David: Hello. David Judge from Affordable staff and I have,

Damien: Damien Barnett, Affordable Staff. How you going, David?

David: I’m good. How you going around?

Damien: Yeah, really good. Really good.

David: So, we create this content, here we are in November 2020 in what people will consider to be, would it be considered a post? It’s certainly not pre-COVID.

Damien: It’s been a challenging year.

David: Yes.

Damien: It has been a pretty challenging year. Remember sitting back in February, talking about…

David: How great everything is going to be.

Damien: How wonderful 2020 was going to be, and then it went to Custard for a lot of businesses in Australia and New Zealand, so.

David: And this is why we’re here today because we’ve noticed as we’re continuing to work with clients, the ones that, all of our clients, that could have just continued to drive forward. We’ve identified five key areas of their business, five key things within their business that they have been focusing on, that have really allowed them to continue to grow and flourish as a business.

Damien: Yeah.

David: So we’re going to talk you through each one of this now. We thought we’d make this conversational because I mean, we’ve been living through this with clients, so it’s easy for us to talk around. So what’s the first one?

1. Setting Up Cloud Solutions

Damien: The first one is Setting Up Cloud Solutions. So what I mean by that, it’s not just about having a cloud property management software, because there are still businesses in Australia that do not have a cloud software.

David: Now it’s quite painful for them.

Damien: Initially, it was. But you know, with six months in and I suppose that might have worked, but a lot of those businesses that I’m talking to that aren’t on the cloud just yet, have been seriously weighing up their options and making sure that they’ve got the right solution for their business, and I think that’s pretty key.

Cause in March of this year, I suppose there was a knee-jerk reaction and they do move to the cloud straight away. And a lot of businesses missed out on that opportunity to discover what was best for their business, what was going to work well with their business, to do the whole training and implementation plan that would normally be rolled out with these big decisions.

You just don’t up and change property management software overnight. A lot of businesses are still looking at what their solution is. A lot of businesses have their mind up about what that is and are just waiting for the right time to implement going through the training but setting up cloud software solutions is the number one thing to help businesses grow.

So that’s not just property management software that’s looking at back of house. Can you be paperless? What solutions, are you using DocuSign? Are you using some other document management software out there? You know, are your emails off the server?

David: Yes.

Damien: You know, a lot of that stuff, and they don’t have them overnight, as we know. It’s not, you know, flick, switch and ‘hey, we’re in the cloud’.

David: But it’s an important integration for someone to consider.

Damien: It is definitely like, probably the number one key thing that businesses moving forward, and businesses that are growing this year have nailed it, they’ve got you know, they’re using Slack, they’re using Trello, they’re using you know, they’re using Microsoft Teams or Google Hangouts. So they’ve actually built that into their business so their business have been able to function as normal.

2. Remote Team Integration

David: Okay, excellent. That leads us into number two. Number two which is Remote Team Integration.

Damien: Yeah.

David: That’s an important area that a lot of people have discovered this year when historically, a lot of people working together in an office space, and then you’re put into a situation where you all have to work from different locations.

Damien: Number one’s probably conversations. Had he had these conversations now but I suppose with the remote and cloud software, working with remote teams, number one’s going to be security.

David: Yes.

Damien: And I know, conversations I’m having especially with the IT guys, out there is making sure that passwords are secure, that you’re using some type of realistically, password management software and if you don’t know what that is, there’s you know, LastPass is a good one, there’s a whole heap and different ones out there,

I’m more than happy to have a chat to people about. What we’ve seen clients using, you know, I use LastPass myself, when do we use LastPass in our business so that you don’t have to remember password 123.

David: Yeah, that’s right. The hack is you don’t have to remember it.

Damien: Well, it’s easy to find. The second part is two-factor authentication.

David: Yes.

Damien: So having a really strong password is awesome. But two-factor authentication allows you to lock down, I suppose, to lock down that password even further so, if it’s access from a new device, that it’s actually the person that’s supposed to be accessing it.

