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"We are building new tools to help drive conversion rates to make teams more responsive and reduce time to market for your vacant units." — Diego von Söhsten
The new Rentsync Platform is officially out of beta! That's the product formerly known as "The Lift System," by the way.
On this episode of Sync or Swim, we discuss how we've rebuilt the Rentsync Platform to meet our customer's ever-evolving needs, with Michael Mottola, VP of Product and Technology and Diego von Sohsten, Senior Product Manager at Rentsync.
Here's what we talked about:
Nicolina Savelli [0:00:12.1]: Hello and welcome back to Sync or Swim. I'm your host, Nicolina Savelli, and you're listening to #GetSynced where I take a tactical approach to helping those in multifamily improve their marketing and advertising efforts. Today is a special episode, as I have Rentsync's VP of Product and Technology, Michael Mottola, as well as Diego Von Sohsten, who is a senior product manager at Rentsync. Welcome to the show, guys.
Diego von Söhsten [0:01:02.0]: Thanks for having us.
Nicolina Savelli [0:01:03.9]: No problem. Now, before we get into today's conversation, can you both expand on those titles so our listeners can get a better sense of what those roles entail... Michael, I'll have you go first.
Michael Mottola [0:01:14.9]: Sure, so I'm the VP, of Product and Technology, I look after the technology and engineering teams, I work with the business stakeholders and collaborate with the various departments in our organization, specifically the product teams, but also customer success and marketing as well.
Nicolina Savelli [0:01:28.4]: Thanks, Michael. And Diego, do you mind sharing what a senior product manager at Rentsync is all about?
Diego von Söhsten [0:01:35.5]: I will try. So I actually think of my role as two roles, one is about helping shape up the vision for the Rentsync Platform, where we wanna be, what strategies we wanna use, are we solving the right problems and then cooperating with sales, marketing, support, talking to customers. And the other part of my job, is to be able to deliver on those things. So working with development teams, setting metrics, monitoring the metrics that we released to understand if the feature of the product we launched, solved the problem.
Nicolina Savelli [0:02:05.5]: Awesome, thank you so much. Do that sounds like a complicated job and I'm glad I don't have it. So today is a pretty significant moment and Rentsync's growth since I've been at this company, it's something the product team has been working towards, and that is the launch of the new Rentsync platform, previously known as the lift system. Now, I'd like to start this conversation by speaking a bit about some of the milestones that have led us to this point in renting formally known as landlord web solutions product development. So Michael, can you tell listeners a little bit about how the lift system emerged and how this product has evolved into the Rentsync Platform over the last 10 years?
Michael Mottola [0:02:49.0]: Yeah, absolutely. It emerged a necessity. I think there was an opportunity, I was there for a company to come in and transform this industry's online presence, so we started off as a service company, built websites for many years, we've launched about eight websites in our first year. And every one of those customers that we launched brought something to the table for us in our growth of the lift system, whether it was a new widget on the front-end website, or whether it was a new module in our back end, all that customer feedback was very valuable to us in the early days of The Lift System. A few years later, we introduced Ad Syndication to our repertoire, which became our flagship product and was called Rentsync at the time when our company was Landlord Web Solutions, the Lift System evolved from being a basic property marketing tool or CMS or a website management tool, into a product suite. Or a collection of tools and services that we offer, we added on lead tracking tools and analytic tools, and now to become what it is now, a software platform.
Nicolina Savelli [0:03:49.2]: So those unfamiliar with the Rentsync Platform, can you speak to why an update is so important? I think both of you can probably provide some insight around this, but Michael, I'll have you start kind of as to why the Rentsync Platform needed to... Or The Lift System needed to become the Rentsync Platform.
Michael Mottola [0:04:11.0]: Yeah, absolutely. I think from a technology point of view is I'm gonna say about it. And also from a product standpoint, and you're talking to technology and the product people at Rentsync so we're the right people to answer this question for sure. I think there are three winners in this, Rentsync itself is a winner from launching this new platform, our customers are winners and our partners are Winners. From Rentsync's point of view, it was really about the more modern technology, more easily adaptable technology, better processes, better infrastructure, especially as the information continues to flow in and out of our systems to relevant parties, we're really excited with this release and we've been working this for very long, and we have a big team working on this and that we work really hard to get to where we are today. I'm really proud of what we've been able to accomplish and do in this time, over the course of software development, many years, the company has been around for about 10 years now when the Lift System first started building, right? Many companies decide at some point to reinvest in their platform and build from the ground up, and that's what we did, we re-built from the ground up, re-platformed our software, the main driver of that was so that we can keep up to date with technologies, the latest changes in technology, while being able to be as fast as we once could be when we were a small company we could be really fast and agile, as we grew, we acquired technical debt, you acquire...
