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Transcript: Console Cloud – Natasha Anich & Matt McGown

Kylie Davis:

Welcome to the PropTech Podcast. It's Kylie Davis here and I'm delighted to be your host as we explore the brave new world where technology and real estate collide. It's so great to have you here and to share stories of innovation and opportunity across real estate, property and building services. And the aim of each episode is to introduce listeners to a PropTech innovator who is pushing the boundaries of what's possible across how we design, build, buy, sell, rent and invest in property and all of the associated behaviour and activities around that.


Kylie Davis:

Now, none of this would be possible without our sponsors. So a big shout-out to Direct Connect team making moving easy, Dynamic Methods, the innovators behind the Forms Live and Realworks Forms and the Proptech Association of Australia. Thank you for your support of the podcast. My guests this week are Matt McGown and Natasha Anich from Console Cloud, a 30-year old startup that after years of providing server-based software to property management and trust accounting has reinvented itself to cloud-based software that is reimagining the role of property managers to include automation, asset management and profitability analysis of property portfolios.


Kylie Davis:

Matt is the chief operating officer and Natasha is the head of customer success. And in this interview, we talk about how the role of property managers has changed, the technology trends and the importance of data and analytics in understanding the exact work that PMs are doing and spending their time on and how they can use that information to grow and improve their businesses. And we also have a great segment on how to retire an old programme. So here to tell us all about it, Matt McGown and Natasha Anich, welcome to the PropTech Podcast.


Natasha Anich:

Thanks for having us, Kylie.


Matt McGown:

Thanks, Kylie.


Kylie Davis:

Yeah, it's great to have you here. So now, Matt, I understand you are going to tackle the elevator pitch. So busted out what's the elevator pitch for Console Cloud?


Matt McGown:

Thanks, Kylie. Our platform Console Cloud has been designed to help our customers to win. And we do this in two ways. Firstly, we show our customers the properties that are profitable and potentially the properties that are costing them money. Now that sounds obvious, but most agencies that we speak to actually have no idea on the properties where they're losing money, they're spending more time than they're making revenue.


Matt McGown:

The second thing we do linked to that first thing is that we help our customers to manage more properties effectively. And we do this by automating the hard bits in a PM's day and so that they can spend more time building relationships with their owners and tenants. We have a really strong belief that our agencies and the agencies that survive into the next five years will be the ones that are tech-enabled, data-informed and people-focused.


Kylie Davis:

Awesome. Well done. So Console Cloud, property management system, now you guys have a long history in this area, don't you?


Natasha Anich:

We do. We have a history that spans three decades.


Kylie Davis:

Whoa, awesome. We love 30-year old startups.


Natasha Anich:

Yeah. Actually, Kylie, many would be surprised to hear that Console has been around for 30 years. We've led the way in trust accounting software and into property management software for so many years. And with that history, you can imagine that we've developed some quite deep running relationships with our clients. So when we took the move to shift to a cloud-based software like Console Cloud and away from our server-based systems that we've had like Gateway and RP Office, it's taken a bit of experience and knowledge from those programmes to enable us to reimagine the way that a property manager should work into the future and that's what we've built out of Console Cloud.


Natasha Anich:

We've taken those learnings and we've developed a system from the last 30 years of background that is going to hopefully take our customers agencies into the next five, 10, 15 years and really enable them to reach further than what they could before.


Kylie Davis:

Yeah. And I do remember back to those RP Office days and the companies had lots of changes of ownership and things like that in that time too. But I'm really fascinated by this journey of getting to Console Cloud, how has the property management space changed and tell me how that led to Console Cloud?


Matt McGown:

Yeah. I'll take that one. So I think just the evolution of the industry you had property management was a back office service, pretty neglected 20, 30 years ago. And over time it's become recognised as a really strong asset class. As an agency, you can borrow against your rent roll, you can grow your rent roll that way. And what's happened is there's been increased competition coming into the market. So there are property management focused agencies that do nothing but property management.


Kylie Davis:

Yep. There are.


