Survey results: How are property managers using technology?

Geoff Roberts
| 5 min. read
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Published on December 28, 2009

Some of you may recognize this article from a few weeks ago when it made the rounds on many Property Management Blogs.  Chris Throman from Software Advice was kind enough to allow us to re-post the article to the Buildium Blog. Chris Thorman blogs about property management software at SoftwareAdvice.com.

Last week, Software Advice set out to learn about the state of technology among property managers. Thanks to the 70 of you who responded to our survey, we gathered interesting information on social media use, business growth, lead tracking, and other areas.

We invite you to download the full results of our survey (PDF) to review these trends and stats and blog about them on your own web site.

We’ve covered a handful of the more interesting results here.

Technology Characteristics of a Growing Business

Nearly half of the companies we surveyed grew their business last year, either by revenue or by number of units. Below is a chart detailing the rate of technology adoption by those companies:

Percentage of technology adopted by growing companies

The companies that were able to grow their business in a down economy made extensive use of technology.

Over 60% of those growing businesses use property management specific software system, such as Buildium, Appfolio, Maxwell Systems or Spectra.

In general, those that were successful were able to:

  • Automate tasks
  • Track online leads well
  • Provide their tenants with online options

Like with virtually every other industry, the successful property management companies are moving online.

Great Software Equals Efficiency

We asked our respondents how many units their company managed and how many employees worked at their company. We broke down the averages, compared them to who was using property management software to manage their company and who wasn’t.

Average number of units managed per employee by software type

Companies who used property management specific software managed an average of 102 units per employee. Those that using generic software or spreadsheets only managed an average of 61 units per employee.We acknowledge there are other factors to consider here. But we’re firmly in the camp that an integrated software suite frees up property management employees to do more tasks. It just makes sense:

  • Less time spent moving between programs
  • Less time spent learning multiple systems
  • Quicker and more efficient data management
  • Many automated tasks

We’d love to hear from those of you whose experience has differed from this.

Companies are Struggling to Track Online Leads

The property management industry has a strong presence online, from Multifamily Insiders to Let’s Talk Property Management to PropertyManager.com. Much of the discussion on those web sites is centered around online marketing and lead generation.

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How do you track leads generated online?

That’s why it was surprising to see 36% of property managers don’t even use computers to track online leads. Instead they rely on a tenant to mention it on an application.

In addition, 19% of our respondents don’t track leads generated online, which was perhaps the most shocking statistic.

As we noted above, those companies that are effectively tracking online leads are growing their business.

Social Media Use Widespread But Is It Effective?

Despite the evangelization of social media over the last few years, our survey showed no sizable growth in business between companies who are using social media and those who are not.

Percentage of companies who engage tenants and prospects on social media sites

This begs the question: What strength does social media have in the business of property management? Facebook and Twitter are fantastic for networking – but does that generate leads and provide a return on investment?

We’d be curious to hear from those of you who have defined ROI metrics for social media.

Thoughts from the respondents

In the final question on the survey, we asked respondents for their thoughts on the state of technology in property management. Here are some of their comments:“I feel web based software is coming of age. The biggest obstacle most face is ownership rights of their data.”

“Property management has been late to adopt technology. in the last couple of years we have seen many more offerings in the property management space and I think that there is still a long way to go compared to many other industries.”

“We need more integration with leads and leases. We need the search, show, follow up, lease process that can be seen on a computer report.”

“I view technology as vital to our future growth – remote connectivity to a server based hub structure, text pull and push campaigns, mobile phones and PDAs all play apart. Web based technology too – Google Analytics, our website, online services.”

Thank you again to those that participated in our survey. You can download the full results of the survey here (PDF).

 

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Geoff Roberts
Geoff Roberts

Geoff is a marketer, surfer, musician, and writer. He lives in San Diego, CA.

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