Design Tenets: Who’s the Boss?

Can you tell me about the tenant portal?

People solve problems they know. Hundreds of proptech companies are started by fresh graduates. Graduates were all once tenants who had subpar experiences. So graduates aim to create a better tenant experience. “If tenants are happier, they’ll be willing to pay higher rent. Happy tenants will want to stay, increasing retention. Happier tenants, more money! Management will want to implement these tools to increase revenue. QED.” Reality is different.

The people paying for software are the owners. Yes, their revenue comes from tenants. So from a transitory perspective, tenants are customers as well. But tenants are not the ones dealing with the operational complexity of property management. Tenants don’t make renting decisions based upon management workflow tools nor based upon their tenant portal. When one decides to rent a place, there are dozens of questions.

Tenants make decisions based on the location, property, unit/suite layout, surrounding area, amenities, etc. Tenants don’t know about their tenant portal until they agree to sign a lease. Once the tenant commits, even if the software is awful and annoying, the tenant continues with the process. It’s a lot of work to find a place. Tenants will jump through hoops to get a lease signed.

At the end of the day, what matters most is what the owners want. The owners first need their accounting in order. Owners need the reports necessary to understand their business, get loans, and raise capital. If accounting is off, it messes up taxes, which could lead to fines and other penalties. Everything beyond accounting is a nice to have.

When agreeing to rent a unit, few make a decision based on what platform they use to pay rent. Nor do they do it based on what task management or accounting system their property manager uses on the back-end. Tenants don’t make decisions based on tenant reward points either. It’s not what tenants care about. More sophisticated tenants may care about management and management’s reputation. Even though software is involved in operations of the property, tenant decisions are not made based on software.

There’s a market on the high-end for super elevated tenant experiences. This may involve software. Ender creates a better tenant experience, but when designing, there are always trade offs. One of our design tenets is to prioritize the owner/manager experience over the tenant experience.

If we can save the owner 10 mins or save the tenant 10 mins, we prioritize the owner.