Matt McGown:

And that's been a big shift over the past 20 years. Now, coupled with that growing expectations from owners and tenants for a service that goes beyond just rent collection. Owners are looking more from their property managers than they have in the past. Now our property managers are managing a whole lot things on behalf of their owners.


Matt McGown:

And we at Console, think of them more as asset managers. So they're managing compliance. They're de-risking the property for the owner. They're looking at maintenance and implementing preventative maintenance-type solution to basically spread that cost over the course of a year. They're looking at how they reduce vacancies so that the owner's not short changed. And I think today property managers do more, have a larger breadth of service that they offer their owners than 20 years ago.


Matt McGown:

And that's driven, like I said, from the expectations that our customers and our customers' customers are having with other products like Netflix, Facebook, they just expect a 24-hour service. And people can get online, share reviews, they can share stories. And as a property manager you've got to be on top of the trends. You're being graded all the time. Sometimes fairly, sometimes unfairly, but the expectations have definitely shifted.


Kylie Davis:

And definitely the work density of property managers, sorry, has significantly increased, hasn't it? How much they're expected to get done in a day or in a week.


Matt McGown:

A 100%. Competition introduces new cost pressures into these businesses so agencies have to be aware of that. It's not as easy as just ramping up and having a 100 staff to manage a 100 properties. It's not economical. So these expectations are coming at a time where there is a lot of interest and competition in the market. And one thing that is bringing additional competition is the self-serve. The landlord to tenant direct solutions. The rental property market it's not growing at 20% a year, it's being pretty stable. It sits around that 3 million rental properties. And yeah, there is an increasing trend to short stay and landlord-tenant direct solutions. So we see our job as keeping our agencies relevant.


Kylie Davis:

Okay, awesome. So Matt, before when you're doing your elevator pitch you mentioned too that property managers might be spending time on the wrong properties or they note across how much time some properties are taking. Tell me more about that.


Matt McGown:

Yeah. Look, I think it's a basic function of a business to be able to look at your customer base and understand the things that… All the units that make you money and the units that cost you money. So one of the things we've invested heavily in here in Console is, basically, take that property view. It's the asset within the business tied obviously, to the owner, look at all the interactions that are happening around that property. How many times are you chasing that tenant up for arrears?


Matt McGown:

How many conversations are you having with the owner? Is there a lot of maintenance? Is there a lot of vacancies? Are there renewals regularly? And basically assign a work score to that property? So it's kind of an effort. Now I understand what the effort of that property is and you can work back and you can work out what your staff costings are on top of that.


Matt McGown:

So you can actually look and come up with a financial proxy for how much that property costs you. On the other side, you know you're collecting fees. So you're collecting your commissions. You might have some activity-based fees, which are things that are triggered when you do something on behalf of the agency or you may not. Now, when you get those two things together, you can actually look at your rent roll as a whole and you can grade your most profitable properties all the way through to your most unprofitable properties.


Matt McGown:

And it's a conversation starter within your business. How can I… The conversations are twofold. One, can I reduce the amount of effort I'm spending on a property? So for us and Tasha's team in particular with the customer success function, it's how can we automate more of those activities around the property? That might be one solution. The other solution is we're a high service agency and actually, we're happy to have a lot of touches with our owners and tenants and the question is then how can I increase my fee base? I don't necessarily want to increase my commission because those headline commissions are driven by a lot of competition. But I can potentially offer my owners one-off services that I'm charging them for.


Kylie Davis:

Awesome. I love this because basically what you're doing is replacing, I guess, complaints on behalf of individual property managers about how much time something's taking or how much work somebody is or what a problem tenant X is and such and such. You're just replace that…


Natasha Anich:

Gut feel.


Kylie Davis:

Gut feel with data, right?


Natasha Anich:

Exactly.


Matt McGown:

And that's exactly what we're trying to do. Yeah.


Kylie Davis:

Yeah. Awesome. And then I guess, and I think this is fascinating because in the property management space, we know that traditionally it's been a sort of the back office that's been quite neglected and we know that those girls are under pressure to do more and to offer better levels of service. But often that missing link is the business case to show how that can really benefit the business and how after you get over that initial period of getting comfortable with the change or doing the change that actually, yes, you are then opening up to build your revenues or to reduce your costs.


