Finding the Right Balance

How to technology helps multifamily businesses find the right balance between maximizing profits and delivering the best resident experience

If someone were to ask you why do people invest in multifamily properties, you might get a lot of answers, but at the root of it is to make money because in the long run real estate will always be a good investment. However, beyond that, the multifamily industry is built on providing one of the most essential services to the residents we serve.

When you look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the very base is meeting our physiological needs (warmth and rest) and our Safety Needs, both of which are tied very closely to finding the right place to live

“We have a really unique opportunity in the property management industry,” said Jake Jarman, President of Redstone Residential in a recent Resident Expert roundtable hosted by Entrata. “We have this amazing opportunity to help people achieve their goals in life. And who knows? The next developer, the next version of Elon Musk could be staying at one of my properties in one of my communities”

As such, it’s a narrow tight rope the industry walks to keep the right balance between maximizing profits and delivering the best possible service to our residents. How do you balance running a profitable business, while also doing everything you can to make the resident happy? Are those two ideas at odds with each other?

Luckily, in the last few years advances in technology have helped to create efficiencies that enable on site staff to save time on redundant tasks that can be automated. This results in a cost savings because you’ll be able to do more with fewer resources.

The key is to evaluate your processes and look for areas where the resident experiences friction. Whether that be in the application and approval process or when a resident makes a service request, look for solutions that make the process more efficient, while not cutting corners that impact how the resident navigates the process.

“It's super important to us to figure out how we can meet the customer where they want to be met,” said Kellie Hughes, Executive Vice President — Operations, Mill Creek Residential. “And I think that's one of the things as an industry that we sometimes struggle with and we really need to figure out how we can do a better job at that.”

When you look at other types of businesses like Amazon, for example, they’re really good at this. They are taking all of the data they have about their customers and mining that to provide recommendations or modify the checkout process slightly to save the user even just a few seconds, which results in a happier customer that keeps coming back.

In the multifamily industry, we’re often reacting to resident problems as they happen as opposed to anticipating them and putting plans in place to mitigate them or lessen the impact. Not every upset customer can be fixed with a gift card. Instead of fixing problems after they happen. We should look for ways to prevent them before they even occur.

According to Hughes, this should start at the beginning of an employee's journey with your company. It should be ingrained into their mentality during training.

One area where finding this balance manifests itself is when a property receives a service request from the resident. In the past, on-site staff would take the request by phone or in person, pin it up on the cork board, grab their radio and message down to the maintenance team what needed to be fixed.

But what if the maintenance team was busy and couldn’t pick up the radio at that time? What if the on-site staff was out helping another resident? The resident would end up waiting, which is not ideal.

Now with the right technology in place, service requests can be made asynchronously. The resident places a request on the property’s resident portal, the call is routed to maintenance, the resident’s problem is solved—all without any intervention from office staff.

And that is what Michael Scott would call a win/win/win situation. The customer wins because their problem is solved with as little friction as possible. Your on-site staff wins because they get to have a redundant task taken off their plate. And finally, the business wins because it’s operating more efficiently and ultimately more profitably.

For more insights from Kellie and Jake as well as Entrata’s own Virginia Love, check out our latest Resident Expert panel discussion here.

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