Ray White Rockhampton case study: meet Cassie Sparks
Cassie Sparks is the Operations Manager of Ray White Rockhampton, a high-performing office managing around 1000 properties. As the nerve centre of the office, responsible for overseeing the property management team and program changes, Cassie was a key player in the migration of the office from Gateway to Console Cloud.
Ray White Rockhampton’s property management team pride themselves on achieving maximum financial returns for their investors through strict arrears policies, priority access to market intelligence, and industry-best standards of staff training, education and resources.
That reputation could have been at risk during the migration process—if the transition wasn’t smooth, their owners would feel it.
As it turns out, Ray White Rockhampton’s transition to Console Cloud was a successful one—not without the odd hiccup, but where any hiccups were managed easily and to Cassie’s satisfaction. This success would not have been possible without the preparation and input by Ray White Rockhampton, and their partnership-type relationship with Console Cloud’s implementations team.
We caught up with Cassie about her team’s transition to Console Cloud, and for some frank advice to other offices managing similar or smaller portfolios considering making that change.
Why did Ray White Rockhampton go with Console Cloud? What do you like or love about it now?
We chose Console Cloud because the interface was easy to use and follow. At least, that’s what attracted us initially over competitors’ trust accounting and property management platforms. It’s possible that there are other platforms out there more advanced than Console Cloud, but the road map of future features and upgrades was really exciting for us. We could also see that they’ve been accountable and delivering on that roadmap pretty consistently in their quarterly release webinars.
We figured we could tolerate some pain in the short-term because we could see how rapidly Console Cloud is growing, adding, changing, and improving. But just to be sure we were making the right call, we spoke to some other Ray White offices who were long term Gateway users like us and had moved to Console Cloud (or other platforms) and got their feedback as well. That helped convince us to make the move.
We just love how easy it is to navigate, and we love how the workflows really do away with our need for manual things like checklists and extra bits of paper. It’s [info relating to tenants, owners, properties, creditors etc] all recorded in a simple visual timeline that’s easy to see and easy to find. It means anyone in the office can jump on and get up to speed in the event that the PM dealing with it is away or out of the office.
There are also some really genius hacks, like recording a rental reference for a vacating tenant to make future life for us easier. Little things like that seem so simple, but they’re actually life-changing for us.
Tell us about your migration and onboarding experience. Was it what you expected?
Onboarding was SO EASY. Put it this way, I managed the entire process by myself. I’m a pretty busy manager, so that I think speaks to how efficient it was. I mean, I even checked and changed every single owner/property and tenant file—I wouldn't recommend that to anyone, but that’s honestly how easy it was.
It was a straightforward process, made even better by our implementation guy. He was the BOMB. Seriously: extra credit to him for putting up with me and my spam of emails! I asked a lot of questions of him, and he just fired back all the answers cheerfully and without delay.
We had a few issues along the way with how properties come across, and sometimes there was a duplicate for the tenants, such as overlapping tenant dates (where a tenant was set up in gateway, but pulled out of the new tenancy and made inactive and then a new tenant approved and moved it—turns out Console Cloud doesn't like that). This issue was sorted pretty quickly though.
I also processed EOM on the weekend and shot the required information through to him on Sunday to prep for our go-live date on Monday. AND HE DID ALL THE STUFF ON THE SUNDAY. Seriously, how good is that? So we were able to go live on Monday without a hiccup at all. It was very impressive.
What did Ray White Rockhampton do to prepare for a successful migration? What advice would you give other agencies thinking of making the switch?
When you get the month trial, you need to go hard. Play in that sandbox as much as you can and do everything you can think of! Seriously, get your hands dirty. I would also recommend you speak to other offices that have Console Cloud. They’ll usually be super helpful too.
And training? Don't even second guess getting the training package. Do a few hours before, a few right after and then save some for later. That’s what we did at Ray White Rockhampton, and we made the right call. But really, just do it—make the choice to migrate to Console Cloud. Yes, there are going to be differences and some things take longer to do at the start, at least initially, but on a whole the time saving and de-risking/bum-covering of your business has increased at least tenfold.
