Kylie Davis: 03:20 Welcome to the proptech podcast. It’s Kylie Davis here and I’m delighted to be your host as we explore the brave new world where technology and real estate collide. The aim of each episode is to introduce listeners to a proptech innovator who is pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. And we’ll explore the issues and challenges raised by the technology, and how they can create amazing property experiences.
So my guest in this episode is Sandy Moore, CEO of property management startup, OurProperty. OurProperty is a cloud-based property management system that streamlines the work property managers do around managing and maintaining property. And it’s one of those PM systems that asks the question, do you really need a trust account? So we’re going to explore that and lots more of the issues around cloud-based property management. Sandy Moore, welcome to the show.
Sandy Moore: 04:12 Thanks a lot Kylie, pleasure to be here.
Kylie Davis: 04:15 So, Sandy give us your elevator pitch. How do you explained…
Sandy Moore: 04:20 Two second elevator pitch. The platform, in essence, is just that it’s an integrated platform. We really think the industry needs single deep product that really resolves the problems they have. And we see those issues as being, reducing costs, and increasing revenues. So we certainly don’t think there’s a future in-app stacking in this business. So we think that the way the industry has gone in the last couple of years in particular, where people have a lot of small apps and they stack them up on top of each other is probably not a really great way forward. We think the future is contained in a trust-free environment within a real estate office.
We think an office needs to control the money, absolutely. But we don’t think they ever need to take possession of it. We think the banking processes will be on that sometime back. And it’s about time I guess the industry caught up with that. So we look for control without taking possession, which means we don’t need a trust account. We look at integrating a lot of the processes, and particularly the customer journeys. We see that as a big feature, I guess, in getting that customer journey integrated into the process.
Kylie Davis: 05:28 So what sort of things can I do in OurProperty that I probably can’t do in a traditional property management system, or what sort of things can I do more easily?
Sandy Moore: 05:39 So the basis of the system is automation. So when the product was developed by the founder, Russ, a few years back, it was developed initially as a maintenance product. So he came to the industry from that side of the business, looking at the maintenance problem in management and saying, “Look, how can this be resolved?” Because it was taking up. Normally, over 50% of a property manager’s time was spent on maintenance inquiries, which was just crazy because most landlords got very little value in the process, but it becomes a massive part of the business. So initially it was looked at from that point. So our main key difference is automation. So the system we have is a heavily workflow-based system rather than, the traditional systems in the marketplace really are accounting products, with some workflow working off that process. Whereas ours is completely the opposite.
It’s a workflow-based product with a heavy degree of automation and quite a large degree of artificial intelligence. So things like, in maintenance where you have those issues before of a lack of transparency and the property manager gets caught in the middle of this vortex of competing interests, you no longer have that. You have an automated product that allows you to sit at the centre of people that can then function around you. So I guess in essence, the property manager becomes the ringmaster and the activity can go on without them physically having to be involved every step of the way. And it just saves an enormous amount of time.
Kylie Davis: 07:06 So I think what we’re seeing in some of the new generation proptechs that are coming out now are these businesses that are looking at ways of stopping agents from needing to be the bottleneck of all information. And so, I guess that’s what I’m hearing you’re telling me, is that it’s allowing property managers to not be a bottleneck of…
Sandy Moore: 07:27 Yeah, exactly. They should be the ringmaster controlling events and adding value rather than be saying it’s the person stopping things happening.
Kylie Davis: 07:35 Yeah. Well, that can only happen if they’ve actually managed to get to the email and in the right time.
Sandy Moore: 07:41 Exactly. There’s 400 emails and 50 phone calls waiting, there’s no way they can do that.
Kylie Davis: 07:46 Yeah.
Sandy Moore: 07:46 And that was a really interesting point when you look at value equations. In residential property management, the property manager is often considered the low end of the value chain, whereas you go to the commercial real estate world, the asset manager is the highest-paid guy in the building, adding real value to clients.
And I think that’s where we’re looking at moving things around. We see that a residential property manager shouldn’t be any different from that. They should be asset managers adding real value to clients. And when you have automation, that’s the beauty of it. It takes all that day-to-day process type of work and automates it. It then frees up the person who used to do those tasks to do that really high-value stuff. That one-to-one sort of communication with the landlord, and that’s got real value to it. And that’s the thing that machine can’t ever replicate.
Kylie Davis: 08:32 I wonder if it’s got something to do with the history of residential property management kind of coming out of an admin role and therefore-
Sandy Moore: 08:40 Yeah, exactly.
