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Property Management Brainstorm Podcast

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Episode 49: Process Automation in Property Management, Featuring Heather Park of RentBridge


Bob Preston - Thursday, November 19, 2020

Bob has been addressing "process" in the past few episodes, speaking to why it is so important in property management. But what if many of those processes could be “automated”? The concept is to let technology handle your repetitive tasks. Might this allow your property management business to work smarter, not harder?  In this Episode 49 of Property Management Brainstorm, Bob discusses this topic with Heather Park, Co-founder and Managing Partner at RentBridge. They will be speaking about how to bring daily aspects of property management into a system that automates day-to-day business.

A full transcript of this podcast episode is below. 

Topics Covered

[2:25] Heather introduces herself and the core concept behind RentBridge.

[5:00] What is the technology behind the RentBridge platform?

[6:55] The concept can seem a bit abstract. Heather gives a concrete example of lease renewals to explain how process automation works.

[11:25] Heather explains how "tickets" work within the scenario of internal property management tasks.

[13:25] Utilizing "lagging indicators" vs. "leading indicators" in running a property management business.

[15:30] Property Management Operation System (PMOS), how it integrates with property management software, and what it does within the RentBridge platform.

[19:05] Where does a company start with automating their property management processes and how long does it take?

[23:05] Some property managers might be afraid of losing the human element when automating processes. How much is too much?

[27:10] Is there a typical profile that makes a good fit for process automation?

[29:45] Where RentBridge fits within the spectrum of available process solutions in the market.

[34:55] Heather shares a story about how she found her way into property management and how it has changed her life.

[38:45] Parting thoughts and how to get in touch with RentBridge.

Connect to RentBridge Website

Connect with Bob
North County Property Group

This episode is always available for listening, sharing, or download at Property Management Brainstorm. Subscribe to Property Management Brainstorm on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify,  TunedIn,  iHeart Radio and YouTube.

Bob Preston:                     01:08                    Welcome brainstormers to the Property Management Brainstorm show. I'm Bob Preston, your host of the show broadcasting from our studio at North County Property Group in Del Mar, California. If you're new here and you'd like, please subscribe. So, you have ongoing access to all of our great episodes. And if you like what you hear, please pay it forward. We'd love to get a positive review. I've been in a bit of a process kick here with the past few episodes. And I don't mean process regarding to the podcast. I'm talking about process as it fits within the property management industry, speaking to why it's so important and property management, and what if many of those processes could potentially be automated? The concept of this is to let technology handle your repetitive tasks. If this was done, might this allow you and your property management business to work smarter and not harder? I've got on the show today with me, a guest Heather Park, who's the co-founder and managing partner at RentBridge. And we're going to be talking about bringing daily aspects of property management into a system that automates day-to-day business. So Heather, welcome to Property Management Brainstorm.

Heather Park:                   02:19                    Thank you. Happy to be here.

Bob Preston:                     02:21                    A good place to start always would be if you could just introduce yourself how you got into the property management industry and core concept behind RentBridge.

Heather Park:                   02:29                    Sure. Um, so it's kind of a funny story, how I got into property management. Um, it was not on purpose at all. I, uh, I studied rocks is kind of how I like to describe it. I was a petroleum geologist before I got into the real estate industry. And at the time, um, you know, I was a single mom. I had two kiddos that I wanted to spend some time with, and I was traveling all over the world. So, kind of reigning that back in and taking some time to look inward and see what I wanted out of life. I, I made some decisions and happened to be dating this really handsome guy in the property management industry at the time. And so, Michael and I decided whether or not it was a good idea at the time it turned out really well. We were going to work together. So, we started working together in his property management company. And that's really the beginning of, of how that story folds out. But, um, I didn't, I didn't do it on purpose. It wasn't something I ever envisioned for my life, but obviously wouldn't, wouldn't go back and change anything if I had to. Um, but as far as RentBridge goes, that was actually the next iteration of our property management business. So, we grew our single-family property management company here in the DFW area to about a thousand doors. And then we sold that portfolio and I started RentBridge. Michael was actually recruited into the institutional space and worked there for a brief period of time. Learned a lot, has actually contributed a lot from that experience toward RentBridge. And then he came over full-time to RentBridge in 2018. So, what we do has evolved quite a bit, but suffice it to say, we're an automation firm. We provide marketing automation and process automation for the property management industry.

