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LandlordMax Web Based Cloud Edition – 1 Year Later

Well it’s actually closer to a year and a half if you include the initial private by invite only release of the web based LandlordMax Cloud Edition but nonetheless I will say that it was the best decision we could ever have made. It’s been a huge success!

We knew there was a lot demand but we never expected to be as massive and as dramatic as it turned out to be. We initially released the LandlordMax Cloud Edition by invite only to existing customers so that we could roll it out slowly, get customer feedback, and basically do a very managed and controlled rollout. Within a month it was clear that was not going to happen, the demand far exceeded our expectations. We did a full public release within just a few months, well ahead of our schedule, again due to the overwhelming demand. A good problem to have. And our public release exceeded our expectations!

We were initially planning on offering the installed Editions such as the Desktop Edition, the Soho Edition, and so on in tandem with the web based Cloud Edition but within a month more than 97% of all activity immediately transitioned to the web based Cloud Edition. Yes that huge a percentage in just the first month! And it only got more one sided from there. The demand was so one sided that we discontinued the previous installed Editions in favor of the web based LandlordMax Cloud Edition.

It’s interesting how much the market has shifted over time, especially in the last decade. Up until the early 2010’s everyone wanted installed software, there was almost no demand for web and cloud based property management software, and as a result very few existed. Again it was all installed software. On a side note 2008-2009 were very interesting years in that the financial crisis weeded out a lot our competitors. In any case back in the early 2010’s there was the odd request for a web based solution but it was very rare. It’s not that people wanted one or the other, I think it just wasn’t yet on people’s radars.

By around 2013 we could start to see the demand shifting. It wasn’t massive or anything but if you responded to customer support requests or pre-sales requests you could start to see some demand for web based solutions. Not a lot but some. It was more of a low rumbling in the background slowly building up steam.

Then by around 2015 the shift had become very noticeable. If I was to estimate I’d say about half the people wanted a web based solution and half wanted installed software. The key thing to note is that the demand was trending strongly towards web based cloud solutions. It was enough to get our attention. In fact that’s when I personally first mentioned here that we were going to start building a a web based version (July 2015).

Our first official announcement came a year later in late 2016. First in our email newsletter and then here. By then we had already been working on it for some time and I described some of the features we hoped to deliver with the new web based Cloud Edition of LandlordMax. Things like new filters, a reporting system that would allow custom reports, and so on. Interestingly enough, and on a very positive note, most of the features I described are now available in the Cloud Edition which is great to see that we were able to fulfil the majority of our goals.

As time passed the demand for a web based cloud solution just kept growing and growing. By 2017 it was clear that if we wanted to stay in business we had to offer a web based cloud solution. By 2018 it wasn’t even an option. At that point I believe we were one of only 2-3 solutions left that still offered installed software, everyone else was either closed for business or had transitioned. I believe that today there is only 1 installed solution left in the market. The demand for installed software has completely shifted to web based cloud solutions. There will always be a small number of people who wanted installed software but they are a shrinking minority.

The analogy I like to use is Blockbuster versus Netflix. The demand for streaming media started slow but it gained more and more momentum until Blockbuster eventually went out of business and Netflix became a huge success. There are still some people who prefer to rent movies but they are a dying breed, which is why you only see the odd niche movie rental store. Blockbuster had the opportunity to shift but for whatever reason they decided to stay with their old business model. We did NOT make that mistake, we saw the shift in demand and transitioned to meet our customers needs.

It took some time to build the web based Cloud Edition and in 2018 we did a private release by invite only of the web based LandlordMax Cloud Edition. As much as we wanted to do a slow rollout the demand was too significant and as a result we accelerated the full public release. And as I said above. within a month of releasing the web based LandlordMax Cloud Edition more than 97% of all activity immediately transitioned to the Cloud Edition. That includes both new and existing customers. And it only got more one sided from that point on.

As you would expect we’ve seen incredible growth this year. We’ve been experiencing double digit growth every single month since we released the Cloud Edition which clearly confirms we did the right decision to build a web based cloud offering.

On somewhat of a tangent I will say that we’ve also experienced some significant changes in terms of customer/technical support. The most noticeable change is that we no longer get support requests from people who lost everything because their harddrive or computer failed (with the installed software everything is only stored on the user’s computer). Less than 20% of people even have weekly backups so combined with harddrive and computer failure rates (nevermind computer viruses, etc.), well as you can imagine this was a terrible but unfortunately too common issue for which we could do nothing. Today this is no longer an issue. In my personal opinion I believe it’s one of the big motivators and attractions of web based cloud services for most people. It’s a big reason why I’ve personally changed my opinion from 2012, where I now believe cloud solutions are better than installed software for most people. I very strongly believe that way more people lose their data to failed computer systems then to failed cloud services, and by a very large margin. Most people will experience some kind of computer failure that will result in loss of data at least once every few years based on my experience so being protected against that is very valuable, especially for business critical data like that which is stored in LandlordMax.

