In this awesome episode we talk to Justin Ellis from Wolfnest Property Management about his ongoing journey into building the perfect property management software in Podio.
This is a different episode in that Justin is still in the final testing phases of his new system, so we get to talk to him while the experience (and everything he’s learned) is fresh in his mind.
We dive into some of the challenges that people have with existing software for Property Management (like PropertyWare, AppFolio, Buildium etc) and why Justin is convinced building everything in Podio is the way forward. We also look at some of the cost-saving he is benefiting from by minimising the amount of systems they use and consolidating their processes.
This is a great episode for anyone in Property Management thinking about streamlining their business and looking for better options from the existing software systems.
Check Justin out at https://wolfnest.com/
Speaker 1: 0:00
Welcome to powered by Podio. Automation is everything. Supercharge your business with Podio, get ready for another episode of supercharged with Jordan Samuel Fleming , your weekly dive into the awesome impact workflow and automation can have on your business when it’s powered by Podio. Join us each week as we learn from the top Podio partners in the world as we investigate system integrations and add ons and hear from real business owners who have implemented Podio into their business. Now join your host, Jordan Samuel Fleming’s CEO of game changers for this week’s episode.
Hey everybody and welcome to this episode of supercharged! I’m your host Jordan Samuel Fleming here to talk all about the power of workflow and automation when your business is powered by Podio. Today’s guests is Justin Ellis from Wolfnest Property Management. Uh , Justin, someone I’ve worked with for a while. Um, and unusually he is a work in progress in the sense that his system is coming to the end and about to go live. And I thought it would be a really interesting time to speak to him about what he’s learned about onboarding Podio, about Podio development. On a larger scale for a larger kind of system. And you know, his thoughts, his take on it, the good, the bad, the ugly. Cause I think that’s something that people would benefit from. So Justin, welcome to the podcast. Why don’t you just introduce yourself and Wolfnest a bit ?
Absolutely. Yeah. Thanks so much for having me , Jordan . Appreciate it. Um, yes . So we are a single family property management outfit. Uh , we’re based out of salt Lake city, Utah. We’ve got about 750 units under management now. Um , and really what kind of brought us to you is our desire to kind of consolidate softwares and hopefully build a system that will , um, I would just say kind of help us scale , uh, to the level that we actually want to be.
Excellent. And um, we have, I mean we’ve talked a about a number of property management systems in the past in this podcast. Um, uh, to be no secret, you are currently using PropertyWare , um, and that is one of the big systems. But as you, as you pointed out there, you’re looking to consolidate. So what are the challenges around those multiple systems that as a business owner you were facing?
Absolutely. Great question. So what it came down to for us is it was difficult , um, to have the right hand talking to the left. I mean we were probably running no less than maybe 10 different software programs, very few of them integrated together. So, you know, it’s our , our systems and workflow. We needed to essentially have ocean of workarounds and ways that we can kind of make these different software programs work together. And you know, that process ended up being incredibly manual and that is probably the biggest thing. And the most exciting part of switching over to Podio is that we no longer have, you know, Oh, let’s log in over here and see where that’s at. Okay. That didn’t notify me correctly. No , go over here. So it was just a huge mess and we’re looking forward to kind of a nice consolidated simple system.
Um, and so , uh, unusually cause normally when I interview some of our own customers , uh, you know, their systems are alive and kicking. Uh , yours has been a long process of, of getting up and running. Um, but I also, I think it’s one where you have learned a lot and where you’re , where you are now probably both with understanding Podio but also understanding how you can impact in your business, is probably very different from when you started. Like you had a big appetite to start with, but now you probably have an even bigger appetite but a more knowledgeable menu. So , uh , I’m not sure if that’s a shit analogy or not, but, but can you just describe a little, a bit about from when you started and now where we are now your own little journey cause it is different and I think it’ll resonate with people.
