How to Use an Open API in Single-Family Property Management
By: Laurie Mega
No matter how hard a property management software solution tries, it can rarely solve every single pain point for every single property manager out of the box. There are always workarounds to capture information left out of the system, or to set up workflows unique to your business.
This is particularly true for single-family property managers, who may be dealing with multiple owners of one-off properties, or HOAs with unique rules and regulations.
Even when a software solution is as customizable as Propertyware, there still may be a few aspects of your business you’re still using other programs to run.
But what if you could pull information from those programs into your property management software, or even push information out to spreadsheets or other programs?
If your property management software features an open API (like Propertyware), that’s exactly what you can do. It’s customization on top of customization. And here’s how it can make you a more efficient and more profitable property management business.
And if you really want to do a deep dive into open API’s check out our guide: Your Business, Your Rules.
What Is an Open API?
API stands for application programming interface. It’s a set of rules that determine how one program can communicate and interact with other systems and applications. When a property management software solution includes an open API, it allows you to create a two-way data connection with other programs.
Think of an API as a waiter in a restaurant. The customer (outside app) can request specific data from the kitchen (the property management software) off of the menu. The waiter is the one that then fulfills the request and serves up the data. It’s also important to note that you’ll also need a middleware solution that sits between both pieces of software to connect and route the data as you intend.
Most property management software solutions allow only a one-way data connection, which means you can pull data out of the system, but not put it in.
With Propertyware, however, you can set up that two-way exchange, allowing you to customize your processes even further. With it, you can connect just about anything, including
- Enterprise accounting software
- CRM programs
- Digital marketing tools
- Outside ticketing systems
- Vendor software
There’s no limit to the possibilities.
How Can an Open API Help Me?
There are myriad ways to harness the power of an open API for your property management business. Because, really, all you’re doing is getting your software solution and your other apps and spreadsheets in the same room to talk. What they talk about is up to you—based on what the open API allows.
Here are just a few ways some property managers have used an open API to streamline processes, improve efficiency, cut costs, and increase revenue.
Manage Vendors Across Your Business
You may have preferred vendors for all of your properties. But if your properties are located across cities, counties, or even states, you probably have a mixed bag of local vendors serving the needs of your tenants.
Allowing vendors to integrate their digital solutions with yours makes it a lot easier to track and manage tasks, projects, and billing. Vendors can see and respond to work orders, enter labor times, and submit invoices, all of which will be pulled into your property management tool or “system of record.”
Turning Your Property Management Tool Into Your System of Record
Most apps come with a set of analytics that help you track processes, forecast budgets, and make informed decisions for your business. For example, digital marketing tools will show you how many people viewed and clicked on a post. Meanwhile, you may have a communication app for employees that gives you analytics on engagement.
Meanwhile, billing, shipping, and service information are all saved in those multiple apps, as well.
Logging into all those accounts and keeping all those metrics, dates, and payments straight is a time suck, either for you or for someone on your team. By integrating your apps into one tool, you can keep track of everything in one place, turning your property management tool into a more complete system of record that makes it easy to view and report important information.
For example, Propertyware can integrate with Hubspot for marketing, as well as with services such as Second Nature, a filter subscription service for HVAC and refrigerators. Propertyware can store subscription dates, payments, and shipping confirmations, making it easy for property managers to track filter replacement on each of their properties.
For more on API integration, check out our guide: The Power of a Customizable and Open Property Management System.
Customize Processes for Efficiency and Profitability
Most property management software solutions already allow you to automate much of the business of being a property manager. Online billing and payments allow tenants to complete all of their transactions online. Listing and syndication become a simple matter of uploading a listing and pushing a button to get it out to several channels. Lead tracking all happens within the system, too.
But for automated processes outside the system, for digital marketing or even HOA meetings, working through an open API can cut down on time, and even free up staff for other tasks.
One property manager pulled all of their outside apps. They can now log into Propertyware to access Hubspot for their CRM, Property Meld for their inspections, and Renter Inc. for their renter verifications.
By using the API, they have reduced staffing costs. For example, inspections can now be run by one person instead of three.
Consolidated Communications Across Your Company
Property managers can use an open API to consolidate task management and communication internally, as well.
Say you’re using Zendesk for calls and live chats with residents and owners. You can pull all of the call logs and chats into your property management software to keep a record of all interactions and help improve customer service.
For our property manager’s full story, check out our guide: 6 Business Goals Attained Through Customization.
The Power of an Open API Coupled with Customizable Property Management Software
Not all property management tools are built the same. Many don’t have open API capabilities. Some don’t even allow you to customize within their tool.
Since no two property management companies (and no two properties, for that matter) are alike, using an out-of-the-box solution is problematic. It forces property managers to come up with work-arounds. They may look to other software solutions, or even to (gasp) spreadsheets. That can create redundancies in work or risky data-entry situations.
Propertyware, on the other hand, allows property managers to customize their own tool and take advantage of their open API.
If you already use Propertyware, you know how flexible it is. In our customization guide, we talked to property managers who had improved efficiency, reduced staff, and even added revenue streams. Here are just a few examples:
- One property manager set up custom workflows for every process in her business. Staff are alerted of upcoming events in each workflow through a color-coded system: green for on time, yellow for upcoming, and red for overdue.
- Another property manager added custom fields to track pets at each property. Pet fees and penalty fees could then be applied as necessary.
- Property managers have also set up custom tracking for leases and applications, allowing them to split tasks off to overseas staff. One property manager has even moved his entire staff overseas by setting up custom tracking reports.
With the ability to customize so much, is there still room for an open API?
Once you are getting everything you can out of Propertyware, you can take it even further to cover tasks property management tools don’t even cover. Track and forecast your marketing strategy without having to log into your digital marketing apps. Budget for the upcoming year by looking at numbers from your accounting software and your rental rates at the same time.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. The possibilities are endless. It’s up to you to determine your business’s goals and then ask “How can customization and an open API help me reach those goals?”