This week’s visiting professor on Apartment Academy is Brian Kroker, Chief Operating Officer at Lindy Property Management Company. Brian shares some information about measuring KPIs and what matters in property management operations today. These tips have been difference-makers for a company that has grown steadily for over 80 years — click to listen!
Measuring KPIs for Property Operations
Lindy’s operational side has developed a tight focus on operational KPIs. At the executive level, Lindy believes that you can’t manage what you can’t measure. And as part of their technology implementation, Lindy wants to be able to measure how well things are working so that resources can be allocated accordingly.
It’s really hard to keep track of all the details in this business, especially since Lindy Company has 37 properties with about 7,000 units. There are so many details and boxes that you have to check off. And if you miss one box, a lot that can go wrong.
The nice thing about measuring KPIs with technology is that you can identify where you might be slipping, or where you’re doing really well, very quickly. And you can leverage that knowledge or best practice and employ it elsewhere in a scalable fashion.
Lindy has a deep institutional understanding of process improvement and recognizes that there’s always a chance to do better. And that’s probably the last part of it — always striving to do better.
Technology Can Solve “Mistake Management”
One of Lindy’s major software implementations is Leonardo247. That’s really become a key part of managing the business. It takes all of the procedures that were in a thick, underused binder and puts them in a digital form where there’s total transparency.
In the old days, you created this beautiful procedure manual, but nobody ever read it. You stuck it in a drawer and it collected dust. But without those procedures, property management just becomes mistake management. And that requires constantly fixing or reacting to mistakes, being reactive, and solving problems that could have been prevented by those procedures. Leonardo helps you to be proactive and follow the processes that have been set up, which are now required.
Artificial Intelligence for Lead Management
Lindy is investing in artificial intelligence as well, specifically in a software tool called MeetElise. That has taken over our lead management.
As everyone knows, there are hundreds if not thousands of leads come in every day for these properties. Even though these are prospects interested in renting apartments, it’s very time-consuming to respond to these leads. And many of the questions that the leads are asking are very repetitive, like much is the rent, how much security deposit do I need, what’s your availability, etc.
Believe it or not, industry-wide, many of those leads go unanswered. We’ve heard that up to 50% of leads are unanswered. And these leads cost a lot of money to generate because they’re the end result of a marketing plan — we pay for every lead.
The beauty of an artificial intelligence like MeetElise is that it’s working 24/7. It never takes a holiday or a sick day and it’s answering those leads within five minutes. Half of the leads come in after-hours and when people aren’t working, and MeetElise responds to them quickly. And it’s converting 30-35% of those leads into showings.
Also, filling out applications online reduces the need for leasing personnel. And Lindy is measuring KPIs from MeetElise and other tools like it, which includes how much time the AI saved our people from working leads. As these tools grow more sophisticated, there’s a chance that the leasing position might go away in the next three to five years.
The Value of SEO
At this point, most leads come through the internet, which makes search engine optimization (SEO) so important.
You can optimize for keywords so that when someone searches for apartments, in Cheltenham, Pennsylvania, for example, your apartment property shows up on the first or second page of listings.
There are different ways to optimize further, through remarketing, AdWords, and so forth. But the key is driving those leads through the search engines to the properties. And then you need a really good website that serves the needs of the prospect and holds their interest.
Measuring KPIs & Managing Operations with Apps
On the operations side, the Lindy team believes that everything should be available on your smartphone. Everyone carries their own personal computer, so there’s no need for paper anymore.
Many property operators never sit in front of a desktop computer, especially maintenance people. This way, everything is at their fingertips. If someone is in the middle of doing a job or doing work, they can pull up what they need on their phone.
Also, virtual tours have been huge, both for Lindy and the broader industry. It’s likely that those will continue to be in the mix for the foreseeable future.