Absolutely. Yeah. I know , I do feel like your description is actually pretty accurate. Um, I think that I made just about every mistake that you could make in doing this process. And you’re absolutely right. I have learned a great deal and our needs have changed as my knowledge of Podio has grown. And so a , a few of the things to just kinda highlights. Um, I, I think we did a good job of having a clear outline , um, on what our processes were before we started. But I didn’t necessarily have a great outline of what the power of Podio was and how to necessarily translate to. And so I feel like one of the biggest mistakes I made personally was when we started with this project, I was kind of naively under the impression that we could essentially throw you all of our processes and your team could essentially decipher that, could understand that and build this nice, perfect cohesive system that just worked beautifully. And what I learned as we were going along is there’s just a lot of things that may make sense in my head that without getting that down on paper in a crystal clear fashion, there’s really no way for a developer to fully unpack that and build a nice cohesive system. So that was probably the first big mistake that we made. Um, the other thing is as I started to learn and dive more and more into Podio and what those capabilities look like, I wanted to add more. I wanted to make changes. I wanted to do this, I wanted to do that. And that, you know , definitely slowed down the process. But at the same time , um, you know, I , I just needed to not be afraid of saying, okay this is version one. And you know, like any good software, it is a work in progress. You’re always gonna have new things you’re adding, you’re always going to have new tweaks, new needs as , as you know, your business needs change. And I think that was one of the big things that could have helped me is understanding, look, let’s just get a good system in the door and built and then we can work to improve it day by day after that.
Don’t , don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good. Exactly. Right. Exactly. Well , and also I pick up what you said cause I think that really , uh, you know, cause you look at it from your end, we look at it from our end and what, what you’ve outlined. I think there is not a , uh , he’s not of a mistake necessarily but a real understanding that it’s a collaborative process and , and, and sometimes I think where we were, you know, and , and that, you know, responsibility of that goes all ways and we have a responsibility to make sure that you or, or people , um , under, you know, understand their responsibilities to us and our responsibility to them. Um, but I think a lot of times , uh, you know, people don’t necessarily understand that rolling out a system. It’s rolling a custom Podio system is not like buying Salesforce. Right? Like any asshole can buy Salesforce pay, put the credit card in and , and start running, you know, pretty quickly cause it’s, you know, it is what it is. But when you’re talking about a system like yours with so many customized workflow automations, if/then statements and you know and variables that happen, it has to be a collaborative element between you with the knowledge and us with the capability.
You’re absolutely right. I mean the big thing that was basically an early realization for us is that while we had pretty good ideas for what we wanted to get done, we didn’t necessarily know the best way to get those done . You guys, as you pointed out, I mean you have that knowledge, you know how to make things work. And so we would kind of propose ideas to you guys and you’d say, well hold on a minute. There’s a better way. And that there alone is one of the key takeaways I have in this process is while you need to have a very clear understanding of what you’re trying to build, you also need to be flexible enough to understand that you might learn a lot along the way and you’re going to want to make some of those changes. And so making sure that you have that collaborative effort between developer and , and basically designer is going to be absolutely crucial to that success.
Well, and that actually, I think that that is really interesting because , um , it’s important not to build a Podio system based on crappy rules you had to create on shitty older systems. So, yeah . And, and a lot of times, you know, and I remember that the initial process maps you gave to us , uh, I mean, one of them is just enormous. It’s one of the biggest , uh, it’s one of the biggest , uh , wireframe maps I’ve ever seen. Um, but, but, you know , um, the process we had to go through in a collaborative nature was, here’s how we work at, now, here’s our ultimate goal and what should we do to make it get to that goal easiest? And, and that’s a bit that requires some back and forth and probably elongates the , the way of working , um, uh, accordingly because you have to go back and forth and then you go ahead and test the process that we’ve talked through and then actually using it means you go, Oh shit, but actually we need to do this, this and this as well. Or it doesn’t make sense. And that’s something that I think is really an interesting one that that may be not enough people if you’re looking at a larger system putting into their mindset enough.
