Key personnel hired? Check. Business model finalised? Check. Property Management System (PMS) chosen? Wait.
Selecting the right PMS is a crucial step for coliving, serviced apartment and build-to-rent businesses, but far too many operators dive in too fast and get their fingers burned. From scalability and scope to functions and features, PMS come in all shapes and sizes and operators should follow this 10-step checklist to ensure they avoid the pitfalls and gain the windfalls.
- Write a bespoke Request for Proposals (RfP) - Before kickstarting a PMS search, operators should work out their specific tech needs. Do you need connections with OTAs? Is dynamic pricing key to your model? What about remote check-in and keyless rooms? Establishing what you need at the outset and writing a bespoke RfP will not only filter potential PMS, but also help you assess whether applicants tick all your boxes.
- Use clear terminology in the RfP - Let’s say you’re looking for a PMS that enables long-stay bookings. What you need is a daily, weekly and monthly availability calendar, a sliding price scale for duration of stay, automatic 28 day+ discounts linked to reduced VAT and the ability to book any unit for seven days or seven months (among other things). Without clarification, you’ll get a PMS that can only take reservations for 365 days claiming to offer long-stay capability.
- Verify the product list - A PMS that offers all your product needs in one platform enhances management efficiencies and cuts costs. From automated billing and dashboard reporting to embedded channel management and direct booking, operators should look for a system that provides a broad range of integrations and customisable features covering all parts of a property management business.
- Ask for proof - Whether it’s a fancy prospectus, flashy website or VC-backed sales guru, operators should always ask for proof of the products offered. How? Challenge the PMS to show you what they say they can do with videos, live demonstrations and virtual tours (not screenshots).
- Check references - Double down on the verification by seeking external references. From Googling reviews from other operators to asking for case studies of current clients (who you should contact for a chat), innovative living companies should listen to first-hand experience of how a system works before signing on the dotted line.
- Test scalability - PMS are not stationary technology solutions that you buy, set and forget. They’re adaptable, customisable, ever-evolving tech partners that grow with you and help you scale. From creating bespoke client features and responding to market demands, operators should find a system that doesn’t sit still. Test this by asking how many new features have been developed in the last six months or what new solutions are in the pipeline.
- Assess responsiveness - A PMS is more service than product and operators should make sure a PMS partner delivers highly-responsive customer support. For example, ask for examples of recent bug fixes and tech tweaks - were they reactive or proactive, how long did they take to repair, was the client satisfied?
- Ensure ease of use - The interface may be dazzling, the references glowing and the list of features never-ending, but is it simple to use? Not all operators are tech wizards (and neither are guests), so innovative living companies should choose an easy-to-use PMS to ensure they and their guests can can get the most out of it, such as sending out bespoke quotes in under 60 seconds or guests accessing all the information about their stay - check-in, payments, housekeeping etc - from one mobile app.
- Shop around - Yes, you’re excited about launching, but patience is a virtue for a reason. Choosing the right PMS is key to the development of your business, so take the time to to complete a thorough tender process and speak to as many applicants as possible (even if the first one seems perfect). Ideally, operators should leave at least six months for the PMS search and then six months for testing pre-launch.
- Agree KPIs - Woohoo. You’ve found the perfect match. A fully customisable, responsive PMS jam-packed with features and integrations that will help you maximise sales, enhance management efficiency, boost guest experience and scale with ease (ahem, like res:harmonics). As a final step, make sure you establish KPIs with the PMS so you can monitor progress and grow together.
PMS chosen? Check.