Calendar icon May 17, 2023

Benefits of Outsourcing Property Management Services

Property management services have changed in leaps and bounds over the past 5-10 years. And property management outsourcing services have grown along with it. 

While the traditional approach to property management simply provided the basics – maintenance, rent collection, etc. – entrepreneurial PMs saw a massive gap in that value proposition and have transformed the real estate industry. Now, property management services are increasingly seen as a way to generate value for residents, real estate investors, and property management companies. PMCs are delivering resident benefits like credit reporting, renter’s insurance programs, pet guarantees, and more. And each of these services acts as a value add for everyone involved. 

But that can also add extra burden and cost to your property management business when your team is already spread thin. One of the best ways to offer value without overextending your team is to outsource some of those PM services to PropTech products, contractors, or a fully managed solution.

Today we’re going to talk about this option in more detail. Whether you’re just getting started in property management or a seasoned pro, we hope you’ll find something here to help. 

Key Learning Objectives:

  • What is outsourced property management?
  • What services add the most value to the resident experience?
  • What property management services are most easily outsourced?
  • What are the costs associated with outsourcing PM services?
  • What are the benefits of outsourcing PM services?

 

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What is outsourced property management?

Outsourced property management refers to the practice of paying for a third-party company or product to handle certain tasks or operations for your property management company. This could include tasks such as tenant screening, resident benefits, renters insurance programs, rent collection, maintenance and repair coordination, lease enforcement, financial reporting, and more.

Property management is in itself an outsourced service for real estate investors/property owners. Just as property owners often choose to outsource their property management to save time, reduce stress, and ensure they stay profitable – property management companies may outsource several of their services for the same reasons. 

Property management outsourcing services, whether PropTech products or fully managed solutions, allow property management companies to build efficiencies and focus on quality and growth. Outsourcing certain services can give residents more of what they need and investors more value for their dollar. 

What property management services can property management companies outsource?    

Advances in technology and innovation within the property management industry have given PMCs greater flexibility in terms of outsourcing key services. 

As a property manager, you may outsource for a range of reasons. Maybe you’re still building up your team and need cost-effective expertise in a certain area. Maybe you have core products you want to focus on and want certain services to take less of your time. Maybe your investors or residents are asking for out-of-scope services that you can offer for an additional fee.

Overall, outsourced property management services can help PMCs save time, reduce stress, and maximize the profitability of their company. 

So, what are some of the most commonly outsourced property management services? They can be grouped into a few categories:

Let’s dig into the services that might be included within each of those larger categories. 

Rent collection   

Third-party payment processing companies can handle the actual collection and processing of rent payments for the PMC. 

The property management company will provide the payment processing company with the necessary information and details about the residents and the property, including lease terms, payment due dates, and amounts owed. The process may involve various payment methods, such as online payments, credit card payments, ACH transfers, or other payment options.

Some popular outsourcing solutions that help collect rent include Buildium, Propertyware, and AppFolio. Second Nature provides a fully managed service that helps ensure your residents pay rent on time.

Repair and maintenance 

Many PMCs outsource repairs and property maintenance. We’ve spoken with experts like Bob Preston, who run their own maintenance companies separately as another source of income and an added value to their clients. 

When a property management company outsources repair and maintenance, it typically involves hiring third-party contractors or service providers to handle the actual repair, upkeep, and maintenance tasks required for the property. 

Outsourcing repair and maintenance can offer several benefits for property management companies. You can access a broader range of specialized skills and high-quality expertise, which may not be available in-house, and save time and resources by avoiding the need to recruit and manage in-house staff to handle repair and maintenance tasks.

Marketing and advertising   

Marketing isn’t everyone’s strong suit, and that’s okay!

When a property management company outsources marketing and advertising, it typically involves hiring a third-party marketing or advertising agency to handle the promotion and advertising of the rental properties. The agency will work closely with the PMC to develop a comprehensive marketing strategy that aligns with the property's unique selling points and target audience.

The marketing agency may use a variety of advertising channels and mediums to promote the property, including social media marketing, search engine marketing, online advertising, email marketing, print advertising, and other marketing channels. They may also create engaging content and visuals, such as videos, images, and virtual tours, to showcase the property's features and amenities.