The other really big change is that we get almost no IT related support request any more. These can range from simple questions such as my icon to start the software has disappeared to I brought my computer to an IT repair shop and now the software is missing to much more significant issues such as my antivirus has suddenly decided to incorrectly block the software’s access to the database files and so on. One of our top 3 support requests before with the installed software was how to copy and paste the license code into the software, a lot of people do not know how to copy and paste so they would manually type in the license code and all it takes is for one typo for the license to fail. In fact 9 of our top 10 support requests were all IT related and they are all completely gone now. We almost only get questions on how to operate the software, that is how to handle specific use cases and scenarios which is great. As much as we love to support our customers it’s still important to keep in mind that IT related questions are almost never due to issues with the software. In addition to improving the quality of support requests it also means that customers who are less IT inclined are not blocked due to an IT issue outside of the software such as not knowing how to download software from the internet.

Getting back to the topic at hand the feedback we’ve received has been overwhelmingly positive. Of course in addition to it being a web based cloud solution we’ve also added a lot of new features (and more have been added since that list was first created). The biggest ones being the ability to create custom reports on top of quite a few new major reports. But there are also a lot of other smaller new features such as the ability to search on any column in any table, select the columns on every table, and so on. In other words in addition to being web based we also took the opportunity to add quite a lot of new features.

Another really big benefit for both us and our customers with the software being a web based cloud system is that we can update the software with new features on a regular basis, we no longer have to wait until a major new version is released to release a ton of new features all at the same time. And we’ve definitely taken advantage of this, we’ve released a number of new features since the initial release of which you can find some listed in the LandlordMax company blog. I can’t express how much better it is to release new features on a regular basis then having to wait for new major versions. We, both us and our customers, really benefit from this.

All in all releasing the web based Cloud Edition has been an amazing success and one of the best decisions we ever did. If I could go back in time all that I would change is that we release it sooner than we did. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Our growth rate is the highest it’s ever been in the 16 years we’ve been in business! The software was showcased as a success story on Vaadin for how well it was programmed. So I can only imagine what the future holds for us at LandlordMax.






LandlordMax 15 Year Anniversary

LandlordMax 15 Year Anniversary

It’s hard to believe it’s already been 15 years since I incorporated LandlordMax this month! About a year more if you add the time before the company was founded, that is when the first pieces of the code were written. All in all it’s been quite a ride.

We’ve posted a pretty in-depth history of LandlordMax on our company blog including screenshots of the earlier webpages all the way to the software itself, including the very first version! It’s interesting to look back and see just how much the software has evolved over the years. The thing to remember is that the computer landscape was very different back then, the iPhone was about half a decade from being released (Android as well). Google was a new company barely 5 years old. Most computers back then had about 5% of the RAM as they do today, and they were also much slower. HDTV (High Definition TV) was something only a small number of people were aware even existed. And in fact Blu-Ray had just come out and a new player cost about $3500-$4000. Things have definitely changed since then.

In fact we launched LandlordMax just a couple of years after the end of the dot com crash. We also survived AND thrived through the financial crisis and real estate market crash of the late 2000’s. We’ve been around around for a while!

And with that we celebrate our 15 year anniversary. I recommend looking at our company blog post LandordMax 15 Year Anniversary to really get a sense of how much the software has changed and evolved over the years.

Here’s to many more years!






LandlordMax Cloud Edition Released

LandlordMax Cloud Edition Release

The LandlordMax Cloud Edition is now publicly available! Although we pre-released it a few months ago to existing customers I’m happy and proud to say it’s now publicly available to everyone! You can access the new Cloud Edition at: https://app.LandlordMax.com You’ll find the Cloud Edition also includes some new features that are exclusive to the Cloud Edition including but not limited to:

  • Online and web based
  • Ability to edit entries in the tables directly
  • Searching and filtering on ALL columns in the tables
  • Ability to create custom reports
  • Many new reports including the completely redesigned Profit & Loss reports
  • Very significant performance improvements
  • Built-in word processor
  • Completely redesigned Automations which can run custom reports
  • Multi-user and computer support at no additional costs
  • And so on…

You can click here to read the full release notes which includes most of the new exclusive features of the Cloud Edition. The release notes include screenshots and instructions on how the new features work and how to use them, basically everything you need to start using the Cloud Edition.

If you’re already a LandlordMax user and haven’t yet tried the Cloud Edition then please note the free 30 day trial also applies to existing users of the previous Editions of LandlordMax. You can transfer your existing database to the Cloud Edition.

