In today’s competitive market, property managers need to constantly be on the lookout for new ways to both attract new residents and retain their current residents. This is no easy task for multifamily real estate owners and property managers. It can be difficult to find the right combination of pricing, features, and amenities that make a property stand out from the pack.
What’s even more challenging? Finding innovative solutions to help solve persistent problems both for those in the property management industry as well as the residents the industry serves. The good news is that exciting changes are either coming soon or already being adopted in the property management business that can more than adequately address these needs.
Like in many other industries, technology is both creating opportunities and disrupting how property managers conduct business. Through innovative technologies and improvements to property management software, property managers are able to provide better service to their residents, improve the flow of communication, increase property and personal security, and improve marketing to potential residents.
In this article, we’ll explore some innovative property management ideas that can be used to attract new residents and provide better service to current residents. A central theme to these innovative solutions? Greater technological integration in the property management space.
Why Should Property Managers Innovate?
You might be wondering why you would need innovative property management solutions. If your rental property operations aren’t directly impacted or struggling, why would you need to look for new ways to serve residents?
One could argue that demand for rentals is steadily rising in the United States, and residents have to choose from what’s affordable and available. On the other hand, however, a good property manager knows that a positive resident experience is key to reducing tenant turnover.
Some property management teams are proactive about incorporating emergent ideas and technologies into their operations to drive increased efficiencies and become more profitable. Others are not. That said, there are a number of property management tips, tricks, and innovations that even a property manager who falls into the latter camp should consider adopting proptech solutions for their rental property.
More Demand for Rentals
The main reason innovative property management solutions are in such high demand is because the number of people renting in the United States is rising every year. According to a study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, demand for rentals has skyrocketed over the past decade. In 2005, roughly 9 million American families or individuals rented. By 2015, that number was over 43 million families or single renters.
This explosive growth is attributed to a variety of factors. The most notable of these is that the economic downturn of 2008 resulted in the real estate bubble bursting; this led to the loss of over 8 million homes and was accompanied by a large setback in both the real estate market as well as income levels. Individuals and families that were previously interested in purchasing real estate (like single-family homes) and becoming a property owner found it harder to secure mortgages.
Residents Expect Tech-Enabled Amenities
In addition to the economic and real estate industry downturn over a decade ago, millennials and zoomers (Gen Z) now make up the bulk of the renting population in the United States. More millennials and zoomers in their 20s and 30s means a greater number of individuals seeking and living in apartments. This not only equates to an increase in demand for rentals (particularly for real estate within multifamily communities), but an increase in demand from these generations for modern apartment features, like high-tech amenities.
To put it simply, a greater portion of your residents are more likely to appreciate (or even expect) you to have integrated technology in your property management operations and throughout your rental property. Things like online rent payments that were considered a “nice to have” feature ten years ago are now a tenant expectation for almost every property management business.
With all of these young renters entering the market, property management companies have struggled to keep up. The result is a significant tightening of the rental market. While vacancy rates have remained low, the average rent has risen substantially in most urban markets. And while this may seem like an ideal situation for a property management firm, it is also important to remember that one of the reasons so many people are beginning to rent is because of the convenience that it offers.
Convenience is Key
Opting for a rental unit over a real estate investment property (such as a condominium, townhome, or single-family home) allows individuals and families to move for less money and with less friction. This mobility has given renters greater agency in determining the types of residences that they would like to live in.
Digital Marketing and Social Media Are Key
Also, don’t forget the power of social media and word-of-mouth property management marketing. Today’s renters are more likely to make bad experiences known to potential residents via online review sites like Google. As such, it is in every property manager’s best interests to leverage these digital marketing tools and highlight their range of community services and innovative solutions for residents considering the property or viewing a rental listing.
Innovative Property Management Ideas
Through the use of emergent technologies, property managers are able to use data-driven strategies to open up new avenues of communication between residents and management. At the same time, new technologies, such as the use of smart parcel lockers, help address key security problems for both the property management company and tenant property.
Some of these solutions have yet to experience widespread adoption within the multifamily property management industry. Although articles abound on the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) or drones into property management, the reality is that many of these technologies are years away from widespread adoption within the context of multifamily real estate.
However, by being aware of what changes are on the horizon, today’s property managers can prepare for tomorrow’s innovations. A successful property manager will be able to identify the technologies and solutions that will appeal to their residents, attract the ideal tenant, and even be an early adopter for these tools. One of the keys to innovative property management is identifying the services your residents desire and then finding new ways to address those needs.
Property Maintenance Management
One area where property managers have tried to find improvement for years is streamlining the management of the maintenance request process. Maintenance is a huge headache for most property managers, particularly at older multifamily real estate developments with aging amenities and systems. A solution that many property managers are now turning to is a maintenance management portal.
Through a software solution (such as property management software), a tenant can easily submit a maintenance request at their convenience. Any renter requests are routed directly to the rental property maintenance team and are triaged in order of importance. Throughout the process, residents can view the status of the ticket from receipt to completion. They can even provide key details like access permissions or instructions in the service request.
The use of a maintenance portal is a great way for property managers to use technology to drive innovative solutions to existing problems. Maintenance backlogs are a real problem and are a constant source of resident frustration. Plus, poorly maintained properties can cause the property management team to fail to close the lease with a prospective tenant as well. Streamlined maintenance management will help your property management company with successfully marketing your rental property to prospective residents.