Legal

Most PMCs outsource their legal services to a third-party law firm or attorney to provide legal advice and representation on various matters related to the property or properties. 

Legal services that may be outsourced can include lease agreements, evictions, compliance with local and federal laws and regulations, dispute resolution, and other legal matters that may arise in the course of managing the property. 

Outsourcing legal services helps minimize legal risks and liabilities, ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations, and protect the property investor’s interests. 

 

download rental inspection checklist template

 

Accounts and finance   

Many PMCs outsource to an accounting firm or financial service provider to handle the financial management and reporting. The outsourced firm will work with you to manage financial records, provide financial reporting, and ensure compliance with accounting standards and regulations.

The accounting and financial services that may be outsourced can include bookkeeping, financial statement preparation, tax planning and compliance, budgeting and forecasting, and other financial reporting and analysis.

Overall, outsourcing accounts and finance can help property management companies to operate more effectively and efficiently and achieve their financial objectives while minimizing financial risks.

Insurance     

PMCs often work with a third-party insurance broker or agent to provide insurance coverage and manage insurance-related issues for the property or properties. The insurance coverage that may be outsourced can include property insurance, liability insurance, workers' compensation insurance, and other types of insurance coverage that may be necessary or recommended for the property. 

Another way to outsource insurance is to find a service that provides a renters insurance program like Second Nature’s. Ensuring that residents have insurance coverage is a priority for 90% of property managers, but only 41% of residents maintain compliant coverage.

At Second Nature, our renters insurance program has 100% compliance. You can learn more about our coverage and fully managed Resident Benefits Package in our 2023 Resident Experience Report.

Safety and security

Many PMCs outsource to a security company to provide safety and security services. The security company will work closely with the property management company to assess safety and security needs, design and implement safety and security protocols, and provide safety and security personnel and equipment as needed.

Security services that may be outsourced can include security personnel, security systems and equipment, safety training and education, emergency response planning and execution, and other safety and security-related services.

What are the costs associated with outsourcing PM services   

The cost for a PMC to outsource some property management services can vary depending on a number of factors, such as the scope of services required, the complexity of the work, the location of the service provider, and the level of expertise required. Some service providers may charge a flat fee, while others may charge an hourly rate or a percentage of the property's rental income.

The cost for outsourcing property management services can range from as low at $1 per property per month to much as hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, depending on whether it’s a full-service tech solution, simple maintenance services, a Resident Benefits Package, etc. 

It's important to note that while outsourcing property management services can come with a cost, it can also provide benefits such as increased efficiency, reduced workload, and access to specialized expertise. Before outsourcing any services, it's important to carefully consider the potential costs and benefits and to choose a service provider that offers high-quality services at a reasonable price.

How outsourcing property management services benefits you  

Outsourcing property management services can have a massive impact on your return on investment per door and per client. Outsourcing also helps with scaling when you can’t afford to run every service in-house. With the ability to outsource, you can offer more value to your clients without skyrocketing your operating costs. You can also drive secondary sources of revenue through outsourcing.

Not convinced? Let’s go over some of the real-life benefits we’ve seen PMCs leverage with outsourcing select services.

Cost savings

Outsourcing property management services can save property management companies significant costs associated with hiring and managing in-house staff, as well as investing in technology and infrastructure. Outsourcing can also help to minimize overhead costs, such as office space, equipment, and supplies.

Let’s think even bigger. Outsourcing value-generating services like a Resident Benefits Package has multiple benefits: boosting resident satisfaction, incentivizing on-time payments, and reducing vacancy rates

Talk about a cost-saving win!

Increased efficiency

We’ve seen PMCs use outsourcing to streamline their operations, reduce administrative property management tasks, and increase productivity. This can free up time and resources for property management companies to focus on core business functions and strategic planning. Instead of using your own team for time-consuming tasks, you can outsource them.

Access to expertise

Outsourcing property management services allows PMCs to access specialized expertise and skills that may not be available in-house. This can include legal, accounting, marketing, and maintenance expertise, among others. Outsourcing can also provide access to the latest technology and software, which can improve efficiency and effectiveness.