Kylie Davis: 08:41 … just it is very secretarial in its kind of management, isn’t it?
Sandy Moore: 08:44 Exactly. Its sort of like a software developed the same way, developed as this admin type product and as property manager said, “Oh. What we need is a little bit more,” someone in the back room would go, “Oh okay, we’ll try to add this feature that somehow works and moves stuff around.” But it’s very poor with this old based system. And that’s sort of been the problem going forward with the legacy products because at the very core you’ve got this pretty old dysfunctional system that you can’t really do much with.
Kylie Davis: 09:10 So you mentioned before about app stacking, thumbtack that a little bit. What does that mean?
Sandy Moore: 09:21 Without going any brand names, there’s a lot of apps in our business that do small functions. Now look, I really understand where it comes from because from my perspective, the easiest way for a company like ours to make money is that they’ll have a small app that does one product and go to the industry and sell it. Because I can quite easily, quite cheaply develop something that does a little job very, very well and give it a perceived value to our user and go and sell it and get cashback, sell the companies, do whatever I want to do and move on.
It’s a very simple thing to do and it’s very cost-effective from the developer’s point of view. But from an agency point of view, it doesn’t really work because you end up developing a platform that has all these apps tied into it and they all rely on a flow of data. Now each of those apps controls the flow of data and generally they only push it one way, sometimes two ways, but often only one way. And if any of those parts of the chain fall out, you as the user, in the end, are left with nothing because pretty much everything will start falling over as you speak. So it’s really just not a very effective way of dealing with things. Obviously, it’s very expensive as well because each of those app builders you need to pay. The price sort of integrates, but sort of sometimes doesn’t.
So, it’s a really difficult thing. So, in the future, we see that’s probably not going to be where things are at. There’ll be one or two, but not what we have now, which really people are looking for a basic software package and then plugging in a tonne of apps on top of it to try and make it do what they need it to do. We really think there’s very little future for that.
Kylie Davis: 10:47 Right. So are you saying that you’re more of a walled garden in terms of how your system runs?
Sandy Moore: 10:54 Yeah, look, we work with a number of other companies in integration, so a lot of connections providers and funding and all sorts of different companies that have users. And you look at this going forward, the history has been with say, a connections company where the office would send a name and a phone number and address to a third party who then use a call centre to call back and try and convert those leads into connections to us. Whereas now when you have a predetermined customer journey and workflow online with an app in our system to the client direct, you can start dealing with them through their app in the customer journey at times that suit them and giving them information they need when they need it, and allowing them to take those decisions when they need to. So instead of having to go through that really, really clunky process of a callback, they can actually instigate the whole thing themselves. So there’s real value in that from the client’s perspective.
Kylie Davis: 11:49 And so, is that because you’ve rebuilt that system inside your platform or is that-
Sandy Moore: 11:57 Yes, we’ve used our workflow engines to map out that customer journey, in the tenant acquisition in particular. So from the original signing of the property, through an online MAA, through to the uplinking of advertising, through to the pulling in of inquiry, through the inspections, the application process, the vetting of those applications. Right through this journey, there’s different points where the customer can see different things that might suit them, whether it’s a connection or anything else. And you can really tailor that product into the journey.
Kylie Davis: 12:29 Right, okay.
Sandy Moore: 12:31 Yeah, instead of getting that very clunky callback and that really time-consuming event, you can actually have the information available for click-through where the customer can just make a decision to go, “Instead of calling me, I’m just going to hit the button saying connect me.”
Kylie Davis: 12:46 But you can do that with apps on an open API, you could plug them all in together to make them talk to each other?
Sandy Moore: 12:52 You can. Most of them only talk out one way though. Some talkback, most talk one way, which is very limiting when you start developing.
Kylie Davis: 13:01 Right, okay. So how long has OurProperty been around for?
Sandy Moore: 13:04 OurProperty as a company has been going for around three years or so now. So it is getting into that semi-mature stage, which is great. We’ve built up our customer numbers pretty hugely in the last year.
Kylie Davis: 13:17 Three years is a long time in proptech
Sandy Moore: 13:23 Yeah, we’re old people.
Kylie Davis: 13:24 It’s dog years.
Sandy Moore: 13:24 It is, it’s longer, I think. So, look, we’ve built up now, we’ve got well over 100,000 properties on the platform, which is great. We’ll probably build-out, our client growth will be in triple digits again this year, which is fantastic. So that part of it’s going very strongly. There was a lot of demand for the sort of product we have. And this stage there’s not a lot of product that’s really highly integrated and really highly automated. Generally, we’re, I guess, the exception to the rule at the moment. That’s been a good thing for us.
