The best pre-holiday checklist for property managers

There’s nothing better than going on holidays with a strong finish to the year, and knowing you’ve left minimal work for your colleagues to take care of.

 

But sometimes—and especially at the end of the year, when your brain has left the building and you’re pretty tuckered out from the year—to focus on getting everything done. To help you out with that, we’ve got the master property manager checklist. It’s just a matter now of tick, flick, done! So if you’re wondering whether you’ve got your bases covered before you, we're here to help.

 

Let's get to it: Here's the best pre-holiday checklist for property managers—no matter which software you're using.

Pre-holiday checklist for property managers

  1. Make sure you’ve rescheduled any routine inspections that will conflict with your or another PM's annual leave. Early January tends to be a challenge for colleagues to keep track of who is working what days. 
  2. Notes for days is a good way to make sure you don't miss anything. Write lots of them in your files so it is completely and unambiguously clear to anyone who needs to look at your portfolio where things are up to. If you're using Console Cloud, you can easily leave these on your tenant files and rest assured that they’ll be found by your coworkers. 
  3. Get on top of rental arrears. We know this is easier said than done, especially since most agencies experience a surge in arrears before Christmas. However, if you can bring yourself to call and get in touch with everyone—even if they are only one day behind—before you go, your coworkers (and your principal) will thank you.
  4. On that note, if you're using Console Cloud, make sure you’re taking advantage of the rent arrears workflow. It’s sliced average days in arrears from ~9 to ~2.7 days across all Console Cloud users. Set up automated reminders to keep your tenants on track.
  5. Consider disbursing to your owners before Christmas. Yes, this is an option! Just remember that when you return, you will need to receipt, reconcile and disburse to the end of the 31st of December, and then close off that month before you begin receipting any January transactions.
  6. If you're planning to disburse on 31 December, make sure you have a plan for if something goes awry in the ledger between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. This might also be a good time to check out our Service Team’s Christmas trading hours, in case you get stuck.
  7. Make sure your owners and tenants are in possession of the right emergency contact details and your Christmas trading hours. If you plan to do this by sending bulk emails from Gateway, we show you how below. 
  8. Make sure your owners and tenants are prepared for extreme weather events. You could send out this fire preparedness checklist, or this storm preparedness checklist from the Insurance Council of Australia.
  9. As a reminder, the SES hotline for flood and storm emergencies is 132 500. For fire emergencies, always dial 000.
  10. Nominate someone in your office to handle any open service or IT tickets while you're gone. Our Service Team will be online on all business days to help. So if you have an open case logged with us, let us know who we should be talking to in your absence. Need a case logged? Call us on 1300 131 311. 
  11. Make an appointment with your colleagues who are working over the break and check in with them. Do they have all the information they need from you? Have you armed them with all the resources they'll need to handle your portfolio while you're away?
  12. Set your out of office email auto-responder up. If you'd like to add some creative flare to your out of office replies, you could take inspiration from some of these by Future of Working. Warning though: some of these are probably not the tone your agency prefers to set!
  13. Thank the saint(s) in the office if they are working through the break. Wine is also a way of saying thank you. Ditto for chocolate. 
  14. Tidy your desk, shut down your computer completely, and turn off your monitors and any bluetooth devices. Clean your food out of the fridge, and make a set of notes for yourself for your return so you don’t miss a beat.
  15. Skip through the office merrily and close the door on your way out. You’re on holidays!

 

... And when you come back

If you handle any receipting or trust accounting, take note of this sage advice from our Console Service Specialists: to avoid getting out of balance over the holidays, make sure you only try to receipt one day at a time. Be sure to reconcile to that day to avoid any errors in your receipting. That'll make it easier for you to spot something that doesn't balance.  

Pre-holiday checklist tips for Console Cloud users

We've compiled some more handy notes for those of you using Console Cloud.

Enter any notes about tenants, creditors, owners, maintenance, arrears—you name it—into the relevant place. Our workflows make sure that you can type and save whereve you need to, and the note will attach itself intuitively so your notes can be seen in all the right places. 

Task management

You can now set and delegate tasks in Console Cloud. Click on the inbox icon in the top right of your Console Cloud window to open a list of all tasks. To make things easier to find, you can also filter these based on completion status, who assigned them, and who is associated with them. Oh, and don't forget: you can associate these tasks with properties, so that if someone checks that property's details, they'll see any tasks associaetd with it. It's a good way to make sure nothign is missed!

Manage arrears

If you haven’t already done so, we recommend you open the Arrears workflow from the main menu and take a look. Trust us on this one—it’ll make it much easier for you and everyone else to see where each tenant is up to. Tick to set up automated reminders via email and text, and edit the automated message as suits you.

Get your tenants using the Tenant App

This app is available through the Apple and Google app stores, and shows your tenants the current status of their lease, expiry, and rent. They can also use this app to raise maintenance requests more easily with you, meaning you won't have to waste time chasing down photos and details.

Check into the compliance workflow before you go on leave

Long-neglected by property management software providers, compliance is a huge risk to the security and success of property management businesses. With our compliance workflow, you can easily see which items will be nearing expiry. Some smoke alarms or other items expiring while you're on leave? Assign a task to your colleagues to manage, or schedule ahead of time. It'll bring you that peace of mind that makes a holiday so much more enjoyable.

