939: Rental Management Made Easy: RentRedi Founder Ryan Barone

November 30, 2020
Managing rentals doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. On today’s podcast with Ryan Barone, we discuss how RentRedi makes the entire rental process easier for everyone involved. Ryan also shares some of the common mistakes new landlords make along with a few tips on self-managing rental properties. If you’d like to try RentRedi, use code “ROCKSTAR” to get their annual plan for just $1!
Listen to today’s show and learn:
  • About RentRedi founder Ryan Barone [0:54]
  • Rentals in New York City right now [2:14]
  • The story behind RentRedi [6:20]
  • How landlord feedback fueled RentRedi’s development [9:50]
  • How RentRedi makes property maintenance easy [11:16]
  • Covid-related problems RentRedi solves [13:40]
  • A new RentRedi feature that encourages tenants to pay on time [16:50]
  • Common mistakes first-time landlords make [19:00]
  • Tips on self-managing your first rental [22:36]
  • How agents can help investor clients with RentRedi [26:20]
  • Ryan’s goals for RentRedi [27:30]
  • Why RentRedi is the best option for landlords who want to scale [29:02]
  • The problem with “free” property-management software [33:21]
  • Ryan’s advice for entrepreneurs [34:49]
  • Where to learn more about RentRedi [38:31]
  • Plus, so much more.
Ryan Barone It all started when CEO Ryan Barone lost out on a great apartment in New York City. A double major, top of his class, and with an internship on Wall Street – getting documents for rental applications shouldn’t have been a problem. But it was. And it wasn’t just an issue for him. Speaking with friends, he found the application process for rentals was difficult for everyone, tenants and landlords. Gathering and storing documents and having them easily available for landlords was a problem – and RentRedi became the solution. As the Chief Executive Officer of RentRedi, Ryan Barone guides their vision to provide small landlords with software that helps them minimize turnover, reduce the time needed to manage their apartments, and increase profitability, all while making the entire rental process seamless for their tenants and themselves. Ryan develops RentRedi’s software for their Web App, iPhone App, Android App, and server-side code. By doing all of their programming in-house, they ensure that RentRedi is agile enough to listen and respond to owners’ feedback with updates that keep them and their tenants happy and loving renting. Thank You Rockstars! It might go without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway: We really value listeners like you. We’re constantly working to improve the show, so why not leave us a review? If you love the content and can’t stand the thought of missing the nuggets our Rockstar guests share every week, please subscribe; it’ll get you instant access to our latest episodes and is the best way to support your favorite real estate podcast. Have questions? Suggestions? Want to say hi? Shoot me a message via Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or Email. -Aaron Amuchastegui

Aaron Amuchastegui: Real Estate Rockstars, this is Aaron Amuchastegui. I’m here for a really fun interview today. This is going to be a unique, unique interview. I get to interview today Ryan Barone. He is the founder, the first developer that created the CTO of RentRedi. You guys have recently heard me saying RentRedi is our new sponsor. They’ve been our sponsor for all of our Real Estate Rockstar shows. We aren’t running any ads right now other than telling people about the RentRedi property management software.

I want to be able to talk to Ryan today to learn a little bit more about it. There’s going to be so much that we’re going to be able to teach people today about renting houses, the processes behind it, how people manage in today’s COVID world, how to communicate, how to learn a lot about your customer and your clients, and even your team members in any company you might be involved in. Ryan, thanks for joining us.

Ryan: Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

Aaron: Ryan, first as we get started, tell everybody where do you live right now?

Ryan: I live in New York City.

Aaron: In New York City. New York City has been all over our podcast over the past few months. We’ve had a lot of stuff happening out there. My daughter was super disappointed. We were supposed to go see Beetlejuice on her birthday in May and that obviously all got canceled. Now maybe she’ll never get to go see Beetlejuice.

New York is one of the most heavily impacted places for what’s going on. They’ve talked a lot about the market going up and down there, and people leaving the city and going to the outskirts. Now maybe people are starting to come back. They talk about vacancy is way up. What’s it like in the city right now?

