A prominent theme at our 4th Annual AppFolio Customer Conference was success. What makes a business successful? What’s important to businesses when it comes to employee happiness, customer service success, etc.? The definition of “success” means something different to every individual and every company.

Here at AppFolio, we believe there are many keys to a successful business and we even have these principles posted around the office in various ways as a reminder of what’s important to our company. I want to share some of these top Keys to a Successful Business with you. Each one is accompanied by a quote or team activity that you can use at your business to keep your team’s focus on how to be—and, more importantly, stay—successful.


leverage-front leverage-back

#1 – Leverage modern technology to dramatically increase productivity and efficiency.

Today’s society is driven by innovations in technology, and it’s almost impossible to keep up with the new gadgets and gizmos. Every day that you spend on traditional (i.e., “old-school”) marketing techniques; budgeting with multiple spreadsheets; and manually entering applications, writing paper checks, or sending owner packets via snail mail, you’re falling further behind your competition who has already adopted property management software.

“Information technology and business are becoming inextricably interwoven. I don’t think anybody can talk meaningfully about one without the talking about the other.” – Bill Gates


teamwork-front teamwork-back

#2 – Only with collaboration and teamwork can you achieve your highest goals.

“There’s no I in team.” “It takes a village.” There are plenty of old adages about the importance of teamwork. And there is truth in them—managing hundreds or thousands of units is impossible to do successfully and alone. You need a strong team and your team needs to work together toward a common goal.

“Unity is strength…when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.” – Mattie Stepanek

Team Activity: Try an off-site team building experience to help improve communication and effective collaboration. The point is to work together to solve a problem or win a game, rather than compete against each other as individuals.

  • Obstacle course
  • Escape room
  • Capture the flag/sporting event
  • Cooking contests
  • Community Service/Volunteering

customer-success-front customer-success-back

#3 – When your customers succeed, you succeed.

This is one of our favorite keys! Customer success is a major focus for AppFolio; in fact, we have an entire team of people dedicated to making sure customers are getting the maximum value possible from the product. What about your own customers—your owners and renters? Customer success directly affects your business success; and it can be determined by a number of factors:

  • Are your renters and owners happy?
  • Are you getting referrals?
  • Are your owners making money?
  • Are your renters using all the tools you offer?

Team Activity: Get together as a company and write down how your business defines customer success. Then grade yourself on how well you think you’re doing in each category. Take it a step further and survey your renters and owners to find out how you’re really doing, and make a plan of action to address any gaps.


michelle-gielan-front michelle-gielan-back

#4 – Happy employees create happy customers.

We were lucky to have Michelle Gielan, author of Broadcasting Happiness, join us for this year’s conference. She spent an hour talking about the importance of looking at the positives and the impact happy employees can have on your success. (Happiness is one of our biggest company goals and hope it’s one of yours too!)

“You can’t just white-knuckle your way into optimism and try to act happy all the time. Instead, by seeing how positivity works in the world, and trying to cultivate it in how you behave, you begin to see happiness as a resource. Even simply thinking of happiness as a choice can have tremendous impact. When you act on that choice — when you choose it in big and small ways, again and again, and broadcast that to other people — it fuels positive action for everyone.” – Michelle Gielan

What makes you happy at work? Let us know! Tweet us or share a photo on Instagram @appfolio


learning-front learning-back

#5 – Always be learning, exploring, and innovating.

This one is closely related to principle #1 and extends beyond business success to personal development. You can’t stand still and expect to move forward and grow your business. Teach yourself new things, train yourself on new products and features, innovate your own business processes.


online-rep-front online-rep-back

#6 – We live in a digital world! Your online brand presence and reputation matters a ton!

Online brand presence is something we talk about a lot here at AppFolio because with the majority of renters searching for apartments online and reading reviews on third-party sites, you won’t succeed if you’re not present in the places where renters expect you to be.

We’ve put together some free resources for you on how to boost your online presence and reputation – check them out!


have-fun-front have-fun-back

#7 – Have fun and laugh often…we’re all human 🙂

No explanation necessary!


At AppFolio, we believe that these key principles are vital to a successful business. How can you bring these principles back to your business to help drive your success? Let us know what keys you think should be added to this list in the comments.