Natasha Anich:

And what we're really doing there is we're really giving them the confidence and the ability to make intelligent decisions about the portfolio that they work on and the properties that they manage to then go back and have those conversations with the principal and owners and whoever else about what needs to happen in each situation. So that intelligence is incredible and something that wasn't available with previous platforms that we held. But yeah, just so super proud to have it available to our customers in Cloud.


Kylie Davis:

Fantastic. Fantastic. I love that. Okay. So how big are you now? How big is Console Cloud? How many staff? What's your metrics?


Matt McGown:

Yeah. I'll talk about Console Cloud specifically. So we're now over 2000 agencies on the cloud platform and we've got there within four years. So on a revenue basis, we're growing at about 200% year on year. So we're probably one of the fastest enterprise solutions in market. And this year we've done probably something that no one else to date has done in our space and we've retired a platform. So our Gateway platform is no longer operational.


Matt McGown:

We've got a few, I guess unique use cases that are still using the platform, but Console Cloud is now Console's largest property management platform. And we've retired a legacy or a server-based bit of technology is something that's a very challenging event in any tech business and we've been able to accomplish that. And it's a project Tasha has led for the last six months.


Natasha Anich:

Challenging too, because Gateway was, I suppose, a premier platform in 30 years ago when Console started as well. So a lot of people were very sad to see it retire. And yeah, it's a piece of software that was older than a lot of the staff in a lot of these agencies, offices, so.


Kylie Davis:

Awesome. [inaudible 00:13:06] their parents.


Natasha Anich:

When they got their head around how old the technology was a lot of the customers that have upgraded to Cloud, they're not looking back, which is very pleasing.


Kylie Davis:

It's just overcoming that initial fear of doing something different or doing things differently. Isn't it?


Natasha Anich:

Exactly right. And that's, I suppose the biggest challenge we have tried to overcome with our clients through the retirement of Gateway is that fear of change and also changing mindset in terms of the way we worked, because we haven't just lifted and shifted how Gateway worked. As I mentioned before, we've reimagined the processes that a PM does in their day to day. So a little bit of change management, but very proud of the team that we've handheld these customers through that upgrade process and ensured that they were adequately trained on the Console Cloud platform. Yeah.


Matt McGown:

And Tasha, fair to say that probably some of the largest negative voices at the start of the project have become some of the largest…


Natasha Anich:

Advocates of the platform.


Kylie Davis:

We love it. We love it when the grumpy ones become raving fans. It's possible to do, that's well done.


Matt McGown:

I think just as a software company building technology is a well worn path. Changing mindsets is really, really challenging. And some of our customers who came on board early took largely leaps of faith with us and have informed a lot of our decisions and have been willing to try different things for us to get to the state that we're in today. And we've been very fortunate that we can lean back on those customers to help our new customers come onto the platform.


Natasha Anich:

I think that's been absolutely key. The involvement of the customers through the development of cloud. It's four years since inception and the clients have really helped drive the development and what goes on the roadmap. And we have had a very aggressive, I suppose, build of Console Cloud in the last few years. And all of it has been influenced by our customers right in the early days when we're reimagining those ways of working. We were holding workshops and other facilitated sessions with our customer base to say, "Will, this work? Does this make sense to you?" All those sorts of things. So a lot of feedback sessions that really helped get it to where it is today.


Kylie Davis:

So there's two things I want to unpack in this. The first one is I want to get your advice or your tips on what you did to make that move of rusted on clients to the new platform successful. And the second thing I wanted to ask you was around, you mentioned before that you had this new vision of how property managers should work. So I want to unpack that a little bit too and say well, how do property managers work these days and how is that different to what used to happen? So, but first Natasha, do you want to tell us, what your advice would or how you guys successfully changed those mindsets? How did you reassure people?


