Property management is a long-standing industry that historically has a reputation for being slower to adopt modern, cutting-edge solutions for their businesses. Interestingly, according to our firm’s survey of over 500 property managers, in partnership with John Burns, over a third of property managers indicate that manual processes are a key factor inhibiting their company’s growth. While COVID-19 may have halted business growth trajectories for 2020, “normal” will resume one day, and it will be important for property management companies to take advantage of “normal” to re-address their business strategies to put themselves in the best position possible to succeed and drive long-term growth.
As modern software infiltrates the property management sector, property management teams will effectively be able to pivot to more strategic, high-level work instead of finding themselves knee-deep in frustrating administrative tasks that could otherwise be automated. However, technology is not the be-all, end-all solution to modernizing property management companies.
Real transformation requires a shift in mindset and approach to business. This is the type of outlook and culture many technology companies foster, and it helps them to continue innovating and solving real-world problems for businesses and consumers alike. It is only with a forward-thinking mindset that property management companies can truly have a place in the Industry 4.0 world.
Put The Customer First
In order to innovate, technology companies consistently put the customer at the forefront of every decision they make. Many tech companies even innovate or create new solutions based on a singular customer request or need. Effectively achieving this requires top-notch communications with customers so that their needs, desires and pain points are always crystal clear to their tech vendor.
Property management could take a few learnings from this business approach and work to develop more customer-centricity and better communications with their residents. It might make sense to fully reevaluate the nature of communication with tenants. Is it all over email? While email is still a very relevant communication format, it might not be the best or most immediate way to get in contact with modern-day renters.
Property management companies should consider their renter demographics when thinking about communication. If the renter pool skews toward younger generations, property management companies may want to think about text as the primary form of communication. There exist plenty of tools that enable property managers to do this efficiently, with two-way texting features so that renters can reply. Texting is a great avenue to use to ping renters on important or time-sensitive items like late payment reminders, maintenance updates or building inspections.
Technology companies have really touted mobile innovations in recent years because mobile is simply the most user-friendly format for many customers in day-to-day activities. Customers can be on the go while having access to a variety of capabilities through their work or personal mobile devices. It’s just the way the world works.
It’s also the way renters work.
Property management teams should consider their renters’ living experiences and determine where the addition of mobile capabilities can help. Rent payments are a great example of an area that can be easily converted to mobile. In the age of Venmo and mobile banking, how many renters, especially in younger demographics, use a checkbook — or even have one? Giving renters the option to pay rent on a mobile device instantly drags a huge aspect of property management (the collections process) out of the dark ages and into 2020. Renters will be appreciative of the mobile option because it means they can make rent payments instantly without having to worry about the manual work of finding a check, envelope and stamp, and then mailing their payment in time for it to get to the property management team ahead of the rent due date.
The leasing process is another area in which mobile can serve renters better. Using online rental applications and leasing forms can improve the often-tedious apartment hunt process for prospective renters. If a prospect likes a unit, they can auto-fill their rental application information into a mobile leasing document and e-sign it on their mobile device. Lease renewals can be made into an equally seamless process via mobile. By adding mobile capabilities to the equation, property managers can completely eradicate the hassles of paperwork, filling out hordes of information and physically delivering leases or renewals to the leasing office.
Curtailing resident challenges by thinking seriously about the application of mobile to those challenges will help to improve the overall resident experience. Just as tech companies use mobile to eliminate some of the challenges their customers face, so, too, can property management.
At the end of the day, property management companies can instill all the latest technologies for improved performance, but if they do not approach those they serve with the same attitude of today’s top technology companies, putting the customer first, they will not necessarily be able to sustain the “modern” edge that technology gives them. The sooner property management teams adapt their outlook on business, the more effective they will be in providing top-notch service to all residents.