Before I continue I just want to take a moment to say we sent out a lot of emails to notify our existing customers but please note that if your email is no longer current then you would not have received your invitation email. It’s also possible we haven’t yet sent out your pre-release invitation as we were sending them out in phases. Our goal was to send out invitations to at least half of our customers before we released it publicly to give people a chance to transition, the rest of the invitations should be coming in the following months. In any case you can start right away, you don’t need an invitation any more to start using the new LandlordMax Cloud Edition.

With that I’m proud to say we were able to include almost every single feature we wanted to that I listed in my post on this blog here from two years ago which is amazing. Even better we included some features and functionality I said we would not be able to include in the initial release of the Cloud Edition! Specifically we included filters and searching on all tables, customization of printouts, built in word processor, custom reporting, and the ability to edit entries directly in the tables. We also significantly improved the reports, and some got complete overhauls such as the Profit & Loss and Tenant Statement reports. And very importantly we completely redesigned the Automations which now allow you to run any landlord or tenant report in batches, even custom reports you create!

The Cloud Edition is a major new version, I should say Edition, and it includes a lot of new exclusive features. Again I definitely recommend looking at the Release Notes. I initially planned on going through many of the bigger points but I quickly released it got too long and instead decided to refer you the Cloud Edition release notes. As you can well imagine we’re very excited about this release!

If you have any questions please contact our support team. We’d also love to hear your feedback on the new Cloud Edition, so please feel free to send us feedback and comments you may have as well.

And with that I invite you all to the new LandlordMax Cloud Edition!






LandlordMax Cloud Edition in the Works!!

Although blogging protocols strongly recommend that you should never apologise for not having written in a long time, I nonetheless believe it’s important that I do since it’s been over a year now. This is completely my fault and I don’t have a good excuse. All I can say is that I’ve been incredibly busy and as a result I’ve had less time to blog. I tried to start up last summer after a hiatus of a year but it ended there as I quickly got too busy again. I don’t plan on making the same mistake again.

Since then a lot has changed, especially in regards to my company LandlordMax. At the time of my last post we had just released version 11.05 of LandlordMax about a year earlier. I’m happy to report that version 11.05 has gone through several updates and is doing very well. Version 11.05 was a massive release! Each of our releases (new major versions) is bigger than the previous one and version 11.05 was once again our biggest release so far.

Since version 11.05 was released I’ve transitioned to the upcoming major new and exciting Edition of LandlordMax called the LandlordMax Cloud Edition. Although it’s not yet available we’re now officially starting to talk about its release. Just to quickly re-iterate for those who aren’t aware, it’s our policy that we do not officially state release dates. We will talk about how we’re progressing in the email newsletter and I will give updates here on my blog but due to the nature of how software works we do not give out official release dates. One of my favorite articles on this topic asks you to estimate the time it would take to walk from San Francisco to Los Angeles. I have no doubt that the answer, and article, will very much surprise you. I have yet to meet someone who comes close to a correct estimate.

But getting back to the topic at hand, the Cloud Edition of LandlordMax, I’m proud to announce that we’re working on this brand new Edition of the software called the LandlordMax Cloud Edition. The Cloud Edition will be web based and will be available as a cloud service only. In other words you won’t have to install any software, worry about backing up your data, etc., everything will be managed for you and be accessible directly through the website from any computer on the internet.

We have been working on this Edition for some time now. And just like all our previous releases this is going to be our biggest release ever in terms of scale and effort! Not only will the Cloud Edition offer the same functionality as the current software but it will also enhance many of the existing features as well as add some new major features!

Now before I begin please note that all the following are being actively worked on and although we’re officially working on a Cloud Edition the features mentioned below are unofficial and therefore may be subject to change. We don’t expect any changes because most of what will be mentioned is either already either completed or well on its way to being completed, but we still nonetheless need to state it just in case something changes between now and the release date.

That being said one of the major new features of the Cloud Edition will be the ability to filter/search on a per column basis. In other words instead of the Data Filters that are currently available you will be able to manually type in the header column what you want that column to be filtered on. So for example if you only want to display the accounting entries for the tenant named John Smith you can type in his name John Smith in the name column header and only accounting entries for John Smith will appear. If you want to further restrict the accounting entries to just the tenant John Smith and say entries where the Description field includes the word “Utilities” then you can additionally enter in “Utilities” in the Description column header and now only entries for John Smith and “Utilities” will appear in the accounting table. In other words all columns are searchable/filterable. You can even select ranges of values where appropriate, etc.

Another major feature we’re working on is a brand new templating engine for almost everything that’s printed. This includes everything from workorders, invoices, receipts, etc. to reports, and so on. We’re working on a built-in word processor which will allow you to edit the templates and generated documents directly within the system. You’ll be able to completely customize them as you wish directly in the software. If you want to include your mailing address in the invoice template then you can do so. If you want to include a specific notice on all your receipts, you can do so. You will have full control of the output printed out in a built-in word processor.