Natasha Anich:

Yeah. I'll take that part of the question. It's never easy to announce that you're going to retire a platform that is so loved by everyone and even loved by our own staff here. Very, very difficult, very challenging. I will not lie.


Kylie Davis:

[inaudible 00:16:30].


Natasha Anich:

It was hard because you-


Kylie Davis:

Raising the pitch folks.


Natasha Anich:

Yeah. Just about that, I'm sure many would've… We had some offers to pay for the ongoing life of Gateway which we had to decline because it is old technology and it's something that is just not feasible to continue supporting. And because so many customers have already moved off the Gateway platform, we had a very small number in the scheme of things that were left using that technology. So in terms of the change, obviously, we had to make a notification that we were retiring the platform and then we set ourselves a target of a period of about four or five months to upgrade our clients over to cloud.


Natasha Anich:

So with that, we had different windows of upgrade opportunities. My console success management team worked in conjunction with our upgrade specialist team and really helped work with the clients to help them identify what they needed to do to prepare for change. So we had a number of different sessions that we hosted with clients, we made available how the upgrade was going to work, the data that they I had to clean up. And that was probably the biggest things is making sure the data that they took from the old system to the new console cloud was as clean as possible because we did not want to have that sort of dirty data coming across.


Natasha Anich:

But with that many clients had 20, 30 years of history sitting in Gateway that needed to be cleaned. So for some, it was a bigger effort than others because they had, I'd say, suppose so many quirks in their system that they had set up or different ways of working that they needed now to change across the cloud. So with that, as I've said before, it was very much a handheld process, a bit of encouragement, a bit of support, making sure-


Matt McGown:

Lots of training.


Natasha Anich:

Lots of training. Training was key. So with cloud-


Kylie Davis:

Was that training one on one, or was it office to office or you guys did that direct office and personalised or was it more broader?


Natasha Anich:

Great question. It was really what the agency wanted. So we have a number of training options available. Clients could register on our Nebula site, which is our online training site, which is free, has a range of different get started, I suppose sessions as well as deeper dives into different features like our workflows. They could also have training with one of our certified Console Cloud training partners. So we would arrange for those sessions to take place.


Natasha Anich:

We found the most successful agencies that made the upgrade from Gateway to Cloud have been the ones that have taken a mix of training partner training as well as online learning through the Nebula site. Those that elected to just give it a go and do a bit of Nebula, they are finding it a bit difficult, but it's not to stop them from working in cloud. It's just, their transition has taken a little bit longer. So, but very pleased with my teams roll out with the clients where we're keeping very close to them in the first few months to make sure that their journey is as smooth as it can be.


Kylie Davis:

Fantastic. Let's just take a short break and hear a quick word from our sponsors. Imagine a real estate forms and contract solution that's always accessible, up to date with legal changes and cuts admin time by 40%. That's the beauty of the Forms Live platform from Dynamic Methods. With Forms Live, Dynamic Methods have created a form system that is easy, online and best of all compliant. Every month, 50,000 agents and property managers use Forms Live in seven and a half thousand agencies across every state and territory in Australia.


Kylie Davis:

Plus Forms Live has over a 100 integrations, including the industry's most popular CRMs, connection services and digital signatures with DocuSign making it the national platform of choice for real estate forms. Check them out at formslive.com.au. And so Matt, what does the job of a property manager look like today compared to when you were saying that you were revisioning it compared to previously?


Matt McGown:

Yeah. Look, there was a lot of manual processes, a lot of things that actually happened outside of system. So the checklist has long been the property manager's go-to guide. And when we were starting this build out four years ago one of our mantras was, how do we replace the checklist? And really what the checklist does is it's a paper version that puts someone on a rail. It puts someone on our truck just to make sure those things are being done.


Matt McGown:

So we took that concept and digitised it. I think one of the really, one of the novel things in cloud is we have taken automations beyond just notifications, automated notifications. That's a really simple thing to do. It's simple to send out an SMS or send out an email and really a workflow for a customer involves forms. It involves multiple steps in communication. It has inbound communication, stuff coming back into the system. It's notes. It's a whole raft of things and basically if you're coming to Console Cloud, I think one of the things you will notice now is you don't print out a report to go and action a lease renewal.


