TAMPA — It’s a common approach: Someone working in a moribund industry like news, transportation or hotels decides to shake things up with technology.
This time, it’s rental property management and the aspiring disruptors are David Diaz and business partner Jay Goldklang.
"What you’ll find is the vast majority are mom and pop with limited technology," Diaz said, pointing to a survey that found nearly half of residential property owners "significantly disliked" their property management company.
"To be making a decision based on the devil you know is just unacceptable," Diaz said. "There were no great taxi companies and then there was Uber."
With a team of about 17 software engineers, marketing and business development specialists in New York, the new company, named Great Jones, has launched its services in the Tampa Bay rental market after opening earlier this year in Fort Myers and Orlando. So far, the company has about 15 employees in Florida, a third of them in Tampa Bay.
In local offices, they have put in place team leaders with experience managing thousands of properties, in addition to experts in leasing and maintenance.
Great Jones offers on-demand services through a custom online portal where tenants pay rent, sign and renew lease agreements, and submit, schedule and track maintenance requests. Owners can see the costs of repairs, track monthly income and ask questions. The technology, plus the local offices, enables a new level of customer service and transparency for owners.
Managers of some large apartment complexes already have online portals, but Great Jones claims to be first with a portal this robust and appealing to both homeowners and their tenants.
With today’s smartphone technology and high-speed internet, Diaz said, "most of what we’re doing wasn’t possible 10 years ago."
One Great Jones client, Josh Grim, has been a rental property owner in Florida for 15 years. After managing his single-family properties and duplexes on his own, he transitioned to a handful of property management companies for his 25 Florida rentals, seven of them in the Tampa Bay region.
He is saving money on maintenance costs and getting help selling a property to a current tenant — above and beyond what other companies would have done, he said.
"It’s leaps ahead of where most property managers are," said Grim, 40, owner of a fast-casual restaurant chain in Bethesda, Md. Since coming to Florida to check on all his properties would be impractical, he added, "having that information at your fingertips is comforting and makes your life a little easier."
Diaz, head of operations for Great Jones, previously oversaw management of more than 10,000 properties for another company — Waypoint Homes, now called Invitation Homes. He hopes to add two more markets in the southeastern United States in the next 12 months and to double or triple the company’s portfolio of several hundred Florida properties.
"In the next couple of years we hope to be in the tens of thousands."
Contact Alli Knothe at [email protected]