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A Beginner’s Guide to Digital Facility Management

Efficient facility management is critical in industrial environments where large teams of workers interact daily with complex, dangerous, and sensitive equipment.  Small mistakes can lead to massive industrial accidents, endangering lives and harming both facilities and local environments. For this reason, facility managers need access to modern solutions that provide visibility and control over daily operations. Many facility management teams are using digital solutions to improve the way they execute tasks and communicate.  Three technologies enabling digital facilities management  There are three major technologies that are transforming the way organizations approach facilities management: 1. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) Facility managers are increasingly using connected devices like cameras and sensors to record environmental data and respond more efficiently. For instance, a camera can be used to detect activity and adjust temperature and lighting controls. This functionality can save money and improve sustainability.  In addition, sensors can be used to collect data, triggering alerts that could lead to potential safety issues — like chemical leaks, sudden power spikes, and pressure changes in sensitive machinery.  2. Big data As IoT devices become more common in industrial environments, we can expect a huge influx of data. As data is processed and studied over time it can be used to make vital operational decisions related to power, sustainability, and performance. 3. Mobile apps Communication is critical for any facilities management team — which is why a growing number of facility managers are using apps to improve their operations. Apps are useful for assigning tasks and projects, tracking performance, sharing data, and compiling reports, among countless other tasks.  Up until recently, apps were very expensive to design and deploy. However, recent advancements in no-code development have made it possible to build apps quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively.  Using apps for facilities management  Here are some of the top benefits that come with digital facilities management:  Task triage  Managing a large industrial facility can be a never-ending job, especially for teams that are short-staffed or spread out across multiple buildings. Projects can change by the hour, requiring rapid attention from workers. Managers need to quickly adjust employee workflows and communicate changes to workers.  Workflow apps make it easy for managers to assign tasks to team members. They also make it easier to close them out once the work is done, providing receipts to ensure they are read and acted on. Inventory management Inventory management is critical for managers, who need a constant supply of spare parts, equipment, and other similar items. Managers are now building apps to view, request, and replenish inventory supplies. Applications make it possible to prevent bottlenecks and delays, increasing productivity and boosting profitability along the way.  Employee scheduling  Managers need to carefully balance employee schedules, considering a range of factors like shift limitations, daily responsibilities, location, and worker availability. These functions are difficult to accomplish through manual data input.  Apps can be used to create flexible schedules, alerting workers when they are needed on a job site ahead of time and letting them know what they will be working on. These capabilities set proper expectations and increase alignment. To learn more about how you can design apps to streamline facilities management using AppSheet’s no-code platform, check this out. 

