As business owners and property managers, we are all accustomed to making difficult decisions. Some may just be choosing which team member needs to work on the upcoming holiday weekend, while others fundamentally change how you manage your properties and business. Changing your property management software (PMS), of course, falls into the latter category.
Changing your PMS is a huge undertaking that comes with built-in fears. From accounting worries to fears of losing historical data, long-term relationships, or change itself, there are many reasons why you might find it difficult to peel off that Band–Aid and finally make the switch. But as technology improves and the needs of the modern property manager grow, it becomes more and more crucial to take the leap and face any fears you may have. Fortunately, we’re here to help—so you can stop holding back and provide your company with the PMS it needs. Trust me: upgrading may not be as scary as you think.
Accounting may be the biggest fear in this industry. Making sure you stay “in trust” is making sure you stay in business, and choosing a PMS that doesn’t have compatible accounting can be a death knell. After years of imports, I have seen many clients go live without attempting to replicate and match a month-end close from their previous software—you don’t want any part of that.
Yes, this is a daunting task, but the right PMS team can help you avoid compatibility issues with your current accounting processes. In fact, Streamline includes accounting as a key process for verification prior to taking a client live.
Historically, it has been a struggle to obtain data easily from other software systems. Many property managers often find themselves arguing with PMS providers about who owns their data. To us, it is obvious that the owner is you.
It is equally clear that you may import that data to future software. That’s why we have devised techniques that allow us to import reservations, historical disbursements, users, owners, owner statements, units, and closed work orders to create checks and balances. We work with each client to review any data available, define relationships across the data sets, and rebuild their historical data. We understand that you need to look at prior-year history, occupancy, and pricing so you can make informed decisions on how to run your business.
Don’t ever let a vacation-rental software company hold you hostage.
Many software companies in the property-management industry like to control their clients’ data as well as their websites. While Streamline provides clients with free websites when they purchase our software, we provide an open API that allows them to work with any web-development company they choose. Like your data, you own your domain. We work closely with exceptional website development companies such as BizCor, ICND, Bluetent, and Blizzard. These companies are on the cutting edge of web development, and if you are already working with one of them, you won’t skip a beat.
Long Term Relationships
We are here to stay. Having been in the vacation rental space for over sixteen years and working with Streamline for thirteen of them, this is what I know and love. I am extremely passionate about making my clients successful. This market seems to be changing every day. We boast the best retention rate in the industry because we treat our clients like family.
The fear of changing software is a valid fear. Many larger companies struggle with making software changes because their staffs are so accustomed to their daily routines. Throwing one monkey wrench such as a software change into the cog can bring the whole operation down, or at least slow you down for a few months while everyone gets up to speed.
It all comes down to planning. Defining the right checkpoints throughout the go-live process is critical. These points include:
On-site Evaluations: This allows us to tailor your training to your day-to-day operations.
Imports: For imports to be successful, you need to introduce them at the right time during the training process. You cannot train without having the necessary information in your system.
Accounting Audit: This is a step that is often overlooked, and it is possibly the most important in the transition from one system to another. You have to prove and justify that your accounting actually works and aligns exactly with your current software. You can accomplish this by mapping out your imports so you can simulate the close of a month in both systems. This will allow you to identify any shortcomings and fix them. Until this audit is perfect, you should never jump the gun and go live.
Soft Launch: Tell the company you are going live and ask it to do double entry for a day or two. Use this as a way to identify problems and challenges and address any fears from your team. It is imperative that you have a trainer on-site to help everyone work through their issues.
Go Live: For those of you who remember Love Connection, “We’ll be back in 2 and 2.” You need someone on-site a minimum of two days before and two days after you go live. Making your employees comfortable is a big part of a successful transition.
If you already have a thriving business, a smooth transition to a new, modern system with features to help increase revenues is key. Change is not easy, but if you are well prepared, it can make a world of a difference.
3 Ways PMS Providers Can Be Misleading
Many PMS providers say all they can to get your business—including making impossible promises they will not be able to keep. Don’t be misled by these common “above and beyond” promises.
1) Pretty vs. Functional
It is easy to paint a pretty picture. It is even easier to show a pretty interface. But you must evaluate the underlying technology running your operation. While we understand that “pretty” is important, you should never make that a deciding factor when you choose your software. “Pretty” is not going to make you more bookings. Data is king in this industry. Make sure that all the critical aspects of your day-to-day operation are in place—especially your trust accounting.
2) Access to Historical Information
Don’t be misled by companies telling you that if you leave, you will lose all your historical information. That is just not true, and companies often use it as a tactic to get you to stay. Everyone has the ability to run reports, and these reports can be reverse engineered to rebuild the data in your system. I see this mistake a lot. Companies that have ten to twenty years of data simply leave it behind because they are told it is impossible to bring it with them. Keeping your data is imperative.
3) Stale Technology vs. Companies Focused on Research and Development
I have seen a major shift over the years into stale solutions. These companies scale back on resources—especially development—because they have reached comfortable client bases. As mentioned above, this industry is constantly changing. Don’t be left behind.
Just because you’re ready to make the change to a new PMS doesn’t mean you should believe everything you hear. Do your research and understand what every PMS can and can’t do—your business will thank you for it.