There isn’t an industry in the world that’s immune to the disruptive technology trend – even multifamily.
Yes, even the industry that has been labeled behind the times by publications such as TechCrunch is susceptible to game-changing disruption. Sharing economy services like Airbnb are already threatening to disrupt the way business has always been done in the multifamily industry. While it hasn’t yet gained full traction, it could.
Regardless of whether Airbnb or some other disruption materializes, every apartment owner/operator must be prepared to adjust when it does. Or they risk falling into the deep dark oblivion where companies like Kodak, most daily newspapers and Myspace await their misery.
But it’s not an easy mindset to build into a company’s culture. Being a company that has created its fair share of disruption in the industry, we have a few tips that might help your business capitalize on – rather than suffer from – the next tech disruption:
Etch entrepreneurial spirit and innovation into your values. Some associates might see your values as nothing more than corporate speak. But if you use your values as they’re intended – guideposts for every decision you make – the addition of entrepreneurial spirit and innovation will empower every associate in the company to be more accepting and less rejecting of new ideas. Rather than seeing all the problems Airbnb might cause, they’ll see all the opportunities it might open up for you to grow NOI.
Hire forward thinkers in key leadership positions. Of course, you always want a balance of personalities and ideas in your leadership ranks. But if your leadership team is void of people who think outside the box about what the future might hold for the company, you might as well keep some actual boxes in your office for your eventual exit when the disruption occurs. One way to gauge whether you have forward thinkers in your leadership ranks is to count how often the team disagrees on new ideas. If everyone in the room always agrees that a new idea is too risky, you could have a problem.
Test, test, test. If there’s one thing techpreneurs understand probably better than any other entrepreneur, it’s that testing is a vital element in vetting new ideas. Apartment owner/operators would be wise to do the same with any new product or service attempting to disrupt the industry. Build a culture that tests every new idea in a controlled manner and you won’t miss the opportunities of any potential disruption to your business.
Empower leadership to be discerning. On the other side of the coin, many companies have made the mistake of adopting every shiny new idea, only to waste tens of thousands of dollars and people hours on nothing. It’s a tricky task to encourage innovation and, at the same time, be discerning about new technologies, but many companies have been successful by giving leaders the time and resources to fully evaluate new ideas. Some companies have gone as far as to give all associates an allotted amount of time every week to work on new ideas and projects that are outside the scope of their everyday jobs.
Implementing these tips just might save you from going the way of Kodak, which invented the digital camera but decided not to sell it. Their culture was built on preserving the business lines they had and left no room for new ideas that might generate income at the expense of established business. The result: bankruptcy.