A robust maintenance management system can also help reduce costly labor hours for your on-site property management team. Instead of handling maintenance requests and updating residents, your staff can spend their time reaching out to a potential tenant or leading outreach (such as virtual resident events) for existing residents. At the same time, a maintenance portal is a great way for you to collect data on your residences. Data regarding the frequency of maintenance, types of maintenance, and what equipment or systems most frequently need servicing, can be used to inform other operational decisions.
If you could, would you want to have better data about the health of your building’s systems? Of course you would. If given a choice, every rental property management firm would prefer to have more data rather than less. Integrating technology into the building itself is one way that a property management company can glean more data about their various systems and operations. Building automation can be integrated into the building’s HVAC and lighting systems to give you, the landlord, greater flexibility and control. You’ll be able to monitor and adjust systems remotely.
At the same time, you’ll get an early warning if critical systems need maintenance or are beginning to fail. Building automation can also play a role in property security. “You may be able to remotely monitor and record service entrances, log when access to certain areas has occurred, and ensure public walking areas are well-lit at dusk,” says Johan Ram, automation manager at Casinot. “Not only will this improve the security of your property, but your residents will also appreciate it.”
Especially as residents begin to venture out into the “next normal”, community security is one of the most important services that a property owner, manager, or landlord can provide. Building automation tools and other community amenities (such as smart parcel lockers) that boost a sense of security around the property are key to attracting and retaining residents.
One way that some property managers are improving services is through the use of innovative resident relations solutions. These can include social media and other forms of property marketing outreach, the use of automation for customer service tasks (like tenant screening or rent payments), or live chat options that give residents direct access to staff on-demand.
Resident relations solutions are key to streamlining communication between property managers and their residents. It is also important to understand that information flows both ways. Property managers need to be able to hear from their residents, while residents need a reliable way to receive communications from property managers.
Through the use of multi-stream communication platforms, property managers can communicate with residents based on their preference. Plus, by leveraging the power of social media, property management teams can improve outreach while keeping a finger on the pulse of the multifamily real estate they manage.
Enhanced Property Security
One challenge that property managers have been facing forever is how to offer better security at their properties. What is unique in today’s world is that we have both the technology available to offer innovative solutions as well as an emergent problem that demands those solutions. The problem: more residents are demanding that property managers find a way to help secure packages and other important shipments that are being delivered to them at the property.
In the wake of the pandemic, online shopping has become an increasingly important part of our daily lives. Whereas in the past online shopping was reserved for extremely rare or hard to find items, now nearly everything is available online from groceries to clothes and everything in between. The future of grocery retail, for instance, entirely revolves around online ordering and home delivery.
What does this mean for property managers? For starters, it means handling a lot of packages. Property management teams today are seeing at least 20 hours every week wasted processing packages (including storage, logging, and notifying residents). This represents a significant time investment, one that has a direct impact on any property’s bottom line. And there are other considerations that must be weighed as well. Securing those deliveries becomes your responsibility as a property manager, which introduces another layer of complexity to an already challenging situation.
On top of the increasingly large amount of time that managing package deliveries has begun to occupy for today’s property managers, your residents are coming to expect package deliveries on their schedule. Online shopping today is characterized by more frequent shipments that are smaller in size and have tighter delivery windows. Like it or not, property management teams are now an integral stakeholder in last mile logistics – and residents want their items delivered as quickly and conveniently as possible.
So, how can property managers help meet their resident’s expectations while streamlining the package delivery process and improving last mile logistics? By implementing smart parcel lockers. Multifamily parcel lockers are one of the most effective emergent technology systems that property managers can use to meet resident needs, improve community security, and reduce the cost (both financially and operationally) associated with package handling.
A secure package delivery box like a Parcel Pending locker system allows for streamlined package reception, processing, and notification. This reduces the amount of labor needed to process and route residents’ packages. Notifications go out in real-time, allowing time-sensitive packages to be picked up by the renter immediately. After hours package pickups aren’t a problem either, adding another layer of convenience for residents that want their packages but can’t make it to the leasing office during business hours. On top of this, parcel lockers greatly enhance security. Your residents’ packages will be securely waiting for them, and you’ll be able to easily monitor who accesses the parcel lockers and when.
Future-Proof Your Multifamily Property
The soaring demand for rentals isn’t going anywhere. While both demand and rent remain high, property management teams are looking for innovative solutions that can entice new residents and retain existing residents.
Residents themselves are trending younger – with millennials and zoomers entering the workforce and starting to rent. Plus, these generations are renting for longer periods of time, stemming both from a desire to start families at a later age, as well as tightening access to single-family real estate. This means the individuals and families renting today are more concerned than ever with convenience. As such, many of the property management tips, tricks, and solutions we outlined leverage technology to drive increased convenience for residents, while also solving a critical problem for property management teams.
Using a new property management service ( e.g., maintenance portals), property managers are able to streamline the flow of work orders, making placing a service ticket easier for residents and making it easier for maintenance staff to prioritize tickets and follow-up on existing tickets.
The use of building automation gives management and front-office staff a full-field view of building health and allows for opportunities to perform maintenance on problems before they become critical issues.
And, through the use of parcel lockers, property managers are better able to cater to resident demands for fast, efficient delivery of online purchases that can be picked up at their convenience. At the same time, parcel lockers enhance security by eliminating package theft. You can read more about the benefits of parcel lockers for multifamily homes on our blog.
These are just a few of the exciting and innovative property management ideas your company can use to enhance the services you provide your residents. To see how smart lockers can play a key role in the equation, contact a Parcel Pending sales representative today.