. But, as I can personally attest, names are a big deal (just ask any soon-to-be parent...or someone leading a rebrand for a company). For anyone who might be curious, changing the name of a company isn't something that occurs overnight. Nor is it something that transpires without a hearty discussion...or fifty. There can be so much history, so much emotion, so much pride tied up in a name. And, of course, everyone has an opinion they firmly believe is the right opinion.

So, why and how does a fast-growing company determine whether it should change its name and then embark on the daunting journey to rebrand itself? You might imagine a bombastic owner or a dogmatic CEO banging her fist against the table, proclaiming she's bored of the company's name and has a brilliant idea to revitalize the company's image. Or, maybe you envision a youthful, energetic start-up holding a naming contest among its employees, drawing a final name out of a hat during a happy hour. These scenarios may very well transpire at some companies, but they could not be further from how we arrived at the decision to rebrand our company from FilterEasy to Second Nature.

Truth be told, we never set out with the explicit purpose to change our look...or our name. Rather, we began by challenging ourselves to think long and hard about how we could create more value for our customers—how we could surprise and delight them with every interaction. We knew we needed to be smarter, more strategic, and more laser-focused if we were to broaden our company's ambitions, and we agreed building a beloved brand would be the best way to win with customers. At that point, everything was put on the table for evaluation, including the name FilterEasy.

The FilterEasy Era

Thad Tarkington and Kevin Barry

Our company has experienced an incredible journey since 2012, and it began when two North Carolina State University students harnessed their passion for entrepreneurship and honed in on an opportunity to create a better experience for homeowners who struggled to stay on top of an important but out-of-sight, out-of-mind home maintenance task: changing out dirty air filters. The idea was simple yet brilliant—make it impossible to forget to change air filters by automating delivery direct to homeowners' doors on a customizable schedule. The solution was so obvious to them and made conquering a simple household chore so easy, they almost immediately decided to name the company FilterEasy.

The company's history follows the classic storybook start-up success story. Two passionate and ambitious students drop out of college to pursue a business idea, set up operation in a garage, live off of ramen noodles and peanut butter, move locations countless times, and, through hard work, grit, and determination, scale up a super successful business servicing hundreds of thousands of customers. The chronology follows the happy path so tightly, one might infer nearly all start-ups experience the same success story toward "making it". In reality, the start-up scene can be trying and tumultuous, and our company has proven to be a diamond in the rough. While a little luck is always involved in any start-up breakthrough, our success has directly correlated to our ability to solve a clear and present customer pain point and our resolute focus on doing right by our employees, our partners, and, most importantly, our customers. In fact, our passion to create real value in the market has been our guiding light and is purely what prompted our journey to rebrand to Second Nature.

The Decision to Rebrand

So, why would we make the decision to change our company’s brand if we had achieved a number of successes in a relatively short period of time, all under the banner of an intuitive brand name that communicated our offering? Well, the answer to that question is simple but long-winded. And, it’s centered on some tough questions we asked ourselves as we reflected on a successful 2017 and looked forward into the future: Did we fundamentally understand our market and the opportunities that existed within it? Did we understand our customers’ needs, wants, desires, dreams? Did we know how they wanted to spend their free time? What stressed them out? What kept them up at night? And, most importantly, did we understand why we fit into our customers' lifestyle and where we could provide even more value?

In early 2018, we invested in some prudent market research to better understand our customers and the broader market, as well as to evaluate our business challenges and opportunities. As we peeled back the layers of the proverbial onion, we defined our target audience and learned some fascinating insights about our existing customers. Still, we wanted to learn more, so we conducted interviews and focus groups to gather additional insights that would help us better contextualize our target audience. In short time, we began to comprehensively understand our target’s lifestyle and need-states, and new business opportunities lit up our radar. As we refined our strategy in light of the market insights, we developed a more unique and compelling market positioning. We saw an opportunity to harness our existing platform, centered on delivering convenience to busy professionals and families, and expand it to help customers tackle home maintenance tasks that were oft-forgotten but could impact the health of the home environment and potentially cause costly repairs and replacements. Ultimately, we decided we wanted to help our customers take better care of one of their most valuable assets, their home, and we knew that convenience was the vehicle to facilitate our refined purpose.

