Epic proptech fails – for me anyway
There is no doubt that COVID has been a catalyst for our industry to adopt products faster than we might have. It was also the ideal environment for the emergence of many new proptech companies.
However, I have always had a problem with proptechs developing products with little or no industry consultation that will give us high levels of efficiency and automation.
I recently had an experience with a property management product where a feature clearly had a design flaw; however, I was told that it was our processes that were incorrect and that they set the industry benchmark!
To achieve high levels of efficiency in our business, where we have automated over 70% of administrative tasks, we use three different software systems.
We recently decided to move our backlog process to our core product as they had “automated” the process. For an additional cost. Now be aware that there are clearly different understandings of what automated actually means here.
To me, a process is automated to the point that it doesn’t require any additional process to support it, nor does it require human intervention.
As we all know in property management, our arrears are calculated on current leases. I can print a list or view it on screen and communicate with tenants and landlords.
However, when tenants move, from time to time we have to keep the tenancy dormant and unarchived due to unpaid water bills, VCAT hearings, bond applications, etc.
What we discovered in this “automation” process was that not only was an overdue notification sent to current tenancies, but also to old inactive tenancies that had not been archived.
What I find even more frustrating is that it’s not mentioned clearly anywhere in the tutorials; a warning that if you use this “automated” process, you must manually Uncheck rentals that are inactive with funds due or they too will receive messages.
You know what I mean! I don’t know how this creates efficiencies and saves time!
So over the last few days my landlords and tenants have gone from a seamless previous process to one where they get messages that their tenants are more than 50 days overdue, but their current tenant is up to date and that he has received payment of the rent. .
This flaw in this so called automated process is creating issues with our customers, and what I find even more frustrating is that the proptech vendor is unwilling to resolve the issue.
As an industry, many of these proptech companies have told us what we should do and how we should run our business, but when we provide them with obvious flaws in the system, we are told that the best practice is to do it the way they built it – Bullshit!!!!
So here is my call to these proptech companies: work with us to create the best technology.
We pay way too much money eating away at our profit margins to be dictated. When we give you feedback, consider it, speak to your real estate advisory board (if you have one) and then make your decision. I don’t want to be told what the best practices are based on what your product is capable of.
So now I’m going to go back to the transparent system we had before, cancel my upgrade with this vendor, which in itself will be a pain, and wait for something better to come to market.
I hear you asking, “Why did we change in the first place?”
We wanted to remove a layer of technology from the business. I have yet to find a property management provider that does this well.
Remember that we need to build systems that create efficiencies, are transparent, remove human dependency to a large extent, are easy to use, reduce the workload on our teams, and help us create an environment without stress in which people can work.
Sadhana Smiles is the Managing Director of Real Estate Industry Partners and the Director of Harcourts Move.