Ryan: It’s pretty interesting. They’ve certainly done a pretty good job of moving everything outdoors as much as possible, people wear masks and all of that’s been great. It’s been really interesting to see how landlords have adapted to managing during this post-COVID time as well.

Aaron: What are you going to do for the outdoor restaurant? New York is cold in the winter. Right now, it’s probably super cold out there. Are people eating outside in giant coats or no?

Ryan: It’s been fairly warm so far. I’m just as curious as you to see how it goes, if people will throw up heating lamps and just throw on coats and say, “I’m going to do that all winter,” or they’ll eventually throw their hands up and go indoors. I’m hoping for the outdoor.

Aaron: Some cities have even closed off their streets completely and then brought everything out to cover the whole street. I ate at a place when I was out in California a couple of weeks ago. They redesigned their whole outside area back in March where you feel like you’re inside except where they have these open windows with heaters over them instead so they could find their exception.

When it comes to it, are you seeing as many vacancies in New York City as people are talking about in housing right now?

Ryan: I don’t know if it’s as much as it’s played out. There’s certainly a lot of challenges. It’s quite a bit of a mix of things. Some landlords, vacancy is not an issue and they’re juggling with, “How do I shift things to not as much pen and paper?” and some are juggling just plain out vacancies in that respect.

Aaron: Just from a personal level, do you think that a year from now New York will be super busy again and full? Do you think that it will go back to the way that it was?

Ryan: I do. I’m optimistic on New York. It’s certainly different in terms of the precautions you have to take, but in terms of the feel in New York, it still feels like New York. I feel pretty good that it will come back.

Aaron: There’s opportunity for people to invest there now. Prices have come down a little bit, and with vacancies, comes cheaper rents and things like that. For the people that have been priced out, maybe now is the time to get back in before it gets back to awesome, right?

Ryan: Definitely. One of the landlords I know in the city has a portfolio out in Crown Heights and pretty much got all of that– built that up throughout the financial crisis when everything was really low especially out in the Crown Heights area and has been able to do really well by taking it, riding the market the right way.

Aaron: What have you done yourself through this year post-COVID? The world changes. Everybody’s like, “Oh my gosh. What’s going to happen?” Do you have any habits or things that you’ve done to make sure that you keep moving the ball forward, keep living your best life?

Ryan: Just personal things to-

Aaron: Yes. So much of New York was the fun stuff in the city, right?

Ryan: Yes. You can still get a lot of food here. I do love trying new food, different foods. I’m still keeping strong eating Taco Tuesday every week, trying out new foods in different areas. You can still do that which is a great time. You’re either outdoors or ordering it in but it’s still a lot of fun.

Aaron: Enjoy what you can of the city. The glass is half full always and we’re staying grateful. One of the last guests that I had on here, we talked about his big survival technique was just staying grateful. Be grateful for the things that you do have. It’s a lot tougher to think about the stuff that we don’t.

Let’s talk some more real estate. Let’s talk real estate and landlords. When you grew up, you weren’t thinking, “Hey, I need to build a software for landlords.” I think the story behind is this happened by accident. It happened out of need because you were the ideal user for RentRedi. Tell me about how that started. What’s the story behind that?

Ryan: Absolutely. Interestingly, it started more actually on just purely the application side of things. RentRedi itself really goes end to end but it started out with just applications. Like you said, it was from my personal experience. I was a renter in New York City. I found an apartment on a listing site and went and looked at it and then realized I need all of these documents for my application and all of this information. I kept having to redo that for different landlords and different agents. It seemed like there must have been a better way than these agents needing to continue to follow up with different people to get the same information or wait for that same information likewise from the landlord.

Initially, it was just an application app for myself and friends to put together the things we needed to be prepared to go to these units, and quickly landlords and agents came back to us and said, “Wait a minute. Our side is mostly pen and paper and spreadsheets as well. Can you make it better on our side too?” That’s where we started building and building more to add in the tenant screening and automate that to put in through qualifications that agents could meet with the best five people instead of necessarily the first five people that reached out to them. From there, expanded into paying rent and maintenance, and all of these different pain points really stories from landlords and their teams that we got along the way to really build out everything that it’s become.