Yeah. That, that is absolutely one of the things that was probably the most challenging when kind of working through that process because you’re absolutely right. We did not want it out of the box software solution that worked a certain way. What we wanted was a system that worked the way we were , but the problem is is that the way we work had become such a workaround, Oh, we’ll because this system will work this way. We had changed our processes for maybe what their core element was to kind of accommodate all of these variations that when we first started with you guys, that’s what we brought over, right? We brought over this kind of just a Maze and mess of various workarounds to get the job done. And we didn’t truly realize how like, how much we could simplify things, how much we could break things down on a core level and just make it streamlined and easy. And then to the point you made is, you know, and as you start to do that process, you’re essentially starting from scratch, right? You are rewriting all of your workflows to operate in this new, like limitless environment. And that is a challenging thing because, you know, we almost, we started with you and then in a lot of ways where we kind of started over as we started to realize more and more of these things .
Yeah. And, and, and I , I like to feel like , um , you know, there is, as you are developing a larger system, cause yours is a , is a, is a big system that does a lot of things. Um, with a lot of variables and has have a lot of moving parts. I think that there is definitely um , there needs to be a awareness of just how much effort he is going to go in from both sides…and a lot of times what we find is you get people who just sort of plunk things down and say , well there you go, go ahead and create this. And actually, you know, I think in the last little while your system has skyrocketed up and that’s probably due to just how much interaction is going on between developer and you.
Yeah. The, the other thing is, I mean because we’re, we’re basically in the testing phase for our system and this is where the rubber meets the road. It’s one thing to write down process maps and document and say, okay, when this happens, do this. But it’s quite another, when you dive into the system and you start to talk through it because that’s when you realize, Oh Hey, well that made a lot of sense when I was writing it out in my head. But now that we’re here, it actually sent this email too soon or you know, there’s just various things that, you know, you can’t possibly anticipate in the design phase that you need to be ready to deal with when you get to the testing phase. And so that was another one of the things that I would highly recommend to anyone looking to take on this type of project is be prepared and be ready to have not only yourself but your team members who are in the actual roles. Um, th th that your system is going to have, be ready, willing and able to participate in the testing to make sure that everything is working.
And so let me, how has your team , uh, you know, approach this? Um, you know, cause it’s been a longer process than probably anyone envisaged , um, without question. Uh, we’re now at the sharp end of the stick and that’s great. But how has , have you found your team has, you know, accepted that or rebelled against it? Or like what, how have you found that? How have you managed it and what has been the, you know, the, that experience with your team based on this sort of , um, larger end scale production?
Great question. You know , um , at the end of the day, change is hard. Change is particularly hard to get team members to buy in on, right? Because it’s so easy to get set in our ways. It’s so easy to just, you know, run on autopilot and I wake up in the morning, I come into work, I know exactly what I have to do. I know exactly how I have to do it . It’s simple, it’s comfortable, it’s easy. And when you bring about change, you know, there’s a lot of glazed over looks that you get in the meeting room when you start to talk about things. But I think what worked well for us is very early on we got employee buy in and we said, Hey, look, what is it about your job or specifically your workflow that you hate? Where are your bottlenecks? Where are these spots within your workflow that just create headaches and drama and challenge? And so those were some of the first things we addressed during the actual design phase. And so that when they, they started to realize that , well, wow, you know, this system while new and scary and different and requires me to learn new things, it is going to make my life easier. And so that combined with, I do kind of feel that Podio is, well , it’s not necessarily the most user friendly visually or you know , they’re , they’re the most user friendly system visually. Um, I do think that, you know, it is pretty simple. You know, click here, this happens, sequences work like this, so on and so forth to where, you know, it’s not that intimidating and I don’t think the learning curve is going to be that bad, especially when those guys can see the challenges that , uh, that system is going to help them overcome.
