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The All-In-One or Best-of-Breed Dilemma: Which Technology is Best for Multifamily Companies?

The All-In-One or Best-of-Breed Dilemma: Which Technology is Best for Multifamily Companies?
In the property management industry, there is a technology to solve almost every problem.  From paying rent online to managing packages, the industry is bursting with solutions that tackle all the tedious aspects of being a property manager. But first, you have to find the vendor that’s right for your company, and that can be a tough task. The best way to whittle down your choice of vendors is to determine if you want to use an all-in-one or a best-in-breed solution. You may not be sure which one is the best fit for your business, so here are the pros and cons of each. First, let’s take a look at all-in-one solutions. All-in-one providers catering to the property management industry offer a combination of management, investment, marketing, leasing, and resident tools. All-In-One Pros An all-in-one solution can be an easy sell for some property management companies. The idea of a single platform being able to solve multiple challenges at once sounds very appealing, especially if you have limited internal resources. The IT requirements required to use an all-in-one provider may be reduced when a single vendor is used because there are fewer programs to maintain. If your team is not particularly tech savvy, only having to learn one platform can help avoid confusion among users of the software and shorten the learning curve. Plus, users will only need a single login to manage each application. Only having one technology vendor to juggle can be convenient, too. You’ll only have one ve......
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Is Your Multifamily Brand Delivering on the Customer Experience?

What do the world’s most successful modern product and service brands have in common?  What’s the first thing that comes to mind? Is it advanced technology? A superior or entirely unique product offering? Maybe a new and innovative approach to world peace? Or, is it something more fundamental. . . something more inherently tied to the human factor. . . . perhaps, just perhaps. . . could it be a focus on the customer experience? “We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.” ~ Jeff Bezos If you’ve even remotely followed customer service trends over the past several years, you’ve undoubtedly noticed the growing dominance of the term “customer experience” in business publications, blog posts, and trend analyses. While “customer service” is primarily centered on a single or small series of transactions and customer touchpoints, the “customer experience” encompasses the entire past, present, and future customer interaction from both the physical and the psychological perspectives. In other words, it’s not just about the quality of the products and services consumed along the way, but equally about the customer’s lasting emotional impression from the culmination of the entire relationship and how that impression impacts brand promotion and future business. The major brands have not just driven their own success, they have effectively reshaped the face of business and elevated consumer expectations for all businesses to a whole new level. They have done so not just through pioneerin......
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Multifamily Technology: Are Marketing & Sales Human Anymore?

As we come upon the fall conference season and many panels (and one whole conference) dedicated to technology in multifamily housing, it got me thinking. When I first started working in this industry, it was very clear that we were real estate companies using technology; but now I wonder if we’re becoming technology companies running real estate? Give the importance of buy/sell decisions and the amount of human resources dedicated to operating individual properties, the answer is probably that we’re still the former; but it may not be so clear cut…and the pendulum may swing dramatically over the next decade. Consider the following: When I first started working, every single rental price in the industry was set by a human. Today, almost all of the rental rates for the NMHC Top 50, and the majority of rental rates for institutional grade apartments, are set by computer algorithms Twenty years ago, marketing was a purely creative and human endeavor. Print guides and signage were the dominant channels. Today, most leads come from websites, ILSs, SEO and PPC. Even local drive-by can be heavily influenced by mobile technology. Sales was always a distinctly human endeavor and tracking the process was completely manual. Remember when guest cards were always a physical card? And those green metal recipe boxes were how we tracked leads? Now, the industry is turning to automated CRM systems…and don’t be surprised if computers encroach upon the core sales process as well. (More on that in a moment.) On-site processes are still ......
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Finding a Work/Life Balance