UK Housing Association Builds Apps to Manage Backend Operations

Metworks has eliminated over 6,000 sheets of paper by switching to digital inspection reports. Here’s how AppSheet is making it happen.  Managing just a handful of residential properties can be a major undertaking. Overseeing several thousand properties, however, is an entirely different ballgame. Metworks is the in-house home repair contractor for Metropolitan Thames Valley, a non-profit organization that provides affordable housing for roughly 120,000 residents across the U.K. Metropolitan Thames Valley owns about 57,000 properties, all of which require regular maintenance and upgrades.  As the company’s primary repair contractor, Metworks provides a variety of services ranging from electrical work, carpentry, and plumbing repairs to large-scale installations.The company also handles day-to-day emergency repairs and prepares vacant properties so they can be rented.  Altogether, Metworks has about 200 repair technicians and 70 office workers.  Challenge: Streamlining back office operations  Forget about what goes on in the field. Metworks has its work cut out for itself simply managing all of its concurrent projects and employees at residential sites. It takes a tremendous amount of backend communication and coordination to stay on top of everything. This is something that the company was struggling with up until recently, mainly because they were using paper and Excel to manage daily operations.  “Our supervisors were complaining about the loads of paperwork that they had to process,” says Gabriel Matei, who is a System Administrator at Metworks. “Our team members had to manually collect data and enter it into spreadsheets—a process that would take several days.”  Metworks needed to find a better way to manage tasks like product ordering, asset management, and employee requests. After some research, the company decided that it would be best to invest in a digital management system to streamline its operations.  Solution: Build custom applications After testing several leading "off-the-shelf" applications that didn’t really suit their requirements, Metworks decided to move forward with AppSheet’s no-code app platform and build its own custom apps instead. Gabriel was immediately able to start designing apps with AppSheet. It helped that he had a background in database management and a working knowledge of the Visual Basic Language, which is the programming language for Excel.  “It’s very easy to use AppSheet—especially if you are familiar with how database applications work.” Gabriel says.  Right away, Gabriel was able to design several back office applications which the team now uses for everything from processing overtime and paid leave requests to handling vehicle inspection audits and more.  One of the most helpful apps that Gabriel made was a vehicle inspection tracker.  “We have about 200 vans,” Gabrieli says. “It’s quite hard to get regular updates from drivers on their location and condition. So, we created an inspection app that expedites these critical communications. It took me about two weeks to design it and roll it out to our end users, and they were immediately productive using them.”  Using this app, a driver can move through a checklist during a vehicle inspection and digitally transmit the information to a supervisor who can either sign off or follow up with an additional inspection if it’s needed. When services like an oil change is needed, the Metworks’ leasing company will receive an email notification. The app creates a complete workflow that traverses multiple employees, departments, and even companies.  Results  As the vehicle inspection tracker shows, Metworks is now running a safer and more efficient operation. Now, there are workflows for all sorts of tasks, like ordering items needed to complete residential jobs and ensuring all company vehicles are in proper working order at a glance.  To date, Metworks has deployed over 30 apps. The company plans to develop even more. Ultimately, these apps enable a faster and more responsive management system for all of the residents that depend on Metworks for timely service. And at the same time, the company is also reducing paper waste by using apps. This year, Gabriel says, over 2,000 digital vehicle inspection reports have already been transmitted.  “That’s 2,000 sheets of paper we have eliminated with just our vehicle inspection app,” says Gabriel. “On top of that, we have processed over 3,000 overtime forms and over 1,000 equipment request forms. All of that data is inside of our application.” There’s another benefit for Metworks, too: stronger data security.  Metworks, like all companies operating in Europe, must abide by the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)—which is one of the most comprehensive data privacy mandates in the world. Under GDPR, companies can face massive penalties for data breaches.  “We had a data risk assessment system before we rolled out AppSheet,” Gabriel says. “We decided that it was better to use an application instead of paper, which can get lost or left behind at a job site. Now, all of our information is centralized and we can control what information we share and who has access to it.”  Looking forward, Gabriel hopes to expand the company’s use of apps beyond just core services. “We want to go more into project management,” Gabriel says. “We have subcontractors working with us, and we want to set up a system for task management where we can assign a job and they can provide us with updates.”  As you can see, AppSheet is playing a vital role in Metworks’ modernization strategy. In fact, it’s their go-to solution for digital transformation. Ready to begin your digital transformation story? Contact AppSheet today to see how you can get your business to the next level with custom apps.  

