As a property manager, estate manager or a single/multiple property owner, sooner or later you come to realise the need to save time, automate your operations and develop your rental business in a much more scalable and efficient manner.

Whether you are using complicated and/or multiple Excel documents or already have an existing basic management system which doesn’t serve your needs anymore, you should be diligent in upgrading your system.

This may seem a difficult process at first, but you can simplify the selection and integration when you are well prepared and open to changing the way your work for the better!

1. Establish your objectives

  • What system and operating procedures are you using and what are their limitations?
  • Define your specific business need and development planning for your internal growth and your relationship with the owners, ie how do you manage your properties and interact with owners
  • What is your marketing and distribution strategy?
  • What are your local legal and tax obligations?
  • Listen to your team and assess the gaps in your operating procedures
  • Set your “must do” list and prioritize them so to you select the most appropriate system

2. Compare management systems

  • Discuss your need with the system providers and be open to their suggestions for the system implementation and adjustment of your operating procedures
  • There is no perfect system, each has its strengths and weaknesses, so whichever one you choose must comprehend the majority of your priorities as there is always room for the system functionalities to be further developed
  • Make sure all your critical business processes can be accomplished, which may include integration with your web site, third party distribution partners, accounting for the owners, maintenance management, …

3. Choose a system and finalise the details

  • Work out an implementation timeline that fits your business seasonal pattern, staff management and reporting to the owners
  • Assess if you can upload current and historical data electronically or manually into the system, this will save you a vast amount of time
  • Include sufficient training, and determine whether it is on-site or remote
  • Carefully define any missing functionalities which you may be available at a later stage
  • Assess the support you will receive during and after the implementation
  • Discuss and prepare your adjusted operating procedures with the system provider

4. Plan for the implementation

  • Assign one of your staff to lead the implementation with the rest of your team and the system provider
  • Communicate with your team about the change and deal with their fear of change and using unfamiliar  processes and tools
  • Ensure all data is ready in the appropriate format to be loaded into the system
  • Set 2 release dates, one for internal purposes and the other for owners’ reporting
  • Set a limited period during which you will maintain dual entry into your new and old systems, keep it as short as possible to reduce redundancy and staff overwork, but long enough to assess reservation and financial accuracy as well as a thorough understanding of the new system

5. Implement the management system

  • Make sure that all your staff read the user guides and/or are fully aware of the information available within an online help
  • Ensure that all your staff receives thorough training and understand the benefits of the new system for themselves and the company
  • Prepare an introduction letter to your owners with the first statement issued from the system, explaining the changes and the new format of the reporting procedures
  • Always keep the old system around for reference, but stop using it as soon as possible for daily entry

6. After the implementation

  • Implement regular audit of the data entered into the system so as to adjust mistakes and missed information in real time
  • Verify that the new operating procedures are maintained and adjust them again as necessary to further optimise your business development
  • Support your team, welcome as much feedback and suggestions as possible
  • Make recommendations and feedback in terms of functionalities and user friendliness to the system provider