In addition to editing the template you’ll be able to select what data (within some constraints) will appear on the invoices, receipts, workorders, and reports. So for example if you want to include different values in a report than what is currently available you will be able to do so. You will be able to select which columns appear. I won’t get into the specifics now because we’re very much actively working on this and deciding the details, but let’s just say you can decide what data you want presented where in the reports within reason. You won’t yet be able to create a new custom report but you’ll be able to select which data is outputted, how it’s formatted, etc. For example maybe in the rent roll report you want the cell phone number and email, maybe you want the address, maybe the security deposit amount, etc. You can basically decide what data is presented for the available reports.

Keep in mind that in addition to selecting the data you can also select the formatting, which means that if you want the text to wrap you can set it up so that the text wraps rather than being truncated as it is now (with the three periods at the end). You will also be able to select the font type, font size, etc. amongst other goodies.

Now because you can create and edit your own reports, templates, etc., the software will also have the ability to manage these templates. As a result you will be able to save your report templates and select the ones you want to use when it comes time to print the report, which means you can have multiple report templates for a single report. You will also be able to select from the list of invoice templates you’ve customized, and so on. You could have 10 different invoice templates which you select based on the specific tenant, it’s completely up to you. We’re trying to make it as flexible as possible.

We’re even taking it a step further where you will be able to generate documents such as lease agreements based on your templates. In the example of the lease agreement the software will automatically generate and populate it based on your tenant’s information in one step. You will then be able to both store and print the generated lease agreement all directly within the software. The same is true for notices, and so on.

Now what happens if you need to make an edit to the lease agreement after it’s generated? Well you’ll be happy to hear that we’re also working on post-generation editing. In other words you will be able to edit the generated lease agreement after it’s been generated from the template in case you need to make some specific changes to just that single lease.

These are just a few of the things we’ve been working on in addition to creating the Cloud Edition. There is quite a lot coming and this effort has been massive, and hence why it’s taking longer than expected. It’s also why I’ve been so busy and haven’t had the time to focus on my blog or our company email newsletter, for which I apologize. From now on I will be updating you with more details as we progress through the development of the new Cloud Edition. I also plan on releasing some preview videos in the near future.
There is a lot coming down the pipeline and I’m exciting to see what 2017 holds for LandlordMax!!






Yes I’m Still Alive And Well

UpAndRunning

Yes I’m still alive and well. I know you’re not suppose to post a where have you been or sorry for not writing in a long time, but I’m going to break the rule since it’s been over a year since my last post.

So where have I been? Working very very very hard. It’s not an excuse for not posting yet at the same it is. I’ve been so overwhelmingly busy that I just haven’t had the time to post. Each post takes me about a day to write, well this one is an exception, but on average they take me several hours to about a day to write. I wish I had more time but I just don’t. As my company LandlordMax continues to grow I find that my time is more and more limited.

I’m not the only one, I remember for example reading Joel Spolsky’s blog JoelOnSoftware on a regular basis. I just looked at his blog recently and he’s only written two blog posts in two years, which made me feel better for not having as much time myself. He’s not the only one, it’s actually quite common, he’s just the one that came to my mind first as I was writing this. Unfortunately this is one of the side effects of growing your business. I’m of course going to do my best to be the exception to the rule!

That being said LandlordMax is now on it’s 12th year of business! We’re preparing to launch a web based cloud version of our property management software LandlordMax very shortly. Our current goal is before the end of the summer and we’re working very hard to achieve this goal!!

This obviously opens up a number of questions, such as what will it cost, and so on. All that I can say at this time is that we’re working out the details of our business model. A web based cloud version is very different than a downloadable version, there are different cost factors and so on to consider. So although we’re ready to announce that we plan on offering a web based cloud version very shortly, we’re not quite ready to announce it’s pricing model yet. That being said we’d love to hear your feedback and comments so please feel free to contact us.

That being said you should expect to start seeing some previews of the new web version shortly, including video previews. We’re not quite ready yet but it shouldn’t be too much long. The previews will not just be here but also through our email newsletter. I have to admit our email newsletter has also fallen quite behind but I plan on resurrecting it very shortly. And the closer we get to the release the more details and information I will be able to share.

So in the spirit of breaking the blogging 101 rules, here’s to apologizing for not posting more often and that I plan on posting more in the near future! Your classic Blog faux pas.






LandlordMax 2012-2013 Fiscal Year – 10 Year Anniversary And a 10th Record Year!

LandlordMax Property Management Software - Fiscal

It’s that time of year again. Our fiscal year just closed and like I’ve done every year, at least for the past 6 years (since 2007), I’m posting our sales revenues graph and highlighting some of our achievements over the year. And like every year before, with no exception, this year we achieved another record fiscal year!!

But before I begin, here is the link to all the previous years posts:

First things first, this is our 10th year anniversary!! It’s amazing to think we’ve been in business for 10 years already. That’s a long time in the software world. So firstly I will self-congratulation LandlordMax for its 10th year anniversary.

