Multifamily investors invest in physical assets, but something else they’re investing in is the technology stack the asset is utilizing. The success or failure of any tool in the tech stack can mean either more profit for the investors through increased ROI or, unfortunately sometimes reduced NOI, due to unanticipated expenses when the technology doesn’t execute as expected.
Investors bring a different perspective to the multifamily marketing and proptech space that creates a healthy challenge. They typically bring a solid analytical mindset and usually have experience with various asset types, across different geographical markets and have worked alongside different management companies who have varying philosophies about tech strategy.
But how can we marry the market intelligence of investors with the technology that is disrupting the industry today, for the better? Here are 3 ways investors can create a positive financial impact on their assets, by focusing on technology:
Encourage the Use of “Best-of-Breed” Tools Instead of Bundled Tech Tools
Multifamily is infamous for bundling technology tools within one platform. We are consistently searching for that “one-stop-shop” where we can buy our websites, advertising, email campaigns, chat tools, fintech, accounting software, PMS software, and “all of the things” from one provider. But the problem is that the dream state of a tech stack just doesn’t exist. There are wonderful solutions in our space, but they don’t all come from one partner. And, when you try to bundle, you’re likely not getting the best tool, but rather an “okay” tool.
Nearly every other industry operates with a “best of breed” mindset, meaning they vet and select technology based on the value it brings to the organization, the elevated experience it provides customers, and the ease of use/implementation. Ask modern marketers about their toolbox and they’ll likely rattle off a variety of solutions, few of which come from the same tech provider. Do most of those tools work together and provide a pathway to high ROI and stronger financial performance? Yes! And when a tool doesn’t necessarily integrate with other pieces of technology in the stack, it’s typically being utilized because the value or performance of the tool far outweighs the need for full integration. We all want fully integrated tech, but when we absolutely refuse to implement tech that isn’t, we’re missing out on some of the newest and most powerful technologies.
Ask The Right Questions
Want to push the ROI on your tech investments and NOI for your assets? Of course, you’re asking questions and reviewing reporting on a regular basis, but asking the right questions can help you nudge tech performance up a notch. Consider asking:
- What is this (tool/tech/program/platform) telling us about our customers/renters? What intel are we collecting that will better inform the rest of our business decisions?
- What are we doing to ensure the on-site teams are utilizing and optimizing the tools we’ve already invested in?
- How will this/how does this affect our marketing/leasing/operations/maintenance processes?
- What kind of experience does this create for the renter or how does this remove friction for the renter?
- How does this tool/tech help us reduce costs in other areas of the business?
- How are we measuring ROI for this, consistently?
- Are we able to repurpose outputs from this tech tool into other areas of our marketing/leasing/operations strategies to optimize further? If so, how and what is our ongoing plan to leverage these wins?
- How are we benchmarking the performance of this tool? What was the data/performance pre-implementation and where is it now?
- How can we scale this tool/tech/platform to help with our longer-term goals or, across the portfolio?
- How often are we strategizing with the vendor/partner to improve our performance?
- What technology have we vetted but turned down or decided not to implement and why?
- What’s on the roadmap for new tech implementation and what’s driving the prioritization of these tools?
Of course, we all want our on-site teams and those working the front lines of our beautiful assets to love their jobs and to have the tools and resources it takes to do their jobs well. But traditionally, we’ve been so focused on the teams internally that we’ve somewhat neglected what type of experience the actual renter is getting. Audit your asset’s technology tools from the renter’s perspective—visit the website. Submit a guest card. Try to schedule an appointment. Call the office with a service request. Then, take note of the places and processes causing friction and work to lessen that.
Every time we cause a “pause” in the process for the renter, it’s giving them a window of time to contact competitors, read more ratings and reviews, and dig deeper into your online marketplace before your on-site team even has a chance to “wow” them with their charming personalities and exemplary service.
Here’s an example: Visit the “Contact us” form on a property’s website. How many fields of information is that form requiring from the renter before they hit ‘submit’? Now, fill that form out from your mobile device. If it takes too long or requires too much information or isn’t easy to navigate on mobile, renters are likely dropping off and not converting at this point in their journey. People are busy and easily distracted – make it easy and quick for them to connect with your teams.
This exercise can be applied to many tech verticals in the multifamily space and you’ll likely find some places where you can eliminate more of the ‘pauses’. And, consider renter preferences. Did you know that according to a recent Multifamily Sharespace survey, that 85% of on-site teams prefer to tour renters in-person (the traditional way)? However, according to Satisfacts, 52% of renters say they would rent with only a virtual/video/remote tour. Are you investigating why your teams may not be using certain technologies (like virtual or self-guided tours, for example)? Their own preferences may be holding you back from doing what more than half of your renters are asking for.
Did you know that virtual tours improve leasing velocity nearly 3X? Virtual tours tend to be just as effective, yet shorter in length than a traditional tour, saving your team time and allowing them to take 3 times as many tours in any given day than traditional tour methods.
And, when it comes to tour scheduling, most leasing agents don’t schedule tours after 4 p.m., yet later afternoon and evening hours are what prospects are selecting when they self-schedule their appointments.
Technology should work seamlessly for both parties, but when we are renter-centered, it helps us remove pre-existing biases and move towards solutions that provide better experiences for our customers while at the same time streamlining operations and saving time for our team – which all leads to higher ROI and ultimately stronger NOI.
Investors bring a fresh set of eyes that can help identify these opportunities for improvements in the tech stack and can be the perfect partners to level up the performance of multifamily tech tools. How are you partnering with your properties to collaborate about your tech stack? I’d love to hear what’s working and how you’re challenging the status quo.