It was the second day of the NAA Educational Conference, I had an urgent email to respond to but first I needed to complete the research to find the answer to the emailed question.  I was sitting at the bar in the convention center and the second breakoff sessions were starting.  I was disappointed I was going to miss the session but duty calls.  The seats on both sides of me are quickly taken by two other attendees that were not going to be able attend this session.  We struck up a conversation as we were setting up our laptops and looking for outlets to make sure we stayed powered up.  We were all working each evening, we were all back logged in emails and no matter how many hours we spent catching up, the next morning we would be back logged again.  Each of us were seeking the organization system that was going to solve our problems.  All of us said we worked for companies that supported and encouraged a “Work Life Balance”.  So why didn’t anyone of us have the work/life balance we wanted?  Why were all of us needing to miss this session to respond to work.  Despite a plethora of apps, corporate initiatives, and advice, it’s never been harder to achieve a work-life balance. According to its latest survey of nearly 9,700 full-time workers, EY, the global assurance, tax, transaction, and advisory services firm, found that one-third of employees report that managing their personal and professional lives has bec......
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Is Traditional Outreach Marketing Dead?

The subject of outreach marketing and the part it plays in common day marketing at the site level, came up in a group discussion during the 2017 NAA Education Conference and Expo.  There were many opinions and all agreed that things have changed. Delivering fliers to your surrounding businesses or taking pens to local businesses.  Are we gaining any leases from the same things that used to work so well to reach qualified prospects for our communities? Has social media, Google advertising and drip campaigns made traditional outreach marketing efforts pointless?  In our current advertising climates and the “Going Green” programs, does it make sense to keep bringing fliers or sending direct mailers any longer?  Digital marketing has taken the marketing industry by storm.  While print marketing still holds power within the industry, it’s the digital marketing trends that are proving to hold precedence.  Per Forbes, “Web Strategies reported that in 2016 the five digital channels that saw large gains were email marketing, social media, online display advertising, mobile marketing and search.’  You’re likely wondering what this year’s growing marketing trends will be.  After all, the internet and all its trends are constantly changing and what was a marketing powerhouse last year could very well be old news this year. Live Video Streaming will take off fully this year.  Facebook and Instagram have already integrated live video capabilities and other platforms are anticipated to follow suit.  Live Video, even when watching a previously recorded version, has the potential to draw in millions of p......
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How to Build a Future-Proof Marketing Technology Stack

Renters rely on internet listing services (ILSs), social media, online reviews, community websites and in-person tours during their search for a new home. In this real-time digital age, multifamily marketers must allocate resources to software and tech tools that can help them manage the entire renter lifecycle, not just the acquisition of leads.   This starts with building a future-proof marketing technology stack.   A Customer Relationship Management System A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is the first, and arguably most important, type of software that apartment communities should implement. A CRM creates a comprehensive database of renter data, including lifestyle, demographic, preference and past rental data.   Managing your customer information with a robust CRM can lead to more targeted and effective marketing campaigns. Targeting based on these insights can help you better resonate with your audience and increase your closing ratios. For example, rather than sending a mass-marketing email about the pet-friendly features of your community to someone who doesn’t own a pet, your team can target only those who have shown interest in pet amenities.   A Marketing Automation System Once you’ve got a centralized CRM in place, you’ll want to integrate it with a marketing automation system.   Marketing automation software is a necessary tool within modern marketing organizations. It provides a centralized way for marketers to manage renter communications for their entire portfolio and across a multitude of online and offline channels. It also tracks online behavioral data. Marketers can use this data as an additional layer......
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Why You Cannot Afford To Run a Property Management Firm Without a Website

Why You Cannot Afford To Run a Property Management Firm Without a Website
$39 billion. That’s the annual revenue of the U.S. property management industry. It sure looks good on paper, but you’d probably be surprised to learn that 30% of this goes to the top 500 firms. So, where do the rest 79,500 firms lie? The bulk of them are stuck at what’s arguably the most critical stage- getting their strategy right.  While property management may not be the simplest business engagement, one thing you’ve got to admit is, it’s not as complicated as manufacturing. Even the smallest firms have fair chances of outdoing large established businesses, thanks to something called the web. According to a report prepared by NAR, 84% of both buyers and renters are heavily using the internet as their first step in their home searching process. If they can’t find your information online, you may be missing out on a huge chunk of potential business. Well, of course there’s the option of riding on a third party website like Facebook, but personal websites have proven to be considerably way more effective. Here’s why: Growing and Managing Your Clients Through CRM and Contact Management Getting tenants is not that simple anymore. With competition persistently growing, property management firms are now leveraging CRM and contact management tools in lead prospecting. And going by recent trends, both prospects and property management firms are happy with the consequent results. According to Nucleus Research, every dollar spent on such tools generates an average return of $8.71- super neat, right? So, here’s the thing- CRM and contact management can only be effec......
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How to Increase Your Google Map Rankings for Your Apartment

