Highlights from the Console Cloud Winter Release 2020

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Console Cloud now offers the most comprehensive and efficient suite of software and apps in the Australian and New Zealand’s property management sector. If you missed the Console Cloud Winter Release webinar this August, you missed us demonstrating why that claim is true.

Just here to watch the webinar?

Here’s a recap of the highlights. 

The season in review: what we’ve achieved this quarter for Console Cloud customers

In the last twelve months, we’ve observed a trend of increasingly larger agencies joining us. And in July 2020, more than 230 agencies of all sizes migrated to Console Cloud—making it our biggest migrations month to date, and our biggest month of biggest migrations to date. 

We’re also watching more New Zealand agencies coming aboard as well, and that footprint is predicted to grow in the last half of 2020. 

Our goals for this quarter were:

  1. Save you and your agency 40% of your admin time through smarter workflows 
  2. Reduce the need to enter information multiple times, sometimes into multiple systems
  3. Deliver a best-in-market reporting experience through Insights Plus, and
  4. Deliver market-leading tenant and owner self-serve options for our clients.

We’re confident we’ve achieved these goals. Read how, below.

 

Inspections

Copy across photos and comments from previous inspections

Now, you can generate routines, entries and exits that are prefilled with the comments and photos from the last inspection. 

In other words, if you’re completing an exit from an entry, an entry from an exit, and a routine to another routine, you can walk around with the inspection pre-filled from your last report. This means you don’t have to type the same remarks in as last time if nothing has changed. This lets property managers complete and submit reports in a fraction of the time it used to take. 

If something has changed since your last inspection, you can easily edit that section of the report and attach photos. If nothing’s changed, there’s no need to enter any information or attach new photos. 

How to duplicate previous inspections: When creating a new routine inspection in Console Cloud, provided your agency has inspected the property before, you’ll get an option to copy over the last report. Edit as necessary in the Console App, and once you’ve completed your inspection, it’ll sync straight back into Console Cloud.

duplicate inspection reports in Console Cloud

See maintenance and arrears details

Have more productive conversations with tenants on site when you’re out inspecting a property. We’ve updated the Console App to give you better access to key information while you’re on the go. You’ll be able to see the status of tenants’ rent paid to-dates and arrears, as well as the status of any maintenance requests. Never be caught off guard again!

See maintenance and arrears details Have more productive conversations with tenants on site when you’re out inspecting a property. We’ve updated the Console App to give you better access to key information while you’re on the go. You’ll be able to see the status of tenants’ rent paid to-dates and arrears, as well as the status of any maintenance requests. Never be caught off guard again!

Bulk actions and better handover

You can now also easily select multiple upcoming inspections from the Console Cloud Inspections workflow screen. Click edit details for more options to manage them in bulk. You can also use bulk actions to reassign inspections to another property manager for faster handover, or reschedule them for another time. 

Want more detail? We do a deep dive into inspections improvements this season in this article.

 

Maintenance manager

We’re excited to announce that we’re building a market-leading maintenance integration in collaboration with Maintenance Manager. While Console Cloud already integrates with Maintenance Manager, we’re working towards a sophisticated maintenance workflow that harnesses the best of both Console Cloud and Maintenance Manager’s technology. 

Essentially, the two platforms will talk to each other to automate significantly more steps in raising and completing maintenance requests, including looping in verified tradespeople, tenants, and landlords.

To take advantage of this market-leading integration, activate Maintenance Manager in Console Cloud’s Marketplace for free. Make sure you tune into Console Cloud and Maintenance Manager’s Spotlight webinar to learn more. And yes, the advanced integration will remain free to all Console Cloud users..

For now, if you activate Maintenance Manager in Console Cloud, you’ll see your data from Maintenance Manager merged into your Console Cloud office, including the migration of past Maintenance Manager transactions. 

maintenance-manager-integration-with-console-cloud-how-it-works

It’s all logged and fully audited, and any Maintenance Manager activity will appear on change logs and in timeline views for ultimate transparency. You’ll also never miss a maintenance request again!

 

Console Pay 

In a nutshell: tenants can now set themselves up on Console Cloud’s direct debit rent and invoice payment system from inside the Tenant App. And to make things clearer between parties, tenants will also be able to see a timeline of both past and future payments, pay invoices, and create their own rent receipt pdfs. When tenants pay invoices or rent using Console Pay, they will never be able to see your trust account details—a small feature that significantly helps de-risk your business against trust account fraud.

From the property management side, you’ll be able to schedule invoice payments for any tenants using Console Pay, see the same timeline of past and future payments in your Console Cloud office, and manage all aspects of Console Pay inside Console Cloud (not via the Ezidebit portal, as previously).

Best of all however is that your receipting for any Console Pay receipts is now crazy fast. There’s automated payment matching for all rent, bond and invoices taken with Console Pay.

 

Owner statement improvements

How owners want to see their statements usually varies depending on the type of owner, where they are located, and how many properties they have under management with your agency. To improve your owners’ customer experience, we’ve introduced a number of owner statement configuration options to help you cater to these preferences.

We’ve written previously about the changes to owner statements in this article. In short, the changes mean you can:

1. Create a consolidated owner statement that is actually consolidated. This means:

  • Rent is now grouped into one line item (if you want)
  • No more individual property subtotals for owners with multiple properties and
  • You can group fees per property, or by fee type.

2. Customise the statement to show what your customers want to see

  • This means generating and sending zero activity statements (or don’t, depending on what your owners want)

3. Simplify and get rid of confusing elements on statements

  • Signify items that incur GST with an asterisk (*)—saving space on GST subtotals and tallying
  • Numbered statements to help you and your owners get on the same page (literally)
  • Hide pesky internal journaling between an owner’s properties
  • Get rid of that annoying bug that generates a page break instead of a line break when the income / expense table exceeds one page. 

