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An interview with Anna MacMaster from ACE

Anna McMaster from Ace Urbanise Interview

Can you briefly introduce yourself and share your roles and experience with ACE and the strata management industry?

I'm Anna, the owner of ACE Body Corporate Gold Coast South and Coolangatta. My experience in strata management and my involvement with ACE have been central to my career. I work closely with Heather, a valuable member of our team who joined the Ace business in 2018, bringing extensive customer service expertise.

My journey with ACE also started in 2018 when I began as an employee. In 2021, I had the chance to take ownership of the business. Recently, I celebrated my second year as a business owner and received the Brand Ambassador award at the ACE Conference, which was a great honour.

Could you provide some background about ACE Gold Coast South?

ACE Gold Coast South business has operated for 15 years, and I have been the owner for the past two years. The franchise currently has two strata managers and a portfolio of 140 properties. We have achieved substantial growth without any marketing efforts, expanding at a rate of over 20% per annum since 2021 (a total of 44% growth since I bought the business), and have never lost a building. Urbanise has been a big part of our success. It's very reliable. No downtime, with impressive functionality, and consistent delivery.

When did ACE transition from SW3 to Urbanise Strata, and what was the experience like?

ACE's transition from StrataWare to Urbanise Strata was a meticulous and gradual process that allowed us to participate in developing and testing the new software actively. Several key points marked this experience.

In 2018, when Urbanise was still in development, ACE Gold Coast South actively participated in the testing phase and provided valuable feedback. We had the opportunity to witness the software's evolution, from its initial stages to its current form, and saw how our feedback was incorporated into the final product. This collaborative approach ensured a smooth and well-informed transition to Urbanise Strata.

The transition took a little longer than expected because some features had not yet been fully transitioned to Urbanise. However, we appreciated Urbanise's commitment to getting everything right rather than rushing the process, ensuring that the final product met our needs and expectations.

What are the key benefits or improvements after transitioning to the Urbanise platform?

One of the most significant benefits we've experienced post-transition to the Urbanise platform is the remarkable level of automation it offers. Time saved directly translates to improved efficiency and cost savings. Despite our small team, we can manage numerous schemes quickly and efficiently. Urbanise ensures that nothing falls through the cracks in our debt collection processes. It's essentially a "set and forget" system, customisable for each scheme's unique requirements.

Another substantial advantage lies in the automation of levies. Once a year, we set the levies, and from there, they're automatically processed without any manual intervention.

Moreover, the platform's charging automation has notably impacted our profitability. It guarantees that we are accurately compensated for the services we provide.

To put things into perspective, if we were to perform these tasks manually each month without Urbanise, we'd require an additional 40 hours of work. With Urbanise, we can efficiently take on more buildings while still devoting extra time to servicing our clients, ultimately contributing to our growth and profitability.

Among the features or functionalities of the Urbanise platform, which ones are particularly valuable to ACE and why?

Among the features and functionalities of the Urbanise platform, several stand out as particularly valuable to ACE for various reasons:

Multi-tasking with multiple tabs: We appreciate the ability to have multiple tabs open within the platform. This allows us to multitask efficiently without constantly closing one task to open another. It significantly enhances our productivity and workflow management.

Budgeting and levies automation: The Urbanise platform simplifies our budgeting and levies process. Once the draft budget is approved, a single click of the 'approved' button automatically updates the levies. This feature eliminates manual calculations, making budgeting a seamless and joyful experience.

StrataVote integration: We find the integration with StrataVote invaluable. This integration enhances our meetings module, allowing us to input meeting details directly into the AGM notice and sync them with owner details. Before Urbanise, this process was manual and time-consuming, involving calculations and manual tasks.

Arrears management: Managing arrears can be a time-consuming task. Urbanise's automation streamlines this process significantly. It takes hours of reconciliation and assignment off our hands, making arrears management much more efficient.

Online invoice approval system: Urbanise's online invoice approval system is highly effective. It places the responsibility on the committee to ensure the accuracy of invoices before approval. Once they've clicked 'approved,' we have the confidence to proceed with payment. This system enhances transparency and accountability in our financial processes.