Kylie Davis: 13:56 So, what are the notions that you’re challenging in how real estate is typically done?
Sandy Moore: 14:02 I guess the first notion was does an agent need a trust account. I mean you mentioned that earlier. I came across this number of years ago, I’ve worked in Asia, in the US and here in Australia. The issue everybody had is this trust account. In Asia, no one wanted the agent to hold the money because they didn’t trust them. In the US, it’s all about litigation. In Australia, it was about the cost of managing it. But in essence, it was the same problem. And a couple of years ago I was with Russ, my CTO and we said, “Well, the technology is definitely here now where we can move beyond this.” And we absolutely have to have control of the money as an industry because that’s how we pay fees and we pay people.
But we don’t, anymore, need to take physical possession of the funds. So, that was a big change. And we’re working with agencies now across the country plus all the RFTs because the legislators and the regulators in the business now need to change. And I’ve got to say, they’re very in the main, we found them very good with this because they realise a trust-free agency is a much safer place for everybody. It’s much safer for the agent, much safer from the consumer point of view. So, that’s a good thing.
Kylie Davis: 15:06 I guess this is where FinTech and proptech start to come together a bit too, isn’t it?
Sandy Moore: 15:08 Absolutely. We’re definitely ruching those two areas. And to be frank, our FinTech side now is quite old fashioned. Banking is moving in there and a whole lot of different things are happening. Blockchain, all these things are a part of the future. Now our current banking system is relatively straight forward. In Australia now, you can’t even use the NPP, the new payment platform to do commercial direct debits yet, it’s crazy. So you still had a two-day clearance on a commercial direct debit. Just mad.
Kylie Davis: 15:41 Yeah. So, trust accounts is one way that you guys are challenging traditional notions. How else?
Sandy Moore: 15:49 Certainly by bringing the product together. So taking that customer journey and bringing the whole thing to one place, because that’s a big change. We’re looking at Taylor Century and what that can do. So, we don’t want to mention we’ll have keys in the next, probably 12 months they’ll be gone, physical hard keys.
Kylie Davis: 16:06 You don’t have them in Hong Kong, do you?
Sandy Moore: 16:08 No, look, I personally haven’t had a door key in my own property for many years. I originally had a keypad, that was 15 years ago. And then we moved to swaps. You think through this from a customer perspective, from a tenancy side and we’re looking at a dual key lock. It’s not a single swipe only, its a key or a swipe, so the tenant can make that choice. But all of a sudden I can send to your app the photo and the licence details for the electrician that’s coming around.
I can offer for you to be there at the property or to stay at work, and he can swipe himself in. It’ll ping your family swipes in or ping your phone when he swipes out. It’ll check his ID before he opens that door. So it’s not like me in the office having to get a property manager having to give a key or a third party and hope he’s the person that goes and does the job. I can actually check here that the person at the front door is the person who registered the licence to do the work. We can check their invoice in, sorry, the timings, timestamps in and timestamps out on the job.
It’ll then reconcile that against their invoice, against their bill. A whole lot of really great advantages. So the tenant gets a lot of convenience, the landlord gets a lot of transparency, and the agent saves a fortune because now I don’t need tradesmen coming backwards and forwards. And now I can grow my business because I can’t… I have a rent roll in the centre of Sydney. I can also have a rent roll in potentially Darwin because I don’t need to physically control the access.
Kylie Davis: 17:30 And you’re not losing your stuff rushing out the door to go and meet a tradie who then doesn’t turn up for 15 minutes, or an hour, or whatever.
Sandy Moore: 17:39 Yeah, and most of the bills now in this business, a large portion, if not more than half the bill is made up of the time it takes to collect and return the key, which that was [inaudible 00:17:49], just madness, absolute madness.
Kylie Davis: 17:54 Yeah. So are there any other notions that you’re challenging? So trust accounts, keyless entry?
Sandy Moore: 18:00 I’m not sure. How many more I can tell you?
Kylie Davis: 18:02 I’ll give you one more, go on. Give me one more.
Sandy Moore: 18:02 Well, I certainly think no trust, no key are the big things for agency. We see it as our job to increase revenues to agency. Our big business model challenge has been, how do we grow revenue, and then how do we grow profit within an agency? Macquarie Bank has given a number of talks to the industry about where the fees are going. So they believe it’s going to be sub 4%. We’ve been asked by various people doing numbers on… can you make money at four, can you make money at three, can you make money in this business at a 2% fee? There are companies out in the market now charging in relative terms equal or less than 3%.
