The All-In-One or Best-of-Breed Dilemma: Which Technology is Best for Your Property Management Company?

In the property management industry, there is a technology to solve almost every problem.  From paying rent online to managing packages, the industry is bursting with solutions that tackle all the tedious aspects of being a property manager. But first, you have to find the vendor that’s right for your company, and that can be a tough task.

The best way to whittle down your choice of vendors is to determine if you want to use an all-in-one or a best-in-breed solution. You may not be sure which one is the best fit for your business, so we’re here to give you all the pros and cons.

First, let’s take a look at all-in-one solutions. All-in-one providers catering to the property management industry offer a combination of management, investment, marketing, leasing, and resident tools.

All-In-One Pros

An all-in-one solution can be an easy sell for some property management companies. The idea of a single platform being able to solve multiple challenges at once sounds very appealing, especially if you have limited internal resources. The IT requirements required to use an all-in-one provider may be reduced when a single vendor is used because there are fewer programs to maintain.

If your team is not particularly tech savvy, only having to learn one platform can help avoid confusion among users of the software and shorten the learning curve. Plus, users will only need a single login to manage each application.

Only having one technology vendor to juggle can be convenient, too. You’ll only have one vendor to make payments to, and call when problems arise.

All-In-One Cons

One suite, one purchase, one vendor to work with. It’s a powerful case, so what are the drawbacks?

The most widespread complaint property managers have about all-in-one solutions is that each product in the suite lacks in-depth functionality needed to do a particular job well.  Essentially a Swiss Army knife for property managers, you’ll get several tools compiled into one offering, most of which have limited capabilities compared to a standalone version of that service.

If you’d like to enhance the functionality that’s offered, don’t count on being able to customize features with an all-in-one solution.  All-in-one solutions tend to be more rigid in the functionality, and therefore offer little to no ability for customization. If you have specific requirements, you are probably better off with a best-in-breed solution.

You’ll likely also have access to tools you don’t need or don’t want, and in most cases, this makes all-in-one providers more expensive. Software to manage your business shouldn’t always come down to price. But when you compare dollar for dollar what you get out of an all-in-one solution and the adaptability it has, some find it hard to justify the cost for what you get back.

You may also find that components of an all-in-one solution don’t integrate as seamlessly as you’d expect. That’s because all-in-one providers often fill gaps in their product offerings by acquiring companies, then rebranding those products as their own. Getting the two components to “talk” to each other can be just as challenging as selecting software from different vendors.

Adding new products through acquisition also affects the support you receive. Support teams for all-in-one platforms won’t have as much in-depth knowledge about each specific part of their offering like best-of-breed providers have. The result of this is that it could in fact take more, not less time to identify and resolve the issue.

Now let’s take a look at best-in-breed providers for property management companies. They eat, live, and breathe their area of expertise and only focus on a handful of specialized services.

Best-in-Breed Pros

Companies opt for best-of-breed solutions because they offer power-packed systems that address a specific issue. The features offered are more extensive than what is offered through an all-in-one, but can also usually be tailored to the client’s needs. While assembling a best-of-breed technology stack means dealing with several providers, it also means upgrades are much easier, and the company has a unique system that is at the top of its industry.

If your goal is to reduce costs, choosing best-of-breed solutions will be the way to go. Because you can pick and choose which solutions your company needs, you are able to save by opting for best-of-breed software versus unified solutions.

Another advantage of using a best-of-breed over an all-in-one, is that it prevents companies from “putting all their eggs in one basket.” Using numerous products from a single vendor tightly locks you into their system. Breaking away from a unified solution can be a painful transition, something most all-in-one providers count on. If you become unsatisfied with a best-of-breed platform, there’s more leverage to negotiate a solution to the problem. And if you choose to move to another vendor, the transition will be less complicated without several aspects of your business tied to one provider.

Best-of-breed vendors usually deliver a shorter implementation time, particularly if you are using a web-based solution. With faster implementation and ease of adoption, you can achieve a quicker ROI by selecting a best-in-breed solution.

Best-In-Breed Cons

As you’d expect, picking best-of-breed solutions means you have more vendor relationships to manage.

While best-of-breed vendors work tirelessly to strengthen their integrations, some may not provide a flawless experience. If you choose vendors who do not have strong partnerships with one another, integration with your property management software may not always be the best.

