Business success isn’t only measured by annual revenue or one’s position in the market, but also by adaptability, or the ability to adjust to new demands when circumstances call for it. 2020 has revealed the stark need for businesses to seamlessly and even routinely shape and shift, as government regulations, customer expectations, and supply and demand have all changed drastically over the past year.
Like many other industries, the multifamily housing sector understood the need to transform its business model, in order to remain competitive. To do so, industry leaders have readily embraced technology to continue business operations, advance leasing goals, and communicate with prospects and residents in a normal fashion, even if extenuating circumstances are anything but typical.
As we continue to adjust our operations, offerings, and objectives, these technological tools can help your multifamily community improve its bottom line when it matters most, and in turn, equip your property with the resources it needs to survive – and even thrive. If you’re still unaware of all the benefits that contactless technologies have to offer, read on to learn why this type of tech adoption is key to our industry’s livelihood, now and in the years to come.
Contactless technology creates a fuller picture of prospects via “digital dust.”
Although big data isn’t anything new, “digital dust” is a relatively recent term used to describe the accumulation of data surrounding one’s online behaviors, like social media usage, purchasing decisions, and location tracking services. Since we are increasingly looking to tech devices to fill the void for in-person workflows, these newfound points of contact will allow for a richer scale of data to be collected and utilized by various industries. According to Gartner, the individual activities of 40 percent of the global population will be tracked digitally by 2023. That equates to more than 3 billion people worldwide!
With this new wealth of information, we can expect the multifamily industry and others to fully immerse themselves in the Internet of Behavior, or IoB. The IoB will make it easier for professionals in our sector to gather, combine, and process data extracted from the most basic of an end-users daily habits. This technology is expected to partner with tools, like facial recognition technology and other biometrics, to paint a complete picture of your end-user. In turn, everyone from executives to marketing mangers and on-site team members can better cater to user preferences, resulting in a hyper-personalized experience for prospective and current residents alike.
Contactless technology helps eliminate missed leasing opportunities.
Unfortunately, the multifamily industry has a long history of missed connections – and prospects take notice, especially in the Digital Age. According to Zillow, approximately one-third of prospective renters will simply move on if a community doesn’t respond to them, which is more so the case with Millennials and other younger generations. Needless to say, your community must be available to communicate with current and future residents at all hours, which will increase your odds of capturing lucrative leasing opportunities – and won’t close you off to a potential 35 percent of leads.
If you’re wondering how any leasing office can be available around the clock, you’ll be happy to learn that there is a way to accomplish this, aside from stretching your staff too thin. Chatbots can help leasing teams catch incoming questions or touring inquiries when a human agent isn’t available to answer, whether they’re tied up with other tasks or offline during nights and weekends. Once your prospect has connected with a chatbot, livestream touring capabilities allow your end-user to view individual apartment homes safely from a distance. This option appeals to renters who wish to tour a specific unit while continuing to follow social distancing guidelines. This strategy also helps keep the Resident Lifecycle moving along seamlessly, even without the direct and/or constant oversight of property staff.
Contactless technology allows property staff to cultivate relationships from afar.
Despite current events, the desire for interpersonal connection has not disappeared, and the need for top-notch customer service is still very much intact. Although we never imagined ourselves living in a time that requires six-feet of distance between one another, it has presented itself, and it’s essential to find ways to remain connected to your community even when physically apart. After all, cultivating relationships with current and potential residents during these very challenging circumstances is a great way to show empathy, while boosting your reputation within the community-at-large.
Even though in-person meet-ups may be off-limits right now, technology can help multifamily communities replicate interpersonal interaction. Video conference platforms, like Zoom, have emerged as a user-friendly, cost-effective way to host social events usually held on community grounds. Not only can video conferencing help you connect with current residents, but it can also be leveraged to add a personal touch to contactless tours, as you walk residents through your community’s shared amenities and even the actual unit that they will call their next home. With vibrant video and solid audio quality, your prospects will feel as if they are in the room with you, and by catering to their needs before the lease is signed, you’ll provide them with an idea of what it’s like to call your community home.
Over the years, technological advancements have changed the way we shop for goods and services, share social updates with friends, and even transact business. Now, tech tools are helping us overcome new challenges related to current events. Though the multifamily housing industry hasn’t been immune to this year’s economic impacts, property management professionals are in a prime position to emerge from 2020 stronger than before, with the many contactless tech tools on the market today and their incredible benefits for businesses and consumers alike.
Kerry W. Kirby is a global entrepreneur, technology innovator, philanthropist, and the founder of 365 Connect, an award-winning technology firm within the multifamily housing industry. Over the course of his career, Kerry has been the recipient of an array of highly acclaimed awards, including the esteemed Louisiana Governor's Technology Award. He has been named to the Silicon Bayou 100 List of most influential entrepreneurs for nine consecutive years and has received a prestigious Titan Entrepreneur Award for his technological achievements. An acclaimed speaker, author, and award-winning podcaster, Kerry has appeared on the BBC Digital Planet program, NPR News, and various media platforms and outlets. He has contributed to an array of articles and studies on the convergence of technology in the rental housing industry.
Kerry serves on the Board of Advisors of Rainbow, a national nonprofit organization that provides service-enriched housing programs for affordable housing communities across the country, as well as the Board of Advisors of the Multifamily Women’s Summit, an event that allows women to strengthen their expertise, influence, and professional network in the multifamily housing industry. He is Chair of Technology Initiatives for the Multifamily Innovation Advisory Council, a private, members only group focused on assisting owners and operators of multifamily communities identify pain points and explore innovative solutions that will drive change across the industry.