Why we built Ailo? Because you deserve better
27 October 2023
Property management is one of the oldest professions in the world.
It’s been around for centuries. And originally the job, while challenging, was relatively straightforward: find the right tenants, collect the right rent, and keep properties maintained.
But as the world has changed and communities have grown over, so too have the needs and the expectations of the people who live in, own, manage, and care for rental properties.
Today, one third of Australians live in a rental home and 1-in-8 own one. And the industry employs hundreds of thousands of people, from property managers to tradespeople, business development managers to accountants.So, it’s not surprising that almost everyone you meet has a personal story or opinion about property management.
And while the loudest opinions are often negative, we strongly believe there is a better solution than to fight for the rights of one side against the other.
We know tens of thousands of property managers, and the overwhelming majority of them strive for excellence in service delivery and are always seeking to do more. We know the overwhelming majority of property investors want to provide a warm and fair renting experience. And we know the overwhelming majority of renters want to take care of their home.
The core issue is that the legacy software systems that are at the centre of the property management industry have not kept up with the demands of the different stakeholders. The end result is rising frustrations and lower trust.
We started Ailo to address these challenges. We are, at our heart, optimists. But we are also a group of former property managers, renters, real estate professionals, and property investors who believe that all of the frustrations we have with property management can be solved by fixing the core issue – building a modern platform that allows everyone to be better off.
Together, we hold these seven core beliefs that shape everything that we do, including how we build the Ailo platform:
- Everyone can win and be better off
- Helping one side helps the others
- Communication and transparency is at the heart of everything
- Everyone should have a choice
- There must be easy, convenient ways to pay rent, including free options
- We embrace different regulatory regimes
- Only the best property managers will use Ailo
We are proud of the progress we have made on these, but there is more to do. Addressing and solving the challenges of this industry will take time, but we are committed to this journey.
1. Everyone can win
So much of the thinking in property management is based on the idea that renters are at war with their landlords, and that property managers are also part of that dynamic.
We reject that idea outright. One side does not have to lose for another side to win.
We believe property managers can have a more enjoyable and fulfilling role, while also delivering higher service outcomes to property investors and renters. We believe property management business can be more successful, while also improving the experience for everyone else.
We know this because we have been in the industry for a long time, and we know that the vast majority of all the different people involved want to have a great experience and recognise that the other stakeholders also need to win in the process.
Our company’s vision is to make every investment a good home, and every home a good investment. We know that we have not yet achieved our vision but we are committed to it, and we believe we are among a very few number of companies that are genuinely trying to make a difference for everyone.
2. Helping one side helps the others
We have different parts of the platform that directly help each stakeholder group, but we also see that even when we help one particular stakeholder group the other stakeholder groups also win.
Take, for example, the experience of repairs. It is a common frustration that repairs take too long to be completed, and it is hard for the renter to have any visibility to know what is happening with it.
We built into Ailo a number of features that support faster repairs. For example, renters can easily take photos of the issue and send a summary to their property manager via their app. The property manager sees that at the top of his or her queue and then kicks off the repair process. Using our industry-leading project management framework, Projects (https://ailo.io/blog/close-those-25-tabs-projects-is-here), a property manager quickly works through the issue to get owner approval, where required, and have the work order sent out. The framework makes it clear what is outstanding and helps the property manager stay on top of the work. No more lost emails or missing post-it notes. Everything is in one place.
One thing that is a real challenge for property managers is that the legacy software they use is not very good at ensuring the tradie is paid quickly, which means typically tradies do not like performing work on rental properties. We understand that, and we have built a system that allows the tradie to be paid as soon as rent is paid. If there are not enough funds available, then the property investor can conveniently use a credit card to pay the invoice immediately.
The end result is that the renter and property investor have more insight and visibility into what is happening, the property manager accepts more accountability that comes from that transparency, the repair is completed faster, and because Ailo ensures the tradie’s bill is paid quickly, the tradie is more likely to do the work for the agency.
Helping one side helps the others.
3. Communication and transparency is at the heart of everything
Our data has shown us time and time again that communication is the single biggest driver of customer satisfaction in property management.
But keeping everyone in the loop, and on track, isn’t always easy because up until now, the inbox has been the primary tool for property managers to manage their communications day-to-day.
We have designed Ailo to make it much easier for everyone to communicate with each other, and for the property manager to keep on top of all the work.