Best-of-breed solutions are not a one-size-fits-all technology. Therefore, you will need to have a good idea about the kinds of features you want, and be vocal about your needs. The end result will be a solution that is tailored to your business’ specific needs.

At the end of the day, implementing any kind of technology is meant to help you streamline your processes, better run daily operations and make your team’s job easier. All-in-one and best-in-breed solutions each have their own unique value propositions so it’s important to evaluate your company’s needs, not only today, but as you will grow in the future.

 

Written by Jennifer Stahlman and originally posted on PayLease

3 Foolproof Ways to Drive Online Rent Payment Utilization

Once you see the light and begin processing payments with an online payment provider, you start to realize that receiving less physical checks and money orders means less manual work for you and your staff. You wonder how you can get more tenants or homeowners to start making payments online. Maybe you strive to be as efficient as Rainey Realty who collects 100% of their resident payments online, and no longer pays a bookkeeper to process rent checks. If you want to start seeing more (or all) of your payments in your accounting software in real-time, may we suggest the following three foolproof ways to drive utilization…

Step one; start incurring the transaction fees.

Whether you’re using PayLease or a different online payment provider, absorbing the fees on behalf of your residents is the number one way to increase utilization, trust us! If it’s free for the tenant, you will see a majority of your residents switch and ditch their checkbooks. You may be worried that the cost to incur will exceed the cost to process manually. Yes, you are adding a cost by paying the convenience fees, but you are deleting a much higher cost to manually process a paper check. We encourage you to do some research on your end and find out how much it’s costing you to process a check manually, and then compare that to the cost to incur the fee on an e-payment. Roy Rainey of Rainey Realty did the math, and decided it was worth it; “we decided to incur the costs of e-checks, which is a nominal cost. We probably pay around $300 per month in the e-check processing fees. But since everyone pays online now, we are not paying a bookkeeper to process rent. The tradeoff is worth it, especially because our system is 100% accurate and we can see all of our payments in real-time.”

Step two; implement a system like CashPay, so that those who are unbanked have a quick, secure payment option.

With CashPay, residents can pay their rent using cash from over 25,000 CheckFreePay® retail locations which include major retailers like Walmart and Kmart, as well as smaller supermarket chains and mom and pop shops. This way, payments will automatically appear in your accounting software, and you never have to see or deposit a money order. Allison Treadwell of Franklin Management expressed to us that “each month, the number of CashPay transactions [they] receive increases and the number of money orders decreases. Residents have expressed their satisfaction with the convenience and the security of this payment option.” She also stated that their “managers are extremely happy with CashPay too, since the reduction in money orders has saved them a tremendous amount of time each month.“

Step three; get the word out!

Make sure your residents or homeowners know they have the option to make their payments online. After all, no one will use the system if they don’t know about it, so it’s important that you use the right marketing tools to notify your residents. A good payment provider will offer you free materials to help communicate your new payment feature. Email blasts, for instance, are a quick and effective way to make announcements, or drop a custom door hanger on the doorknob of each unit on your daily walk throughs or site visits if you manage multifamily properties. Have your payment provider create custom flyers for you to display in your property’s on-site office, business center, gym, pool, common areas etc. Get creative and use e-payment fliers and counter top stands to make eye-catching displays. Do you currently mail statements, notices, newsletters, etc. to your residents? If so, custom inserts are an easy way to include e-payment information in the mailings you already send out. For single family portfolios, direct mailers are a proven method of communication to residents and/or homeowners.

PayLease provides these marketing materials and more to our clients for free, so be sure to take advantage of these effective marketing tools if you are a current client. Contact your client account rep or email marketingsupport@paylease.com for more info. We’ll send you sample mock-ups using your logo and URL for approval and then fulfill, and ship the order to the address(s) you request. Letting residents and homeowners know the good news has never been easier!

There you have it; incur transaction fees, implement CashPay, and get the word out with custom and effective marketing materials, and you will be sure to see an increase in utilization and a decrease in manual payment processing. Become as efficient as Rainey Realty who told us they “don’t have to employ as many people as [they] did before using PayLease, so [they] are actually saving money. Needless to say the benefits have been tremendous for [their] company.”

Written by Victoria Rees and originally posted on PayLease