Better risk management

Property management inherently involves risk. You’re managing people’s lives on the one hand (residents) and investments on the other (owners/investors). Outsourcing can help better manage risks associated with property management, such as legal liabilities, compliance issues, and safety and security concerns. This can help to protect your company from financial and reputational damage.

Improved resident satisfaction

You can more seamlessly and reliably improve resident satisfaction by providing better maintenance and repair services, more efficient rent collection, and faster response times to tenant concerns and requests. This can help to increase tenant retention and attract new tenants.

Higher employee satisfaction

Outsourcing services to a third party is a direct way to impact your employees’ satisfaction. How? Outsourcing helps reduce workload, gives access to better training and development, improves working conditions, and provides a better work-life balance. Often, outsourcing means that your employees get to focus on the core functions that they love instead of getting bogged down in tasks they don’t love or don’t feel equipped for.

How thousands of PMCs are outsourcing services for better resident experiences

Property management companies are always looking for new ways to generate value for themselves, their residents, and their investors. One of the quickest ways to scale and increase return on investment can be outsourcing property management services. 

At Second Nature, we’ve pioneered the first-ever fully managed Resident Benefits Package in order to support PMCs with just that goal. Our RBP provides services that residents are proven to pay and stay for – and our team manages every part of the process so property managers can focus on strategy, growth, or work-life balance.

We’ve helped thousands of property managers transform their services and their operations with a customized RBP providing services they couldn’t do alone. Our goal is to make property management easier for PMs, residents, and investors – and drive value that benefits all three. We call it the Triple Win.

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How to Optimize Operational Frequency with Processes and Software

Property management software is currently helping property managers establish efficient and reliable processes at a higher rate than ever before in the PM industry. With that development in the proptech industry has come the development of tech for self-managers that has changed the capacity of the accidental landlord. Thus, the demand for efficiency at scale has risen in order to separate the professional from the amateur, and the establishment of processes that allow such a thing has become a critical topic for professional property managers. Optimizing property management processes Carter Fleck of Triton Property Management, a growth-oriented firm out of northern Virginia that is approaching 300 units with larger goals for 2024, joins us to share his expertise on process definition. Fleck is the General Manager responsible for operations and strategic growth, and he has been developing effective processes to ensure efficiency at Scale at Triton, and in the process, he has garnered an understanding of how to do so. “A lot of failing,” says Fleck. “In the early days, we were getting a lot of good and bad feedback, but typically the bad feedback is what you adjust off of.” Fleck believes that assumptions are the enemy when it comes to defining procedures and sourcing software for your PMC. “The image that we use is if you're going to build a sidewalk before people even start walking on a field, it's kind of dumb. You have to see where people will walk first, and then you'll build a gravel path. So number one, you see where they walk, see where their intentions are in the grass, then you build a gravel path. And then eventually, once that walkway is established, that's where you build your processes and procedures.” The analogy is a visualization of the concept that you have to see how people operate before you can establish processes to make how they operate more efficient. Fleck encourages the negative experiences of process breakdown and cites them as the only way to really nail down what your processes should look like. “Over time, between the tenants giving feedback and owners giving feedback, we adjusted our processes. It's a mix between figuring out where the owners walk and where the tenants walk, and then building paths that align.” Fleck details an example of how Triton adjusted its process after an assumption it made got challenged: "We had an assumption that payment plans were helpful for residents," says Fleck. "And so the way we handled delinquency is we would reach out to them and would be like, ‘you need to pay this. Do you have a payment plan option?’ And they would always say yes. Our process was we'll put you on a payment plan, we'll invite you to a payment plan, you'll accept the payment plan, and then we'll monitor the payment plan. That in itself was a lot of work, but we thought it was doing well. But some of the owners that we had managed for mentioned that another property manager doesn't allow any payment plans. And if you're not fully paid up by the end of the month, then the eviction process starts if you’re over $500 due. So we're like 'alright, well, we'll serve you in that we'll change our processes.' And we did, and our delinquency percentage shrunk significantly. So, consistently, by the end of every month, we're around 5% APR. Whereas with payment plans we're like 5 to 10%.” Fleck obviously credits seeing the assumptions in motion as what prompted the need for process iteration, and he firmly believes that making too many of these assumptions is one of the biggest mistakes growing property management companies make. Like any business experiencing growth, process definition is critical to achieve efficiency at larger volumes. What Fleck is essentially advocating for is processes based on what you know, not what you think, and there is a big distinction. Managing property management software Fleck has installed both general and tech-based processes, and cites that understanding of how people interact with processes as the key in both areas. "They don't focus on user experience. That's really important. Number one, how the tenants like the tech, but specifically how the people who are using the tech are gonna adopt it. So when we were choosing a rent inspection software, we had so many people recommend one, software and I, we almost pulled the trigger on it. But then I was like, let's do a trial run on both these two. And we chose the other one because it was way better user experience for property managers. So user experience, both for us and for residents." Tech is a tool that is ultimately as good as its users, and if it's not used correctly or at all, its potential is wasted. An over-reliance on technology can actually go hand-in-hand with an under-reliance, as both often spring up from a lack of understanding of how to choose, implement, and manage it. In this vein, Fleck can't recall many property managers who operate with too much tech. As long as you're not purchasing redundant software and you've done and continue to do your due diligence, tech-based process can make your business more efficient. "I more often find myself having that conversation," says Fleck. "When I'm talking to property managers in my sub-market, who aren't connected with like a NARPM, who aren't connected with like a Crane group, or who aren't connected with a Second Nature, aren't connected to the tune of what the property management industry is doing and the cutting edge of it, I'm just like, 'you could save so much of your time and you could scale this so much more if you only even if you just had tenant Turner, or if you had LeadSimple.'" No matter what your story is a property manager, if growth is in the cards, so is process and technology refinement. Hopefully, Fleck's experience in these areas can help you stay efficient and organized as door counts grow.

