HMS Cornerstone Solutions cures your business pain points by harnessing technology. We are more than a software consultancy firm – we’re a partner vested in the overall health and wellness of your business. We streamline software solutions and business processes to improve your utilization, delivering quantifiable information using real-time data points to save you money and improve your bottom line.
HMS Cornerstone Solutions is a premier provider of services and support for the Home Building, Property Management, Construction, Manufacturing, and Land Development industries. Our team has decades of experience with a wide range of software and ancillary systems - visit our About page to learn more.
In the not too distant past it was exciting to learn about disruptive technology. Disruptive technology that changes our lives, both business and personal, can be interesting and often exciting. But in the last couple of months we have all learned a new level for the meaning of disruptive.
In the first part of 2020 we have been reminded that disruptions can come from other things besides technology. Disruptions this year have sent many of us scrambling to employ technology to maintain our business continuity into the near future. That technology has already been available to us, but it wasn’t deemed mission critical to implement because we had the ability to put our “boots on the ground” to address all work hurtles and day-to-day processes. Now that has all changed. Now we are looking for technology to help us maintain business during this office shut down period.
One of the easiest but underutilized tools provides the ability to electronically handle vendor payments and is called Electronic Funds Transfer, or EFT. This process allows us to pay vendors without having to be in an office to print checks; collate and file checks with backup; fold and put the checks in envelopes; run the envelopes through the postage machine; and then mail them out or have them picked up at the front desk. In addition, EFT eliminates the added expense for check stock, printers, envelopes, stamps, filing cabinets…the list goes on. That’s a lot of man hours and supplies every week!
Using EFT, the accounting team still processes the invoices for payment in your system, but when it is time to pay, they simply run the EFT process instead of printing checks. The EFT process can be run by accessing the appropriate program in your ERP/Accounting system, whether it is cloud based or accessed remotely. The resulting electronic file is then transferred to your bank. This means employees working from their home office, with the proper authority, could be paying your vendors from their own electronic devices.
According to a US Government Appropriations report from as old as 1998, EFT is virtually crime free when compared to $60 million in forged checks, $1.8 million in counterfeit checks and $3.3 million in altered checks experienced by the Federal Government annually before their adoption of EFT. Yes, that was our old gray-mustached government adopting EFT in 1998! As an industry, real estate and construction have always been slow to adopt new technology. So if you’re not using EFT today, perhaps this worldwide disruption and the embarrassment of being 22 years behind the federal government in adoption will be enough to get us to move forward!
Leverage the lessons of this disruption to adopt this easy-to-use and simple-to-setup technology today. If you have questions or need help in implementing EFT, positive pay or other electronic processes, give us a call. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to implement. And Cornerstone has decades of experience helping folks just like you…really, just like you.
Are you using Digital Signatures yet? Even the IRS has said that as of March 30th it would “begin temporarily accepting digital signatures on documents related to the determination or collection of tax liability.”
Digital Signatures are perfect for maintaining social distancing – customers can sign from their homes, backyards, and even their cars. They are an extremely effective way to keep your business moving throughout any economic disruption.
Digital Signatures are fast and cost effective. They cut out the expense of printing, scanning, and mailing documents, automating your whole signature process. Who doesn’t need automation? Digital Signatures can be implemented through email and on mobile devices, making them available to all your customers. And all of your digital documents can be stored in one centralized repository, making edits and resends quick and easy.
If you have questions about Digital Signatures and how they work, Cornerstone has extensive experience integrating Homebuilder systems with Digital Signature technology. We can walk you through each solution, detailing the pros and cons and tailoring a solution that will work best for your company and your customers.
It’s time to jump onboard and make the Digital Signature change today – it is one change we can guarantee you are most certainly ready for!
Successfully working from home is more than just setting aside a place, creating “office hours” or putting on regular clothes to get you in the mood. The Cornerstone team is happy to share some methods and mindsets to keep you on track and maximize your work day.
1. How to change from one task to another task mid-stream on a daily basis – this is difficult even when you are in a office setting! Here are a few tips:
– Mark down where you left off before moving onto the next task.
– Jot down any ideas you have for where you were headed when you left off.
– Communicate with anybody who needs to know about any delay in completing the task.
2. What to do if you can’t catch someone else on the phone
– Be patient – this is the best advice we can give. Don’t make any assumptions about why they have not responded. Everyone is busy.
– Follow up with an email. If you don’t want to put everything in the email that’s OK, just say that you want to meet with them to discuss more.
– If you really need to meet and haven’t heard, you can try to schedule a meeting and send them an invitation with a short explanation. Sometimes that will bring a quick response.
3. How to deal with projects that are suddenly abandoned
– Find out if there are outstanding items that need to be wrapped up.
– Let it go – unless you are a stakeholder, it is far better use of your time to try to assist with the next project.
– If you are a stakeholder, try to schedule or be part of a post-mortem discussion.
– If you think there is still value in a piece of the project, make your pitch to continue on with just that part or pitch a different project.
4. How to be strategic about scheduling your day
– Schedule an hour each morning just to catch up on email and communicate with people who are waiting to hear from you.
– Move tasks to a different folder or add new tasks to a list you are keeping so that you have one place that captures all your “To-Do’s.”
