W G Software, Inc. is the parent company of the Tenant File Property Management Software, one of the leading rental property software products for landlords and owners of rental property. It was established in 1992, and incorporated in 1998.
The software line includes rental accounting software, work order software, tax software, word processing software, lease designing software, ACH software, and rental syndication software. They have expanded into other areas and host websites for rental property (www.RentalHomesAvailable.com) and home sales (www.RealEstateAvailable.com).
MO: How did you come up with the idea for Tenant File Property Management Software?
Wayne: After taking only a ‘basic computer’ course in college, I fell in love with computers and their capabilities. I taught myself how to repair and network computer systems, and after doing independent consulting with several real estate companies, I landed a job with a local realtor that owned about 300 homes and managed about 300 for other owners. It didn’t take long to find out that the software they used for managing all of their property was too limited. When I researched other options, I discovered there really weren’t many good property management software programs on the market. So the light went off in my head that a need was begging to be filled. The trouble was though, I wasn’t a programmer. So, I devoured book after book on programming computers, worked through the night and taught myself to program. Two years later I had developed a basic program that could manage to rental property for the company I worked for. The owner, Manfred, became my mentor and close friend. He would constantly encourage me and insist that I make the program easier for the average non-computer savvy person. Eventually, Manfred accompanied me to national trade shows and several major magazines gave great reviews on the new product. A business was born which is now used by over 10,000 real estate offices, landlords, and property managers through the USA. Unfortunately, Manfred developed leukemia and passed away a few years later. I still look after his widow to this day, and have never forgotten his advice to keep the software easy for anyone to use.
MO: What are some of your favorite features of Tenant File?
Wayne: We are very proud of the entire package and always get responses from our customers about how they depend upon the Tenant File daily to ease their workload. That is something that makes us proud. Property management is a tough, constantly active, detail oriented business. Lately we have been trying to keep the best advantages of the Internet while maintaining the speed and security of desktop software. So, we’ve been adding features such as emailing owner and tenant statements, work order emailing to vendors, uploading vacancy information to the Internet, automatic rent charges and increases, and processing ACH payments from tenants, owners, and vendors automatically with complete application integration.
MO: How important has social media been to your marketing and brand awareness strategy?
Wayne: The Tenant File was one of the first in our field to embrace the Internet. We saw that social interaction was a game changer early on, and altered our marketing strategies from traditional print advertising and trades shows to social media and customer involvement. Customers now have many more tools at their disposal to compare products, find reviews, and actively discuss their needs on sites such as LinkedIn groups, Facebook, Twitter, and many other great sites. Our marketing focus has evolved into interaction with those discussions to provide important information rather than hard selling a product.
MO: What’s the biggest risk that you’ve ever taken and how did it turn out?
Wayne: When my wife had our first child, the Tenant File was just beginning to blossom. She was a bank officer with a great job and we needed the money. We decided to take the risk of her leaving her job and staying at home to raise our child, while I pursued a business that was barely beginning and made only a modest income. That decision enabled both of us to stay at home and grow a company at the same time. I never regret that move and feel that the added responsibility actually gave me the momentum to try even harder to develop a product that would be successful.
MO: Why do you think that it’s important for entrepreneurs to be committed to their passion foremost instead of profit?
Wayne: Because that is all that matters in life, in my opinion. Whether it is family or business, I want to be challenged and enjoy it. If life is all about money then it becomes boring and meaningless. I started early in life by teaching myself to play guitar. Eventually I made good money playing in successful bands, but the reason I spent the time learning the skill was to satisfy my creative goals, not to make money. We all want to earn enough money to enjoy life to the fullest, but I don’t believe you can ever be happy unless you are challenging yourself creatively. If you create something that helps others, the satisfaction is even more acute, and if you can make a good living, I can’t think of anything more satisfying.
MO: Now that you’ve achieved such great success and a loyal and growing fan base, how do you plan to keep the momentum going?
Wayne: By never getting complacent. I think the most important thing is a marriage is learning to ‘listen’ instead of talking. It is no different in business. Your customers are your best reflection of whether you are doing well or not, and if you ‘listen’ you’ll find the clues you need to become better. I want to always look forward instead of patting myself on the back for what was achieved in the past. Once you start looking back, you lose momentum, just as if you are in a track meet. If you love to run, never stop running, and keep your eyes on the finish line.
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