It’s amazing that with the technology available today, many investors are still managing certain aspects of their real estate with old, outdated methods that cost them time and money (the more important being time).
While many investors have become accustomed to using technology for personal tasks, such as reading user forums, visiting websites, or socializing, many don’t use it for their real estate business.
Here are some examples of the ways in which an investor can use technology to improve customer service for tenants and keep ahead of the competition:
Virtual Phone Line
You bought your first property and after renting out your units, your tenants ask for a number where they can reach you. Without thinking, maybe you give them your home number or your cell phone number. Now you can never get away from your tenants because they know how to reach you at home (or anywhere with your cell).
The easiest solution is to order a separate virtual phone line and give that number to tenants. Bell Canada offers a service called Single Number Reach which does not require physical installation in your home, but still gives you a unique phone number for people to call.
It can be forwarded to any number, offer the caller a menu to choose from, and even change options based on the time of day. Having a separate phone number for tenants will allow you to buy your personal life back and control when you are interrupted.
If you’re managing your properties yourself, you may be wondering how you ever decided to invest in real estate. It may seem like you’re always responding to tenant requests at all hours of the day and it never seems to end.
One way to solve this is to setup voicemail on your phone line with an announcement that states you check messages once or twice a day, and tenants should leave a message with all their contact details. You may even let them know you prefer email and to have them leave their email address so you can reply back to them.
If you want to go completely digital, you can even sign up for a service that transcribes your voicemails and have your messages sent directly to your email inbox so you never have to check voicemail again.
Email has become a required tool in today’s business world, yet it’s surprising how few investors take advantage of it. A custom email address can be setup for your tenants, so instead of leaving you a voicemail, they can simply send you a quick email message.
You can even use this tool to stay in touch with your tenants on a regular basis, informing them about things such as referral programs for renting out your other units, planned upgrades/repairs for their building, or even just to wish them a happy birthday.
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In addition to (or instead of) using a custom email address, you can setup a tenant website to reduce the time you spend on regular tenant requests. For example, you could include a list of emergency numbers for tenants to call in case of water leak, plugging toilet, electrical fault, or other problems.
Simply inform them that they may call a repair technician on the list for service, but if the technician determines the problem is caused by the tenant, THEY will be billed and not you. This will free up a huge amount of your time dealing with minor maintenance requests.
For more involved maintenance items, you could include a web form that lists a description of the problem, their name and contact info, the best time for the repairs to be performed, and any other information you require.
Once the form is submitted, this information can then be emailed to you, and you can then forward it off to your handyman to perform the work.
Cell Phone With Text Messaging / SMS
Most investors are part-time and have full-time jobs or other time commitments. It can be a waste of time to be constantly checking voicemail or a special email account for tenant requests.
One solution is to purchase a cell phone that includes text messaging (or SMS) and have all the above services notify you if there’s a new request. This is done easily by having a message send to a special email address that usually includes your phone number (ask your provider for details).
For example, most voicemail can be configured to notify someone at a pre-determined email address. Simply enter your cell phone’s SMS email address and you will now be notified when someone leaves you a message.
Configuring your custom email and website can be done in a similar manner, so that you are always notified instantaneously when a tenant request has come in.
These are just a few examples of how applying technology to your real estate business can save you time and money, and keep your tenants happier.
Remember: In real estate, the true asset is not the property,
it’s the tenant. So if you can keep them happy, they’ll
happily pay off your mortgage for you.