This post was originally featured on Bigger Pockets.

This is the fourth part of a series of automation projects we’ve done in 2017 for our buy-and-hold real estate business.  This post will show you how we’ve automated some of the tedious parts of converting a potential tenant to a current tenant.

We look at the tenant sales cycle in several stages:  initial inquiry / guest card, rental application, approved applicants, and current tenants.

Initial Inquiry / Guest Card

A potential tenant in this stage has probably come across one of our ads and reached out to us about an available home.  We answer any questions they might have and try to arrange a showing of the home.

We have two goals at this stage:  one is that the potential tenant will complete an application and the other is that he will sign up for one of our lists (email, text, and/or Facebook) to stay updated with newly available homes.

When potential tenants submit a guest card (simple inquiry through Zillow, for example, that gives the name, phone, and email of the person and states that he/she is interested in our home at 123 Main St), they receive an automated email and text message stating that we’ve received their guest card and will reach out to them soon.  In the meantime, they can get the rental application out of the way by visiting this link.

At times, we’ve added the phone numbers and email addresses automatically from our guest cards into our texting and email lists, respectively, on a weekly basis.  I’ve had an ethical dilemma about this.  When we’ve done it, we’ll let the potential tenant know what we’ve done and make it easy for them to unsubscribe.  Our lists grow noticeably when we do this and complaints are rare.  Other times, we turn off this automation and manually ask them through emails, texts, and calls to join our lists to stay updated with our homes.

The best thing to do would probably be to edit our automated email and text message to include information on joining our lists to stay updated with available homes.  

When a new guest card is submitted, a message is posted in Slack as an additional reminder to follow up with that person and their information is added to Hubspot CRM.

Rental Application

Potential tenants have shown that they’re at least somewhat serious if they reach this stage.  Our typical fee is $20.  We run background checks and talk with previous landlords and employers.

When the potential tenant submits a rental application, they receive an automated text that we’ve received their application and will get back to them soon with the results.  They also receive a link to pay a hold deposit to hold their desired home that will be refunded if their application is rejected.

At the same time, my team receives a message in Kyber (project management chat bot in Slack) that we need to screen this new applicant.

Our primary goal at this stage is to screen the applicant and mark their application as approved or rejected.  A secondary goal is to get them on one of our lists to keep them updated with available homes if they haven’t already done so.

Approved Applicants

For the rejected applicants, our sales cycle temporarily ends for them.  We ask them to stay in touch with us and let us know if their situation improves.  It would probably be a good idea to send one or a series of automated texts in the future that follows up with that person.

For the approved applicants who are ready to rent one of our homes, they need to pay a $100 hold deposit through our website.  At that point, one of our closers will schedule a closing with them to sign paperwork and collect money owed.

Once they’ve paid the hold deposit, they’ll receive an automated email a couple weeks later asking them to complete a survey in exchange for a $5 credit.  This provides us valuable feedback on our tenant sales cycle.

For those approved but not ready to buy, we send them some automated emails and texts between 30 to 120 days reminding them to join our lists to stay updated with available homes and negotiating with us about homes that have been available for a while.

We also receive a report in Slack on a monthly basis of all recently approved applicants who haven’t yet converted to tenants.  This is another opportunity for us to manually reach out to this valuable group who’s close to converting to current tenants.

Current Tenants

At this point, the sales cycle is done for that person, but this is an ongoing relationship.  We’ll still reach out to this group for testimonials, referrals for lower-demand homes in exchange for small rent credits, and reminding them to keep us updated if they know of similar homes for sale.  Most of this could be automated.

Much of this is possible regardless of your using Appfolio, Slack, and/or Kyber.  These are just the systems we like for now and have automated around these.  

Contact me if you’d like help in getting something like this setup.

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