Well, and , and actually , um, you know, you mentioned the Podio user interface. Um, I think we’ve , you know, everybody could give their, you know, Oh, if only, and you know, if you only could do this or it could look a bit different or get up columns or blah, blah, blah. Um, and , and there’s definitely bits about the Podio interface that I don’t like, but one of the benefits of it and of the way Podio works, I think when you’re onboarding teams is simply down to the fact that it always looks and the acts the same no matter what business process you’re in. And, and so that breeds a familiarity and an ability to add in new sections and people being like, Oh, I get this. Like, Oh, I get it. So it’s over here. Oh yeah. So the buttons are like, yeah, it’s the same thing. It’s just different processes. And I think that’s actually a strength of Podio as opposed to a completely unique user interface for each section.
I could not agree more with that. Um , that is a, an extremely accurate statement . So one of the things that we did , um, several months back is we actually built our own Podio app , uh, for running the EOS system, which is a pretty popular management , uh, system within the industry. And so that was kind of all of our team members first introduction to Podio to how it worked . So, you know, the idea of apps and sections and fields and all of the various elements that basically make up Podio systems. And so we started them on that very simple, very easy. They could see how it works so that when we actually got to the testing phase, they had this background and familiarity with how it looks, how it works. Oh , these are statuses. When I update a status here, it does this cause this functionality. And so I , I definitely think that helped us out. But yeah, you’re absolutely right. The consistency between apps means that learning curve goes down once you’re familiar with,
yeah, I think Podio has a steep learning curve to start with. And then once you’re past it, you can add more and more sections of the system. And there’s basically no learning curve because it’s like, Oh, okay, we’ve got to finance section now. All right , well here’s my invoices app. Oh, here’s a button that says click to send via email. Like, I mean, you know, I mean it is going to look the same. It’s gonna work the same in essence. And I think that the, the, the , uh , over time Podio becomes like, you now can probably whiz around Podio knowing exactly where things are, how to do things. Whereas when you started, you know, you’re watching people and you’re going, well, I’ll wait. How, where do I go again for this? And how do I do that? Um, you know, there is a learning curve that that minute gets minimized over time.
Yeah, that’s a , that’s a great point. And that’s probably one of the things I would highly recommend too, is before you get started with the build, get a little bit more familiar with Podio. Um, for us , uh, we had attended, I believe it was the NARPM broker owner conference and there was a breakout session and a gentleman on there had done a Podio system. And so he was kind of showing off some of the actual capabilities of it. And that was kinda my first, you know, look at Podio my first. Okay . I’m like, well this, this seems like a very powerful tool. Then I would go online, you know, do, do kind of random YouTube videos, see, you know, a kind of tweaks and little things that people have done in their systems. And at that point I absolutely knew that Podio was going to be a great solution for us. But I wish I would have known a little more what the full capabilities were so that we could have , um , I would just say incorporated those elements into the initial design rather than kind of doing it through multiple changes later.
Mm . Yeah. And there’s really, sadly, there’s really no ne no way of knowing the full capability of Podio until , cause there really is no limit. Um, eh , you know, I mean we’ve, we got, we , we’re , we , we’ve just built a system that will , I was just in a meeting , um, which does some mind blowing things , um, that you know, that , that we’d never done before. But of course we can do it. Um , because Podio really has very little limitations aside from , uh, you know, what you can think and, and, and whether it is a useful addition. Cause I think one of the things that people tend to do as well is they tend to overload their Podio system with so much stuff and so many different places that it becomes a confusion and trying to streamline that is a balance that you have to find. Okay . Uh, as you go.
Yeah , you’re, you’re definitely right about that. I feel like that description kind of fits me to a T. you know, as you start to learn more there, there’s more that you actually want to do with your system and then as you’re going through, at least for me anyway, what I realized in that process was, you know, to a certain extent you have to keep it simple to start, you know, have the basics covered and then you can always expand on those basics later to add every bell whistle automation, you know, very cool tool out there. But if you don’t have that kind of simple baseline to it, it can definitely make things over complicated and make it to where that system that you know should only take a few months to build ends up taking a year.
