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2021 NOI: Where Do We Grow From Here?

The job of a community manager has changed since the start of the pandemic, says one presenter at NAA’s second Digital Studio event, presented in collaboration with Yardi.

NAA’s second Digital Studio event, convened on April 22 in collaboration with Yardi, featured leadership and roundtable discussions focused on ways to improve net operating income (NOI) in 2021.

The leadership panel discussion, “So What? Industry Leaders Put Market Data into Perspective,” included industry executives who highlighted numerous factors affecting rental housing. The hot topics for discussion were collection rates and what has impacted them; relocation trends; digital strategies; connecting with teams virtually and now in-person; eviction moratoria; and the recovery of the industry from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Overall strategy hasn’t changed, but there is the situation to rethink which marketing channels will appeal to prospective residents, said Chase Hunt, Senior Manager, Digital Marketing with Avenue5 Residential, in the education session, “Marketing, Leasing & Revenue Strategies for the New Normal.” The focus is still on ensuring prospective residents have a personalized experience to meet their needs, he added. This session broke down how companies can interact with potential and current residents and how owners and managers can reach their desired audience.

Brooke Atsalis, Marketing and Training Manager, The Management Group, said they increased their commitment to search marketing with search engine optimization and search engine marketing. She also mentioned the need for a personal touch. Follow-ups used to be a simple email, but now there must be a personal relationship, especially if a prospective resident toured the community on their own or virtually. Video follow-ups are now part of the process to help create that personal connection.

When it comes to touring, there’s a three-pronged approach: Community-guided, self-guided or virtual, said Hunt. Some may want the self-guided approach to see if the community is a fit before meeting, and others might not or can’t meet—leaving the virtual option available to allow for quick tours and those in a time crunch.

Ian Mattingly, CPM, President, Luma Residential, encouraged the audience to take advantage of software tools available on the market. Chatbots have helped improve resident engagement as well as streamline tasks for onsite staff, said Hunt. There are three must-haves in a chatbot to create great customer experience, Hunt noted. First is the opportunity for property and current lifecycle stage customization. Second is the ability for a streamlined dashboard for reporting. Finally, there must be a seamless integration with community websites.

Mattingly said he continues to focus on refining digital strategy, protecting rent roll and dialing revenue strategies to meet the changing demand as the economy continues to rebound. His biggest takeaway was that the job of a community manager has changed since the start of the pandemic. It’s a more boutique, concierge experience. Also evolving are his pricing strategies, which is critical to long-term success.

Click for a schedule of NAA’s upcoming educational offerings.

Michael Miller is the Managing Editor for NAA.