– Make a list of the things you want to work on today. Don’t include number of hours or say that you will finish any task, as your plans could get disrupted at any point.
– If you have any tasks that you did not complete that are high priority, make a note of this so that you can start on those tasks first tomorrow (after your catch up hour where you communicate that to your stakeholders).
5. How to be strategic about adding value and getting additional work
– Each morning, review your To-Do list and think about where your stakeholders are going or want to be with each project.
– If you see something that you think will add value to your task that will take negligible time to complete, or takes a little bit of time but will delight your stakeholders, add it to your To-Do list.
– If your value add will also add significant hours, pitch the idea to the stakeholders first. Say, “I think this could bring you tremendous value and this is why” and wait for an answer before you proceed.
– Don’t invest emotionally in projects or tasks. If you feel strongly about the benefits, list them out for stakeholders and quantify them wherever possible. Cold facts are going to beat passionate feelings any day.
– Don’t shy away from communicating news that someone else does not want to hear. Start by drafting an email in Word or Notepad. Take your time to massage your draft until it conveys the tone and message that you want to send without being offensive to anyone.
– Decide whether the message is better conveyed on a call or face to face (if you have that option). If it is, you have your script ready from your draft email. If you cannot reach the person(s) in your chosen method, send the email explaining that and ask to meet for further discussion.
– Communicate daily if you have not set up a date to give your next status update. If you don’t need to give daily updates, set up a date to give your next status update…and stick to it.
– If you encounter an issue, include that in your status update. It may have a bigger impact than you realize.
7. When to meet facetime to facetime (or similar)
– When you haven’t touched base with your stakeholders for a while, especially if things aren’t going well. You can convey emotions and show concern much better than with email.
– When you are trying to salvage a project or need to convey more bad news.
– Anytime you have been conversing via email and relationships have not been improving.
– Kickoff meetings and/or when you are getting to know a team for a project.
– You would like more work with the stakeholder in the near future, or you are pitching an idea for another project. A personal touch is a good idea in this situation.
If someone bilked you out of $500, would the police pursue the case? Would you pursue the case? (If you said ‘yes’ to that last question, you are probably making the assumption that the money would be recovered quickly. The longer and more effort it takes, the less likely you’ll continue to pursue the case…or collect anything.)
The latest Real Estate scam counts on it not being “worth the time” to track down the culprit. Here’s how it works:
1. The scammer rents an Airbnb with a stolen credit card and a burner phone.
2. The scammer uses the photos online and information to advertise a room for rent on Craig’s List.
3. On the date of the Airbnb rental the scammer shows up, obtains the key, and makes copies.
4. During the rental period the scammer shows the room, provides a bogus ‘contract’ to sign, collects a deposit and provides the ‘renter’ with a key.
Some scammers have several “showings” a day, collecting several thousand dollars from unwitting victims. Most victims don’t bat an eye at the fact that the funds are requested in cashier’s checks as that is a normal request of legitimate landlords.
This scam is particularly successful because the scammer checks all the boxes: receipt of funds, contract, key…all appearances point to a legitimate transaction. It is also successful for the scammer because the amount that s/he scams individual victims out of is small enough that the likelihood of the victim to try to or be able to recover it is low.
Perhaps it should be dubbed the BIM Bean? Read more about how many layers of design BuroHappold put into this structure and how BIM was the game changer that (almost literally) brought it all together:
Cornerstone recently had the pleasure of being onsite at Davidon and meeting the Property Management team. We look forward to a long and productive relationship and hope we can get back to visit again soon!
Proptech may be the technology that assists real estate professionals with performing their daily tasks, but there are a wide range of ways this technology has been implemented, and to varying degrees of success.
Some people are concerned that the ever growing technology sector will push humans out of the equation. But according to Forbes, property managers provide superior personalized experiences for tenants, as well as acting as advisors to owners for “opportunities to buy, sell, invest or upgrade properties” and consult on ever-changing regulations and bylaws, thus making them an effective investment for the foreseeable future.
But in addition to that unsurpassed human experience, technology is needed to meet the expectations of savvy consumers and to give property managers back the time they need to build real relationships with their customers.
To train and retain excellent property managers, owners need to ensure that mentors are available to all new hires. Forbes suggests focusing company culture, though their advice on providing growth opportunities may not be feasible in smaller communities.
No doubt property managers are excited to get their hands on all the new technology emerging almost daily. According to cpexecutive.com, instead of a property manager turning on a piece of equipment and just setting the temperature, they’re now able to receive additional analytics that allow for fine-tuning the equipment. ‘Roving engineers’ use predictive technology to monitor from afar and only go onsite if there’s an alerting request.
For commercial buildings, propmodo.com says proptech “should be capable of handling mountains of complex data while providing actionable insights in real time, such as locating a specific worker.” Further, it should be able to report problems in tenant spaces and common areas as well as handle vacancies and contracts.
For more insights into PropTech and the human factor, check out the articles below:
Baxt Ingui, a New York City architecture and interior design firm, achieved a few modest (wink) goals so far: The first certified passive house in a landmark district, the first certified passive house in Manhattan (also LEED Platinum), and the first Passive Plus house in the United States.
These projects, and several others shown on their website, highlight their commitment to retrofit existing houses to “use a fraction of the energy that a typical residence consumes, have better air quality, and [be] more comfortable to live in.”