Technology is in constant motion. Everybody knows that. And every platform in use within your property management company is not on automatic update. In fact, there are probably a few applications in use that worked better in version 3.1 than in 4.1. Who has time to check?
In larger organizations with an IT department there's an app for that; its called human staffing with expertise. For smaller organizations its call all-hands-on-deck. The latter is very inefficient because inconsistent expertise applied to a technological platform at the very least leads to frustration and in a worst case scenario leads to breaches in security and a loss of data and/or data continuity.
Here are some alternatives for keeping your technology up-to-date without losing your mind:
Outsource a quarterly review. Hire a professional with qualifications to review in-place systems and make recommendations for what is necessary to update immediately and what can wait. The incentive for using the professional is to eliminate mistakes and assumptions.
Be aware of changes to social media. While Facebook is huge, they still spent $19 billion dollars to purchase Whats up. When reviewing demographics, be cognizant of where your residents are on-line. Presumption will cost you leases. The incentive is to stay cutting edge and maintain or increase your leasing numbers.
Revenue enhancement. No one knows everything. Once you do know everything is the day someone else takes over your job. Recognize that as well as you know the business there is always another perspective on how to increase revenue. Keep an open mind and an eye on technological advances that can assist in this endeavor. The incentive on this one is easy; higher revenue, higher fees generated.
Seek maintenance efficiencies through technology. Quality delivery of maintenance services increases renewals and lease terms. There is nothing wrong with gaining maintenance efficiencies through the use of technology- but don't get cute with it. There is almost always a transition period that occurs with a new technological advance. Make sure this timeline is short and really does something positive for staff and service delivery. Window dressing is of no value. The incentive is customer retention by any means necessary and excluding any exercise that may detract from that objective.
Customer responsiveness is powerful. There are some good examples of tech that allow for greater customer interaction. One example is when your website has an "instant chat" option with a website visitor. In this example, be sure to add the caveats so as to deliver the level of customer service suggested - like hours of operations. Or, for example, an email response option. The last thing you want is to over-promise and under-deliver. Align your platform with the operational integrity that can maintain. The incentive is to deliver as promised on available interaction alternatives thereby improving the customer experience by meeting their expectations (that you set).
BONUS! Testing for the greater good. Implementing every new thing will only lead to a psychological meltdown. Whenever possible, test and re-test newly implemented platforms away from your day-to-day operations. New technology isn't like a wedding day where you have to start and finish the ceremony in a short time span. Take your time and focus on creating a smooth transition into real life. There may still be a glitch or two but the testing often takes out any real bite or disruption to operations that may have occurred without the testing. The incentive is to avoid catastrophe with a roll out of any new application that may negatively impact the customer experience.
Mr. Wilhoit is the author of three books: How To Read A Rent Roll: A Guide to Understanding Rental Income and Multifamily Insight Vol 1 & 2 - How to Acquire Wealth Through Buying the Right Multifamily Assets in the Right Markets. Multifamily Insight Vol 2 -- just out!
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About This Blog: Multifamily Insight is dedicated to assisting current and future multifamily property owners, operators and investors in executing specific tasks that allow multifamily assets to operate at their highest level of efficiency. We discuss real world issues in multifamily property management and acquisitions. This blog is intended to be informational only and does not provide legal, financial or accounting advice. See multifamilyinsight.com