In getting the word out, I’ve called quite a few landlords. In those calls, one of the more common questions isn’t really posed as a question… it’s more just an increase in the pitch of their voice as they repeat Anikio to me. “Where,” they wonder, “did he come up with THAT name? What could it mean?”
And so, to find out, I went to the oracle, who I affectionately call my Uncle Nick. How a little rental website from Saskatoon could end up with such a name, set in place by the ancient Greeks (oops, spoiler alert) from a time when Plato had only theorized the concept of an internet, is still beyond me a bit, but I hope this video will shed some light on it for you folks!
While you’re out looking at rental suites in Saskatoon, get yourself into the Christmas spirit with the Star Phoenix’s Tour Guide to some of the best Christmas light displays in the city! My favourite is always 2706 Clinskill Drive, where you tune your radio to 89.7 FM and see the lights set to music. As well, there are several other nice houses in the area that you will see. Hours for that house are from 5:30-10:30 PM 7 days/week. And of course, it’s always nice to take the family out to see the Enchanted Forest at the Saskatoon Forestry Farm if you’re looking around the University Heights area.
We’ve officially been launched for about two weeks and it has been way busier than I could’ve expected but really great. I thought I would document some of the early-days efforts being made and things that have been happening over these past couple weeks. But first, have a look at the number of daily unique users coming to check out Anikio (on the right)! It’s exciting to have progress like this as we try to spread the word around Saskatoon about our efforts to make the process of renting a bit better.
There has been a lot of effort on my part, getting in touch with landlords, going to properties and shooting virtual tours and free photos, and so on, but I really do want to thank all the great friends, family, and new supporters that have been spreading the word to their own friends and families about what we’re trying to do here. That word of mouth has, at the end of the day, been what has really helped get us off the ground. Please keep it up and don’t hesitate to give any landlords or tenants you know my information – I will help them however I can!
Anyway, progress aside, here are some of the other cool things that have been happening these first two weeks:
Well, the first thing is I finally got my business cards printed and delivered – and I love them. It feels a little more official to have a business card now. I struggled a bit with what my title should be, though. Owner? CEO? Manager? Developer? President? His Royal Highness? You want to convey that you are responsible for the company without seemingly over-inflating your own importance. I mean, it’s not like I have a 300-person team that I’m organizing or managing. In the end I stuck with founder. Partly because I like the symmetry with “Find it.” Find it? Found ‘er!
My good friend, Darren Bielecki, created the design from his home in Kamsack. This might be a good time to talk about the logo as well. That started out as sketches that my fiancée, soon to be wife, Krystal sketched on loose-leaf when I first came up with the name a few months ago. The ‘A’ house was all her. Initially, the ‘O’ was going to be a key, but it was hard to make that look good and then it hit me that I could make it into a magnifying glass. And from those sketches and ideas, Darren created the digital version of the logos that you see all over the site today.
Of course I believe that having a site dedicated to the rental market is going to provide a better experience for all involved. The search filtering and listing of rental units by relevance to a tenant’s needs instead of by newest listing is, I think, a big step forward from what was being done before we came around. The next step is to make sure that the listings on Anikio offer the best possible experience for the landlords and tenants. With that in mind, I bought a 360-degree camera to shoot virtual tours of rental properties. Virtual tours let tenants get a better idea of how suitable a property is before they even reach out to the landlord, and on their own schedule. And they save time going to viewings only to discover that the space isn’t what they thought it was from the photos. This also saves the landlord (and potentially the current tenants) time by further qualifying tenants before spending time driving across town to show a suite. Of course a real-life viewing will always be needed, but the tenant should be much more serious by then.
All this is to say, I’ve shot 6 different virtual tours for various properties in the last week or so and had a lot of fun doing it and seeing the end results. (Here’s one of my favourites). Plus, I’ve got to meet some great landlords that really are looking at ways to make the overall experience better and have been very supportive. It’s quite a different thing, shooting 360 degrees, because there’s nowhere for the photographer to hide. You could make a game out of trying to guess my hiding spots or spotting a shadow here or there, or, in one case, a stack of business cards that I left on the counter. I also had to do some work to make my logo appear correctly in the 3D world by warping it as though being viewed through a fisheye lens.
