As with many property management companies, the home leasing boom in recent years has been good for CrestCore Realty, LLC. Each month, the Memphis-based owner and third-party manager sequences through several dozen properties, either turning existing inventory or making new acquisitions in need of rehabbing.
Since December 2014, CrestCore’s property management division has nearly doubled in size with an influx of properties coming on line in Memphis, TN, Little Rock, AR, Jackson, MS, and other areas. CrestCore, founded by a pair of real estate investors with one property in 2001, now has about 2,200 units under its umbrella.
With each acquisition or turn, the company strives to leave the “CrestCore Home” mark that general manager Ben Trombly believes helps separate the real estate company from others. Doing so requires plenty of back-office support and cohesion among the 22 employees in the property management division. One employee alone spends her day checking on the 100 or so available properties just to make sure they have the company’s look and feel.
“We have a lady who just drives around and checks vacant properties all day long,” says Trombly, who manages the division. “Because we have 100 of them, it’s a full-time job.”
Obviously, staff plays a huge role in the day-to-day operation. But one key player doesn’t punch a time card. Propertyware has become a valued cog in CrestCore’s wheelhouse, allowing the company to manage current inventory efficiently and take on new properties without missing a beat.
Trombly can only imagine how hectic his day might be without the automated property management system.
Propertyware a catalyst to CrestCore’s growth
With 18 real estate agents working to build and maintain CrestCore’s portfolio, transition is routine around the office. Propertyware’s automated and integrated suite of solutions has enabled Trombly and his team to focus on growing business, improving customer service and keeping properties leased.
“Propertyware has been a catalyst or foundation to our growth because it’s so scalable,” he said. “Every time we’re adding properties, I’m not having to reinvent the wheel because I’m growing so much that I’ve got to change policies or procedures or hire more and more people. We’ve got a system in place now. Everything is automated.”
Trombly says the software helps relieve the worries of accounting, collections, leasing, and maintenance so he can better manage CrestCore’s growth. Emails generated by Propertyware’s real-time communications feature keeps the company’s key stakeholders apprised of vacancies and next steps to help get units leased.
“You’ve got all those things on your plate and it overwhelms you,” he says. “If you can’t manage the properties very well, at some point tenants will quit (leasing) your properties. Yes, I think we’re good at what we do, but Propertyware is a tool that also makes us better.”
Honest, proactive approach helps CrestCore stay ahead of the game
Being able to focus on business development has enabled CrestCore the time to instill greater personal accountability among staff. Each week at meetings, team members talk about an inspirational book that they are reading and how it can help them improve relations not only among themselves but with tenants.
This summer, the staff has been focused on “QBQ! The Question behind the Question: Practicing Personal Accountability at Work and in Life.” John G. Miller’s book focuses on methods for putting personal accountability into daily actions.
Trombly, who joined the company in December, has seen a difference in the staff since discussing the book with sales agents, office staff and maintenance employees and contractors.
“It’s radically changed us,” he said. “Now everyone is kind of chipping in and helping out. It’s pretty cool. It’s really made a difference.”
An honest and proactive approach with staff, residents, and contractors have helped CrestCore stay ahead of the game and manage the growing pains, as well.
“We take it to the next step by practicing what we preach when it comes to personal accountability and trying to take ownership,” he said. “We try to be proactive as opposed to reactive.”
Looking like a CrestCore home
Curb appeal is important at CrestCore Realty. The first order of business when taking on a new property or turning an existing one is to give the home that CrestCore feel.
The yard gets cut and cleaned up, bushes trimmed and debris removed from the roof. Most get the same neutral color or type of paint as other CrestCore properties, which helps control turn costs.
Curb appeal is going to be the first thing that prospective residents look at,” Trombly said. “They’re not going to go in the house if it doesn’t have curb appeal.”
Inside, floors and carpets are cleaned, fixtures are polished and any issues with appliances, HVAC systems and plumbing are addressed. On higher end properties, ceiling fans are added to each room.
When the house goes on the market and the CrestCore Realty sign is planted, the company’s brand goes into action. Until it’s leased, the field marketing specialist puts the home on her daily stop list.
“She makes sure there is no vandalism, makes sure the grass was cut or if it’s not cut to send an email saying it’s not cut,” Trombly said. “We want to keep that look and feel. Our signs are out there. People are going to see us. They know it’s CrestCore Realty.”