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Upgrading Amenities for a Modern Apartment Experience

Upgrading Amenities for a Modern Apartment Experience
Leasing has become more competitive than ever, and apartment operators have been rethinking the types of amenities they’re offering. Residents, like operators, have new apartment needs. With a greater number of residents working from home, there is increasing demand for high-speed internet and community-wide WiFi. High-speed internet and community WiFi is very important to residents and it powers other highly desired amenities, like co-working spaces and interactive fitness programs. Ubiquitous WiFi provides seamless connectivity throughout the entire apartment community, from common spaces to inside individual homes. Residents have constant access and reliable coverage and the service eliminates “dead zones” in certain areas of the community. Community-wide WiFi has become an essential part of enhancing the resident experience. Here are three considerations as to why operators need to make this a priority amenity:   WiFi for WorkCommunity-wide WiFi and faster internet service have become a necessity for modern renters, especially if they work from home. Many companies are continuing to support remote work or at least implement a hybrid work schedule. There is also a growing gig economy and increasing number of U.S. workers shifting to independent contract work. These residents will typically work from home or in a business center. Operators have started to switch gears to cater to these residents by offering more co-working space or offering two-bedroom apartments as one-bedrooms with an office.  High-speed internet and WiFi mean a lot to residents and typically factor into their search for an apartment home. A 2020 survey by the National Multifamily Housing Counc......
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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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Financial Amenities Support Residents and Operators Alike

Financial Amenities Support Residents and Operators Alike
Apartment perks for residents vary by community, from an incredible amenities package to resident events, local business discounts and everything in between. These are nice incentives for prospects to move in, but there are other ways to make a positive, long-term impact in residents’ lives that simultaneously support owner/operators. Financial amenities are emerging as the next distinct amenity offering at apartment communities. From flexible payment options and budgeting tools to credit building, financial amenities help support on-time, in-full payments and boost resident morale. These amenities provide a huge benefit to owner/operators as well by proactively reducing delinquencies. Residents are in a precarious state of financial health, especially coming out of the pandemic, and owner/operators are at higher risk of bad debt when residents have unstable finances. According to a 2020 American Payroll Association survey, nearly 69% of Americans say it would be somewhat or very difficult to meet their financial obligations if their paycheck were delayed by a week.  Here are some of the reasons financial amenities can make a positive difference for residents, and in turn, reduce bad debt for owner/operators: A Proactive Approach to Bad DebtBad debt has become an even larger issue plaguing the industry after the pandemic. According to an Aspen Institute study in August 2020, about 12.6 million households are at risk of eviction, and TransUnion estimates that it costs operators on average $3,500 to evict a resident. Based on this average, evicting 12.6 million households could cost the rental housing industry $44.8 billion. The late f......
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Bang for the Buck: Smart Home Technology with the Best ROI

Bang for the Buck: Smart Home Technology with the Best ROI
  The purpose of smart home technology is to create efficiencies, and ideally, those efficiencies should generate a substantial return on investment (ROI). However, that ROI comes in many forms, sometimes making it difficult to measure or quantify.While some smart home tech has a linear and tangible impact on bottom lines and operating budgets, other products produce their ROI through preventive capabilities or marketable features. So, which smart home devices deliver the biggest bang for the buck? We’ll review four smart home products with the greatest potential ROI in the multifamily space, regardless of how it is defined.Leak and Humidity SensorsOf all the various systems coursing through an apartment community, plumbing has the greatest potential for property damage. The source of a water leak can be tricky to locate and water is capable of carving out paths of destruction one would not expect. An undetected leak in an upper level apartment can result in tens of thousands of dollars in damage in mere minutes, leading to weeks of mitigation work and lost revenue. Leak sensors – placed under or near washing machines, dishwashers, toilets, sinks, water heaters and sump pumps -- are the first line of defense. When a leak is detected, automatic alerts are sent out to designated personnel enabling an immediate response. With water leaks or broken water lines, every second matters. A prompt response can mean the difference between deploying a mop, or flooring and drywall removal. Smart thermostats equipped with humidity monitors can also identify and report abn......
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Doubling Down on Digital: Tools We Can't Live Without

Doubling Down on Digital  A few weeks ago I got to host a lively chat about digital tools — not only for marketing, but also for personal productivity, well-being, managing leads and enabling teams. Guests Dalia Kalgreen, Director of Marketing for Unified Residential Management, and Katrina Greene, CAM, NALP Trainer, and Senior Regional Property Manager at Sheehan Property Management, shared what works for them personally and professionally with regard to favorite tools, digital or not. You can see the full chat over on YouTube but I wanted to also share a quick recap here, starting with a list of our favorite tools:   Notes app Daylio - a mood journaling app Snip and Sketch - a tool to quickly markup screenshots Peloton - The wildly popular fitness bikes & classes Text - a simple way to stay in touch Calm - One of the best guided meditation app we never knew we needed Chat - A simple and easy way to manage prospects onsite… especially when paired with A.I. Virtual Tours  - The boom of tools available for multifamily sites has been a lifesaver QR Codes - They are making a comeback, especially for self-guided tours! iPhone - Easy to use for quick, high quality, video shoots.    Tools exist to help people do their jobs more effectively or more efficiently. Well-being impacts productivity and the group agreed that during this unexpected period of a pandemic, tools can help alleviate the stress that accompanies the unexpected and better enable team members operating outside the ......
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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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Mobile-Optimized Sites Versus Mobile Apps

Mobile-Optimized Sites Versus Mobile Apps
Let's face it: it's a mobile app world, and we're just living in it. According to eMarketer, smartphone users spend 90 percent of their time online in apps. One study showed that the total sessions in travel/navigation apps increased 50 percent worldwide between 2016 and 2018, while another one indicated that more than half of consumers (57 percent) have used a retailer's mobile app while in-store. Yet another one demonstrated that consumers are expected to download 258.2 billion mobile apps in 2022, up from 178.1 billion in 2017.These numbers provide powerful evidence that mobile apps play a fundamental, indispensable role in people's lives. And they should remain top of mind when apartment communities consider whether to offer residents a mobile app or a mobile-optimized portal.What's the Design Difference?We all know that the main difference is that apps must be downloaded by the user for use on a mobile device through an app store like Apple or Google Play. Unlike mobile-optimized sites, apps allow businesses to send out push and in-app notifications to the user. Generally speaking, apps can provide users with a more nimble and responsive experience than mobile websites can. Mobile-optimized websites are designed to easily accommodate different screen sizes. Users can access them through their phone browsers without downloading anything to their mobile devices. When contemplating whether to implement a mobile-optimized resident portal to allow residents to do things like make rent payments or file service requests, multifamily operators should bear in mind that users have different communication and......
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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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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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Chatbots & Multifamily

Chatbots seem to be popping up everywhere nowadays. And not just Alexa, but those helpful "people" who IM you on every site to help with customer service.

These are certainly not new. Back in the Stone Age when I was in college and iPods were gaining popularity, Joe Millionaire was winning over our hearts, and we were constantly perfecting our away messages on AIM, there was a chatbot called Smarterchild that we all talked to. Of course, we would just curse at it and laugh hysterically at it's "offended" response. College was a wild time.

But now chatbots are getting smarter, or at least more responsive. And people are happily using them. We're heading for Westworld-level customer service robots, people! Don't say I didn't warn you. "These violent delights have free-return-policy ends." Or something. I don't know, I'm still a few episodes behind.

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