Real Estate Company Transforms Operations with Custom Management Apps

In competitive residential real estate, data is as good as gold. Information needs to reach agents in a timely manner, so they can identify deals, close properties, and flip them at the right time for profit.  Unfortunately, information doesn’t always flow as smoothly as it should. Many real estate companies still lack effective backend management systems—and they’re paying dearly for it.  Recently, Benchmarq Homes, a Pennsylvania-based real estate company that specializes in buying and selling foreclosed properties, faced this exact problem.  Here’s how they turned things around with AppSheet. Challenge: Streamlining management Benchmarq is a small team that runs a big operation. The company does business across 15 counties in Pennsylvania, which means they have a significant amount of listings to sort through on a monthly basis. Up until recently, however, the company had no underlying data management system in place. “Each employee had their own way of doing business,” says asset manager Jaden Bodden. “It was a complete mess.” The lack of organization and communication, Bodden says, led to massive losses. In just two years, the company lost about $500,000 on 12 properties, primarily because employees would buy houses on a whim with no vetting or control mechanisms in place.  Making matters worse, the company had no way of tracking progress once properties were acquired. As a result, Benchmarq was holding onto properties for far too long. Some agents were holding on to properties for an abysmal average of 300 days. Solution: AppSheet Something had to be done, and so Bodden and his team set out to find a digital solution that could help the company operate more cohesively. Benchmarq was prepared to finance an off-the-shelf management system to streamline their operations. However, the company couldn’t find a solution that would match their unique needs. Bodden eventually decided to build custom a custom app from scratch using AppSheet’s no-code development platform. Bodden chose AppSheet primarily because it’s: Highly customizable: AppSheet can integrate with many types of databases and spreadsheets, making it easy to pull data from various sources. Mobile-friendly: Bodden also liked the fact his team can use AppSheet to create apps that are highly responsive and visually appealing—making them easily accessible to workers who are on-the-go. Simple to use: Like many developers, Bodden has limited technical experience. AppSheet allows him to learn on the fly and create custom apps with minimal training. The App Bodden created an advanced app that the team now uses to track and manage all of its properties. The app interfaces with Google Sheets, which serves as the company’s main internal backend database. Using AppSheet’s slice feature, Bodden designed a system that strategically moves properties into various views based on their status. Once a property is closed, for instance, it will only show on the “Closed” view. This way, when agents are viewing their active properties, that data isn’t cluttered up by their closed properties too—those are completely separate. What they see is a detailed, up-to-date list of their open and closed properties—as well as supporting financial metrics to assess their current and future costs. Using security filters, Bodden has made it so that agents can only see their properties in the app. This reduces clutter since it prevents agents from having to sort through listings that don’t affect them. It also prevents agents from seeing how much other employees are making off commissions. Each app is also customized for each agent. This personalization allows the app to present important data to each user in an organized manner.  One of Bodden’s favorite AppSheet features is the Performance Profiler, which helped him understand performance while designing the app. “With the Performance Profiler, I was able to make sure things I was adding weren't causing huge increases to the sync time,” he says. “There were a few times that I saw huge spikes in sync time, but I was able to look at the analysis and figure out exactly what it was and fix or remove whatever was causing the issue.” Results AppSheet has been a total success for Benchmarq. Employees have embraced the app with minimal pushback. AppSheet is boosting profits, making it easier for agents to close deals and track progress while reducing stress and increasing productivity.  Thanks to AppSheet, Benchmarq is able to move properties much faster than it could in the past. “Before we implemented this system, we had some properties that were significantly hurting our bottom line,” Bodden concludes. “You carry a $400,000 property for 18 to 20 months and the cost of carry becomes outrageous. Now, we’re only holding onto properties for four to five months on average. The lower carrying costs have substantially improved our bottom line. It’s been great; everyone has benefitted.”

