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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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Post-Pandemic Lifestyles: Which Processes Are Here to Stay?

Post-Pandemic Lifestyles: Which Processes Are Here to Stay?
The global pandemic drastically altered the way people live their lives virtually overnight. But after everyone got past the immediate shock and exasperation of staying home, society began to adjust.  While many newfound processes have been spurred entirely by necessity and will be considered a temporary adjustment due to the odd dynamic of 2020, others are infused with innovation and have undeniable staying power. Most notably, self-service appears to be here to stay. The consumer world is embracing a remote lifestyle, and that includes the multifamily industry. While the apartment world’s hastened transition to virtual and remote leasing options is well documented, the self-service component is weaving its way into the leasing process in many different ways. A new expectation  A few years ago when smart-home devices and capabilities were being introduced to the industry, they were considered a luxury. Fast-forward to 2020 and smart-home is essentially an expectation among renters. Self-service is fast following suit. Formerly considered something of an exclusive feature, self-serve options—such as self-tours—are increasingly sought after among prospective residents who want to remain socially distant as they search for their next home. While traditional tours are bound to make a post-pandemic comeback in some form, the desire for self-tours and additional self-service features is likely to remain. Morphing role for leasing associates  Leasing has always been thought of as a person-to-person activity, and that won’t change. However, the personal touch might be less about building relationships and more about providing information specific to the renter. Rather than making ......
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Stack Your Tech Strategically and Responsibly

Stack Your Tech Strategically and Responsibly
With the multifamily industry entrenched in the world of social distancing, many operators have been quickly vetting and implementing new technologies to help support their operations. Adopting a tech provider can often be a daunting task, as there are various points of consideration, such as cost, tech support, integration and the identification of performance benchmarks.  Social distancing and a new baseline of operations has also shifted the factors that impact the decision to implement new technology. First and foremost, operators should be aware of these factors when vetting the provider. Seeking systems with an open API model serves as a solid starting point, because they are more easily integrated. Here are some equally important things to look for during the due diligence process:  Check references  Checking references of PropTech providers is an excellent way to evaluate the way they conduct business. In addition to inquiring about their support levels for onsite staff, the quality of their communication during the implementation process and the responsiveness of their team, it’s a great way to see how quickly they are able to pivot. The global pandemic introduced an abundance of variables not witnessed in the industry for quite some time, or maybe ever. The ability of a PropTech provider to pivot quickly and provide solutions to new problems will be crucial to the success of a business. Remote assistance  A customer-service element is more crucial than ever in a social distancing environment. Onboarding a tech provider is never an instant process, and your team a......
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Technology Revenue Drivers

Technology Revenue Drivers
The multifamily industry has truly turned a corner. Rather than being skeptical that technology will produce any ROI at all, many apartment owners and operators have begun evaluating technology based on how much ROI it’ll produce. It’s no longer a zero-sum game in their minds. But it is vastly more complex to evaluate every technology based on how much revenue it’s going to generate rather than whether it will generate any at all. And technologists certainly aren’t making it easy.Ever the optimists in search of being the next Google, technologists tend to over promise when it comes to revenue projections. Yet, we’ve now had enough experience with technology in the industry to know what drives the most revenue and the most value for our assets. Here’s a rundown of some of the new and old technologies that have clearly proven ROI and what I believe will drive revenue going forward for apartment owner/operators. Revenue ManagementRevenue management is the clear winner in revenue driving technology. It not only helps owners and operators increase rents intelligently in hot markets, but it also protects against rent losses in slow markets. Of course, the technology doesn’t work on its own. It needs human input, but it’s ability to capture and process large quantities of information to provide a suggested price that maximizes revenue is something no owner or operator should live without. Implementing revenue management technology is simply a no brainer. Customer Relationship Management SystemsSales is a numbers game. The more quality leads you can attract, the mo......
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Seven Recommendations to Drive Leasing

Seven Recommendations to Drive Leasing
After the apartment market's blistering-hot run over the last decade, many metros have seen lots of new supply crop up in the past few years. With increased competition it's more important than ever that apartment communities – whether in lease-up, coming off major renovations or are simply stabilized properties – have intelligent and innovative strategies to attract prospects and drive leasing. Below are 7 methods to keep your tour numbers high and your occupancy rates where you want them to be.1) Pay extra attention to negative reviews. We know that prospects make a point of checking out review sites like Google, Yelp and Facebook when shopping for their new apartment home. But what we may not realize is the outsized impact negative reviews may have. Our brains have a negative bias which indicates that each negative review could have a much bigger impact on the reader than a positive one. So a series of negative reviews and inadequate responses by your community may be more than enough to persuade prospects to look elsewhere. Apartment managers have to commit themselves to both the large and small things they need to do to develop a good online reputation.2) Just say no to concessions. When markets soften and vacancies climb, apartment managers often turn to concessions such as discounted rent or a free iPad or free television. However, these incentives come with some pretty sizeable drawbacks. To start with, discounted rent or month(s) of free rent result in lower effective rents, which can decrease the......
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Automation is the Key to Improving Employee Efficiency and Increasing Visits and Leases

If you’re a midsized property manager or apartment owner, you probably employ between 50 and 100 leasing agents. Combined, they probably communicate with more than a thousand prospects a day.     According to our internal data, 42 percent of those communications are about scheduling tours or rescheduling tours. While it may seem that this metric confirms that leasing agents are properly asking for tours, it also confirms that leasing agents are spending entirely too much time doing what most industries have already automated.   What if you could reduce the time your agents have to spend to scheduling tours? What if your leasing agents had that time back to sign leases and contact new leads? Maybe, just maybe you’d close even more leases and delight residents enough for them to renew their leases in greater numbers no matter the rent increase.   Yet, many owner/operators are hesitant to adopt automation tools like self-scheduling and self-guided tours based on three main misconceptions.   Misconception #1: Prospects want more human interaction, not less It seems logical. You’ve spent a lot of time, money and effort hiring good people with customer service skills. You know from being in business for decades that relationships garner sales. You personally like to interact with people when making large transactions.   But you’re not the customer. Today’s prospective renters, mostly millennials and members of Generation Z, generally want less human interaction. The more they can do on an app on their smartphone, the better. Of course, those prospects......
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What's In the Box?

