Advanced Property Management Associates
Efficiency with WiredContact Enterprise
For more than 20 years, Advanced Property Management has provided premier property management services to residential and commercial owners associations in Northern California. The company offers an array of services, including property management, financial services and landscaping to homeowners associations (HOAs), commercial property owners and business parks.
Unlike other property management companies, Advanced Property Management operates as a virtual company, employing 16 people in various locations throughout the country. This unique approach enables Advanced Property Management to hire the best talent in finance, accounting, customer service and property management no matter where the employees reside.
According to Jay Spangenberg, president of Advanced Property Management, the company’s structure means that technology plays a vital role in its operations. “Being a virtual company enables us to give exceptional service to our clients,” he said. “But it also requires that we use best-in-class technologies to help us function efficiently and effectively.”
In the 1990s, Advanced Property Management began using ACT! for their contact management needs. As a desktop-based solution, it required everyone to synchronize their databases each night, which meant that the information in the database was immediately out-of-date. “Because we are a virtual company, having immediate access to current information is critical,” said Spangenberg. “Unfortunately, it simply wasn’t possible with a PC-based solution at that time.”
In 2003, Advanced Property Management moved to WiredContact for ACT!, a web-based system with ACT! as the backend database. With this solution, users had instant access to real-time information, which was a significant improvement. In addition, WiredContact for ACT! offered customization capabilities that allowed Advanced Property Management to add functionality to support their business.
Over time, Advanced Property Management began looking for ways to simplify its infrastructure. “At any given time, we were managing our accounting database, our WiredContact database, and numerous client databases we accessed through their web sites,” said Spangenberg. “We began searching for an industry-specific application service provider that would enable us to merge our contact database with our client databases.”
Over a two-year period, Spangenberg and his team evaluated every major property management software solution available. Although some of the systems offered property management-specific features, none offered the functionality that Advanced Property Management had built into WiredContact for ACT!.
For example, Spangenberg had designed a “corporate file drawer” that allowed Advanced Property Management to keep copies of important documents, contracts and work orders at the “corporate” (or association) level rather than at an individual contact level. None of the solutions that Spangenberg’s team evaluated offered a similar structure. And while many solutions offered web site integration, they required customers to use an existing template which did not meet Advanced Property Management’s needs.
In addition to property management systems, the team looked at other solutions including SalesForce.com and Citrix. The cost for these systems proved to be prohibitive for the small company, while also providing functionality that the company did not need.
“After two years of looking at more than a dozen systems, we had developed a very clear vision of what we wanted,” said Spangenberg. “When we learned that WiredContact Enterprise was available, we shared our scope of service with the team at WiredContact. We were thrilled when they told us they could meet all our requirements while staying within our budget. That made the decision to migrate to WiredContact Enterprise a no-brainer.” Together, the two companies created a phased approach to designing and implementing the customization that Advanced Property Management required.
Advanced Property Management upgraded to WiredContact Enterprise in the fall of 2008. WiredContact Enterprise is a flexible, affordable CRM web-based solution that offers powerful capabilities previously exclusive to higher-end, more expensive solutions. In addition, WiredContact Enterprise is built on an open architecture, making it easy to customize and integrate with other databases.
For Advanced Property Management, the first phase of customization was to centralize information internally for real-time service and tracking. “We have many categories of contacts in our database, including HOA boards of directors, individual homeowners, commercial property owners, commercial tenants and vendors of all types,” Spangenberg explained. “We can log, track and report on information for all these entities in WiredContact Enterprise. For example, all vendors we work with must have current insurance, so we keep copies of their insurance documentation in WiredContact where everyone has instant access to it. We can also store notes and even photos, so when a plumber makes a pipe repair, he can send us a picture from his phone and we can attach it to the appropriate records as proof that the job was completed.”
Once internal information was centralized, the team began working on the second phase of customization, which involved developing a self-service system for initiating and tracking work orders and related activities. “Our business traditionally involves a lot of phone calls and emails between clients, vendors and staff, which eats up a lot of time and resources,” said Spangenberg. “Our online work order system is designed to eliminate the majority of this back and forth. Instead, a client can enter a request online from any computer, and the system will automatically notify us. We can then forward the request to a vendor and track completion of the work online.”
Future customization plans include development of a vendor portal, which would enable Advanced Property Management to electronically assign, monitor and close work orders. “This is the holy grail of property management,” said Spangenberg. “We’ll be able to streamline communications, significantly reduce paperwork reproduction and delivery costs, and provide more responsive customer service. It’s a triple win – for us, our customers and our vendors.”
The Advanced Property Management team also appreciates WiredContact Enterprise’s powerful reporting capabilities. “Today, we can easily run reports on contacts, inspections, owners and vendors – anything in our database,” he said. “What’s more, when the vendor interface to our work order system is completed, we’ll be able to reduce many pages of emails, notes and communications to a simple line item on a status report.”
According to Spangenberg, WiredContact Enterprise has delivered tremendous value to the company from a cost standpoint. “Based on my years of researching other systems, I estimate that if we’d built a similar system ourselves, we’d have easily spent five times what we’ve invested with WiredContact,” he said.
The flexibility and open architecture of WiredContact Enterprise has enabled Advanced Property Management to plug in functionality from various environments, bringing new levels of productivity and efficiency to the organization. “We finally have an application that enables us to work collaboratively with our clients and vendors, regardless of the fact that we’re a virtual organization,” he said. “We are very excited about how the functionality is coming to fruition, and we look forward to taking even greater advantage of WiredContact Enterprise’s powerful capabilities.”