While his first career path started in the financial sector and morphed into managing a private real estate investment fund, if you ask Keyrenter franchisee Jonathan Sempsrott what sets Keyrenter apart from the rest of the industry, he is quick to come up with an answer.
“Keyrenter was an early adopter of technology and ways to make things simpler and more efficient,” Sempsrott says.
“When I bought my franchise in 2015, the industry, in general, was very outdated. There were a lot of competitors using the same ‘old-school’ methods with paper leases and the like. I was shocked at the low-tech approach that was operating in the industry. While the world had modernized, the property management industry hadn’t evolved along with it to a certain degree.”
Managing Keyrenter properties in the Austin, Texas, area, nicknamed “Silicon Hills” for its ever-expanding population of Silicon Valley tech industry ex-pats, Sempsrott knows the importance of technology when it comes to being a professional property manager.
“Technology has always been valuable to Keyrenter to reduce overall headcount and make things more efficient,” he said. “We can run our franchise lean and efficiently. We truly have some game-changing systems. Everything is in the ‘cloud.’ All of our accounting, leasing, lead generation is electronically based. Property owners have a portal to log into to keep tabs on their property. Tenants can use this system as well.”
“The industry is heavily characterized by a lot of old-school practices, ‘mom and pop’ shops that are two employees running the business on paper,” he continued. However, its changed a lot in the past few years. Working with Keyrenter has allowed me to bring technology to the table with improved systems and efficiency. We’re able to deliver better results this way.”
From Finance to Professional Property Management
Born and raised in Indiana, Sempsrott moved to the Austin area in the early 2000s, after visiting the area for work and falling in love with the city. Early in his career, he worked in finance and investments, managing hedge funds and dealing with alternative assets, in the professional career sense. He changed career paths and helped launch a private real estate investment fund as the Fund Manager. The fund grew quickly and was valued at about $50 million.
But Sempsrott wanted more.
“I wasn’t an owner in the company. I had a profit share interest, but that was it,” he said. “I always wanted to own my own business, be more independent, and launch something I had complete control over. I began to look for opportunities, possibly buying an existing business and taking over. I also looked at starting something from scratch. Then, I started to look at franchising. That became a lot more interesting to me.”
After looking at other franchising opportunities, including off-site file storage shredding services, heavy warehouse components, and service-based pest control, Sempsrott decided on Keyrenter. He was drawn to the operational similarities to his previous career, but also due to the similarities he felt personally with Keyrenter.
“Whenever you’re joining a company, it’s important to know who you’re buying into, more than what,” Sempsrott said. “With Keyrenter, I met the co-founders, Aaron Marshall and Nate Tew, and there was an immediate connection. We have shared values and the same life philosophy. They want to make money, but it’s not all about that. They care about the individual and work-life balance. Finding the opportunity to partner with someone where you share and believe in their vision. That’s what sold me.”
“I never owned rental property or managed rental property, prior to starting with Keyrenter.” Sempsrott continued. “Looking back at my career, it had always been operational. Keyrenter was an immediate fit for me because the operational component of the business is so critical. There are so many things that need to work correctly and be super-efficient.”
Purchasing his Keyrenter franchise in 2015, Sempsrott started his new journey with a home-based “side business,” working at night and on the weekends, and taking sales calls during his lunch hour at the real estate fund management position. As his Keyrenter business began to grow in the Austin area, he made the life decision to move on from the real estate fund; and own his own business.
What originally started as a “nights and weekends” job has grown to a full-time position, managing six employees, and expanding his professional property management portfolio from an initial zero properties to a robust 340 properties. Even with a team of employees, Sempsrott still handles all the sales calls.
Everything is Bigger in Texas
Sempsrott is primarily focused on adding more properties to manage and potentially opening a second Keyrenter franchise. While he still loves Austin, he notes there a few challenges in his territory.
“The biggest challenge is housing affordability and making the numbers work,” he said. “Ten years ago, Austin was a great place to buy real estate, but with the influx of population, prices have gone up. It’s getting harder and harder to make an investment profitable from a property tax perspective. We face that indirectly.
“A lot of our clients are former owner-occupants,” he continued. They don’t want to sell their property, so we’ll rent it out for them until they are ready to sell.”
Sempsrott looks forward to continuing to grow his Keyrenter business and continuing to improve on the operations of his company.
“Keyrenter is not art, it’s a lot of solving problems,” he said. “There is a lot of focus on making things work like a well-oiled machine and finding ways to systematize and automate the process where you can.”
“I like business done well. That’s what you have to do to truly succeed.”
Do you also like your business done well and think Keyrenter may be a good fit for you? Request a free franchise report today to get started!