What's In the Box?
"Everything."Ask an onsite associate what residents are having delivered to apartment communities these days, and that one word is likely to be their answer.Over the past half decade, apartment properties have become inundated with packages as consumers' taste for e-commerce has exploded. Onsite team members sometimes must feel as though they do little besides handle package deliveries and their subsequent pick-up by renters. The problem has been exacerbated by inefficient delivery supply chains and the high number of distribution centers. Just think back to the last time you placed an Amazon order that had multiple items. Did all the items come together in one package or did they come separately? I would venture to guess they came separately. Now expand that out to the number of residents you have at a single community…and there in lays the problem that we will be facing very soon.  There are many layers that create this significant challenge: more packages are being delivered, there are more carriers, and package sizes are rapidly changing.  Residents purchasing more bulky items – like furniture – that are difficult for communities to keep stored in a leasing office or dedicated package room. Gone are the days when packages consisted largely of manageable rectangular boxes. A 2018 Reuters article noted "a growing appetite from younger consumers to buy everything from BBQ grills and mattresses to dining room tables online."Package deliveries are, in every sense of the word, a growing problem, and the time has come for multifamily operators to get sophi......
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3 Digital Marketing Trends for Apartment Marketers in 2019

3 Digital Marketing Trends for Apartment Marketers in 2019
Marketing is one of those things that is always evolving. Much like technology, marketing teams need to be consistently looking at future marketing trends, considering what might be applicable to their industry and budgeting for effective testing each and every year. In the world of marketing, there are a lot of platforms and technologies that marketing experts have identified to be major players in 2019. This is a great article about impactful marketing trends to watch this year. As far as multifamily goes, there are a few I think will prove to be impactful in our industry:     Chatbots As referenced in a couple of online articles, chatbots are going to play a major role in the process of nurturing a lead through the marketing funnel. We know our residents want information immediately, and they often do research on apartments at home, after work, late at night or even secretly in their cubicle. At any rate, a phone call or email is just too slow of a communication platform to give them the information they need when they are looking. Chatbots have the ability to answer quick and easy questions, free up the time of the leasing associates and put information in the hands of our prospective renters quickly and without little effort.   Content is Still King There was a time when content really only served the purpose of an increase in SEO value. But times have changed. Content not only carries the SEO benefits of past but can......
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How Technology Can Be Used to Build a Sense of Community in Your Multifamily Properties

How Technology Can Be Used to Build a Sense of Community in Your Multifamily Properties
As a property manager, you probably feel in your business how big the rental market has become. But do you know how big, exactly? A Pew Research Center report built with Census Bureau data indicates that 36.6 percent of household heads were renting their property in 2016 — the highest number in over 50 years and close to the 37 percent peak in 1965.   The booming rental market is no doubt good news for property managers, but it also means more competitors are entering the space. Developers are in an amenities arms race as they rapidly install poolside cabanas, indoor basketball courts, and the latest golf simulators in an effort to differentiate their offerings. With rising interest rates and limited new home supply likely to continue into the foreseeable future, a strong and growing rental market is likely here to stay.   It's no shock to a property manager that improving retention is great for the bottom line — but how? As competition heats up, a clear trend is emerging — half of the top 10 most popular amenities added since 2014 revolve around bringing people together. But you don’t need to spend thousands on new swimming pools or outdoor kitchens to entice new residents to call your property home. Instead, smart use of technology can do the trick.   It’s Not Just Technology — It’s How You Use It   There’s a common misconception surrounding our use of technology — namely, that it isolates us and reduces the quantity and quality of our human interactions. Fro......
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A Brief Overview of NAA Assembly of Delegates Meeting -November 2017

Just a week ago, we journeyed to the land of big hair, BBQ and cowboys to attend the National Apartment Association’s Assembly of Delegates meeting in Fort Worth, TX. If you aren’t familiar with the NAA Assembly of Delegates meeting, it is essentially a large business meeting and gathering of all NAA and NAAEI boards, committees and task forces. In order to attend you must be an NAA member, but that’s it! We decided to attend to take part in the conversation of how we can work together to further improve the multifamily industry. And we did just that. We attended as many committee meetings as we could fit in our schedule, soaking up all of the information we could listen in on. We especially liked the technology committee meeting and wanted to share with you some of the topics that were discussed there.   Digitizing Leases There is a big focus on digitizing the lease process and forms across all NAA member apartments. There are over 2,100 forms in leasing across the apartment industry so the task at hand is an enormous undertaking. In order to change over all of these forms, the leaders of this task force are asking property management software companies specifically to integrate with Blue Moon Software using their API so the process is quick and succinct. The goal is save properties time, money and increase ROI with the click and lease program. More info: https://www.bluemoonforms.com   Multifamily Information & Technology Standard (MITS) MITS is a multi......
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