technology

Property management in the age of tech

Why investing in technology is no longer optional
Monday, January 16, 2017
by David Janowski

Traditional marketing for property managers dictates that all you have to do is place an ad in a newspaper or local magazine to get noticed. While that may still be effective for a smaller segment of the population, increasingly rental building owners and operators know that capturing and keeping the attention of the emerging rental demographic—namely, Millennials—involves investing in technology.

Marketing Tech Blog points out that Millennials have more technology at their fingertips than any generation in history. And they know how to use it. Not to mention that 85 per cent of Millennials have a smartphone, says a study conducted by the University of Southern California. What they use those smartphones for is quite eye opening: 82 per cent of them will interact with a brand online. That begs the question: what is your brand doing online?

Give them tools

Now that the lease is signed, your marketing work is done, right? Wrong. In fact, the tech-savvy renter expects you to provide them with conveniences and amenities that will make them want to stay in your property as a customer – yes, a customer – for years to come.

Enter TransitScreen, a real-time display of transit options right in your building’s lobby. Encouraging alternative transportation use (Bike Share, anyone?), this tool has already been adopted by some of Canada’s largest landlords as well as Toronto’s City Hall. Thanks to TransitScreen’s building displays, renters can start their day knowing exactly how long they’ll need to wait for that Uber, bus or GO Train, or how long they’ll be sitting on the 401 en route to the office.

“Real estate is an old-fashioned business, but young apartment residents are looking to live in buildings on the cutting edge of technology,” says Ryan Croft, Chief Operating Officer of TransitScreen. “Owners and property managers will either stay on top of the latest building technology or risk losing tenants to building owners that embrace technology.”

Upgrade your call tracking

How do you manage your leads? You probably find that you simply don’t have time to collect leads and follow-up on them in a timely manner. This translates to missed opportunities that leave you with empty suites. That’s why National Efficiency Systems (NES) created a powerful leasing and marketing tool called LeadManaging.com. This system includes online booking, lead tracking, an automated voice-analysis tool and automated after-hours service.

“Prospective tenants love this tool,” says Darren Henry, President, LeadManaging.com. “They can book appointments online without having to wait on leasing staff. Plus, they get branded, mobile-friendly email and SMS appointment notifications and reminders!”

Henry adds that the feedback from leasing agents has been particularly positive as the program offers prequalifying, automatic notifications and post-appointment follow-up surveys. Marketing managers favour the real-time dashboard that shows leads, appointments, conversions, cost per lead and even a scorecard on how well calls are being handled and converted.

Offer resident portals

What does your online presence say about you? You probably have a website, but doesn’t everyone? The biggest challenge facing you is to transform what that website actually does. Beyond the all-important first impression it provides for potential renters, it needs to be a useful tool that your current renters can use, too.

The resident portal gives your renters quick and convenient access to pay their rent, track their payment history, and submit maintenance requests. Payquad’s extensive resident portal even allows you to access real-time reporting metrics that will give you an in-depth look at your cash flow in ways you never thought possible.

Resident portals don’t just benefit your renters–they benefit you. Eliminate the manual process of collecting rent and possibly losing cheques (or having them stolen). Easily keep track of maintenance requests and assign them to the employee best equipped to address them. Give your renters updates on property news with one simple click. It’s property management with the ease of a click, swipe or tap.

Virtual reality comes to property management

Speaking of state-of-the-art websites, let’s talk about your online apartment listings. Simply posting a text ad with a few photos won’t cut it anymore. Take your marketing to the tech-level with features like 360-degree peeks inside suites, floor plans that seem to jump out of the screen and virtual reality apartment showings. That’s right: VR apartment showings. Companies like YouVisit Studios create unique virtual rental showing experiences that are bound to captivate your audience and generate tangible results.

We asked Chaim Rivlin, CEO of RentSeeker.ca, to provide some insight into the value of video marketing techniques, specifically, property videos, 3D floor plans, and virtual tours. “Video marketing is critical nowadays,” says Rivlin. “The brain is able to process video 60,000 times faster than text. When it comes to engagement, video has far greater reach as it can be liked, shared and commented on for years to come.” Add in immersive, engaging 3D floor plans and virtual tours, he adds, and you’ve got yourself the antidote to the renter who doesn’t have the time or patience for real-life showings. “It’s all about creating an emotional connection. Text simply can’t do it the way the screen can.”

If you’re still not convinced investing in technology is critical for your business, check out the websites of some of your competitors. You might be surprised at what you find. Perhaps they are already employing much of this technology and leaving you in their dust. If you want to stand out, your marketing needs to go tech. While it may seem overwhelming, there’s a treasure trove of companies that can give you the edge you need. All you need to do is pick up your Smartphone and drop them a line.

David Janowski is the CEO of Payquad Solutions, Canada’s simplest online rental payment platform and resident portal. For more info, visit www.payquad.com.

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