Calendar icon April 19, 2024

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Why offer a tenant benefits package?

In the residential real estate sector, like everywhere else, residents and property investors alike are getting younger – and with this generational shift comes expectations for a certain level of convenience and support. To put it bluntly, today’s residents want their needs proactively anticipated. It’s something they're willing to pay (and stay) for. That’s where a tenant benefits package comes in. In this article, we’ll explore what a tenant benefit package is, how it improves the experience for both property managers and tenants, and crucial mistakes to avoid. Before we get into the details, we want to give a shoutout to our very own “Resident Benefits Package” – which is how we refer to the benefits comprised in the “tenant benefits package.” “Tenant” is not yet a legacy term, but we here at Second Nature are trying to evolve it. That’s because, in our experience, property managers work hard to make renters feel like they’re not just parties to a contract – they’re residents. On one hand, this is just humans being humans, but on the other hand, it also encourages them to invest in care for their new home and add value to the property. Ready to get started now? Build your Resident Benefits Package today. What is a tenant benefits package? A tenant benefits package is typically a bundle of services, conveniences, and provisions offered by a property manager on top of the basic lease agreement. They represent a triple-win situation for property managers, residents, and property owners, as they enhance the overall rental experience, generate additional income, and protect the real estate investment. It might include conveniences such as online monthly rent payment options, or portals for submitting maintenance requests and tracking their status. It could also include various financial perks, such as credit rating improvements that are contingent on on-time rental payments, or discounts on nearby services such as fitness centers. It might also include amenities ranging from move-in concierge or utility set-up services, to identity protection services, to HVAC filter delivery. The cost for resident benefits packages is typically included in the lease and added as a monthly fee, with the fee being dependent on the specific benefits. Indeed, the benefits contained in a tenant benefits package will vary depending on the property manager and the type of rental property. The overall goal is to provide tenants with an enhanced quality of life while simplifying the experience of renting. At Second Nature, we pioneered the only fully managed resident benefits package, in response to PMs who wanted to make their business stand out. Our RBP includes an array of services and supports for residents, from filter delivery to credit building to maintenance. Why should property managers offer a tenant benefits package? Beyond the triple-win considerations mentioned just above, there are compelling and concrete reasons why property managers should offer tenant benefit packages. We'll turn to these now. Ancillary revenue Some tenant benefit packages include optional services or add-ons that can generate additional revenue streams for the property manager. This might include things like renter insurance or HVAC filter delivery. Resident experience Tenant benefit packages deliver numerous savings and value to tenants, beyond the value they would get if they were obtaining the same benefits "à la carte." Additionally, by offering additional services and conveniences, benefit packages can make tenants feel valued and more satisfied with their living experience. For instance, maintenance hotline requests, tenant portals, and air filter replacements all make life easier. Add-on services like identity theft protection can offer a sense of security. And discounted renters insurance coverage, utility concierge services, or other perks can save tenants money. Decrease tenant turnover and vacancy rates In a competitive rental market, tenant benefit packages can be a major differentiator toward boosting retention rates and reducing vacancy rates. Properties that offer these packages can also attract a wider pool of qualified tenants, and potentially command higher rents. Note that certain benefits in the package, like online rent payments and maintenance requests, can automate tasks and free up the property manager's time. This allows them to focus on more value-added initiatives. How does the tenant benefits package improve the tenant experience? Tenant