Finally, the secret sauce to rent roll growth!
30 June 2023
We love hearing any stories of agencies using Ailo (sometimes even before they’ve onboarded!) to win more business and supercharge their growth.
Would you prefer to read their advice? No problem! Below is a summary of their conversation with Juliette Hughes, Head of PM advisory at Ailo.
What a thrill to be able to do a bit of Q&A with three leaders in property management across Australia. Can you introduce yourselves?
Karl: I’m the senior property manager at the Diamantidis Group. I’ve been in the industry for 15 years.
“I genuinely feel like we don’t have any competition anymore. I can’t remember the last time we didn’t get a listing.”
— Karl Von Riegen, Senior Property Manager, Ray White Diamantidis Group
Juliette: Wonderful, and are you focusing on growth at the moment in terms of building the rent roll and new managements?
Karl: 100%. We’re up to 440 organically grown this year, so we’re poppin’ it!
Juliette: That is incredible! So I think Bernadette told me you’re the fastest growing rent roll at this point organically which is thrilling! Your total size of the rent roll is 1300 which is fantastic and you’ve been on Ailo for a while now.
Elia, do you want to just share with everyone in case they’re not familiar with your history?
Elia: Hi everyone! I have been in the industry for thirty odd years and as one of the two business partners here at Brighton Le Sands. I do a little bit of sales and oversee the whole business but I’m also watching the whole property management team. So, front facing, trying to be on top of it all. The whole Ailo experience so far has actually rejuvenated our team, it’s rejuvenated me as far as not doing the mundane and the same things I’ve been doing for thirty odd years and it’s given me a new lease on life. It’s been an awesome four or five months.
Juliette: I cannot wait to unpack ‘rejuvenating your career’ that sounds fascinating.
Ok, Sam, from Ballarat, do you want to just give everyone a quick rundown
Sam: Of course, hi everyone. So, I’m from Ballarat. Myself and my business partner, Will Munroe, bought the Ray White branch in August last year. It was a bit of an older business that had been going for about thirty-three years. They had been using the old technology so the main things we focused on was changing the technology, changing where staff sat within the premise and the focus now is to obviously grow the business. We joined Ailo in December three or four months after we bought the business so we had a massive tech change. So yeah, that’s us.
Juliette: Just a small undertaking while you buy the business right!
Sam: On the server so we weren’t even on the cloud. We skipped a generation of tech so yeah it was tough times but we’re here.
Juliette: Is it true that you moved the whole property management department physically?
Sam: Yeah! We were on three levels at our office and about ten years ago we moved everyone downstairs into what was the old storage room and put a suspended ceiling and carpet tiles. There was no natural daylight and I think they thought it was a good idea to chuck the rentals down there. But the first thing we did was to move them all back up to the top floor with the sales agents to get them a bit of sunlight and everyone just instantly became more happy. I don’t know how but it changed everyone’s personalities.
Karl, how has Ailo changed the way you conduct a presentation for new business?
Karl: We’ve always been pretty high for conversion rates but what it’s enabled us to do is leverage. We obviously love leverage as property managers, right? So we’ve already got a powerhouse in Ray White but now we’re joining that with the powerhouse of Ailo.
Everyone has been talking about “fees, fees, fees” and it’s like wow because I haven’t had a fee discussion since I can remember since I’ve been on it because we’re just basically leveraging it. We’re just walking in and saying “this is brand new… and great news, we’re not going to charge you any extra fees for it”. So I’m just adding the value to it so I don’t have to have a fee discussion. It becomes my point of difference and really easy to sign them up anyway.
I think the main thing is getting them their money. The mortgage prices are through the roof and everyone’s screaming about it costing them so much and they want a rent increase and to do all these things and we can now tell them they can literally have their money and pay your mortgage sooner.
I genuinely feel like we don’t have any competition anymore. I can’t remember the last time we didn’t get a listing.
“No fee conversation. No competition discussion. It’s not what the others are doing it’s totally different, it’s unique. The point of difference is the platform... there’s an app for everything and this is the app for that.”
— Elia Economou, Principal, Ray White Brighton Le Sands
Elia, tell me how Ailo has changed your presentation?
Elia: Similar to Karl, we don’t talk fees. I talk about VIP service over VIP fees and the fact that we can do more property management work and less accountancy work. So we focus on being a property manager and not being a quasi accountant.
I’ve started something and I did it off the cuff. So the script is totally gone, the dot points are gone. I don’t even have them in my head anymore. I read the room so whoever I’m talking to I listen to first to hear what they’re interested in. So if someone is interested in money it becomes about instant money. If someone is interested in repairs and maintenance or inspections it becomes about inspections, about that transparency.
