In recent years, the multifamily industry has dealt with widespread lockdowns, increased housing regulations and eviction moratoriums, and a fair amount of upheaval. By and large, the industry has weathered each change with resilience. Apartment communities have adapted quickly to keep residents safe and businesses secure, implementing time-saving technologies faster than ever before.
As we settle into a new dynamic “normal” across the industry, the need for speed and efficiency remain top priorities for many property professionals. And at every level, from property to portfolio, the demand for easy-to-use, secure digital transactions is growing.
Rikki Dolor, a property manager at Capano Management breaks it down like this: “With new construction we’re filling up an entire building. We could have 40 people moving in on one weekend. A 30 page lease may take an hour to complete on a good day. That’s a whole work-week right there.”
Traditional, in-person, and paper based workflows are giving way to faster, online experiences. Capano uses Entrata’s ResidentPortal and the ResidentPortal app to keep things moving quickly at lease-signing and beyond. Prospective residents begin interacting with the community online from the moment they submit a guest card, and that online relationship continues after they move in.
In a perfect world, the majority of resident interactions are managed through the portal. From monthly rent payments and automated reminders to maintenance requests, many of the interactions that used to occur in a leasing office or on the phone can be handled more efficiently (for the property and the resident) online.
“They can sit on their couch in the middle of the night and put in a request for what they need,” explains Dolor. “They expect instant answers, instant gratification, and an automated message gets sent out to let them know ‘Hey, we got you.’”
But, even in a world that has learned to interact virtually on a daily basis, properties may still find themselves “training” residents to take advantage of these widely-available technologies. Setting appropriate expectations from the start is one strategy that works for Capano.
“We make a point to tell them at every opportunity. They don’t need to call. They don’t need to show up and talk about things. It’s all electronic.” says Dolor. “We start before they even move in. Even when they submit a guest card, it’s online. We tell them in the welcome letter, we tell them in person, and we hand out a little card that tells them exactly where they need to go.”
Capano utilizes Entrata’s downloadable welcome kits to customize small business cards with easy-to-follow instructions for accessing the ResidentPortal. If an elderly resident doesn’t have an email address, they get one.
“Don’t call,” says Dolor. “You’re going to do everything by the portal. This is the way, there is no other option.”
This philosophy goes beyond resident transactions. Dolor also embraces a “don’t call” strategy to answer simple operating system questions, thanks to Entrata’s online trainings and product documentation.
“It’s an easy, interactive way to learn,” she says. “I have three new staff members, I’m doing my thing, and I don’t have time to show them how to do something simple. A training class takes 10 minutes. It’s very quick; you don’t get bored, and you get what you need.”
Although Capano, as a rule, won’t hesitate to contact their Entrata Support rep if something seems wonky, they take advantage of online trainings to make their day-to-day run smoothly and more efficiently.
At the heart of this strategy, properties are leveraging technology to help people do more work with the resources they have. And it makes it possible for a property to offer top-tier service and an impeccable resident experience while still saying, “Don’t call.”