Issue: An efficiency-minded startup wanted to find the best property management software in the marketplace.
Solution: The firm purchases TOPS software and utilizes key modules to establish standardization throughout its systems.
Issue: A startup was looking to keep overhead low in the company’s infancy.
Solution: The company uses the services of TOPS partners to achieve cost-effective solutions for key functions.
A colleague once told Bill Thompson, LCAM that he is so forward-leaning in technology that his nose is on the ground. And while Thompson agrees with the assessment, he says the main reason he utilizes technology is to maximize customer service.
Thompson, who owns Florida Property & Association Management, did not take a conventional path to property management. After retiring from the military in 1998, he was living in a deed restricted community, and he had a contract dispute with a contractor that ended up in court. This led him to wonder about the field, and he obtained his license and opened up shop shortly thereafter.
An easy choice
It didn’t take Thompson long to figure out that TOPS software was the way to go. He knew he wanted software that was specific to the property management industry, so he did his due diligence and then made his choice. “TOPS is a wonderful system,” he says. “It’s been phenomenal. It’s very simple to use, and you don’t have to invent the wheel or the car. You just have to drive it.”
And drive it he has. Thompson knew he wanted to work with TOPS and its partners to establish efficiency at all levels of his operation, and after a good amount of R&D, he is pleased with the end result. “I decided we were going to build from the ground up, and we decided we would use the XX sample community module as the basis from which we would build everything,” he says. “This has allowed us absolute standardization across the company, and it makes everything hugely simple.”
One example of this is when an FP&AM staffer has to add a vendor to the system, he makes it a global vendor so it applies to all the associations the company serves.
Thanks to the flexibility of TOPS, Thompson also created proprietary identification numbers for customers that he uses in conjunction with Lockbox; this means no two customers across all communities have the same number. “If I get a check in and I have any questions, I can pull up the property records from wherever I am,” he says. “Especially in this world of foreclosures, it’s great to have the ability to go into the record and pull it by its unique number.”
Speaking of foreclosures, Thompson is also grateful that he implemented calendar year accounting. “It has paid huge dividends. When we’re dealing with banks, we have to show that certain charges posted in a certain year. We are able to do that and therefore are able to invoice them properly.”
Thompson also speaks highly of TOPS partner Strongroom Solutions, which handles all of his accounts payable. “I don’t have to write checks – the invoices go to them. They scan them and then we access them online to code. Then it’s off to the board of directors for approval, and we have a pdf record,” he said. “Once or twice a day, the information is imported to TOPS, which accounts for it and posts it accordingly. What a great solution; just think of the time savings. What we save in labor and overhead alone is worth it.”
Strongroom Solutions also eliminated what had been a “huge problem” for FPAAMI. “There would frequently be a lot of finger-pointing at the board level when it came to approving expenditures,” Thompson said. “But Strongroom provides a level of accountability that keeps a record of everything, so it’s easy to look up all the transaction details.”
“TOPS is a wonderful system. “It’s been phenomenal. It’s very simple to use, and you don’t have to invent the wheel or the car. You just have to drive it.”
— Bill Thompson
TOPS partner AtHomeNet, which provides Web sites for many FPAAMI communities, is high on Thompson’s list too. “The fact that owners can have access to TOPS records is just phenomenal,” he said. “If an owner wants to know his balance, pay his bill or look at notes on a CC&R violation, he can do it all right from the Web site.”
FPAAMI currently manages seven communities, and Thompson is comfortable enough with the systems he has established to begin branching out across the state. “It would be very easy to bring someone in and teach him this system. Our goal is to bring in additional CAMs for the communities we’re going to bring on.
“We’ve signed up communities just via word of mouth. Board presidents are saying they’ve never seen the level of transparency we offer,” Thompson says. “Also, we account for every penny. We don’t want boards of directors to wonder about what’s going on in their communities. We want them to know what’s going on, and because of our policies and procedures, and our TOPS partners, they do.”
TOPS is an integral part of this process. “We made the investment in TOPS because they do have the best product on the market,” Thompson said. “I highly recommend it.”
This case study is for informational purposes only. TOPS Software makes no warranties, express or implied, in this document.