Michael Mottola [0:05:22.6]: There's processes and things that have to be followed that slow you down a little bit, so this platform removes that and allows us to get back on track to building systems and features and release technology for our customers in a much faster way. So we're rebuilding a new foundation based on everything we've learned in the last 10 years, and that allows us to scale much faster than before from the customer's point of view, that allows us to serve our customers better, from our partner's point of view, that allows us to work with our partners better, and all in all, it just allows us to adapt to be whatever the customer needs us to be moving forward.
Nicolina Savelli [0:05:57.4]: So with that said, Diego, we know that there are some major improvements to the Rentsync Platform that are being rolled out, specifically on the marketing automation and lead automation side of the platform, so can you speak to those two areas and what that means for users moving forward.
Diego von Söhsten [0:06:16.4]: For sure. So when you think of the multifamily industry, we are helping marketers and leasing agents be more efficient when it comes to advertising the vacancy they have and filling those with tenants. So we invest in a lot of automation with the new platform so that both marketers and leasing agents can do their job more quickly and more efficiently, so for instance, we heard from leasing agents how much time they have been spending on manual data entry that means for instances creating guest cards in their property management software every time that a lead comes in from rentals.ca for instance or the website. So there was a gap between the website generating leads or the ILS' generating leads, and those sources generating leads and the moment when these leads turn into tenants. So with a new platform, one of the new features that we have released, is the ability to push automatically leads that are coming from ILS' such as Rentals.ca and Zumper to the system of choice, the place where our customers are managing the day to day for those tenants. So that there's no manual data entry anymore, and then we are helping give some time back to both marketers and leasing agents in that space, and there are also some other quality of life improvements, that are targeting more specifically marketers in multifamily.
Diego von Söhsten [0:07:41.5]: So, for instance, if you're promoting a vacant unit in an ILS directory, you probably want to have quick access to that advertisement once it's live, so you can make changes and see them be reflected, so we're making the Ad Links, as we are calling it, one of the highlights of the new platform, where you have easy access to all of your live advertisements, and also there are some other improvements such as ability to manage multiple websites that you have hosted with Rentsync using one account, or even the ability to view all of your leads from websites to ILS' or Ad Syndication leads in one centralized inbox. So all of that has been built thinking about getting some kind back to our customers.
Nicolina Savelli [0:08:28.8]: Right. So really just improving efficiencies and removing some of the pain points and friction points in this whole leasing and advertising process for marketers, which I know myself as a marketer, is a huge benefit because time is of the essence, and we always feel like we don't have enough time to do what we want to do. So this is great. Now, when we talk about product market fit, we obviously need to determine who the market or audience is, and I think you kind of spoke to that, but do... Can you explain who you believe will benefit the most from using the platform and the new features, how will they be able to really step up their game and get their work done?
Diego von Söhsten [0:09:14.0]: For sure, it really comes down to marketers and leasing agents in multifamily industry, so we have been talking to a lot of people in that space, from customers we have to other experts in that field just like us, and we notice how much friction still exists when those two functions are trying to get the job done, so while a lot of those initial quality of life enhancements and new features that I mentioned, there are about efficiency. We are also building, as we are speaking here, new tools to help drive conversion rates, to make teams more responsive and reduce time on market for vacant units. So I'm gonna give you some examples for customers using our Ad Syndication product, with our upcoming release of Ad Layouts and Ad Previews, marketers will be in control of what their advertising looks like at a vendor per vendor. So if you are doing a little bit of experimentation, as many of the marketers that I know are, Rentsync is a place for you to do in the rentals industry, so if you wanna put amenities above your property description or if you wanna move some things around, you'll be able to do that and you will be able to preview those changes before they go live, so you can basically plan accordingly and find what works best. In the meantime, leasing agents will also benefit from some other things that are coming...