Through the lens of our newly articulated brand purpose, we scrutinized the name FilterEasy. We questioned whether the name would continue to intuitively communicate our value proposition or whether it would potentially water down or confuse our vision for the future of the company. Through multiple ideation sessions, concept tests, and analysis, we determined the best, most strategic option was to rename the company and relaunch the brand. We developed a number of viable strategic brand names we thought would provide a great runway for us, and we tested them with our target audience. Time and again, Second Nature outperformed the other options. The answer was clear: we had found our new name.

Introducing Second Nature

Second Nature is the synthesis of a lot of smart market research. The name embodies our brand’s mission to empower the modern-day homeowner to be master of his or her household, never forgetting to stay on top of all of the out-of-sight, out-of-mind to-dos. It also provides a great strategic base on which we can bring to life and grow our brand and continues to evoke the ease and simplicity of our convenience model. We aim to transform people’s home habits so that important home wellness tasks become second nature and never go neglected. Additionally, the secondary, almost subconscious, meaning of the name allows us to pursue products that are eco-conscious and help our customers do their part in restoring nature to its purest state, and, in a way, bring about a second nature. We know it’s hard to keep up with everything related to health and wellness these days, but with us, our customers are able to make home wellness a habit. As we move forward on our journey, we will empower our customers to better care for their refuge from the busy, chaotic world. In doing so, we hope they’ll see that good home wellness habits lead to a better sense of personal wellness.

Second Nature logo being designed

With Second Nature, we have developed a new identity system that includes illustrations, iconography, packaging, web design, and photography art direction. The identity should evoke a fun-loving and optimistic personality that is compassionate and empathetic in its approach. We want our customers to view Second Nature as a brand that selflessly puts others a mile ahead of itself and is willing to help out family and friends when they need someone they can count on. By the same token, we want customers to view Second Nature as a colorful brand that knows how to have a good time and gets along with other people effortlessly. Think of us as the zany yet responsible friend who implicitly knows when you need a good laugh, when you need a shoulder to cry on, and when you need a helping hand because you’re feeling overwhelmed in the moment.

Our new logo takes the shape of a spiral floral pattern inspired by the Fibonacci Sequence, which is a mathematical pattern found everywhere in nature and throughout time. It explains the natural order of our world. All around us are rhythms and cycles we hardly notice, but without which we wouldn’t be able to function. The bloom reflects patterns of growth spirals such as those found in pine cones, sea shells, seeds, and flowers. And, like the healthiest of flowers, proper home wellness is dependent on a cyclical influx of the right elements. For fields of daisies, we’re referencing sun, soil, and rain. But, for the homeowner, it’s the products Second Nature dependably, continuously provides.

We will continue to push our brand in new and exciting directions in the months and years to come, and we’ll be guided by our customers. We plan to release several new products and services over the next twelve months, including a refrigerator water filter product coming this winter. We aim to provide easy solutions to common problems, and we’ll always be enthusiastic about sharing. We’ll also upgrade our experiences and create surprise and delight interactions that provide a moment of relief for our busy, time-starved customers. We want everyone to feel encouraged and energized after an interaction with us or our content. Drop our Customer Care team a note if you have any comments you’d like to share—we’re always open to feedback and want to know how we can better serve our customers.

Parting Thoughts

So many people think a rebrand simply involves locking a handful of designers and copywriters in a room so their brains can conjure up all sorts of interesting colors, patterns, typefaces, etc. While contemplating these types of artistic elements is certainly part of the process, there are so many other activities and conversations involved when reimagining a brand. We truly think we got it right in developing Second Nature. And, our excitement for our new brand is held with conviction because we listened to our customers and asked all sorts of insightful questions that got us to where we are right now. Second Nature isn’t the brainchild of one or two people at our company; it is the brainchild of a collaboration with our customers and our target audience.