Aaron: You were applying for an apartment and they said, “Hey, we need your pay stubs. We need where you lived before.” They need this whole thing.

Ryan: A lot of employment, bank statements, tax returns. I was a student at the time so student transcripts.

Aaron: Wow. You get all that together and then if you don’t get the first one then the next week they ask you for a similar maybe slightly different version, so then you’re picking that apart, and you’re starting to think, “There must be an easier way to save all these in one spot so we can just send them over or whatever.”

Ryan: When you look at colleges, they’ve created the Common App for colleges where you fill out one application and you can apply to all of these different colleges across the country. It made a lot of sense even coming from that setting to say, “Why isn’t there a college Common App for apartments for renting?”

Aaron: What a great point. That in a nutshell right there is being to fill an application in one place and then being able to apply at a bunch of places. Right now, the real estate market is really tight for rentals. For all of our rentals, we’re getting multiple applications at the same time. We’re not getting to approve everyone. It is a frustrating process for people when they’re applying. That’s a great point to say, “Hey, what about that easy button?” Where they get to do it once, they get to say, “Hey, these are the seven or eight places I want.” It’s cool that your software started with a lot of that in mind and then along the way you started adjusting that.

We talked when we got on that one of the best ways that you find stuff is you’re very active inside your business. You read the chats, you read what your customers are telling you, and then a few weeks later you start developing it, and who knows? Maybe a few weeks after that you actually have some of those new things in place. Are there any things that came up in that that you were super surprised by? Something that a customer told you, “Hey, could you do it like this instead?” and you had to make a big pivot or a new process change?

Ryan: Yes, definitely. One was from a landlord we had in Texas, they reached out on a Friday night. They said to us, “Listen I have this tenant. I’m, unfortunately, going through an eviction proceeding, one of the issues in place–” This was maybe a year or so ago. They said, “I’m going through an eviction proceeding.” One of the things in Texas, which is actually becoming more prominent throughout a lot of different states is if you accept a partial payment from that tenant it resets the clock. If you were to go into court the next day, the judge would just throw out the case.

The landlord said, “Can you allow me to decide, by-tenant if I allow partial payments or no payments at all?” We went in, we developed that overnight. We added that into the software for them so they could go in and control that on the tenant-by-tenant basis so that they’d be covered in any of those situations that they happen to find themselves in.

Aaron: What an awesome example, because yes, tenants can come hand you a $50 check and postpone things, but you could actually say, “I’m not going to take that. I’m not going to deposit that check. I’m not going to accept the partial payment.” When everything has moved online, I could see that being a loophole. That was a very important need on there. If a tenant has a problem with a house now, a resident, they say, “Hey, the dishwasher’s broken,” did that all happen through RentRedi too?

Ryan: It does. One of the nice things for the tenant is they have a mobile app directly on their phone, and so they can take advantage of a lot of features that comes with just having a smartphone, which is if they say, “The dishwasher’s leaking instead of just leaving it at that,” they can actually take a video of the issue and send it in with it. It’s very easy for a landlord or for their team, or even now with the partnership, we have, especially for new landlords that are just starting out, maybe they don’t have a maintenance person that can help them, they can enable that and actually have somebody see the video, diagnose the issue, communicate with the tenant, fix it, mark it complete. The landlord gets all of the oversight without necessarily having to go fix that leaking dishwasher themselves.

Aaron: Everything has changed this year. Landlord’s needs are changing. The things that they’re doing, just like you said, people are excited about it. One of the things you told to me before we got on the line, was it used to be the landlords had a choice, if they needed software or not, if they needed to accept electronic payments or not. Some preferred check or cash or being able to go to places. How does that change this year for people?

Ryan: You definitely said it. In the past, you could get a check in the mail and that might not have been an issue. Right now it’s a safety issue for a lot of landlords that they’re saying, “I still need to get my rent somehow, but I don’t necessarily want to take a check that someone just had their hands on, wrote, and put it in the mail to send to me,” giving them away to have a contact list payments platform to collect that information, or even going back to the maintenance piece that we were talking about there.