benefit packages can significantly improve tenant satisfaction in several ways, by making life easier, more convenient, and potentially more affordable. For instance, if an online portal (a baseline feature for most property management software) is included for rent payments and maintenance issues and requests, this eliminates the hassle of writing checks or waiting on hold to speak with someone about a clogged drain. In other words, tenants have the peace of mind of knowing they can manage their tenancy 24/7 from the comfort of their own devices. Some packages might include features like filter delivery services or regularly scheduled HVAC maintenance. This frees tenants from having to remember these tasks – and ensures their apartment is well-maintained. Certain packages might also offer "verified vendor" services – in other words, a vetted vendor network that can help provide a more secure feeling to residents when service providers are on-site. On the financial side of things, a benefits package might offer discounts with local suppliers for various goods and services, or on a renters insurance policy obtained through the property manager (with applicable waivers for residents who have their own insurance). This can save tenants money on a necessary expense. Some packages also help residents with their credit scores via credit reporting and credit building services, so they can transition from renting to home buying when the time is right. The idea is that the credit reporting program reports on-time rent payments automatically to all credit bureaus, helping residents build their credit simply by paying their rent on time. Some benefit packages include resident rewards programs that represent a powerful and positive incentive for on-time rent payments, including gift cards or cash. As far as living perks go, packages sometimes include added benefits such as access to fitness centers or community events. This provides tenants with additional spaces to relax, socialize, or stay healthy. Packages can include security deposit alternatives that serve to provide a means for residents to be financially liable for damages without having to pay a significant lump sum upfront, such as pure insurance, surety bonds, and ACH authorization programs. Ultimately, tenant benefit packages create a more professional and responsive image for the property management company, which helps tenants feel valued and allows them to experience a smoother, more stress-free rental experience. What are the mistakes to avoid when offering tenant benefits packages? Property management companies should take care to avoid certain pitfalls when implementing tenant benefit packages to ensure they are providing true value to tenants as well as delivering profitability to the PM company itself. For instance, it's important to ensure that the services you're offering are actually relevant to your target renters. For example, young professionals might appreciate discounts on gym memberships, while families might prefer pet-sitting services. You should also take care to clearly communicate what's included and not included in the package to new residents. Don't oversell the benefits – focus on how they genuinely improve the living experience. It's also very important to set realistic expectations for response times on standard maintenance requests, emergency maintenance requests, or virtual concierge services. Likewise, be clear on all available payment methods, as well as rent due dates, late fee structures, and any associated payment processing fees. If your package includes services from third-party vendors, ensure that these vendors are reputable and reliable. Research their customer service record and responsiveness to ensure a smooth partnership and a positive experience for tenants. Above all, regularly monitor the usage of different benefits within your benefits package. This can help you refine your offerings and ensure you're not spending where spending is not required. Looking for a Resident Benefits Package? If you’re looking for a “plug and play” resident benefits package, Second Nature’s RBP is the way to go. Designed to be easy to implement and simple to use, all the services it includes are managed by Second Nature – which means there’s no day-to-day upkeep required from the property manager: Second Nature keeps it running. It’s a simple way to grow your business and create great experiences that residents will pay and stay for. Learn more about our fully-managed Resident Benefits Package.

Calendar icon April 2, 2024

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