This rebrand has, by far, been the most exciting, the most rewarding, and the most fun business endeavor I've had the honor of leading in my career. I hope each and every customer falls in love with Second Nature to the degree the team and I have throughout the process of developing it. I'm confident it will quickly become one of your trusted, beloved brands because our company is obsessively focused on creating meaningful value for customers by helping homeowners maintain a healthy home environment for themselves and their loved ones.


couple on couch with Second Nature box nearby

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Your Guide to Property Management Agreements (with Free Template)

With a renewed focus on rental income as an investment trend, the popularity of property management is on the rise. Busy professionals and out-of-town real estate investors increasingly rely on property managers to handle the day-to-day operations of their rental properties. When they come to you for the first time, one approach to establishing clear differentiation with respect to your competitors is through the clarity and comprehensiveness of your property management agreement. In today’s guide we’ll cover the essentials of a property management agreement that provides a foundation for transparency throughout this critical relationship, as well as peace of mind for the investors relying on you to manage their investment. A Step-by-Step Guide to Building Your Agreement Crafting a solid property management agreement doesn't have to be daunting. Here's a breakdown of the key components: Parties Involved Property owner: Clearly identify the legal name and contact information of the property owner(s). Property manager: Do the same for the property management company or individual. Property Details Address: Include the full address of the property being managed. Legal description (optional): For added clarity, consider including the legal description, particularly for complex property ownership structures. Property type: Specify whether it's a single-family home, multi-unit building, or commercial property. Unique features/limitations: Mention any unique features (e.g., pool, historic designation) or limitations (e.g., zoning restrictions, HOA rules). Term and Termination Effective date: Define the start date of the agreement. Termination clauses: Outline the grounds for termination by either party (e.g., breach of contract, property sale). Notice period: Specify the required notice period for each party if they wish to terminate the agreement (e.g., 30 days, 60 days). Termination mechanisms: Explain how the date of termination should be communicated (written notice, specific format [e.g., certified mail]), along with any applicable indemnification measures. Manager Responsibilities Resident screening: Detail the process for resident screening, including applications, background checks, and credit checks. Rent payments and security deposit collection: Outline procedures for security deposit collection, rent collection, late fees, and eviction processes. Maintenance oversight: Specify the property manager duties and roles in overseeing maintenance requests, repairs, and independent contractor/vendor selection (approval thresholds, cost limitations). Financial reporting: Define the frequency and format of financial reports provided by the property manager (monthly statements, annual reports). Communication protocols: Establish communication protocols regarding occupant inquiries, maintenance emergencies, and routine updates. Availability: Consider outlining the property manager's availability for emergencies (24/7 hotline, designated contact person). Owner Responsibilities Repairs: Specify the owner's responsibility for major repairs beyond normal wear and tear. Providing access: Outline the owner's role in providing access to the property for maintenance or showings when residents are not present. Major decisions: Define how major decisions regarding the property (e.g., renovations, capital improvements) will be made (joint agreement, owner approval). Property inspections: Address expectations regarding the frequency and purpose of property inspections conducted by the owner. Insurance coverage: Clarify the owner's responsibility to maintain appropriate liability insurance policy coverage for the property. Fees and Compensation Management fee: Detail the structure of the property management fee (percentage of rent collected, flat fee). Additional fees (optional): Address any additional disbursements for specific services, such as resident placement or lease renewals. Dispute Resolution Process: Explain the process for resolving disagreements between the owner and the property manager (mediation, arbitration, legal action). Governing laws: Specify the governing laws that apply to the agreement in case of disputes. Free Property Management Agreement Template (Basic) This contract template is for informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for legal advice. Please consult with an attorney to tailor the agreement to your specific needs and to ensure that the provisions of this agreement comply with local and state laws. Property Management Agreement This Property Management Agreement ("Agreement") is made and entered into as of [DATE] by and between: [Property Owner Name] residing at [Property Owner Address] ("Owner"), and [Property Management Company Name] located at [Property Management Company Address] ("Manager"). WITNESSETH WHEREAS, Owner is the legal owner of the property located at [Property Address] (the "Property"); and WHEREAS, Manager desires to provide property management services for the Property; and WHEREAS, Owner desires to engage Manager to provide such services for the Property NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of the foregoing premises and the mutual covenants contained herein, the parties agree as follows: 1. Services Manager agrees to perform the following services for the Property (Services may be added or removed based on specific needs. Consult with a lawyer.): Resident screening and resident selection (application processing, background checks) Collection of rent and late fee enforcement Maintenance oversight and coordination (up to $[AMOUNT] per repair) Move-in/move-out inspections Monthly financial reporting related to management of the property 2. Term and Termination This Agreement shall commence on [DATE] (the "Effective Date") and shall continue for a period of [NUMBER] year(s), unless earlier terminated as provided herein. This termination of this Agreement may be effected by either party upon [NUMBER] days' written notice to the other party. 