Maybe they have that broken dishwasher or maybe it’s not as complicated as a dishwasher, maybe there’s just something wrong with the sink or something, they can order a part and send that to somebody and say, “You know what? I’ll deduct it from your rent. Here’s the part, you need to fix it, and we don’t have to have someone come into your unit.” We’ve actually seen some landlords start to repurpose some existing features in that way to really fit what they need to– still do everything they need to in terms of managing, but also handle the safety needs at this point.

Aaron: So much of 2020 has been like the big pivot, where we’re so many times we have to find new ways of doing things. For our rentals, we used to always have somebody there at moving. They would hand them the keys, they’d fill out a form with them. They would do a walkthrough, “Anything not here?” They would show them how the house is working. Then anytime there was anything that needed to be done, we’d get to go in and out and all that changed. All that changed overnight, and we instantly had to say, “Now we’re no longer meeting with the residents there. We’re going to print out the paper a few days ahead of time and leave them.”

Now, we’re doing Zoom meetings, where we’re doing video calls before they move in to meet them, video calls the day after they move in to walk through the house to make sure it’s okay. Then a month before they move out, we used to go in and say, “Hey, you move out next month, let’s walk through the house, tell you how you’re going to get your deposit back.” Now that’s getting switched over to Zoom.

It does seem like every couple of weeks still. These changes happen in March, but every couple of weeks, we are still repurposing how we do real estate, how we manage these new problems because something else will come up and we’ll go like, “Oh, we used to do that to prevent this issue, but now we stopped doing that in March and April, maybe we can do this now instead.” You’ll probably continue to see so many changes. Any future changes that you’re thinking are going to be coming soon or that people are going to be asking for out in real estate?

Interviewee: Absolutely. The maintenance coordination piece was one we actually just added a week ago. It was a big ask from a lot of landlords on the platform saying, “If I don’t have somebody, or I haven’t necessarily negotiated with trying to get the right person to fix things, can you help me with that?” That was really the purpose for adding that. Likewise, anything we add at this point actually comes– you were talking about the chat earlier, it really comes from these landlords messaging in and saying, “Here’s the issue I’m having. What do you think about this?”

A sneak peek of one of them that’s coming up soon is we’ve had some landlords asking about, “Can you report my rent to credit bureaus or my tenant’s rent to credit bureaus as a way to either help them boost credit or encourage them to pay on time?” We did actually come up with a partnership with TransUnion and we’ll actually be working on and releasing that later this year where tenants will be able to have their rent reported to the credit bureau and boost their credit or pay more frequently on time for landlords. It could be nice for them.

Aaron: Yes, that is very cool. That’s a current problem that we have with our residents at different times. Sometimes when someone does have to go through eviction, you get a judgment, but it doesn’t necessarily go anywhere. When someone goes to apply for rent at the next place, there’s no way to really notify that landlord other than the tenant’s honesty in their application. It says, “Have you been evicted?” They could say, “No,” and it’s not going to be very easy to see if they’re telling the truth or not. The credit bureau stuff is pretty great.

Agents, as you’re listening, this year, I’ve been talking so much about having a backup plan, about expanding from being– I don’t want to say just an agent because you guys are rockstar agents. Nobody is just an agent. You guys are doing a ton of volume and you’re really working hard to be successful, but I like the idea of diversifying, of having some other things to help you out because maybe the first couple months of COVID, there wasn’t as many transactions. Now, a lot of agents have seen like, “No, it’s my busiest year.”

There was some time where there was that shift where I’m sure a lot of agents that are greatly successful now were thinking, “I wish I had a couple of other things.” We’ve talked to people about getting into investing, about buying a rental, paying off a rental, or we talked about buying other businesses and things like that. This thing you’re talking about, a software that can help people when things come in, maybe it’s even going to outsource it. Most of your things that you come up with are errors that landlords make. What are some common mistakes that landlords make when they first become landlords?

