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Inspect for Success: How Technology Can Cut Costs, Boost Reputation and Reduce Turnover

Residential apartment owners and managers are always looking to minimize overhead, maximize their reputations for quality and reduce resident turn. New technologies now offer solutions that can address inefficiencies in repair and maintenance and help property operators manage quality assurance across their entire portfolio. In the mobile era, where  social media can dramatically impact how residents perceive the quality of their communities — from building appearance to amenities offered — it’s critical that properties are maintained in superb conditions. By doing so, operators will decrease turnover and improve the speed at which vacancies are filled, leading to lower marketing costs to attract and retain residents.

 

Just a few short years ago, monitoring repair, maintenance and quality assurance across residential housing was typically managed by conducting inspections using spreadsheets or paper-based checklists. Today, new technologies are changing the game by streamlining the inspection process and empowering building supervisors to customize their inspection forms, include timestamped photographs as part of their inspection records, and save each inspection online for easy reference. With the right platform, inspection data can be aggregated for analysis, and segmented by region, property and unit. These new advances help apartment owners and managers optimize their capital expenditures, improve each property’s reputation and reduce resident turnover.

 

Mobile inspections improve operations by standardizing maintenance checks and ensuring compliance with codes and regulations. A regular cadence of inspections using a mobile platform — and the powerful use of in-line photography — can help spot issues with big-ticket items such as plumbing and roofing that can cost seven figures or more to replace if they are neglected for too long. One company we know used their mobile inspection photos  to quickly detect a leaking rooftop HVAC system. If this had remained undiscovered for a few more weeks — as it would have if they had been using paper checklists, the company would have had to replace both its roof and the climate control system.

 

Property owners armed with mobile inspection platforms can also dramatically improve cleanliness and upkeep while they avoid major maintenance issues. Inspecting common areas and amenities is critical to keeping properties up to the standards the company sets and that residents expect. Features like exterior lighting, parking lots, landscaping, gyms, pools and more can have their inspection requirements input into a customizable system so they can be checked on a regular basis — even in real time by portfolio operators. A mobile platform allows managers to check when inspections were last performed, which increases compliance simply by raising awareness of lapses in due diligence. This sort of attention to operational excellence is what helps build a company’s reputation and ensures negative social review are drastically reduced.

 

Perhaps the greatest benefit of mobile inspection software is that it can automatically link multifamily owners and managers with that most powerful of business tools: data analytics. Every inspection helps gather data that can be collated and analyzed to produce observations that lead to important changes across an entire portfolio. Business intelligence lets multifamily operators determine the difference between one faulty pipe in one unit and a problem with all the pipes across several properties. Identifying portfolio-wide trends means solving portfolio-wide problems in one go, paying lower bulk rates to improve the quality of one’s facilities all at once and raising satisfaction across the board.

 

Taking advantage of this improved quality of service, multifamily companies can encourage their happy residents to write reviews about their positive experiences living at a property. Most people are moved to share their opinions when bad things happen, but a proactive social strategy can be a powerful tool to boost reputation and public perception.

 

A 50% turnover rate is not uncommon in the apartment industry, and every month a unit remains vacant is a month that asset is underperforming, especially in a constrained or rent-controlled market like San Francisco or New York City, where filling vacancies quickly is critical. In less cutthroat markets, savvy owners do whatever it takes to retain residents rather than constantly looking to replace them. Whether your properties are in Silicon Valley or a Midwestern suburb, mobile inspections cut down on the data entry and busywork between occupants and helps provide the sort of rapid issue resolution that keeps renters happy.

 

From the way we shop to the way we meet people, everything is influenced by mobile communications, access to information and data analysis. Our homes should be no exception, and resourceful leveraging of technology should bring apartment rentals up to code with the rest of modern life.

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