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Lessons Learned From 2020: Must-Have Tech in 2021

Lessons Learned From 2020: Must-Have Tech in 2021
If we learned one thing from 2020, it is that technology is a vital piece to an apartment company’s business strategy. Prior to 2020, technology adoption and buy-in were slow for most multifamily firms. We know that nothing can replace a person-to-person experience, but when this wasn’t an option, operators were forced to accelerate their adoption timelines. Companies needed to find ways to replicate that personal touch through digital connections.  If your company was one that had the foresight to build a tech stack that had dynamic solutions to operate efficiently both on and offline, then 2020 was a walk in the park. For those that hadn’t adopted a full online/offline strategy, then every day probably felt like a human pinball trying to roll out tech solutions to fill in the gaps. We were living in a reactionary world where all traditional processes of onboarding tech were thrown out the window. It was the precipice of a technology revolution.  We wanted to get information to the users as quickly as possible. Some solutions executed seamlessly while the industry was forced to innovate on the fly in other instances. All were game changers in a fully digital world. What did we learn? We learned that consumers need and expect information to be easily accessible and available multiple ways online. As consumers, we learned that it’s a frustrating user experience when websites have multiple pop-ups on the homepage. As operators, we learned that we need technology more than ever before, that it isn’t a one-siz......
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Is excellence your enemy? What do your customers & residents think?


People often skip over the basics to achieve a notion of "excellence" that is rarely clearly defined. Think about it, how can you achieve excellence if your basics are not in place???

Master the basics first, if you are not excellent at the basics then excellence will be your enemy. Learn the fundamentals that must be in place to achieve excellence.

 

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Money On The Table, Let's Not Leave It There! Part One


 

Too often companies and properties run on status quo, leaving money on the table from inefficiencies and outdated processes. It is time to take a look - time is money. Simple analysis and modification can improve your bottom line as well as team morale. Whether tightening systems and processes or focusing on the "not often" looked at tasks we do daily - we can find money that was left on the table. From years of leading teams, I know that there is money to find. Now let's find it.www.mariapietroforte.com

 

This series will look at various opportunities to improve your bottom line. Part One evaluates productivity and efficiency. Learn tips that you can put in place immediately.

 

 

This is part one of a three part series.  

 

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Lessons Learned From Pandemic Have Become Best Practices

Lessons Learned From Pandemic Have Become Best Practices
The Covid-19 pandemic forced property management companies to adapt on the fly like never before. The industry has implemented new processes and protocols to protect associates and residents alike, and adjusted operations to provide necessary support at the property level.  While most of the changes are temporary, some of those new practices are here to stay. During the Property Management Association’s PMEXPO 2020 session “Lessons Learned from Covid-19,” panelists revisited the new approaches and new technology they’ve adopted to support operations, marketing and resident relations during these unprecedented times.  But the discussion centered on the value of on-site associates and the way teams have come together to overcome the issues brought about by the pandemic. Cindy Sanquist, president and CEO of Edgewood and Vantage management companies, said by prioritizing the needs of associates, Edgewood and Vantage has been able to demonstrate its support at the property level and take teamwork to the next level.  “I view the site personnel as the first responders,” said Sanquist, noting that an outside-the-box approach has been required to accommodate employees. “We really did a lot of shuffling around. It’s like having a task board and saying, ‘Who can go where?’ ‘How can we manage this community?’ The staffing itself moved around, not in terms of numbers, just in terms of where they were going to be and where we needed help on a particular day.”  Suzanne Hillman, CEO of Southern Management, echoed the need for flexibility.  “Every one of our team members is empowered to do the right things in the ......
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Amid COVID-19 Shutdown, Thinking of Multifamily Maintenance Workers

One of the really great parts of my job is traveling around the country meeting with multifamily operators (executives & technicians alike) and having discussions about their successes & challenges with maintenance operations. Needless to say, I'm not traveling any longer, but the week before the NBA suspended play and the NCAA conference tournaments were shut down, I was on one of these trips in New Jersey & Eastern Pennsylvania. At that time, there were already several confirmed COVID-19 cases in NYC. During a meeting in NJ (about 20 minutes outside the city) with an operations exec at an owner-operator for several thousand units in the region, it was mentioned that a maintenance employee had called into the corporate office earlier that day to ask the question:   "What if we're scared to come to work because of how close we might be to residents under quarantine for coronavirus?"   This is a question that you may have fielded several times by now. That day, it was ground zero; completely new territory for everyone. This was exactly the point where the weight & risk of a potential COVID-19 outbreak and impact to the health & safety of property teams, specifically maintenance team members, started to press on me.     Maintenance Teams Are First Responders We all know how important our maintenance teams are to property operations.  We also know that, often times, they are first responders at the properties they serve. More than a few times we've seen resident feedback go through our system,......
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Data is the Key to any Successful Multifamily Relationship

