In my previous post I talked about how important it is to have strong leadership from the top when changing software. Here are two other important areas to consider as you change to a new property management software.
Ask for “best practice” recommendations. As you may or may not know, no two property management companies run their business the exact same way. Often these business processes are the result of the software you were using and the truth is that most companies aren’t aware that there are different or better ways to do it!
Over time, we accept deficiencies in our property management system as “the norm” and adapt our processes to fit these limitations. If you have an open mind during the sales process, this is a great opportunity to learn how your peers run their businesses – maybe there are some ideas that can help you. Ask your sales representative for “best practice recommendations” so you can learn how other companies collect rent, market vacancies, manage maintenance tasks or send owner statements. We encourage our customers to learn from each other – we host regular Meet Ups and have a very active user forum.
During this initial change is a great time to take a look at your current process and find a few ways to make them better. If you are open to change, you have an opportunity to capitalize on how others have maximized their businesses while maintaining (or exceeding) your current level of service.
Create momentum and celebrate success. The heavy lifting starts with the implementation, but the planning should start well in advance. How soon is too soon to start talking about implementation? There is no “too soon”! Ask about it on the very first call with your sales representative. Before you make a decision, make sure that you are comfortable with what is expected of your company during the implementation. How can you manage all this change, your employees working two jobs (day jobs and implementing new software) and a handful of challenges that you didn’t see coming? In the midst of all this “fun,” there will be victories! Some may be small. Some will be major milestones. You can plan for success by identifying what success looks like…and once you get there, celebrate it with the entire team.
It’s important to plan a kick-off call to rally the troops (remind them why we decided to do this in the first place). Then create and maintain momentum by celebrating every success (i.e. we’ve signed off on the chart of accounts or our first property is live or we’ve received our first online payment! What’s next? Bring it on!). You can create enough momentum early in the project that subsequent groups of properties, departments, users, etc want to be next. By focusing on project success and celebrating each win with the entire team, you can turn the fear of change into curiosity and create a level excitement that’s contagious.
At the end of the day, changing property management software isn’t easy, but you can set your company up for success:
- Leadership sets the tone for the whole project
- Go into the project with an open mind – this is your chance to learn and understand how your peers run their businesses. You can streamline your processes without sacrificing your differentiating service.
- Start thinking about implementation on day one. Define “success” and celebrate it every step of the way.
The biggest challenge is managing change. Don’t fight it. Expect it. If you do, you will not only successfully implement your new software, but you stand to make your business more profitable, faster. Good luck!