Bob Preston:                     04:06                    I've been looking forward to this episode because I've been on this process kick, right. I've been talking a lot on my podcast about property management processes. And one of the concepts is how do you automate that? And I do these little episodes called Five Minute Fridays, five minute kind of mini podcast bonuses. One of them was called how much is too much, right? So, how like is it possible to take it so far that you could over-engineer and lose that human element that is so important in property management? We'll touch on that here in a minute, but okay. So, by the way, I didn't want to be a property manager when I grew up either. So, most of us in this industry find our way into this business somehow, right? My journey into property management was kind of similar. I mean, I was at a place in my life where I could kind of jump off the corporate treadmill and I had a young child at home and I was kind of just wanting to not be traveling as much. So, I get what you're saying about having kids and wanting to spend more time at home. All right. So, at RentBridge, you refer to property management tools and that they help you work smarter by letting technology take over if you will and handle the repetitive tasks. So maybe you can explain that, what exactly is the technology that you're referring to?

Heather Park:                   05:13                    It’s actually twofold. Um, we use a base platform of whatever the CRM is. Our favorite CRM and process platform is HubSpot. And so that's really our go-to. Everything that we do is built on the backbone of HubSpot. Um, we do have a handful of clients that use LeadSimple. We see some people still using Salesforce. There's a, uh, a mixture here and there, but primarily our, our go-to platform is HubSpot. Um, so between that, and then our software, which is a platform that layers on top of HubSpot, we're able to then automate all of the internal processes and really create an ecosystem for property managers to live out of, in conjunction with their property management system, be it Appfolio or Buildium or Propertyware, or what have you. 

Bob Preston:                     05:58                    Okay, so it's software, I guess that's the first question, right? Tech the technology software. And is it for lack of a better term, a set of if then rules, right? If this happens, then that is the outcome?

Heather Park:                   06:10                    To an extent yes. It's like that on steroids. It's, it's trying to think through the business logic of all of the different scenarios and all of the different relationships between the different players and anticipating the next round of scenarios and then creating exactly what you described, if then statements. To attempt again, to automate as much as you can while increasing efficiency and eliminating as much of the opportunity for human error as possible while optimizing everything and streamlining it.

Bob Preston:                     06:42                    So, conceptually, it sounds great. I mean, I want to manage more doors and I want less overhead, right? And I want to eliminate costly errors for my people who make human errors along the way. But for those who might be new to this topic, it's a bit abstract. I don't know if you ever hear that. So, are there some concrete examples, maybe even simple ones that could help us understand exactly what you're talking about and what this is?

Heather Park:                   07:05                    Absolutely. You know, one of my favorites, um, is the renewals example. When we were running about a thousand doors, we had a full-time staff member and a half. So, calculate that that's 60 hours a week doing nothing but renewables and expirations. So, take that example and then look at the today's scenario of the way that we automate it. Lease renewals can be done in a matter of moments. So, if you're working through a traditional lease renewal, what's the first thing you do. If you get owner approval, you call the owner. They're not going to answer who answers their phone. On the first time you leave a voicemail, or you send a text message, or you send an email and then you're waiting to hear back from them. Okay, great. You hear back from them then what, and that's the series of questions that just kind of flows from there. Then what, then what let's say they want to renew. Okay, great. Now I've got to get a hold of the tenant and make sure that they're okay with the new rent rate, etc, etc, etc. It's a back and forth all the way through the yes. Side of the scenario and all the way through the no side of the scenario with all of those different branches. Imagine how many phone calls on average, it takes someone six attempts to get in touch with a human that's, maybe three my way and three, your way, or maybe five and one. It just depends on the day and the time, but it's never an easy situation just to get another human on the phone or to respond to an email or, or a text message or however you do it. So, we look at it from the automation standpoint. And the example that I really like to use with renewals is the elimination of all of that waiting and back and forth. So, our renewals process kicks off automatically from the export of data from your property management software. So, let's say you start your renewals. And 90 days out, 90 days out from whatever this lease expiration is that data's going to come in from call it Appfolio into HubSpot. It's going to create a deal. And it's going to trigger off a sequence of events, telling the owner and the tenant, Hey, here's your expectations. Here's what you should expect coming up in the near future. Your lease is about to expire. Just start thinking about what you want to do. That's the first interaction.

Bob Preston:                     09:11                    So this is something like an email or a text or something that gets sent out. Does it go through HubSpot or does it go out throughout Appfolio?

Heather Park:                   09:18                    Um, it goes out through HubSpot and whatever your email server is or email provider is. So, Gmail, outlook, whatever you,

Bob Preston:                     09:25                    Uh, Mr. Uh, property owner, we're going to be pinging you here shortly because we have a renewal on January 30th or whatever.