App Reviews: Top 10 Property Inspection Apps for iOS and Android

    Property and home inspection apps allow end-users to increase productivity and save time on paperwork and emails. With advances in smartphone technology, just about everyone now has access to powerful checklist tools with features like annotations, photo documentation, and signature capture at the tip of their fingers. As a potential property inspection app user, you have two options: out-of-the-box solutions and custom-built solutions. Out of the box solutions are designed specifically for a given use case, but can be less flexible. Custom-built solutions like AppSheet can allow for greater personalization and functionality.  10 (+1 Bonus) Property Inspection Apps AppSheet zInspector SnapInspect Property Inspect Property Inspection Manager Happy Inspector Buildium Tap Inspect Chapps Rental Inspector Inspect & Cloud Property Inspection Boss   AppSheet Features: AppSheet's platform allows ordinary users to create robust apps with no code. Common features include automated workflows and notifications, GPS, image capture, signature capture, barcode scanners, charts, email notifications, offline access, and personalized branding. Together, these features can be integrated and synced with with your existing data through common data platforms including: Collectively, AppSheet's functional tools and data integrations allow you to build property inspection apps and other real estate-related apps directly from existing spreadsheets and relational databases. Here's an example of a simple house inspection app you can copy and modify: And here's an example of a property services app: With your data and AppSheet's platform, you can create beautiful apps that work the way you work - collaboratively on the cloud and functionally through spreadsheets. Verdict: Ok, we admit it! We're biased. That said, if you're interested in creating a custom solution that integrates with your existing data, it's hard - dare we say, impossible - to find another tool as versatile, comprehensive, and economical as AppSheet. You can get started with a free trial and find out how AppSheet just might transform the way your team conducts property inspections. Z Inspector Features: Has standard functionality of photo, video, signatures, maps, and offline work. Replaces spreadsheets with "zInspector's customizable, searchable property database." DropBox, Google Drive API integrations. Price: Free trial for single user up to 5 properties. $9-$16/user depending on package. Verdict: zInspector delivers a functional tool at a relatively economical price. The app lacks the polish of some of the other apps we reviewed, but it seems to get the job done. SnapInspect Features: In addition to standard features, SnapInspect shines in the area of templates and reporting with many pre-existing and customizable options. Price: Pricing starts at $49/user and extends to $299/company with enterprise packages beyond for portfolios exceeding 1,500 units. Verdict: SnapInspect is among the priciest options we looked at, but they also do deliver a tested product that's used by many large realtors. If you have the budget, it's worth taking a look at. Property Inspect Features: Provides you standard set of features along with what seems to be strong team management and reporting tools. Website has high polish. Price: $37/solo user to $197/team (up to 10 people) and $499+ for enterprise. Verdict: Along with SnapInspect, Property Inspect offers a strong contender as a premium-grade solution for teams looking for out-of-the-box solutions. Property Inspection Manager Features: Your usual assortment of data capture features along with a slew of real-estate specific data integrations. Price: $300/year for PIM Pro Plus, $499/year for PIM Premium. Unlimited users. Verdict: A unique option out of Australia that looks to be a strong contender for users on Property Tree, REST, GeeDee, Console, Chintaro, and Palace systems. Pricing plan is favorable for larger teams. HappyInspector Features: Effective, colorful UI. Strong reporting. Compelling integrations and API tools. Price: $499/mo for Core. Call for "Plus" pricing. Verdict: HappyInspector's website and app platform are undoubtedly beautiful, but is it really worth the premium cost? That's not up to us decide, but we would encourage you to do your due diligence to make sure this is a product that's really worth it before purchasing. Buildium Features: Buildium is far more than an inspection app. They provide end-around services for both owners and residents including maintenance request tracking, insurance, accounting, and more. Price: Pricing is complicated. There's a ~$200 monthly fee along with an additional $65/mo fee for mobile inspections. Beyond 150 units, you are bumped into their "Pro" tier pricing which is an additional ~20%. Verdict: If you're looking at an end-to-end solution, Buildium's definitely worth taking a look at. If property inspection is what you care about, there are more cost-effective solutions. TapInspect Features: Provides standard photo, video, and notes. As TapInspect launched in 2010, the website seems to be a bit lacking in polish and the UI on the apps look a little dated. Price: $5/report, $60/mo unlimited, or inspection team $60/mo + $30/mo per inspector Verdict: From an initial review, TapInspect would seem to be a pricey option for what seems to be a somewhat dated platform. Chapps Rental Inspector Features: Chapps stands for checking apps. They provide 3 standalone solutions with Rental Inspector, Dorm Inspector, and Building Inspector that provide the your standard array of features. Price: Pricing is a bit convoluted with both a license fee per user of ($5-$10) and a per/report fee ($3-$6). Verdict: If you're looking for an out-of-the-box solution and are willing to pay a premium, Chapps is worth considering. Inspect & Cloud Features: Inspect & Cloud has all your standard photo, video, text, GPS, offline capability features. Price: $49-$199. The per-user cost works out to between $49/mo and $20/mo. Higher priced plans have access to templates and video inspection. Verdict: Overall, the platform seems solid, but it doesn't quite "wow" us given their price points. Property Inspection Boss Features: Their website is thin on details as to what their platform is actually capable of. It would seem to provide fairly standard capabilities with inspection reports as well. Price: AU$525/year for BOSS Clients and AU$575/year for public. Verdict: The platform would seem to get the job done, but it doesn't have any notable advantages over other options. We'll pass on Property Inspection Boss for the time being. Let us know what you think about some of the providers we listed above. We'd love to learn from your insights, thoughts, and questions!