Getting back to the post, to all those naysays that say desktop software is dead, it’s very well and alive!! In some categories owning the software and your data is much better than using a web based hosted subscription service. It can actually significantly lower your risks and costs compared to a hosted subscription service. Yes I’ve talked about this a number of times, but for those who are new, when it comes to the critical data of your business, where losing the data is not an option, hosted services can come with very high unexpected risks as I’ve outlined in this previous article. There’s also a new article that just just came out titled The Unprofitable SaaS Business Model Trap which I recommend reading that explains why we see so many hosted services come and go. So although SaaS have pros most people kinda forget there’s one very very very big con that comes with them until after it’s too late to do anything.

And now onto our achievements. This year our biggest achievement has been the release of the all new LandlordMax Network Editions of the software! In addition to these Editions, we’ve also added some new features to the Desktop Edition to match the new Network Edition (which is included as a free upgrade for existing users of the 6.05 Desktop version). The release of the Network Editions has been our biggest ever in terms of effort and scale. We’re very excited by it and we’re already seeing a very noticeable impact. It’s only been a little over two months and we can already tell that next fiscal year is going to be exciting.

Above the software of course we’ve also had to implement a whole slew of other items. For example the website purchasing system has gone through some major changes and improvements to support the new Editions. The user manual has been updated. Basically everything that goes along with such a major launch has also happened along with the release itself.

Beyond that, and I hate to admit this, we didn’t execute many new additional marketing initiatives this fiscal year. Most of our efforts went into getting the Network Editions released. This was a big effort. I know I’ve said it before that a lot of work went into it, but a LOT of work did go into it. As a result a lot of our other initiatives were put on hold as we re-allocated efforts to the release of the Network Editions. For example marketing projects were transitioned to release efforts. You may also have noticed that I didn’t publish any posts here for almost 6 months, this is why. It was an all hands on effort to get the Network Editions released. No one was spared. So our marketing efforts stayed pretty consistent with the previous fiscal years (neither up or down).

And on that note I do want to take a minute to thank everyone who helped us release the Network Editions. Above those who worked beyond their job roles and descriptions, we also had a lot of people who volunteered their time to help us in our testing efforts. To all these people I personally thank you very much.

Since the release of the Network Editions our main efforts have focused back into the next major “feature” release of LandlordMax. That is we hope to release a major new version of LandlordMax Property Management Software before the end of the year, possibly within as little as a few months. It will include many new features and lots of new functionality. Not only features, but we’re streamlining a lot of the processes within the software so that many actions will be even easier and quicker to process. Basically more automation in your regular tasks along with new features and functionality.

For example, and this is still unofficial because as a rule we do not officially state anything until it’s fully completed to avoid any vaporware statements, we’re working towards offering a built-in word processor with the next major version, which will potentially include “templating”. The major benefit of this feature is that you can import your legal documents into the software as “template documents” from existing Word documents. From there, you can say go to a tenant, create a new lease agreement, and the software will grab your templated lease agreement from the templates, fill in the tenant’s information, and then save the new lease document under the tenant, allowing you to print it, export it, and so on. This is really beneficial in that it lets you manage all your documents with your data, from tenants, property owners (for property managers), etc., all within the software.

And this is just one of the features we’re looking to implement for the new version. There’s a lot more where that came from!!

In addition to the new release, we’re also planning to really ramp up our marketing efforts this fiscal year. Like I just said a few moments ago, our marketing efforts did not increase much during 2012-2013. Yes we’re still marketing at the same levels as the previous year, but we didn’t really grow our efforts with new initiatives. Which on a positive note says a lot about our revenue growth in the last fiscal year. People like the software. We know there’s a significant amount of word of mouth promotion going on from our loyal customers. People recommend LandlordMax to other people. And that’s where most of our growth for the last year has mostly come from. So one of our big goals this fiscal year is to really improve our marketing efforts beyond what we’ve done in the past. In two years we’ve doubled our revenues, it would be nice to be able to double them again but in just one year this time.

And on that note, I really look forward to 2013-2014. There’s absolutely no doubt we’re going to have another record year. We’ve just launched 3 new Network Editions. We’re on the edge of releasing a new major feature release. And we’re planning on significantly improving our marketing efforts. And we’re already seeing an upswing from the new Network Editions in just a couple short months. Fiscal 2013-2014 is going to be exciting.

