What growth looks like: Radi Estates on Console Cloud
Radi Estates was launched fourteen years ago in Tamara Radi’s living room. Today, it’s a leading property management and sales agency based in Perth’s inner north.
Tamara and Steven Radi have grown the business completely organically—without purchasing a rent roll, and without the benefit of a sales pipeline for leads. Radi Estates does minimal advertising, because it doesn’t need to. Its number one source of rent roll growth is word of mouth and referrals, and its number one strategy for maintaining portfolio size is retention of existing managements—something it does incredibly well, by anyone’s standards.
Today, they and their team manage around 500 properties out of their Inglewood premises. The business has expanded to a team of ten staff, and includes a department to handle sales and leasing.
What effective leadership looks like
The secret to effective leadership in property management? Tamara sits at the nerve centre of her property management team, set up in an open plan environment. Being able to address any concerns or issues before they escalate means that, frankly, most things don’t escalate.
So when Radi Estates decided to make the switch to Console Cloud from their long-time software of choice, Gee Dee, it was not made lightly. We asked Tamara for her thoughts on the move, and any words of advice for other agencies contemplating the change.
So what was behind your decision to migrate to Console Cloud from Gee Dee? Was there a deciding factor for you or the team?
We had always dealt with Gee Dee and have always been able to trust their advice. When Gee Dee advised that Console Cloud was ready for our business, we took stock of that partnership, and made the move.
We knew that moving to a cloud-based system was going to make life easier not only for me (who does a combination of work from home and in the office), but for all our staff. Never has this been more important to our business operations than right now.
But it wasn’t just about finding a trust accounting system that was cloud-based. For one thing, all new trust accounting systems are cloud-based, and the only thing they have in common is the benefit of working from wherever you are and never losing unsaved work. That was definitely a selling point for Console Cloud, but that wasn’t why we chose it.
Easy collaboration through workflows
Console Cloud at the end of the day was a way better, more efficient way of managing properties. It streamlines processes like tenant onboarding and vacates into workflows, automating certain parts of the system, and making that information as easy to follow and pick up at a moment’s notice.
"Console Cloud at the end of the day was a way better, more efficient way of managing properties."—Tamara Radi, Radi Estates
If I have a staff member away on holidays, for example, anyone can pick up their portfolio and know where anything is at (or even myself in management). There is no grey area. Everything is date stamped and recorded.
On providing service and extra value to owners:
We also knew that we could deliver a better service to tenants and owners by giving them more self-service options using the tenant app and owner portal. The point of using these isn’t to push people away—it’s to give them more ownership and visibility over their own information. It means that they aren’t waiting on us for information, and it means that we can help them 24/7. It basically improves the quality of the phone calls and contact with these people.
How long were you watching the software market for before landing on Console Cloud?
We’ve been watching Console Cloud’s trajectory for some time. It’s come a long way in the last couple of years with the input of some big investors and some serious hard work from the software developers.
High quality investors
Financial backing on its own speaks volumes. With that kind of investment Console has been able to employ more developers and make progress more quickly. They have consistently delivered on their promises for new features and improvements over the last two years.
The speed of change, the quality of new and improved features, and the consistency of the pace of progress is the evidence I needed to see to give me confidence. It’s all there. Console Cloud is gearing up to be the leader in property management software in Australia.
"Console Cloud is gearing up to be the leader in property management software in Australia."
On software for now and the future:
And we all know it: there are always better ways, more efficient ways to manage properties. We also know that legislation that changes and systems need to adapt rapidly to these changes (not just now, but in years to come). With good financial backing, we knew that Console could be trusted to find that better way, and to keep us compliant and up to date with legislative changes.
On the other hand, I remember speaking to one of Console’s competitors twelve months ago. They couldn’t even show us their new platform for property management software, and they promised it would be ready for us within a couple of months. That rang alarm bells for me.
Twelve months on, they are in virtually the same position.
Tell us about your migration and on-boarding experience from Gee Dee. How long did it take?
Migration was done within a day. Any issues that popped up during the migration and onboarding process were dealt with promptly. We were one of the first agencies to migrate from Gee Dee to Console Cloud. So any little hiccups we experienced have been sorted out for future cases. You won’t have the same issues that we did. You’re welcome!
Any advice for other agencies preparing for migration from Gee Dee?
Also, trust me on this: you want to check your data is as clean as possible before migration. Doing this makes Console Cloud an even more efficient system than you would otherwise have. It takes a little time, but it’s well worth it.
