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Console Cloud Has Arrived

In the past six months Console has gone from concept to the first client in the cloud.

In February we spoke to Console Group CEO Tim Molloy about the new beginning for Console and the goal of having their first client on the new platform by 31 March. Having successfully achieved this milestone, we caught up with Tim again recently to find out what exciting things we can expect from Console in the coming months.

With the first significant milestone achieved, the question everyone is now asking is – When can I get onto Console Cloud too?
Our first client went live exactly as we said they would and they’ve been very, very happy. We’re learning along the way, adjusting what is delivered next and that’s exactly why we chose to go out to market the way we’re doing. The uptime and performance have been 100 per cent during the first five weeks of operation and the client is transacting a real property management operation on that platform today.

The next few phases in the Console Cloud journey will involve progressively migrating existing Console Gateway clients onto the platform by invitation only. This quarter our focus is on delivering additional capabilities in the platform to support clients with fewer than 100 properties under management. New capability is now being added to the Console Cloud platform every few days. In the third and fourth quarters this year we will be looking to start bringing on medium-sized agencies, with the capability to support larger agencies from early 2018.

Again, we have intentionally taken a phased approach to enable us to identify clients that match specific criteria. It’s an exciting process and we have a very strong bias to action which is delivering tangible results for us and our Console clients.

Cloud-based solutions are certainly not a new concept and there are, of course, a number of competitor products already on the market. What is it about Console Cloud that makes it different to the solutions that are already available?
One thing we want our existing and prospective clients to understand is that we have not just lifted the features from our existing server-based solution and put them on a cloud platform. Sure, our clients will find all the usual capability around trust accounting, rental receipting, and so on. But we’re solving for a very different business environment for today’s property managers than the environment Console solved for back in 1992.

We started from scratch with the development of our cloud solution. We’re partnering with our clients at every stage of the development process to search for and understand the problems, figure out the outcome they need for their business and then build a software solution that meets those needs.

Agency principals and property managers are always looking for ways to build and manage bigger, more profitable rent rolls. What role do you see Console playing in helping them achieve that result?
We are building a platform for today’s complex property management world and ensuring the platform is capable of adjusting to meet their needs in the future.

There are a number of core drivers in the real estate industry that make it somewhat unique.

Some of those drivers are:

  • The trust account – which every agency needs to function
  • The rent roll – which many start-ups use to get going and every principal needs to be profitable to fund their retirement or next phase in business
  • The software solution that manages both the rent roll and the trust account
  • A property management world populated by digital natives who expect to be serviced on their device

“The transition from gateway to cloud has been extremely well managed. Cloud is very intuitive, easy to use, and has streamlined our current business processes too.” Ted and Cheryl Van Fleet, Mayfair Residences Brisbane.

By virtue of this relationship and the interdependencies of all of these drivers, Console is at the core of every real estate agency business. Rather than having three, six and nine-month conversations with our clients, we’re engaging in three, six and nine-year conversations that focus on partnering for business growth and profitability.

We want to see more properties under management with greater efficiency and service provision to every player in the property management mix – principals, property managers, landlords, tenants and suppliers. Our focus is on reducing the friction points in every part of the property management interaction process so everyone has a better quality experience and every transaction is effortless. Software that seamlessly integrates with best practice business processes is how Console will deliver this to market.

What do you see as the biggest opportunity in the property management market at present?
Australians have a long-term love affair with property. For the post-war generation, the great Australian dream was to own property. Thanks to the economic growth and prosperity the new great Australian dream is to own your own property portfolio.

Add to that the high volume of new stock hitting the market and we are entering a time in Australia’s economic history where there will be more properties under management than ever before, and the agencies that can provide property investors with certainty and value for money will take the majority market share.

Property investors want certainty on their rental return, certainty on their rental income payments, certainty that their investment is being looked after, and certainty that they are paying the best price for the best suppliers to keep their investment well maintained. Much of the process to deliver this certainly relies heavily on the property manager being efficient, organised, proactive and as shrewd as the investor themselves when managing their property. The Console platform will enable property managers to do an even better job, more effectively, in less time by taking out a lot of the current manual processes and replacing them with automated software capability – freeing them up to do what really matters – which is get the best result for the landlord.

Disruption is a real buzzword across many business sectors. How do see the real estate industry being ‘disrupted’ and what do you think could change this sector in the next few years?
Property management is still a heavily paper-based industry due to the trust accounting mechanism and the compliance requirements that go with that. Compared with other industries that also have a compliance element like insurance, banking, and transport – the property management industry is still way behind in terms of integrating technology into the day to day business practices to deliver greater efficiencies.

We are a mobile society. We use our mobile device to do things on the go all the time – more importantly at a time that is convenient to us. In the banking industry it started with ATMs and now you can do everything via an app and even use a mobile device to pay at point of sale – you don’t need a card anymore. In the property industry, we often still fill out paper-based forms to set up a tenancy agreement and in a lot of cases the only way we can set up direct debit rental repayments is through your bank, not your real estate agency.

The biggest opportunity we see for our industry is the integration of customer-centric interfaces that are fully integrated and span across devices, with an intelligence that knows who the individual is, remembers their preferences and facilitates transactions that makes their life easier.

The rental property sector of the real estate industry currently doesn’t make it easy for people to transact in the property ecosystem. As we saw with Uber, if you can provide the customer with a better, easier, more enjoyable experience and value for money they will embrace that better way of working.

We’re now seeing a bunch of new players entering the real estate market in Australia – companies like Hello Real Estate – who are looking to exploit the ‘happy dissatisfaction’ that people feel when they pay a sales agent to sell their home for them but don’t feel like they get good value for money. Likewise in the rental side of the industry, Console is looking to improve the value perception that a landlord has of the property manager who manages their investment for them.

Our job is to make life easy for our clients – property managers – so that they can make life easier for their clients.

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Samantha McLean

Samantha McLean is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of Elite Agent and Host of the Elevate Podcast.