Heather Park:                   09:31                    Correct? And same thing for the tenant. Yeah. So, it's just a heads-up email. And then once you get a little bit closer, whatever your deadline day is, and you get to decide that next round of communication is going to go out. And if you do get owner approval, the first round is going to go to the owner. The owner is going to receive an email that says, Hey, Mr. Owner, here's your recommended renewal rate. You can either have that automatically calculated, which we prefer, or you can run a CMA and, and put the new analysis, um, in the email, but either way, here's your recommended renewal rate. Do you want to renew this tenant at this rate? Do you want to not renew this tenant for whatever reason? Or do you need to talk to somebody about it? They have three buttons, three options. Let's say they hit. Yes. Okay, great. The same process is going to kick off on the tenant side of things and run down that same path. Let's say they say no, which happens sometimes they say no. Immediately at that point in time, you're going to have a ticket that spins off to let the internal teams know, Hey, this owner said they don't want to renew. Let's go ahead and get something on the calendar for the move-out for the make, ready for the re-key for the carpet cleaned, put a sign in the yard to take new pictures, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And all of these tickets are assigned to the right teams with dates and deadlines and notifications assigned to them. That really aren't something that's going to be dropped. Like the sticky note that you would typically drop on someone's desk or the email that you're going to send over, they may or may not see in their pile of emails. So that's what the owner says. No, the tenant has the same options, and the same sequence of events can play out, thus automating the entire process and eliminating all of this waiting and back and forth.

Bob Preston:                     11:06                    That was a really great example. Thank you. I totally understood that. I mean, you could take that same kind of thinking and apply it to other things, tenant or owner onboarding your actual leasing process in writing that then writing that lease extension, move outs, maybe midpoint things that happened during the course of list. You used an interesting word. You used the word ticket, right? So, I want to stop and talk about that for a minute, because it's different verbiage than maybe a lot of our listeners are used to. I think in the traditional sense of property management, a property manager, maybe the senior property manager has, has assistance or whatever on their team who might be using the same analogy of, um, you know, the lease renewal. Okay. You know, Hey, reach out to so-and-so. Their lease is expiring in 90 days at the end of January, can you touch base? Right? Boom. They send an email, maybe text. Maybe they meet them face to face. Anyway, you use the term ticket. So, explain what that is.

Heather Park:                   11:58                    So it's exactly what it sounds like. It's a customer service ticket, but in this scenario, you're using it internally. So, it's an internal service ticket. Um, it's something that we like to describe as the ability to manage tasks and reminders internally, without necessarily having to keep track on a spreadsheet or keep tracking your email. And it's not going to go anywhere. It's eliminating the ability for someone to forget about it, because until it goes away until it's completed, that ticket will stay on that person's dashboard, whoever it's assigned to, or whatever department it's assigned to. So, it'll stay on that person's dashboard or that team's dashboard until it's completed. So now you've created this layer of accountability in this layer of visibility, either within the department or within a particular person's, um, everyday tasking system. And it gives either management or the department head, or even just the person, the ability to wrap their arms around what their day looks like and what their week looks like and what their workload looks like. We hear people all the time. Talk about how do I know when to hire that next person? I don't know, everybody in your office is saying they're underwater. Are they really underwater? Or are they mismanaging their day-to-day tasks? Are they doing things the hard way? And this ticketing scenario gives you the ability to look at someone's workload and truly make database decisions about what's going on in their, in their world and their property managers.

Bob Preston:                     13:21                    That's super interesting. You know, I, as the CEO of my company, North County Property Group, every month, I get my accounting department to spit out what I call the CEO dashboard. Okay. You probably heard these kinds of concepts before, and it's a look back at the previous month when the financials close for that respect of month. And I get kind of this picture of graphs and, you know, growth and all the, basically the financial status of the company. Now these are lagging indicators, so they're super helpful. Right. And it helps me keep a pulse on, okay, how did we do last month? You know, are there expenses spend scrape in certain categories? But the thing that I don't get on a daily basis is that dashboard of what's going on in terms of the leading indicators, kind of like you're talking about, so does RentBridge or the platform you're talking about, allow people like me to go in and see what's going on in the business on a daily basis?

