Infographics Help Customers Understand Your Business

TFInfographic-Thumb25You have probably seen them before, but may not know the term – infographics. These are graphic representations of an idea, a concept, an organization, or a help topic. If fact, similar graphics have been in widespread use forever, but today’s infographic follows a loose format that includes colors, cartoon characters, symbols, charts, and other design tools to make a concept more understandable.

The Tenant File has an infographic at http://www.tenantfile.com/TF_Infographic.htm. This infographic is designed to help the viewer to understand the broad picture of what the Tenant File provides. A picture is truly worth a thousands words. At one glance, you can see how the various modules interact with the main program. Plus, there is other information in the form of a bar graph that provides interesting information about the Tenant File rental management software as well.

You can take advantage of this to promote your business. Your customers are more likely to click on an email link or website link if they can see a colorful graphic. The infographic in this blog was created by a free infographic designer called Piktochart. The free version will display their logo and link at the bottom of the infographic.

Some suggestions for use would be a display of your company employees, your mission statement, or the areas that you serve. Don’t be too serious with the text or the symbols.  It is meant to be a fun way to learn and to provide valuable information to your clients. If you also create a link to your website it can additionally help with the SEO of your site. Or, you can send it out with your emails.

Have fun and provide a service to your customers at the same time!

 

 

 

What are CAM charges and why should you care?

Tenant File CAM Charge Posting

CAM stands for  (Common Area Maintenance) , and they are charges which you post to a group of Tenants. Most commonly, CAM charges are for expenses such as building maintenance, taxes, or insurance. So the most common use is for commercial property, however, any Tenant File user can take advantage of its CAM posting ability for other types of charges.

Now, these charges are only to the ‘tenant’, so you can only select accounts that are specifically created to post only to the Tenant’s Ledger in the program. You could set up a single expense account called ‘CAM Charge’, or you could create several different more specific charges, such as one for ‘Utilities’, another for ‘Grounds Maintenance’, and another for ‘Insurance Costs’. These expenses are typically paid by the owner (or manager) and then ‘passed through’ to the tenant, so they are also referred to as ‘pass through’ charges.

Here’s an example on how to post something. Let’s say you have a bill for ‘Grounds Maintenance’, and you want to pass the expense to your tenants.

  • Do you want to divide it equally among all tenants?
  • Do you want to divide it according to their rental space size (square footage)?
  • Do you want to divide it according to ‘leased’ space, ignoring vacant rentals?

These type of questions will determine how much is charged to each tenant. You can even use the amount (or percentage of rent) that is entered in one of the three ‘recurring fields’, found in the information for every rental unit.

Furthermore, you don’t have to charge this to every tenant. You can just select a specific owner and charge only to that Owner’s tenants. You can even choose a specific property or building for the charge, or even just one tenant.

Another example: You charge a specific Owner‟s Tenants for Maintenance, Taxes, and Insurance once a month. The yearly charge of all 3 combined is $12,000, and you have 6 Tenants for this Owner. That means each month, a $1,000 (12k / 12 months) charge would need to be divided amount that Owner‟s Tenants.

1. Under ‟select how to allocate’, you would choose if you want the charge divided evenly among the 6 Tenants, base it on each Tenant‟s total of the total square footage, include only leased units, etc.

2. Under ‘Charge to’ you would choose ‘All Tenants of one or more Owners, and choose the Owner‟s name from the list.

3. Lastly you would select the account. You have 2 choices:
#1. If you want one transaction to appear in the ledger for each Tenant, you would set up one account for all 3 charges (Maintenance, Taxes, and Insurance) and call it something like ‘Monthly CAM Charges’. Then click the ‘Choose Accounts’ button and set up this charge, using the amount $1,000.
#2. If you want detail of the transactions for more detailed reporting, you would set up 3 accounts, one for ‘Maintenance Fees’, another for ‘Monthly Taxes’, and another for ‘Insurance Fees’. Then click the ‘Choose Accounts’ button and set each of these up. The ‘total’ for all 3 would add up to $1,000. You will see that total next to the ‘TOTAL amount to be allocated’ field.

Your settings are saved, so you only have to set this up once. Each month, you would need to enter this screen and click the ‘Post CAM Charges NOW’ button. Of course, if you only charge CAM charges once a quarter or once a year, you would divide the total $12,000.00 charge differently.

So, while CAM charge posting is normally used for commercial property, you can probably see other uses for residential property. For example, if you manage a mobile home park, you might want to allocate an electric bill to all tenants in the park. Or, if you manage a fourplex, there might be charges that you want to allocate to your tenants on a regular basis. If you manage a gated community, you might want to allocate a security fee or a HOA fee. As long as you are posting to a tenant ledger, there is no limit to your options.

Still looking for Update Suggestions…

Tenant File LogoOur next major update is scheduled for a summer 2013 release. Programming is still accepting suggestions to improve our property management software. If you have a suggestion that you think will benefit everyone, please let us know!

We can’t release the specific details yet, but there are going to be many features suggested by our fantastic customers. We’ll have reports that will make your accounting and balancing easier, improvements to the check section, a new late fee feature, and new user interface and much more.