3. Management Fee Owner shall pay Manager a monthly management fee equal to [PERCENTAGE]% of the gross monthly rent collected. 4. Legal Proceedings In the event of a legal proceeding arising out of this Agreement or the management of the Property, the following provisions shall apply: Authority: The Property Manager is hereby authorized to initiate and prosecute any legal action deemed necessary to collect rent, enforce the terms of tenant leases, or protect the Owner's property interests. Owner Approval: Prior written approval from the Owner shall be required for any legal action exceeding $[Dollar Amount] or involving potential litigation. Costs and Reimbursement: The Property Manager shall keep detailed records of all legal expenses and attorney’s fees incurred. The Owner shall reimburse the Property Manager for all reasonable and documented legal expenditures associated with authorized proceedings. Representation: The Owner shall have the right to be represented by their own counsel in any legal proceeding. However, the Property Manager shall have the right to participate in the proceedings and may retain separate counsel at the Owner's expense if a conflict of interest arises. Communication: The parties agree to cooperate fully and share all relevant information in a timely manner throughout any legal proceedings. 5. Dispute Resolution (Optional - Replace with preferred method if applicable) Any dispute arising out of or relating to this Agreement shall be settled by [METHOD OF DISPUTE RESOLUTION, e.g., mediation] in accordance with the rules of [NAME OF MEDIATION PROVIDER] (the "Rules"). The decision of the mediator shall be final and binding on the parties. 6. Waivers The Owner acknowledges and waives any and all claims, demands, or causes of action against the Property Manager arising from the following, unless such claims arise from the Property Manager's gross negligence or intentional misconduct: Acts or omissions of any resident of the Property. Loss or Property damage caused by reasons outside the Property Manager's reasonable control, including natural disasters, acts of war, or civil unrest. Unexpected repairs or maintenance issues beyond the scope of normal wear and tear. The Owner further agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the Property Manager from any and all claims, liabilities, damages, losses, or expenses (including attorney's fees) arising from the Owner's violation of this Agreement or any applicable laws or regulations. 7. Entire Agreement and Governing Law This Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between the parties with respect to the subject matter hereof and supersedes all prior or contemporaneous communications, representations, or agreements, whether oral or written. The terms of this Agreement shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the State of [STATE]. IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the parties have executed this Agreement as of the date first written above. [Property Owner Signature] [Property Owner Name (Printed)] [Property Management Company Signature] [Property Management Company Name (Printed)] Optional addendums For specific situations, consider adding supplementary documents like: Bed bug addendum Pool addendum Pet lease addendum These addendums can address unique requirements and regulations related to these aspects of the property. Legal Considerations and Customization Consulting with a lawyer is crucial to ensure your property management agreement is legally sound and reflects your specific circumstances. An attorney can help you with: Specifying maintenance coverage: Clearly define which maintenance issues are the responsibility of the property manager and which fall to the owner. Pet policy details: Outline a comprehensive pet policy including pet restrictions, fees, and deposit requirements. Local legal compliance: Ensure your agreement adheres to all relevant laws and regulations in your area, such as resident rights and fair housing regulations. FAQs: Helping Potential Investors Demystify Your Property Management Agreement Q: Is a property management agreement legally required? A: While not always mandatory, a property management agreement is highly advisable. It protects both the owner and the manager by outlining expectations and responsibilities. Q: Can I use your template for any property management situation? A: The provided template is a basic framework. It's best to consult with a lawyer to customize it for your specific property type, location, and desired services. Q: Do I need a lawyer to draft the agreement? A: While not mandatory, legal guidance is highly recommended. An attorney can ensure the agreement is legally sound, protects your interests, and complies with local laws. Q: Can I use this template for agreements outside of property management, e.g., for lease agreements or rental agreements? A: No, this template is specific to property management agreements. For other types of agreements, consult with a lawyer or use appropriate templates designed for those purposes. Q: What should I do after finalizing the agreement? A: Once both parties have signed the agreement, keep a copy for your records and provide one to the property manager. Familiarize yourself with the terms and communicate openly to ensure a smooth and successful working relationship. Conclusion A well-drafted property management agreement is the cornerstone of a successful relationship between owner and property manager. By using the provided template as a foundation and consulting with a lawyer for customization, you can establish a clear and comprehensive agreement that provides full transparency and fosters a smooth rental property experience. On top of your agreement, consider rolling out a resident benefits package (RBP). It’s a powerful way for property managers to create a Triple Win – for residents, investors, and themselves. An RBP like Second Nature’s is designed to be simple to use and easy to implement. All the services included within it are managed externally by Second Nature, meaning there is no day-to-day upkeep required from the manager. You plug it in and Second Nature keeps it running. The value creation an RBP generates – with such little work required from the PM – is an incredibly easy way to grow your business and create great experiences that residents will pay and stay for. Don't get left behind in the evolving world of resident experience. Learn more about our fully-managed Resident Benefits Package and how we can build ease for you, your investors, and your residents.