Interviewee: You see it in lots of different pieces of the process. It can be something like not calculating late fees correctly, or even in certain states now, there’s maximum late fees you have. If you have some base rate after five days, you charge $20 and you’re charging $10 every day, in certain states, there might be a 5% or 10% max late fee you can charge that you need to watch out for and make sure you’re capping that in your leases or when you’re charging it to tenants.

The same is true with the application process as well. When you talk about really having a process in terms of what do you look for? what do you accept based on? what do you reject based on? having that in place so that you make sure you’re protecting yourselves as well from a fair housing standpoint and just making sure you’re following a process. You even see it in the application process or in the maintenance rather where if someone reaches out for an issue, you, as an agent, now, landlord, don’t necessarily see the issue and they’re reaching directly out, maybe over text to somebody that would come fix it and it doesn’t get fixed. Ultimately, that does fall back on you, but you might not have the oversight to step in and say, “Oh wait, I can help out if I see this sitting here.” Having a way to really see what’s going on within your units in terms of what’s pending or what’s done, even if you are not necessarily the one that it’s going to go fix it yourself by hand.

Aaron: I can see not knowing your state’s laws because buying a house and renting it out, it is very simple. It seems very simple. I also remember when I probably had at least 10 houses, maybe a lot more, when I first had a resident, tell me, “Hey, aren’t you supposed to have an extra deadbolt here?” It was a privacy deadbolt. I was like, “Well, no.”

Then I really looked at the Texas Law and it said, no, they did need a special deadbolt above the other ones, that there was not kid so they could be secure. I was like, “Really, that’s a law?” That’s like, “If you’re going to have a renter, you have to add a special deadbolt inside the house.”

There’s been a slew of things that I have learned that were very simple laws that you figure out, or when somebody is moving in, you go, “Oh, we’ll just charge an extra deposit for this or for that,” but making sure you’re within those guidelines. I would say, probably, that makes a lot of sense that those would be common mistakes that landlords would make. It was interesting to learn pricing mistakes too when we first started.

We would list the house and sometimes, no one would show up. Our rule of thumb was if we had it listed and nobody showed up, there were two things that were wrong, either it was bad pictures or bad pricing. It could be both of those things that are stopping people from showing up. We would fix it, but then, if a lot of people were showing up and nobody wanted to rent it, if they don’t show up, it’s a pricing issue. If the pictures are great and no one shows up, it’s a pricing issue, your price is too high.

If people show up and now nobody wants it, that means the actual condition is worse than the pictures. It means there’s actually something wrong with the house. Getting to adjust that along the way and going, “No one is showing up? Let’s adjust our price. People are showing up, they don’t like it? Let’s go see if we need to fix something and make it a little bit better.” Any other landlord tips that you would give somebody if they’re getting ready to buy their first rental, things that they should be thinking about?

Ryan: I look at it just because I’m used to looking at it from a software standpoint of trying to take this group of knowledge, all the users on the platform and try to make the platform itself a guideline to make you get to skip over some of the mistakes that maybe other landlords make. The same thing is true for Real Estate Rockstars and other resources like that, and talking with other landlords to understand, “What did you do when you first started out? What things went wrong?”

You can use podcasts, you can use software platforms as really a great way of skipping over a lot of things that you otherwise, probably would have made the same mistakes as the 10 people before you and the 10 people after you, if you didn’t know.

Aaron: Most real estate rental transactions in New York now, is it all hands-free touch-free, people aren’t meeting in person anymore? Or are people still meeting in person now? How do you think that might change over the next year?

Ryan: I think there’s a huge shift. At least before COVID, the majority of landlords were still on pen and paper and spreadsheets. Sometimes, it wasn’t by choice. In a lot of cases, softwares in the past really have targeted these larger property managers and largely ignored the individual investor that wants to self-manage. There has been a huge shift, and I think it will continue in the long run. It’s not something that I look at it and say, “With COVID, it’s happening today and it’ll switch back afterwards,” because there is an enormous amount of convenience, not just for landlords, but also, for their tenants and the way that impacts their bottom line with turnover.

