We place a lot of emphasis on accountability at Console, and that means measuring our progress each quarter against our promises. 

Our last Console Cloud quarterly release webinar in February 2020 was just another example of that ethos. But as the world changed in March and agencies felt the stresses of inflexibly remote work, so we too had to change priorities to help. COVID-19 demanded rapid change of agencies and Console alike.

Do less. Make more. 

Our philosophy is ‘Do less. Make more.’ But in the times as they are now, and as they lie ahead of us, agencies face the less than ideal project of coming up with ways to do more work with less. Less available budget, less staff, less freedom. Add to that the spectre of late rent, and you have a recipe for pain. 

That’s why last month’s Console Cloud Autumn Release webinar for 2020 was a break from tradition. We measured our progress and promises where they still applied. But there were plenty of unexpected new features too, because our plans changed. We still have an absolute bumper feature release to bring you this quarter—just not the one we predicted we would bring you.

And here it is, in all its glory:

Here’s what we’ve built this quarter to help our customers.

  1. Built a routine self-inspection for tenants to complete (keeping everyone safe) + other inspections improvements
  2. Build better self-service options and automation for your tenants and landlords
  3. Make your subscription do more for you right now, but cost the same as before (Insights Plus)
  4. Power-ups for workflows to optimise them for remote work (better collaboration and comms tools), and
  5. Developed Yardstick, which helps you measure owner loyalty and predict churn

Inspections enhancements

Self-inspections options

Lockdown has put a strain on the schedule of routine inspections for most agencies. This has led to a hard push towards enabling tenants to self-inspect—and we’ve built a feature to make sure you can do just that. It simplifies the process of instructing tenants, managing photos and data entry, ensuring you have every room in the property covered. 

You can raise a routine self-inspection in Console Cloud, which emails and texts the tenant everything they need to complete a routine inspection on the property on your behalf. Tenants can fill the form out on their device, attach photos, and submit it to you. 

Pressing ‘submit’ sends the inspection data right back into Console Cloud for you. You can then view or download the inspection report.

What if you disagree with something on the tenant’s report? 

Well, we’ve also built an ‘edit inspection’ feature to let you manage any and all past routine inspections. So for that matter, if there’s another routine you’d like to amend, go for it.

self inspections in Console Cloud New Zealand

The ability to edit routine inspections will soon be followed by the ability to edit entry and exit condition reports.

Better self-service options and automation for your tenants and landlords

Improve the quality of conversations you have with landlords by giving them 24/7 access to the documents they need and want. You can now add any documents you like to your property owner’s portal. 

This puts you in the driver’s seat and gives you control over what documents you want your landlords to see. But it also means that your owners are able to take more ownership of these documents and their own data. By arming landlords with the right information before they even call or email, you can improve the quality of conversations. You can spend more time working towards making key decisions and improving that relationship, and waste less  of it resending or explaining documents.

Better quality data and more powerful reporting for landlords

We’ve also improved the quality of data that is made automatically available to landlords via the portal. Specifically, landlords can now see a nuanced financial snapshot of where their property/ies is/are up to. They can see where their tenants have paid rent up to, monies held on trust, their end of financial year information and statements, the income their property or properties has/ve generated, and other detailed financial information..

These changes may seem small, but they remove a major productivity blocker for most property managers. It eliminates the groundhog day-like tedium of repeatedly answering the same questions each week, digging through the same files to resend them to landlords, and becoming hopelessly entangled in other repeated admin requests on behalf of landlords. 

In other words, these improvements aren’t about relaxing the standard of customer service: they’re about putting your landlords closer to their own information, and freeing you up to provide higher quality service to them in return.

Fast-tracked access to detailed insights + key metrics with Insights Plus

Dashboards, dashboards, dashboards. Are you sick of hearing about dashboards? Us too. But Insights Plus is not the static dashboard you think of when software brands tell you they’ve got reporting capability. 

Here’s why: Insights Plus lets you model your data, and drill down into it. You can learn what you want to know, and display it how you want to see it, without relying on a calculator and excel. We designed it to help agencies navigate the economic and other impacts COVID-19 has had on their business, and arm them with the information to make savvy business decisions as early as possible. 

Insights Plus effectively lets you see key data, but then set benchmarks and alert triggers so you don’t constantly have to monitor it—such as an alert whenever arrears or vacancies tick over a certain level. It also lets you track meaningful changes over time, such as commissions, staff performance, and rent roll profitability. In other words, it gives even the smallest agencies sophisticated enterprise quality tools to truly understand their agency’s performance.

