The overworked property manager has become a familiar portrait in the multifamily industry for good reason: It’s true. When I’ve interviewed property managers in the past, they have frequently credited their passion for helping people as the main driver for their lengthy tenure in such a challenging role. One went so far as to explain that when prospects walk in the door looking for a new home, there is usually some life trigger that has caused them to be there—divorce, marriage, college, downsizing, empty-nesting. Technology such as online rent payments, digital lease signing, package handling, etc, helps automate the mundane, repetitive tasks they face and allows them to focus on helping prospects and residents in their time of need.
As apartment communities continue to expand their digital portfolio, they sometimes overlook simple changes that make a big difference. To help your teams make the most of their technology suite, here are the top four most over-looked opportunities for building onsite automation:
1. Require prospects to fill out an application online – Even for walk-ins, a kiosk or tablet solution goes a long way in collecting digital applications. Every digital application collected is a data-entry error avoided. Each is also a safeguard of sensitive, compromising information about renters. Additionally, digital forms have the ability to require data fields, thereby ensuring that prospects don’t skip over information that’s necessary for background checks and informed decision-making. A good online application will also require an email address, which is crucial for subsequent communication throughout the leasing cycle AND a necessary data point for enrolling new residents in an online resident portal.
2. Offer text message notifications – Especially for package pickup, rent reminders, and work order updates, residents are more likely to be reached by text message than by email or phone call. Residents appreciate quick and concise communication, and in that respect, texting is an excellent medium—less confrontational than a phone call and more personal than email. In addition, average open rates for text messages are in excess of 99%.
3. Go all-digital with online leases – Where legally permissible, apartment communities should usher all prospects and renewals to an online lease signing system so both residents and staff have the convenience of digital records. In addition to all of the benefits a digital application provides, lease conversion naturally increases with a digital lease solution because leases can be completed from anywhere, without the run-around of mailing, FedExing, scanning, or faxing. And don’t forget about the benefits of digital leases in the hands of residents. No longer will site staff be bogged down with print requests from residents who want a new copy of their lease. A good online lease solution will allow the digital storage of lease documents so that residents can print on-demand, whenever they need a new physical copy. The industry’s greenest leasing offices are using a digital lease signing solution.
4. Require online payments to be made in full – To help reduce delinquency and lessen late fees for residents, it’s a simple (and important) quick-fix to configure your online payment system to require residents to pay their balance in full when placing a payment. It’ll also save your onsite staff from the added headache.
For most all apartment communities, busy site staff is an enduring reality. But by capitalizing on all the opportunities your technology provides, you can help alleviate unnecessary time constraints and free-up time for care and service initiatives.