Diego von Söhsten [0:10:38.7]: One would be the ILS autoresponders, so that will enable our customers to set up automated messages that will be sent out every time a prospect comes out or comes from an ILS service such as Rentals.ca or Zumper, etcetera, so that will inherently help qualify some of those leads that are coming at the top of the funnel, but also while giving back time to agents to follow up on the leads they have in their pipeline.
Nicolina Savelli [0:11:09.3]: Before I go into the next question, question came up with you speaking there... Can you kind of give us an idea of what that looks like right now without using this kind of functionality? How do they have to go through that process right now, why is that such a time-consuming manual process without any autoresponders?
Diego von Söhsten [0:11:31.1]: For sure, that's one of our highlights with the new platform and its coming very soon. So basically, responsiveness is everything when you have a prospect inquiring about a property at 2 AM for some reason, you won't be able to answer that prospect until you're back at the office until you got to that lead... So people are struggling with the lead volume, which could be a good problem to have if the leads are high quality, but also now we are in a place where we need to help property management companies, developers be able to get back to the prospect more quickly so that they're more likely to either book a tour or give a call, answer some questions and then move down the funnel, so any tools that can help a marketer in the multifamily industry, get to that lead sooner will be valid and the auto-responders will basically send an automated message that can contain for instance, some extra information on the property that's being inquired about, or even if you're using a tool like the Booking App we offer, allow the prospect to book a date and a time for an appointment or for a tour. So it's really about make that tool, as self-service possible, so that the marketer doesn't have so much, and the leasing agents, so much in their hands.
Nicolina Savelli [0:13:05.7]: Awesome, great, thanks, Diego. So I know it's a little hard, did you want a podcast, but I'd like to get a sense of the user experience of the new platform and why it's built with the customer in mind. Michael, can you talk a little bit about how we've improved the user experience of the platform in terms of some of the pain points previously experienced and how we've addressed them in the new platform UI...
Michael Mottola [0:13:28.5]: Sure, I think this is a lot of quality of life improvements and user experience improvements we've done with managing website content, managing pages, for example. I think one of the pain points and the old system was having to go back from List View to the details page view when you're managing page content, for example, and I would combine those two together and have a list on the side to quickly access and the switch to your pages and you're trying to edit so you can really manage content in a much faster way than before, which is awesome. I think before too, we just had some lack of functionality and some, we were partially solving some problems for customers and this rebuild and a new platform that we were releasing helped solve some of those problems and closes the gap, we were limited by some technology to stay on top of some of our customer needs, and this platform update removes that and allows us to really follow suit with the customer on demand in real time and adapt really quickly to feedback and build new things and better things for our customers.
Nicolina Savelli [0:14:28.5]: So we've spoken mostly about two areas of the platform, but I know there are a lot of updates and features that are soon to be rolled out, so Diego and, Michael, can you tell us what your goals are for the platform in the next one to two years. Diego, maybe you can lead this one.
Diego von Söhsten [0:14:47.0]: Ultimately, we are looking at consolidating Rentsync as a place for marketers and leasing agents in multifamily go to get the job done more efficiently. So we want to help them understand their funnel from lead to lease... While providing some state of art tools that will help them drive those rates, so real estate, when you look at it, is the largest asset class in the world. And when you think of multifamily, we are already thought leaders in that space. So with a new platform, we'll be able to move faster, as Mike said before, every two weeks, there'll be something different from minor quality of life improvements such as ones that Mike was referring to, to brand new products and tools, we won't necessarily be the only people building some of those enhancements, we will also be partnering with people, that are the best in what they do in the industry to make the platform, the new Rentsync Platform, the one stop shop for sales and marketing.
Nicolina Savelli [0:15:45.3]: Michael, do you have anything to add on that in terms of your goals for the platform in the next one to two years...
Michael Mottola [0:15:51.5]: Yeah, on top of a continuous improvement as Diego mentioned, focusing on better integrations and partners, aligning ourselves with the right people and the right partners to facilitate the needs of our customers, and also focusing on reporting and being a main contributor and leader in the reporting space for our customers in the industry.
Nicolina Savelli [0:16:12.4]: Can you dive into that just a little bit for... For me, I know that really isn't part of this conversation, but I'd love for people to hear about what your plans are in terms of reporting and analytics for customers in the future.