Data is the Key to any Successful Multifamily Relationship
As the technology revolution reshapes the multifamily landscape—and that of virtually every other industry, as well—one old-school concept remains intact: Information is power. Twenty years into the new decade, that concept contains a bit of a twist. The majority of relevant and potentially game-changing information comes in the form of data, so it’s not only a matter of having it. It’s also a matter of properly analyzing it and converting the metrics into something actionable for your teams to utilize. In the past, it wasn’t a common practice for interdepartmental teams to share data-related information. It was essentially kept in silos for each team to utilize on its own. That shortsighted approach is beginning to shift. Here's a look at a few of the ways teams can utilize information for the greater good of the organization. Use data to provide context for certain metrics Marketing teams can provide a cost per lead, cost per click and other similar metrics, but it doesn’t tell the entire story or how effective those channels have been. For context, imagine learning that an athlete is paid $2 million per year, which sounds hefty. But when metrics are introduced that show the average salary for his or her position is $8.4 million, the context shifts. Likewise, when marketing teams also provide benchmark data points, month-over-month and year-over-year comparisons to accompany their cost metrics, it gives a true indication of how the channels are performing. Establish KPIs from the beginning for all departments Key performance indicators—most often referenced as......
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Top Methods to Increase NOI in a Softening Market (Or Any Other Time)

Top Methods to Increase NOI in a Softening Market (Or Any Other Time)

 

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Responsible Pet Owners Month: Encourage Your Residents to Make a Positive Impact in February

Responsible Pet Owners Month: Encourage Your Residents to Make a Positive Impact in February
Being a responsible pet owner is undoubtedly a yearlong objective. But that doesn’t mean pet owners can’t occasionally take inventory of just how well they’re doing on the accountability scale. February is Responsible Pet Owners Month, which creates a prime opportunity for community managers to encourage their residents to take part. Odds are your community is largely full of responsible pet owners, but even the most stellar of the bunch sometimes aren’t 100% compliant with your pet policies. One idea for property managers during Responsible Pet Owners Month is to pass along a quick checklist for residents that outlines and refreshes the necessary steps to be an ideal pet owner. Items on the list can include: Vaccinations  Sometimes animals are so healthy and vibrant that it’s easy to forget that their vaccinations are overdue. Many indoor cat owners opt not to vaccinate their cats because the rationale is, after all, they’re indoor cats. However, many states require core vaccines by law—such as rabies and distemper for dogs and calicivirus for cats—and all pet owners should be acutely aware when they are due. While regular veterinarians will offer reminders, it’s possible that many of your residents are transplants from a different part of the country and haven’t yet acquired a local vet. A simple vaccination reminder could make the difference in meeting the deadline and lead to healthier and safer pets. Proper registration Many communities have recently added a platform for residents to register their pets at the property. This ensures that all pets at the com......
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Third-Party Management: Reduce Risk and Increase Business

When taking over management responsibilities of an apartment community, a primary goal is to implement the extraordinary service levels unique to your brand. But in doing so, you also want to make sure the needle is moving in the positive direction for the community’s ownership group. More to the point: You want to generate higher income levels for the company that hired you.  There are practices third-party teams can follow to ensure their management efforts have the desired impact and ensure your company will be recommended for future opportunities.  Here are some of them: Utilize automated screening processes: Time-consuming busywork can swallow up an onsite team’s progress like no other. Using automated screening processes for credit, background checks, pets or anything else that’s pertinent not only gives associates their time back. It also mitigates the risk of potential resident or prospect discontent with the onsite team because the automated screening processes are done by a third-party service. Letting a prospect know that Experian or Equifax passed along a substandard credit results is easier than saying “we discovered your credit isn’t good enough to qualify.” Use established, properly vetted technology: A property management system that fails to integrate with a community’s digital processes adds unnecessary work for the onsite team, increases the chance for human error and decreases the ability to complete tasks efficiently. Apartment managers can easily test new team-centric technologies before deciding to roll them out. The same diligence should be dedicated to resident-facing technologies, such as resident portals and smart-home de......
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A 'Humans + Machines' Virtuous Cycle in Multifamily

Introduction Automation is a term that has been thrown around a lot lately in multifamily (a lot of times by yours truly: See exhibit A).  Furthermore, I have pushed the idea of a 'Humans + Machines' workforce where humans and machines work together to create new workflows, but that is just the beginning. Adding a digital workforce to work alongside your team is the basis for a virtuous cycle of success. From increased NOI to attracting more owners to managing more properties, the digital workforce can change multifamily's economics.     What is a Virtuous Cycle? A ‘Virtuous Cycle’ is when one success leads to another, and then another, in a repeating loop. Before we jump into the Multifamily Virtuous Cycle, let’s take a look at Netflix’s Virtuous Cycle.     Netflix Virtuous Cycle Here is the Netflix Virtuous Cycle as explained by Netflix CFO David Wells:     Let’s break it down. Netflix invests in producing more shows. With more shows there is more variety, which means there are more watchers. More watchers means more talkers. This leads to more subscribers. More subscribers generate more revenue. With more revenue, Netflix can invest in more shows. And the cycle continues. As you can see, the cycle fuels itself for future success. By creating more shows, Netflix will set off a chain of events leading to more revenue. As long as Netflix keeps investing in new shows, the cycle will continue. So now that you have seen a Virtuous Cycle, let’s explore how a digital wor......
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