When it comes to technology, it’s common for apartment operators to think about their residents first.
Owners and managers have implemented an array of solutions – from online portals and mobile phone apps to smart-home technologies – to provide renters with the best living experience possible.
But, as an Apartmentalize 2019 educational session moderated by Power Pro’s Karen Gladney discussed, forward-thinking operators now are investing in technologies that improve the efficiencies of their onsite leasing and maintenance teams. In so doing, they are positioning their associates to provide outstanding customer service.
The panelists were Brenda Gammie, senior vice president at Avanti Residential; Tracie Leonard, vice president of operations at Gables Residential; and Joe Melton, vice president of marketing and management support services at The Morgan Group.
Among the beneficial technologies discussed during the session: iPad-based leasing apps for associates, mobile apps that give maintenance team members access to work orders and self-guided tours, which serve the dual purpose of giving associates more time to focus on other important tasks while providing prospects with the kind of experience they want.
Avanti’s Colorado properties are testing self-guided tours, and the technology has been a big hit so far with apartment shoppers, according to Gammie.
“We are in the initial stage of testing it so when potential residents come in we give them the option of a self-guided tour or an associate-guided tour,” she said. “We are seeing about 80 percent of the prospects choose the self-guided tour option.”
Melton also noted that many of today’s associates expect apartment operators to be equipped with cutting-edge employee-facing technology.
“When it comes to recruiting, the expectation of our job applicants is that we are a tech-savvy company,” he said. “They’re looking to check that off their lists.”
Before implementing an associate-facing solution, it’s imperative that an operator test it thoroughly, Leonard said.
“We have a large portfolio so we will run a pilot test with a new technology on, let’s say, six properties,” she said. “We’ll run the test for usually up to 60 days and then compare performance, before and after, for those pilot communities as well as the performance for similar communities across our portfolio that weren’t in the test.”
Finally, when it comes time to evaluate the return on investment in technologies for associates, Melton noted he takes a slightly unique approach.
“We call this the R-O-E, which is the return on your energy and your effort,” Melton said. “I feel like that is so powerful because that really is where the magic lies. Sometimes it’s not in the numbers. The data is important but, really, is it worth your energy and your effort? If the return on that is impactful to moving the needle, then that’s a win.”