As the modern world continues to stride boldly forward into the evolving Information Age, automation has become commonplace in practically every aspect of daily life. Although there are some that fear this change, worrying that computers and machines will completely replace humans in the near future, presently, automation serves primarily in a complementary role. The modern workplace actually thrives on new technology processes. It helps us increase our productivity and drives value by liberating us from mundane, time-consuming jobs.
If you’re a property manager, you might be surprised to learn that there are day-to-day tasks that would be better handled by an automated service. From automating your apartment package delivery system to offering virtual showings, there’s a number of ways technology can help make your life easier. Below, we’ll discuss how you could automate your office so that you can free up more time to handle the tasks that are worthy of your efforts. Keep reading to discover what those are.
Office Systems to Automate Your Office
Managing a multifamily property is no easy task. On any given day you have to wear dozens of different hats as you juggle the various duties the role requires. For example, you are likely responsible for or at least involved in the following:
- Marketing the property
- Screening residents
- Processing resident applications
- Collecting rent
- Receiving packages and deliveries
- Overseeing maintenance
- Responding to residents
“Technology offers ways to accomplish this without sacrificing a high quality of service…Technology is underused in property management but has the potential to drastically reduce expenses while improving the quality of service. Every tedious process should be streamlined or automated.”
The following are but a few of the office systems you can use to automate your office:
Property Management Software
Leasing is a laborious activity that tends to consume a lot of your efforts and energy. This can involve anything from:
- Posting listings
- Responding to queries
- Showing rooms
- Screening residents
- Processing applications
While there are a host of reasons to consider embracing using a property management software, the benefits include:
- Streamlined management of important documents – By going paperless, you not only help the environment by being green, but you also have instant access to digital records—records that are far less vulnerable to being misplaced or damaged.
- Ability to expand the property portfolio – Most properties want to expand and add units but are unable to do so due to the constraints on resources and time. By using automation, you free up time and money that could then be better spent planning for future growth.
- Increased efficiency – By automating your workflow, you increase your output and efficiency. This improves communication, visibility, and accountability on each and every task.
- No need to worry about rent collection – Rent collection and enforcement is one of the largest headaches for any property manager. When you allow residents to pay rent online, you make their lives simpler and dramatically reduce the chance that payments can be lost or cause disputes.
One of the larger time drains for any property manager involves the delivery and reception of mail. In a day where Amazon has altered how people shop, multifamily apartments have been dealing with an ever-growing dilemma of how to handle the steady stream of packages being delivered on a daily basis. And as the holidays approach, this problem is only exacerbated, causing packages to spill out of the cramped mailroom, which is not only inconvenient but also a liability.
For each package that gets delivered, a property manager is forced to interrupt what they’re doing and spend precious minutes on accepting, storing, and delivering the package to residents. While mailroom management may seem like a small thing, if your unit receives several packages a day, that time adds up and those continued disturbances to your workflow can impact your rhythm or train of thought. In fact, in 2014 Camden Property Trust sought to estimate the time and money lost due to package disruptions. According to Seeking Alpha:
“The company’s buildings received 1M packages in 2014, up 50% from the previous year. Camden figures each package results in roughly 10 minutes of lost productivity. Doing the math at $20 per hour for employee wages adds up to $3.3M per year.”
Fortunately, there is a solution to this problem that an increasing number of property managers are turning to—smart package lockers such as those made by Parcel Pending. These lockers automate and simplify the package delivery process, providing features such as:
- Safety – 24/7 cloud-based surveillance which ensures that packages are delivered safely and then kept secure.
- Mobile friendly –A mobile app that notifies residents when an item has arrived and allows them to easily recover it at a convenient time of their choosing.
- Refrigerated – Modern lockers that keep medicines, groceries, and other temperature-sensitive items properly cooled.
- Courier Agnostic – Accepts deliveries from any courier service.
- Customizable – Parcel lockers come in an array of sizes, custom colors, and wraps that can be styled to fit into any building.
Not only do these lockers simplify the mailroom process for you, but they also create a simplified experience for your residents.
Property managers spend quite a bit of their time showing rooms to potential residents. While this is and will remain an important aspect of any property manager’s role, there are many times where the people who want to see the room are simply browsing as they consider several locations. Often, such cases tend to be more of an exploratory, fact-finding mission than an intentional walkthrough. According to TREO Realtors:
“A Virtual Showing gives any interested buyer the ability to walk through your home using technology similar to Google Street View. There are clickable arrows that will allow a person, from their computer, to walk through the entire home. A buyer can get a perspective from any angle allowing the viewer to see the room in its entirety, instead of our normal panoramic photos only seeing it from one angle.”
By allowing residents to take a virtual tour of the property or the unit, you can ensure that the people who come by already have a good understanding of what the property is like and whether or not it would be a good fit. You automatically eliminate a percentage of people who would come for an in-person tour and instantly know it wasn’t right for them. This saves both of you time and effort and ensures that the prospective residents that do come by have a decent understanding and desire for the space.
Although virtual tours will never replace in-person showings, they do optimize the process. And, since the vast majority of people begin their apartment hunt online, the more transparency you can provide them, the more confidence they will have from the outset. By providing this added convenience, you demonstrate that you are open, embrace technology, and aren’t trying to hide anything from them.
If you have a large property, you likely have a maintenance team or department that works around the clock to resolve issues and maintain the property. But often the initial maintenance problems are run through you. Phone calls, paperwork order, and status updates are all handled manually, which results in hours wasted on data entry. Naturally, the time you spend handling such onerous tasks could be better spent addressing the various needs of the property.
“Most property managers see maintenance calls as an inevitable hassle, the cost of doing business in residential real estate management. In fact, the average property firm spends anywhere from 10 to 25 hours handling maintenance-related tasks every single week—that adds up to a whopping 1,300 working hours each year. Even services that initiate maintenance or field the requests only start the process. What if there was a way to automate your incoming maintenance requests, eliminating the time you spend coordinating with vendors, checking in with tenants, and following up at the end of the day?”
A property management software can streamline the process, allowing you to accomplish the following:
- Generate work orders
- Submit work requests
- Manage parts, supplier, and purchase orders
- Predict maintenance issues
- Monitor work progress
- Track technicians
- Reduce work backlog
- Schedule maintenance
Automating all of these services save you time and effort. It also creates visibility and accountability on both sides. This simplifies the reporting process, allowing tenants to issue a complaint and then track what’s being done about it in real-time.
Modern Office Systems
Even Luddites would have to admit that there are several benefits to modernizing your office systems via apartment automation. Simply put, property managers have too much to do and too little time to waste on mindless tasks such as accepting an endless stream of packages. By automating, you increase efficiency and give yourself the ability to focus on the duties that require your personal touch like providing excellent customer service for your residents.
Jones, T. Forbes. Technology Is Evolving Property Management And Leasing — And Investors Need To Keep Up. (2017). https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesrealestatecouncil/2017/09/08/technology-is-evolving-property-management-and-leasing-and-investors-need-to-keep-up/#21896e9245fd
Alpher, S. Seeking Alpha. Camden Property Trust takes action on “package-gate.” (2015). https://seekingalpha.com/news/2840436-camden-property-trust-takes-action-package-gate
TREO Realtors. Virtual Showings the Future of Real Estate. https://www.treorealtors.com/virtual-showings-the-future-of-real-estate/
Hull, J. Door Grow. Property Management Maintenance Automation with Property Meld. (2016). https://doorgrow.com/property-management-maintenance-automation-property-meld/