SmartRent Delivers Seamless Property Management with Salesforce
When a business experiences fast, exponential growth, finding the right way to scale becomes paramount. This has been the case for property technology company SmartRent, with its software platform and hardware offerings that bring smart home functionality to property owners, managers, developers, and residents.
A key component of SmartRent’s business is leveraging technology to connect to different brands of hardware — like smart locks, doorbells, and cameras — and allow property managers to remotely manage and control every aspect of their communities. From self-guided walk-throughs that eliminate the hassle of in-person showings, to the ability to schedule maintenance work without disrupting a renter’s schedule, SmartRent makes managing rentals easier for everyone.
SmartRent saved $300K/year from moving out of spreadsheets and into Salesforce.
SmartRent was founded in 2017 and grew quickly, generating in excess of $50 million in revenue in 2020. But that was just setting the stage for SmartRent’s wild ride in 2021, when the company:
doubled its revenue to over $100 million;
deployed 167,000 units, roughly two times the previous year’s volume;
increased its customer base by 62%; and,
went public with a listing on the New York Stock Exchange in August 2021
How did SmartRent pull off such a banner year? Strong leadership and a future-forward business strategy went a long way, of course. But so did adopting a CRM platform that supports in-office employees and field technicians nationwide in real time, increasing efficiencies while eliminating hours of once-daily paperwork through automation. Here are some lessons your growing business can take from SmartRent’s amazing story.
1. Get organized, automate the manual work, and make employees and management happier.
Like many businesses, SmartRent’s story began in spreadsheets. Founded in 2017, the company landed its first client the next year. But it took a little longer until it found the right technology to support the way it worked. “We spent a year and a half operating in spreadsheets and Google docs,” Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer Demetrios Barnes said. During that time, company agents managed apartment complexes the hard way, through endless paperwork.
“An apartment community is somewhere between 250 and 500 units,” Barnes explained. “Imagine trying to print out 500 checklists and then filling them out and scanning or taking pictures of them to send back to me on a nightly basis.” Barnes’ technicians were spending roughly two hours a day reporting back to HQ on their day’s work — time that could better have been spent making additional service calls.
After a short trial of a business solution that just couldn’t do what the company needed it to, SmartRent adopted Salesforce Field Service (SFS) in late 2019. The difference since has been night and day. “We had thousands of dollars a year in salaries going just to managing spreadsheets and calling technicians to get an understanding of what they were doing,” Barnes said. SFS organized the process and automated data flow so Barnes and his team at SmartRent’s Scottsdale, Arizona, headquarters could always check on progress at any site, and see when a tech was finished with a service call and was ready for the next one.
SmartRent’s 8% employee churn rate is less than half the industry average.
Barnes points to both cost savings and employee happiness as important upsides SmartRent has realized since adopting SFS. One key marker of their success: SmartRent boasts an employee churn rate of just 8%, well below the industry average. What’s its secret? Eliminating tedious manual work, for one. Streamlining the process of reporting from the field went a long way, as did leveraging Salesforce’s automation capabilities to take care of what the COO calls remedial, inefficient tasks. “Employee retention became a lot greater because they're not burning out,” Barnes said.
“I don't have the luxury to create inefficient processes, because I won't be able to retain our employees.”
2. Gain real-time visibility into business data and field agent activity.
SmartRent has realized another huge gain from adopting SFS: visibility into key business data.
Running a nationwide property management business out of a single office didn’t just create a lot of tedious manual work for field agents. It also proved a logistical nightmare for the management team trying to broker new deals and chart a path toward growth. Without regional offices across the country, SmartRent had little visibility into what was happening in real time on the ground at various property sites. The print-scan-send checklist system technicians used to report from the field wasn’t just laborious for everyone — it wasn’t particularly detailed or accurate, either. Enter Salesforce.
“The amount of time, energy, and money that you waste not leveraging CRM is crazy.”
Salesforce Field Service lets Barnes and his team keep tabs on service schedules, project status, and the locations of individual techs. Appointments can be rescheduled via the platform — which can also generate one-time access codes for individual smart locks, facilitating COVID-safe service calls when renters aren’t home — and data flows between property sites and SmartRent HQ in real time. Prior to deploying SFS, Barnes said if someone were to ask how many units SmartRent deployed in a given month, answering would have required anywhere from eight to 16 hours in a meeting room, hand-tallying data. Now, with Salesforce, “I can tell you exactly how many units we’ve deployed in a month,” he said. “I'm just looking at a screen, and the data is visible. Trust the data, right?”
Said another way, if it's not in Salesforce, it doesn't count.
“At the drop of a hat, I can look over and tell my Chief Revenue Officer, ‘Hey you've only booked x amount of units this year; you're y amount of units shy of where we need to be.’ You can't do that in the world of spreadsheets,” Barnes said. He added that the visibility into company data has not only allowed the team to become more efficient; it’s also increased credibility with customers and other stakeholders looking at the company from the outside. That’s important when your business has grown up and become a publicly traded company.
Beyond its success with Salesforce Field Service, SmartRent has also adopted a range of other Salesforce offerings, including Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, and Slack. Originally, all of SmartRent’s teams were working out of individual spreadsheets just like the ones used to track field technicians’ work. Moving the entire business onto a unified platform allowed SmartRent’s different teams to share data and collaborate, resulting in companywide efficiency gains and — just as importantly — better customer experiences.
Watch Demetrios Barnes, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of SmartRent, talk about how Salesforce has transformed his company’s processes and helped build a strong culture at the company.
SmartRent is also seeing great early results with Service Cloud Voice, which the company’s sales and support teams are using. The technology allows SmartRent to integrate its call center with Service Cloud, turning incoming support calls into Service Cloud cases. One use case was to expand SmartRent’s offerings in the single-family home rental market, as Barnes explained. “We were doing upgrades for one of the largest single-family renters in the country, and our dispatch team would send letters out to renters with an 800 number they could use to schedule appointments.” Routing the calls through Service Cloud Voice lets call center agents check field technician availability in real time, often making same-day appointments possible. The technology also allows for capturing call notes and recordings, useful for updating clients on specific cases as well as overall project progress.
While SmartRent’s use of CRM has been customized to fit its specific business needs, Barnes’ advice about adopting Salesforce applies to any growing business across any industry. “First and foremost, do it,” he said. “Salesforce embodies that white-glove, hand-holding approach, and I think that's extremely important for any company that's trying to grow their business. Just having experts behind you, guiding you down those various paths, is invaluable.”