Brooks Baskin is a second generation small business entrepreneur. He knows firsthand about the agility —and passion— required to start, build and grow a business. He’s tapping both in 2020 as he navigates the challenges of running his 10-year-old property management business amidst the backdrop of COVID-19. “Death, taxes and rent were certainties when I started this business. Right now, the ability to pay rent or receive rent payment is no longer a given.”
Quite a change, coming off a two-year, 143% growth rate in 2019 that put his business, 2B Living, in the #35 spot in San Francisco Business Times’ Fast 100 list. But Brooks thrives on hard challenges — which is part of the secret sauce of his success to date.
Brooks Baskin had a different approach to the “stodgy, nameless, faceless” world of property management. In order to grow his business, he needed to offer better pay, benefits and perks to attract the right kind of staff. And he had to compete in the very expensive San Francisco market with the red-hot tech and real estate industries.
Job one: drastically reduce the paperwork and build an efficient process across every component of the business. This included the complex area of people operations. And Brooks knew he needed to start with an HR technology platform to handle the heavy lifting. In 2017, he found Zenefits.
“By getting on the Zenefits platform and leveraging its many functions (payroll, onboarding, time & attendance, benefits) we were able to alleviate the need for an expensive, full-time Human Resources director. As such, we were able to afford to roll out 401k matching, more robust and better-funded healthcare options through OneDigital, and a more generous PTO program – three things that our employees highly value.
“Zenefits was a game-changer for us. High-value benefits have helped attract staff and power explosive growth in the past two years. We’re proud of the work we do at the heart of people’s existence and we’re proud to have Zenefits as our partner.”
Removing Process and Personal Friction
Brooks opened 2B Living in 2010 with a goal of building trusted relationships with both renters and owners. He also saw a need to remove the friction in the various manual, paper-heavy, stodgy processes that ate up the time that he’d prefer to spend with his clients.
His award-winning approach clearly worked — in terms of revenue and relationships (4.5+ stars on Yelp and Google is unheard of for a property management company).
While the current market is fraught with health and economic hardships, 2B Living property owners and renters are rising to the challenge. “Their collaboration is the most inspiring, positive thing I’ve seen in 10 years,” adds Brooks.
I especially appreciate Zenefits' win/win mentality right now. For example, we applied for a PPP loan. With Zenefits, we pulled that report from a brand-new feature in the system. It was a total game-changer for us. We got a loan and we saved multiple jobs.
CEO and Founder
Powering the People at the Heart of the Home
“Rent is typically the biggest part of a person’s budget and our apartment/house is the place where we (now) spend all of our time. At 2B Living, we sit at the heart of a really important part of people’s existence. That is a compelling responsibility to me and to all of our team,” adds Brooks.
“Taking care of our team is crucial to delivering a different kind of experience to our customers. This industry is not known for its pay, benefits, and perks. We have a different philosophy, and Zenefits has helped us compete with employers in the San Francisco Bay Area.”
Zenefits also helps Brooks team in managing their “new normal” which includes working remotely, given Zenefits mobile apps for time tracking, requesting time off, and even checking pay stubs and insurance coverage.
“Now is when good or bad company culture really matters. When you have to operate a complicated business remotely, the stuff that didn’t matter as much before now matters a lot. Our workload has picked up a lot with rent relief requests. Maintenance is harder, leasing without the benefit of in-person showings is harder; everything is harder. So our core values and culture keep things together. And in turn, we ensure the best, accessible technology to make our people’s work easier.
“I take seriously that 35 people’s lives and livelihoods are on the line. So I especially appreciate Zenefits’ win/win mentality right now. For example, we applied for a PPP loan. Documentation is the hardest part of the process. But with Zenefits, we pulled that report right from a brand-new feature in the system. It was a total game-changer for us. We got a loan and we saved multiple jobs.
“Thanks to Zenefits, we can have a laser focus on our core business of providing the best rental experience for property owners and tenants.”