From the perspective of, like you said, someone sees your great photos, they come in and see your unit, they’re excited about it, and why is it that 50% of tenants leave at the end of the lease? Something along the way didn’t go as great as they would have hoped. It’s not necessarily for a lack of care. A lot of landlords have put their heart and soul into this. It’s because, in a lot of cases, there just aren’t the resources there for them.

It’s part of the thing that I love about Real Estate Rockstar, it’s part of the thing that we’re trying to do at RentRedi, as well, is just try to give them more of these resources to say, “You have everything you need to collect rent in an easier way. Your tenants just have autopay. They don’t have to say, ‘Oh, I forgot to put a check in the mail.’ ” Or there aren’t several messages back and forth saying, “Is it leaking from the faucet? Is it the pipe underneath? Is it destroying the kitchen floor or can you put a bowl under it? Do I need to get out of bed?” All these things that can drive a landlord up the wall, a tenant up the wall, and ultimately, everybody just gets to live a lot happier because of it.

Aaron: The living happy for everyone. One of the things you mentioned in there was you’re focusing on the littler guy, people getting started because overall there, you felt there’s somewhat overwork. I get that point because as I would travel around to trade shows, there was a lot of different cool software and technology out there for real estate. Some of it was thousands and thousands of dollars.

You’re talking about focusing for an individual landlord. What if that individual landlord has an agent? Most of our are listeners are agents. A lot of our agents are becoming investors or have some investments, but others might actually be buying a house for a client and saying, “Hey, you should buy this as a rental.” If they wanted to use your software to manage for them, is that possible? If I said, “Hey I’m an agent and I want to rent this out for a client to mine, but I want to use your software, does the agent still sign up?”

Ryan: Right. We have agents that do that. One of the nice things, especially coming from the application process was part of version one, early on. That was really important to me as well. Agents can either be a teammate of a landlord or if they wanted to even create the account and just share it with the landlord so that they have access, they can do that as well.

One of the nice things is you can control that access even to buy property or unit. If an agent themselves is managing for a few different landlords and they want to own the main account, they could add all of these different properties and share only access to those properties for those landlords or vice versa. Those landlords could sign up and add the agent back and give them just that access to view or even view and edit the pre-qualifications and applications that come in so that they have a better idea about, “I went and met with this person. Have they actually applied? Does it look good? Should we continue with the next steps of signing their lease?”

Aaron: What are your biggest goals with RentRedi?

Ryan: Really, the thing that makes me happiest to this day is when someone reaches out and tells me how much it has impacted them or their tenants. The overarching goal is truly to make the entire rental process from the day it needs to be listed until the day that lease ends easier for everybody involved, for landlords, for agents, for tenants, for even the maintenance people involved, just everybody to have this seamless experience that addresses all of these pain points that a lot of landlords, the agents, and maintenance people have experienced and in our case, have shared it with us.

We’ve had a chance to now say, “You’ve told us what’s wrong. You’ve told us the way it should be. Let’s just make that and give that to you and then stop having the issue.”

Aaron: That’s even cooler. I’ve released a couple of books and every time we said, “Hey, if it changes one person’s life, it’s worth it.” Whenever you get the story that says, “Hey, this totally worked. I’m a new landlord and my life’s easier, that’s awesome,” but you also have that extra thing too, where they said they have a new problem that nobody had solved, and then you get to be the first to solve it because you listen. You need to listen to your people.

You’re small enough, you’re a startup. You’re a startup with a lot of customers but you’re growing, you’re building onto your stuff, which gives you the flexibility to be able to make some of those changes and keep it fun. I like that when you get to think about what actually drives you for it.

When I was talking to some people over at RentRedi, a couple of months ago, I talked to them about, these other software companies they use, once we get up to so many properties, they start charging us more. They charge us per property that we have. There’s a lot of cool extra services, but depending on how many properties you have, they just keep charging you and keep charging you.

Some of the guys that work for you said, “You guys aren’t doing that.” As somebody gets bigger, the way they described it to me was, “We want to help the person grow. We don’t want to hinder the growth.” You have a rate that you charge, but it doesn’t go up if they get big, or if the landlord does own 20 houses now. Is that how it works? How did you come up with that idea?

