Times have changed since our last Console Cloud quarterly release webinar, held all the way back in the dim recesses of memory (it was on 7 February 2020). March felt about 3,000 days long, and April, while an improvement, has been a hard slog for real estate agencies and real estate software companies alike.
Still, we have an absolute bumper feature release to bring you this quarter.
Last quarter, we showed you a road map of what to expect to see released in Console Cloud in Autumn of 2020. We’ve moved some of these priorities around to better support our clients’ challenges in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our tagline is ‘Do less. Make more.’ But in the current environment, our clients are faced with the less than ideal challenge of doing more with less income. Arrears are trending upwards nationally, which quickly eats into the commissions pool that Property Management businesses survive on.
Let’s take a look at these measures in more detail.
With lockdown restrictions making routine inspections difficult for most agencies, there’s been a hard pivot in the last month towards enabling tenants to self-inspect. That is, enabling the tenant to undertake the routine inspection on the property in lieu of their property manager.
To that end, we’ve built a feature in Inspections in Console Cloud that simplifies this process for agencies and tenants. Our customers can generate a tenant self-inspection request which emails the tenant with a form to fill out on their laptop or phone, instructions for use, and space to attach photos.
Once the tenant completes the inspection and hits submit, the inspection will automatically be synced with Console Cloud, and generate a link to view the report.
What happens if you open the tenant’s completed routine inspection and spot some property damage in a photo that was not reported on? Easy. You can now edit all past routine inspections of any property. Provided the report is in Console Cloud, you can view and edit it from the Inspections page.
The ability to edit routine inspections will soon be followed by the ability to edit entry and exit condition reports. We’ve released this feature earlier than we would normally by piloting it through our Console Labs testing project.
Console Labs features bring you new features you’ve asked for but with a few more rough edges than you’d normally expect. That’s because we’re releasing these types of features early—both so that we can test and refine the feature, and also give us time to collect your feedback and action it.
It’s not quite the same as beta testing, which usually relies on a smaller, closed group of customers who partner with us and trial our new features before we release them into a live environment. Inspections editing is the first feature we’ve released using the Console Labs test-and-improve method.
You can now add any documents you like to the owner’s portal. This means you maintain full control over what documents you want the owner to see. But it also means that your owners are able to take more ownership of these documents and their own data.
We’ve also improved the quality of data that is made automatically available to your owners via the portal. Specifically, owners will now be able to see a nuanced financial snapshot of where their property/ies is/are up to, where tenants have paid rent to, any money held on trust, EOFY statements, monthly statements, any payments due or owed, and the income that property or properties have generated.
These two upgrades may seem small, but they remove a productivity blocker for most PMs, who find themselves being the messenger who must repeatedly deliver the same messages. We hope it means the end of endlessly printing, emailing, or otherwise making information available to owners every time they lose it, don’t have it or don’t want to go searching for it.
It also improves the quality of your service to your owners. By putting owners closer to their own information, PMs have a chance to lift the quality of conversations with them. Instead of wasting time explaining figures, PMs and owners can spend more time making key decisions and having quality conversations that improve those relationships—rather than erode them.
These aren’t just static dashboards like you’ve seen in most software for most of the past decade. Our advanced new reporting tool, Insights Plus, lets you select data and drill down into it, see changes over time, and measure your success in ways that have been hitherto impossible. At least, impossible without the assistance of a data analyst or enterprise financial modeling software.
We’ve fast-tracked the release of this feature to enable Console Cloud users with administrator access to get a handle on their key metrics as soon as possible. This feature is designed to help leaders navigate the pandemic and the impact it has on their business, and empower them to make the right business decisions as early as possible.
Editor’s note: This feature is still being finalised in a closed Beta trial. It will be released to all Console Customers in the coming weeks.