Matt McGown:

You have an active list of open lease renewals with a suite of jobs that you need to do before that release renewal. They're all in a single place. Most of them are automated in some form. Obviously, you're taking communications from multiple parties. So sometimes something can fall off a truck and when it falls off a truck we just refer that as management by exception. And that's the major part of a property manager's job moving forward from today for the next five years.


Matt McGown:

Lease renewals, I'll just keep picking on it because we're going down that stream. But a large agency has 25% of their book in renewal any one stage. So potentially 250 renewals. Our job is to make sure that you do not have to have eyes over 250 renewals the whole time. You'll only manage the things that fall off the track.


Kylie Davis:

Yeah. Fantastic. Fantastic. The CRM space, the property managers is pretty crowded right now. There's been a lot of innovation and stuff happening and including trust-free accounting and all of that sort of stuff. Are you guys… Where do you sit in the trust account, no trust account camp? And what's the Console point of difference compared to your both established and your newer competitors?


Matt McGown:

Yeah. I'll take that, Tasha. So we're agnostic to trust or trustless. So today Console Cloud is trust account only, but that doesn't mean that we don't have designs on also offering a trustless solution in the future. That's managing the flow of funds and look, there's two camps and we are a really broad church. Obviously, we've got a large customer base and we will need to cater to both of those churches in the future.


Matt McGown:

So that's on the trustless side. I think where we sit is we are the platform. So often a lot of the new entrance coming into the market are people who they're picked off a part of a property manager's day or a part of a property manager's workflow and they've optimised it. They've done a fantastic job, but they still need that system of record.


Matt McGown:

So we have an API, we allow people to do those things. But our point of difference is the integrations that we choose to go really deep on, we bring them into our system really deeply. We don't want you cross keying things. We don't want you operating outside of the system. One of our value props as we've already touched on in the elevator pitch is that you can see the activities around a property. And we think that's a key differentiator within our platform. Everything is being tagged to that property.


Matt McGown:

We're seeing everything tagged to that property. A new entrant might come into market, they might come and do something better than we'll ever do it and we want to integrate with them. We're not just going to give them an API and have some kind of light integration. We're going to bring them into our platform and make sure that the customer that we are serving both of us, both parties that value opposition is still delivered. That we are tracking what's happening around the property and we are giving you that cradled grey view of your tenants, your owners and your properties.


Kylie Davis:

Fantastic. And so tell me about some of the integrations that you have and what do they let you do?


Matt McGown:

Yeah. So one of the obvious ones is Maintenance Manager. So they've been a long time Console partner going back to the Gateway days. So when we actually looked at that integration we brought it really deep into our platform. So you only sign into Console Cloud and at the same time, you also sign into Console Maintenance Pro, which is powered by Maintenance Manager. And for all intended purposes, that system looks the same. It looks like one system.


Matt McGown:

So you still get all the power of the offering of Maintenance Manager, but you get the convenience of having it all within a single system. That's one integration. I think compliance is probably another one worth touching on. We've just released a press release. I'm pretty sure it's out or just about to go out and we're looking at smoke alarms around Queensland. And it's a really important topic coming into 2022, but our compliance workflow and our compliance partners are really closely linked.


Matt McGown:

It's not something that's separate, it's the integration is actually at the time that you need it. So as you're going through and you're managing your smoke alarms, we're sending information to your compliance partner, whichever smoke alarm agency that might be, they're doing their work and that information is coming back into cloud and updating the system. So you're not cross keying things. You're not working in two systems. You're not having to find out information over on this other side, it's all coming back into cloud.


Matt McGown:

And we do think of ourselves as the system of record. So there are parts of the agency workflow that we'll manage. And there's other parts where innovators, we want competition out there innovating and helping our agents to become more efficient and we'll integrate with them in a really clever way.


Natasha Anich:

I've got a few other integration partners as well. So our Forms integration partners as well, that's another thing that's really deeply embedded in terms of our workflows and reducing the need of that cross keying as well. So, and in addition to that, we've got applications partners and connections partners as well. So there's a range of different things that service an agency that they can do within clouds.


