Over on the Apartment Academy podcast, host Daniel Cunningham sat down with Jennifer Staciokas, Executive Managing Director at Western Wealth Capital. Jennifer joined us to talk about the technology that goes into streamlining the operations of a property management company.
The industry has come a long way in terms of embracing technology. What are the key pieces of technology you have to have in place right away? [0:46]
- You have to get your property management software right, whatever it is. What is really critical is that you have the right team, or the right person in place that can manage that property management software, specifically the integrations that are required.
- I have always taken the approach of the best-of-breed. I love the new technology in space, but the caveat is the new technology has to solve a problem that I’m experiencing in the business in order to move forward with a pilot.
- You have to have your CRM ready out of the gate and hold your teams accountable for nurturing a lead.
What do people need to think about when choosing a property management system (PMS)? [7:37]
- The main determination at our company, because we are an investment management company that has a property management company within it, the decision was we needed to make sure the investment side of the business could also be supported by the PMS so we had that fluid integration.
What do business intelligence (BI) platforms do for your business? [10:14]
- I start my day on our BI platform. We have a couple of dashboards that are replacing some of the manual reporting we were doing, which saves time for our onsite team.
What sort of technology are you looking at to optimize operations? [17:27]
- The most recent pilots that we’ve done had been with lead nurturing through automation, and that was highly successful. We did a pilot on three properties and we saw the traffic converting into tours and leases. It was a huge hit so we rolled it out portfolio-wide.
- We’ve been dabbling in voice bots with AI. It works for some properties and not for others. You really need to monitor because as marketers we sometimes end up overspending for what we need. It can be great for a property that gets a lot of after-hours calls or is an extremely busy property. In the past, maybe the call centers were handling it, but maybe in the future, voice bots can.
- On the operations side, one thing that we went all in on is lease insurance and providing that zero-deposit solution to our properties. In my mind, that is the future. How can we really mitigate the risk of the properties as it relates to bad debt – so having some lease insurance, as well as partnering with your renter insurance company to provide some form of insurance per unit has been critical for us. As we look to centralize some of those functions, mitigating the risk is critical.
Anything else on the operations side you’re considering as it relates to technology? [24:00]
- When it comes to tech – you have to be open to new ideas. Technology has to solve a problem that your business is encountering. You don’t just want to chase the shiny new penny. You don’t want to roll out the technology for the sake of rolling out the technology.
- When I look at my tech stack – if I’m going to add new technology in, I need to make way for something to go away. What is that new technology going to replace?
Anything we should watch out for on the horizon? [25:16]
- Talking about what tasks we can centralize that can provide the most value to operations. What tasks can we take off the onsite teams, and put into a centralized role from a corporate or regional office perspective that drives the most value and frees up the time for the onsite teams to focus on the residents and customer service? We’re choosing to focus on the administrative tasks first, others in the industry are focusing on the leasing and maintenance side of things.
Host: Daniel Cunningham
Guest: Jennifer Staciokas