How to Make a Property Management App in 10 Minutes

    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 Email notifications 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 Rental application form 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! Related Resources Real Estate Sample Apps: Realtor, Maintenance Overview, Maintenance Request Inspections: Property Audit, Home Inspector Field Service: Service Log, Service Chatbot Three Features Every Project Management App Must Have 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.  

6 Handy Apps to Help Real Estate Agents Make That Sale

Real estate can be a tricky business, and it is often dependent upon factors outside of human control. House hunters can be swayed by weather, location, or a lack of information at the moment of decision-making. Mobile apps can give realtors a leg-up when it comes to making that all-important sale by allowing them to have imperative information available at their fingertips. Brokers can be hampered when their customers are not able to get in contact with the right person or when information is not readily available. Mobile apps can help brokers list properties, manage appointments and schedules, search for related property information like school districts, local attractions, average fuel bills and more. They can even help them check the weather to schedule the most advantageous showing times. The Apps We’ve pulled together a list of apps that can boost realtors’ efficiency and help them seal the deal: Magic Plan: This app allows users to create a floor plan drawing within minutes, which means realtors can provide this added information to prospective buyers. MagicPlan measures a floor plan from photos you take, and converts them into a PDF, HPG, and DXF drawing. Users can simply add objects, annotations, photos and attributes to generate reports or complete estimates. Zillow: This is a multi-use platform, mainly used for property search. With a number of robust search filters and extra features (mortgage calculators, access to “hidden” inventory, property estimates), the site offers a good overview of the real estate market and available properties. Many listings include MLS  numbers in order to facilitate your search. Mortgage Calculator: This easy-to-use tool helps clients project the repayment requirements of a potential mortgage. It factors in a series of parameters to provide the most accurate results, and can project monthly or bi-weekly mortgage payments and the future payoff date. Periscope: A platform that allows users to stream live videos from anywhere,Periscope is a ‘visual pulse of what’s happening right now‘. It lets you ‘discover the world through someone else’s eyes‘. Periscope is a great way to connect with potential clients across town or across the world. Stream open house tours, home sneak peeks, local events, or a Q&A session. Home Inspector: This AppSheet sample app allows users to record information about houses, adding up to four images to a room using direct capture images straight from the app. The spreadsheet allows the user to add columns to include additional information regarding the properties in question. It is an excellent resource for real estate inspections and surveys. You can start with this sample and build your own app with robust custom features. Realtor: This AppSheet app lets realtors share real-estate information with their clients, displaying various listings on a map with a gallery of photos for each available property. The list view can also group listings by categories to match client needs.  It includes the potential to show a filtered view of listings by client and realtors can also use their external listing images on services like Zillow as images in the app. Use this sample app to build your own custom real estate listing solution. AppSheet Creates Custom Solutions For You AppSheet can help you develop the right apps to make your job a little easier. From GPS-enabled property locators to calculating mortgage payments, AppSheet can design a custom app to do just what you need to close the deal. “This is the app I’ve spent years searching for,” asserts Kurt Beard, Cardinal Properties. “It’s straightforward to use with multiple outstanding features; taking mobile photos right in the app, search, multiple tables, and more. My boss is very excited with the workflow improvement we’ve seen since AppSheet.”