Kylie Davis:

Want to give any shout-outs?


Natasha Anich:

I can give a whole list of shout-outs. I'd hate to miss anybody, but yes. We can maybe put it in a description at the end of the podcast.


Kylie Davis:

Sure. Okay. We'll include that in the show notes, not a problem whatsoever. So how long have both of you been with the business for? Matt, you've just recently been promoted, so congratulations. But tell me how long have you been with the business? What attracted you to the company?


Matt McGown:

Yeah. So I'm coming up to four years. So in January I will have been with Console for four years. Prior to that my history has really been in software and payments. So I've owned and managed several software companies. I was fortunate enough to work with an agency down in Melbourne who was investing in rent rolls. So they're actually buying rent rolls and I became like a quasi analyst CIO for them and started to map out property management processes and looking at some of the legacy platforms that we were using as we buy rent roll and it'd be on a platform and we'd had another rent roll on another platform.


Matt McGown:

We basically had three systems and none of them were really delivering on the investment hypothesis that we had, which was trying to get returns for our share holding. So we were mapping processes. We were looking at better ways to do things and then this position came up and it was quite serendipitous. I had worked with some of the shareholding previously and it just made sense to come and take some of those learnings from what it looks like in a large agency, trying to become more efficient, more profitable, standardised work practises and bring that kind of experience into Console.


Kylie Davis:

Awesome. And Natasha, what about you?


Natasha Anich:

Yeah. So my background's a little bit different. I am almost coming up to four years here at Console as well. Previously, I had worked at tech companies as well, but different to the seat that I sit in today. I come from a marketing background. So when I first joined Console and what drew me to Console was the challenge of marketing a brand and product that was so well known in the industry for its server-based software, but now had the challenge of making a name for itself in the cloud space.


Natasha Anich:

So over the years, I've stepped around a little bit within the company and I have elevated to this head of custom success role, which I'm absolutely passionate about. And I love making a difference in the way that our customers work in their day to day.


Kylie Davis:

Fantastic. Fantastic. So if I am a renter or a landlord from Victoria, I'm not allowed to call them landlords anymore. Am I? But if I'm a renter or an investor, if my property manager is using Console, what's my experience going to be like? How is that different to what it might have been a couple of years ago?


Natasha Anich:

Yeah. So the key difference with Console Cloud today is we make sure that the tenants, renters, landlords and owners, whatever you'd like to call them really aren't second class citizens. So we know that if an agency is going to win, they need to service their owners and tenants better. So it's really important for us to ensure that there are tools and mechanisms in place in cloud and in our apps and portals to help them deliver that service.


Natasha Anich:

So starting out with being better organised as a property manager, we've touched on all the way we manage within Console Cloud. But for an owner and a tenant, they can really be confident that the agency they're dealing with that's using Console Cloud has their finger on the pulse. When it comes to things like managing maintenance requests or keeping up to date with compliance on the property, because they're using cloud they can be really confident that they're actioning things when they need to and even ahead of time.


Natasha Anich:

It also allows property managers to, as Matt mentioned, really become the asset managers for landlords and owners, because they have those really rich insights within cloud that they can go and make better recommendations to their owners about what they should be doing with their properties or even having better, let's just say response times to their tenants as well. So things like the tenant app that we have enables our tenants or our clients' tenants to conveniently lodge maintenance requests, view how the status of maintenance requests are going on on the properties that they're in. View where their rent's paid up to, pay any invoices that might come up through the tenant app.


Natasha Anich:

These are all things that now they don't have to contact the property manager and the agency about which is freeing up the time of the property manager to do those other important things they need to do. And from the owner's perspective, we've got our owner portals as well, which is surfacing all that important information to the owner, their financial information, status on maintenance requests. There's a range of different things.


Matt McGown:

Inspections is probably a good one.


Natasha Anich:

Inspection.