Heather Park:                   14:14                    It's exactly what it does. Um, you know, internally here at RentBridge, not only do we use it for ourselves, but we tell people all the time we have clients across the nation and I can look at any client's portal at any given time and get a pretty good feel for what their activity level looks like down to the individual role in the individual department I'll know pretty quickly if they've hired a new person, because there's onboarding tickets that have been created. I'll know if their maintenance guy is ready to quit because he's got 50 tickets he hasn't even opened. And then another 120 outstanding. And he's probably got steam coming out of his ears. There's obvious indicators as to who's in pain who has some trouble who's cruising along and might be able to pitch in somewhere else. Um, so yes, those leading indicators are exactly what ticketing, and those ticket dashboards are designed to do.

Bob Preston:                     15:05                    Interesting, do you have many clients who ask you to do that? Hey, will you check out my, I don't want to call it if it's a dashboard or what, I've check out my people and see, you know, help me interpret this.

Heather Park:                   15:14                    Um, we do have those clients that ask for that. It is not a service that we readily offer.

Bob Preston:                     15:19                    And I guess then you're sort of stepping in it. Right. You're sort of at that point, giving you a recommendation for the particular company. Okay. So, I've read a lot of your literature and been to your website and you guys talk about the property management operating system PMOs. I don't know if you call it PMOs, but I think that's kind of what we're talking about here. Right? So, can you help us understand that? Is it the same concept we're talking about here? Just kind of the platform.

Heather Park:                   15:41                    Yes, absolutely. So, PMOs was really born from the need to be able to do exactly what I've described so far. Just wrap your arms and wrap your brain around your business as a whole. Um, we all know Appfolio, Propertyware, Buildium, they're fantastic at tenant accounting, owner, accounting, you know, the ledgers, the actual financial status and health of each individual property. And that's really not something that is incorporated into any of the systems or processes that we manage because it's, it's that financial route, that financial basis that needs to take place in your property management system, outside of that, where all of your people and your processes operate is what we're looking to house for you, what we're looking to automate for you. So your property management system is going to be the true source, that the source of truth, for all things, financial, all of your people, all of your processes and the entire rest of your business should be operating on a platform. Ideally not 13 different software, 22 different software, however many you have. We all know that there you're juggling software all the time. Our goal is to cut all of the noise and create a home base for exactly that your people and your processes. That way you, as the business owner and they, as the individual, are able to see their world in a glimpse and know exactly what's expected of them, exactly what they need to do next and how to proceed with that.

Bob Preston:                     17:07                    So, I’m guessing that some of these software packages we use and you're right. We do have a lot of them, and I have advocated during COVID that nothing new. And I remember blaze from your company was after me. And I told him that he and I recently connected, I guess, month or two ago, and we're talking, but does your platform or your PMOs, does it integrate with some of these softwares? Like it does it's for lack of better term talk to that software.

Heather Park:                   17:30                    It does, um, most software that you're using, like, um, any of the G suite tools or any of your task management tools or anything other than your property management software, most of those tools have a native integration within HubSpot or within our software. So what we call the bridge is our software and that doesn't integrate with your property management system, but it goes to your property management system gets the data that it needs, incorporates it in the right order and then plugs it back into HubSpot. So, all of those relationships and those connections between tenant owner, property, unit building, etc, etc, and all their ledgers and everything else, all that data comes over from your property management system into HubSpot. And then that data is what kicks off all of our processes and all of the systems that we've created for you. So, collections, for example, is a really good way to think about the data comes in. If there's an outstanding balance after the grace period that we read on the lease and your property management system, then it kicks off the series of collections notifications for that tenant and so on and so forth.

Bob Preston:                     18:32                    Gotcha. So, as you described this, I'm thinking in terms of kind of layers. You've got HubSpot is basically not your product products, an open source platform for creating these kinds of systems, right. And then you've got your PMOs, which is your proprietary technology that runs, I guess, on top of, if you think of it as layers on HubSpot. And then I guess either at the very bottom or the top, wherever you would position, it would be Appfolio, you know, some of these other software where you would be pulling your, and mining your data to feed, Hey, all right. So yeah, not as abstract at this point. So, if I think of my company, I've got hundreds, if not many thousands of processes, where would I start? And how would I do this? You know, do you, do you guys kind of have a menu if you will, of places you suggest starting and how long does it take? 

