Years ago, Bozzuto found itself at a crossroads with our real estate management technology
We’d started as a small company with a lot of employee touchpoints, and our geography was relatively small. Consistency across our portfolio, which is critical to our brand, was not much of a challenge.
As the business grew, the opportunity to have those personal engagements with our employees declined. Ensuring that the Bozzuto vision, culture, and brand were being consistently executed for our customers at each of our properties became more of a challenge.
We were looking for a tool, or a technology, ideally, that we could use to ensure that the vision, brand, and customer experience were being executed across our entire portfolio, from Boston to Miami.
Real Estate Management Technology That is More Than a Checklist
We didn’t want a checklist. And we didn’t want an inspection tool that would make employees feel like they were being graded or judged.
We wanted a real estate management technology that would assist them, that would give them information and knowledge. When employees had questions about how something is supposed to look and feel, and what Bozzuto means to us, we wanted them to have on-demand responses.
We also looked at the costs and the technology required to building something internally. We looked at using workflow systems that weren’t necessarily associated with the real estate industry, but many of them carried seven-figure price tags. Frankly, that was a non-starter for us as an organization.
That’s when we came across Leonardo247. Leonardo is customizable but also built for our industry. It solved the consistency issue for us.
Leonardo allows us to train our employees and to engage with them as needed. We’re able to touch our employees again wherever they are, at any time, through a very convenient technology on smartphones, iPads, and more.
We were trying to provide our customers and our employees with an elevated sense of connection to our culture, our brand, our experiential proposition. Leonardo facilitated that.
Keeping Humans in the Loop
There have been a couple of pleasant surprises. And I say pleasant surprises because in real estate surprises are typically not a good thing.
The surprise in working with Leonardo has been the human piece. A lot of technology companies have a great product and a great sales pitch. And then you execute that product and you want to have a dialogue about how a particular process works and how it should work for your organization.
You need feedback or you need to change something, but there’s no human at the end of that feedback loop to make those changes.
Leonardo, for us, has been the exact opposite of that. It’s a human product that happens to be a technology.
We’ve customized Leonard within the parameters of the software so that our message, not necessarily Leonardo’s message, is being delivered. Leonardo247 is the vehicle for delivering our message.
That’s been an awesome surprise, and that piece has allowed us as an organization to embrace Leonardo and roll it out to 2,500 employees.
Adoption and Accountability
One of our biggest concerns when we adopt new technology, but especially something that touches all of our field employees, is adoption and accountability.
We worked closely with our Leonardo team to develop a communication plan to build excitement. We explained the why so that people understood, again, that this wasn’t a way of grading them. This isn’t a report card tool. This is a tool to help them do their jobs better, faster, more easily, and more consistently.
The adoption piece of the puzzle really starts at the top. Leadership has to embrace it, and we did as a company. We understood the tool, we knew the problem we were solving for. And we built that communication plan with Leonardo. We started talking about it early and often. We talked about it in our regional team meetings and at our service manager retreat so people could ask questions.
This wasn’t a forced initiative, but the adoption of a solution to a lot of problems. We knew about some of the problems already, and we’re discovering and solving more through the tool.
The training with Leonardo was excellent. With our disparate locations, sometimes getting everybody in a room together is just not possible. And we were able to facilitate training sessions across the East Coast in an easy and effective format through Zoom and webinars.
We were able to touch all of those people and answer all of their questions. At the end of the day, when we launched Leonardo, there wasn’t a person who didn’t understand what it was, why it was, and how we intended to use the tool.
Comparison Shopping for Real Estate Management Technology
In our search for a solution, Leonardo stood out in a couple of ways.
First and foremost, the people. Interacting with the Leonardo team, from the technology to the sales team, was exceptional. It was really focused on solving our problems as opposed to selling a product.
The tool is so customizable that it’s not so much a plug-and-play solution as a solution that can grow and change with your organization’s needs. It really allowed us to embrace it as a company. A lot of the competitors had a stringent, limited product. We weren’t able to have conversations about, “Well, what if? And could we?”
With Leonardo, our “what-if’s” and “could-we’s” were always answered with a yes. While it is Leonardo’s tool, it is certainly Bozzuto’s product at this point.
Addressing the Challenges of New Real Estate Management Technology
The implementation of any new technology can be a challenge. People often expect a new solution to roll out on day one and work immediately. We built an adoption and implementation program with Leonardo that had multiple stages and lots of checkpoints along the way. We wanted employees to be part of the process.
In our rollout, we built in time for feedback and question-and-answer sessions for the employees who were touching the product. They helped inform what it should and could look like.
Instead of rolling out the software and saying, “Hey, we’ve turned it on, start using it,” we created an implementation timeline. The timeline allowed us to start using the pieces that were easy to adopt immediately. We started introducing different components as the employees got comfortable. They accepted that this was going to be part of everyday operations.
This wasn’t a once a month or once a week check-in. It wasn’t an inspection in digital form either. This was part of doing business every day. And we saw success by not overestimating the immediate impact and rollout. We broke it down into bite-sized pieces that provided the employees with time to get used to it.
That time also allowed us to listen and use that feedback to improve the tool from where we started. That feels like a heavy-lift, but the reality is that the Leonardo team did so much of the heavy lifting. From training to implementation to the background stuff that has to occur to make the program as special as it can be, that was all on Leonardo’s side.
Our side of it was communication, and the communication with Leonardo was seamless. We were able to talk on a regular basis. They were looking at our adoption statistics. They were monitoring how the tool was being used and provided us with feedback. And we were able to combine that with our experience in the field to ensure that that was not a heavy-lift on anybody. Nobody had to stop their day job to make Leonardo247 work for Bozzuto.
Overcoming the Common Challenges of Adopting New Technology
Change management is a challenge for any organization. And there’s always going to be a portion of your employee base, no matter how well-meaning, that will resist change. They feel like their day is already full and this is just one more thing.
We worked through that with early communication. We communicated often that this was a tool to help, not another thing to do. And, frankly, we did not make it optional. We adopted this tool as a company to ensure consistency. As such, it was our expectation as an organization that it would be touched every day. And we made that clear as well.
With change management, if something’s optional, by default there’s going to be a portion of your employees that will opt not to use it. By making it non-optional but not punitive, we were able to ensure adoption across our portfolio so employees would realize that this would be a lift and not a burden.
Eliminate Costly Overlapping Systems with Leonardo247
The reality is that we were using a half-dozen solutions to chase this collaborative consistency. And many of them were failing. One of the beauties with Leonardo is we’ve been able to eliminate a lot of those spreadsheets and additional software packages and consolidate all of our efforts, both operationally and on the maintenance side, into the Leonardo platform.
When we started with Leonardo, one of our misunderstandings early in the process was that this was going to be a maintenance checklist and automation tool. The reality is that if you’re looking for a consistent customer experience across your brand, this tool is for all employees.
Leonardo is as important to the sales and service associate and the property manager as it is your service manager or your maintenance tech that’s out there working in units. It really is a tool for the entirety of the team.
If you’re considering Leonardo247, like any solution, you can come up with a hundred reasons to say, “No. Too hard. Too heavy of a lift. We don’t have someone dedicated to this. It doesn’t work for our organization.”
I would challenge you to find the one reason to say yes. And in this case, that reason is simple. Leonardo247 is a tool built around your operations and your organization. It can help you take that next step as a company.