Every time someone vacates a rental property, there’s a long list of tasks that have to be completed before a new tenant can move in. Property Button doesn't like long lists – or empty houses. By putting Salesforce at the heart of its business, it has been able to digitise the property management lifecycle for hundreds of housing associations, estate agents, private landlords, and local councils.
With Property Button and Salesforce, tasks don't just get completed faster; people get homed faster too. For example, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council in Ireland has reduced the vacant period of its properties by 21 percent. “By using online communities and mobile apps, we close the gap between a property being empty and occupied,” explained CEO Jim Urell.
With family homelessness in Property Button’s home country Ireland increasing by 93 percent in 20151, filling rental properties faster is vital.
Corner the market
Property Button launched its marketplace in 2012 using a homegrown open source technology. As the business expanded, this technology started to creak under the strain. “There were a lot of technical issues, which meant we were spending more time on fixing the plumbing than innovating. We simply didn’t have enough horsepower to cope with the growth,” said Urell.
With plans to build a global brand, Property Button needed a solution that could scale: that solution is Salesforce. “We felt like we’d bought the biggest box of building bricks,” added Urell. “Salesforce was great at helping us understanding the art of the possible.”
Property Button’s building bricks include Community Cloud, Service Cloud, Pardot, Sales Cloud and Salesforce Platform. “If it can be done in Salesforce, then we do it in Salesforce. A single platform approach is not just more cost-effective, it’s also more efficient,” said Urell.
Room to grow
As it expands into new geographies, Property Button needs to ensure potential customers are aware of its services. With Pardot, a marketing automation solution, it can deliver more targeted content and campaigns to prospects. “We can see how people respond to different types of collateral, and adapt our approach to ensure better engagement levels,” said Urell.
Property Button also uses Pardot to improve lead qualification, which has increased estate agency sign-up rates by 30 per cent. “In the past, we had no visibility of how long it took the sales team to qualify leads and opportunities,” explained Urell. “With Pardot, we can prioritise the hot leads first.”
Leads along with all other sales activities are tracked via Sales Cloud. The solution generates detailed reports that help improve business and customer intelligence. As Urell confirmed: “With Sales Cloud, we can see where our leads come from and the velocity of our pipeline. These are both key for driving future growth.”
Finger on the button
Property Button has already taken the Irish market by storm, and launched in the UK at the end of 2015. Through its online marketplace, which is powered by Community Cloud and Salesforce Platform, Property Button manages the commercial transactions and tasks for more than 42,000 properties.
From advertising rentals and scheduling viewings to managing move-ins and recording rent payments, the marketplace simplifies the property lifecycle for more than 800 estate agents, local councils, housing associations, and private landlords. “We push out task notifications to the marketplace users via Service Cloud, which reduces the paper trail for our customers and helps them work more efficiently,” said Urell.
For example, Sherry FitzGerald Lettings in Dublin has reduced administrative tasks by 28 per cent since it started using Property Button. For estate and letting agents, faster and smarter processes mean they are better equipped to compete with new online companies. As Urell confirmed: “Salesforce helps us provide digitised services to traditional agents, so they can grow their businesses.”
Property Button hopes to give estate agents an even sharper competitive edge by opening up the door to big data and analytics. “With Salesforce, we will be able to provide our customers with greater insights, so they can continue to increase occupancy rates and decrease void periods,” explained Urell.
Window of opportunity
To ensure everyone involved in the property management lifecycle gets real-time updates, Property Button has developed a series of mobile apps for letting agents, landlords and maintenance workers. Built on Salesforce Platform, the mobile apps facilitate the completion of key tasks, such as carrying out move-out inspections, ordering new white goods and scheduling repairs.
By integrating the mobile apps with its master records in Salesforce, Property Button can pull through information on 143,000 products and hundreds of suppliers to seamlessly process customer orders. “Thanks to the mobile apps, estate agents don’t have to wait until they get back to the office to start processing a property, which means it can go back on the market faster.”
Mobility and real-time access to information are just as important to potential tenants; nearly 60 per cent of people now search for a property on a mobile device. Property Button has used Salesforce Platform to create a free app for tenants, which enables them to manage their property viewings, offers and contracts. “Prior to the app, tenants had to wait to receive an email confirming a viewing, now they can see and manage everything in real time,” added Urell.
The company is hoping to bring similar visibility to its own financial processes by using a third party app from the Salesforce AppExchange. “The last bit of the jigsaw is to link our operational tasks to the raising and reconciling of sales and purchase invoices,” explained Urell. “With Salesforce, we’ll be able to automate a lot of our manual accounting tasks and establish finance performance indicators.”
By automating and digitising its core business processes, Property Button can deliver big results with just a small team. “We could never have got this far without Salesforce,” said Urell. “It has given us buckets of features and amazing reporting capabilities, which help unlock new opportunities for our business and for our customers.”