Our staff appreciates the excellent response that we had to our last call, and Programming still has time to get in a few more ideas. We’ll have to close the suggestion flow at the end of May to prepare for the final release. Keep ’em coming!

Use the built-in Reminder System to it’s fullest!

The Tenant File Reminder System is an easy to use feature that is flexible enough for any property manager. It combines the most critical items into one compact screen, and gives you the ability to choose exactly what you want to see. On the right side of the screen, you’ll see the On/Off check boxes, which enable you to choose any or all of the available reminders to show up each time you enter the Tenant File program.

Tenant File Reminder System

There are 2 basic types of reminders. Every Owner, Property, Unit, Tenant, and Vendors has a button so that you can add reminders easily.

  • To Do
    These reminders have an ‘action date’. So whenever you have a date in the future that requires you to take some action, you should use these. This might include repairs to be done, vacation dates, or rent increases – whatever you want to use it for.
  • Event
    Unlike the ‘To Do’ reminders, the ‘Event’ reminders just log something for your records, and there is no action date in the future. For example, if a tenant calls to complain about the neighbor’s noise, you’ll want to keep a record of the complaint.

Is is easy to sort your reminders various ways, using the ‘Sort By‘ choices on the right side.

The ‘Date Range to Show‘ gives you the ability to choose how far ahead you want to be reminded. For example you might want to see reminders 30 days ahead of the ‘action date’ or some other period of time. Additionally, if you want to see all reminders in the entire system, just click on the ‘Show all Reminders‘ button. This is a good way to see if you have any old reminders that you want to delete.

Besides the standard reminders, there are also several helpful other built-in reminders. You can choose to see any tenants that have balances due, you can view tenants with leases that are about to expire (through any date), you can view owners that owe you funds, or you can view owners that have a credit and need to be paid.

As you use the On/Off boxes to choose what you want to see, the screen is adjusted so that you can see more of the remaining choices without having to scroll. To turn the entire Reminder System off, simply remove all of the check marks. As you can see, the Tenant File Reminder System is well laid out, and was designed to give the busy property manager the most information in the smallest amount of space. Couple that with the ease of use and this reminder system will save your company time and effort to get the information you need quickly.

The Reminder System is versatile and powerful!

Tip of the day! The Feature Search

Tenant File Feature Search
The Feature Search Screen

The Feature Search Screen

When you have entered your information under the ‘Features’ section in the Tenant File (go to any Unit and click ‘Features’) it is time to put it to use. One way is the RentalWIZ service to upload your vacancies to the Internet. However, this article will focus on searching for specific items from within the program.  To do this, you use the ‘Feature Search’ section, found under ‘Miscellaneous > Feature Search‘.

Let’s say you have a prospective client that is looking for a 3 bedroom house, with 3 baths, and a back yard with a deck. That is where the Feature Search comes in.  In fact you can have not just three items, but up to five! So, you could search for the following:

  • A two bedroom house
  • With a built-in dishwasher
  • With a privacy fence
  • Near a certain area of town
  • With a lease to purchase option

Starting with the first ‘Pick a Search Choice’ option at the top, you would first select a MAJOR category, such as ‘Interior’ . Then, you would enter a SUBCATEGORY, such as ‘Bedrooms’. Then you would enter your KEYWORD, such as ‘Two’.  That’s all. Next you would move back up to the top and choose your second MAJOR category, such as ‘Appliances’, then the SUBCATEGORY, like ‘Dishwasher’, then the keyword, like ‘Built-in’. You get the idea.

Once you are finished with the criteria you want, just click the ‘Show Results’ button to see what available rentals in your inventory match your choices. Of course you can choose to browse ‘All Units’ or just those that are VACANT.

Hope this has been informative for you. We talk to customers all the time that have been using the Tenant File for years, and they say “Wow, I didn’t know it could do that!”. We’ll keep adding tips to make you aware of some of these neat tricks to make the Tenant File even more valuable to your office.

Run away screaming from SEO offers!

I’m pissed. Sorry for the language, but I am. Probably like you, I run a top-notch company, I’m an honest person, and I work really hard. So, it really gets to me when I trust another company and get scr%@ed. I’m talking about SEO – search engine optimization. You know, the way for your site to climb to the top of Google’s rankings.

You probably get tons of those SEO company promises in your email. I get about 20 a day. “We’ll get you top ranking in Google!”. All you have to do is pay about $150 per month and they will add tons of links to your site, submit to directories, write articles, post blogs, fix your meta tags, write content, social marketing, and on and on….if you see this….run! Back in 2010, these things were credible in Google, but since Panda and Penguin (Google algorithm updates) things all changed. Adding your site to a web directory isn’t that important any more, other than maybe under 20 national well established directories, and a handful of (your industry) related directories. Content on your site is still important, but now you can be penalized by Google for too many of your primary keywords on the same page, and not enough ‘synonym’ keywords. If you think that adding 150 links per month will help you, you are wrong. Each link must be relevant to your business, come from a respected site, and ‘trading’ links (reciprocal links) doesn’t help you, and could even hurt you if done too much.  Article sites aren’t not important any more, you need to build your reputation by creating information so valuable that it gets distributed via social sites (like Facebook, Twitter, Digg, LinkedIn, etc). So, if you go with the ‘old school’ SEO you’ll probably regret it! They will most likely put up a bunch on links to your site, that you will end up spending untold hours trying to get rid of.

