Blog - Digital CRM for Property Management Professionals

Digital CRM for Property Management Professionals

All strive to achieve productivity improvements combined with higher standards of risk management, a persistent ongoing challenge for us all. Not only that, but achieving positive continuous change that would improve overall customer interactions using CRM are often exacerbated by existing inefficient process interdependencies, as well as those separate disparate ones. 

Data Everywhere Within Corporate Systems & Beyond

This typically results in critical data being spread out, often uncontrollably across other sub-systems as well as externally, a fact that is now causing deeper concerns to risk management and compliance teams for reasons expanded on below. 

Weak Interconnections between Your Applications

The historical lack of a consistent and continuous cohesive approach to achieving integrated, controlled and connected end to end business workflows, has created a number of challenges with these older deployments, that digitalisation using latest technologies will surely resolve over time. 

This older style deployment approach, necessitated by technologies available at that time, has typically resulted in improvements being made to one area of the business in isolation, eg CRM, whilst ignoring and isolating those other interconnected areas, like lease management. Whilst these smaller adjustments have made operational improvements, they did not deliver on deeper changes that would actually drive significant overall productivity improvements that are now commensurate and desired within this digital age. 

Digitally connecting applications and ecosystems, as a result, is now more broadly recognised as the solution to effect deeper change, but as the above implies this involves having a detailed appreciation of i) the required underlying changes of how applications and ecosystems should work together to deliver the planned end result, and ii) an awareness of how to execute the required technical changes, ie how systems interconnect, to make this happen. 

Friction, Data Quality, Fraud, Compliance

Deployed well, modern digital workflows reduce transactional friction, improve data quality with tagging, and help prevent fraud. This brings further compliance improvements at transactional, process and holistic levels as follows:- 

Transaction level by being able to apply relevant tags such as property size, transaction type (including green leases), amount of turnover rent (if any), options for rent free period, and target rent in total $ or expressed per sq. ft. (eg GFA etc). These tags can be further used to provide tailored lease options to prospective tenants by matching tenancy requirements with available and suitable inventory units. 

Process level through tighter compliance controls surrounding payment workflows to avoid instances of “Business Process Compromise”, where funds from / to tenants or procurement related workflows, including large capex items, might be re-routed by threat actors to bank accounts under their control. 

Holistic level by bringing required quantitative and qualitative information together from across multiple sub-applications (through the leveraging of system integrations) to make it more relevant, accessible and actionable. An example here would be making core lease information more readily accessible and modifiable to authorised sales team employees to help them in their quest to retain existing tenants through processes that drive more efficient lease renewals, or equally to help them close new tenancy agreements. Another example, but inward looking in this case is integrating front line CRM systems with HR systems and using commission data to drive positive sales engagement related behaviour. 

Enabling Your Slowest Steps to be Quicker

Latest digital enablement technologies can therefore be used to further reduce transactional friction, including those associated with the continuous inefficient use of spreadsheets, by allowing process owners to assess whether they fully or partially automate single or multiple steps. 

Friction, of course, appears at multiple places within any process, as required data has to be collected from multiple sub-systems, and subsequently passed through potentially multiple detailed phases of ultra-granular transformation, including the combining of those different data sets to produce a single informative view. 

The resulting integrated workflows, reports, notifications or analytics, can be logically presented anytime and anywhere within a process, and can be shared to existing or a broader set of users. They will subsequently be leveraged as appropriate for decision support, compliance controls and management activities. 

At the end of the day, you can only move as fast as your slowest steps, but slicker processes means that decision making is being made on more recent, and higher quality data. Additionally, new proposal iteration strategies can be formulated / modified on-the-fly, and further supported by authorised modifications to other relevant core data points e.g. rental turnover %, rent free periods etc. Particularly useful recently with the re-negotiations of leases under the government driven Rental Concession Scheme in Hong Kong. 

New Regulatory Pressures re Data Management

Businesses today are far more complex than ever before, and whilst a broader set of technologies have helped us all to produce and share information within and across functional teams more quickly, new tighter data management regulatory frameworks are now here. These require us all to hone and acquire more sophisticated data management skills. 

Higher financial and operational related penalties can await those not in compliance, and in some jurisdictions there is also a threat of a suspended business licence. All of us will need to focus on this area, and this will require corporates to ensure that their current and future processes are fully compliant with relevant legislation. 

