Navigating rental property management in the new digital economy

Handling resident requests. ✔️Arranging viewings. ✔️Sprucing up properties. ✔️Analyzing portfolio revenue performance. ✔️

These tasks are part and parcel of being a property manager. But with a seemingly endless task list, it’s tough to work out which tasks will get your business ahead. Too much on your plate can have huge knock-on effects, from burnout and mass resignations to resident dissatisfaction and churn.

Yet, 56% of property managers feel their work schedule is either on the busy side (43%) or hectic (13%). Also, 36% of those not in leadership spend around 36% of their time on “busy work,” and 1 out of 4 plan to exit the industry within the next five years. 😟

With such concerning stats, one thing is clear. You’ll need a laser-focused plan to succeed in property management for rentals, which is what we’ll break down in this blog post. Let’s dive in.

Table of contents

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The key duties in managing rental properties

Want to execute property management for rentals without hustling backward or overextending your team? It’s time to streamline your task list. The responsibilities to concentrate on fall into two categories. Let’s break these down.

Strategic focus #1 – Managing money

“Cash is king!” as the saying goes. Capital is every business’ lifeblood, so prioritizing financial health is vital. Here are some money management tasks to master.

Cash flow management

Did you know cash flow issues kill 82% of businesses? Maintaining positive cash flow is essential to thriving as a landlord or property manager. This includes ensuring adequate liquidity to cover operating expenses for six months and planning for emergencies and investment opportunities.

Overseeing expenses

From staff wages to maintenance costs, expenses ebb away at your profits. Limiting expenses to necessary bills and monitoring spending is crucial for financial health. It’s also important to leave room in the budget for unexpected bills to avoid disruption.🧾

Optimizing for profitability

Balancing spending, investing, and saving is crucial for making gains in rental property management. Financial analysis is an essential task that will help you know when to cut projects and invest resources.

Accounting and tax management

Balancing the books and understanding your tax obligations is not only a legal requirement; it determines your company’s bottom line. Understanding how to reduce your tax burden through depreciation, government initiatives, expenses, and grants is a must.

Managing payments

Getting paid on time is a surefire way to keep your company’s financial health in order. An efficient payment stack that makes it a breeze for residents to pay rent, plus your team to manage collections and track spending, will do the trick. For rent, this could look like using a solution like Flex to offer flexible payments and automate collections (more on this later). 💳

Strategic role #2 – Streamlining operations⚙️

Another essential responsibility is optimizing workflows. Some areas to focus on include:

Managing payments

Maintenance is a mission-critical task for rental property management. It can help you avoid major repairs and rushed orders, reducing overall costs. Staying on top of maintenance also avoids unsightly buildings and increases renters’ enjoyment of the property, aiding retention.👷‍♀️

Revenue optimization

resident acquisition, retention, pricing strategies, and community engagement are just a few of the tasks you’ll need to manage consistently. But don’t worry; your efforts can create larger income and profits to boost your business’s financial health.

Staff engagement

Employee happiness not only affects staff well-being but also impacts your company’s effectiveness in rental property management. Yet only 33% of staff are engaged at work. Investing in staff will do wonders for your property management company. Businesses with highly engaged teams are 23% more profitable, 18% more productive, and have 43% less staff turnover.

Your checklist for successful rental property management

Now we’ve got an idea of the tasks you’ll be overseeing, it’s time to create a plan to execute them. Let’s look at some strategic moves for less stress and more takings.

Leverage technology for supercharged efficiency

Technology will be your greatest asset in streamlining property management tasks. To begin, itemize and group the jobs your team carries out in their roles. Then, find solutions to make completion easier, faster, and more efficient. This could look like software for:

  • Property management
  • Expense management 
  • Account management
  • Customer relationship management 
  • Social media and marketing
  • Payments, e.g., split rent payments for resident rent

Automate, automate, automate

Managing rentals is a demanding role that has many moving parts. As a result, some staff can struggle to keep up, leading to stress and disengagement. 53% of property managers struggle with their mental health and switching off after work. Tackle this issue head-on by letting technology do the heavy lifting. You can automate many repetitive and administrative tasks that have a hold on your team’s time. For example, you could:

  • Implement automated reminders for lease renewals
  • Set up onboarding sequences to initiate the renewal process
  • Automate the vendor payments for recurring bills, like landscaping or utility services
  • Launch a chatbot to answer resident questions and resolve basic issues

Conduct high-quality maintenance works

Whether you offer luxury or budget accommodations, commit to keeping properties in tip-top condition. You can achieve this by creating a preventive maintenance plan in line with each property’s requirements and standards. Define what work each building needs. Then, schedule the tasks in a calendar with a supporting checklist and notifications. This approach will ensure your team never has to guess what work to prioritize and can plan to secure the necessary resources to avoid expensive, rushed orders. 🛠️

Some key maintenance areas include:

  • HVAC system maintenance to ensure heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems are functioning efficiently
  • Regular inspections, e.g., on plumbing, electrical systems, and structural components 👨🏻‍🔧
  • Appliance checks to service products provided to the resident in their unit and  communal appliances like vending machines, stoves, and fridges
  • Plumbing maintenance to prevent leaks, clogs, and other plumbing issues
  • Electrical system checks,e.g., inspecting wiring and outlets and addressing any electrical issues promptly to ensure they’re safe and operational
  • Safety inspections,includinginstalling and maintaining smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, carbon monoxide alarms, fire exits and signs, and other safety devices
  • Exterior maintenance, e.g., sweeping gutters, cleaning pools, maintaining landscaping, and addressing exterior repairs
  • Painting and aesthetic upkeep to maintain or enhance the visual appeal of the property in communal areas 🖌️
  • Pest control to stop and prevent rodent, reptiles, and insect infestations
  • Roof and window maintenance to avoid leaks and structural damage, including checking for missing shingles, repairing leaks, and cleaning pipes
  • Flooring checks to ensure safety and aesthetics. For instance, replacing damaged skirting and flooring and addressing trip hazards
  • Security system maintenance like regularly testing alarms, updating security codes, and maintaining surveillance equipment
  • Emergency preparedness,e.g., providing residents with emergency evacuation plans and maintaining emergency doors, lights, routes, and contact information

Top tip💡: Before diving into maintenance work, investigate and execute upgrades to enhance property value, safety, and perceived value. Then, start work where residents will see or feel the biggest improvements.

Support your staff

Whether it’s confrontations with unruly residents or jam-packed schedules, property managers battle challenging work environments. To make matters worse, some employers don’t equip their staff with the training and tools they need to thrive in their roles. 24.3% of property managers say managing aggressive and abusive renters is the most stressful part of their job, and just 34% of property managers believe they’ve had the necessary to execute their role successfully. Since property managers bear the brunt of the workload and resident frustrations, laying a solid foundation to build skills and seek assistance is essential. Here are a few ways to do it:

  • Give staff adequate training (theoretical and practical)
  • Cross-train employees
  • Implement a zero-tolerance policy for abuse towards staff and residents
  • Develop a code of conduct for residents and employees
  • Create escalation procedures for resident and property-related issues
  • Provide wellness resources to staff as part of their benefit package
  • Create a supportive company culture

Polish customer service processes

Customer support isn’t just another admin task to check off. It can significantly impact resident acquisition and retention rates. residents talk, and people will know about it if they have a positive or negative experience. 79% of renters who have used social media or review sites say that bad reviews have prevented them from visiting a property while searching for an apartment. So, make your customer support an unforgettable experience:

  • Answer maintenance and customer service requests promptly
  • Implement digital and centralized communication channels and ticketing systems
  •  Offer 24/7 emergency support through a hotline or live chat service ☎️
  • Keep thorough records of maintenance activities. E.g., document inspections, repairs, and communications
  • Provide residents with a breakdown of contacts for different issues and queries📇
  • Negotiate contracts with reliable maintenance vendors for cost-effective services and pass the savings on to residents
  • Provide regular updates to keep residents informed about property-related matters
  • Get residents’ opinions. Actively seek and analyze resident feedback. This could look like sending surveys or feedback forms to residents and using the insights to improve customer support processes 🗣️
  • Offer personalized service. Keep records of resident preferences and use them whenever possible
  • Offer training on the solutions you offer to pay rent. For example, if you switch from rent portals to a split rent payments app, offer tutorials on how to use it
  • Make resident onboarding seamless, from signing leases to handing over the keys. Have a process that gives residents clarity on what’s next. For instance, you could provide a welcome packet that includes property guidelines, emergency procedures, essential contacts, and a neighborhood business directory