The owners portal: We've received positive feedback from our clients who have found "My Community" to be a superior platform to their experiences with previous platforms. The portal's features, such as monitoring arrears, downloading documents, and easily tracking financials, have enhanced their overall experience and empowered them with greater transparency and control over their property-related matters.

Can you share specific examples of how the Urbanise platform helped ACE Body Corporate Gold Coast South in their operations?

Urbanise has been a game-changer for us regarding efficiency and cost reduction, enabling us to manage more schemes with our small team. This increased efficiency and automation also contribute to our excellent customer service and satisfaction ratings.

With Urbanise, we've automated the process of levies and arrears, reducing the time it takes to send out levies by over 50%. Additionally, the platform allows us to quickly charge for additional services, eliminating the need to spend hours reconciling charges. Urbanise simplifies this process by allowing us to choose preset charges within the system, significantly reducing invoicing time. We can selectively apply and edit additional charges to specific buildings, saving valuable time.

We've streamlined our project management and task tracking using the task module. It helps us automate repetitive tasks and oversee long-term projects effectively, ensuring nothing falls through the cracks.

More automation gives us more time to engage with and focus on building stronger relationships with our clients, who are, by majority, mainly semi-retired and retired individuals. This, in turn, has had a positive impact on client retention, having not lost a property since I bought the business.

Could you provide additional feedback on the Urbanise team and their support throughout the transition and ongoing operations?

Our experience with the Urbanise team has been great. They've provided ACE with a dedicated support person, which has streamlined our interactions and resolved issues efficiently. Typically, when we log a ticket, we receive a response within the same day or the next, even though more complex problems might take a day or two to resolve fully.

One aspect we truly value is the wealth of informative articles available for reference. These have proven immensely helpful in navigating the platform and resolving any queries or challenges. The interactive walk through feature is also a very user orientated and practical step by step guide for most main functions.

From a usability standpoint, the platform's overall navigation has received high praise from our team. Having multiple tabs open simultaneously without needing to close and reopen tasks has significantly enhanced our efficiency. Even though we don't consider ourselves particularly tech-savvy, the system's user-friendliness has made the transition and daily operations smooth.

Furthermore, we appreciate that our feedback and suggestions for improvements are taken seriously, and we've seen some of these ideas integrated into the platform. The proactive approach of notifying us about upcoming software maintenance has also been beneficial. It allows us to plan our activities accordingly and avoid potential disruptions.

As a business, how do you measure success?

As a business, we measure success through several key indicators. First and foremost, we must grow as part of our franchisee agreement. So, expanding our portfolio and taking on new buildings is a precise measure of our success.

However, growth isn't our sole focus. Equally important is the satisfaction of our clients. Knowing that our clients are pleased with our services significantly indicates our success. When we receive compliments and positive feedback from clients, it reaffirms that we're delivering an excellent service.

Moreover, we measure success by the satisfaction we derive from our work. We genuinely enjoy managing body corporates, and this sense of fulfilment is vital to our success.

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is also a measure of success for us. Being able to complete our tasks during business hours and still having time to enjoy life outside of work is essential.

Lastly, the fact that we've never lost a building speaks to our success in retaining clients and providing consistent, high-quality service.

What advice would you give people to change to Urbanise?

Embracing change to a newer solution presents a unique opportunity to harness the power of automation, ultimately elevating the efficiency of your operations. One critical aspect I'd like to emphasise is trust. We place complete confidence in the Urbanise system because it consistently outperforms other systems we've previously used. This trust is pivotal when embarking on a transition of this nature.

It's important to acknowledge that change, particularly when transitioning to a new platform like Urbanise, may initially be perceived as disruptive. This is especially pertinent for smaller businesses with limited resources. However, the advantages of heightened transparency and efficiency cannot be overstated. With Urbanise, tasks like tracking requests for quotes and managing work orders become effortless. The system's capacity to centralise all work orders and provide exceptional filtering capabilities significantly streamlines our processes.

Furthermore, Urbanise adopts a more task-oriented approach compared to older, building-centric systems. While this shift may necessitate some adaptation, the benefits of prioritisation and efficiency render it a worthwhile endeavour. Ultimately, our experience embracing change with Urbanise has been positive and transformative.

If you're interested in learning more about Urbanise Strata, book a demo with one of our team today.


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