Yeah. Um, so given you’re in property management , um, it is an industry I know pretty well now in terms of software at least. Um, what are the core kind of processes that you’re, you’re seeing that you’re looking forward to Podio managing that is really going to make an impact on your team. There’s probably a number of them, but if you had to pick a top three, what would you think they were?
Well , let’s see. So talk through. So one nice thing , um, is we are a completely , um , shelving or current CRM system and so we’re doing all of our sales workflow through Podio. So , um, you know, that’s going to help us on several different levels. On number one, w with the actual kind of sales funnel , um , we have really kind of broken down, simplified exactly. You know, the journey that we want prospects to take through our sales process. And so all of that is right there inside of Podio and then it feeds right onto the onboarding process. So that’s going to be probably one huge workflow that we like. The second one , um, I would say is the application workflow. The process of a tenant finding a property that they want to rent and they want to submit the application, it’s going to help us organize that information. It’s going to help us stay in touch with, you know, those prospects who might’ve fallen off a little bit. It’s gonna also help us make sure that every single step in that background screening process, you know, really the entire application process in general gets completed by our team and we have full KPI tracking to make sure that they’re doing the job the way that we want it done. And then I think the third thing, at least for our system is the leases app. And so in our system, the leases app is essentially kind of the backbone of the entire system. Meaning that every, you know, property unit, applicant owner, tenant runs into a lease agreement and then the status of that lease agreement drives various workflows from there. Whether it be, you know, this person owes us money, this person is to get evicted, this person’s moving out, this person wants to do a lease renewal is just kind of having that, you know, kind of core central hub where it’s very easy for us to see what needs to happen and when is going to be huge for us. So really I’d say that’s my top three.
And let’s talk a bit about communication because um , one of the real, like one of the things that I always push people for Podio is to integrate communication as strong as possible. Because to me there’s no sense not to like the more you can integrate all the communication, the more you have a complete tracking and then you can have a case of, Oh well, you know, you , I called you or I, you know, I tell you , you know , I texted you and no he didn’t. Um, so from a communication standpoint, what was your pre Podio , uh, organization around communication and how do you, how are you going to make , be making that better within Podio?
This is a great point and I actually wish I would have used this for one of my top three. So four exactly. Prior to Podio for our tenant communication for our owner communication, we were using Zendesk, right? Ticketing app, tickets go in. That’s how we handle everything. We were also using RingCentral for comms . Well those two systems didn’t necessarily play nice together. So you’ve got phone calls going over here, you’ve got tickets going on over here. But then there’s really the third element, right? Which is the internal communication. How is your team communicating with each other? So, yes, they were doing some of that through Zendesk, but that’s where a lot of the teams are using various things like Glip through RingCentral or Slack or, or various kind of a comms platforms in there. So the beauty of using Podio is that all of those go away and basically become one system. Right. So we can see, okay, well what phone calls were made, when were they made? Did you follow up with this prospect at the right time? You know, we’ve got all of the owner communication in one place, all the tenant communication, we um, our team now has the ability to, okay, well they have a question on this Podio ticket and they can just @ mention someone , um , in the maintenance department to figure out what needs to happen with it all within one system without having to kind of bounce back and forth. So yeah, you’re absolutely right. Um , comms and I would say , um, bringing smrtPhone into it is, is just going to be huge as well.
