We talked to Arvand Sabetian of Ziprent about the property management space and COVID-19.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Arvand Sabetian: We are doing well, thanks for asking. Since the founding of my first company, I have believed in the many benefits of remote work, so we’ve always started and operated remote organizations. As such, the effect of COVID on our businesses has been minimal. This has allowed us to handle the ever-changing climate in stride.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Ziprent.
Arvand Sabetian: Following the sale of my previous company in 2014, I started heavily investing in residential real estate. As a result, I began experiencing the challenges that management of a residential portfolio can pose for an investor. Furthermore, by working with different property managers and talking to different investors, I was quick to notice the inefficiencies that archaic processes and methods introduced into every aspect of the property management process. As such, I set out to come up with systems and processes that addressed the problems I saw and built a platform to keep track of those systems. That led us to what is Ziprent today.
We are continuing to question and improve upon every notion of the property management cycle to make sure that tenants and landlords alike have a better experience every day.
How does Ziprent innovate?
Arvand Sabetian: Questioning and re-questioning every aspect of a process is ingrained in our DNA. As such, we evaluate every aspect of our services with the end-user (tenant or landlord) in mind and then think of a better way to address the need to improve efficiency and reduce costs, which will ultimately benefit all parties involved.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Arvand Sabetian: While the pandemic heavily affected our more traditional competitors, Ziprent continued to operate and provide services to our tenants and landlords since day 1 of the pandemic. We were able to do this as we run a completely remote operation with all of our relations managers working from their home offices. In fact, the pandemic gave rise to the legitimacy of our method of showings as we show nearly a 100% of our vacant units using smart lockboxes without the need to directly interact with the prospective tenant during the showing. Due to this method of showing, we continued to help tenants find housing and landlords find tenants during the crisis.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Arvand Sabetian: The majority of the difficult choices centered around the pricing of the units we had available for rent. The San Francisco real estate market took a very large hit shortly after the pandemic, and rents continued to slide to this day. As such, we had the difficult conversations that needed to be had with our owners to conform to the new realities and set realistic pricing guidelines so that we can get their units rented. In nearly all cases, we were able to fill the units and reduce the vacancy cost that our owners were faced with.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Ziprent in the future?
Arvand Sabetian: In my opinion, the main source of stress and anxiety is the unknown. And considering that our business is built around revolutionizing the highly antiquated property management space, there are a lot of unknowns. My approach is to dissect every problem into as many pieces as possible and tackle it one step at a time. By rationalizing a much larger decision into smaller micro-decisions, I can try to reduce the anxiety while working towards reaching the ultimate destination of changing an entire process to a new one not seen before.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Arvand Sabetian: One of the interesting aspects of the property management space is that many small companies cater to a very small geographic area. Therefore, in each micro-region we often compete with quite a few different companies. It probably would not be an exaggeration to say that once we expand to cover all of CA that we’d be competing with 10,000+ smaller providers.
Using technology and updated processes, we aim to provide higher quality and consistent level of service across larger geographic areas and ultimately be the go-to for landlords across the entire region.
Your final thoughts?
Arvand Sabetian: At Ziprent, we are truly excited to bring a fresh but realistic outlook to the property management landscape. And given the positive feedback we’ve received from both landlords and tenants, I believe we are on the right track to truly have a lasting effect here.
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