So what I’ve started to do is actually show people the dashboard. I show them our dashboard on my iPad.
I go in as the office principal and I say “this is my dashboard, this is what I see” and then I show them what they would see as an investor as well. So I show them the chat, I show them an example of a projects. I’ll show them that it’s all transparent and that I as a principal or whoever the team leader is can actually see what the whole team is doing and is across all the comms.
There is no longer a ‘lost in space’ email that’s gone somewhere that someone was sick or on leave and doesn’t get picked up. We’re all watching what’s happening in the whole team. It’s just follow the bouncing ball. Follow the project and we don’t skip a beat, we’re not relying on human error.
It’s not what the others are doing it’s totally different, it’s unique. The point of difference is the platform and it is the fact that they are on the platform. There’s an app for that, there’s an app for everything and this is the app for that.
Sam, do you want to run us through how your listing presentation has changed now that your team are on Ailo?
Sam: We’re slightly different from Karl and Elia. We’ve always had a BDM over the last eight years or so and we’ve only recently pulled back from having a BDM. Having Ailo since December has allowed the team to have a lot more time. They’re not at capacity. Their portfolios are probably 30 or 40 away each from being at capacity so they’ve got a fair bit of time to either give extra, better service and we’ve now diverted them into getting more listings.
So instead of employing a BDM we’ve up-skilled everyone to listing properties. What we’ve found in our business is that all of our BDMs have relied on what the business has generated for them or the sales team. They haven’t actually gone out and got their own listings and that has been a bit of a frustration since it is a lot harder to do that. So we just ended up thinking, well if they’re just going to take what we’re giving them we’ll just give it to the property managers and save ourselves a salary until we get to the point that we do need a BDM to step out and do it when everyone else is back at capacity.
The main listing tool kits that the team have been using are about accessing the money instantly. Our arrears went from about 10%, nine or ten percent we were hovering at on our old platform. We used to have a weekly meeting and it would take us about an hour to go through the arrears list. Now we’re sitting at about 1%. Before we jumped onto Ailo I remember either Juliette or Gabi saying talking about a success story where a business went from ‘A to B’ and B was 1% and A was 10% very similar to us. But it is so true, that’s exactly what happened to us. It’s the only platform that actually reminds the tenant the day before that rent is due the next day.
So we’re using those sorts of things in our listing kit presentations. I’m not going to say that we’re unopposed because we’re not at that level yet. We’re still rebuilding our whole business whether it be sale, commercial or residential and same as most businesses we’ve had to find the right people but we absolutely do now and it’s just about arming our team with the right toolkit to go out there and actually start to grow.
Last month we generated ten, which is nowhere near what Karl has done, sorry mate, but ten net gains last month which is good for us as we get back into the flow of it.
“We used to have a weekly meeting and it would take us about an hour to go through the arrears list. Now we’re sitting at about 1%.”
— Sam Borner, Director, Ray White Ballarat
When you moved across to Ailo - If we think ‘before Ailo’ and ‘after Ailo’ for your property managers, what was their appetite for new business before?
Sam: Well it was a hindrance. I remember when I was a PM 15 years ago and I shouldn’t say this but when you get a new management you sort of think ‘more work’ and if you’re not actually rewarded for it you don’t really want it. Or if you lost a listing sometimes you think ‘oh, that’s good, less work’ and we don’t want our staff to think like that. Not all work is good work, not all properties are good properties and we’ve come in and gotten rid of a few really high maintenance, low value clients because it just costs our team.
The team’s appetite for new business now is really good, we’ve up-skilled them so there’s that sense of motivation to get new business - it’s a thrill for them to list something. Whereas before, well, there’s not a lot of thrills you get in property management is there? It gives them something else to look at and look forward to.
Karl, if you’re not competing on fees what are you showing potential clients when you’re face to face with them?
Karl: I’m giving them a full listing kit. A lot of my listing are old school so I have to walk through the door. I know a lot of agents are basically just phoning and doing Docusign and stuff like that. We still have some of that as we transition but a lot of our area is old school so we have a full listing kit with insurances and tax depreciation and all that kind of stuff but I don’t really want to talk about that stuff too much I just want to get to Ailo. So I’m walking through the door with a full listing kit, but I’ve got a couple of flyers on Ailo at the moment and we bring up the payment thing and being able to pay by credit card and still being able to get your points, that’s a key thing for people as well.
The other thing they always talk about, especially if it’s a change over, is communication. They say ‘I’m not getting communication from my current agent’ so the chat feature is really cool with that too.
Elia, I know you’re showing them the program on your computer and talking about service not fees, but is there something that is no longer being brought up by the potential client?