It is not easy. For example, for each and every one of your relevant workflows you will need to fully understand which specific PII (personally identifiable information) data components are being accessed, where and how they are being processed, where it is being stored, and who has access to it. 

Plus for good measure you will also need to understand, per individual data item, how long this information is being retained within your systems, and whether in fact it should be retained at all. This will include checking back-ups to ensure that all old data, wherever it ends up, also gets deleted in a timely manner. 

Cybersecurity and Privacy

Cybersecurity and privacy, the double sided coin associated with data management, are both important areas to focus on. Process owners need to take relevant data management regulations into consideration and build them ground up into any design in order to ensure full legal compliance with appropriate regulations, not only today but as they evolve and change on an ongoing basis. 

Exploring this further, and depending on your geographic location, one or multiple regulations might apply at the same time for “overseas nationals” working in your location. For example, for PII data processed within a single location, regulations might fall under i) a regionally focused initiative such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for European data subjects, or ii) more specific in-country regulations like China’s data management framework under the Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL), Data Security Law (DSL), and Cybersecurity Law (CSL), noting that for China there are other supporting specifics contained within other related in-country legislation. These rules apply within region / country, but importantly are also applicable overseas if data transfers take place. 

Cross Border Data Transfers

Pay specific attention to the cross-border transfer rules under each specific piece of legislation if your data is to be transferred to other countries. Also note that data transfer limitations might be much broader in one legislation compared with another. 

For example, these limitations might not just focus on PII, but also on financial data sets. In the case of PIPL there are additional rules. For example, aggregated data transfer limits across operating entities within the same group apply, after which further data incremental processing rules will come into effect (in early drafts, irrespective of geo location, there are always certain actual specifics that are ambiguous and that need to be clarified over time). 

As always, think about the logical, legal, physical and taxable location of data for relevant data sets at each stage of an end to end workflow. This is particularly relevant when external API’s are used, particularly when data is processed within other connected systems. 

Creating Value X-Application and X-Ecosystem

Resulting process flows from these latest technologies can be far more holistic and far reaching in design, providing a solid starting point for the improvement and onward driving of digitally driven productivity initiatives for deeper value creation. 

Why? Often the required qualitative and quantitative information used at any specific point in time for decision making is not within one system, but across multiple sub-systems and ecosystems, and is often in need of extensive detailed transformation, i.e. further calculation, mapping etc, in order to present to users the information in appropriate context. Solve this, and friction is reduced, meaning that in the context of CRM, a smoother end to end process will follow from receipt of a lead by a salesperson to signing or renewing a lease. 

Timely, Actionable and Contextual Workflows

Driving actionable, contextual timely information to the right person over the full life of a sales lead or lease is a logical next step forwards. This improves overall productivity as well as reducing risk of any non-action by any salesperson, and goes to ensure that timely relevant proactive approaches or responses are made to clients. 

Bringing this together in more depth:- 

CRM – Enquiries

Lead management at a macro level needs to be considered from the viewpoint of potential tenants, their existing relationships with you, and also in the context of all existing tenant relationships for broader based decision making i.e. footfall and competitive pressures that may damage others etc. 

Leads driven from all of the regular marketing activity, like mailers, chatbot related activity or ongoing existing client relationships, will be flagged by you as having a priority level, with the highest being served by sales first.

 At the same time, sales management teams will need to have granular visibility of all deals relevant to them, and ensure that leads are being relentlessly pursued by the team. They will also need to ensure that all appropriate captured information is considered in a timely manner during ongoing negotiations, and that sales activity is never lost within the haze of daily operations.

 CRM – Proposals

Sales lead dashboard technologies enable relevant sales team member(s) to review their potential cases by customer group name, required or existing lease dates, budget, size of space, types of request i.e. shop, office etc, as well as by utilising other tags e.g. green leases (which are currently emerging slowly).

 Proposals are created by sales teams through accessing your available inventory lists and using smart search options to find the best overall fit. Full real-time information is available for this, including existing vacancy rates ie # of units, space type, break clause(s) related # of months, renewal caps, expansion possibilities, surrender terms, special terms and sharing rights etc.

 From the above, salespersons can proactively build, collaborate and share effective proposal(s) more likely to close, and can fine tune available relevant inventory options by filtering against tags to prioritise properties or units within properties etc.

