First Virtual COHO Townhall 2022
We recently concluded our first Townhall at COHO. The idea was to share the features we had in mind and crowd-source the list of priorities in a true COHO way. We have always been a fan of building in public. It has been a transparent journey since the start and we want to continue to build it the same way.
We started COHO almost 3 years ago based on the idea that managing HMOs is difficult, and people are using loads of different tools to do it. We wanted to do two things. Firstly, to bring it all into one place to make it way easier and enable business insight that before this was impossible and to make shared living far more accessible and understood, hopefully increasing the demand, rents, and overall quality.
Throughout 2019 and 2020 we spoke to almost all of our current customers to help understand what the needs are. So when Sheryl suggested the idea of an open Townhall to get the inputs we were more than happy to host it. We want everybody to feel part of what is being built. Most software we use seems faceless, but behind it, there are teams, challenges, and successes, and we want all of our users to feel they can come on that journey with us, and help shape what we are building.
What was 2021 about?
The year 2021 has been momentous for us with each day bringing with it new challenges.
During last year we have launched some pretty big features:
- The demo site, which let many of you see what COHO was like without having to sit through long demos.
- Onboarding, which has been a really well-received feature to help you, onboard new tenants, seamlessly.
- Rent tracking
- Viewings tracking workflow
- Unified communications
- Android and iOS apps
- Unified search
- Rent schedule generation
- And then we’ve put in place features ready to expand, like the performance panel
There are also many other features which you are already using and that haven’t had a specific mention.
Some other updates from 2021
- We’ve had Gary Barker, a huge, experienced name in PropTech join the team to give us guidance as we mature.
- We won an agency software award in The Negotiator
- We started 2021 from 3 and are now 9 people strong team, soon climbing to 15.
What are we currently working on? Finances!
Many of you will be aware we’re working on our Financial Powerhouse features, though we haven’t said a huge amount about this yet. But here it is -
- The purpose of finances is to give you a full picture of how your portfolio is performing from a financial perspective. And create all of the necessary reports and statements to handle the running of it.
- That means for everything you spend in the running of the property, whether it be gas safety certificates, cleaning, key replacements, and anything else, you’ll be able to add this record against not only a property, but a specific room, or even a specific tenancy.
- Finances will recognise that some of you manage your own properties, some of you master lease, and some of you are managing agents, so depending on your circumstances, when adding items it will give you options to let you mark up the costs, add a visible management fee, absorb the cost, or pass the cost on to a property owner.
- It will also allow you to operate each property in a different way, ie, some are your own, some are managed.
- Using this information you can then effortlessly create owner statements, settlements, and profitability reports.
- What it isn’t trying to do is replace your existing accounting software. Yet. But it will replace the need to use your accounting software, which is built for business of all shapes and sizes, to create property-specific reporting.
- Though we will be looking to connect to your accounting software to pass information relating to reconciliation and expected costs.
- We’ll be launching it in three phases, with the first very, very close to completion
- Phase 1: This will allow adding any and all financial items related to running a property, and generating the mentioned reports. This will be fully included in your existing COHO membership.
- Phase 2: This will allow connecting your bank account through open banking, and instead of manually adding items we’ll automatically pull them through for you to categorise. This will also be fully included in your COHO membership for one bank account
- Phase 3: We will be using AI to automatically tag your transactions and automatically reconcile your rent.
- COHO will give you the option of letting it handle rent collection and reconciliation across all of your properties. Using open banking, COHO will guide the tenant to set up standing orders to your account with the correct date and reference. If COHO notices the standing order has been cancelled, it will prompt this to be set back up.
- The money will be straight in your account, so there will be no waiting for us to send it.
- COHO will constantly be checking for payment, and automatically mark as paid if so. If payment isn’t found it will start the credit control process via SMS and email, prompting the tenant to pay.
- Additionally, COHO will look for other items that have been in your account and attempt to automatically log and categorise these for you.
- What this could mean is there could be very little work between collecting rent, logging expenses, and generating statements, giving you more time to focus on other areas of the business.
- Those items will come with an additional cost, which we haven’t yet confirmed. We are thinking around £2-3 per unit.
Hopefully, this all sounds very positive for you, but we welcome feedback.
What does 2022 look like? Development Ideas
We have a long list of ideas we have, and things we want to add to COHO. We want to understand which you value most. Feel free to write us for anything you think we should add to COHO. Some of the ideas that we spoke about in Townhall are -
- Maintenance overhaul
- Bring your trades into COHO, allowing you to assign them maintenance tasks, have them quote, even communicate directly with tenants, and provide invoices
- Multi-user improvements
- Better handling for larger teams, letting you give access permissions to different staff members, and assign actions and tasks to certain people.
- Students & Joint Tenancies
- Improve onboarding to handle joint tenancies, onboarding multiple people simultaneously to the same property.
- Handle issuing a new contract to be signed by multiple people.
- Onboarding improvements
- Adding guarantor eSigning
- Adding built-in referencing
- Tenancy agreement improvements
- Allow adding a template tenancy agreement that will be automatically filled in with the tenancy information
- Offboarding process
- Agreeing on move-out date, viewing final rent, tracking inspection and room clean, handing back deposit, and relisting the property.
- Viewing improvements
- Allow pre-viewing questionnaires
- Calendar-based integration for picking a viewing date and time
- Remove the need for a user account for people viewing
- Invite property owners
- Allow inviting owners to view statements, and view certain information about the property status to give them peace of mind.
We also had a lot of inputs from the audience.
Matt at PoshDigz
spoke about the ability to edit messages for typos, etc and a potential module on referrals.
spoke about the rent management of cash payments.
Sarah at Alt Street
spoke about inclusion of Inventories
had a few suggestions up his sleeve which include the Pre-application form, Documents Section – blanks forms/templates, and Tenants quick view.
Sam Ellis at Fika Co-living
spoke about LetsPay integration, Onboarding Filter – to prioritise onboarding tenants, Referencing, User access levels, Messaging Search function, Sending Group Messages, Click to tenant/room from the message center, Automated follow-up messages, Edit forms – like application forms, and external integrations.
spoke about workflow management like assigning tasks to different users, cleaner having COHO access as a tradesperson, and bills section – to record bills for property and be able to ask tenants to make amendments to amounts they pay.
If you also have something in mind which is not covered here please feel free to write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we would love to have a chat and understand the requirement better.
We also wanted to make Townhall meeting a once-in-three-month affair &emdash; lease let us know your thoughts about that too.