9 Tech Tools for the Savvy Property Manager

If you're a property manager or landlord, you know there is one thing in your field there's never a shortage of: data. Unfortunately, managing that data requires an asset there's simply never enough of: time. A wide variety of tools are available to help property managers-- who are overseeing rental units, tenants, maintenance requests, accounting, and more-- manage these processes more efficiently. From software that tackles internal procedures to blogs by thought leaders in the field, these resources can offer innovative ideas and help free up valuable time. We've compiled a list of 9 property management apps and resources you can use to simplify your life as a property manager. Check them out below! Google Forms A huge part of being a property manager requires collecting information from tenants. Whether you want to know about customer satisfaction or what time of day is best to remodel the apartment pool, Google Forms is a great tool for conducting surveys and collecting data. Bonus: with AppSheet's add-on for Google Forms, you can keep all survey data conveniently in one back-end spreadsheet, eliminating the need for manual survey review. Double bonus: with the add-on, office-based personnel can see survey responses in real-time, giving them the unique ability to make informed decisions about the property on-the-fly. Rich Blocks Poor Blocks Rich Blocks Poor Blocks visually maps income and rent data in nearly every state, county, zip code, and census tract in the United States. Users can input almost any address in the country into RBPB and receive up-to-date information on the median income in that area. This software can help property managers keep track of the income levels of neighborhoods around their properties and ensure they are offering reasonable and competitive rates for the surrounding area. GreatSchools When moving to a new area, many families typically make their housing decisions based on the quality of schools in the corresponding district. GreatSchools offers the ability to search addresses and zip codes and view that area's surrounding schools based on their overall rating and type. Property managers can use GreatSchools as a tool to attract clientele looking for good schools with research-backed data. Microsoft Office 365 Office 365 is a great resource for property managers. Keeping data safe and in sync with the cloud is of paramount importance for managing units, tenants, repairs, and accounting. Office 365's suite of apps-- including Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and more-- allow property managers to share information from wherever they are, collaborate with colleagues, conduct online meetings, and keep data centrally stored. PropertyManager.com PropertyManager.com is your one-stop shop for all things property management. It regularly features news, articles, blog posts, software reviews, and other useful information about the current state of the industry. Head over to the site to read a recent article on six keys to successful property management. Multifamily Executive Multifamily Executive is a great resource for housing market updates and industry demographic news. The site also features a wide variety of marketing tips as well as tips on what NOT to do as a property manager. Their thought-provoking articles can help property managers make decisions based on research-qualified trends, predictions, and reports. AppFolio Blog AppFolio is one of the industry's most trusted property management software tools, so you can bet their blog is full of informational and useful content. For everything from SEO to mobile marketing, AppFolio's blog will have something for even the most seasoned property manager. iPad (or other mobile tablet) This one seems fairly obvious, but it bears repeating. Managing apartment buildings, condos, or any other property requires lots of data collection and a close attention to detail. It involves conducting inspections, noting repair needs, taking pictures, etc-- time-consuming jobs that happen outside of the office. Property managers can't afford to cart around pens and paper, the responsibility of keeping track of it all, and then having to transcribe later. Mobile devices can accomplish these tasks efficiently, keep data in sync, and also help eliminate human error. ApartmentRatings It's imperative for property managers to keep tabs on reviews and opinions of the buildings they manage. ApartmentRatings.com is tremendously popular among apartment hunters looking to find out more information about prospective buildings and units. The site publishes user reviews about apartment buildings, staff, maintenance, and other feedback potential renters can use to make their decisions.

5 Apps for Property Managers

  Property managers tend to juggle a lot in one day. Keeping track of tenants, building operations, and budgets are all part of the job, along with much, much more. Keeping everything organized is a crucial task on its own and traditional methods of paperwork just won't cut it when there are so many moving parts. Going paperless with technology tools is the best solution for someone who is multitasking and always on-the-go. AppSheet you to build property management apps and customize specific solutions. This helps to streamline processes and allows them to access valuable information at any given time. Many property managers log all of their information and keep tabs on requests and progress in spreadsheets. AppSheet also plugs into several cloud-based data sources such as Google Apps, Office 365, Dropbox, and more. Our goal is to help property managers streamline their processes and focus on their day-to-day tasks using the tools they already know and love. Check out a few sample apps we've created as a starting point below, and be sure to jump into our Community for tips, updates, and more. Maintenance Overview This app allows a property manager to provide timely customer service by allowing tenants to submit maintenance requests. Special features enable the tenant to include photos and comments. An automatic notification of the request is sent to the landlord.     Maintenance Request This app allows a property manager to provide timely customer service by allowing tenants to submit maintenance requests. Special features enable the tenant to include photos and comments.     Maintenance repair This app allows a repair person to document tenant repairs. Special features enable the repair person to include photos and obtain the tenant's signature.     Move-in/Move-out Checklist This app allows a property manager to conveniently fill out and organize tenants' move-in and move-out checklists. Special featuresenable the landlord to fill out move-in and move-out data separately, with the ability to then view the complete data grouped by units and tenants.   Property Audit This app allows a property manager to run quick inspections on any property and area within a property. The app lets the manage keep a list of properties and also a lis of audits, using the list of properties to get all the associated audits.   AppSheet is the perfect mobile app solution for any industry. Check out our complete sample app gallery for ideas and get started today.

