Editor's note: As you read this blog, you will see nine how-to-make videos (30 seconds to 2 minutes). I made these shorter videos to test out if they are easier to follow along. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think. The complete video can be found here on our YouTube channel.
Property managers wear a lot of hats. They are finance managers who have to make sure the rent is paid on time and expiring leases are renewed. They are sales managers who work really hard on maintaining high occupancy rates and a smooth tenant application process. They are operation managers who are responsible for a nice and safe complex that delivers a pleasant stay to every tenant.
Needless to say, managing a property is not easy as it involves so many different roles and functions. (Think of all the paperwork and spreadsheets that must be organized and managed.) Fortunately, I (and you) can make an app for that!
In this blog, I will show you how to make a powerful property management app from scratch (yes, scratch). While you can do a gazillion (just a slight exaggeration) things with AppSheet, I want to focus on three simple but popular features that will help you succeed as a finance, sales, and operations manager! At the end of the blog, I will share my app, so feel free to copy it or make your own. Finally, as always, you don’t need any coding experience to make this app.
Data Grouping & Filtering
What you will learn: Organize apartments by type; create a separate view for vacant apartments.
This Google Sheet (below) has every piece of information on my tenants, apartments, and rental fees. But what do they mean? Which rows or columns should I look at? And do I need to see all the data every time I open up the Sheet? Bottom line: Too much data to easily find what I’m looking for.
Here is where AppSheet’s Data Grouping & Filtering feature comes into play. With Data Grouping & Filtering, you can view, navigate and analyze your data.
Video 1: Convert Your Data in Google Sheet to Mobile App
In this app, I grouped my data into three views—Apartment, Vacant and Applicant.
Apartment shows all apartments. I grouped the apartments by apartment type so that I can easily see all apartments with one bedroom, two bedrooms, and three bedrooms, etc. From there, I can see the tenant associated with each apartment as well as the size and location of the department.
Video 2: Data Grouping_Apartment
Vacant displays the tenants with leases due to expire in less than 90 days and allows me to send email notifications to these tenants (I will cover this in more details in the Email Notifications section). This view saves me a ton of time! With it, I don’t have to check my Sheet to find out which apartments are about to expire, whom I should contact for lease renewal, and then decide what actions I should take to rent these apartments out.
Video 3: Data Grouping_Vacant
Applicant is a place for prospective tenants to enter their information and submit the application. With an app, they can fill out the form wherever and whenever they want. From the perspective of property managers, this eliminates paperwork and serves as a handy applicant database.
Video 4: Data Grouping_Applicant
What you will learn: How to send tenants monthly billing statements and email lease expiration notices 90 days in advance.
Your apartment complex might have hundreds of apartments. Manually sending tenant billing statements through emails can be a nightmare. Not to mention having to print all the statements out and then distributing them. Why not automate your billing statement delivery process and let your app send monthly billing statements to your tenants?
To create my email notifications feature, I grabbed an Email Template, made a few modifications, and then generated my own Rental Billing Statement template (below).
Video 5: Email_Billing Statement
The above template pulls data from my Google Sheet, and returns relevant information for different renters. For example, in the email below, everything is specifically for Leonard Vargas.
Next, I scheduled the email to be sent to all renters at 5pm on the first day of each month. You can also send tenants an SMS rent is due reminder several days before the due date.
One other automated feature I highly recommend is a lease expiration alert. In my app, I drafted a simple email (below) and send notices to tenants 90 days before their leases expire. This just keeps everything organized and predictable. Whether or not my tenants want to renew the lease, I will know 30 to 90 days in advance.
Video 6: Email_Lease Expiring Notice
What you will learn: how to enable prospective applicants to apply and submit the form in your app.
Digital rental application forms streamline the prospective renter application process. Property managers can effortlessly capture the data prospective tenants entered and process the application.
To make this super easy, I used Zillow’s Rental Application Form in my app (why reinvent the wheel when there are so many great examples to pull from?). The form is very long so I broke it down into four pages. Why did I do this? So that prospective tenants could easily move thru the different parts of a rental application. This makes for a better user experience and encourages user adoption. Here is how the form looks on a phone. The app captures data in many different forms, including text, Yes/No buttons and signatures.
Keep in mind, you can define data access by View so that prospective applicants can only access the Applicant view. You wouldn’t want your data in Apartment and Vacant views to be seen by them.
Video 7_Applicant Form Page 1
Video 8_Applicant Form Page 2
Video 9: Applicant Form Page 3 and 4
Thanks for staying with me and congratulations on making your first Property Management App! If you want to make an app to manage maintenance requests and your maintenance team, AppSheet has a lot of sample apps. Check them out below and the make your own apps!
That’s it for today’s post. As you build your property management app, keep these key features in mind. And please let me know: what other management features do you think are critical? What other function-focused articles do you want to read? Leave your comments below—we are always interested in your point of view! For use cases in the real world, please visit our AppSheet Creator Spotlight. For step-by-step app making instructions and new features, please go to Features, Tips & Webinars. And you are always welcome to join us at our Office Hour webinars every Thursday 9am PST for app making tips.
Gwen is a marketer with AppSheet. Prior to AppSheet, she was a digital marketer, a journalist and editor, a translator, and a college teacher. She has a master with Duke University in Environmental Science and an MBA with University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.