Calendar icon May 14, 2024

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How to Reduce Employee Turnover in Property Management: A Guide to Retaining Your Valuable Team

The property management industry faces a significant challenge: high employee turnover. In the US, the national average employee turnover rate measured in 2023 across all sectors was 17.3%. With highs of nearly 33% in some sectors, and lows of 12% in others, turnover is a pressing issue. Indeed, the National Apartment Association (NAA) reported that multifamily industry turnover rates in the last decade were up to 40%. While numbers for single-family home property management companies are harder to measure, the bottom line is that employee retention is often a casualty of the stresses that come with the high stakes of simultaneously managing people’s homes on one hand, and substantial real estate investments on the other. A revolving door of staff creates a ripple effect of negative consequences: residents face disruptions in service and communication, while companies struggle with lost productivity, increased recruiting and training costs, and a decline in overall morale. This comprehensive guide will equip property management teams with the tools and strategies to build a happy, engaged workforce and keep valuable co-workers on board. Understanding the Reasons for the High Turnover Rate Multiple factors contribute to the high property management turnover rate, particularly during inflationary periods, when low wages and benefits may fail to match the demanding workload. Team members face long hours, stressful interactions with residents, and the constant pressure of handling emergency situations. Many may feel undervalued and underappreciated, with limited opportunities for career advancement. Poor communication within the company, coupled with an unsupportive culture, will further fuel feelings of dissatisfaction and disengagement. Another factor may well be the cultural fallout from the recent pandemic, which catalyzed large changes in labor market behaviors, particularly among the so-called millennial generation. This has driven an upending of traditional wage-earning paradigms, giving rise to an endemic “gig economy” that industry and governments are still grappling with across sectors. Building a culture of retention Shifting the focus to a positive and supportive work environment is key to stemming the tide of staff turnover of property management employees. Here are several strategies to help cultivate a culture of retention and employee satisfaction: Competitive compensation and benefits Analyze local market wages and offer salaries that reflect the responsibilities and demands of the job. Provide comprehensive health insurance plans, paid time off, and other benefits that demonstrate your commitment to employee well-being. Consider offering perks and incentives such as gym memberships or fitness equipment subsidies to further enhance the compensation package. Work-life balance Promote healthy boundaries by offering flexible scheduling options whenever possible. Explore remote work opportunities for certain roles, especially those suited to administrative tasks. When dealing with difficult resident issues, encourage employees to take breaks throughout the day to prevent burnout. Implementing a core-hours policy, where employees are guaranteed to be available during specific times for urgent matters, can help maintain a sense of work-life balance. Investment in training and development Investing in your employees demonstrates your commitment to their growth and success. Offer ongoing training programs encompassing property management software, tenant relations, conflict resolution, fair housing laws, and industry certifications. This not only enhances their skillset and knowledge, but also empowers them to perform their jobs more effectively and confidently. Clear communication and recognition Establish consistent communication channels to keep employees informed and engaged. Hold regular team meetings, conduct performance reviews, and encourage open communication from the bottom up. Address concerns promptly and professionally. Most importantly, recognize and celebrate employee achievements publicly. A simple "thank you" or a public shout-out goes a long way in boosting morale and