When apartment residents end their lease and vacate the unit, the complex usually only has a few days to clean and make repairs before the next resident moves in. Often, the property manager must contact and coordinate with multiple vendors to attend to the needs of these open units on a tight deadline.
Any delays, which can stem from imperfect availability and reliability of vendors, make the whole process more difficult. The property manager needs to fill those units quickly as they can or risk losing revenue.
Ryan McMillan saw this while working as an on-site manager at an apartment complex. He found the industry to be exceedingly analog — mainly built on friend-of-a-friend vendor relationships, phone calls, and endless manual coordination. Most of the technology advancements were focused on the resident side, not on the property manager.
“Almost nothing was focused on the day-to-day operations that are required to turn over units. That all adds up to poor customer service ,” says Kite.
“We’ve built a way for apartment communities to access all of those services through a single point of contact with the use of technology, to make their lives easier.”
An average 250-unit apartment community will flip a little over half of their units on an annual basis. With Rent Ready, Kite says that managers can reduce overhead by 75 percent.
When an apartment is vacated, the property manager contacts Rent Ready with the repairs needed, ranging from handyman tasks to refinishing counters, and their deadline. This can be done online, via email or by phone. The startup’s operations team matches up the unit’s tasks with Rent Ready’s service pros and schedules everything.
The Rent Ready platform takes all of the burden off the property manager once they schedule their requests. To simplify the entire experience, the team has not even included a customer-facing dashboard — Kite says some managers don’t own a smartphone.
Instead, they receive email notifications with scheduling and completed work reports.
“The apartment community industry in general is not a very technology-permeated industry. We’re trying to bring technology to an industry that’s essentially been dominated by smaller local interactions to provide a more consistent experience,” says Kite.
Rent Ready sees the service professionals as their second customer, offering them weekly pay, easy access to job assignments via their smartphone, and the freedom to create their own schedule.
In four years, Rent Ready has been able to scale past its original hub in Charlotte, North Carolina to Raleigh/Durham and Atlanta. Kite says they’ve relied on lean teams in new cities while keeping their operations center centralized in Charlotte.
“This is a very relationship-focused industry. It’s very important for us to remain in front of all of the relationships that we have with both the communities and then the actual people who work in those communities,” says Kite.
The team has remained bootstrapped to date, but Kite says that they might consider taking investment in the near future.
“[If we raise investment], we’re going to continue to build our technology team in order to stay in front of the need to scale,” says Kite.