More and more businesses are moving towards a paperless workplace nowadays. Aside from minimising expenses, going paperless saves time, improves efficiency, is good for the environment and helps your business deliver great customer service.
But for real estate offices that rely heavily on documentation in their everyday operations, cutting out paper can be quite challenging. If you work in a real estate agency and are currently buried in mountains of paper, don’t lose hope. By taking advantage of available online tools and software, a paperless office is possible!
Here is our advice for agents, property managers and other real estate professionals who want to eliminate paper in the office.
1. Make use of real estate online tools
Online tools made for the real estate market have made it easier for property managers to complete their tasks without drowning in paperwork, so if you aren't using them, well, it's about time you get with the program! Some apps come with free trial periods, so you can test out the waters before deciding to buy.
For property managers, one of the most useful tools are property inspection apps. These apps enable you to complete condition reports and attach photos electronically while out and about, and can even sync with your property management software for a truly seamless (and paperless) experience. For forms, apps like Docusign and iAgree allow you to electronically create and send documents that can be digitally signed by the recipient, virtually eliminating the need to print and mail hard copies. And if you’re a fan of checklists (who isn’t?), task management tools like Trello are a good way to start ticking your To-Dos without pen and paper, plus you can also upload files and photos and tag team members who are working on the same project.
2. Use digital and electronic forms of communications
Did you know that the traditional end of month process costs an agency on average $3,069 per month? The costs incurred mostly comes from printing, collation and postage, not to mention staff time. With digital communications, you’ll be able to reduce not only paper use but also save cost and time that comes with physically sending documents other communications to owners. Going digital also means you can automate your communications, giving you one less thing to worry about when it comes to sending messages on time.
Email is the ideal channel for sending out more formal communication and sharing files, but SMS is also a great option for sending notifications and quick reminders for arrears and inspection notices. In a perfect, paper-free world, we could've stopped there. But we all know that in real estate offices, there would still be instances when a physical paper document needs to be sent or shared - what then? Of course, you can always scan them as PDF and attach to your emails. But in cases wherein an office can only send or receive documents through facsimile, there are fax software solutions available which lets you send and receive fax via your computer. So aside from ditching paper, you can also say goodbye to bulky fax machines taking up space in your office.
3. Provide your clients with online portals to view relevant information
Guess who isn't a big fan of paper, probably more than you? Your clients! Statement of Accounts, receipts and invoices are just some of the documents that your tenants and owners need for you to provide to keep them up to date with what’s going on the property. It's important, that's true. But it's also a lot of paper. And while electronic and digital forms of communication are a great way to minimise paperwork, how about giving them another communication platform with online portals? Owner and tenant portals provided by most property management solutions like Property Tree are a great way to allow your customers instant access to their own property information and shared documents, saving you heaps of time in retrieving and/or printing files for them.
4. Use an electronic Document Management System
Why is it that when we look for a particular file we urgently need, we can't seem to find it? Somehow documents get lost, or are duplicated so many times that you end up with more paper than you started with. An Electronic Document Management Systems (DMS), aims to minimise these file emergencies by organising your files so you can easily search, retrieve and share whenever you need. It also helps you save on storage space by storing your files in the cloud. There are free apps and programs that can act like a file management system like Google Drive or Dropbox, and that works for some files, but these programs are more of a storage and file sharing tool than a true DMS. And in truth, a proper DMS is best when you're looking to organise more important documents in an office. So what makes a good DMS? For one, it should support multiple file types so uploading is a breeze. It should also give you unparalleled security so you don't have to worry about your files and data getting compromised online. A huge plus if your DMS integrates with your property management software so all files are synced in real time, allowing your team to easily manage files within the software.
5. Invest in a cloud based property management software
The cloud based property management systems of today are equipped with features that make going paperless easy for any business. By automating tasks, it seamlessly processes transactions and workflows within a smart system, thereby eliminating printing of files and reports. In Property Tree, for example, features like Invoice Genius lets you process invoices electronically, minimising the paperwork - and time! - usually involved in the process. It also has its own Document Management System built in, so you get full control of all files added and processed in Property Tree. On top of this, Property Tree also integrates with a wide range of apps so you can synchronise transactions and save reports without having to shuffle from one app to another.
Want more tips in going paperless?
Going paperless is often seen as being too difficult to implement in an office. But it's really just about having the right plan and methods in place to roll it out. To help you get started in your journey to a paperless office, we partnered with Terri Handy from pmXcite to bring you a free webinar in which Terri will share her tips and tricks to eliminating paper once and for all. Access the webinar now.
Looking for a property management software that will help improve your business operations? Try Property Tree. Book a demo today.