Future-Proofing your HMO is all about systems and processes that allow you to maximise your profits and minimize your costs while still providing excellent service and value to your customers – your tenants.
There are the three main parts of this process which are:
- Maintaining Customers
- Management of the HMO
- Maintenance of the HMO
Communicate with tenants regularly. Simple steps like a monthly group email (try mailchimp.com) lets your tenants know that you care about the quality of their experience in the property. It’s a great, easy-to-use automatic email system that allows you to schedule emails in advance. You can gently cover topics that might become issues or risks to the overall smooth-running of the house by introducing the topic and then saying something about it in the main body of the email. We have found this reduces rather than raises queries, as tenants then understand procedures and policies more clearly and also what kind of behaviour is expected of them!
Using a telephone answering service is invaluable as it allows all calls to be answered and dealt with professionally while freeing up your time to attend to other aspects of the business. I have found that tenants like having ONE number to call and don’t cope well if you give them a variety of different numbers to call depending on the severity of the issue.
Management of the HMO
Keys can become a major headache for a landlord (or agent) if you don’t have a clear system for managing and tracking them. If you don’t want to go to the expense of installing a masterkey system (although I would heartily recommend it particularly if you wish to scale up your business), you need to develop a system using a spreadsheet and large cabinet! Code each keyring so that you know which door the key opens in each property, always have at least one copy made and track them as they leave and enter your office!
Compile a list of tradesmen and maintenance people who you can work with to undertake the routine and emergency work that will no doubt be required from time to time, no matter how well you have Finished It! Always have a preferred supplier and a back-up for the times when your original tradesperson isn’t available. You may wish to set up a retainer or a regular payment to maintain the flow of availability. There are companies that offer landlord emergency cover for a small monthly charge and ensure an immediate emergency response to any problems in the property.
Maximising your profits
Ensure you are collecting rents on time and regularly checking them. Even a few days of late payments per month will make all the difference to your cash flow.
Keep a sharp eye on your outgoings – and take time to identify how you can reduce your bills on a regular basis. Reducing bills, even by 5-10% per annum will compound your cash flow and profits. If bills are rising fast you need to investigate and identify why. Keep an eye on new technological developments in the HMO industry. Whether it is a new piece of software that can help notify you of late rent payments, or an app that can control your heating remotely – use technology to systemise your business, thus saving you time and money.
And finally, enjoy your investment! You have worked seriously hard to create a property that will serve you now and for years to come, so look after it and it will look after you!