Well and I know , um , you know, cause you are with RingCentral . Uh, and, and that, that, you know, RingCentral is a company that we’ve had a lot of experience with lately , uh, in, in, in not great ways. Um , uh , one of our customers RingCentral’s refusing to port their number over to us and that’s been an interesting challenge but there’s also , um , there’s sometimes a false economy when it comes to pricing with RingCentral . Now I won’t ask you to get into the details, the specifics of your bill because that’s not fair or polite, but , um, I think it’s, it’s, it’s so interesting. I’m doing some comparisons right now and I am going to use your example in my comparison anonymously with some change numbers, but I think there’s an assumption that a system like RingCentral , which purports to be all inclusive, right? You’re unlimited, unlimited minutes. Well, unlimited minutes only really matters when you’re making unlimited calls, right? Like when you are hitting the calls like nobody else’s business for the vast majority of smaller businesses and that do a lot of communication via support tickets or things like that. Your probable call volume is slightly lower and yet your need for licensing is larger because of your team. And I know for you you were looking at saving, you probably like we’re looking at a high three figure sum, a monthly , uh , changing from RingCentral the smrtPhone simply because of that fact. Right?
Yeah, you’re , you’re absolutely right. I mean, our , um, we kind of realized during this process is that our call volume, because we use various call centers for the vast majority of the incoming calls for, for say prospective tenants, you know, we actually don’t do that much dialing. You know, we do kind of , um, intentionally drive most communication towards those tickets because then there’s this nice long, you know, thread of all of the stuff that has basically gone on. But yeah , you’re absolutely right with RingCentral. I mean, part of the reason our bill is as high as it is, is we didn’t sign a a , you know, a year contract with them because we knew we were going to be switching over. But that is not the bulk of it. I mean we are going to save probably $500 to $800 a month in the phone system and have a phone system that is completely integrated with our ticketing system, which is not only going to kind of streamline workflow for us, but from a KPI and tracking standpoint, we’re able to go in there and see, you know, with very minimal effort. Okay , well this ticket came in at this time. You said you called them, show me, you know, show me where in there you actually call them. Versus now to do that we would have to go pull up a different system, go through call logs to try and figure that out. So yeah, you’re absolutely right. The takeaway is you’re going to pay less and you’re going to have a better system.
Well, and it’s so, I can’t wait. I, I don’t, I, I’ll be honest, I haven’t really used your system much because like our , our developers are working with you on all the, you know, the various different developers in my team are , are working with you on , on all these processes and I don’t really do that anymore. Um, but I , uh , you know, I’ve been, I’ve been doing a , you know, I’ve been reviewing some systems lately and you know, that ability to be sitting on a maintenance ticket , um , and to, to type a short code, you know, SMStenant and then uh, you know, and then type what you want to send them and it immediately SMS as a tenant and tracks it and that ability to, you know, be, be on a lease or be on a , uh , whatever and say , you know, SMS owner and or email owner and have these sorts of things and , and very quickly connect the process of externalized in communication to , to just sitting at your desk and working. I think that’s a key bit.
The, the, the word that comes to mind for me is cohesiveness, right? It is one workflow system for how Wolfnest Property Management is going to do business right from top to bottom. Everything’s in here, all the departments are connected, you know, all of the comms are in there. It is no more of this world where you’re trying to bounce between five to 10 different softwares to get the job done. And so really, you know, the thing that we haven’t talked on too much that I’m almost most excited about is now that we have this system completely put together is the KPI and tracking where we’re going to be able to go through and have a much better understanding of, you know, who on our team is performing at a high level who just looks like they’re performing at a high level .
Absolutely. Absolutely. And, and, and also, you know, the, the ability , uh, you know, another thing that I find exciting about workflow for companies like property management, you know, with w, you know, PR , the margins in property management aren’t enormous, right ? So the more you can do with less, the better. Right? Why is automation such a big buzzword in property management right now? Is, it’s not because they’ve got nothing better to do with their time. It’s because everybody’s trying to make the most , uh, you know, make, make their team work most efficiently to make the most margin and to make sure that one property manager can manage 250 units instead of just 150 because everything is about that. Right.