Ryan: I didn’t so I can’t take credit for it. Actually, in the very early stages, there was this owner association in New Jersey that we went to, we went to these meetings. They were a big part of our focus groups in terms of trying to design really everything they needed and nothing, they didn’t. One of the things that we constantly heard was, “I don’t want to be taxed for my growth,” was the way that they put it to me. They felt like, “Finally, I’m managing well, I’m getting this new unit, and all of a sudden-” just like you said, “-getting this new one, pushes me over some threshold where all of a sudden I’m losing all of these profits that I’ve worked hard to attain.”

We really thought of it as saying, “Is there a way that we can make this incredibly affordable for landlords and not charge them more as they add additional units?” That’s still true and will stay true in terms of, they can add as many units as they want, they can add unlimited units, unlimited tenants, we don’t charge them anymore. Most of them just use the annual plan and they pay $9 a month, so a pizza once a month to manage all of their units.

Whether they grow to 50 or 500, they don’t end up paying more. It’s the way that we’ve structured it in terms of partnerships that we’ve made really on behalf of them, as well to say, “Can we partner with TransUnion?” and say, “We’ll bring you more landlords that wouldn’t have run screenings through you before, but do need to run these. Allow us to bring them to you, discount them in the process and treat them as this one group together.” We’re able to make money in that respect without charging more to the landlord.

Aaron: At first, you talked about a focus group, a landlord group that you got to go to. A lot of agents, you guys have local meetups that you go to for agents, but they also have landlord groups out there. At that group, was it mostly people that had a lot of houses? Was it mostly people who just had a few houses? Do you remember?

Ryan: It was mostly people that just had a few. It certainly ranged. In our focus group had everything from someone with a single-family home all the way up to someone with 2,600 units, which is the largest in the room, but most of them had a handful of units, five, 10 units at most. That was really the most common thing that we saw in the group.

Aaron: We tell people a lot of times to join a mastermind, to join a mastermind or a group, or get some friends that are doing the same business as you in other places that you could go through and talk to them about what’s working and what’s not, and come up with some plans together. As a great reminder that there’s a group like that for everything even for landlords. If you’re a new landlord and you’ve got your first house, and maybe you’re not trying to make any changes or anything right now, but you just want to learn a little bit more, join that local association, and you’re going to find somebody else that has one, you’re going to have somebody who has five, that has 10.

If you decide, “Hey, I want to have 20 houses someday,” the best thing you can do is go talk to several people with 20 houses. You don’t necessarily need to talk to the guy that has 500 houses unless you want to have 500. You need to figure out what you want to be and then learn from those people because those are drastically different business plans that are out there, drastically different goals what’s there.

The rent rate is going to continue to grow, you’re going to keep making changes as you go. The $9 a month is pretty crazy because there’s some property management software out there that is thousands a month. You have thousands of dollars a month to try it. From what I’ve seen, the features are the same. There’s also some property management software out there that says, “Hey, we’re free.” You’re like, “We’re $9 a month,” but when I started looking into the difference of some of the free ones, there were a lot of extra charges that would happen for collecting rent and things like that. It was like the freemium model, like, “Hey, the software’s free, but along the way, they charge you a lot of stuff as you go.” Is it $9, plus you get charged a whole bunch of stuff?

Ryan: No. That’s really where the thing gets tricky with a lot of those is they’ll say they’re free and nothing’s really ever free. Every company, no matter what industry they’re in, they have to make money somehow. My take on anywhere is if it says it’s completely free, find out why, because there has to be some money somewhere. In a lot of cases they’re charging more to get your money faster or for add-on features where they don’t address a lot of the features along the way. They might say, “We’re only going to do one piece of it,” and all of a sudden you’re using five different systems to try to manage everything, and you still have a headache that you started out with, in the first place.