Social Media Marketing
My cousin Constantin owns and operates Buy-Sell-Find New & Used Restaurant Equipment. He’s been growing that from nothing into an impressive operation over the past 2 years and was good enough to invite me in to listen to Chuck from Saskatoon UpClose talk about marketing strategies. I’m sure he’d cringe at all the text in this blog, but I’m a bit under the weather today and don’t want to subject the world to a video of that! Anyway, there’ve been a lot of good ideas and information from the first two sessions and I will have a couple more next week as well. We did shoot a few videos/snippets that I’ll start posting here as I get time to edit them – one thing’s for sure, I have more ideas than time or money to implement them!
So, that’s been a small sample of what these first couple weeks have been like. Thanks again for spreading the word! Everyone knows at least one landlord even if you don’t realize it!
When it comes to marketing your property, nothing makes a bigger impact on the first impression than the visuals you use in your listing. Photos, videos, and even virtual tours can mean the different between finding a good tenant right away or having a vacant property for 1-2 months. Anikio offers professional photography and virtual tours, but whether you’re planning to shoot your own photos or use a professional, here are some things that will make sure you get the best results possible before you take off that lens cap:
Preparing Your Property
Fix/Patch – Good photos should last you through many tenants. Make sure that suite repairs, patches, and fixes are done. Just like you’re looking for a reliable tenant that will pay on time, tenants want reliable landlords that make repairs promptly. Photos of walls (or doors) with holes, cupboards missing doors, or half-completed renovations don’t give a good impression even if you are in the middle of repairing them.
Don’t Forget Outside – It’s always a good idea to have at least one exterior photo. Make sure the yard, deck, and porch are in good condition (grass cut, snow shoveled, garbage bins tucked away).
Replace Burned-Out Bulbs – Now that your place is patched and fixed, don’t forget to make sure that all your bulbs are installed and working. When you take a picture, what you’re really doing is capturing light from the scene. Less light, less great of a photo. And again, it speaks to how well the property is maintained. Try to keep all the same colour temperature (also called warmth) in one room. Daylight photographs best in rooms with windows.
Put Stuff Away – Loose items like vacuum cleaner hoses, rags, things left behind from the previous tenant, etc. should be neatly put away in their usual storage place. This will save you having professional photos shot only to find a dirty rag sitting on top of your washer/dryer.
Clean – Hopefully the suite was cleaned when the previous tenants left, but if they missed a few things (or you made some dust in the previous three steps) take the time to clean up floors, baseboards, etc. and make everything look its best. Again, it’s a bit of pain now for photos that can last many years.
Lights! Get all the lights on, even the ones in adjacent rooms, on the porch, etc. Light makes your place feel more warm and welcoming but it also makes your photo results better. Cameras adjust to low light by a combination of leaving the shutter open longer or increasing the ISO. The longer the shutter is open, the more likely the image will be blurry from your hand shaking. This can be combatted by using a tripod. As for increasing the ISO, what this really means is a more grainy and less clear photo. The smaller the camera (for example if you’re using your phone) the less it is able to deal with low light.
Blinds! Open all the blinds. Again, you want to let in as much light as possible for your photo. This part can be a bit tricky, though. If you are shooting a scene with open blinds and the sun streaming in, the camera can think the picture is too bright and make everything dark inside so that the scene outside the window is exposed correctly. On most cameras you can adjust the exposure (for example, on an iPhone, click the light icon on the yellow box and drag up to brighten the image) so that the inside is exposed correctly. This may result in a very white/bright window. Optionally, try to shoot with your back to the window to use all that light to your advantage, or if you have a HDR-capable camera (and tripod!) you may be able to get several photos of the same scene at different exposures and put them together to better replicate the dynamic range (from darkest to brightest) that the human eye can resolve.
Camera! Modern phones have better and better cameras and AI all the time. These days, with enough light, you can get perfectly acceptable photos with a phone camera and occasional use of the panorama feature. However, nothing beats a nice big wide-angle lens on an SLR camera for collecting more light in the same scene. And don’t forget about a tripod for sharp, clear, low-noise photos in even dark rooms. As mentioned above, the tripod is also critical for shooting HDR photos that extend the range between the blackest black and whitest white to allow more of the image to shine through.
Action! Where possible, try to take your photos in landscape (wide) format instead of tall. This shows a more natural view of how people see the world and gives more of a sense of seeing a complete picture. Portrait (tall) photos are useful in small spaces but when used in large rooms, they can make it look like you’re trying to hide something. Photos look best on Anikio when they are cropped to a 16×9 widescreen format, but standard straight-out-of camera photos will work with no cropping also. If you know a bit about photography, you may also wish to do some post-processing of the photos, making sure the white balance is accurate, putting together your HDR photos and panoramas, and double-checking that the photos look as good and as accurate as possible.