Listen to Gee Dee—they’re here to help
Listen to Gee Dee here. They know what data will migrate to Console Cloud, and will tell you what data to check to ensure it’s ready. Listen to them and do what they ask. It’s not time consuming and is definitely worth doing. Also creditors: only take across who you need to. Old owners and old tenants: clean them up and archive them (if you are not doing this already).
I’d also suggest you get in early and set up your communications templates. Console Cloud comes with a number of default templates, but we customised and created our own according to how we like to communicate as a company. It’s easy to do, but time consuming to begin with. It’s also much easier to use than Gee Dee.
Editor's note: That's good advice!
Was there anything that made you hesitate moving to Console Cloud?
We did have a few concerns of course, as we were one of the first agencies to move from Gee Dee to Console. We were a bit anxious as to how the migration would go. However this went very smoothly and quickly—Gee Dee and Console handled this perfectly.
We were assigned one person from Gee Dee to get the data ready, (or tell us what we needed to ensure was ready from Gee Dee end before they pulled the data), and then one person from Console to assist with the migration. Both companies worked with us until we were completely happy with the migration.
We had a concern initially about support and whether we would suffer from the two hour time difference. Console’s support hours are 6:30am-7pm AEST, but live chat closes at 5pm AEST—which is 3pm AWST. This was a bit of a pain at the beginning.
Now, as we know the system better and don’t need as much help, it’s not really a problem. On the odd occasion that someone would want to use the live chat option after 3pm, Console would always get back to you first thing the next morning. This has been supplemented recently by a number of new self-serve options, including video tutorials.
On using live chat:
Our staff actually really like Console’s help system, as they just open up chat and speak to someone about the query they have.
How did you convince your staff that Console Cloud was the right choice for your agency? Were there any concerns over training and onboarding?
I had no concerns over training staff, as before I signed on the dotted line, I had my staff review the system for themselves. They did the online webinars to have an understanding of the system, and ALL of them after doing this WERE EAGER BEAVERS! They wanted to start using Console Cloud ASAP.
My property managers are all aged between 40-70 (with me being younger than them all), so I was anxious that old habits might die hard. But they have all shown me that when you have a user friendly system like this that makes sense, you don’t have to sell it to your staff. They get it.
Gee Dee is not Console Cloud
Gee Dee has been fantastic, and they have a strong partnership with Console Cloud. Still, probably the biggest hurdle for the team initially was overcoming the idea that Console Cloud should work like Gee Dee. The new system is not Gee Dee. It’s Console Cloud, and it was designed with a different goal in mind. So yes, it is different, but it’s good different. It was a real mindset change.
Now we are ten months down the track, and it’s a completely different story in our office. We wonder now: what we were actually managing before Console Cloud?!
Let’s talk about the negatives. Is there anything that’s not quite right yet?
Perhaps the one thing we still have an issue with is strata management. We can’t allocate quarterly periods to rents, as this means manual date changes to paid-to dates. I’ve been advised this change is in the works. This is my only gripe!
Initially we were concerned with the fact there was no Bendigo Bank feed set up. However we resolved this issue with the team, and since then have been able to drop our BPAY payment system for tenants. This was costing us hundreds of dollars a month!
Now our tenants just pay via direct transfer, and we assign them a payment number. As Console Cloud picks up reference numbers, addresses and names, it allocates pretty much everything within the ABA file. So Console Cloud saves us time receipting, and saves us money on BPAY.
We also don’t use the Console app for ingoing property condition reports, but only because we love the current system we use. But we do use it for periodic inspections. Only downside of periodic inspections is the photo size and clarity. Even the photos that tenants are taking on their virtual inspections through tenant app in maintenance are much better than photos we are able to take on inspections.
Editor’s note: better picture clarity is currently with our developer team and will be released soon!
Seriously once this occurs, the system will be pretty much flawless! I can drop another app we utilise and pay for, which will save us more money on extra subscriptions.
Do you feel confident that we’re listening to our customers and developing the tools you need?
I have loved the support from Console. We have an account manager we can speak to directly to answer our questions and inquiries. What’s more, I have direct contact with some of Console’s lead cloud developers, who have been listening to my feedback and workshopping solutions. I love that they listen to feedback!
Even my staff can log on to Console Cloud at any time and register feedback. The more votes something gets, the higher the priority that feature or tweak becomes for developers to work on. PLEASE BEAR IN MIND, BY CHANGES, I MEAN CHANGES TO IMPROVE AN ALREADY GOOD SYSTEM.