So the industry has got a lot of change to make because if you’re now running at 7% and making a 20% profit, you won’t survive in a 4% or 5% fee environment, you’ll continue the same way. So those sort of challenges and saying, where can we generate revenue for an agency through our platform? And that’s a big part of where we are, going forward. So most of our time now is spent looking at the revenue basis we can generate for agencies and how we can promote that through our platform to increase that on the agency side.
Kylie Davis: 19:14 So, can you give us an idea as to what that looks like? Where are these ideas popping up?
Sandy Moore: 19:21 I sort of touched on earlier with a simple thing like a connection, for instance. Connection currently with an agency, they might, if they’re really good at what they do, convert 60% or 70% of the prospective tenants they have to a connection fee, which is not a bad result. When you go forward and you get a really great workflow, you get that customer journey sorted out from the time of first inquiry. You go from having one approved tenant, back to having maybe three or four or five applicants, to maybe having 20 or 30 inspections. You can drive that back to 20 or 30 rather than the one. And you can also then vastly increase your numbers because you’ve got a much more consumer-friendly way of doing the whole business transaction, and you’ve got it contained on platform.
Now they can pay, they can connect, they can do everything through the app. And that’s where consumers are going. I mean, we have found out very early on with our payments platform testing, consumers weren’t worried about costings. What they were really, really concerned on was convenience. It had to be super convenient. And if everything worked that was really convenient, happy days. But that’s where the market’s going.
Kylie Davis: 20:35 Yeah. It’s true, isn’t it? I mean, I think for long-time tenants have kind of been second class citizens in that space, in that it’s been expected that they just tolerate all sorts of inconvenience, even greater than homeowners. So, Sandy, OurProperty is in the Cloud. Tell us what that means.
Sandy Moore: 20:58 It just means your server is somewhere other than your office, really. It [inaudible 00:21:03] main server fails to exist. So, we work for a company called Rackspace, who are based out of Sydney. So our server farm is in Sydney. So we work at a service based out of Sydney. They backup all over the world, but the basic servers are within Sydney. So yeah, there is always a service somewhere. And what it means is you can access your data from anywhere in the world. So your people can be at home, they can be on the road, they can be in the office. It makes absolutely no difference to how they work.
The other big thing in our industry is a lot of sort of mid-sized offices get caught in this real conundrum where they haven’t got a massive IBM scale of business, but they do have massive IBM scale costs. They have to go and buy servers that cost 30, $40,000. They then have to employ some very highly paid person to keep them up and running. And it’s a huge cost burden. And really, most offices these days, property management is about the only thing they still run on their servers.
Kylie Davis: 21:55 Oh God. And it’s sitting under Mary’s desk and if she gives it a kick, it will knock over.
Sandy Moore: 22:04 Yeah. We had one the other day, will always come in every year or so and say, “Kylie, you’re servers not running real fast, you probably need to replace it. It’s only going to be $38,000. Would you like me to order the new one?
Kylie Davis: 22:04 No.
Sandy Moore: 22:16 And then Oh my God 38 grand, what do I do? And that’s just the way it’s operated for so many years. And nearly every office on that sort of mid-size scale has a consultant onboard on a retainer, and it’s a major amount of cost. So, cloud-based computing it’s not… Back a couple of years ago, no one understood it, it was very much, it just goes off in the ether somewhere and God knows what happens, and then comes back, and it’s all terribly dangerous and all this sort of stuff, and my data’s insecure. I would say that anyone that sort of thinks that you really just need to check it through cloud-based computing and server farms are so much more secure than anybody could ever have in their own office. The most insecure way to have your data is in a server in your office, without any shadow of a doubt.
Kylie Davis: 23:04 Yes. So, is there an app that’s associated with OurProperty as well? I can use it on my mobile?
Sandy Moore: 23:11 Yeah, there’s a number of apps. So we have a data platform that sits there and you as a tenant or a landlord or as a property manager have your own app, which goes into that database and does the job you need it to do for you.
Kylie Davis: 23:25 Right, fantastic.
Sandy Moore: 23:25 So, from the landlord’s perspective, we do a whole lot of smart stuff. It looks at their basic financials, obviously, and gives them that on call. Again, this is a big saving for a property manager. You have, in years gone by, half your times a property money you spent, people phoning you up, especially landlords going, “Can you send me this document? I can’t find it.” And then getting very upsetting with you because you took two days to get back to them because you had 200 of those calls.