You’re exactly right. The big metric in property management right now is labor efficiency. It’s the exact reason why a lot of people are outsourcing more and more, you know, kind of minimal jobs to , to a VA’s . And so, you know, for us what it came down to was we didn’t necessarily want to have to rely on skilled labor. The thing that I love the most about our system is that each and every team member has a role and that role is then assigned tasks. And so you can go in there and you can see whether they completed it, whether they didn’t. Like most of our team members, you know, outside of the management level, no longer have to necessarily think all that much. All they really need to do is exactly what the system told them to do. And then more specifically how the system told them to do it. And if they do that, and I’m not in a position where I need to, you know, hire the best and the brightest to do that role and that for us, you know, keeping that labor efficiency number in line is absolutely critical for the profitability of our company.
Yeah, absolutely. And I think it’s , um, it’s a Testament in, in the way you’ve developed your system, you know, and, and the, and the methodologies and the, and the workflows you’re now rolling out , um, is, is that, you know, you’ve got a top down ability now to overview everything but a bottom up ability to very simply understand what needs to be done , um , in one cohesive whole as opposed to dotting from here to Zendesk to Asana, to Slack, to the, your propertyware to this, to that, to that.
Exactly right. Yeah. I mean really as a business owner, all I want at the end of the day is a handful of metrics to do a good job of basically outlining someone’s performance. And Podio not only gives me that, but it also gives me the ability to do that through multiple management levels, right? So that, you know, my team of managers can then manage their teams more effectively where they can direct training and various resources to making sure that we’re doing the right things. And if I’m not having to worry about software challenges or various workarounds in there, just allows me to streamline the workflow and allows everybody to get their job done faster, better and easier .
Absolutely. Well, I think that’s a, I mean, to me that’s a really fascinating, you know, I , I wanted you on now, even though we’re in the launch phase, normally you wait until it’s launched and everybody, because then you get the glowing sort of reports of look or whatever . Lots of things . It’s done. I was actually not interested in that, in this one. Um , because I wanted your experience, I wanted you right in the middle of doing this and where you are right now because I think it’s important. People understand it from a like being right in the guts of getting it live as opposed to the fond look back once it’s all, you know , good. I , I, and , and that’s not even necessarily a good , it looks good. It’s not even going to look good on Gamechangers because this project’s taken much longer than we initially thought. But I do think this is an important viewpoint from a wider Podio perspective and I think you’ve, you’ve captured quite a few things. Do you have any kind of core final thoughts you want to sum up with?
Sure. Yeah. No, you’re absolutely right. I mean it’s, it’s like going to the dentist in a lot of ways. You don’t really remember what it was like until the next time it actually comes around for it for you to do. And so for us, yeah, I mean to do this conversation now while we’re still in it, hopefully it does kind of provide some value to people. Hopefully it does kind of provide some , um , you know , perspective for those of you out there looking to build your own system. But really, you know, if I were to give my key takeaways from it, what I would say is the things that I wish I knew going in were number one, a little bit more about what Podio is , capabilities were number two, I do wish that I would have known , um , that keeping it simple from the start , um, probably would have got us launched a a little bit faster. But , um, realistically at the biggest thing that I would say is, you know, for those of you out there who want to own your own data, right? For those of you who want to, you know, be able to use API as with various other systems, Podio is going to be a fantastic option for you. And when we first started out, we went with a software platform that didn’t have a open API. Um, which, you know, honestly that set us back at least one to two years. And so just from the start, knowing that you’ll have ownership of that data is another huge takeaway for me.
I think. Yeah. And I don’t want to shit necessarily on any particularly one system. I’d like to shit on all of them. Um , but that, that, you know, but, but actually what you bring up is a really, really important part because , um, the difference, you know, there are lots of, there are a number of different big players in the property market management system, software system out there, right? Like there are, I mean, I’m sure we, I don’t mind naming them, you know , propertyware Appfolio Buildium rent manager, you know, et cetera. These are all the, you know, these are core systems that are classed as property management systems and really the whole industry. And you’re , that property management industry suffers from a, a software set which really wants to guard itself and not allow anybody to go anywhere near their system. And we see this with AppFolio. We see it with propertyware we see with, with everyone. And that is going to hurt your business more than you think.
