One of our priorities at AppFolio Investment Management is to deliver an exceptional experience to our customers, and we strive to be more than just a technology provider — we want to be their technology partner and act as an extension of their team. This philosophy influences all of the ways we work with our clients, but it especially influenced the way we designed our onboarding experience. We want our customers to be confidently up and running with AppFolio Investment Management as quickly as possible, and we have an award-winning team dedicated to ensuring this happens for each customer, regardless of business size or strategy.
When The Sterling Group was ready to get onboarded with AppFolio Investment Management, our team was excited for the opportunity to demonstrate our partnership. With over 11,000 apartment and self-storage units and a 45-year history of over $1 billion in deals, The Sterling Group had a high volume of data that needed to be carefully embedded in their new AppFolio software. Despite the challenge this may have presented, our team was adamant about creating a seamless experience for The Sterling Group.
Several months after they got up and running with AppFolio, we sat down with Breea Nunemaker and Rae Willour from The Sterling Group to hear their opinion on their onboarding experience. To hear both sides of the story, we also interviewed their dedicated Onboarding Manager, Grant Gardner, to talk about his experience onboarding a client like The Sterling Group.
“Throughout the process, the AppFolio team was always very professional and easy to work with.”
Director of Real Estate Finance,
The Sterling Group
What initially drew you to AppFolio Investment Management?
The Sterling Group: When our current software was not providing what we needed, we began to search for alternatives. We were ready to upgrade our Investor Portal to solve some issues with features that didn’t work correctly when we realized how difficult and expensive the upgrade process was going to be since we were using custom Apps within a Salesforce platform. We reached out to three different companies and identified AppFolio Investment Management as the best fit for our needs.
When did you first meet The Sterling Group?
Grant Gardner: I first met The Sterling Group at the tail end of the sales process on October 13th, 2021 to answer questions about how onboarding worked before they signed on. From there, we officially kicked off our project on October 21st.
What was your expectation for the onboarding process, versus what happened?
The Sterling Group: We didn’t quite know what our expectations were, but thought it was going to be time consuming to gather all the data to provide the onboarding team. Initially, we thought we were going to have to fill in spreadsheets to upload into the system. Fortunately, the AppFolio Team was able to use the existing spreadsheets we use to calculate distributions. Throughout the process, the AppFolio team was always very professional and easy to work with. Grant always submitted our suggestions to the development team on our behalf, with often surprisingly positive quick results.
What is your approach to onboarding a company sized like the Sterling Group?
Grant Gardner: With larger firms, it’s critical to understand both their end goals and timeline. Given the larger data set and complexity, a lot of moving pieces and people are involved, so establishing those two basic items early allows me to keep the project on track and deliver value quicker. There are often multiple internal folks on the client side who need to buy in to adopting a new platform, so moving quickly, maintaining data integrity, and personalizing the experience breaks down barriers faster and shows that we’re a true partner for our clients.
How did you ensure Sterling’s important data was securely transferred into AppFolio Investment Management?
Grant Gardner: This was an involved process — the data migration included over 100 investments and a unique spreadsheet for each deal. The first element was collecting the data points for building the framework in AppFolio Investment Management, so they had access and could begin training even before we migrated everything over. We used auditing tools within the system and a tracking document to confirm information was correct or to discuss necessary adjustments. It was very much a collaborative effort between Sterling and our onboarding team, which greatly expedited the process. Since Breea and Rae were familiar with the system early on, they were able to validate the information as we brought it over.
Overall, how was the onboarding experience?
Grant Gardner: It was fantastic! Breea and Rae are some of the friendliest folks I’ve gotten to work with and I can’t say enough good things about their commitment to the process. They came prepared with questions, invested time in validating their data, and always had a positive attitude. To be honest, completing their onboarding was bittersweet, but it’s been very satisfying to see them launch the Investor Portal and successfully use AppFolio Investment Management!
The Sterling Group: Grant and team did a great job communicating the onboarding process, setting up weekly update meetings, answering questions during the calls and providing a realistic timeline for our launch. We have been extremely impressed with AppFolio’s responsiveness to feedback and how quickly they work to address issues or add features to the system to improve their product and the user experience. We appreciated Grant continuing to work with us for several weeks after the launch to ensure that everything was working correctly, and we were comfortable with the system. The transition to our Customer Success Manager and our Customer Care Representative was very easy, as well.Read more customer stories