After 10 years I continue to be excited by our progress and how love there is for LandlordMax. Here’s a sample of some of the new testimonials we received just last month (July 2013):

“I have been using LandlordMAX for a little over 18 months. Not only was the program easy to setup but has made tracking of expenses, late payments, etc. much easier. With quite a number of apartments on our books it was always difficult to see when payments were not made. The year end accounting has been a dream. My accountant no longer needs to go through our books to get the EOY numbers. Also I wanted to add that customer support has been terrific. And best of all when I have reasonable suggestions for improvement of the program they are made within weeks.” – Murray Acheson

“I have been looking for a program for the past couple of months and was getting very weary and discouraged.  Especially for a ‘smaller’ complex, such as ours.  It seems  the  market for automated recordkeeping has gone to  mostly online with monthly cost, which is probably great for large complexes but not economical for us small operations.  I have been relieved to find your program and the great support from you as I learn the program.” – Ann Noel

“Love the program!! JERRY” – Jerry Carr

“Knowing that I have Help/Support for the future is like having insurance on your car.” – Gil Rheaume

“And again – thank you for the absolutely amazing customer service and product support” – Doug Doody

“Once again, thank you for the outstanding customer support. It’s incredible easy to use. Using it is very intuitive. When I run into a problem or have a question, I can always count on FAQ, discussion forum, screenshots and an outstanding customer support to solve my problem and/or answer my questions.” – Christine Chan

I also want to include one of my personal favorites we received just the month before:

“I’ve been using your software since 2007. I was one of the ones that started asking about a network version long ago. Even on its first release, your network Landlordmax software is awesome! It does EXACTLEY what I was hoping for. I’m a tech geek, and I’ve been willing to pay any amount for good property management software for my brokerage. I’ve tried every other competitive solution (all of which charge substantially more), even the big name networked versions, which charge outrageous monthly fees. Yours outperforms them all. Really brilliant software. You did great Steph. You’ve really helped my brokerage succeed as it rapidly expands. My employees all love it too, and it save’s me a king’s ransom in training cost for new employees do to its simplicity.” – Ed Dimarco






Printing is Broken on Mac OS X with Java 7

Confused Programmer

Printing on the Mac OS with Java 7 has been broken for a long time, months in fact. I don’t understand how this can possibly happen. After all printing isn’t exactly a small issue, and the Mac isn’t exactly a small market. So how can this be? For months? I don’t get it…

Specifically the font attributes are not honored on the Mac OS. Java seems to make the proper OS calls but for whatever reason the Mac OS just ignores those calls. Here’s the official bug report. To quote:

“Call to MacOS native function CTTypesetterCreateWithAttributedStringAndOptions did not produce the expected result.  Although the font dictionary was passed in options, for unknown reason, it is ignored.  Fix is to add the font dictionary in the attributed string and use CTTypesetterCreateWithAttributedString.”

And this only affects the Mac, it works fine in Windows or with Linux. The following code shows how to replicate the Java 7 printing bug on the Mac OS:

Font font = new Font("Times", Font.BOLD, 24);
Graphics2D g = (Graphics2D)graphics;
g.setFont(font);
g.drawString("Hello World", 10, 10);
// Increase font by 10 - Mac OS ignores this next line of code.
g.setFont(font.deriveFont(font.getSize2D()+10));
g.drawString("Hello World in a bigger font", 10, 100);

The weirdest part of this whole issue is that it’s really only broken in Java 7!! Of course it’s the only stable release of Java. How does that make any sense? It still works on Java 6 which is no longer supported (past it’s End of Life). For Java 8, which is still in beta and does NOT have a stable release, it seems to be working. However for Java 7, nope. Nothing. Nada. Huh???

In case you want to read further information from the better links I found on the issue, they are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. Just a few links. So it’s not exactly an unknown issue. Many people are struggling with it.

That being said, several people have found workaround solutions, including us here at LandlordMax Property Management Software. A common solution I’ve heard is to create an image of what you want to print and print that image. It makes sense and it will work because you’re bypassing the font attributes. I’m not a big fan of this solution, especially since it doesn’t really scale well to multi-page report printouts that we need in LandlordMax.

So what we’ve been forced to do is create a temporary PDF file of the report, ask the Mac OS to print the file using the system command lp filename.pdf, and then delete the temporary file. This works pretty well, the only downside is that the Page Setup and printer setting options that comes along with most programs are not available because we’re not really printing from the software itself, nor can we pass them on to the system command. It’s not ideal, but it’s the only way to print within Java 7 on the Mac OS.

We added this workaround in the software with Java 7 Update 17. Unfortunately s far as we can tell the bug has been around at least since Update 9, but probably earlier. I just checked and we’re now at Java 7 Update 25, and guess what. Still no fix! No mention of the issue either.

The big question now is whether this is a Java (Oracle) issue or a Mac (Apple) issue? In either case, I would think both companies should want to fix this issue right away. It’s not exactly a minor issue. I don’t understand what’s holding up a resolution to this issue. It makes absolutely no sense to me. This is core functionality that affects both their users in a big way. It’s not a little bug, it’s huge! Printing is important, even in today’s digital world.

Hopefully Apple and Oracle can put their differences aside for a little bit and resolve this issue. It’s affecting a lot of people and we don’t deserve to be the collateral damage to their war against each other.






