Podcast | Is this the future of our industry?
24 April 2023
Would you like your rent arrears down to 1% or less, or your workflows automated so you know exactly what you're up to with any given task? Imagine putting an end to that middle-of-the-night scare again when you realise you've forgotten to do something.
In this episode of The Property Management Podcast, host Kylie Walker shares the spotlight with our very own Juliette Hughes and talks about how Ailo is changing the way property managers look and feel about their career and how they work day-to-day.
Here are some of the highlights from their conversation.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into property management.
I have been in property management going-on 24 years. I started, like most of us, on the front desk in a little agency while I was doing my diploma in real estate – which seems like a lifetime ago.
Back then, we didn’t even take photos in inspections. We were cutting out the ads in the newspaper and charging each week, and you had no idea what properties rented for and there was no such thing as online databases. It was a very different time! The industry has come a long way, but not nearly far enough.
Throughout my career I’ve worked for small agencies, big agencies, worked for myself, and contracted for other agencies right up until I came on board with Ailo almost two years ago now.
How did Ailo get started?
Ailo was founded in 2017 by Ashley Renner and Ben White with the vision to create something better for everyone involved in the world of property management: property managers, business owners, property inventors, renters and tradespeople.
Ashley Renner comes from a payments background; he’s built several successful companies and launched payment solutions including iPayRent and the DEFT solution for Macquarie Bank.
Ben White, obviously part of the Ray White family, has spent almost his entire career devoted to property management and how to help agencies grow profitable rent rolls, and help property managers grow their careers.
One of the first products they rolled out was a survey tool called Ailo Insights. It gave businesses the ability to survey investors to understand what property managers were doing well and where they needed to improve, and it also featured a whole range of algorithms around identifying risk in a portfolio. But what we learnt was that measuring customer satisfaction wasn’t enough. Agencies needed the tools and technology to be able to influence it.
We are losing property managers in the industry daily. It’s harder and harder to get the right team together. The culture’s suffering. During covid, we lost a huge amount of talent in our industry and really they came to the conclusion that to get this right for people to have strong businesses and people to have established careers and not burn out, we needed to create something from the ground up – which they’ve done.
What are some of the biggest problems you are tackling in the industry?
Legacy platforms and other workflow tools have, up until now, been built to work around the confines of a trust account. We’ve got all these sort of workarounds to fix system problems, which doesn’t make sense.
And what that does is push property managers into a corner and force them to make an impossible compromise: it’s your sanity and your time versus your customer service and communication.
And when you take something like payments, and you use technology that is in every other industry, and you apply that to the way we work, you start to change the way property managers look and feel about their career and how they work day to day.
So a really good example of that would: As a property manager, I open my inbox as soon as I get to work. And, I’m stuck in there probably until 11:00am unless I’m really disciplined.
Whereas property managers in Ailo get in and they open what we call Projects, which is all of their workflow with all the communication integrated into it, plus all the information about payments in real-time.
So, let’s say I can see I have a tenant in arrears, so I ring up that tenant and the tenant says, ‘I paid it yesterday’. Now, for the first time ever, I can see the minute they press pay. Which means if they didn’t pay rent yesterday, I can see that. So instead, I can say, ‘Why don’t you open the app on your phone and make that payment now – I’ll wait.’
If I think back to when I started in property management, I knew if a tenant paid rent because they came in and they literally paid it directly to me. So, it puts property managers back in that position of power and from that elevation it is like a domino effect. It changes everything we do. It’s quite phenomenal.
Arrears for agencies on Ailo aren’t even a thing anymore because of that exact shift in power. So, agents that were at 17% or 18% arrears are now at less than 1%.
Now we all know you apply the effort and the energy; you’ll get your arrears down. But these guys aren’t on the phone all day following it up. Chasing arrears just isn’t a thing anymore.
We found that if you give people transparency and you give them a choice around how they pay their rent, then they pay their rent on time. It’s that simple.
How does Ailo help BDMs?
Literally everyone in a property management business, whether they’re an end-to-end portfolio manager or BDM, has a lift in their day-to-day work life and what they can actually present client facing thanks to Ailo.
So even in leasing, paying a holding deposit or an initial payment depending on what state you’re in, the minute they pay it, you see it. There’s no delay.
BDMs are having unbelievable success in gaining new managements at warp speed. Even people who aren’t even on Ailo yet are winning new managements! I spoke to someone the other day, and they won four new managements the week before they on-boarded onto Ailo just by talking about what Ailo’s going to give their investors: They can get their rent faster, they can pay their bills however they want, they always know what’s going on thanks to their Ailo app and chat.
Not only are agencies not getting engaged in conversations about dropping their fees, some of them are actually increasing their fees. They are saying, I’m the only one on the market that’s offering you these fundamentally new and valuable services and it’s pretty valuable and that’s why our fees are higher.
I think the key one is when you take trust accounting out of the center of what we do as property managers and you put communication in the middle instead. Because it’s all about relationships. That’s really what we are here for. And like you said, no one enjoys making arrears calls. Traditionally, property managers are expected to be project managers, counselors, accountants, all the things that you just sort of throw yourself into to help your clients. But when you automate the money side of things, and give people more choice and transparency, and you put communication in the middle, what happens is you actually add significantly more value.
And it’s not because you didn’t want to add the value before, you just didn’t have the bandwidth. There are only so many hours in a day! So now when something does go wrong, they can jump straight into it and solve a problem.
Even tradespeople are getting a lift, because they are getting paid faster than ever. They get paid every day as the money is there, as the bill falls due, whether there is rent coming in or not. An investor can jump in and pay a bill with a credit card, debit card, direct debit. As a property manager, we want to protect our tradespeople so this is big. And great relationships with tradespeople are a selling point to investors.