If you’re still feeling the impact of the pandemic, you’re not alone. The disruption caused by the virus has affected all business sectors, perhaps none more so than property management as the global population of renters was told to “stay at home.” Now with the widespread vaccine rollout and much of Canada readying for reopening, some initial impacts are fading while other, new realities draw into focus.
Here are three, pandemic-driven solutions many multifamily operators are relying on to uncover long term NOI growth opportunities.
Challenge #1: Renters are on the move.
Solution: Use marketing and leasing technology to attract, screen and keep the best residents.
It may seem like we’ve been in somewhat of a holding pattern over the past year and a half, but Yardi and industry data show us that new lease rents are gaining momentum. For example, many renters from central metropolitan areas migrated to smaller markets like Halifax and Abbotsford. Market reports also indicate that renters are trading up, favouring larger rentals with more outdoor space and room for a home office as remote work continues. Additionally, as businesses work through the tug of war of working remotely and in office, employers who proceed with a return to office mandate will most likely initiate a new wave of moves.
All these changes indicate that property management companies need the right marketing and leasing technology to keep them at the top of their game to attract and retain the best residents. Ask yourself, can prospects find your properties easily in an online search? Can they tour available units virtually, view current rates, apply and even lease online? To achieve this, you need a property website with conversion optimization features that perform well on mobile devices. You also need to integrate a self-service screening tool to help you centralize, select and move in the best applicants quickly.
And if you want to keep current residents who may be looking to make a change, consider leveraging a resident portal. Not only do resident portals and mobile apps increase convenience for renters with online payments and notifications, they also are a great way to share renewal offers and let tenants know about your other properties in case they’re looking to relocate or upgrade.
Challenge #2: Teams are disconnected while working from home.
Solution: Centralize team collaboration and encourage consistency with a CRM solution.
All businesses have witnessed the importance of accessing and sharing reliable information among teams. Avoiding the pitfalls of disjointed leasing and customer care, such as duplicate data entry or dropped leads, can be overcome by implementing a centralized customer relationship management system that can be accessed from anywhere.
With a CRM solution that connects your staff to your property management database, you can give everyone on your team real-time access to the same prospect and resident information. As a result, leasing agents will have confidence that the information they are working with is current, and with a shared dashboard you are assured that customer follow-up is being conducted effectively. Moreover, as confidence grows so will productivity, creating a positive work environment that contributes to a better customer experience.
Challenge #3: Staff is onsite less; residents are onsite more.
Solution: Consider maintenance and concierge software to keep communities running smoothly.
With residents at home more, wear and tear on your units and grounds is likely to have increased. But you may have less staff onsite. Small issues that would have been resolved quickly with an in-person conversation can quickly add up to what seems like an insurmountable to-do list.
Fortunately, advances in maintenance technology can help you catch up with and even get ahead of incoming work orders. When maintenance tools are built into the resident mobile app, your renters can submit requests with voice memos and photos, so your team knows exactly what’s going on before visiting the unit. Some maintenance software connects with procurement marketplace tools, allowing technicians to order any necessary parts from approved vendors. With complete visibility into your maintenance operations, you can improve the resident experience, streamline unit turns and integrate procurement to reduce vacancy days and increase net rental income.
For an additional level of resident comfort and convenience, concierge software can be used to enhance communication, streamline package management, schedule services like pet sitting and even manage amenity bookings — something that will likely be valuable long after COVID restrictions subside.
When considering maintenance and concierge solutions, make sure the option you choose works with your property management platform. Then all the data on repairs and resident requests will be updated in real time and easy for your team to access, no matter where or when they’re working.
Act sooner than later
The pandemic highlighted our collective need to be able to connect from anywhere, accelerating an already inevitable shift in renter expectations and property staff needs. Renters want to live where they want and interact with properties when and how they want. Teams need to be able to help prospects and residents at any time, with a clear communication path and centralized, accurate data.
The good news is that it’s not only possible but practical to exceed the expectations of today’s renters with a well-connected team supported by innovative technology. Multifamily businesses that adopt this approach to creating a seamless, convenient customer experience make work easier for their staff and position themselves to beat the competition. And that’s an opportunity no one can afford to miss.