Read more about these changes in detail here

 

Arrears workflow

At Console, we take the view that if we build you a static checklist then we’ve failed in our mission to power successful agencies. We take this view because to accelerate the pace of work, you need to be removing steps from a process—especially if they’re manual steps.

A checklist in essence is when a computer or list or software or piece of paper tells a human what to do next. A workflow is the reverse of that: it’s where a checklist becomes something your software does on your behalf, and only asks you to do something when a decision needs to be made, or something in the process has not gone to plan and needs managing. 

This is where we get the phrase ‘managing by exception’. And Console Cloud’s Arrears workflow has reached that point of sophistication: the point where you only need to manage exceptions and make decisions.

 

Updates to the arrears workflow in Console Cloud

In Console Cloud, we’ve added a series of escalating arrears management tools into the Arrears workflow to let you build your own arrears management process. Set your arrears notification messages up in advance, dictating how the contact is made, how many days between messages, and what those messages will say. As long as automated comms is enabled, Console Cloud will then execute the escalating arrears management process automatically.

arrears escalation process in console cloud

The stats from those who are using the arrears workflow are already mind-blowing. The relentless follow-up of arrears has more than halved the average amount of arrears in a given agency from 7 days down to fewer than 3 on average—and they continue to shrink. We’re looking forward to sharing more stats with you about the impact of the latest automation in the Console Cloud Spring Release 2020 webinar next season.

 

Lease renewals workflow

Like the Arrears workflow, we’ve built more sophisticated features into lease renewals so that you don’t have to use checklists and take so many manual actions. 

Front-load decisions when you onboard a tenant for the first time in the workflow to set up automation down the track. By this we mean if you enter in key information like a lease renewal date when you’re setting up a tenancy in Console Cloud and hit ‘start automation’, it’ll be able to take care of a lot of lease renewal leg work on your behalf when the time comes.

For example, Console Cloud will seek out your tenant and owner renewal intentions by sending a one question email or SMS to each party with a button to select whether they intend to renew or vacate. It’ll also generate rent reports for your properties automatically, and prepare a number of other elements so that when it is time to start on a lease renewal, half of it is already done for you and right there in Console Cloud. 

 

Introducing Console Sales

It’s important to have a sales trust engine in your business if you manage both sales and property management revenue. But do you need a gold-plated CRM for sales-specific activities? In many cases, probably not. Console Sales is an add-on in Console Cloud that offers a cost-effective alternative to the expensive sales CRM.

Console Sales lets you manage end-to-end sales processes in a single screen in Console Cloud. Journal and keep track of invoicing and accounting, manage contacts, manage the progression of the contract, and manage money—without leaving the Sales tab. You can add a sale, add documents, add invoices and contacts and notes, and see everything on a comprehensive timeline.

 

Here’s an overview of key features in the initial release of Console Sales

  • Vendor Paid Advertising (VPA) management. Create VPA expenses, track balances + current spend
  • New detailed Account of Sale and Invoice report, showing VPA / bills breakdown
  • Updated look and feel: upload and see property images and advanced attributes at a glance
  • Capture and store solicitor details for buyers and sellers
  • Ability to terminate a contract with the ability to journal a buyer’s penalty to the seller.
  • See a history of contracts against a sale, including terminated contracts
  • Detailed settlement (and pre-settlement) calculations showing the breakdown of which parties are owed money, and how much.
  • Split deposits between initial and balance

If you’d like to start using Console Sales, navigate to Marketplace inside your Console Cloud office and click on the Console Sales tile to activate. Once activated, Sales will appear as a tab in your left-hand navigation menu inside your Console Cloud office. 

 

The problem with dedicated sales-specific CRMs

Dedicated CRMs to help sales agents manage those relationships have tended to be very pricey and feature-deep. But we’re finding a tonne of agencies don’t use more than a handful of these features. 

If this is your agency, maybe it’s time to ditch the CRM and use Console Sales instead. It’ll cost you a fraction of what you’re already paying for a CRM you don’t fully use.

Highlights wrap-up

The Console Cloud suite now comprises a comprehensive property management and trust accounting platform, real estate sales + trust accounting, inspections, maintenance, comms, forms and other integrations, and a host of available add-ons, training partners and adjacent platforms like learning site Nebula. It is an ecosystem designed to help real estate businesses reach their revenue and efficiency goals. 

The case for using Console Cloud more deeply

If you use Console Cloud comprehensively—i.e. you’re using workflows, our suite of integrations and add-ons, and you’re sufficiently trained in the product—you’re probably seeing some amazing efficiency results for yourself. We are observing time savings of as much as 40-50% for some agencies. 

Arrears takes less than half the time it used to to manage for agencies using the arrears workflow. Lease renewals take days less to complete, and save twenty minutes of admin per tenancy agreement for agencies using the lease renewals workflow. The key factor in all these time-savings may be obvious here: the clients seeing the biggest time-savings were the ones that were using the workflows.

Increasingly sophisticated automation within our ecosystem will see this figure rise as high as 60% for agencies using our workflows by the end of 2020. That’s why we recommend anyone wanting to see this kind of productivity lift use Console Cloud more deeply. Learn about how to use workflows, browse for the right add-ons and integrations, and make sure you’re trained as fully as possible. 

Another way you can stay on top of what’s new to Console Cloud? Make sure to attend the next seasonal Console Cloud release webinar, so you know what new tools we’ve released and how to use them. That’s ultimately the secret to doing less, and making more. 

Not on Console Cloud yet? It’s never too late to make the switch! Check out our features or pricing pages, read the Buyer’s guide to property management software, and when you’re ready, book a demo with our consulting team to see how you can hit your revenue and productivity goals.