Rental housing is catching up technology-wise to other industries, resulting in additional operational efficiencies.
November 29, 2022 |
Updated December 1, 2022
After years lagging other service industries in terms of technology adoption, multifamily is rapidly approaching tech saturation. Property teams are now inundated with processes and technology designed to create efficiencies. Now, operators are ushering in a new phase in operational efficiency – task optimization.
During the 2022 Apartmentalize session, “The Changing Rules of Operational Efficiency to Achieve More Satisfaction,” veteran industry operators shared best practices and technologies to ease the burden on property teams and return the focus to leasing and resident relations.
Session panelists said that for the first two years of the pandemic, the industry was so focused on keeping people safe and implementing technology solutions to solve urgent issues that companies lost track of their core values. That shift had a negative impact on the people side of the business.
“The basic fundamentals of our operations have kind of gone to the wayside. I think what we’re seeing in the industry, especially in those site-level positions, is that people got burned out,” said Gregory Mark, Senior Vice President at Cushman & Wakefield.
That burnout has contributed to the labor shortages multifamily is facing.
“We’re a service industry. But I’m seeing more site-level turnover than I’ve seen in my 23-year career,” said Joe Summers, Vice President of Sales at Fetch.
Panelists said that by returning the focus of operations to resident satisfaction, operators can curb associate turnover. Through tech consolidation and the centralization of services, management companies are freeing up time for their associates to concentrate their efforts on their primary role – customer service.
Centralized team models are already helping companies allocate associates for customer service responsibilities.
“We really worked to centralize things during COVID,” said Stacy Wells, Senior Vice President of Strategic Operations for Fairfield Residential. “We identified the best leasers on our teams and put them in a centralized location near a group of properties. It wasn’t like a call center, because these people intimately know each property, but that remote site is where people call for leasing. The people who remain onsite are mostly there for customer service.”
Also, operators have started automating or outsourcing routine property services. Package management responsibilities, for example, have taxed property teams as package volume surpassed the capacity of onsite package facilities.
“We have been turning, at a lot of our communities, to an off-site service that delivers directly to the door,” said Ian Bingham, Senior Vice President, Client Services, CF Real Estate Services, noting that such services completely remove package management duties from property teams. “You get time back in the office and you get space back for amenities. Services like that are revenue drivers.”
Multiple logins and product interfaces create tedious processes, hamper productivity and contribute to employee frustration.
“The first questions I ask are, ‘Do you have an open API?’ and ‘Is your product proprietary?’” Bingham said, noting that if the answer to either question is no, he moves on. Different technologies must work well with each other.
Moving forward, multifamily operators also must forecast tech trends to prepare their assets and equip their teams for success.
“New developments have to future-proof for technology that is still four years away,” Wells said. “You have to make sure that your building and your people are ready to adapt to whatever is going to be coming technology-wise.”
Doug Pike is a Content Manager for LinnellTaylor Marketing.
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Atlanta will be the hub of the rental housing industry when we all come together to connect, share ideas and find solutions at Apartmentalize, June 7-9, 2023. Come ready to be inspired, gain knowledge and build a network of innovative thinkers and strategists!
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