Customer Stories: Kurt Beard with Cardinal Property Management

  Kurt Beard Cardinal Management in Indiana is in the business of making everyone happy-- that includes clients, investors, and regular people from the community who may need a little help getting back on their feet. Cardinal Property specializes in connecting investors with distressed homes that need lots of care and renovation, and in turn, helping community members purchase the home on a contract or with seller financing. Cardinal Management's Managing Partner is Mark Groff, a licensed broker and an investor himself. Mark has been an investor for more than 15 years and a broker for more than four years. Cardinal Management also has Kali Clark as their Client Care Manager and Kurt Beard as their Property Management Director. Kurt Beard is in the business of making everyone's lives easier. This time, that meant finding better ways to share information about properties, connect with investors, and eliminate time-wasting methods that aren't serving to advance the company. Kurt wanted to automate a process that was previously being performed by hand and on paper. How the Business Works Once an investor agrees to invest in a property, the Cardinal Management team works to find a qualified buyer who is willing to renovate it and make it home. After meeting the terms of the contract, usually 5-16 years, the buyer owns their own home. Kurt needs to exchange information like inspection photos, addresses, payment data, and land contract materials. He wasn't able to do this efficiently before with the paper method-- in fact, he and his team would have to keep track of piles of papers, many of which would get lost in the fray. Kurt's App Kurt built an app with the Google Sheets add-on. Some experimenting led him to realize a DIY mobile app could solve most of his data sharing and connectivity needs. He played around with the app he created from his spreadsheet and implemented some cool features that would display data efficiently. To present properties in an easily viewable way in the app, Kurt specified a "decked" action type for his "To Inspect" view. This way, users could quickly know which properties needed to be inspected without having to recall them from memory or shuffle through files. He also included slices in his app to show only properties that meet certain criteria, like whether they've been inspected or bid upon, for example. The features Kurt included in his app has allowed him, his team, and investors stay connected and share the same data and the same time, so everyone is always on the same page. The app frees them up from the headache of printing countless paper copies-- not to mention having to keep track of them all-- as well as time and effort spent keeping everything organized and up to date. He says, "We go out [to the properties] typically once a month, take a picture of the property- if the occupant is there we talk to them, see how things are going, take a peek inside, take some photos. That way the investor can open up the app and see, 'Hey, this is what my portfolio properties look like today.' So he or she doesn't have to call me every time asking, 'So-and-so didn't pay, can you go look at this property, is my yard sign still there' etc." Contributing to Community Advancement Cardinal Management's involvement with distressed properties and vacant lots means the staff is often working alongside community members who are afflicted by poverty. Kurt talks about a few different occasions in which the company bought properties that were otherwise going to be torn down or cleared out for new tenants. One of these properties was a church whose taxes hadn't been paid. After Cardinal Management bought a property next to the church, they took the opportunity to donate it, as the church would not have had the funds to purchase the property. Kurt says simply, "The right thing to do was give it to the church." Now they can use it for rental income or to help community members. He says that his apps will help save a lot of time that was otherwise spent on paperwork, filing, recovering misplaced documents, etc., and that extra time will allow them to spend more on doing what Cardinal Management does best: providing people with opportunities to succeed. **Information in Kurt's app has been blurred for privacy reasons. Click here to get started creating your own apps!