Journey to HARLI: Revolutionising Property Management with Artificial Intelligence

Our proprietary AI, HARLI earned us the prestigious title of Australia’s “Innovator of the Year”. This achievement was no small feat, given the fierce competition from 8 top contenders from all around the country, including big industry players including Domain and CoreLogic.

T+T: What made you decide to build an in-house AI product for your property managers? 

ST: Back in 2012, our team were receiving 3,300 emails and 844 phone calls a day, putting a huge strain on our property managers and our service level. We simply couldn’t get back to people. I knew we needed technology to address these underlying issues so we could be more responsive and better serve our clients. We hired our first software engineer and started building our own proprietary technology. In 2018 we could see AI was an emerging space, so we started the process of creating HARLI.

T+T: What does HARLI do?

ST: HARLI acts digital assistant to each of our property managers and is currently completing 1,325 daily administration tasks autonomously. HARLI learns our custom property management blueprint and then acts as if it was a property manager.

T+T: How did you come up with the concept of HARLI? 

ST:I saw firsthand what happens when your team is inundated and overwhelmed by hundreds of admin tasks, phone calls and voicemails. This stressful environment where errors are commonplace is unfortunately the norm in the industry, even today.

HARLI evolved from our focus on streamlining operations through innovative technology. In 2018, as AI emerged, we envisioned HARLI, a powerful AI assistant working alongside property managers to handle admin tasks. It was about freeing up our property managers from routine mundane tasks, so they can focus on adding value to our clients.

T+T: What is the most exciting advantage of HARLI, in your opinion? 

ST: The most exciting thing for me is seeing the impact it’s had on our property managers and our clients. HARLI is revolutionising property management in our business, shifting from a high stress environment to an enjoyable and sustainable role that focusses on adding value to our clients.

The office environment is now calm, and our service quality has increased astronomically. We’ve directly witnessed how a proactive rather than a reactive team can foster better connections and add value to clients. My goal is to sustainably expand the business and empower our team to excel in their roles. HARLI is our pathway to achieve this, ensuring the business' success in the future.

T+T: Can you elaborate on the results you’ve achieved for clients? 

ST: Sure! If we look at one metric, responsiveness, we know that 73% of tenants rate responsiveness as the most important thing when renting. Thanks to HARLI, our response time to maintenance to 1.3 days, which is 90% quicker than the industry average.

We’ve also seen a 61% faster response time to securing tenants. Speed is critical when leasing a property as it secures and protects our clients’ income, so this was really awesome to see.


T+T: How about the impact on recruitment and retention? 

ST: Around 30% of property managers left the industry during the pandemic due to high stress levels, and on average, a property manager lasts just 9 months in the role (AFR April 2021). This is a statistic we are passionate about defying. Sustainability is our focus. And thanks to our investment in HARLI our employee experience has been transformed and we are seeing quality team members staying longer (on average over 6 years).

HARLI has also allowed us to recruit beyond traditional industry boundaries. Our team have diverse backgrounds, coming from industries like child-care, hospitality, we even have a geologist, Jason on board. Witnessing the range of talent, we can attract to our business has been amazing.

T+T: Can you share some of the process of building out the technology?

ST: Our innovation process starts with identifying a problem, brainstorming how we can solve it, and then coming together as a team to create the next product idea or feature. The strong collaboration between our software engineers and our forward-thinking property managers is the key to our technology’s success.

T+T: Where to from here for HARLI? 

ST: HARLI is currently doing 23% of all property manager tasks, within the next 12 months we’d love to see this double. This is incredibly exciting, as it will mean we can further enhance our service offering to clients.

T+T: Is there anything else you’d like to add?       

ST: It's been incredible to witness what happens when exceptional individuals and cutting-edge technology come together. In my view, both are crucial to business success. Despite rapid technological shifts, our business remains centred on our people and our clients. We see our AI as pivotal in shaping the future of property management.