Lines of Code Revisited Again

LandlordMax Rental Property Software - Lines of Code

Again, just like last time, I completely agree that Lines of Code (LOC) is not an ideal metric to measure the scale of a system because of all the varying factors. However this is all I have so I’m going to do the best I can with what I have.

As many of you already we’re hard at work on a networked and multi-user version of LandlordMax to which you can see the daily status update here. It will be released as a minor update, that is a letter increment rather than a full version number increment. The main reason for this is to assist people in moving up to the networked version with the lease friction and costs possible.

In any case, I thought I would share with you today the scale of this effort. Yes again I do realize LOC is not the best metric, but it’s really the only metric I have which can show the scale of the effort. As you’ll see, the amount of new programming code included between each version is fairly close. This is NOT intentional by any means, and I hadn’t realized it until I generated this chart today, it just happened that way. Anyways as you’ll quickly see, the difference in LOC between the last version, version 6.05d, and the upcoming version 6.05e is about the same as a full version number release!

Of course a lot of that effort is specific to the networked offering and the as such the desktop offering will only get some of the benefits, but regardless it’s still a major effort.

All that to say the upcoming networked version 6.05e is a major undertaking, probably more than most people realize. Offering networking capabilities along with multi-user support is definitely a lot more complex than just letting multiple users connect to the same database, especially when you’re dealing with complex data that many of the users connected to the same system at the same time will be sharing and modify on a regular basis. You have to deal with a lot of synchronization issues, especially when it comes to modifying and saving existing data which I won’t get into today.

And if anyone has any suggestions on other interesting metrics I can fairly easily, please let me know. I’m always interested in learning more about our system.






Amazing Tip To Increase Your Real Estate Rental Profits in Less Than a Day

Writing checks

Before I begin let me share a story that some of you might have already hear, at least in some variation of another. A woman sends her husband to the store to buy a ham, but she specifically asks him to have the butcher cut it in half. Of course the husband forgets to ask the butcher, so when he gets home his wife is not too happy that she has to cut the ham in half. The husband then proceeds to ask his wife why she cuts it in half, to which she responds that her mother has always done it that way and that was reason enough for her.

Luckily for the husband, his mother-in-law is there visiting for Xmas. So he takes the opportunity to ask her why she always cut the ham in half before cooking it, to which she replies because that’s how her mother also always did it.

Still not happy with this answer the husband convinces his wife to call her grandmother to try and figure out this mystery. After all, this is now three generations that have always cut their hams in half before cooking it, and no one knows why. It baffles him that no one has ever asked why. Well thankfully the grandmother finally had the answer, it was because her oven was too small to cook a ham in one piece, so she had to cut it to make it fit. A simple solution to a simple problem that was no longer true.

The moral of the story of course being that everyone just did the same thing because that’s how it had always been done. No one ever questioned WHY it was done that way, they just went ahead and continued to do the same thing.

And this is at the heart of the incredible tip I’m going to offer you today on how to increase your PROFITS, not your income, but your profits, by a pretty significant amount!

As many of you already know, my company LandlordMax Software sells property management software (also sometimes refered to as rental property software, landlord software, and so on). One questions we get asked often enough is if we offer check printing. Which leads right into the tip on how to significantly increase your profits while at the same time reduce your workload!!

Why do people need check printing? Seriously. Think about? Why? Do you really need to have software that prints out tons of checks each month these days? When is the last time you looked at automating their bill payments? Most property managers and landlords just continue to write and send checks for their bills, but why? Because that’s how they’ve always done it. But is it necessary?

Today many many many bills can be completely automated. If you cover the utilities for your tenants as part of the rental agreement, then each payment to the different utility companies can be automated, avoiding the need to write and send a check to each company. We’re not talking just one check here, possibly quite a lot. Today most utility companies have some kind of method or other to have your bills automatically paid.

If you’re a property management company that sends checks out to the individual property owners, there are a number of other options you can exercise. Most banks and financial institutions have all kinds of ways to send money digitally that will save you time and money (and fees). For example most employers these days no longer pay their employees with checks, most just do direct deposit. I’m not suggesting you take their route with your clients, only that there are options out there. When was the last time you looked?

How much of a difference can it make? What is the cost of writing and sending one check? My personal ballpark figure is about $1-$2 per check. This includes the cost to order the checks themselves, then there’s envelopers, stamps, bank fees, etc. I’m also ignoring any penalties for checks lost in the mail, which if you send a lot of checks, you’ll for sure have had some checks lost in the mail.

Above this I’m also not including all the labor costs. Sure the software can automate some of this, but you still need to load your printer with special checks which you probably had to order at a marked up price to match the specific you’re using. Then there’s the time of putting each check into the right envelope, making sure there’s no mistakes along the way. And don’t forget preparing the envelopers and so on. Printing all those mailing labels, sticking them on. It adds up faster than most people realize.