Michael Mottola [0:16:27.7]: Sure, yeah, we've added some reports right now for the marketing Ad Syndication product to help customers better understand where their marketing dollars are being spent, but now we wanna take it a step further and a couple steps further in the near future here as we bake in cost per lead, and ultimately get into it, a cost per lease strategy and really report on where exactly their prospects are coming from and how they got into the pipeline, and really report on the entire lead funnel or the pipeline for our customers.
Nicolina Savelli [0:16:57.9]: Right. Now, is that going to be in a dashboard type concept or are they exported reports or is that still a work in progress?
Michael Mottola [0:17:07.7]: All the above, there'll be some... Some dashboards held be... Some canned dashboards that we have available for our customers with the expectations of charts and pivot tables and graphs and charts, but then also exportable materials so that they can export that data as they need to and move that data from A to B if they wanted to push that data into another tool, we wanna make that available for our customers and in the near future...
Nicolina Savelli [0:17:30.9]: Perfect. I asked that just given my marketing background, and I love a good chart to kind of... Just get an overview of what's going on, so I know that that's gonna be important to a lot of our users. So if there was one thing you hope that users say when they use a new platform, what would it be and why... I'd like to hear from both of you on that. But Diego, you go first.
Diego von Söhsten [0:17:53.9]: Yeah, I would love to see some things such as easy-to-use being a key pillar of this new platform, but I find that easy can be very subjective right? So, I'd rather look at how responsive we are when it comes to user feedback in our ability to deliver on that mission. So for instance, the new platform gives our customer's ability to submit feedback at any moment, you just click an option at the top right and you share your ideas, so I look at everything that's sent out... I can tell you that, and in many cases if it's a brand new idea, if I need some further clarity, I will be following up with the person who submitted, not necessarily asking what they want, but trying to understand the place they are coming from and what problem they have so that we can get to a solution that works. So looking at all those such points in the platform, either by submitting an idea, or if you switching back and forth between the new app and the Legacy app, we always ask you, "Why are you moving back?" So looking at all the data gives us enough, to be able to make the platform better, so I'll log into the next time they went into...
Diego von Söhsten [0:19:05.1]: The new Rentsync Platform, they saw something and they could say, Oh, this is new, it actually it comes from a pain-point that I had... It works better now. It's more efficient. What I'm saying is being heard, so getting that perception from our customers and being able to move faster is really my expectation for this...
Nicolina Savelli [0:19:27.1]: Yeah, that makes sense. So basically, you're hoping that the pain points that we previously discussed would basically be resolved through our initiatives and new features, and we can continue to replace those pain points with solving them in the platform. And Michael, do you have anything to add from there? I think I'll probably be in line with what Diego is just saying, but... I'll ask you as well.
Michael Mottola [0:19:50.6]: Yeah, I think Diego hit it right on. Also, we just want genuine constructive feedback, so they can make the Platform better for everyone. So I think I wanna hear, this is awesome, this helps a lot. The experience you created for us is great, fantastic. I love it, but also knowing how we can do better, how can we serve you better, what can we do better to make your workflow even easier, especially with on the reporting side, what is your manager looking for... What's your manager looking for that we can provide to help you reduce your stress with how you have to report upstream to your superiors, that's where we wanna do, and that's what I want the feedback to come back to us. And if it's on the negative side of the feedback, why didn't it work? Meet your workflow. You know, did we miss something, how can we help you and what that feedback... So we can right that wrong and make things better for you, so if something didn't work, or it's not working quite well for you, how can we make it work for you, that's the feedback we wanna get.
Nicolina Savelli [0:20:45.2]: And that's the benefit of this new platform that we can make those changes and help them with that feedback almost not instantly, but pretty quickly in comparison to what we were working on before, working with before. Great, so obviously with any new product, there is going to be a learning curve for users, especially ones who are used to the old platform, have you created any resources or training documents to help support customers in this transition, and if so, where can they find them? Deigo... Maybe you can speak to this a little bit.
Diego von Söhsten [0:21:19.1]: Yeah, that's a great question. And a lot of product management, the work that I do is about understanding customers, understanding their habits, and habits are a combination of how easy something is and the motivation that you have to do that something, and how often you have to do it?
