Brand EditorialEPM

Efficiency In The Cloud: Maria Cignarella

Maria CignarellaMaria Cignarella’s childhood fascination with property has become a lifelong passion for the real estate industry, fuelling her desire to provide the highest level of service to her clients. Here she explains her business model and how she goes about providing that top quality service.

From as far back as she can remember, property has always been a source of excitement and interest for Maria Cignarella, Principal of MARCS Property in Bella Vista.

“It’s always been in me, to be honest,” Maria says. “Even as a young girl, I used to look at the real estate pages in the newspaper. I remember the excitement I felt flicking through the pages, waiting to see what was on the next page.”

It was a high school careers day that really set Maria on her path to success. “Lots of people from local businesses were there,” she recalls. “There was a lady from LJ Hooker. I remember just being in awe of her – what she was talking about, how much she knew and just her presence. I was captivated. It really stayed with me.”

After finishing high school, Maria’s parents encouraged her to take up a government traineeship. “It was with the Attorney-General’s department and was a great experience. For a young girl fresh out of school, it was an amazing opportunity. But my heart wasn’t in it. I wanted to work in real estate.

“So as soon as I finished the traineeship, I found a job in real estate. I started in real estate when I was 18 years old and went on to work for the same company for 22 years.”

After just over two decades in the business, in 2013 Maria knew it was time to go it alone. “A lot of my clients were encouraging me to start my own business,” she says. “It was scary, but after a lot of thought I said to myself, ‘Why not just give it a go?’”

Maria gave herself six months to get her real estate business off the ground. “I started out working from home. I managed to generate cash flow right away, so I didn’t have to resort to dipping into my savings. Two and a half years on, I haven’t looked back. I absolutely love it.

“I have a business that I’m extremely proud of; one that I want to continue to build into the future.”

For Maria, providing her clients with the highest level of service is the foundation of her company. “I’m the face of my business,” she says emphatically. “Over the years I’ve found that the biggest complaint you get from landlords is they don’t know who they’re dealing with. One day they’re dealing with X, the next day they’re talking to Y and then a few days later, Z is the one at the other end of the phone.

“I’m committed to being the main point of communication for my clients. Having said that, I obviously need assistance. There are lots of things like condition reports and periodic inspections that need to be done, and I can’t do it all myself. So I contract with a specialist company to provide these services.”

Contracting certain property management activities to a third-party provider means Maria is pedantic about having the right systems and procedures in place to ensure all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed. And having the right software in place is a must.

“Because of my business model, having a cloud-based solution is essential,” Maria explains. “PropertyTree is awesome. All the right people can access the information they need, when they need it. It’s so convenient.

“These days you just can’t afford to be reliant upon software that is desktop based. On-the-spot access when you’re out and about is a must. From taking a deposit and receipting it immediately to being able to access client records while you’re with them, PropertyTree makes everything easy.

“Once you set the system up, everything is automated. Obviously I like to keep on top of things myself, but it’s great peace of mind to know that PropertyTree automates the important things. It saves a lot of time.”

Maria has found the ability to set up alerts and automate tasks in PropertyTree to be particularly useful in relation to the commercial properties she manages.

“I set alerts for things like insurance renewals, fire safety inspections and more. It means I can really personalise the service I provide to my commercial clients and stay on top of everything that is relevant to the property,” she explains.

“And one thing I really like is being able to automate the emailing of rental tax invoices to my commercial tenants. It’s something that we’re required to do, but PropertyTree makes it all so simple and straightforward by automating it.

“My greatest desire is to do a really good job for my clients,” Maria says. “I genuinely want to provide high quality service. I’m proud to say that my landlords are very, very happy. The feedback I get from my clients is just so positive – it really gives me the encouragement to keep moving forward.”

Developed by Rockend, PropertyTree is Australia and New Zealand’s first cloud-based property management solution. You can experience firsthand with a free demonstration by calling 1300 778 733.

Background photo credit: incredibleguy via / CC BY

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Sarah Dawson

Sarah Dawson is the Chief Customer Officer at PropertyMe.