Set up office templates

Make your life easier with office templates. You can set these up under Settings > Templates. Identify what kind of party the message would go to (tenant, owner, creditor etc.) and the category of communication (Compliance, applications, arrears etc.) and draft your message. We’ve included easy merge field buttons to speed up the process. 

Do disbursements from home (or wherever you are)

If you’re disbursing before Christmas, no dramas. And if you’re disbursing on the 31st of December, then you can also do that wherever you are. With Console Cloud, your work can be accessed from a web browser, so provided you have an internet connection you are good to go. You can also opt to send a statement to owners on disbursement.  

 

Pre-holiday checklist tips if you use Gateway

Below is  quick 101 on Gateway. And tor anything we don’t cover below, you can either click on Help in the main toolbar > then click on Knowledge Base inside Gateway to get more answers. Or, you can get in touch with our friendly Service team.

Create notes

While there are about three ways to do this, probably the best one to make sure someone else sees it when they open a file is simply to create a post-it note right there in the file.

Open the Owner / Tenant / Creditor or Property File > click Actions (on the top toolbar) > New Note. Remember: don’t hit the X to close the note. Leave it up there on top of the file, and then hit Save and Close. The next person to open the file will see it. Believe us.

Create labels and send bulk emails

We get lots of questions at this time of year about how to send bulk emails with a Christmas letter (or storm + fire preparedness info), and how to create mail labels for Christmas cards. If this is you, here’s the Knowledge Base article showing you how to create labels, and here’s the one to send a bulk email. Although this second link is for landlords or owners, if you would like to send them to your creditors or tenants, it’s easy. Simply change step one in the procedure we linked to above to open the Tenants or Creditors view (instead of Owners), and then follow the procedure as usual.

Thinking of changing your PM software next year? Make sure you get a personalised Console Cloud demo for your agency before making a decision. 

 

Pre-holiday checklist tips if you use RPO

We get similar questions before Christmas about how to create labels for Christmas cards, and how to send e-cards to landlords as attachments to the December statements run. This is how to export a list of landlords and their address details to a CSV file, so you can begin a mail merge in Excel (or your office’s equivalent application).

Create labels for mailing Christmas cards

  1. Click on the Clients tab.
  2. Click on the Filter Data button.
  3. In the Client Options menu, make sure the option for Filter is on Relations.
  4. Next, click the Relations tab.
  5. Select Landlord (and / or owner)  in the table labeled 2: Select Relation.
  6. If you want to filter the data even further, you can select the other tables available.
  7. Once you are happy with your selection, click Search.
  8. This will gather and display the information you have selected.
  9. From here you can either print the list as a report, or click the Export Clients button to export this as a CSV spreadsheet. If you’re using Excel and need a refresher on how to create a mail merge, here’s Microsoft’s how-to article.

Send an e-card with your emailed statements

This one has a rather long set of instructions. If you want it emailed to you, let us know in the Live Chat box. If you’re viewing this article on a PC, you can click on it right now—it’s in the bottom right of this window!

 

And last but by no means least, pre-holiday checklist tips if you’re using GeeDee

Make sure you’ve followed these procedures in full before you begin processing any 2020 transactions. 31 December is the end of a year, the end of an era, and also (alas) just another end of month or period. 

Your to-do list on January 2:

  1. On the first working day of the new calendar year, (i.e. Thursday 2 January) print your audit reports for close of business for the calendar year..
  2. When you very definitely have in your hand the printed audit reports, you can begin entering and processing data for 2020. 
  3. Make a back-up of your GeeDee files on your chosen media device (e.g. your external hard drive) and keep this separately. Your auditor may want to look at this back-up.  

 

Bank Statements:

If you have access to online banking, print a statement from the closing date of your last bank reconciliation to end of trading on 31 December. If you don’t use online banking, you should arrange to pick up a statement on your first trading day of 2020 (for most people, this will be 2 January). If this applies to you, it’s best to get this sorted with your bank prior to Tuesday 31 December.

This statement must contain all transactions continuing from the last statement you have reconciled to the end of trading on 31 December. From here:

  1. Referring to your bank statement, receipt all monies paid into your agency’s trust account, up to and including the 31 December. Don’t receipt money that has been paid at the office or received in the mail, as these items are not on the bank statement and will not be part of end of year.
  2. Complete a Bank Reconciliation up to 31 December, 2019.
  3. Complete and roll over the bank reconciliation.
  4. Print another trust account trial balance and lessor trial balance, non-zero accounts, and a bond listing (which will include any transactions you entered from your 31 December 2019 bank statement).
  5. Print by navigating to Trust Account > Trial Balance > Print Detailed Reports. N.B. These reports should be kept with your bank reconciliation for your auditor.

Pre-holiday checklist all done? You can now start processing 2020 transactions. Happy new year!

And that’s it. Once you've nailed your pre-holiday checklist, you're ready to say goodbye to 2019.

So from all of us at Console, we hope all our customers have a safe, restful and magical Christmas break, with all the joy the season brings. We are so looking forward to another brilliant year doing business with you. 

 

Wondering what to read next? Get ahead of the new year by checking out 7 trends hitting the real estate sector in 2020, or reflect on the year that was with these 5 lessons for property management from 2019.