Kylie Davis: 23:51 Because it was the end of the month, [inaudible 00:23:53] busy too in the end of month.
Sandy Moore: 23:54 Now, on their app or on their phone, have demand 24/7. So they can get anything they want whenever they want. So the convenience level for them is just vastly higher. And yeah, we’ve worked a lot with the app to make it really user-friendly. So whether you’re a tradie, whether you’re the property manager, whether you’re the landlord or the tenant, you’ve got an app that delivers what you need it to do. So the tenant can log maintenance when they need to. It’ll prompt them to take a photograph or a video, if it says leaky tap, it’ll say take a video, because obviously there’s no point in a still photograph of a leaking tap.
So just little things that make all the difference in the world. It keeps records of different fixtures within the property, so tradesmen can look at licences and then serial numbers, and what have you. It just makes the job a lot easier. A lot of times it saves the second call out. So instead of having a two call out maintenance job that costs $400, you’ve got a single call out that’s $200. It’s just much more convenient and much more cost effective for everybody.
Kylie Davis: 24:51 So I have an investment property, which is run by a very large agency on the gold coast actually. And I noticed that they had moved to our property recently because I’ve got a whole lot of different… as a landlord I was like, “Ooh, hang on what’s this?” And was able to kind of look at my account and see a whole pile of things that until then had been a complete black box. So yeah, I really loved that side of it. What’s the feedback that you’ve have from the maintenance side of the business? Like from tradies?
Sandy Moore: 25:26 With tradies it varies. So, it was initially set up from the tradies side.
Kylie Davis: 25:31 Yeah, because it was our tradie
Sandy Moore: 25:32 Yeah, to be honest with you, we sort of have left them a bit to the side in the last couple of years while we’ve been really concentrating on the agency faced with the landlord and agency face it. But yeah, there’s a lot of scope for us to work with our trade side. We’ve got about 55,000 active trades on the platform at the moment, but it’s a lot of people. So it’ll bring quite a lot of service to them. They’re doing a lot of jobs through the platform. So we’re working that through into the future and there’s a lot of ways we’ll be going with that to increase the advantages to them.
They get a marketplace where they can get jobs really quickly, they can service them quickly. It saves them a lot of time and we’ll schedule the jobs there that allows them to run teams of guys within the app. So, there’s a lot of good benefits for them. It makes them do stuff as well. Because it’s from the agency perspective, it forces them to do things. It forces them to take a photo when the job’s finished. There’s a whole lot of things it makes them do. So you can get a bit of pushback from that as an agent, but you want certain things done.
Kylie Davis: 26:36 Well, and you want them done a certain way so that you know that the quality’s there too, don’t you? If it’s some-
Sandy Moore: 26:42 Absolutely, yeah.
Kylie Davis: 26:45 So, how many property managers are in the platform? I know you said there was about 100,000 [inaudible 00:26:50] .
Sandy Moore: 26:51 [crosstalk 00:26:51] .
Kylie Davis: 26:51 Well, offices, I’ll go with offices.
Sandy Moore: 26:51 I honestly couldn’t tell you. I could have a look at the user level and see, but yeah, I honestly couldn’t say.
Kylie Davis: 26:59 So, have you got any big name clients that you’d like to brag about?
Sandy Moore: 27:05 Oh, absolutely. I’m happy to do that. There was a conference, one of my favourite conferences every year. It’s a business and a real estate conference down on the Gold Coast that Mike Sheargold runs. It’s always a super event, there’s always great people there. I think you were there a couple of years ago.
Kylie Davis: 27:21 I was there this time. I caught up with Kate.
Sandy Moore: 27:24 Look, that’s a great event. Now there were four speakers, from memory, that got up talking about property management. There was Ewan Morton who runs Morton’s obviously. There was Sadhana Smiles, who runs the Harcourts group for property management. Cathie Crampton, who runs Place, and Byron from O’Briens in Melbourne. They all gave us from the stage a great testimonial. So for us, that was fantastic because there’s some really great clients. Morton’s in particular, we love working with that group. They’re really dedicated in what they’re doing. They put a lot of time, a lot of effort into getting their change in management sorted out. And they’re just a great company to work with. Ewan was saying at lunch here recently that he had a… I think it was over $40,000 he mentioned, monthly increase in his leasing fees from using our lease renewal module. That was straight away.
