Even before the pandemic that rocked our world, the Property Management Business was a tough, competitive industry. Property management companies are constantly walking the precarious balance beam between the property owner and the property tenant. They have the daunting task of keep two sets of clients, with two different agendas happy and on the same page. They deal with endless repair calls, the move in and move out process and marketing to two sets clients. Added to that is the need to stay a step ahead of the competition that is always waiting to take its place in line. It’s an amazing juggling act!
While there is much for the property management business with which to concern itself, two important questions should not be overlooked.
Question 1: Are We Staying Technically Relevant?
Business in the 21st century can be viewed as the ‘Time of Constant Technology Change‘. At no point of my nearly 25 years in the IT field have I seen changes in technology happen so often and with such a global impact. And much of this change has taken place in the last two years. Or course, if you are in the mobile device or mobile app industry, then the pace of change is a welcome enterprise and means rapid growth and new opportunities. But, for the rest of us, we have to keep our track shoes laced tightly so we don’t fall behind in the technology race.
As a property management business there are some areas you should ensure you are keeping pace with that include:
- Document management workflow – if your business is still centered around paper, printing and wet signatures you should really be looking to incorporate an electronic alternative!
- Digital Lease and eSignature signing – which is closely related to document management and is quickly becoming the common way to process applications and property move ins and outs.
- Self-service and virtual property tours – one generation typically prefers in-person contact with a real estate agent while another prefers to see a property on their own time without the need of an agent.
- Online and mobile app maintenance service request – The use of mobile technology has grown by over 500% since 2011 – did you read that?? If not, go back and re-read it!1 And the number continues to rise. If you don’t think mobile is the wave of the present consider the fact that 60% of the world’s population uses a mobile phone.1 And there is no region in the world that is under 50% Internet traffic from a mobile device.
- Can you make this statement definitively – ‘We are technically relevant or have a plan to be technically relevant by said date in place now.’
Question 2: Are We Secure?
You may be asking yourself, ‘Why would someone want to hack our small business?’ That’s a fair question. Property managers have access to Social Security Numbers, bank account information, address history that goes back five to ten years, employer information. You are sitting on a data rich network that is very attractive to cyber criminals.
” The use of mobile technology has grown by over 500% since 2011“hostingtribunal.com, 2021
Have you taken inventory on the amount of personal information that passes through your property management firm’s network on an hourly basis? The results may surprise you. Now compound that by a week, a month, a year. On average, most compromises are not found until between six and nine months after the initial breach! In 2018 the Rental Housing Journal reported that at that time Property Management companies were not taking cyber risks seriously enough.2 Here is a short list of risks you may want to address before they turn into a breach:
- Data Leaks – using USB flash drives or allowing access to web-based email accounts and a computer with access to sensitive or confidential tenant data. Thumb drives that may have been connected to a kid’s computer then brought into the office can also introduce cyber incidents especially if anti-ransomware is not part of the antivirus product used.
- Network access – Network folders on servers or cloud storage locations or other applications that allow equal access by all staff regardless of position can pose risks by infecting systems used by multiple users.
- Unsecured Wi-Fi – Wireless access that allows access into the administrative network or allows real estate agents into the property management network and vice versa.
- Network access rules that allow for unverified contact with your hosted applications (e.g. PropertyWare, Tenant Turner) – If guest can login to your wi-fi and have access to your printers, you may have a wireless network that does not have the correct security applied to it.
- In short – if you don’t have confidence in your data security, it time to take a look. Forethought is better than forensics!
According to Secure World, one instance of a breach was not discovered for nine years after it occurred! Yet, even though this incident is well documented, breaches occur daily! Breaches on companies of all sizes can and do happen. Because it has not occurred in your business, does not mean it will not happen in the future.
There are so many details to running a competitive Property Management business. As the Property Management Industry continues its trend toward a greater adoption of technology, proper adoption and securing of technology should be addressed.
Don’t go it alone. Contact your IT company or IT department to be sure you are not under or over investing in your technology and to ensure your technology scales with your growth and to stay secure in our digital age. Happy managing!
If you have questions or comments be sure to leave them below
Netvolutions Technology Group is an Independent Technology Firm located in Southern California. They are dedicated to the specific technology and security needs of the Small and Medium Size Business community.
- Galov, N. (Hosting Tribunal) What Percentage of Internet Traffic Is Mobile in 2021?
- Editors, (Rental Housing Journal) Property Management Cyber Attacks Risks Overlooked, Underestimated