Oh, absolutely. You know, you get distracted by all the kind of bells and whistles that a software can offer you. But what you don’t really realize is that, you know, once they have their hooks in you, meaning that your team’s using it, you know, and it’s not easy to switch away, then you’re kind of stuck with them and you’re paying that monthly fee month after month after month. And if, for us we looked at is again, we want not only our own system but we want the ability to bolt on here or there. You know, we want the ability to, you know, I would say integrate with this service or , or that provider. And most of the time if you’re selecting one of those big management systems, they’re not gonna let you do that easily. And so I honestly wish we would have understood that earlier in the process because we would have made some very different choices that would have saved us a lot of pain.
Yeah. And I think that’s, I mean, knowing your system the way I do and where we’re going with it, I’m incredibly excited about the next stages as well. Once it’s live, the next thing is we’re going to bring it , bring in. Um, but I think the biggest part of that for me is that ability to, that the data’s yours. We can integrate any way we want to , anything we want. And, and that gives you options in a way that I think isn’t the , not to take away. I also think people should know if they’re thinking about their property management company and their data, their workflow, and the way they want to grow it. Mmm . You are, you know, think about that too . Think about the five years down the road. Think about scaling from 200 units to 500 units and what that means because you may find that the road you’re on isn’t going to be the road you want to be on. Right.
You are exactly right. Yeah. It’s, it’s kind of funny. I mean, when we first started this journey, we looked at it and we’re like, wow, we spent thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars every single month on software. And the bigger we get, the harder it is switch away from them . But you know, the , the reality is, is a custom software isn’t really a option for most companies. And that’s why Podio is so fantastic is it essentially gives you all of the benefits of a customized software platform without spending, you know, $200,000 to develop it. And so as you’re scaling your business is, yeah, I mean that’s a very important consideration is to think about, well, do I want to own a lot of this or do I want to keep renting it from some software service provider ?
And am I going to be able to have the system that can grow and change with me versus always having a handcuff around me based on another system?
Exactly. Right. I mean, there’s , there’s so many cool features that the various software providers put out, but yeah. Do those features work well with your business? Because really, I mean, the difference is yeah, it probably works well for the majority of their customers, but you know, if you have specific needs, it’s not going to work all that great for you. And you’re right, a Podio system is going to do that for you. And really for me, the best part is, like you said, is the ability to add on or if your needs change in the future, if you decide to go from a, you know, a portfolio model to a departmentalized model, you know, if you decide to make those changes in your business, Podio can accommodate those changes.
Absolutely. Well, listen, Justin, thank you so much for coming on at this stage. I can’t wait , um, to have you on again in the future. Um, you know, to talk about how things have gone and, and the new things you’re developing and all of that. I do think it’s fantastic information for people to hear your journey now hear the pitfalls, the challenges that you went through and the ways you found, you know, and what you’ve learned now because I think that’s going to be where a lot of people are. Um, so I really thank you for , for giving everyone that , um , and uh , and coming in and being able to kind of open up that side of Podio to people. Uh , for everybody listening. Um, I’ll obviously put a Justin’s details in the podcast so you can , uh , you know, reach out to him via his websites and you’ll see where he is. If you’re in his area. Um , you know, best property management company around go , uh, uh, you got properties, go, go find them. Uh , please do share this podcast around Facebook, the social media forums people are , give it a like , give it a rating , um, share it around , uh, everything we can do to , to help raise awareness just brings the possibility of Podio to more and more people. And that’s really the goal. So Justin, thank you so much my friend. I’ll speak to you soon and have a fantastic week.
Thanks for having me , Jordan. I really appreciate it.
Speaker 1: 41:59
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