Google Maps for ApartmentsRanking in the local map pack can be super challenging at times. Especially when you’re in a very competitive metro area like Los Angeles or Atlanta. How can your community stand out among the rest of the apartments on Google Maps? Here are a few ideas: Increase the number of images on your Google Maps Listing Increase the number of positive reviews on your Google Maps Listing Increase your Google Hang Time on your Google Maps Listing       Increase Images: This is an easy one. Most G Listings that take the top spots usually have about 20 to 40+ images uploaded into their Google Listing. If you can get close to this number of photos uploaded you should be in a good position. Increase Positive Reviews: This is easier said than done, I know. However, with a great Survey Product you can survey your residents after a successful move-in or work order to get them to leave a review while you have their attention. Send residents a 1 question survey and if they leave 3 stars or less, it stays internal and anything 4 stars and above, the user gets prompted to leave a review on Google! Increase Your Google Hang Time: This item can get a little pricey but well worth the investment. Working with a Certified Google 360 Company is key. If you can have your 3d tour completed and added to your Google listing this will help increase the amount of time users spend on your Google l......
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Trending Up: Social Media, Email Marketing, and Pay Per Click Advertising | Trending Down: Craigslist Ads?

We recently released our 2017 Apartment Marketing Strategies Report that surveyed marketing pros throughout multifamily about their strategies.  One of the questions we asked was the use of several marketing strategies, including social media, email marketing, pay per click advertising, and Craigslist, as well as their marketing budget overall.  Here are some trends based upon responses by 111 marketing professionals:

 

Craigslist is an interesting topic, in that it was the hot marketing location 4+ years ago, but then spiraled downward following changes to the Craigslist platform.  In fact, many people had left Craigslist for dead, but at the NAA Education Conference and Expo, Lauren Curley, Chief Operating Officer of Bonaventure Realty Group, stated that Craigslist is still an excellent driver of leases.  She then posted a response on this forum post with great data:  Questions on Craigslist Posting

So what is your take?  Is Craigslist still dying, or were we too quick to call a time of death?  Share your experiences with Craigslist in the comments below!

Also, if you would like access to the full marketing research report with loads more data on virtual reality, remarketing strategies, marketing budgets, marketing metrics, and more, you can download the full report for free here (must be logged in)  > >  What are the latest trends in apartment marketing for 2017?

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Choosing Technology Wisely

Choosing Technology Wisely
Choosing Technology Wisely The technology landscape is a crowded one these days, both with innovative new arrivals targeting the industry as well as strong existing options with more longevity.   Choosing the right value-add technologies is a challenging task for multifamily operators.  What are the drivers that elevate one over the others? Take a look at any aspect of operating apartment communities today, and you’ll find no shortage of new technologies designed to help your business improve, streamline, connect, develop, educate, assess, analyze or aggregate – you get the picture.  Most likely, you and your team are contacted by enterprising marketers frequently, all seeking to show you how their solution is the answer. Let’s take a look at one area receiving a lot of attention in recent years:  package delivery. You have technology-plus-hardware solutions from companies like Package Concierge, Parcel Post and LuxerOne; and digital-only solutions like those from Entrata (ParcelAlert) and ReceivingRoom.  Also, customized apps like Mobile Doorman offer an entire resident communication platform including package notification as only one of many communication features. Of course, that’s just one example.  From new lead-delivery apps like HomeMe and Zumper to bite-sized web-based training options like GROW Learning, real-time transportation information displays like Transit Screen, and InfoTycoon’s innovative asset management platform. And I can't write a tech article without mentioning the new Respage AI-powered chatbot (a digital leasing agent), and the innovative market survey platform by BI:Radix. There is so much new technology deployed that the list could go on for days. What to do?  It’s difficult t......
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