There’s Google Authenticator and there’s a whole heap of authentication apps out there that will allow you to secure your data that you’ve got out there working remotely with us, working from home, or working offshore with us.

That’s another thing. Probably the third one that’s been the most common, and saw this calmly march, and even in the outsourcing world, it’s been one of the key growth areas for us.

3. Unified Communication

Unified communication: so, what I mean by that is having the ability for someone to pick up the phone, dial your office, and for you to be able to transfer them through to your property management team just like you would be in the office.

Whether it’s using the VOIP system, there’s so many different systems out there, but as we know, 2020 has been about VAs being the receptionist — being the person that’s answering the phone and then just diverting the phone through to the relevant property manager or maintenance manager, whoever it is. In the office, whether they’re working from home or not.

David: And it was the promise in a lot of ways beforehand, but now it’s become almost a necessity where you would bring up your office, your direct office loan and then that person will say, ‘look I want to talk to Tim’, Tim is working remotely, being able to put him on hold, contact Tim say, ‘hey Tim, I’ve got a call for you’, the same way would work within an office but remotely, and then being able to physically transfer that call for you team to take that call.

Damien: There’s nothing more than annoying saying ‘oh sorry, he’s working from home today’, because if we’re looking at 2021, so many of these things are not going to change. The way we do business now in Australia has changed forever in real estate. And not just real estate, other businesses. So I believe working from home and working remotely is going to be intertwined into the way we move forward with businesses across Australia.

David: Yeah, agree. So, the third point. So we’ve covered our Setting Up Cloud, Remote Team Integration, the third point is Productivity.

Damien: Yeah, productivity. So, having, go back to March, everyone goes to work from home and it’s like, ‘woah, how do I know that the people are doing their job. How do I know what’s going on, how do I even’, going back, ‘how do I communicate with them?’

We used to have a property management meeting at 9 AM on a Tuesday morning, now what do I do? So, yeah, Zoom’s taken over a lot of that so, really, even in our role, it used to be common to go face-to-face with people and meet in the office. Now, 99 percent of my meetings are on Zoom.

David: Yes.

Damien: And people are comfortable with that, using that to touch base, to keep that water cooler talk going. It’s a really, important thing in maintaining productivity because if you can’t measure it, you can’t understand what people are doing, and you don’t want people to become disconnected from your business. So that’s an important part about monitoring activity, the software out there, Hubstaff.

David: Yeah, the software that we use called Hubstaff, which enables you to physically monitor people’s productivity. Great use of software, if you would Google Hubstaff.

And they also have, they have a number of add-ons available too, you can store the app on your phone. And if the person is out working remotely, they can run on their phone and you could actually see where they are from a geographical location as well.

Damien: Yeah, and I suppose the other thing was in, and I found out a lot this year with businesses that are growing is actually revealing the software that you are using?

David: Yeah, that’s a bit of a flipside, isn’t it? ‘Cause we’re talking about productivity from the respect that, you know, what tools you use to make sure people are being productive still. But they’re reviewing the software. That’s a little bit more.

Damien: Yeah, some of the software we found that businesses have got, they’re not maximizing the benefit of their current property management software. They’re not utilising, they’re paying for software and they’re not really utilising the full pack.

Yeah, some of the offices that we’ve gone into, they’re actually using software that’s a duplication of the current property management software and they’re paying ridiculous amounts of money for that software so that they can duplicate whatever they currently got in another piece of software which, you know.

David: Without really truly, in my opinion, understanding the goals of what they’re trying to achieve.

Damien: Yeah, and to provide, everyone I talked to says just to provide clarity, but the problem is, there are so many different touch points for property managers to fill it in here, fill it in there, and fill it in there that it all fell apart and none of it was actually integrated so, it just became a jumbled mess and no one really understood what was going on so, one of the things I would recommend is reviewing the software.