Heather Park:                   19:22                    They're all really good questions. So, we have clients come in all the time that are really on both ends of the spectrum. They have zero processes documented, or they have every process and then some documented, and there's really no great way to decide which end of the spectrum you want to be on because both of them have their downfalls. If you come in and, and like you described, you have every process documented. If you choose to go against what we recommend and try to automate exactly what you have, that's a very long, very tedious process. So what we've done, because we see this over and over and over again is we create, like you described a menu of sorts, but it's really a blueprint of industry, best practices that we've seen to be the most advantageous and the most efficient, if you will. So, we'll start with those bases for a typical client. We start with those bases and we say, okay, here's the building blocks. It's 80% of what you need in a particular process. Now here's the 20% on the fringe that we need you to make decisions on. How many days do you want this delay to be? Do you want an email and a text message to go out? Do you want this to be a form submitted from a landing page? Or do you want them to reply to the email to kick off this next process, etc. So there there's a handful of decisions within each process that we want you to make before you launch and test the process. So, call it collections or renewals or anything we've talked about. That's a base level process that we're going to have you tweak and modify within that 20% or so that that's allowed. And then test it. Once you know, after the test has kind of gone through and you you've played with it a little while and gotten accustomed to it, then you know what you don't know that you didn't know before. And, and you know, what options you have. And at that point is when we allow you to come back in and say, okay, we're going to customize this. However, you want to, here's the cost for adding this feature. Here's the cost for changing this or removing that, or you want to custom code this crazy thing that I've never heard of. Totally fine, but now you've used the process in its original form. So, you can tell me what you want. That's how we recommend that everyone does it. So, try out the base fundamentals that we've created for you and then make your decisions. But that's not to say that we don't have clients come in and do it exactly the opposite of that and customize it a hundred percent of the way through. That's just the slower and more expensive way to do it.

Bob Preston:                     21:43                    Yeah, it's interesting. I mean, we have processes documented pretty thoroughly. The problem is that it sits on a PDF on our file server, you know, so, um, who really is going to sit there and refer to this, you know, flip through this document to find out what the process is on a minute by minute basis. I mean, it doesn't happen, right? So, the main thing it's good for is training people, maybe signing, getting people to sign their life away to the company that this is your job. You know, if you do your job, you know, you're going to do fine here and maybe, uh, for legal compliance purposes. Cause in California, we need a broker compliance manual. Right. So great for that. But from a practical standpoint, it's not really that useful. So, what you're describing as this sort of dynamic, uh, interface, that, that helps people through that process on a daily basis. And the other thing you said that I kind of liked was that, you know, if we bring our process manual to you, our systems manual, you probably look at it and say, okay, well, 80% of this, we already have canned. So, we can help you get there faster if you trust us. And maybe instead of, you know, recreating the wheel, just go with us and then do the little bit of customization that makes your company unique. Am I getting that right?

Heather Park:                   22:54                    Absolutely. You nailed it. 

Bob Preston:                     22:56                    When speaking about automation, I mean, I was kind of joking around about this when we started, you know, I do a lot of podcasts. I talked to a lot of property managers on the president of the California state chapter of NARPM. Some people are afraid of this kind of stuff. And not that it's not a sound logic or a sound concept. I think the thing that people are afraid of is number one, committing to something so different than the way they've maybe done it for years. Some of the property managers I speak to have owned their company for 30, you know, family businesses, 30, 40 years, this is the way grandpa did it. This is the way my dad did it fine. I think when people think of automation, they might think of robotics or technology taking over something that humans have typically touched. So how do you keep that balanced? How much is too much? You know, how do you keep the balance between automation and human element of property management, which let's face it as it is a relationship business?

Heather Park:                   23:51                    Right? So, we kind of look at that issue two-fold and, and trust me, we get this question all the time, almost every prospect. Yeah. So the first side of that is how much is too much and looking at it from the perspective of just because you can automate it doesn't necessarily mean that you should it's the Jurassic Park question. We don't always know how to answer that for you because it's sometimes a very custom process just for you. But the way that we go about describing the ideal scenarios for process automation is those, those tedious, repetitive tasks that need to be done the same way every single time. Those are an ideal situation for truly automating something. If there's a rather intricate decision-making process that a human needs to go through in order to come to a conclusion for a particular stage in the process, that's where you're not going to want to automate the entire process. Even if you can, you're going to want to automate the tasks or the reminders or the follow-ups or any of the fringe necessities that go along with that process. So, you may not be able to automate a hundred percent of it, but maybe you can automate 50% of it. That's still 50% that that person didn't have to do, um, on a daily basis. So as far as how much is too much, um, I would definitely say when you're losing the ability to control the outcome is when you've gone too far or when you don't know what the outcome is going to be is when you've gone too far.