Aaron: Last question. You’re an entrepreneur now. Now, you’re running a business. You own a business that wasn’t what you started off to do. All of our listeners, not all of them are property managers yet, not all of them are investors yet, but all of them are entrepreneurs. All of them run their own life. They run their own business and they’ve got different partners and different strategies. What is the one or two things you’ve learned as being an entrepreneur that you could give as advice to other entrepreneurs, the things that they should be focusing on, or how to grow or attitudes to have?

Ryan: One in particular that I think is interesting is that whatever you start out at expecting it to be like, a lot of the time it will never end up that way. In my particular case, it was trying to design a tenant-only application. All of a sudden you fast forward, and you’re end-to-end, it’s landlords, it’s agents, it’s their tenants, and being able to pivot and make those changes not just in a time like COVID, but just in general, understanding that things will change throughout that time.

Coupled with that, really the second piece is that almost everyone always has a client or a tenant or somebody that they’re working with, or it’s using their service or product. They are by far the best source of knowledge you can possibly ask for because if you ask for it a lot of the time, they’ll tell you exactly what they want and exactly the way they want it. Even if you ask them, “How would you envision actually making this possible?” They have some awesome ideas of how to make that a reality as well.

That’s one thing that I’ve done, it’s something I will always do is just try to you’re talking just about getting into the chat itself and really reading through about what people are asking for and why. I think you can apply that if you’re an agent talking to different tenants and maybe the tenant doesn’t want the unit. Trying to get a little bit of information about why is maybe you won’t sell that particular tenant, but you’ll set yourself up well for the next one you speak doing. I feel like it can be applied to anything.

Aaron: We were talking early on about how one of my favorite things to do is go read the chats at some of my software companies, see what people are asking for so we can know what to fix. All of you listeners know I listen to your reviews, I go read your reviews, I make adjustments where I see that I can make your reviews better. People are out there listening.

I like the idea too, as agents, one of those things you can do, you said you can go ask the questions of– even if you already sold the house for somebody, even if you already represented them in something a month or two ago, you can call them and go, “Hey, what’d you think? How did it go? What could I have done better? What really worked out well? What didn’t?” because your clients know about the process. They know what they love. They know what they didn’t, and just like you said, they will probably have some advice that says, “You know what? I would have, rather, in this case, you would have done this instead of that.”

It could be something really simple, “I wish that after this time, it would been like this. I wish that the way you would’ve done this would be done different, but it worked out fine.” Now, some of that time, you have to really grind people to do it. You have to really say, “No, I know that we got along great. Can you think of any little thing? I promise you won’t hurt my feelings. Is there something that happened, that you said, ‘Oh, I wish that that would happen differently.’? What is it?”

Agents, you will be amazed at what your people will tell you with that. You’re used to saying, “What kind of house do you want?” Answering those questions, at the end of the day, asking them, “How was my service? What kind of service do you want? How could I have changed it? What is your ideal experience? If there was a perfect experience, what would that be?” Try to strive to create that relationship and that experience for them.

Ryan, any final thoughts? People can go find more information about RentRedi at rentredi.com. That’s R-E-N-T-R-E-D-I. We’ve got a code where if they use “rockstars”, they get the whole year for $1 or something like that. It’s not free. You still have to pay $1, but that’s even cheaper than your $9 a month. Any other resources out there if people had questions for you or wanted to see maybe some other videos or things out there about you to learn more about business at RentRedi?

Ryan: Definitely. We have a YouTube and a blog as well. It depends on how you like consuming content, but if you’re a listener here, you’d probably the YouTube a little more, but there’s also a blog or anything else. Ultimately, just going back to the chat piece of it, if you just have questions or you want to talk about anything, shoot us a message. It’s honestly really nice to talk to people. If you ever have any ideas about different things you want to share, just drop by the site and message with the chat.

Aaron: Yes. Drop by the RentRedi site, put in a chat, tell Ryan he did a great job on the podcast. If you like one of the things that he’s added to the software, you could tell him that too. Or if you have any ideas, he’s happy to listen. The Real Estate Rockstars, thank you guys for listening. We’ll be back in just a few days with another podcast episode, but for now, that’s it. Thanks for listening, Ryan. Thanks for joining me.


Ryan: Thank you so much for having me.

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