The student lettings market has long been renowned for its archaic industry processes and it has struggled to keep up with its increasingly technologically advanced student tenants.
The property sector as a whole has lagged behind in terms of technology, relying on processes that have remained unchanged for many years and failing to automate tasks, which could exponentially improve the experiences of agents, landlords, suppliers and tenants alike.
So when the team at established student property management company, Rooms4u, approached us to create a software system that would provide a better service for its clients, we spotted an opportunity to commercialise the solution and revolutionise the student lettings industry.
That opportunity was PropertyCloud, an end-to-end automated system for property and tenancy management, which automates tasks such as contract signings, rent collection, property expenditure, landlord statements and even property maintenance.
Understanding the Industry
On receiving the brief, our first challenge was to get under the skin of the business and understand the day-to-day processes of Rooms4u as property agents, as well as those of its landlords, tenants and suppliers.
By listening to feedback from all key stakeholders, as well working closely with Rooms4u’s experienced directors, we were able to identify pain points in the student lettings journey before using our technical expertise to highlight the parts of the process that could be taken over by computers.
Through research we also found that, while some software systems available to the industry addressed common issues individually, the solutions available were unsophisticated, could not be easily integrated and did not provide a complete solution for the whole lettings process.
Moreover, the cost of subscribing to multiple tools to address different issues quickly become prohibitive, while also requiring separate data input for each individual tool, a task that would ordinarily be managed by a salaried member of staff.
In response to feedback and research, we applied our technical knowledge to develop a suite of essential tools that were integrated into one cloud-based web application, which could be easily accessed from any device via the Internet. These tools include:
- Automated rent collection and compliance management
- Generation and digitally secure signing of contracts online
- Online viewings management
- Maintenance booking and workflow management
- Reporting and analysis tools for agents and landlords
We then worked with the directors at Rooms4u to ensure that all aspects of the app met the very highest of industry standards and complied with all regulations. We also used event-based architecture to provide fully auditable data that would protect both agent and customers from liability in the event of legal disputes.
What resulted was an app that could reduce workload, increase speed and accuracy, improve efficiency and eliminate the frustrations of all parties.
Revolutionising a Business Model
On 1st August 2017, PropertyCloud was launched and the system now manages three of Rooms4u’s student property portfolios, looking after approximately 700 tenants and 45 landlords.
Since its deployment the impact on the business has been profound, with time saved on day-to-day tasks being reallocated to focus on improving customer satisfaction and business development. The app is rapidly revolutionising the way Rooms4u’s business works and facilitating growth – success that could be replicated in property management companies across the country.
Time efficiencies delivered by PropertyCloud to date include:
- 63% reduction in time spent producing landlord statements
- 75% reduction in time spent generating and signing contracts
- 45% reduction in time between enquiries and viewings, by using online booking
- 100% reduction in time spent on the rent collection and compliance process
Contrary to fears that automation can lead to job losses the implementation of PropertyCloud has in fact led to a raft of new hires to manage its increasing workload as Rooms4u’s business grows.
Adam Ormesher, Director of Rooms4u, said: “We work within a sector that is quickly moving online. Student tenants expect to be able to view information about their property on demand, rather than waiting for someone in an office to respond.
“We struggled to find a tool that was fit for purpose and found ourselves being advised that we would have to change our ways of working to fit the tool, rather than it fitting into our business.
“The team at Mashbo has absorbed our vision and taken it even further than we could have imagined. The different areas of expertise that Gavin, Steve and Liam bring to the table means that the brief has been looked at from all perspectives and our ideas have been challenged along the way.
“This process has delivered an intuitive and robust system that is already impacting our business. Through the automation of day-to-day tasks our team has been more readily available to new tenants looking to book properties for the coming year.
“As a result we have more than doubled the number of viewings we can usually action at our busiest time of year to 20 – 25 per day. What’s more, the cloud-based app means that instead of staying open until 8pm at night we are able to close the office at 4:30pm, while still remaining accessible to our customers.”
Disrupting the Market
PropertyCloud is disrupting the student rental market by overhauling out-dated practices, providing clear channels of communication, delivering automated processes and freeing up valuable time to allow businesses to focus on customer service and business growth. The cloud-based system is already allowing Rooms4u to scale its business, with its directors now looking to expand its portfolio outside of its physical location in Liverpool.
However, its features are not limited to the student sector and could also have a significant impact on businesses operating in residential lettings and even the holiday rentals market, which are bound by the same archaic processes as the student lettings market.
With the expert sector knowledge from Rooms4u’s directors and our team’s technical experience and ability to listen and understand the requirements of real businesses, PropertyCloud has the potential to evolve even further to meet the demands of the industry, with scope for even further supplier interaction, the addition of 3D property plans and virtual viewings.
To learn more about PropertyCloud, visit https://propertycloud.io