Your Guide has been helping a friend who is both an IT consultant (his day job) and an apartment investor (his retirement program) develop a program to help landlords and leasing agents schedule showings for apartments all on the internet. The goal was to reduce the time spent fielding showing requests, managing the appointment schedule, and ensuring prospects arrive to the apartment at the designated hour.
We’ve got the system up and running and the software is handling showings for Pete and his wife like a champ. We decided to develop the site into a comprehensive tool to aid landlords in renting their apartments and put the product out there for everyone to use. The end result is ShowMojo – www.showmojo.com!
Realtor Peeps reading this post might think that this is a similar system to the “Showing Time” system that’s built right inside ConnectMLS, but ShowMojo has a few significant differences. While Showing Time will allow Realtors to request appointments at any time they wish for a particular listing, and then handle the feedback request for the showing, ShowMojo works a bit differently.
For folks that don’t necessarily show real estate full-time, it’s important to schedule showings on a few evenings, or on the weekend. Landlords log into ShowMojo and enter their weekly availability (perhaps a few two-hour blocks) for rental showings. They get an advertising link from ShowMojo and add it to their online ads. (Craigslist, anyone?) Then the magic happens. As each prospect makes an appointment, ShowMojo alters the showtimes it makes available to the next prospect, assembling convenient clusters of booked showings! This way, the landlord isn’t running back and forth all week for one random appointment at one time and another appointment at another time.
ShowMojo was developed to interact with renters directly (although it can be used for showing condos for sale, or nearly any other appointment scheduling task you can imagine) and handle the process from the first inquiry up to confirmations the night before the showings.
The first hassle we wanted to eliminate was handling the inquiry phone calls and booking appointments. We were already writing great Craigslist ads, and putting up lots of photos. So most everyone that called really just wanted to make an appointment. And of course in some neighborhoods during the busy season, this meant juggling dozens of phone calls a day. A link in the Craigslist ad tells prospects to “Click to schedule a showing”. They are taken right to the page in ShowMojo that has information on the property and the available showtimes.
ShowMojo then takes the prospect’s name, phone number and email address when booking the appointment.
Prospects can choose to confirm of their appointment by email or phone. ShowMojo eliminates the hassle of prospects giving out fake phone numbers or email when the landlord choses to make confirmation a mandatory part of the showing process.
In the apartment renting business, there are a lot of “no-shows” and last minute cancellations. We wanted to try to improve the number of prospects that show up for their scheduled showings, so ShowMojo will email each prospect 24 hours before the scheduled showing. Prospects can confirm the showing, cancel the appointment, or reschedule – right from the confirmation email. ShowMojo updates your calendar as these appointments are handled. If a prospect doesn’t reply to that email, ShowMojo sends out another reminder six hours before the showing.
A cool feature we implemented recently allows you, the user – landlord or property owner – to create multiple calendars. This idea came about as Pete had three separate apartments very close to one another, and other apartments in another part of the city. With multiple calendars, you can group your apartments available in one location on one calendar, and the other apartments on another calendar. So you can tell ShowMojo that you’re available in Bucktown on Saturday morning for showings, and in Lakeview on Saturday afternoon. Perhaps you’d like to handle showings in Bucktown on Wednesday evening after work, and in Lakeview on Thursday afternoon. You, the landlord set up your schedule by adding your Bucktown apartments to one calendar, and your Lakeview apartments to another calendar. There are no limits to the number of calendars you can have!
As a new user, simply create an account on ShowMojo with a verifiable email address (that’s all that is required for sign-up). Then add some basic information about yourself such as your name and phone number (this information is optional but recommended because it lets your prospects know you are a real person).
The next step is create a new listing and add some basic information about your apartment for rent. You can upload a photo, add the address and a short description. You can add as many listings as you wish. To start off, you’ll have one calendar and you’ll specify the days and times that you’re available for showings. There is a provision for a “typical” week-long schedule, and a section for exceptions. A good example might be a holiday weekend where you won’t be available for showings that differs from your normal schedule.
If you’re ready to start making appointments, you get a “Marketing Link” for a specific property from ShowMojo that you add to your Craigslist ad, your Postlets, or any other website, and drop it into your online ad. That link takes prospects to the ShowMojo page for that property and displays the available showtimes.
It’s that simple! Of course, there are more advanced features (such as multiple calendars, double-booking, and setting the duration between showtimes) that you can try out, but you have the ability to get up and running in a matter of minutes.
We’re using ShowMojo now to handle some of our summer rentals, and are ready to test the service with other users. ShowMojo will eventually be available to everyone. Right now we are looking for agents, landlords or other folks who use a lot of Craigslist advertising to test ShowMojo. To this end, we are offering free accounts to the first 100 people who sign up at https://showmojo.com/users/sign_up
Free for 2011
The features currently in the ShowMojo beta will remain free through the end of 2011 to anyone who registers now.
We are just getting this service up and running. We have yet to decide on a payment model. The future is full of cool features and must-have tools. We imagine that we will need to charge for something. But our intent is always to provide a useful version of ShowMojo at an incredibly affordable price point (if not for free.)