We’ve fast-tracked the release of Insights Plus to provide more value and assistance to our Console Cloud customers. So if you have administrator access, you’ll be able to get a handle on your key metrics and start modelling in a matter of weeks. 

Editor’s note: This feature is still being finalised in a closed Beta trial. It will be released to all Console Customers in the coming weeks.

How it works

Insights Plus gives principals and owners the ability to analyse arrears, inspections, lease renewals, gained and lost managements, maintenance, and vacant property data. You can use it to: 

  • Roll up data from multiple offices for multi-office agencies
  • Monitor KPIs (key performance indicators)
  • Quickly filter and drill down through large swaths of data according to portfolio, date, and status, and of course
  • Export this information with your preferred views and filters into a CSV or PDF file.

Insights Plus has machine learning baked into it

This signals the very first release of a much more powerful tool. With machine learning baked into it, it’ll work away in the background, learning trends and behaviours. This is likely to take about a year to accumulate sufficient data. But after that? Expect to see features like predictive reporting and trends going live in your Console Cloud office.

Power-ups for workflows: removing even more obstacles to performance

Lease renewals workflow: now with improved remote work experience + even more automation

For extra flexibility and speed when managing lease renewals through the workflow, you can now filter and drill down through lease renewals by portfolio. This means you can see just the information that’s relevant to you, at a glance.

Better remote collaboration 

You may have noticed you now have a comprehensive tenant timeline view in the lease renewal workflow. Seamless handover and collaboration often comes down to simply being able to see where everyone is up to on a job. 

The comprehensive tenant timeline does just that—it takes the surprises and guesswork out of property management, especially if you have to take over for someone else. With all the information you *actually* need on a single page, you’ll never need to waste time searching for information!

Compliance workflow—notify parties to commence compliance activities automatically

The Compliance Workflow now allows you to update settings to start automatically notifying relevant parties when items like smoke alarm checks and pool certificates near their expiry dates and keeping track of all your healthy homes compliance tasks. You can prompt notifications for compliance items that are due to expire soon, as well as prompting parties to commence compliance activities. 

And to make sure the job gets done, you can also set the Compliance Workflow to automatically send follow-up reminders, plus one to notify relevant parties when the compliance certificates have been updated. 

Activating these settings means that instead of Console Cloud prompting you to do each task, it’ll directly prompt the people who need to take action. You’ll see what’s happening, without having to manage every single step in a process. In other words, this is a transition to what is commonly referred to as managing by exception—or only needing to step in to manage things that go wrong.

Besides making less work for yourself, it is a type of insurance policy to help you reduce the risk of compliance item expiries, and therefore the risk to the agency and your owners’ investments.

Get leading indicators of portfolio churn and growth with Yardstick

Yardstick is now live in Console Cloud! Yardstick measures landlord sentiment. Until now, agencies had to pay a third party provider to track landlord sentiment, and with little integration with other systems.

Those dark days are behind us now. Yardstick helps you measure how happy your landlords are with your business by calculating a key customer loyalty metric, known as your Net Promoter Score or NPS. The higher your NPS, the happier your landlords are, essentially.

Your NPS is a leading indicator of rent roll performance. In other words, if your NPS is lower than it should be, this is a clue that landlords are unhappy and are probably preparing to leave your business. If it is high, you’re onto a good thing! This feedback helps leaders change course or double down on their good performance, and steer your business towards success.

How Yardstick works

To learn your NPS, use Yardstick to generate a one-question survey to all your owners. The survey simply asks them to rate how likely they would be to recommend your business to others, on a scale of 1-10 (one being the not at all likely, ten being very likely to recommend). 

Tip: Send a Yardstick survey from Console Cloud every 3-6 months to be able to track your score over time. 

Console Cloud’s Yardstick then collates your survey results directly in Console Cloud, and calculates your global NPS score—which can range from -100 to +100. The higher your global NPS score, the more (and the more of) your landlords like doing business with you. 

Knowing who your detractors are can be half the battle, however. That’s why Yardstick also lets you identify what score each of your owners gave you, so that you can reach out to them directly and take action. It’ll keep track of this information in the landlord’s timeline. 

Wondering what to read next?

Dive deeper into all our shiny new inspections improvements. Or, get your free copy of the Buyer’s Guide to Property Management Software, or sign up to property management courses for free (for a limited time only), with early access to Console’s premier education platform, Nebula

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About Console

Console are providers of trust accounting software and end-to-end property management solutions, for property managers and agents in Australia and New Zealand.