Elia: There are a few things that we have changed in the dialogue because we’re not talking about fees and we’re not talking about ‘half a percent is worth $1.50’ and all that.
I do talk about how legislation is constantly changing and being a property manager is not about collecting rent. Rent should just be automatic. So if rent is automatically being collected and processed and we’re not spending our time reconciling partial rent payments and all that sort of stuff then that releases us to be able to focus our time on the property. We talk about that openly.
We spend all of our time on the property and on the relationship. I’ve actually rekindled relationships with people in the last three months that have been on our books for ten years who I have hardly spoken to. Ailo has given us an excuse to actually pick up the phone and say ‘listen, let me talk you through this. Jump on it’s actually worth it.’
It’s working really well. New dialogue and appreciating that everyone is unique. There’s no script anymore.
“The team’s appetite for new business now is really good, we’ve up-skilled them so there’s that sense of motivation to get new business - it’s a thrill for them to list something.”
— Sam Borner, Director, Ray White Ballarat
Juliette: So you’re not walking in and saying the same thing over and over.
Elia: No, I’ve stopped being a robot!
Tell me about how this has changed your feeling about your career. You’re seasoned, there’s nothing in property management you’ve never seen before.
Elia: I’ve seen most of it before. I’m actually excited. After three months of doing Ailo we’ve almost finished all the housekeeping we have to do. We’re now revisiting every part of our process. We’re looking at Projects, we’re starting to customise our Projects and comms. We’re reviewing who does what in the business and how we service people. Who is dealing with tradies and who is dealing with all the bits and pieces. It’s starting to come into it’s own maturity so we’re not the old school paper-driven agency with lists and passing the buck. That’s all gone.
Juliette: Did you tell me that you have planned a holiday?
Elia: Yes! I haven’t been away since 2019 like many people. This will be the first time I’m going to be overseas for eight weeks and I don’t have to do end-of-month, and I don’t have to transfer any money and I don’t have to cross check what statements have gone where. I’ll be happily sitting somewhere in Greece sitting on a beach just watching the chats flow through.
“I’ve actually rekindled relationships with people in the last three months that have been on our books for ten years who I have hardly spoken to. Ailo has given us an excuse to actually pick up the phone and say ‘listen, let me talk you through this. Jump on it’s actually worth it.’”
— Elia Economou, Principal, Ray White Brighton Le Sands
Karl, I’ve heard you guys have been working on some pretty interesting content if you want to share with everyone what you’ve been working on?
Karl: So we actually got a media company and they come in about once a month. We’re really getting into the social media side of things since so much is on there now. I just finished filming last week, we’re doing these really cool little videos where I got a couple of landlords talking about being on Ailo and why they love it. We got a different perspective with a tenant on there talking about Ailo. It’s all authentic. We just phone them up and they’ve said what they like about it.
We did this cool little skit where it was basically a screen grab of the tenant contacting us about a light switch issue and then we sent a tradesman out to change the light. We even had a blooper reel because the tradesman actually went out and smashed the cover but it was just a cool little interaction to show what Ailo can do.
We actually saw what Ailo had done with those cool little cartoon characters but kind of turned it into real life. We’re putting it out next week because we want to leverage it out into the community. There are only so many people we can actually tell about it so the more we can smash social media, we’ve got about five thousand followers on our Ray White page so we can just punch it out so everybody knows about it.
Juliette: Oh my god everyone start following the Diamantidis Group on socials so you can see this incredible marketing. That sounds so great, I cannot wait to see that.
Sam, what is something that you have recently done? I think everyone would benefit from hearing that too.
Sam: Not as cool as what Karl’s done but I’ve made a few notes mate, I might do something similar!
When we first changed over we had a look at what all the other agents in Ballarat are doing. We do a radio show on Saturday morning that we’ve been doing for a long time so we’ve stuck with that. No other agency is on the radio so we’ve spent a fair bit of money on radio ads and we went on a few more stations. We did a few more ads about Ailo and even had a little catch phrase that a company wrote up in a script for us about investors ‘getting their property out of the stone ages’ and get over to Ray White for the Ailo platform.
You can’t always tell what that generates in terms of how many more times the phone rings but that was something that we wanted to do. There were three agencies at the time doing tv commercials, everyone’s on social media which we obviously did as well but that’s the thing we did that was a little bit outside the box.
Juliette: Yeah fascinating! I’ve seen a lot of Ailo social media tiles popping up everywhere. It’s really thrilling for us to see it and we have developed a whole library of social media tiles that can be used by Ailo agencies whenever they want.
It’s been really wonderful hearing all of your experiences and how you’re leveraging Ailo. I get the sensation that this is just the beginning.
Watch the full video here