CRM – Sales Activity and Oversight

All pre and post proposal activities and deliverables for a specific customer enquiry during its lifecycle, from initial contact to lease, are clearly identifiable for others in the sales team to review ie each individual activity within a potential deal is attributable to a named individual for the quick solving of internal queries relating to it. 

Information is very detailed and contains relevant dates, appropriate hyperlinks for various proposals (including virtual guided tours) that may have been submitted during the sales lifecycle, including whether a proposal has been rejected, pending or accepted. From a compliance viewpoint not everyone will have access to all property information. 

Additionally, all client communications can be graphically summarised by sales type i.e. call, email, virtual tour received, or physical visit, enabling sales or management to identify and discuss other sales avenues that might provide an opportunity to progress a sale forwards to its conclusion. Salient key points, like the date of last sales activity and perceived position within the sales cycle, can further help provide further context. 

CRM – Sales Management

Sales management personnel can gain a more holistic view of their relevant team sales leads to understand key points. For example: whether single or multiple salespersons are assigned to a specific case; they can access key details of any deal; can amend staff assignments per deal; can change priority status indicators. They may also access relevant aggregate daily, monthly and annual commission records to drive and support a team’s behaviour, and use it as one contributing factor as to how leads are allocated equitably between sales people. 

For both sales teams and sales management all real time information can be accessed from any computing device, including mobile, thereby providing relevant information as and when it is needed by sales. 

CRM – Powerful Lease Comparisons and New Offers

This includes being able to quickly compare all existing or newly proposed leasing details, prior to or during a meeting, with options to filter etc. The summary comparison screen is user configurable and comprehensive. It can include other details such as the amount of turnover rent (if any), options for any rent free period, and target rent in total $ or per sq. ft. (eg GFA). New alternative proposals can be added any time, as and when your property inventory changes.

 CRM – Smart Lease Explosion and Configuration

Latest digital technologies go even further. They enable the smart on-boarding of individual signed leases and for appropriate accounting entries, including amortisations, to be exploded over the life of the lease to enable full compliance under IFRS 16 and ASC 842.

 Additionally, today’s broader payment options enable leases to be settled more conveniently by the tenant, and for payments to be auto processed and reconciled against expected payments to your organisation. Actionable contextual notifications can provide management and relevant operational staff with appropriate updates for follow up actions in the case of delinquent payments.

 Holistic management of creating lease terms is a science in itself and a precursor to any offer. Latest leasing systems are highly configurable in this regard, providing a platform for the simultaneous management and forward scenario simulations of all property spaces at a very detailed level, prior to any customer engagement.

 CRM – ESG. Emerging Green Leases

ESG focus points and considerations from lessor to lessee, and vice versa, are becoming more mainstream and can also be supported through the use of extended end to end business workflows that will capture both qualitative and quantitative information to help with the production of ESG related reporting for both parties.

 Process workflows that can achieve the above, and that include the aforementioned concepts, can be built across subsystems to facilitate this on an end to end basis, and can furthermore help you to drive ongoing cross year KPI’s to facilitate the driving of planned results. They would also facilitate the phased introduction of green leases during its lifecycle, for example using IoT for utility measurements.

 Summary

The application of latest technologies empowers sales teams by providing them with CRM tools that offer greater levels of flexibility to meet the requirements of multiple lessee’s, thereby enabling a corporation engaged in property leasing to be far more engaged and competitive, as well as both more nimble and agile, to achieve better overall results.

 Success will ultimately depend on three things: i) your ability to design and deploy compliant value-added ultra-granular transformational processes for an increasing number of data types, which should also fully leverage your other core connected systems to CRM to protect your past investments; ii) having the required all round project team representation to ensure success as transactions flow end to end, as well as between subsystems & ecosystems; and iii) access to relevant systems integration skills to enable smooth actionable contextual business flows.

 Lastly, think about this transformative change being more around value creation and improved risk management, in what amounts to be a more sophisticated operating environment, rather than it simply being a means of reducing costs. 

GaiaPM, a member of the FlexSystem Group, provides international lease and property management software designed to help you drive performance up and costs down. As a global solutions provider in over 38 countries GaiaPM, together with its proven solutions for multi-currency financials, human resources, and operations, is a business software vendor to 1 in 10 Forbes Global 2000 (May 2020), and 1 in 5 Global Fortune 500 (August 2020), operating at the intersection of new digital process and payment technologies, whether on-premise, hybrid or cloud, to provide you with iterative opportunities for value creation.