This is an extension of the reporting we released last quarter. It offers agencies users with administrative access (the highest degree of access) the ability to analyse arrears, inspections, lease renewals, gained and lost managements, maintenance, and vacant property data. You can use it to:
Insights Plus is the start of a very powerful tool with machine learning built into it. In the future, when we have twelve months of data behind this, you will start to see predictive reporting and trends being available to you in this feature as well.
Lease renewals are one of our most sophisticated workflows. For extra flexibility and speed, you can now filter and drill down through lease renewals by portfolio—so you can see just the information that’s relevant to you.
You can also use our Realworks/REI Forms/Forms Live integration to automatically populate fields in a new lease, and get information about renewals faster with better owner intent instructions surveys that automatically feedback into the workflow. This means you won’t have to go chasing instructions via a reply to an email—they will appear automatically when the owner has submitted them.
And to make remote work better and easier for our users, we’ve also added a comprehensive tenant timeline to the lease renewal workflow. This means you’ll never have to go digging through files for information about the property, tenants, owners, and so on—and neither will anyone else who has to pick up this work and keep it moving.
While people are working remotely, having that consolidated timeline gives everyone the ability to see where a property is at. This extra communication means we’re removing the forensics from helping out with someone else’s portfolio, and saving you time and energy. No more deciphering unstructured notes!
We’ve updated the automation settings in the Compliance workflow. Now, you can tell Console Cloud to automatically start notifying relevant parties when compliance items are due to expire soon, including prompting parties to commence compliance activities.
You can also set this workflow up to automatically send follow-up reminders to those people. And finally, You can also configure it to automatically notify relevant parties when the compliance certificates have been updated.
This means that if you decide to turn on automation in this workflow, you will only need to manage any exceptions. Compliance can more or less take care of itself, and alert you when any action needs to be taken by you. You’ll only need to intervene, in other words, when there’s an exception, or if something has gone wrong, e.g., if someone has not followed up or completed a thing as instructed.
Being able to manage by exception means that you’re making less work for yourself, and better managing risk to your business and your owners’ investments.
Yardstick is an exciting new tool that lets our customers track a key customer loyalty metric: their Net Promoter Score or NPS. Your NPS is a measure of how your customer base feels about your business as a cumulative score somewhere between -100 and +100.
Your NPS is calculated by sending a one-question survey to all your owners, asking them to rate how likely they would be to recommend your business to others, on a scale of 1-10 (one being the worst, ten being the best).
Console Cloud’s Yardstick enables you to send this survey, collate the results directly in Console Cloud, and calculate your global NPS score. It also lets you identify what score each of your owners gave you so that you can reach out to them directly and take action.
Yardstick, in other words, can tell you who of your clients are unhappy and need saving before they leave, and who are your best candidates for referrals, testimonials, or securing additional managements (if they have them). It provides you with leading indicators of how your portfolio will perform.
Marketplace is a hub open to all Console Cloud users to check out available add-ons and integrations with other software and systems. You’ll need administrator access to activate any add-ons though!
Marketplace works by letting you link your Console Cloud office with other accounts. When you do this, you don’t have to operate two systems independently. This means fewer duplicate data entries, less time making sure data is consistent between sources, and less brain power wasted trying to understand where tasks are at between two systems.
We also understand the importance to our customers of peace of mind—especially as far as data transfer and privacy is concerned. That’s why we’ve made sure the activity log records all data that is being transferred between Console Cloud and the integration you have activated and linked to Console Cloud.
If you migrated from Gateway to Console Cloud this financial year, you’ll be able to activate a setting that combines Gateway and Console Cloud transactions in your EOFY statements. This means if you so choose, you can generate one EOFY statement for owners that will cover all transactions for the year in one document.
Tenants now have better self-service options to track their payments and rental history in the Console Tenant app. They can activate Console Pay and create a payment schedule for more consistent rent payments.
Read about Manjimup Property Management Service’s migration from Gee Dee to Console Cloud, get your free copy of the Buyer’s Guide to Property Management Software, or read Ray White Rockhampton’s sage advice for migrating to cloud-based software.