Apt communities look to balance automation with a skilled labor force.
As technologies and markets evolve, and renter expectations shift, property management teams must keep the needs and priorities of asset owners in mind. Are those priorities shifting as well? What new benchmarks or performance indicators do owners care about today? Those topics were recently discussed at the Entrata Summit.
Asset owners rely heavily on property management teams to suggest innovative ways to meet occupancy and revenue projections, and to keep in step with what residents expect. Changing demands may range from the way a leasing office is set up (looking more like a hotel lobby than a typical office space) to the amenities a community offers (shared workspace, pet-friendly features, recycling, and health-and-wellness options).
“I’ve been resistant to some virtual leasing functions,” Lisa Newton, VP-Asset Management at Hines says. “If I have a choice to talk to someone in person, I’ll take that every time. But I love chatbots because of the instant interaction. It’s effective and I think it’s something we have to embrace.”
“We’re starting to see home automation that can save us money, like sensors that will shut off water to avoid damage,” Jeff Olshan, SVP-Asset Management at Passco Companies, says. “If it costs you four dollars and you can charge your resident $10, that’s a no-brainer. Bring on the data, bring on the tech, and show me the money.”
However, most asset managers are not looking to technology to replace or reduce staffing costs. In fact, as residents come to expect more services and concierge-based amenities, and as apartment units become more automated, payroll costs may increase as properties struggle to recruit and retain teams with advanced skill sets.
Owners expect tech to enhance and facilitate the services their onsite teams can provide, helping them be more efficient and focus more on residents and new ideas rather than getting bogged down in day-to-day tasks. Centralized leasing and call center services can play a big role in creating more effective interactions with residents and prospective renters without impacting quality.
“I remember during a new lease-up one of our first shopping reports came in showing “Brandon” had 100 percent and I thought, ‘Brandon doesn’t work at my property!’ ” Newton says. “Turns out it was the call center. That’s how well they were doing. He checked all the boxes and had all the information readily available.”