And I haven’t hit the price of the software. If you have a professional property management software solution then you’re easily looking at the thousand dollar or more range. If you’re using a small business accounting software with check printing, then it’s at least some hundreds. If you’re not using any software, then how long does it take you to manually write all those checks? In either situation there is a cost.

With all that in mind, if you have over 100 tenants (an easy round number) at 5 checks a month per tenant on average (plus one property owner payment), you’re looking at spending anywhere from $500-$2000/month of total expenses on just producing checks! Over a year it can easily get into the five figures! I do strongly recommend you look at your own full costs for writing all those checks, don’t just use my numbers. Do your own calculations.

And don’t forget to include the time costs, I can’t imagine an effort like that takes one person less than a full day to accomplish if it was all done at the same time. Over a year that adds up to 2.5 weeks business weeks of full time effort. Yuck. What a waste of time! I don’t know about you, but I have much better things to do. Especially if this can all be automated.

Now imagine that all it took was a day to automate almost all of this effort. No more need to print and/or send checks. Even if you can just automate your regular bills, and for property managers the need to print checks for your clients, how much money and time would you save? And again, this is PURE PROFIT! You’ve just reduced your costs, and not only has it not reduced the quality of your business, you’ve actually increased it!! All this because you’ve finally looked at WHY it’s always been done that way before!

To answer my question about our software, no we currently don’t offer check printing. We would like to, and do plan to eventually offer it (even after all I’ve said). However it’s not normally something you’ll see in competing solutions anywhere our price range. It’s much like a tenant asking for an in-unit hot tub while only paying an affordable rent. You can definitely get an apartment that offers in-unit hot tubs, but you should expect to pay quite a bit in rent. The same is true for check printing. However when people ask us, the answer isn’t really no, it’s more why do you really need check printing? Wouldn’t your time be better invested in researching what you can automate rather than just continuing to do what you’ve always done. Not only will you save on the price of the software, but you’ll save money each and every month from now on! And as an added bonus, the cherry on the whipped cream, you’ll have more time to grow your business rather than spend it on busywork that offers no real and lasting value.






LandlordMax 2011 – Another Record Fiscal Year!

About once a year I try to post how we’re doing here at LandlordMax, and it’s again that time of the year. But before I do, for those of you who are interested, here are the links to my previous yearly posts. And please note that although LandlordMax was originally founded in 2003, I only started sharing the revenues in 2007:

And now for the updated revenue graph which includes the fiscal year of 2011-2012:

LandlordMax Property Management Software - 2012 Fiscal Year Revenues

As you can quickly see, we definitely grew some more this year, to the tune of about 65%. Another really exciting and good year!

And similar to last year, this all happened during a recession which is continuing to see a lot of weeding out of our competitors! So we’re very excited about these results.

The biggest improvements for the company this year were mostly internal, although there are some improvements which are visible from the outside.

In terms of visible changes, we completely redid the LandlordMax website (long overdue) which resulted in a marked improvements in sales almost immediately. Above that we released an update to the software which was pretty significant in terms of scale and effort. The update not only fixed some issues, but it also included a number of big improvements and features. We completely re-wrote the user manual from the ground up which resulted in a significant decrease of 80% in technical support levels! That’s a huge win!! We started a newsletter for the company which is growing by about 20% a month! In less than a year (closer to half a year) the subscriber count is already in the solid 4 figures and we haven’t marketed it one bit. The only way to find it is on the footer of the company website (there isn’t even a dedicated newsletter page yet!). So having that level of subscription growth is quite impressive in so little time considering there’s also been absolutely no marketing effort. We completely revamped RealEstatePigeon.com and brought it to it’s own home rather than being hosted by a third party service. There’s quite a bit of work left there, but it’s a good start for now.

Internally, and much less visible, an incredible amount of effort has been put into releasing the networked version of LandlordMax. And I do mean an INCREDIBLE amount of effort. This release has almost doubled the size of our code base! In other words, it’s almost doubled the size of the programming code behind the software! That’s huge! I only wish I could properly express the amount of effort that’s gone into this release.

Above the effort to release the networked version, we’ve spent a lot of effort improving our internal systems and processes. I won’t go into the details here because it’s probably not very exciting for most people outside of the company, but I can tell you a lot of things have been improved and streamlined quite a bit. A lot of things that could be automated have been automated, much more than before. This has helped improve and increase our overall productivity significantly.

Our marketing efforts have also expanded quite a bit. I won’t go into the details here either, but I can tell you that we spend more a month now on our marketing efforts than we did in our whole first year.

All that to say we’ve been very busy. This year has probably been the more busy for me personally than I’ve ever been in my whole life! And I can’t wait to see how things will change for us as a company once the networked version is available.






 


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