Matt McGown:

So taking that inspection experience from a boring, static PDF to an interactive HTML page. They're things that we… We're all about trying to help our agencies win. And when an agency can present an inspection report that has great photos, allows an owner to click through and comment, it's a really powerful tool to help them acquire new customers.


Natasha Anich:

But just delivering all these experiences for their owners and tenants, things like during COVID the tenants self inspections that were able to be done. There's a range of things that is just freeing up the time of our property managers and making things… You said earlier, Matt, about people expect things a lot more instantaneously now. So by having these apps and portals available everyone has everything they needed at their fingertips.


Matt McGown:

And we're not stopping there. We're continually adding to these…


Natasha Anich:

Four years of lots of exciting new tools.


Kylie Davis:

Do you run a prop-tech business or are you the founder of a prop-tech? Make sure you join the PropTech Association of Australia. It's Australia's new, not for profit association. Made up of tech people who are passionate about the property industry and committed to improving experiences in how we buy, sell rent, manage, build and finance property. Joining will give you access to events and networks across Australia and globally to help you promote and grow your business. Go to proptechassociation.com.au and follow the prompts to join.


Kylie Davis:

So well, that's a great segue. Get your crystal ball out. What do you think the next five years is going to hold in the property management space? And what are the tech trends that you are seeing are going to be driving whatever is coming?


Matt McGown:

Yeah. I think we've touched on it in our elevator pitch but data is key. We are great storytellers in property management. We have a lot of anecdotes, things get passed down. Things get passed down by stories. And I think we're…


Kylie Davis:

So many stories.


Matt McGown:

So many stories.


Kylie Davis:

So many stories.


Matt McGown:

But when you look at the really successful agencies and the ambitious agencies they're moving to data-based decisions. I think historically, our reporting has been very… We've reused reports as a way to go and action something like chase up arrears because it's in that report and doing a lease renewal because it's in that report. That's not where the future is. Reporting is about delivering intelligent insight and making it digestible for the PM to action.


Matt McGown:

And I think that's one of the key challenges. There is so much information out there and you can present it and we've all seen the CMAs that are 20 pages long. No one knows what to do with that information. So how can you provide information in a digestible, bite-size, consumable format that allows a property manager to win and management help their landlord, help their tenant? That's one of the key trends or one of the key things that we see being rolled out over the next five years.


Matt McGown:

I mean, we're on the journey ourselves so probably the other thing and just looking at other industries machine learning and artificial intelligence is going to play a role, some kind of role in our businesses in the future. It just makes sense people you follow the money and I can tell you Google and Apple and Facebook, they're spending billions and billions of dollars in this space and it will have an impact in our business and our customers' business.


Matt McGown:

Now we are backing agencies. So we are not a landlord-tenant direct solution but we need to understand that technology and how we can help it elevate our customers, not replace our people. We still think this is an industry that's very people-focused, tech-enabled and people-focused is one of our mantra. But that it'd be naive to think that over the next five or 10 years, artificial intelligence won't play some part in this space.


Natasha Anich:

I think also too, we're going to see those tech-resistant agencies are really going to struggle in the next few years. I just think competitively, they're not going to be able to…


Kylie Davis:

Well, they're going to bust something trying to keep up. Aren't they?


Natasha Anich:

They are.


Kylie Davis:

Internally, they're just going to come bursting.


Natasha Anich:

Yeah, they are. And-


Matt McGown:

Currently, we're seeing it now. The industry across the board has got 20% turnover and you can't keep running at this pace. We all have to acknowledge we are going to do something different and I think even just the retirement of Gateway, that was through the COVID period. So probably people weren't as resistant as they could have been because that's part of the message. We don't want to sleepwalk, as an industry we shouldn't be sleepwalking into the future. We need to have our eyes open and we need to make sure that we remain relevant and that we consistently deliver value to the people who are paying our bills, which are the landlords.


Natasha Anich:

The other thing and I think, we've been hearing a lot on the ground with our customers is the real want to move to a paperless office. So we're seeing more and more, especially through COVID people have been able to work more remotely with cloud and everything else. But now we see agencies are really looking to find the ways that they can reduce their footprint of office space and reduce their infrastructure and overheads, whether that's reducing the amount of technology pieces that they're using and looking for more all-in-one solutions.