fostering a sense of appreciation. Building a team environment Foster a sense of teamwork through team-building activities, mentorship programs, and encouraging collaboration. Promote a supportive environment where colleagues can rely on one another for help and share best practices. This creates a sense of community and belonging which helps reduce feelings of isolation and discouragement. Strategies to Reduce Stress and Burnout High levels of stress can lead to employee burnout and ultimately, turnover. Here are some practical solutions to address this concern: Workload management Analyze workload distribution within your teams and identify opportunities for better balance. Consider cross-training employees to share the burden and alleviate pressure points. Utilize temporary staffing solutions to handle peak periods or unexpected vacancies. Technology and automation Embrace technology to streamline tasks and free up employee time for more strategic endeavors. Implement property management software to automate tasks such as rent collection, maintenance requests, and lease renewals. Consider online portals for residents to submit service requests and access property information, which reduces the burden on leasing and maintenance staff. Stress management resources Offer access to Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) to provide confidential counseling and support for employees dealing with personal or work-related stress. Consider offering on-site mindfulness training or wellness programs to help employees develop healthy coping mechanisms for managing stress. Retention through Growth and Opportunity Providing a clear career path is critical for retaining top talent. Here's how you can promote employee growth and development: Create clear career paths Map out advancement opportunities within the company and establish clear performance benchmarks for promotion. This gives employees something to work towards and motivates them to invest in their long-term success with the company. Mentorship programs Establish mentorship programs that connect experienced employees with newcomers. Mentors can provide guidance, answer questions, and offer support during the onboarding process and beyond. This fosters a sense of community and helps new hires feel more integrated into the team. Cross-training Invest in cross-training opportunities to broaden employee skillsets and increase job satisfaction. This allows employees to gain exposure to different areas of property management, keeps their work interesting, and prepares them for potential future opportunities within the company. Empowering Your Team: Fostering Ownership and Engagement Empowering your employees fosters a sense of ownership and engagement, leading to a more motivated and productive workforce. Delegate tasks and decision-making Delegate tasks that match employee skill sets and provide them with some level of decision-making authority. This demonstrates trust in their abilities and encourages them to take ownership of their work. Encourage feedback and suggestions Create an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their ideas and suggestions for improvement. Hold regular brainstorming sessions and actively solicit feedback on company policies, procedures, and resident services. Recognize and value employee ideas Acknowledge and value employee ideas, and whenever possible, implement suggestions that can enhance efficiency or improve resident satisfaction. This demonstrates that their input matters and fosters a sense of ownership within the company. Conclusion Reducing employee turnover in property management requires a multi-pronged approach that prioritizes employee well-being, professional development, and a sense of belonging. By implementing the strategies outlined here, property management companies can cultivate a happy, engaged workforce that delivers exceptional service to residents and contributes to the company's long-term success. Remember, a strong team is the foundation for a thriving property management business. Invest in your employees, and they will invest in your company's success. Learn more about property management company best practices, marketing, and more in our Second Nature Community,

Calendar icon May 14, 2024

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