I tried that approach way back when. As I became pretty much an expert in SEO, I hired a local company to help out. Several thousand dollars later, I found out that they put up questionable links as well, and I fired them. Next I went to the top and hired a nationally recognized company to do SEO for me. Big mistake. One day I called them and asked why I didn’t see any links. They had contracted to add 125 ‘industry relevant’ links per month. Apparently they had forgotten, and quickly ‘subbed out’ to another company, which in turn put out some horrible links. I’m talking links to dog, cat, and horse websites! Thousands more dollars down the drain…I can’t even say their name publicly because they made me sign an agreement in order for me to get a partial refund.

So, I guess you can see why I’m pissed. Now we do our own SEO in house and the results are great. Our link building is slow, steady, and relevant. We are getting back in good standing with Google finally after undoing all of the bad work done by other companies I trusted (and paid). I hope this will give you some advise so that you don’t have to go through what I did. I wish you well!

Vacation rentals with the Tenant File?

We sometimspecial rent postinges get questions as to whether the Tenant File can be used to track vacation rentals. The answer is a qualified yes! While the main thrust of the Tenant File Property Management Software is for long term rentals and commercial property, you can certainly use it for your vacation homes. We don’t recommend this if you are a large vacation rental company, but if you have a few vacations homes, the Tenant File will fit right in.

To accommodate weekly, bi-weekly, or even daily rentals, we created the ‘Special Rent Charges’ menu (Posting > Special Rent Charges). This allows for you to set up a rent charge to be posted every ‘x’ number of days automatically. The caveat is that if you are using the Special Rent Posting to post rents automatically, you’ll also need to post your other (monthly) rents automatically, too. That just makTenant File Scheduleres sense, and you won’t have to worry that something doesn’t get posted. The rent charge transactions will just show up in you ledgers automatically, based on the due date or the special rent date.

In addition to the ‘Special Rent Posting’, there is also a ‘Scheduler’ in the Tenant File program (Miscellaneous > Scheduler). This scheduler allows for you to ‘book’ dates, similar to a simple reservation system. You are able to block out a certain number of dates on a calendar. Each booking has an entry date, action date, starting date, ending date, detailed memo field, and 5 separate entry fields.

The 5 entry fields would typically be used for the guest name, phone numbers, email, and other similar items. The memo field would be used for any other notes you need to make. Whenever you choose a specific rental property, you’ll see the booked dates in bold on the calendar.

While the Scheduler can be used for booking as described above, you can use it for anything. For example, if you need to block out a range of dates when the property will be under repair, or a vacation for a tenant, you can do that as well. It is up to you. Since this is part of the built-in Reminder System of the Tenant File, you can use the ‘Action Date’ to be reminded of an upcoming event, or the date that a guest needs to be contacted concerning their reservation.

Some features like this are overlooked by users of the Tenant File, but if used properly they can save you time and effort by not having to maintain a schedule elsewhere. Just use your imagination to get the most possible out of it.

 

 

We would like your suggestions to improve

Barn Scene

At Tenant File we are busy working on the next major release. As always, we first ask our current users what they would like to see in the next release of the program. So now is the time to let us know the features you want in the Tenant File software. We’ll be adding new reports to help with audits, adding the ability to save settings on various screens, increasing the number of available checking accounts, adding new automated features and much more.

Our programmers have already starting make the changes that we think will improve the ease of use for our customers, and we’ve already received a large number of ideas and suggestions from you already.  If there is anything that you think will serve everyone better, we are anxious to hear from you!

Don’t forget to take advantage of your free listing in the Real Estate Available website, and to sign up for the RentalWIZ program, which gives you a free web page for vacancy listings and syndicates your vacant rental property throughout the Internet! Get more information by CLICKING HERE.

We hope that all of you have a happy and prosperous New Year 2013! Let us know what we can do to make it better!

A Free Listing for your Company

Compliments of the Tenant File, and exclusive for Tenant File customers, we are offering a free listing on our Zillow powered site www.RealEstateAvailable.com. This site is for real estate ‘sales’ only, and is becoming popular for anyone looking for their dream home. We ask that you help us out with a review or a ‘like’ on Facebook, but that is not a requirement. We just need your information to post for your particular state.

To get your listing, visit: http://www.tenantfile.com/TFSocial.html

Thanks!

The Tenant File Staff

Tenant File announces new Partner Program

Tenant File LogoThe Tenant  File Property Management Software is announcing a new Partner Program for current Tenant File users. In an effort to expand our social media reach, we are offering incentives to join us on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets. In return for joining our network, promoting the product, or reviewing the software, Tenant File customers will be able to receive discounts on current products, receive extended support,  free listings on property management and sales listing websites and more. This promotion is kicking off December 20th and will last through the end of January 2013.  See our website at http://www.TenantFile.com for details, or call us at 1-800-398-3904.

Property Management Software articles