What is the team's experience like now that you are on Console Cloud?
The team is so happy with the change, and we come from an office of long-term gateway users who weren’t really into the software change. I thought I had my work cut out for me getting everyone on board and in love with the same program. But actually: Console Cloud sold itself and I barely had to do any convincing.
Have you noticed any differences to the way you work now you're on Console Cloud?
Yes! For sure.
Arrears: the workflow makes this way easier to manage. And we mean easier in every way. We communicate with tenants via the workflow and everything is recorded. If a tenant is in arrears 1 day today and still in arrears in seven days' time, you can see so easily at a glance everything you've done to fix this. Arrears really used to take up a lot of our PMs’ time, so to have that kind of automation has been super helpful.
Vacates: same as above. It makes it so much faster to manage, because we have all the information we need in one timeline or workflow. We used to have what we thought was a great process, but it was paper-based and had a lot of room for human error. This new process is all in your face, which makes it so clear, so efficient and just so much easier.
Property managers are busy enough as it is, without all the paper shuffling to find answers. It’s so good being up to put notes on the screen in the vacate workflow explaining what’s due to be sorted for vacate, or outstanding money.
Receipting and EOM
Receipting and EOM (end of month): have I saved the best for last, or what? This is my job, and can I just say that this is by far the most incredible change. It used to take 17 years to do a backup before and after I processed EOM. It was so clunky and manually intensive. I used to dread EOM.
Now, EOM in Console Cloud is done in under 10 clicks of the mouse. It’s just so much faster, so much easier, so much better in every way.
Receipting is also incredibly efficient. Emailing receipts is so cost effective and easy. Plus, the entire receipting process is clean and fast. Matching off payments in a bulk receipting import where they have failed to match themselves is so much easier too. It’s all on the same screen—just a click, and the problem is solved.
Any final thoughts on the change to Console Cloud?
Ray White Rockhampton is a busy office with predominantly long term server-based software users. It was a scary step committing ourselves to such a massive change. What if we didn't like what we had gotten ourselves into?
But what if we did choose the right platform? What if we picked the one that was ever-growing, developing and changing just like our business? What if we chose the platform that really had the heart of property management and property managers as its focus, rather than just replicating other software into a cloud-based system? What if we could save our staff time and stress, and save our business money by choosing Console Cloud?
After much research, investigation and trialing, we went with Console Cloud. Right from the moment we made that decision and locked it in, everything fell into place for us, and we made the right choice. This was helped greatly by the Console Cloud support team, whom we refer at our office as the ‘A Team’.
Meet the A Team
First we have Andre who is our account manager and he helped get us moving. We were then assigned Alex for implementations and onboarding (another A for the A Team). Alex made the process so easy and stress-free for us. He really stepped through what needed to be done to prepare, and broke it down so it all felt super manageable. And it was: we got through it easily.
Console Cloud is also partnering with so many other great third party apps and programs too—which brings us to the final member of the A Team: Andy. Andy is a member of the Console Cloud product team who is personally helping us with an integration of another platform we use in the office with Console Cloud. Being able to trial that relationship and give feedback directly to Andy has been great.
It became evident Ray White Rockhampton had made the right choice
Once we migrated it quickly became evident that we had chosen software perfectly for our office. Within the first couple weeks changes were released which improved the platform, and we learned that the Console Cloud developer team actually listens to property managers. It’s exciting to know that we are part of how this platform grows.
Changes are happening so often and in such a positive that way we find ourselves questioning why we stayed away from Console Cloud for so long. We have saved a heap of time in all areas of property management by making this move. The time savings on trust accounting tasks alone is mind boggling. Plus, the flexibility to work remotely is a massive bonus!
Want to read how other agencies have found the transition to Console Cloud? Why not read about Professionals Lifestyle Realty Marsden's experience, or see how Harcourts Astute Paddington wiped 40% of their time on admin by using Console Cloud.
Interested in rent roll growth? Check out our interviews with Dean Yeo of Real Estate Dynamics (RED) on finding out what your rent roll is worth, and what to consider when buying and selling a rent roll.