Crystal fell into property management by chance, taking a receptionist job at a local real estate firm in Austin, Texas, where she quickly moved up to property manager due to her ability to connect with people genuinely. After 8 years as a property manager, Crystal took a leap of faith and started her own company. She found two partners who shared her vision, and shortly after, Twelve Rivers was born. Crystal shares:
“My wake-up call was when I decided to go out on my own. I've always been a forward-thinker and wanted to create a new way to make service easier for renters and owners. It just so happened that Paul and Kevin, my partners, were going to be opening their own brokerage, and they asked me to be their business partner. We all had the same understanding that when you walk in, you are welcome: our office is your home.”
Being treated like family is just one of the many things that set Twelve Rivers apart. They also strive to stay true to their Austin roots, approaching property management with a pioneer mindset. Crystal explains:
“We are one of the fastest-growing cities in the country. With that comes being an innovator, someone that's a pioneer in our industry. For our company, it's extremely important for us to always be locally owned, founded, and operated. Being authentic to Austin and being Austinites is really extremely important to us.”
Prior to switching to AppFolio Property Manager, the team at Twelve Rivers struggled with software that was difficult to use, which led to frustration and wasted time. It also wasn’t mobile, so they couldn’t carry out workflows unless they were in the office at their desks. After much research and debate, they decided to go with AppFolio because it had everything they were looking for and more — all on one platform. Crystal shares:
“Our previous property management software was really hard to navigate, it wasn’t user-friendly, and it didn’t have the things we needed to grow our business. Since switching to AppFolio, our jobs and lives are much easier, and our processes are more streamlined. Going through the pandemic and then a severe winter storm where we were without power and water for a week, it would have been impossible to stay connected and get work done with our previous solution. Having software that is dependable and fully mobile is life-changing.”
With over 430 units to manage, it’s not easy to provide exceptional service to every renter and owner, but with AppFolio, the team can empower residents and owners to complete tasks on their own. This has not only helped them to provide a better customer experience but has freed up their team to focus on providing more personalized service. Crystal goes into more detail:
“We are able to have our renters apply directly online, which is phenomenal because most people are on-the-go and want something that's easy but still secure. It has saved us well over 40 hours a week just being able to have online applications. AppFolio ultimately offers a better renter and owner experience because of its transparency. Owners can go in and see any request or dialogue that we've had with the renter at any time, and the renter has access to reach our team 24/7.”Deliver a Better Customer Experience
Keeping track of property maintenance for single-family homes, duplexes, and multifamily apartment buildings spread out over the Austin area can be a daunting task for any property management business. Before AppFolio, it was more cumbersome for the team at Twelve Rivers to handle maintenance, but now they can work more efficiently, since they have a single source of truth, and everything is automated and mobile. Crystal explains:
“Our maintenance workflow has definitely improved when it comes to maintenance requests, work orders, and property inspections. Renters can submit a maintenance request, and it actually gets sent directly to the vendor, so that provides us with peace of mind, knowing it's getting taken care of. Also, when a resident moves out, it flows so much more seamlessly because we're able to upload the pictures in real time, and the owner can view them, and so can our team.”
Finding, training, and keeping great talent has become increasingly challenging for property management businesses. One thing that's very important to Crystal is the well-being of her team and finding ways to make their careers fulfilling. Crystal shares:
“The well-being of our team is everything to us. We've always told team members, ‘We care about you first, and then we want to make sure that everything else is in place.’ I think coming into any sort of relationship, whether it's our team, our customers, or our residents, I just always want to help them grow and create their own opportunities. With our team, that could be going from assistant property manager to property manager; we want to create a workplace environment that brings value to them so they can show up and do their best work.”
In addition to approaching hiring and retention with a forward-thinking mindset, Crystal believes in providing her team with the right technology to make their lives easier and more flexible. Crystal goes into more detail:
“Our employees love working at Twelve Rivers because we offer a creative and flexible workspace. We have a front yard that they can work from, as well as a collaborative working space within the office. And with AppFolio, they're able to work remotely — whether that be at home or in the field, too. Along with mobility, the automated features in AppFolio save our team time every single day so they can focus on what they love in property management.”Empower Your Team
Crystal is passionate about helping others inside and outside of work. When she’s not running her business, she dedicates her time to various causes, including LifeWorks, a non-profit that assists young adults out of foster care, and I Can, a women empowerment speaking series. AppFolio streamlines and simplifies her day-to-day, giving her the gift of more time that she can use to make a difference in her community. Crystal shares:
“We have a saying here at Twelve Rivers , and it's ‘Work hard, play hard, and give back.’ AppFolio gives me space to help more people and to be a better leader. If I'm not bogged down with the mundane, then I'm free to do more meaningful work, like connecting with my customers and giving back to the community. That’s what really fills my cup.”
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