As a multi-family property operator, you know that you need technology to help you run your business. The question is, what do you need to look out for when implementing new technology?
The last thing you want is for the new technology to make things worse than they were before. In the latest episode of the Multifamily Matters Radio Show, Balanced Asset Solutions CEO Mo Hussein discusses why multifamily operators fail with technology.
You can find the podcast review below. Mr. Hussein sat down with Multifamily Matters host Paul Marks to talk about the needs of the modern renter.
If you’re thinking about adding more technology solutions to your multifamily business, this episode will help you get on the right track.
What Does the Modern Multi-Family Renter Want?
As Mr. Hussein explains in the podcast, the consumer drives technology adoption in any industry. People can get groceries and packages delivered in hours, not days.
This speed is leading to a shift in what consumers want. The new generation coming into the rental market today was born in a time when iPhones existed. Multifamily operators need to understand the shift in the market.
The pandemic was a big litmus test for multifamily operators in their ability to adopt the technology. Some companies were exposed as not having the right technology. Good operators need to be able to engage and communicate with their tenants digitally.
Mr. Hussein explained that one client of Balanced Asset Solutions had a vacancy rate of 26% during the pandemic. This client didn’t have the ability for tenants to apply for a lease online or even look at the lease online.
The prospective tenants had to download a PDF and fax it or scan it in. This was likely a big reason for the vacancy rate. Multifamily houses have to provide digital solutions if they’re going to succeed.
The pandemic was a big accelerant for multifamily housing companies adopting technology.
In extremely competitive businesses, a giant like Amazon is successful because they’re obsessed with customers.
They ensure that they’re getting rid of friction, streamlining the way their customers can engage with the business. Multifamily operators need to follow suit and create frictionless experiences for tenants.
The Ways That Multifamily Operators Have Adapted to Technology
It’s easy to build digital services today, so there’s a lot of noise in the multifamily technology market. There are a lot of “shiny objects” out there. Multifamily operators should focus on the main question, “how can we serve our customers better?”
A lot of organizations start by focusing on revenue. There is a lot of friction in the process of getting checks into the office and bringing checks into the bank takes a lot of friction.
A lot of companies started letting customers pay online and lease online. Virtual tours also caught fire during the pandemic. Both of these technologies are improvements, and these technologies will stay. The pandemic just helped accelerate these changes.
How Technology Enhances the Resident Experience
The modern renter expects a level of transparency when they’re communicating with their landlord. If the tenant has a maintenance request, they want to be able to submit the request digitally. They also want to confirm that the manager is going to get to the request.
Mr. Hussein spoke about one client of his that was pen and paper to fulfill maintenance requests. Tenants would call into the office and a receptionist would write down the request.
The maintenance supervisor would take the request and go check out the apartment. Many times, the supervisor would have to then leave to get the right tools for the job.
If the operator used a digital tool, the resident could upload pictures of the issue. That would allow the supervisor to bring the right tools the first time they visited.
If the tenant can confirm the property manager received the request and knows the problem has been assigned, there’s no need for the tenant to continually call the office.
One client has had a reduction of inbound calls of 20% since implementing the maintenance technology.
Virtual tours are another way to improve the resident experience. People from out of town can view properties online in other states. Organizations that have virtual tour capabilities did not have a hard time filling vacancies during the pandemic period.
Using Technology to Improve the Property’s Reputation
According to Mr. Hussein, 85% of reviews are left by people who had a great experience or a terrible experience.
Residents who have a good experience with the company’s technology will be more likely to give a good review. On the other hand, renters may leave a scathing review if the lack of technology makes it hard to communicate. Technology helps improve communication and can lead to positive experiences and positive reviews.
In today’s market, people may eliminate your property as a potential place to lease before ever stepping foot on it because of the reviews they see.
Top Tips for Multifamily Operators Implementing New Technology
Mr. Hussein mentioned three factors that are important for multifamily operators to pay attention to. They are executive sponsorship, extreme ownership, and change management.
Executive sponsorship is important because technology needs to come from the top down. The management team should be involved in the evaluation of the software and the rollout.
This helps set the tone for the piece of technology that should help both renters and internal staff. Without that executive buy-in, it’s difficult for the organization to successfully use this piece of technology.
Extreme ownership is important because staff should feel comfortable with the technology. Your staff should be empowered and enabled to properly get the tool rolled out. Without having that level of ownership, it’s difficult to properly roll out the technology.
Change management is important because humans are creatures of habit. Change is difficult to adopt. There’s a big gap between the way you were doing things before and the way you’re going to do things moving forward. You need to plan a process for the turnover period, you need to analyze the potential downstream impacts.
Issues to Overcome When Implementing Technology
Implementing a new piece of technology offers an opportunity for introspection into your current processes. Technology may present a better way of doing things.
Mr. Hussein mentioned on the client of his with 6500 units. The owner was signing every check that went out the door. This often led to delays in paying vendors. The technology could allow the owner to approve the invoice on a mobile app.
This would be a different business process, but also a better one. Operators need to not be rigid and go against the grain if technology is opening a door for a new business process.
The Investment in Technology
Technology is a time and monetary investment. Technology comes with automation, which means you don’t need to scale headcount in your staff while you’re growing the business.
Some of the best operators can have a small team manage 5,000 units because they’re leveraging technology and automation.
Technology Also Drives Confidence in Reporting and Financials
By implementing access control and process control, you can ensure move-outs are processed properly and tenants get their deposits back promptly.
The financial reports that get sent out to management and owners are very helpful. With technology, you can avoid having to redo financials or change and edit them after they’re done.
Podcast Review Wrap Up
Mr. Hussein wrapped up the interview with a tip. He said multifamily operators should embrace the change and be open-minded. Be open-minded to new functionality and features in the technology.
If you’re interested in learning more about multifamily technology after reading this podcast review, get in touch with Balanced Asset Solutions.