Like many folks, founders Andrew Collins and Justin McCarty had trouble finding a place to live in the competitive San Francisco rental market. Between trying to find something in their price range and roommates they would get along with, getting into an apartment felt like an impossible task. That frustration led them to start Bungalow.
Andrew and Justin took the concept of coliving, which had been around for ages, and elevated it. Bungalow takes the stress out of renting. Renters can look for single rooms in existing properties or team up with a group of friends and rent an entire house. And Bungalow makes everything easier with additional amenities, such as monthly cleanings, Wi-Fi, and other managed services.
But while Bungalow has made renting easy for city dwellers, providing customer service to those renters is pretty complex. That’s because even though people need a place to live year round, the rental market bounces in volume every spring and summer. This seasonality forced Bungalow to look into ways to make the operational side of its business more sustainable.
“Real estate is very seasonal,” Alex Canedo, Director of Operations at Bungalow, says. “There’s nothing in the winter, then some highs and lows, and then by the time spring/summer comes around, it’s a huge boom. We see three to five times growth, and it’s really hard to staff.”
Not only is the industry that Bungalow occupies highly seasonal, but in true startup fashion, they’re constantly adding new services and trying new processes. The velocity of these changes also requires tons of energy and quick turnaround regarding staffing.
Alex started to notice that her metrics were “taking a hit because of the seasonality causing a backlog. We were not staffed appropriately, and it was really hard to hire!”
“When you are a small startup, you don’t have a huge HR or recruiting team. You don’t have any of those mechanisms in place.” Alex says. “You don’t have QA or built-in training programs.” These core components make it difficult for any company to hire quickly but are even trickier for specialized businesses.
Bungalow needed to hire quickly in an industry that had particular knowledge requirements and be able to ramp up to 5x the volume at the drop of a hat. PartnerHero was there to help.
At first, there were concerns about whether a BPO could support residents just as well as their US-based team, especially given the regional knowledge required with the job. Alex provides an example: “Think about how heaters and AC systems are set up. There are little nuances like that that might not be as common in a place that you are outsourcing.”
Ultimately, the speed they needed to hire supplemental staff outweighed any concerns about outsourcing. They chose PartnerHero and launched quickly. “It was trial by fire,” Alex says. “We trained them for a week, and then we started taking tickets. It was a very collaborative process. We did it together.”
Bungalow started with a Dedicated team and quickly added a Flex team to support seasonal spikes. Alex notes that this staffing structure “makes it easy in that we can have a robust team all the time, and we can also staff up on a temporary, seasonally flexible basis.”
Those original worries about outsourcing were allayed once Bungalow started working with their PartnerHero team. While Bungalow originally started using PartnerHero specifically for resident support, after seeing the results from the first team, they “realized how many other roles internally they had that PartnerHero could fulfill.” Now PartnerHero teams are involved with leasing, coordination, and other roles across the operations team.
“For example,” Alex says, “we have someone who helps with virtual staging. They aren’t customer-facing, but they are helping with internal operations. We also have some specialty roles helping with some of our unique services offerings. For instance, we help people match up with roommates and stage a meet-and-greet over chat. When you have a channel like that, you need to monitor for safety and ethics, so we now have a PartnerHero associate helping monitor that.”
The quality of the work was a big part of the reason Bungalow has expanded their use of PartnerHero, but so was their experience in hiring for real-estate-specific roles. PartnerHero works with partners to develop custom JDs to staff programs with experts in their niche.
“Everyone we talked to at PartnerHero was super helpful and very willing to work with us on all of our nuances,” says Alex. “We really worked with them to try to find people who fit those profiles that they’d never quite sourced for before. Their willingness to work with us, their ease of work, and their communicativeness and responsiveness all blew us away.”
This partnership ensured that Bungalow provided support promptly and that PartnerHero could quickly fill nuanced roles as the need for them grew.
Alex’s team now looks toward the busy season without fear. Across their tracked SLAs, they have seen a massive improvement. “You can see it in our charts! We are hitting 90% achievement for all of our SLAs, and we’re hitting it week over week. There’s a consistency there that we were previously missing,” says Alex.
“They are very hands-on to ensure that the quality of who we are hiring is up to standard, and everyone is held accountable,” Alex says of her PartnerHero team. “They are never going to just set it or forget it.”
The PartnerHero and Bungalow teams work closely together to predict upcoming staffing needs and ensure that everyone is prepared. They hold weekly and monthly meetings with team leads and program managers to understand what is hurting critical KPIs and what’s working.
“You get as much as you give,” Alex says about the work. “We really see this as a partnership. We don’t see it as ‘their team; they handle everything.’ It’s always a conversation.”
Even with the specificity that roles in real estate require, PartnerHero associates often outperform locally-based employees. “We can see the KPI matchups! Our contractors and temp contractors all feel like they are a part of the team.”
PartnerHero allows Bungalow to stand up fully functional teams more quickly than they could on their own. Alex explains: “Not having to look outside of PartnerHero for that is so helpful. It’s just seamless. We already have the processes set up. We have the training set up. The team infrastructure is there. PartnerHero makes it easy.”
“I’ve worked with BPOs in the past,” Alex says, “And it’s felt like an ‘us and them’ situation. With PartnerHero, it feels like a true partnership. I love working with everyone on the team. It’s been an excellent experience.”