That’s why we built communication into the heart of Ailo, and made it easier for everyone to get the information they need when they need it.
First, we wanted to give you new ways to access information that were faster and easier.
We built live financial ledgers in the renter, property investor and property managers apps to give everyone a real-time view of their own financial status. That means, for example, everyone can see as soon as the rent was paid, even before it’s cleared by the banks.
Then we built smart notifications like auto rent reminders. It sounds crazy, but simply showing renters their paid-to date at the right time has led to less confusion and fewer renters falling into arrears by accident.
And our embedded chat platform in Ailo facilitates those high-frequency and fast responses that consumers want and expect today.
Second, we needed to pull all of the communication channels into one place within Ailo so it was easier for your property manager to know what’s going on without flipping between chat and email. Your Ailo app provides a log of all of your chat messages with your property manager, and your property manager has the same view – but they can also see your emails too and all of your communication is also linked to any relevant Projects they are working on for you.
Finally, today Ailo measures a property manager’s response times to inbound messages to help them improve his or her service offering. At the moment, this data is shared only with an agency, but as we all learn more we will be adding in read receipts into the platform so that everyone can be sure that their message has been received.
All of these ideas are founded on the idea that transparency helps lift everyone’s experience.
4. Everyone should have a choice
We deeply believe that everyone is better off when they have choice, and they have the ability to easily set and change their preferences.
That is why, for example, we give property investors control over when they receive their rental income, and how. They should also have more choice over how they pay their bills. For example, some people want to pay bills off a credit card, and others want funds to be paid out of rent.
Renters should also have new choices. There are many different ways to pay rent and tenancy bills, and all of these are outlined in our article here.
Property investors and renters can also choose how they want to receive communications from the property manager: either via email or chat within their Ailo app.
Property managers and property management agencies also have a lot of choices about how they use Ailo. Ailo provides property managers with templates for projects and communication that we believe represent core best practices, but an agency can tailor those to meet the needs of the agency without losing the benefits that come from the Ailo platform.
5. There must be easy and convenient ways to pay rent, including free options
We believe that the correct path for rental payment options is to aspire to the spirit, and not just the letter, of the law.
Every jurisdiction in Australia requires that a renter be given at least one payment method that is free to the renter. Since these rules have been in place there have been a small number of bad faith attempts to offer free options to renters – for example, payment via bank cheque or delivering cash to an inconvenient location.
Through Ailo, renters have a range of on-app and off-app payment methods to choose from – including bank transfer, debit card, and credit card payments – in addition to any other methods offered by the agency. Some of these options have no fees associated with them, and Ailo absorbs the transaction costs associated with these payments.
We also offer special arrangements and fee waivers for renters who are concession card holders, Centrelink customers, or receive rental payment support from employers or community organisations. We are also proud to be the first and only payments platform in the industry to fully integrate with Centrelink.
The benefit of Ailo is that it is your choice, and renters and property investors can change their preferences at any time to suit their unique needs.
6. We embrace different regulatory regimes
Traditionally, State governments regulate real estate agents and the Commonwealth government regulates the provision of financial services. There are also a range of laws and regulations related to privacy, data security and consumer protection.
Ailo supports agencies in their compliance with State regulations relating to real estate. For example, Ailo has a trust accounting module that allows agencies to manage their trust accounts and comply with relevant laws.
Ailo also operates as a non-cash payments facility, a framework that is regulated by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). This is a financial service and the details that relate to that are covered in our Product Disclosure Statement.
Ailo has also embedded a property compliance service into the platform so that, if the property is eligible, property investors and renters can have peace of mind knowing that the property has been professionally inspected to ensure things like the smoke alarms are functioning correctly in accordance with each State’s requirements.
In all cases, Ailo takes its responsibility to securely manage data seriously. We encrypt your data the moment you enter it into the Ailo app and store your payment details under the stringent PCI DSS standard set by Visa and MasterCard.
7. Only the best property managers should choose Ailo
If an agency chooses to use Ailo then the agency, and the property managers, are all committing to operating with more transparency, being more responsive to communications, and giving more choice and more services to their clients.
This isn’t for everyone.
If your property manager chooses Ailo, you should be confident that your agency is committed to excellence. If you are considering agencies to manage your investment property, and one of them is operating on Ailo, we encourage you to recognise that that agency is committed to excellence.