Ok. That’s a Clickbait Headline. We admit it. Leasing automation software isn’t a term with the same internal redundancy as, say, jumbo shrimp, scented deodorant, or military intelligence. But at least those descriptors do accurately nail the thing they describe. Whereas “software” is a completely insufficient descriptor for “leasing automation”. Anyway, what’s most important is that the headline caught your eye.
Leasing automation does rely on software. However, leasing automation relies on so much more than just software. It’s that “so much more” bit (from both a technology and business perspective) that has us using the term platform. This term better encompass all the things that leasing automation is and does — instead of zeroing in on one aspect (software) and discarding the rest.
At ShowMojo, we do think we have a strong say in this as We Coined the Term Leasing Automation. Nonetheless, we do need to be grounded in our stance. Perhaps, occasionally, you will see or hear the combined words “leasing automation software” out of ShowMojo. It could happen for a couple of reasons:
- First and foremost, to appease the Google search and marketing monopoly. If a half-a-trillion dollar company happens to be more interested in its own wealth than the wellbeing of the English language, that is not a hill we intend to die on.
- ShowMojo is obviously based on software, so one of us might occasionally slip and use this less-than-most-accurate term. We’re human. Please do try to forgive us.
Interested in all the details? Let’s dive in.
Leasing Automation Does Incorporate Software
Now-a-days what doesn’t? Software is integral to your iPhone. Do you call it software? Gobs and gobs of software power Netflix, Disney+, Hulu. Do you ever drop on the couch and day “let’s watch some software?” What about Fortnite? Does anyone sit up playing software till 5am?
Software is almost the only thing that runs your 401k index funds, your favorite social network, your ride share app, and that almighty search engine monopoly. Do you call any of those things software?
Software is so pervasive in our society that using the term to describe almost anything is a non-descriptor or a digital nothing burger.
What About Software as a Service?
Wikipedia defines software as a service (or SaaS) as: “a software licensing and delivery model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted”.
SaaS is a sub-category of software, based on the licensing of that software. It’s a billing model. Many of the companies we called out in the last section run as SaaS. And, yes, ShowMojo is SaaS. We’d argue any self-respecting leasing automation should be SaaS, but it doesn’t have to be.
Now, seriously, does anyone want to define their service by how they bill their customers? Not us. So, let’s move on.
Leasing Automation Requires a System
Merriam Webster provides one definition of a system as: “A group of devices or artificial objects or an organization forming a network especially for distributing something or serving a common purpose”.
True leasing automation is delivered through a combination of software, services, and devices. A non-comprehensive breakout of those includes:
- Internal software.
- Telecommunications services (voice and text).
- Physical access devices (digital lockboxes and smartlocks) and the connections that support them.
- Connections to listing source data and property management systems.
- Connections to internet listing sites.
- Humans answering phone for our Live Answer product.
- Calendaring API connections.
- Credit card and ACH activities for application fee collection.
- Credit check and background screening services.
- Geolocation services (for autonomous scheduling and self-show security).
Can leasing automation be described as a system? Yes. Further, we believe that “system” is a more apt descriptor than “software”. However, let’s keep going.
ShowMojo is a Platform
Merriam Webster provides one definition of a platform as: “An application or website that serves as a base from which a service is provided”.
We could declare victory at this point alone, but we chose to dig deeper. As you research the term platform you’ll discover it still means different things to different people. Ultimately we’ve teased out two distinct aspects of the term platform that relate to leasing automation.
First, there is the technology and services platform. This is the infrastructure upon which products, systems and services are built. It described a system that:
- Is connected to and utilized by third party systems and platforms.
- Provides different services to different users based on APIs, configurations, and other systems developed by those third parties.
- Contributes to and results in customized or novel services built by the platform’s users (leasing agents, property managers and landlords) that are then provided to their customers (owners and renters).
We hope you don’t mind that we helped a little on that last point. But we really think that is what makes our larger point. ShowMojo customers use parts of our platform in so many different ways. This includes:
- Property managers deploying comprehensive leasing automation.
- Live Answer customers who want a higher-touch service for their prospective renters.
- Apartment locators who use ShowMojo mostly for marketing and lead capture.
- ShowMojo CLASSIC customers who focus only on the scheduling aspects of ShowMojo.
- MojoLock and MojoBox owners who use those devices and nothing else.
Ultimately, and most important, we believe ShowMojo is a technology and services platform. Furthermore, a true leasing automation needs to be a technology and services platform.
Second, there is the platform as a business model. Think about any social media platform. Think about Airbnb, Etsy, or Uber. These are platform business models. They add value through connections — and the more connections they make the more exponentially valuable they become. These connections could be:
- Friend to friend (social media).
- Someone-with-a-car to someone-in-need-of-a-car (Uber).
- Someone-with-an-empty-bedroom to someone-in-need-of-a-short-term-stay (Airbnb).
- A property-manager-with-an-available-rental to a-home-seeker (ShowMojo).
This does beg the question: what’s a platform and what’s just a marketplace. Craigslist, for example, is clearly a marketplace, but is it a platform? We would argue that the way Craigslist refuses to meaningfully interact with any other company means they’re only a marketplace.
ShowMojo doesn’t aspire to be a marketplace. While we fervently want to make leasing a better experience for managers and renters alike, it’s the managers and owners of properties who are our paying customers. Nonetheless, as a platform, ShowMojo’s value increases not just linearly (but exponentially) as we connect more managers (or self-managing owners) with renters. Renters prefer the benefits they receive from a leasing automation platform, and they’ve shown clear preference for that in future searches.
Is There Any Wiggle Room?
Perhaps there is.
First, not every manager wants the comprehensive service and flow that leasing automation provides. Some only want a CRM. Others just want a digital lockbox to conduct self-showings (we do have the best all-around option in the MojoBox). There’s a line somewhere here that needs to be drawn between tool, product and platform.
Second, and potentially more important, this entire piece presupposes “true” leasing automation. There are some serious posers that have appeared since we started ShowMojo and since we defined leasing automaton. Many of these “me too” attempts have landed somewhere short of a platform. In the future there might be some usefulness in defining something that is less than true leasing automation. Maybe that’s something that could take on the term “software”?
Ultimately, though, we don’t see a need to delve into these two topics now. Our goal here is to clearly cement true leasing automation (and ShowMojo) as a platform. We believe that’s what most benefits the industry — and what most benefits property managers, property owners, and prospective residents.