Kylie Davis: 28:19 Yeah, fantastic. Well, that’s certainly a better way to spend 40 grand than on a server, isn’t it? Or it’s better to receive 40 grand a month than it is to spend 40 grand on a server. So look, there’s been a lot of… OurProperty is one of a plethora of new startups that have been popping up in the property management space. What are your key differences to some of the other ones out there?
Sandy Moore: 28:46 The big difference is the level of automation and the level of sophistication in that big central heavy product. And this is a conversation I have with a lot of people. It’s very difficult to build that big product you need to run this business if you start with something small. And what often happens in this business is people dip their toe in the water and they go and get a trial done and then they start building a system at a very basic format that might handle 10 properties, then 100, and then 200, then 400 and it sort of builds gradually. You can’t make it work that way. I think in our industry, everyone understands the concepts of construction. So it would seem ridiculous to say, “Hey, you can go and build a garden shed and put your 4×3 metre slab there and in a year or so’s time we’ll decide we’re going to put a 58-story building on that, and then we’ll be okay.
That’ll just somehow magically just all work. And that would just seem utterly ridiculous. But in software development, people seem to think that’s somehow going to work. And it’s the same deal. They want, they can’t. So, we were really lucky. I mean, our second client was the Coronas group, who are great clients. They probably should have been on my first list. But the Coronas business is a large business. So, we’re getting not that much shy of 10,000 properties. So from day one our platform was built to handle big, big rent rolls and it’s made a huge difference in the way it was engineered and designed. That’s our core difference, is the size and the ability and the technical engineering within that central piece we have.
Kylie Davis: 30:20 Right. And so, how… Ewan actually tells a great story about when you migrate to new technology, basically, everyone needs to lie down… stiff drink and a lie down for a couple of months after they’ve done it because it’s always so traumatic. What’s the onboarding process like?
Sandy Moore: 30:43 The challenge is getting that piece ready for the market and right for the market and listen to what feedback is and looking at what happens and trying to develop a process that works. And we’re right in the step of changing that at the moment and upping it again. So now our process is sort of 8-10 weeks as a full onboarding process. And it’s really interesting, If you talk to Russell our CTO, he just shakes his head at the real estate business. He said, why do people in the real estate business do hard changeovers on software? Now what that means is I run on product X until Friday afternoon, 30th of the month and then that night I send the team into my office, and we put a new programme in and we switch all our data over to product Y and from tomorrow we’re on product Y.
And we think that’s okay. Whereas if you went into the hospital system anywhere or someone in a legal practise and said, “I’m going to do that,” they would think that you are insane. They would literally think you’ve lost your mind to try to do that. It’s such a dangerous thing to do and it’s so difficult to pull off. So, we don’t do that. We do what we call a soft change, where we’re sitting over the top of the other product, and we run them simultaneously for a period of time. And it’s really a matter of when the agency’s comfortable to turn that first product off. They migrate over, and they do it gradually, and they do it in a timeframe that works for their guys.
Kylie Davis: 31:58 And what’s the feedback that you get? I mean, real estate agents are notoriously anxious or I mean, are a little bit antsy about changing programmes or platforms. What’s the feedback you’ve had? I don’t think that’s an unfair thing to say. What the feedback been from people who’ve moved over?
Sandy Moore: 32:17 Look, it’s totally dependent on where their mindsets were when they did the job. We find that guys, again, you’re back to the moth experience. It’s fantastic because people know where they’re going, what they’re doing. Some other people would just turn on with this new product, “Let’s give it a go.” That becomes quite often very hard. Certainly over time once they get there, it’s always good. Getting there, the challenge is being ready before you start, not taking it as you go once you start moving down the line. Change management’s a big issue. People, if they don’t see what they are used to seeing, they literally will lose their minds.
Kylie Davis: 32:51 Yeah, they do.
Sandy Moore: 32:51 I can give you a great example. When we did a demonstration for a conference not that long ago, we had one of our trainers setting up for a [inaudible 00:33:03] demonstration and she said, “Look, we’ve got to put some new data in because the data we had in there, on an 8,000 property portfolio, there were only three items for the property manager.” She said, “I need a bit more stuff to work through.” And we had a look because that was real data from a client. So what it transpired was, there were three items for a property manager to attend to physically, but there were 852 items that were automated behind that.
Kylie Davis: 33:29 Wow.
Sandy Moore: 33:30 So, that was a really good example. And of course, in automation, you’re managed by exception. So right now most property managers just manage everything. So you’re property manager, you have 200 properties, you get a list of all the actions for the day. Firstly, most people start with their list of activities, it’s pages long because everything is on there. Whereas in our system it says-
Kylie Davis: 33:54 You’ve got three things instead of 160.
