Why property management technology needs a human touch

Jillian Rodriguez
Jillian Rodriguez | 6 min. read
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Published on October 30, 2018

If you read Buildium’s 2018 Industry Report, you know that the future of the industry is all about rediscovering the human element of property management. That’s because property managers are renting to a broader demographic of people than ever before—and owners’ needs are changing, too. In order to be successful in this new market, it’s time to leave behind a one-size-fits-all approach to customer service and cater to the diverse needs of your renters and owners instead.

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We know what you’re thinking: who has the time to deliver that level of personalized customer service? After all, your units are home to all kinds of people—students, couples, young professionals with roommates, families with children, and seniors. Although their needs are diverse, there’s one strategy that will serve you for years to come: top-notch, tech-enabled customer service. In 2018 and beyond, technology is a must-have tool for offering personalized services without compromising your time and energy.

Here’s how growing businesses can leverage technology to attract and retain quality renters and owners alike.

#1: Boost Efficiency with Automation

“Automating our processes has freed up valuable time to work on areas that need improvement. We will continue to purchase property and provide reliable and efficient property management as we streamline tasks that usually would take a week down to a day.”

–Insight from the 2018 State of the Property Management Industry Report

Before you can focus on building relationships, you have to free up the time for it. Take stock of where you’re spending most of your time, and identify opportunities to streamline business processes and automate cumbersome tasks. Digital tools like social media, email, and online portals empower property managers to work more efficiently, allowing time for the things that matter most. Plus, technology helps keep you organized and scale your business as you grow leaps and bounds.

Here’s where to start:

Adopt proven technologies. The 2018 Industry Report revealed that multiple generations of renters want to take care of rental processes online. In particular, millennials expect to be able to pay rent, sign leases, and submit maintenance tickets online. You’ll actually enhance the resident experience when you offer these options, and happy residents are that much more likely to renew a lease. But tech-enabled rental processes aren’t just for millennials. Older renters care about technology, too—nearly two-thirds of Baby Boomers want to be able to take care of rental processes online.

Tenant using technology, accessing an online portal for his property manager.

According to our research, more than half of property managers provide access to an owner portal.

Streamline owner communications. Your owners want to hear from you on the regular. An owner portal helps you stay in touch and improve communication with your owner clients. Actually, more than half of property managers have provided their clients with access to an owner portal, so if you haven’t yet, you run the risk of falling behind the competition. Your owners want on-demand access to information about how their properties are doing—giving them that peace of mind builds trust and keeps the relationship strong.

#2: Build Strong Online Communities

“The number one improvement that I have made within the company is building a relationship with the residents. I strongly believe that the property needs to feel like a home and a safe community, rather than just 4 walls and a payment due on the first of every month.”

In the property management industry, technology has the potential to do more than streamline business operations: It can also bring people together. Digital tools help property managers stay up-to-date with residents and foster a sense of community. In a rapidly changing market, strong relationships are critical for cultivating retention and long-term tenancy. Use digital spaces to create community by sharing photos, starting discussion boards, and sharing bulletins. Digital tools, like your Facebook page or resident portal, are an opportunity to create lasting personal connections—and identify problems before they start.

And don’t forget about your ownersonline communication is a great way to keep them updated on all you’re doing to take care of their properties. Use an owner portal to share updates on preventative maintenance and emergency repairs, lease renewals, and other real-time updates.

#3: Solicit Renter Feedback

We’ve been doing property updates for the residents who have been in the property for a long time (over 5 years), as it’s always best to retain the good, long-term residents with the gift of refreshing the space where they spend most of their time.”

Finding new renters year after year is time-consuming and costly—on average, a vacant property loses $40 per day. As a result, when you have a high-quality resident, you want them to stick around. Residents of all ages want to feel at home in their rental, so stay engaged with their needs. As your residents’ lives change, their needs will too. Do they need the unit to be more child-friendly? Are they struggling to keep up with yard care? Do they wish they could paint the kitchen a new color?

Tenants giving feedback to a property manager.

Soliciting feedback regularly from your residents is a must to understand their needs.

With more Baby Boomers and Gen Xers in the rental market, consider offering services that directly address their unique needs. For example, many aging residents are willing to pay for services like snow plowing and grocery delivery. Offer a broad range of services and let residents know what’s available by sharing it on your resident portal.

Technology allows you to reach out directly and solicit resident feedback. While face-to-face conversations are valuable, following up online allows you to easily organize feedback and make decisions with all of the information in front of you. That way, you can ensure the updates you make to units have a proven return on investment.

Personalized customer service motivates renters to stick around, and strong relationships help you build and grow a sustainable business. Your property management software needs a human touch—if you don’t show your renters the attention they crave, they may seek it elsewhere.

Want to read more insights into how your business can thrive in 2018 and beyond? Download the 2018 State of the Property Management Industry Report!

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Jillian Rodriguez

Jillian Rodriguez is a freelance writer out of Detroit, Michigan. Jillian writes about everything from entrepreneurship to real estate to chocolate, and she loves every minute of it. Beyond writing, Jillian is an avid reader, a public radio junkie, and active in early childhood development. She earned her B.A. in Creative Writing & Sociology from the University of Michigan Ann Arbor.

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