Diego von Söhsten [0:21:38.4]: So we're frequently talking to customers, to understand what can be improved while looking at analytics, that we have in terms of usage and adoption in the new platform to make sense, for our users, the new platform has some video explainer for our main features. They can be accessed the first time they visit that feature or any time later, we basically created something called the resource center, so the bottom left there is a green question mark block, you click it, depending on where you are, you may get some extra resources, you may be with you watch those videos again, or you can reach our to support if you have any questions, and we also have the legacy Rentsync Dashboard available for some time, so we can help users make that transition, so they can move back and forth between the queue and we collect analytics on that as well.
Nicolina Savelli [0:22:30.1]: I know that personally, I'm always fearful when a platform comes up with a new version and learning that I think it can sometimes take certain people a little bit longer to adjust to change, so I appreciate the ability to go back and forth and slowly get familiar with the new UI, the new features, et cetera. So thanks guys for doing that. So now that the product is finally out of beta, Diego, can you give listeners a bit of a rundown of what to expect in terms of timelines, you did mention every two weeks, but the rollout of the new features that are soon to come, is there any timelines that you can kind of provide that they can look forward to?
Diego von Söhsten [0:23:18.2]: For sure, I will basically give three phases in terms of timeline, so Phase 1: Where we are, the features that we already have that came with the new platform, one is Ad Links as I mentioned before the ability for the marketer to be able to access their advertisements in our Ad Syndication network at any moment, the second feature that's also available, the ability to send leads from Ad Syndication sources to third party software such as property management software, third, the ability to view leads from both your website and from Ad Syndication sources where you are promoting your vacancies. So basically, a new feature that we call the Centralized Leads Inbox a few types of leads can be viewed in one place, and then the ability to manage multiple websites in the same account, those are all features there are available and coming over next month, we will have the ability to visualize an ad before it goes live the Ad Previews, and being able to customize how you want that advertisement to look like, Ad Layouts. Also, the ability to set up autoresponders for Ad Syndication leads, the is the ILS autoresponders I referred to, you set up an automated message, it will get sent out and you can give some extra resources to the prospect right away, and in addition to that, there will be a new reporting system that will have the metrics that the legacy Rentsync Dashboard offers, as well as some new metrics as Mike was talking about, metrics from cost per lead or lease, at some point, and then before midyear, we will be launching some new tools to help drive conversion rates and make lead management easier.
Diego von Söhsten [0:25:05.3]: So also when it comes to the efficiencies that we are talking about, we will be by mid-year looking for tools and mechanisms to make our Ad Syndication system work even faster, so if you're making a change, we want that change to be reflected in your listing faster than the way things look like right now, getting as close as possible to real-time changes, so those are all highly requested features and ideas from our customers, and also some things we are seeing the market that we believe that we should be taking on to make marketers and leasing agents more efficient.
Nicolina Savelli [0:25:44.0]: So the next few months are gonna be quite busy for your team, I'm sure, but looking forward to seeing that all come out and hearing the feedback, and I'm at the end of the hard questions for the both of you, I just wanna quickly ask for those looking to connect with you both. Where can people find you online? So Diego, you can go first.
Diego von Söhsten [0:26:08.0]: Perfect. My answer will be, a little bit unusual. So the first place where you can find us in the product, if you go to the Rentsync Platform, you submitting ideas, I will be the one, the primary person actually getting to those ideas and sharing them with the team. So that's a great place to be giving feedback, and of course, I'm also on LinkedIn, my profile isn't the most up-to-date profile, but you can definitely find me there. You won't find other people with my name, I don't think so, at least in North America. And you can message there.
Nicolina Savelli [0:26:41.1]: Thanks, Michael. What about yourself? Or can people connect with you?
Michael Mottola [0:26:46.6]: I would say LinkedIn again, it's a great option. Again, my profile is not up-to-date, I haven't had to switch jobs in a while, but you can reach me on LinkedIn at Michael Mottola.
Nicolina Savelli [0:26:56.2]: Awesome, alright guys, well, thank you so much for joining me and for being on the show, and thank you for working so hard on delivering this new platform and really looking forward to seeing the features and the whole product roll out is really exciting, so thanks for taking your time, I know you guys don't have that much time, but thank you that.
Michael Mottola [0:27:18.0]: Thank you Nicolina, pleasure to be here.
Diego von Söhsten [0:27:21.5]: Thank you so much, nice chatting.
Nicolina Savelli [0:27:23.0]: And for those looking for all the important highlights from this episode, be sure to follow hashtag #GetSynced and until next time, keep swimming.
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