Like it or not, software and technology is slowly but surely integrating itself into every aspect of our daily lives. As Holiday Property Managers, we can either resist this change and carry on with our tried, tested and trusted in-house ways of doing things, or accept this as inevitable and jump on board.
When you have been working for many years using the same processes and ways of doing things, it can sometimes seem like it is too risky and a lot of effort to make such fundamental changes. After all….
Why fix it if it isn´t broken?
This may be true for now. But what about in 2 years time? In 5 years time? In 10 years….?
As a very simple example, it was not so long ago that we were all managing and receiving emails from the computer located in the office, meaning that we had to go back to check them between property visits. This worked at the time as no one expected anything else. Now, with a device in your pocket that is far more powerful than anything that you would have had in the office at that time, you are constantly connected and mobile.
The point is that in a relatively short period of time, a simple thing like not being able to manage and deal with emails whilst on the move could lose you business and revenue. There is no getting away from the fact that customer expectations have changed and not being able to communicate and deal with your clients and customers in the timeframe that they expect, could drive them into the hands of a competitor
Daunting as it may be for some, but in today´s world, adapting to changing customer needs and expectations is fundamental for the survival of any business.
Some important questions you should be asking yourself are:
- Does my business operate in line with Holiday Property Owners expectations right now?
- What is the Holiday Property Owner of tomorrow going to expect from Holiday Property Managers as standard?
- What effect will I see on my business if I am not able to provide the services, accessibility and interaction that the Holiday Property Owner of tomorrow will take for granted and see as a minimal service that should be offered?
Here are a few suggestions to help you prepare and be ready…
Firstly, don´t panic! Software and technology can seem daunting at times, but you don’t need to do it all at once. The important thing is to start thinking about it and try to find something that fits what you do day-to-day (or as closely as possible) and will help you do the same things but in a more efficient manner. Bear in mind, whatever you choose, it is important that it understands your business, what you do and how you operate.
That said, any software you choose will need a little bit of flexibility on your part so you may have to adapt some of your ways of doing things as it is very unlikely that a software option will be an exact and perfect fit. Nonetheless, if the end results are the same in terms of services offered, standards and quality and you are comfortable with the changes, this option is probably the right one for you. In addition, once you have spent a little time with the software and understand how it works, you may also find that you start using parts of it in different ways to how it was specifically designed to be used. This is normal and natural with technology.
Most software and technology solutions often offer a huge variety of things that you may not need straight away, or ever. But this doesn’t mean that the software is not appropriate. Start with the areas that fit your business now and look at what else the software can do to help you offer more services to new and existing clients and customers later on.
As the Holiday Property Management role is so wide and varied, it is unlikely that you will find one software solution that takes care of absolutely everything, so it can be a little overwhelming knowing where to start. We have therefore tried to break down some of the areas within Holiday Property Management that you could look at moving over to a computer based software solution. In this article we are just looking at Accounting Software packages and we will look at some of the other areas of software that Holiday Property Managers could consider using, over the coming weeks.
Most European Holiday Property Managers will not be looking for a full accounting package built for qualified accountants that can prepare the accounts to a point where it can be submitted to the tax authorities. We have our accountants for that! So it is key to consider who the software is talking to on their website and through their marketing. In other words, you should think about who they are aiming their product at when looking for the right Accounting Software for your business.
If the tone or language used is not one that connects with you or you are familiar with, this more than likely means that the software is not for you. You will want to look for and focus on the key areas that cause you the most headaches when preparing your accounts.
For example, does the system track expenses and bills and can these be assigned to customers or to yourself as a business cost. Can the software create invoices automatically and on an adhoc basis in a few minutes? Does it allow you to integrate and download all of your bank movements in order to assign costs and transactions to the correct area or client from within the banking area of the software? Does it keep track of bills that need paying and invoices that are unpaid along with monitoring cash-flow movements across different payment types?
What do the Client Statements look like and can the client easily understand each movement and line without having to check each and every invoice, if they just want to have a quick look to see where their funds are and how they have been allocated? In addition, does the software handle client funds on account properly? How does it deal with positive client balances? Afterall, a client is not going to be very happy receiving their statement if it shows the closing balance as zero when in fact they’ve finished the month in credit but as the system cannot deal with positive balances, it defaults to zero!
Swapping your accounting system over takes time and patience, so it is important that you ask a few key questions before you even consider moving over. The software must be able to deliver what you need, so talk to the software supplier about what you are looking for and want to achieve. Be sure that the support they can provide is in line with your expectations. Investigating the market properly before starting to move everything over will be worth the investment of time and effort in the long run.
In the next articles we will also take a look at CRM tools, Holiday Rental Channel Advertising and Rental Channel Management Software and some operational tools with a view to how these can help Holiday Property Managers prepare and be ready for the Holiday Property Owner of tomorrow.