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Custom FileMaker Property Management Software

Empire State Properties (ESP) is a full-service real estate company that provides sales, rental, and management services for hundreds of New York City property owners. Suzanne Miller founded the company in 1991 and has been going strong since. ESP takes pride in the stature of its properties and the clientele it services. Many of the residences offer luxury accommodations and amenities that leverage the beauty and convenience of living in New York City. And the properties offer a variety of options in terms of layouts, furnishings, leasing options, etc.

Owners and investors rely upon ESP to manage and find tenants for their apartments on both short-term and long-term bases. In addition to lease management services, ESP offers various related services, including housekeeping, finances, and other apartment utilities such as high-speed Wi-Fi, cable television, and linens. Each residence is unique and offers individualized leasing terms and amenities to occupants. There are quite a number of details that ESP has to track and handle professionally and efficiently. As such, ESP turned to technology and The Support Group to help them with their lease management software.

Turnkey Property

ESP has relied on the FileMaker platform to manage its operations for many years because of the software's ability to enhance overall productivity and adapt to operational changes. TSG began working with ESP in 2011 to maintain and support their original FileMaker lease management software. Yet, as time passed and FileMaker's features and capabilities expanded year after year, a rebuild eventually became practical.

FileMaker offers mechanisms to consolidate databases and centralize the data sources and deployment servers. In addition, several enhancements emerged that made managing and maintaining ESP's complex system more efficient. As a forward-thinking firm, ESP wanted to leverage state-of-the-art technology to support its growth and innovation. So, in 2019, a project was underway to rebuild the rental property management software from the ground up with modern and sophisticated components.

ESP had created organized and functional workflows to manage their regular operations, but the rebuild gave us the opportunity to re-evaluate and streamline their processes. We also focused on improving design aesthetics and replacing manual tasks with automation. One thing the original lease management software lacked was an accessible dashboard. The ESP internal users wanted a way to assess property availability quickly and easily. As a result, we created a color-coded overview panel within the application to make it easy to see gaps between occupancies.

Good Bones

ESP's lease management software was built with the FileMaker Pro client. It is a robust application that manages hundreds of units. The level of detail associated with each unit is substantial – owner information, amenities, photos, work orders, lease terms, etc. It's a lot of information to track, but FileMaker handles it effectively. The software cumulates different property arrangements, such as lease contracts with owners as well as sales, rental, and management agreements. The arrangements vary by owner, building, and/or tenant. ESP can customize its deals because it personalizes its software with FileMaker.

Of course, ESP must comply with certain industry and local regulations. There are brokerage fees as well as hotel and occupancy charges that the rental management software has to account for. As a result, FileMaker houses the logic to satisfy the various tax and legal requirements.

Their data and workflows are organized into a few different modules:

  • The leases module connects a lessee with a unit and stores all the fine details of the agreement, i.e., terms, rates, cleaning schedules, etc.
  • The unit module connects to an owner and a building and includes property photos and amenities.
  • The contacts module contains information about people, such as tenants, owners, professional service providers, etc.
  • The financial module manages the accounts payable, accounts receivable, and invoices. The fiscal data is eventually exported to ESP's accounting software, Sage (formerly Peachtree).

Dream Home

Virtually every functional group within ESP uses the FileMaker rental management software, from sales and accounting to the apartment services staff. It effectively maintains properties and minimizes administrative tasks for the internal staff. The application has served them well for several years and continues to support their workflows. However, in time, the interface needed to be updated. And there were new features that we could take advantage of to improve system performance. 

So, TSG collaborated with the ESP team to refresh the visual aspects and upgrade the user experience. The goal was to apply a clean and sleek display. In terms of function, we wanted to automate repetitive tasks and add reporting capabilities.

The automation arguably was one of the most appreciated new features. The most remarkable impact was realized in their monthly reconciliation process. ESP pays the unit owners according to the rent collected from tenants. However, because the terms and specifics for each unit vary by owner, the math is complex. They have to calculate the funds based on the lease terms, which could be fixed or variable, and account for any expenses or work orders associated with the unit. It had been a very time-consuming process. We programmed the application to reconcile payments to owners. The rental management software computes all the numbers and provides a summary for the accounting team to review, make manual adjustments if necessary, and ultimately process.

Automation helps us streamline mundane tasks, reduce errors, and improve productivity. Since we had already developed a reconciliation process for the owner payments, we were able to adapt that for tenant reconciliations. ESP uses the software to return rental deposits at the end of the term automatically. The tenant reconciliation is less intense than it is for the owners, but it still saves valuable time.

Open Concept

We work with ESP on a regular basis as the lease management software is a constant work in process. We collectively find new ways to optimize their operations, and they consistently invest in its maintenance.

"Matt, our program developer, is absolutely awesome!!!  ESP has been working with The Support Group for over a decade and rely on their FileMaker expertise to manage our property management software, the crux of our business operations.  They've made it possible to manage our extensive data and offer strategic guidance on implementing system improvements because they've taken the time to get to know our unique business.  TSG has enabled us to be more efficient, helping to optimize and streamline our day-to-day operations."

-Kevin Housen, Controller & Program Development Coordinator, Empire State Properties

In an effort to perpetuate modernization, we integrated the FileMaker lease management software with DocuSign, a digital solution for administering documents. ESP is responsible for a lot of paperwork, especially leases. So, they adopted DocuSign to collect the signatures for lease agreements. Then, the signed and executed contracts are transmitted to FileMaker for secure and accessible storage.

There are many possibilities to automate ESP's workflows further. One possibility could be configuring the application to renew ESP's management agreements with the owners automatically. This function would ensure seamless continuity while streamlining routine tasks. 

The Support Group has been developing custom apps for 40 years. See how we helped create a FileMaker document management system and a financial management program for our clients. Read more of our Customer Success Stories and case studies

Contact us to learn more about our custom software development services or schedule a free initial consultation.

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