Sandy Moore: 33:54 No, I’m going to tell you those three, but they’re the only three things you have to do. Now you can go back in the system and have a look and see what else went and see the logs of where everything’s going. But we don’t hammer you with all that stuff because you don’t have to do it.
Kylie Davis: 34:09 So Sandy, what are property managers going to do without all these gazillions of things, not requiring their attention?
Sandy Moore: 34:17 That would be the day that they’d talk to the client. Because look, I saw a social media post someone sent me the other day and it was a complaint, and it was a complaint about an office using our platform. And the complaint essentially said, “Love the app, love the software programme. I just can’t get the property manager to call me back.” So they love using the app and all the technology, everything technology provided for them, fantastic.
Kylie Davis: 34:44 But they couldn’t get the human …
Sandy Moore: 34:45 They still couldn’t talk to the property manager and that really drove me crazy. The whole point of freeing up time is so you can do the stuff that matters.
Kylie Davis: 34:56 Do the human stuff. We had Sarah Bell on the show.
Sandy Moore: 34:56 The value you add in that value chain is that direct talk with the tenants and landlords. There can be a human interface in what’s actually happening is sorting people’s problems out, which for a good property manager, they can do in seconds.
Kylie Davis: 35:10 And I think too, what a lot of landlords are looking for from their property manager, insights and advice on what they can or should be doing to grow their assets.
Sandy Moore: 35:20 Absolutely, their asset base in particular, not just that asset. They don’t want calls from you as their property manager saying, “Hey, the tap’s leaking, do you want to pay for the repair?” That’s not a value conversation.
Kylie Davis: 35:35 It’s not at all.
Sandy Moore: 35:35 That’s the big thing, we looked at that and it’s interesting. Macquarie did a study where they said about 45% of tasks in management can be automated. We did a time in motion study of one of our clients that they keep a large portfolio, Coronas did that time in motion study and that had a 68% saving in time. So in the course of 45% of the tasks their business had 68% of time was equated to that, which was probably about right. This question, what you do with all that white space, I mean you have that white space in there, but what do you do with it?
Kylie Davis: 36:06 Well, I guess you’re going to be using some of the elements of our property to actually start to grow your revenue in new ways. It’s not just the percentage of the commission.
Sandy Moore: 36:15 Yup, exactly. Now we run style property reports in the market to show people, they can see what’s there and how those are going. It’s interesting, I’ve watched one client at a large office, very well run business, and it was really interesting to say, “Oh, there’s Joe, he’s one of my clients. He has six properties with u,” and then he suddenly noticed there were two with someone else.
Kylie Davis: 36:36 Thought he had them all. No, Joe’s keeping you honest.
Sandy Moore: 36:40 That sort of deep dive reporting can really be useful and getting insights from that. A lot of the work that they’re doing also is looking at what data we have and what insights you can drive from that data to help the business. And that was one of the big things with Morton’s. We’re saying on reporting they didn’t want to know what had happened after it had happened. That is pointless and I can’t do anything about it, I want to know before it happens. So, tell me what the indicators are before something goes bad. So we look at different metrics. So in tradespeople for instance, when we get a rating for tradesperson, the old system is you as the client get asked to rate the tradesperson and you go, he’s a good guy, give him five.
Whereas we don’t do that, it’s a pointless exercise. What we do, we look at all sorts of metrics, about 18 of them. So, was his bill within market rate for that job, for that area. Did his invoice match his quote? Did he hit the job in a certain period of time? What was his response time to get the invoice they quoted? All those sorts of metrics that are actually important. And we measure them and then we rate them based on those measurements.
Kylie Davis: 37:44 So I know you guys are super busy at the moment, but what have you got on your… I can see because we’re videoing this as we go. I can see you’ve got a lovely whiteboard behind you. What’s on your roadmap? What’s coming up for the future of OurProperty?
Sandy Moore: 37:58 The big thing we’re doing now is we’re in the final part of the pilot phase of our payments platform. So we’re going to phase two in the next couple of weeks. About another 5000 properties [inaudible 00:38:09] . By January 1 that’ll be open to the market in general. So, right across Australia. So that’s a big, big change. Our tenancy acquisition module is the next big release, which will happen at about the same sort of time with the January 1.
Kylie Davis: 38:24 What does that look like? What’s a tendency acquisition module?
Sandy Moore: 38:26 That looks fantastic.
Kylie Davis: 38:28 If you do say so yourself.