Are you getting the most out of the software that you are using? Does everyone have to use the software that you’re using? So, there’s big cost associated over the software that we use. You know, if you’re using a cloud-based property management software, are you maximizing the benefit of that software?

I know there’s part as in, other people out there that can help you if you’re unsure about how to get that software out. Is it actually delivering on what you needed to deliver to be able to get the end result that you’re trying to achieve?

4. Customer Experience

David: Okay, moving on to number four: Customer Experience.

Damien: Customer experience, yes. So, I suppose with anything, is, just because we’re all working from home and I know a lot right across Australia, especially our Victorian clients, they’ve been locked down, but the rest of Australia’s opened up. So you know, things like virtual tours were , I won’t say whiz-bang idea but in March, everyone wondered, ‘okay, we’re going to go on virtual tours.

But now, I’ve noticed, that’s now the norm and that’s a customer expectation. Customer expectation is still to be able to pick up the phone, ring your office and get through to the property manager without having to go ‘hang on, they’re working from home today’. You know, the reality is that, ‘I care’.

David: Yes.

Damien: They want to be able to talk to the people they want to talk to, when they want to talk to, and have that you know, whether they’re working from remotely or whether they’re in the office. They want to be able to do that. So, virtual tours, remote inspections, even routine inspections.

David: Yes.

Damien: There are so many businesses that have to postpone routine inspections and they have a bit of backlog. But the clients still expect that their routine inspection is done every three months. Rightly or wrongly, that’s what they’re paying. That’s the service they’re paying for. So, they want you to be able to deliver on suppose, your promise to them. And as I said, COVID’s not going to change or the way we do business isn’t going to change. So, the customer expectation, I think, is actually going up for this period.

David: Yeah, because of the ability for people to have access to online tools and different methods.

Damien: Different methods. And yeah, a lot of them, a lot of businesses have portals on their property management software that a lot of owners weren’t using. But through COVID, the app take had increased. So now, they’re actually going, ‘oh hang on. There’s actually cool stuff in here. I can monitor what’s going on with my property’.

It puts more of a spotlight on businesses out there to go, ‘ Am I delivering what I’m promising?’ So, Customer Experience has got to be the cool part of any service offering that you get out there, and leads into one of those. Having those cloud office solutions, making sure that you are integrated properly, as well as, I can show that you’re actually productive.

5. Just Keep Swimming

David: Which finally leads me into number 5. And I put there number 5 and I call Just Keep Swimming.

Damien: Yeah. So what do you mean by Just Keep Swimming?

David: My kids like the movie Finding Nemo, and there’s a saying in there ‘just keep swimming’. I think the thing is, this year, has proven for business owners that you have those challenging times.

You have those real lows and there’s real highs. And to be able to continue to do business with consistency, knowing that this is normal now. It’s potentially normal for a business to go back to an office space or go to an hybrid office and home, and then suddenly to be working from home again, and to be able to think, ‘okay, you know what, it’s okay.

If that’s happening, it’s okay’, and just to keep moving forward. I’m aware that we have a few clients that panicked.

Damien: Paralyzed, yeah, paralyzed.

David: Yeah, exactly. And they ended up becoming exactly that. They ended up becoming paralyzed instead of going and making decisions, instead of continuing to move forward. So, I think it’s important to acknowledge that it’s okay to experience the stress, and the anxiety, and the panic but just to keep going and keep moving forward.

As long as you keep doing that. As many businesses have proven, even though right now, again as of November 2020, there are still uncertainties to where they’re at, and what’s going to happen in the future around the virus.

But continuing to move forward anyway in that uncertainty and everything will be okay.

Okay, well that’s it. That is the Top 5 key areas that we believe in, through talking with clients and working with people through challenges that have been happening, that you should be focusing on with real estate. I appreciate your time, Damien.

Damien: Yeah, thanks, David.

David: This is David and Damien from Affordable Staff where there’s a better way to outsource.