Natasha Anich:

I know there was a customer we were talking to a little while back and he's so excited by the idea of a paperless office. The only thing he needs to sort out is removing the key room in the office. So he's actually actively thinking about how any new managements that he brings on ensures that they have those key entry systems in place and not keys. So this mindset is now well within the industry and people are looking for ways to transition to that paperless office moreso than just no paper on the desks. So for those not willing to keep up with that it's a really scary outlook.


Kylie Davis:

Well, I know the guys from Forms Live did a bit of an assessment and they worked out that if you fill in a rental form manually, it's at least 17 steps and that's on the basis that no fills anything in wrong and you have to go back and start again or refill in the form. Or if you automate it, you can turn it into four or five steps. Yeah. Awesome. And you guys are, and I think they're one of your shout-outs, aren't they? You integrated-


Matt McGown:

They are.


Natasha Anich:

They are. Yeah. We love Forms Live.


Kylie Davis:

Yeah. They're a sponsor of the show, so we…


Matt McGown:

They're great.


Natasha Anich:

They're good.


Kylie Davis:

Well, look, Natasha and Matt, it's been absolutely fabulous to have you on the show. Thank you so much for your time.


Natasha Anich:

Thanks for the opportunity, Kylie.


Matt McGown:

Yeah. Thanks, Kylie. It's been fun.


Kylie Davis:

So that was Matt McGown and Natasha Anich from Console Cloud, a reimagined property management platform that has grown 200% over the past two years. And which has been highly successful at transitioning rusted on clients through an assertive but highly supportive upgrade programme from their old Gateway product. Now, I love the lessons from this interview. The importance of personalised service and really standing the customer mindset and putting that front and centre when creating a programme to transition clients from old technology to something new.


Kylie Davis:

Too often in tech, we assume the benefits of the new software will outweigh all the downside of migration, but where Console Cloud deserve a lot of kudos is that they understood that their clients really needed handholding in that transition. And they've effectively run a change management programme for them. And how funny was the insight that the software was older than many of their customers, that still makes me laugh to think about it, but 30 years of data is a lot to clean up.


Kylie Davis:

So if you can get into your client's head and think about it, that can really help the success of that project. I also really enjoyed Matt's vision of the new role of property managers, the role of the checklist, digitising it. And the fact that automations are more than just notifications and the importance of property managers needing to manage their portfolios by exception not try to do everything. There were some great insights that Console Cloud are clearly seeing from their data coming out of their platform, including the fact that a typical agency will have 25% of their portfolio needing lease renewal at any one time. And just how much time you can save by adding genuine automation and job management to that.


Kylie Davis:

Now the property management space has been highly contested over the past five years. New prop-tech startups like Managed, OurProperty, Different, Yabonza and Instrument and even VaultRE they've been making their mark on the sector and demonstrating new ways of thinking about property management and interpreting the tech trends. And it's great to see that the established players like Console and even MRI, who we spoke to just over a month ago have been watching what's going on and are now acting upon it.


Kylie Davis:

It's great to see that the response to these challenges has been an increase in innovation rather than hunkering and trying to defend old turf. So this is a really exciting space. Now, if you have enjoyed this episode of the PropTech Podcast, I would love you to tell your friends or drop me a line either via email, LinkedIn or on our Facebook page. You can follow this podcast on Spotify, Google Podcasts, Anchor, and Apple iTunes.


Kylie Davis:

I'd like to thank my podcast producer, the fabulous Charlie Hollands and our sponsors Direct Connect making moving easy, Dynamic Methods, the name behind Forms Live, ROI Forms Live and Realworks and the PropTech Association of Australia, Australia's industry body supporting the flourishing prop-tech community. Now, if you're an Australian or a New Zealand prop-tech who would like to be on the show, drop me a line via LinkedIn or kylie@proptechassociation.com.au. Thanks everyone, until next time keep on prop-teching.