Embrace beneficial change, or wither and die

Contributed By: Nick Buick on

There are very few certainties in life, and even fewer in business – yet over the last 14 years one thing that has been proven to me is if you don’t recognise and embrace beneficial change – your business will wither and die.

When I built TheOnsiteManager back in 2005, the concept of an online portal for Management Rights seemed ideal. There we were with a multi-billion-dollar management rights marketplace just sitting there, and the only way to actually sell a management rights was to shove a little ad onto a dark corner of the Gold Coast Bulletin newspaper and hope for the best. To me it seemed insane that this was how an entire industry was supposed to function. But that was how we did things back in `05. For every ten brokers I spoke to about our portal, nine would recognise the benefit and quickly join but the remaining ten percent just didn’t ‘get it’. “Why would I bother to advertise with you? I can just use the Gold Coast Bulletin!” they’d say. I’d try my best to make them understand that their methods were outdated and if they wanted to survive they needed to recognise and embrace the future, but some people are just set in their ways and eventually I’d  throw my hands up in frustration and move onto the next broker. Thankfully our portal caught on, and the rest is history. The Gold Coast Bulletin’s MR classifieds and those set-in-their-ways brokers who were too blind to see the benefits staring them in the face all went the way of the fax machine and the yellow pages. The rest of us understood there was a better way to do things, and we all moved on… leaving them in history.

The following year I was to discover that onsite managers had no means of advertising rentals in their complexes online due to high portal fees that were incompatible with their small letting pools. Their only hope was to shove a little A frame sign out the front of their building each morning, and hope for the best. I created a real estate agency for onsite managers, and began helping them market rentals and sales. I’d call managers all day long pleading with them to join our agency. For every 10 managers I spoke to, 9 would recognise the benefit and quickly join. The remaining ten percent just didn’t seem to ‘get it’. “Why would I bother to list my properties on the internet? I don’t need that, I’ve got a sign out the front and people just walk in off the street”. I couldn’t believe my ears the first time I heard that sentence, but it was one I came to know by heart after a couple of years. How anyone in business could be so blind and stupid to not recognise the benefits of online marketing, was staggering to me, but that was how we did things back in ’06. Thankfully the agency caught on, and the rest is history. We’re now the largest lister of rentals in the country and the managers who thought their little A-frame was all they needed to survive, went the way of the cheque book and the pager. The rest of us understood there was a better way to do things, and we moved on… leaving them in history.

Over the last 14 years I’ve seen countless other instances of this. A better way of doing things comes along, 90% of people embrace it, adapt, and profit, the remaining ten percent fail to ‘get it’ and they eventually get left behind and die. The latest incarnation is occurring now with great familiarity. It comes in the form of tenant management tools. There is an incredible gamut of services available now for property managers to better manage their prospective tenant experience with professionalism and efficiency. These tools are so powerful, so effective, and so game-changing, that almost all major rental agencies are already using them, it’s time for onsite managers to catch up, or get left behind to die. 2 services in particular, spring to mind, both are available to our managers, both are game changers: the first is 1Form, the second is Inspect Real Estate.

1Form has been around for quite a few years now, and it stores a full history of all tenant activity making it really fast and easy for a tenant to send all their references, ID, supporting paperwork, approvals and even pet details to managers. It even handles privacy wavers and vehicle registrations. It makes tenant screening and approvals an absolute dream and keeps all paperwork safely backed up and online where it can be accessed anywhere you need – forwarded to owners – retrieved for compliance purposes – etc. It is quite simply the better way of doing this and it blows my mind that anyone would still be using paper based tenancy applications – but for every ten managers I speak to, 9 will ‘get it’, and the tenth will proudly tell me “Nope, I refuse to accept 1Form *old man noises*.”
“What do you mean??” I say, shaking my head in amazement. “How do you not accept it? What do you do when a tenant sends you their application by 1Form??”
“I just ignore it” or “I just tell them I won’t accept it and they have to do it with a pen and paper” they will continue, as if it is normal, sane, rational behaviour to literally disregard a rental application that some poor owner is desperately paying you to process while their rental sits empty. Perhaps these people missed the memo, but paper based tenancy applications are a thing of the past, online applications are how we (and by we, I mean, the entire rental market) do things in 2019. Recognise… embrace… or die.

Inspect Real Estate is another tool that we have strongly wanted to deliver to onsite managers for the past few years. It’s been a huge effort and a lot of negotiations, but last year we were thrilled to finally reach an agreement with our friends at Inspect Real Estate and offer their service to our managers. It allows for the completely automated scheduling of tenant inspections. It text messages availability, tracks when listings come on and off the market, books inspection times, connects services, it even follows up with prospective tenants sending street maps and directions on how to get to the complex for the inspection. It is so good that it even has its own property portal attached which is now the third largest source of rental leads in Australia. It’s a miraculous piece of ingenious software and I was so excited to work with their team to deliver it to our managers. For every ten managers I speak to about Inspect Real Estate, 9 will excitedly recognise that this is literally the future of running inspections and managing tenant enquiries… the remaining 10%, just don’t seem to ‘get it’. “Can you switch this inspector nonsense off please?” they will tersely ask. I shake my head in disbelief “Why?! Why would you not want this incredible service super-charging your inspection process??” to which they will invariably respond with bazaar comments like “Oh I don’t want people making inspection appointments unless I’ve spoken to them on the telephone first” or “I don’t want Inspect Real Estate sending auto-responses to prospective tenants”.

It frustrates me no end that a minority of managers are unable to recognise and embrace game-changing services that are now available to them. Services that we’re expending considerable resources on delivering for no other reason than to make our managers more effective and give our managers a fighting chance against outside letting agents (who are embracing these services in earnest). It frustrates me a great deal – but I am in no way surprised. It has always been this way, 90% of managers will get it, the rest will wither and die. We understand there is a better way to do things, and we will move on… leaving them in history. The only question left to ask is: Will you be in the 90% or the 10%?


  1. There is always good and bad of everything, so not replace. For example, I got 1 applicant (paper based) did’t sign the lease after approval in 3 years compare to 1Form, the frequency is higher. I guess 1Form make easy for tenant so some of them not serious but trying to get several approvals. The other bad thing about 1Form is that prospective tenant should update their detail to current, instead of not touching it for 3 years such as employment and property manager (this is more than 1 third). Therefore, the hint is if it hasn’t been updated 3 years, confirm with the tenant before making calls to employer and property manager. Otherwise just a waste of time.

  2. Great article Nick and wise comments from Vinny.
    Perhaps a: Last Updated Field with date which would provide a time frame of currency for the prospective tenants Information.
    If you are making a new application then your details also need to be updated to reflect your current circumstances.

    Steve Nelson.

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