Checklist software is an important tool to create profit opportunities for asset managers
Advantages of Checklist Software
The advantages of using checklist software as opposed to a clipboard checklist are numerous.
The first advantage is speed. With checklist software, you can set up default answers so that you don’t have to actively answer every question. You can set up defaults quickly so that you’re not writing the same response all the time — you can just bang through an inspection.
Second, accuracy. With a paper inspection, 10 different people might answer basic inspection questions in 10 different ways. Inspection software standardizes the available answers to limit those options.
With a software tool, everyone describes a carpet that needs to be replaced in the same way, for example, and inspectors will call stainless steel appliances ‘stainless steel’ and not ‘silver’. That consistent data makes the flow of information much more effective and allows you to use the inspection data for decisions confidently.
Third, if you’re using a paper checklist, you can’t do anything with that data unless you type it into Excel, which is essentially doing the work twice. Checklist software, in contrast, easily captures all that data so you can use it afterward.
Comparing Checklist Software Tools
Not all checklist software is the same. Some checklist software supports the inspection, and you can print out the results, but that’s pretty much it.
With software like Leonardo247, you can search through that data as soon as an inspection is complete. Let’s say that, out of 100 inspections, you want to find the ones with asbestos in the ceiling. You can run a query for that. Or if you want to find out how much you’ll have to spend on replacing old or defective refrigerators, you can run those kinds of analyses and get insights that go deeper than a regular checklist.
Profit Opportunities with the Right Inspection Checklist Tool
Looking deeply into your data is where you’ll find profit opportunities too. When you’re acquiring a property, for example, if you can examine the data you collect from a digital inspection, you can identify trends that will help add value to the asset later on.
Appliances & Finishes
Let’s say that you noted a number of units with aging appliances or aging finishes. You know that if you upgrade those units, you can probably achieve a certain lift on your rent. Oftentimes, the people selling the property haven’t kept track. They don’t know which units have been upgraded and which haven’t.
You can unlock value in that property by identifying units that are under-market because the finishes haven’t been upgraded. And with $1,000 in upgrades, you’ll be able to raise rents by $150 a month.
This is the key to many acquisition strategies. But you can’t do that effectively If you’re working from a clipboard. It’s just not possible.
The condition of balconies is one of the more insidious deferred maintenance items in a lot of apartments. And it’s really hard to define at times because supervisors don’t all look for the same things when they look at balconies. Or they do the inspection but the information isn’t captured anywhere, so it’s not rolled up to the people that need to see it.
How Checklist Software Makes Effective Inspections Easier
Meticulous and methodical inspections can really only happen effectively within the confines of a checklist inspection application like Leonardo247 for a number of reasons.
First, if you’re using inspection software, all of your inspectors will be looking for the same things. Everyone will perform the inspection and record the results in the same way.
Second, because the data is captured by a centralized application, it’s automatically available as a report. You can filter for information like the number of rusty bolts, or how often a clip that has been recalled is in use throughout your portfolio.
We have a client who launched this process across their entire portfolio. And they uncovered a number of serious defects for the first time that they had no prior knowledge of. Balconies that, in some cases, were in imminent danger of collapsing. Without a tool like Leonardo247 in place, they had never been able to mount a cohesive campaign to inspect everything.
Uncovering risk and establishing a plan to remediate it is a real game-changer for large portfolio operators. It’s one thing to inspect a couple of properties yourself, but when you have 10 or 20 or 50 or 100 properties, you need to be able to rely on others to do that.
And if you want to do it in a consistent way, you need an industry-specific property inspection tool like Leonardo247.
Connecting Asset Managers and Property Operators
I was the director of asset management for Inco, the largest multifamily real estate investment trust in the country at the time, before we started Leonardo247. I sat on the asset manager side of the table as a representative of the owner.
There’s a tension that can exist between asset managers and on-site operators. Part of that unspoken tension is the subtle suspicion that the on-site management teams aren’t upholding their commitments and implementing the policies and procedures.
At the beginning of a relationship, third-party managers are more likely to follow up with their owners and their clients about completing these tasks consistently. It doesn’t mean that it’s not happening later, of course, but without that transparency, that subtle suspicion is there.
How does that get cured through a system like Leonardo247? If you have a platform like Leo in place, you can conduct, for example, regional manager inspections that roll up to one portfolio-wide scorecard. And you can provide that to an owner or an asset manager and show how you’re staying accountable for the things that are important. You can also provide an action plan and call out areas that need to be improved.
Those exchanges between operators and owners or asset managers engender so much trust that that fundamental tension starts to dissipate.
Sharing Inspection Data for Proactive Updates
Checklist software makes sure that the right things are happening consistently, and at the right time, across the board. It also provides the results of those inspections and those checklists as part of your monthly report.
For example, the results of a lighting inspection across an entire owner’s portfolio can be rolled into one report. They can see, for example, all of the locations where lights in the parking lot were out and the plan to replace them. You can also show in the upcoming budget how you’ll get ahead of the problem. Those interactions absolutely delight asset managers.
You can also track minutia. You can analyze, for example, where your site teams spent their days. What did they do outside of leasing, outside of screening applicants? What else did they do to be a good steward of that asset?
If you can provide that kind of visibility to an owner or an asset manager, you’ll create a bond of trust. They’ll know that when you say you’re doing everything you’re supposed to be doing, you can demonstrate that.
Highlighting Risk Mitigation Procedures with Checklist Software
Again, having been on the owner and asset manager side of the table, they don’t always have a good grasp of what it takes to operate a property. Many of them have never been in the trenches operating a property on their own.
By perusing a Leonardo247 report, for example, owners will see the completed risk mitigation procedures. They’ll see all the times you walked the property and looked for trip hazards, how you monitored the parking lot for asphalt repairs, and how you inspected the roofs and looked for signs of leakage. You can show that you looked at the balconies for signs of dry rot.
When you’re consistently providing that kind of visibility to owners and asset managers, the conversation changes. You stop talking about minutia. You don’t have to talk about what you did that day.
The asset managers and owners know that you’re doing the important behind-the-scenes things, and together, you can focus on the stuff that makes money. You can talk about marketing, or leasing, or occupancy. You talk about where rent should be because they know you’ve got everything else covered. And Leonardo247 can provide that kind of assured dynamic between an owner and an operator.