But when you use a good system, and you see that the company is progressive, it makes even more sense to give feedback and request features. You can feel confident that it will be built. It will happen. You don’t just put up with what you have and deal with it like most other software.
It’s already a great system, but the team at Console are always wanting to improve, which I think is FANTASTIC!
This is what growth looks like
Have there been any other benefits to using Console Cloud?
I was able to get rid of my server. Now I don’t have a server at all. This is a huge IT saving! We’ve moved completely to cloud-based software now, including emails. I hardly ever ring my IT guy now, unless I need to add a new staff member.
So there’s the fact that Console Cloud has helped us go pretty much paperless. All invoices come in via email, and we drag and drop them straight into the payments section of Console Cloud. There’s no more double handling, and there is a record of the account in the system assigned against a work order!
Yes. Let me give you some examples of how our agency operates now that we have Console Cloud.
Example 1: The owner portal makes a difference
Owner rings and says ‘I’ve lost my statement. I can’t find it. Can you email it to me? We obviously still get these questions for last financial year Gee Dee Statements. With the Owner Portal, we no longer get these calls.
Owners can log onto the Owner Portal and see any past statements or invoices at any time, easily. We only have about ten clients that don’t use email that we still need to post statements to. But you are always going to have a few of those.
Example 2: Emergency maintenance without a fuss
Tenant rings one of my property managers after hours on a weekend. They urgently need to arrange a plumber and send a work order. This is no problem. Whoever is going to take the job can open their computer, send a work order immediately to the plumber (no need to set a reminder etc when you get back to office) and take care of it from home.
This was very beneficial, especially during the big storms we had recently. The phone calls continued around the clock, but we were able to handle it all without a fuss.
Example 3: A nearly paperless office
We are now an almost paperless office. No more printing invoices. No more filing. Our files literally consist of management agreement, title, lease agreement, and application. That’s it. Everything else is in the system.
Example 4: No more server woes
Storage. I don’t need a server or have to worry about it crashing or being hacked. I have had this happen to us twice when we had a server, so I’m glad I don’t have to go through that again.
Example 5: Tenant self-inspections
During the COVID-19 lockdown, we had to stop doing periodic inspections. In WA, you must do four inspections a year. Not being able to do an inspection for three months was going to be a big deal.
We initially created a work-around and got our tenants to submit photos via the tenant app as evidence of a partial inspection. Then, within four weeks of lockdown, the Console staff worked on an upgrade to their inspections workflow that enables tenants to load photos directly into a system that feeds it straight back into the inspections workflow! Just phenomenal. Speaks volumes of how quickly they progress change!
Editor’s note: the tenant self-inspection feature is now live!
Have you noticed any time savings / other differences?
Look, for the first six months, you will be setting up new systems, procedures, and templates for how you want to use the system. So allow that time to get in full swing.
Once those systems are in place, that’s when the efficiencies start to emerge. We are not even 12 months in, and already seeing massive benefits.
What is it like operating in the shadow of COVID-19? Does Console Cloud make things easier?
It’s Brilliant. Having Console Cloud made the decision to work remotely super quick and easy. We closed the office even before the government put lock-down restrictions in place. All staff are working from home on their own computers, or have taken their one home from the office. Our trust accountant has also worked from home, and has not had the need to go to the office at all.
At the moment, my staff only come to the office to onboard new tenants and do handovers. Because we were ready for the remote environment, we didn’t even worry about this as part of our decision-making process.
That’s brilliant feedback. Any final words before we wrap up?
Console Cloud has actually been quite cost effective. I have saved money in many other areas of the business, such as servers, subscriptions, postage and so on.
All in all, we love the system. It’s not just a trust account system, but a property management software system that looks at all aspects of managing properties. It thinks about the business of property management, how staff interact with systems, and so much more.
It’s property software that has evolved to a much better standard than where it has been in Australia for so many years. It’s not just a manual property management or trust system that’s moved to cloud! Good luck guys, and thanks for your ongoing support.
No, thank you! We really appreciate your time and wisdom and kind words.
Can’t get enough case studies? We recommend reading these ones next:
Or check out what we’ve released in Console Cloud lately in our Autumn release wrap up, including Inspections power-ups, and the launch of our Yardstick tool (i.e. your free, fully integrated Net Promoter Scoring tool).