Bob Preston:                     25:21                    Or perhaps when you get, um, somebody who complains.

Heather Park:                   25:24                    I wouldn't go that far. There's some, some change management involved in all of that, but that's the other side of that conversation too, is that a lot of people say, you're going to lose the personal touch. Like you mentioned, this is a relationship business. What we find though over and over and over again is property management, as we know it, or as most people know it is a very reactive business. When you input all of these automations and give people the ability to do their jobs so much faster, so much smoother and ahead of the curve, you're being so much more proactive with your clients that they're not even noticing much less missing the human touch as it were. They're just noticing the level of customer service that they're receiving from you. I mean, think about the last time you called Amazon. I don't, I don't think I've ever called it. I don't know how to call Amazon. I don't know how to call.

Bob Preston:                     26:15                    Can't call Amazon. I tried to one time when my account got hacked and it was like, try to call POTUS, right? I mean, there was no way I was getting through. 

Heather Park:                   26:22                    Exactly, but at the end of the day, I'm thrilled with, I live on Amazon. I mean, probably to an unhealthy extent. I love it, but it's not something that exactly has a personal touch. Like it maybe did a decade or two ago. So that's kind of the approach that we take is if you're doing a great job and meeting your customer's needs, you're not going to get those complaints about whether or not they can call you and see how you're doing. They're not concerned about that. They just want their property manager.

Bob Preston:                     26:50                    I've talked about this a lot on, on the show that I believe that there's going to be a paradigm shift when we come out of the pandemic and keep our fingers crossed. It's looking promising that there's a vaccine. So, you know, maybe by next summer, or I don't know if it will be business as usual, but when, when it, when we come out of it, people are going to be having a higher set of expectations. And so, this is kind of what we're talking about, that extra level of customer service. Now, is there a typical profile of a company that would come to RentBridge and say, yeah, I'm ready. I mean, you talked about, uh, your company that you had with Michael being a thousand doors. I'm not a big fan of measuring companies based on their number of doors, but I mean, it is a measure that we use sometimes, right? What's the typical profile?

Heather Park:                   27:28                    So, um, there is, but not, not nearly as much as there used to be. When we were a much younger company, we had a, uh, a less varied range of clientele. Um, our average today is right around that 400-door count, but honestly, that's not what makes a client a good fit for us. We have clients as small as 80 doors that are using our process automation services. We have clients that just shy of 7,000 doors that are using our process on it, and they're using the same processes. So, what makes a good fit for a RentBridge client is several different scenarios. One of which is most often, if you're ready to make that next hire in your property management company, be it an actual property manager or someone on the maintenance coordination team or someone in the leasing team, or move out the team or whatever, if it's on the operational side there, there's more than likely an opportunity to automate enough of your, your other, um, employees work to eliminate the need to hire that person. So that's really one scenario that we see quite a bit when people are looking to make that next step and make that next hire. Um, we also see people that, again, can't control the outcome of their existing processes or those balls are getting dropped. And those processes are not being seen all the way to fruition and they come to us and they're desperate for a system and the guard rails that, that need to be put up and make sure that the consistency, um, is, is available to their team. And then they're able to track it and manage it. So that's really the, the profile. So, to speak of a good RentBridge client, somebody that's looking for some, some visibility, some transparency, um, or somebody that's looking to scale into that next role and maybe would prefer not to.

Bob Preston:                     29:12                    I like your term guardrails. When I started my business, I mean, I did everything right, is in the spare bedroom, right? I was the respondent, all inquiries. I signed all the leases. I showed all the properties. I did everything, you know, and now today it's hard for me to keep track of that. Day-to-day so how do I know that my people are kind of staying in their lane? You know, I mean, staying within those guardrails, that's a reality that a lot of us face and the leadership positions as our companies grow. And so, it's a very interesting point. Okay. So there are some other solutions out there, and I'm going to ask you kind of where you fit, like any software or any solution like this one there's spectrum from basic and simple to maybe complex and more, more complete. So, I'm going to rattle some off. You don't have to respond to each one, but, uh, we've seen Process Street tossed around out there. Sweet Process is another one you mentioned LeadSimple earlier. They're kind of making a push into the process based. Where do you guys fit in? Where does, how does rent bridge compare and how do you differentiate yourself?