Nail marketing and sales

Like the property market, consumer preferences and marketing trends change often. Staying informed about your customer base is a must to keep your renter pipeline full. So, uncover who your residents are now and the core personas your rental property management company would like to serve (these might not be the same people). Lay out each persona’s expectations, then tailor your marketing strategy to ensure resonance at each touchpoint. Some questions to ask to diversify and improve your sales and marketing strategies include:

  • What social media channels are our target residents using?
  • How does our target resident like to consume content?
  • What are their preferred communication channels?
  • What generation are they?
  • What kinds of ads inspire our target renter?
  • What types of ads irritate them?

Also, invest in building a strong reputation and positive reviews. This move will help you increase returns and inquiries. 64% of renters of renters are ready to pay extra for properties with good reviews. Also, 74% of prospective residents read between one and ten reviews before deciding on a property. To start building a solid reputation, you could:

  • Host community engagement events 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦
  • Create a community group chat for addressing renters’ concerns and queries
  • Offer perks like complimentary refreshments in communal spaces ☕
  • Incentivize referrals

Supercharge revenue and liquidity

It’s never too late to find more ways to increase the capital in your business. It’s best to take a multi-pronged approach, combining revenue-generating activities and a contingency plan for accessing liquid capital. Some key steps to take are to:

  • Optimize rent pricing: Understand the profit margin your business wants to hit. Also, consider inflation, rent costs for similar properties in your area, rent increase regulations, and current and projected operating costs. Then, present rent rates that reflect these factors while offering a competitive price. 📊
  • Establish affordable and flexible credit lines: Access to affordable and flexible credit for unforeseen expenses is critical to staying operational and reducing business risk. Credit cards like Amex Business are also a good option for short-term credit and collecting reward points. You can also look into investment property credit lines like HELOCs (check out the best options – here).
  • Slash unnecessary costs: Track and evaluate expenses regularly. For example, you could use a subscription management tool to spot underutilized solutions 

Offer flexible and digital payment options

Want to make your rental property management company the go-to? Upgrade your payment stack. Go beyond clunky rent portals by offering digital and self-service solutions that cater to resident preferences.

Ensure each tool has automated payment management features. These details will reduce your administrative burden for things like reminding residents of rent due, collecting payments, and tracking disbursements.

Managing rent payments is easy with Flex

Flex is a great option if you’re looking for a painless, modern, and cost-effective solution for managing rent payments. Flex is a rent payment app that takes the hassle out of the process. It offers flexible payments handled by a DIY app for renters and automation.📱

Renters can split rent payments into two affordable chunks and adjust the second installment date to avoid paying late (depending on credit checks and terms and conditions).

And here’s the grand finale. Offering Flex’s purpose-built features as an amenity means less admin and risk, plus more time for growth-boosting activities. The result? More on-time payments, revenue, profits, operational efficiency, and satisfied residents. Here are just a few of Flex’s standout features:

  • Your company will get rent on the 1st of each month, guaranteed
  • Flex manages residents who pay rent late, not your company
  • Our solution has nominal fees for renters and $0 cost for your business
  • You’ll get access to analytics on renters to help your team forecast quicker and more accurately 📈

The secret to brag-worthy wins in property management for rentals

On your rental property management quest, it’s essential not to let busywork win. Streamline workflows, leverage automation, and consistently get the word out about your company. Also, prioritize jobs like customer support and maintenance that will boost the quality of the experience residents have at your property to turn them into brand advocates.

While you’re making things look good and tick over smoothly, keep a close eye on the numbers. Make payments so easy residents no longer have to stress about it each month and dust away frivolous expenses. Soon, you’ll be waving goodbye to late payments and long nights and saying hello to a thriving business. 💪

Ready to take the rental property management market by storm? Learn how Flex can help.