Sandy Moore: 38:31 It takes, again, a lot of the… where the process currently is through a lot of different pieces, some of which are within the agency, some of which are outside, and it brings them together and it gives one single customer journey. So it starts with the management agreements. So I’m the property manager, I’m on site with the owner. We look at the property where you ran some certain facts. I hit a button on the app, I have the property manager. It flips straight to you app as the owner for the management agreement. You can go, “Yep, I’m okay with that.” You electronically sign it, bang. That’s all done. It’s filed, it’s finished, it’s done. By the time I get back to the office, it’s in my diary and it starting the format up, basic advertising for me to change up and have a look at. So in three sets of ads, I can fix that up and tidy it.
I can upload whatever sites I need to upload to. It will then start measuring and controlling my responses to that advertising. It’ll allow people to booking and schedule inspections to that property. It’ll take their applications. It will automatically do a lot of the vetting. It’ll cross-check the references so when the reference goes out to a property manager, instead of being asked to provide a reference to all sorts of documents, it will simply go to you with a tick and flip list. So if you’re an agent, you have an outgoing tenant, there’s a lot, lot less work involved because that’s one of the big bugaboos in the industry. I’ll lose the tenant, so no one giving me any money at all.
They go somewhere else, they make 10 or 15 applications to other property and I now have to deal with 15 of those reference inquiries, which is a nightmare. It will take more of that side out. So it goes through that process, it automates a lot of the process. Once the agency’s happy to nominate a potential tenant to the landlord, all I have to do is quickly check the documents. The CMA has automatically uplifted for me to edit. If I want to, we’ll just send, it’ll give me the lease documents, pre-populate them because as the information being loaded, it started to populate all these documents.
So my list is now fully pre-populated, everything’s ready to go. I get landlord approval, it’s gone. The chasing all those documents is automated. So I chase it down from the tenants. I chase it back from the landlord. It automatically files when it comes back. That vast amount of work that used to be there is now reduced to a few minutes.
Kylie Davis: 40:46 Fantastic.
Sandy Moore: 40:47 And like I said, you can now start getting a lot more revenues out of that. And that’s one of the big things, so that journey is now really well-defined. You can plug in your revenue items when you need to. You can really start managing that process.
Kylie Davis: 40:59 Fantastic, cool. So, that all sounds amazing Sandy, thank you so much. So if there’s any-
Sandy Moore: 41:06 We have lots to do.
Kylie Davis: 41:08 I can imagine, I mean, it sounds so easy. It sounds so easy on a whiteboard, doesn’t it? Now it’s got to build it.
Sandy Moore: 41:14 I’ve got sort iterations as you would have seen it with different home automation systems, all that’s coming through very shortly. So, you can obviously go straight to app through your voice on your home automation system, smart little things like that, inbox management. A new centre for the dash of property managers, it allows property managers to talk to people along the channels. So it’s whatever channel the client sits, we’ll run-up in a single platform. So a whole lot of great advantages like that.
Kylie Davis: 41:44 Fantastic. Cool.
Sandy Moore: 41:46 There’s an endless list.
Kylie Davis: 41:48 Cool. Look, and I remember you said to me when I reached out to you to do the interview, you said that you just need to work a hundred hours a week and poor old Russell needs to work 200.
Sandy Moore: 41:57 Then really we’d be fine.
Kylie Davis: 41:59 Then you’d be ahead of the curve.
Sandy Moore: 42:02 Yeah.
Kylie Davis: 42:02 Now, if anyone out there is listening that wants to get in touch with you, what’s the best way?
Sandy Moore: 42:07 Email is always great. Sandy@ourproperty.com.au. More than happy take phone calls still.
Kylie Davis: 42:14 All right. Old school.
Sandy Moore: 42:17 Still happy to take a phone call.
Kylie Davis: 42:18 You don’t have an Omnichannel that you just sort of send it all out to?
Sandy Moore: 42:22 Yeah, [inaudible 00:42:23] messages [inaudible 00:42:24] .
Kylie Davis: 42:27 Well, thank you so much for your time Sandy. This has been absolutely fantastic learning about how OurProperty is revolutionising property management.
Sandy Moore: 42:35 A long way to go, but we’re pretty excited for the journey.
Kylie Davis: 42:39 That’s great. Thanks so much for your time.
Content marketing strategist, researcher, journalist and presenter specialising in the real estate industry. I'm passionate about proptech, digital disruption and all things property, big data, leadership and entrepreneurial ideas, have an MBA and specialise in social and digital media content creation and automation.