Heather Park:                   30:08                    So, um, as compared to, you know, Process Street and at LeadSimple type concept, which I, I think those are two very different scenarios as well, but for process street specifically, that is in our opinion, much more of a checklist style scenario, which by the way, the people that come to us having used Process Street are typically the most organized and well-structured clients that we see. So, more power to Process Street is a fantastic tool if you're using it. And we do have a place to start maybe. Oh, absolutely. Yeah. We do have a client or two, actually that uses process street in conjunction with HubSpot for a very specific service. For example, if they have a VA that they would rather not introduce to HubSpot, I'll still continue using Process Street for certain, you know, small use case scenarios. Uh, it's pretty rare, but we do see it every now and then. Um, so as far as how we compare to Process Street, HubSpot and the rent bridge tools are so much bigger than, than just a process management or a checklist management system. This is like, like I described earlier an ecosystem where your marketing lives, your website lives, your process, automation lives, all of your, your CRM and all of the tools associated with that live all of your dashboard management lives here. So, it it's truly an ecosystem platform where your entire business is operating. Um, it has something very similar to, to Process Street in the form of either playbooks or, um, some of the more custom checklists that we set up as part of the automations. Um, so there's very much an option for that, but to compare them is really not all that fair because they're not designed to do the same things, if that makes sense.

Bob Preston:                     31:49                    You’re at opposite ends of that spectrum. It sounds like, understanding what you're saying, process street, nice solution, very basic kind of checklist oriented, fine. If you're just trying to document basic processes, but what you guys offer is, you know, way more automated up at the higher end of the spectrum. And probably I'm guessing more expensive.

Heather Park:                   32:06                    Yeah. There's a little bit of a difference there. Um, but it's definitely a different scenario.

Bob Preston:                     32:13                    To pricing, but at the end of the episode here, I'm going to ask you to tell people how they can reach out and you guys can give them the demo and stuff like that. Okay. This is kind of good timing. I'm guessing that a lot of people, I don't know, you know where I'm going with this, but it seems like I know we're starting our budgeting process for 2021. And a lot of people must be thinking about it. I typically go away for Thanksgiving. And when I come back, I'm kind of pedal to the metal till about February. Are you getting that? Are people coming to you? Hey, we want, you know, we want 2021 to be different. Like, can you help us? What's the climate out there from potential clients you're speaking with?

Heather Park:                   32:47                    Um, yeah, you know, it's funny. We typically do see that big push at the end of the year, people are trying to, you know, throw some expenses onto their 2020 taxes and not have that bleed over into 2021, get that write off now. Or they are trying to revamp their systems entirely and really want to dive in before the new year. But in all honesty, this started for us, this, this big push in this kind of desperate need for all of the automation at the very beginning of COVID. We were, um, uh, not to take advantage of a horrible situation, but for us, we were just trying to keep up. This was an opportunity. This, this horrible crisis became an opportunity for us to show people how to stay afloat and to be able to help people keep their doors open. So we, of course, we're very blessed on, on the business end of this, but we're also so thrilled to be able to see all of these businesses still survive and, and still be able to thrive in such an environment where they couldn't do a whole lot about it. They had to just figure it out and we were able to help them do that. So, our big rush actually started long, long ago. So, we haven't necessarily seen a big push here towards the end of the year, or at least we haven't noticed it because we've just been turning through it that this whole time. But we do hear that from time to time that people are either taking into consideration their taxes or they want to get on our books before the beginning of the year so that their team can be onboarded rather quickly. 

Bob Preston:                     34:06                    Yeah, I know that's an interesting point. We're doing things way differently than we used to because of this unfortunate scenario. And one of those is streamlining things. So, you know, we're more touchless, right? And so that kind of feeds into what you guys do. And many of the things I know that we've implemented at our business, we're never going to go back, right. You know, there, there are some of these things, or maybe things we were a little nervous about introducing, you know, you might hear that and now that we've done it.

Heather Park:                   34:33                    Well, and with remote teams, we found that over and over again, that people are so nervous about managing remote teams, but you don't have any reason to be nervous. You have all of your dashboards for every person, for every department, you know exactly what's going on or what's not going on. So, it's kind of both ends of the spectrum.

Bob Preston:                     34:48                    Incredible point. You're right. I mean, how do you, how do you stay on top of what your people are doing on a daily basis and your solution helps them do that? Hey, I always like to ask my guests to tell a brief story. I prepped you for this. So, this could be anything, you know, something that's shaped your life, or maybe your outlook, uh, either in your personal or professional life, what do you got for us today? You got something you can share?

