August 8, 2019
By Kevin George
Click here to see the article on the multifamily INSIDERS website.
Speed and convenience.
When you get right down to it, that's what today's consumers – and today's apartment residents – are looking for.
Think about some of the products and companies that have become such major parts of our lives: flight-booking websites and apps, Uber, Lyft and Amazon. They're thriving because they offer people tremendously easy methods for getting to where they want to go, or for buying what they want to buy. A couple of scrolls here and a few clicks there – and the consumer has their needs quickly taken care of.
Forward-thinking apartment operators are embracing the speed and convenience mantra and doing everything they can to create the efficient experiences so desired by today's renters. But they also are making sure that the technologies they're using to delight customers aren't harming their NOI and their operations.
There are a growing number of solutions at work in the apartment industry that offer apartment shoppers and residents the high levels of speed and convenience they demand. Below are some of the more notable examples:
• Self-guided tours. These provide the ultimate in convenience, allowing prospects to tour a property exactly when they want to. They also provide the kind of experience that they desire, as many of today's prospects actually prefer seeing a community by themselves.
• Chatbots. This technology enables prospects to get answers to their questions any time of the day or night. Way back when, an apartment shopper who reached out to a community after hours would have to wait until the leasing office re-opened the next day to get the information they were looking for.
• Package-management systems equipped with software, computer vision and artificial intelligence. Today's leasing offices and onsite lockers are becoming overrun with parcels that residents have ordered online (again with that speed and convenience idea). Cutting-edge package management systems use an array of tools to enable the fast identification of parcels that are coming in and going out of package rooms. This allows carriers to drop off items in a short amount of time and residents to pick up their deliveries and get out of package rooms quickly.
Thinking things through
Before adopting a solution that provides speed and convenience to residents, operators should consider its effect on associates and overall operations as well. To state it one way, you can't make life easier for residents while making it tough on your company.
To start with, consider the impact on your associates. Does the new technology add more duties and responsibilities to their day? Does it require lots of oversight from them? Or does it lessen their workload because it effectively addresses an issue and is so low maintenance?
Next, consider another level of operational impact. Will the new solution offer your community a competitive advantage in attracting new residents and retaining current ones to drive revenue growth? Will it reduce operational expenses by, say, reducing associate overtime?
Also, does the new solution integrate easily with the other systems and technologies your communities use? Does it offer an open API? And, finally, does the new solution require extensive initial and ongoing training? Does the supplier partner offer comprehensive support?
Operators must find the answers to these questions and make sure those answers closely align with overall operational and company goals before implementing a resident-facing technology. The apartment industry is shifting to a customer-driven one, of course, and it's imperative that we stay atop of the trends and services renters demand. However, operators must be careful not to offer convenience and speed to residents at the cost of overall operations and NOI.