Heather Park:                   35:07                    So, you know, it has a lot to do with what we talked about very early on in the episode and how I became a part of property management. Um, I was in a very nice position in my old job. The oil and gas industry at the time was very lucrative, very, very easy to be in. It was an enjoyable position. The paycheck was obviously really, really good. Um, I had no complaints there except I never saw my kids. I never saw my family. I never had any downtime. I was gone all the time. And, and frankly, it was a huge leap of faith. In fact, my now husband, Michael told me over and over again that he couldn't afford me, and he wasn't wrong. I told him, I don't care. You, you need help. You know, there's fires everywhere. Your property management business is a little bit of a mess, even though it was growing like crazy. Um, that growth came with a lot of pain points. And at the time I, you know, I was very structured, very organized person. So, I said, I can help you. You need the help. I'm quitting one way or the other. I got to get my life back. I'm coming to help you. So fortunately, like I said, it worked out, but that was a big, big leap of faith for me, going from something that I knew and something that I had studied and had a professional, um, engagement in and, uh, studying oil and gas and, and being a petroleum geologist is kind of a big deal for most people that are going down that path and to kind of uproot and go into an industry I really had never heard of and didn't know anything about and had to learn from the ground up. And it wasn't entirely convinced I was going to get a paycheck was a little bit, um, of a scary decision. But for me, being able to see the impact that I can have on, on our staff, on our employees, on everyone that we work with from the perspective of structuring, not only our business, but our service offerings to provide them the ability to make their own life decisions, to not be hamstrung by whatever's going on in their business or whatever fire they have to put out next. It just created options for me that that had never existed before. And frankly, I want to do the same thing for my staff. I think I've posted a long rambling post about this on Facebook, not very long ago, but really at the end of the day, we look back and we're, I'm just humbled by the impact that we're able to have. Like, like I said, on our staff, on our employees, on our contractors, on our clients and giving them their own life choices back when, before this, they were kind of stuck. They were, they were dealing with this, you know, firefighter mentality of you never know what's going to happen. And every time the phone rings, it's a bad thing. And what's going on in my business. And how am I going to make payroll and creating, you know, a profitability out of, uh, an industry that has very low profit margins. That's just no longer an issue at this stage in the game when it comes to truly diving into our services and, and, and working with our team. So, for me, the, the humbling experience came not only when I left an industry that I knew and loved and got into this very foreign industry to me at the time. Um, but also just seeing everything that we can do and continue to do and have the op the opportunity to do in such a crazy environment that there's, for me, there's just really no other, other way to look at it. We're humbled. And we're very blessed to be in this scenario.

Bob Preston:                     38:15                    Wow. That's a really cool story. You have kind of recreated yourself if you will. I'm sure. As a geologist, you probably had some pretty good analytical skills, um, that have applied well. I mean, there's got to be some skill crossover. That's good. Hey, listen, I can't thank you enough for coming on the show. This has a terrific episode. I've learned a lot and I would love to continue, but in the interest of time, I need to wrap up today. So, any last words or thoughts for our audience about process automation, what you guys do. And if someone wanted to reach out to RentBridge and learn more, how would they go about doing that?

Heather Park:                   38:51                    Sure, just last thoughts are what we tell most of our prospects and our clients is that, you know, automation is not designed to help you get rid of staff. Automation is designed to help you grow your company, to accommodate the staff load that you have and make their lives better and make your life better. So, it's not necessarily something that we want everybody to consider making more bang for your buck. That's not the goal. The goal is life improvement. And, and at the end of the day, that's what we're looking to achieve. So that's kind of my parting thought there. But, um, as far as how to get ahold of us, our website is, is the easiest way to connect with Blaze or someone else on our sales team to discuss any of your options, be it process automation or marketing automation. And that website URL is rentbridgegroup.com. And we'd be happy to talk to you. We're looking forward to it.

Bob Preston:                     39:40                    There are a couple of cool downloads you have on your website, too, right? There was an eBook on automated processes. Well, I saw two, um, and there's also one about the marketing process startup, and it goes into some cool stuff, identifying personas. So I'll put links to various pages on your site, maybe those downloads. So Heather, thank you for joining property management brainstorm. This has been awesome. Really appreciate your time. And as we wrap up today, I'd like to make another quick plug to our listeners to please click on the subscribe button, give us a like, and if you could please also pay it forward with a positive review to help encourage more great guests like Heather to come on our show. And that concludes today's episode of the property management brainstorm show. Thank you so much for joining until next time we will be in the field, working hard for our clients to maximize their rental income, maintain top tenant relations, and we will catch you next time.





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