Prioritizing Resident Experience in a High-Demand Market
Last modified on June 21st, 2022
By Shane Trigg
Though occupancy rates are at a record high, differentiating your property management business has never been more important. By focusing on the resident experience, you can differentiate your business today, while helping you excel in the future. At AppFolio, we’re keeping this top-of-mind for property managers by ensuring our property management platform offers the digital tools you need to consistently provide great service to residents.
“We do the right thing, it’s good for business” is one of our company’s core values. That means doing the right thing for our customers inevitably ends up being the right thing for our business – and we encourage you to adopt a similar philosophy when it comes to the experience you provide to renters. Even in a market where high demand allows competitors to cut corners, our bet is that delivering a consistently great customer experience will result in a win-win for both residents and your business.
Effective property management systems can be your ally in scaling the resident experience across your entire portfolio. Through more personalized marketing, you can unlock additional sources of revenue and help your business thrive. Powering your business with a robust digital platform will offer your residents all the perks they’ve come to know and expect in their daily consumer lives, while you and your staff benefit from increased efficiency by streamlining the renter experience.
As Markets Shift, So Do Renters’ Needs and Expectations
On a national scale, housing demand has continued to increase while supply holds steady. This has put upward pressure on housing costs, and created strong rent growth. As more aspiring homebuyers delay their purchase of an entry-level home, they will continue renting for longer – while having higher expectations for their home. In fact, around 30% of U.S. renters we polled indicated that “responsiveness, flexibility and technology” are now deemed more important to the rental process than they were pre-pandemic.
In some areas, high rents have residents realizing their best home just might be the place they are living in now, choosing to stay where they are for extended periods of time. If this is the case for some of your residents, you may be experiencing fewer unit turns, which may lighten the load of your leasing and/or maintenance teams. If you’re in this situation, now is the perfect time to re-focus on implementing solutions that improve the renter experience. Invest time to optimize your systems now, and be prepared for the time when unit-turn volume begins to accelerate.
On the other hand, in some regions, an influx in demand is continuing to drive more move-ins. Although this gives you the benefit of high demand, that doesn’t mean you can afford to offer an underwhelming resident experience – assisting confused or dissatisfied renters eats up your team’s time which can be quite costly. This is time that could be spent capturing the most of your demand in today’s market.
So, while surging demand in rentals currently gives a leasing advantage to today’s property owners, don’t lose sight of the fact that our industry constantly shifts — meaning renters will be in the driver’s seat again eventually. Though we may not know how or when conditions will shift, the one constant we can be sure of in the real estate industry is unbridled change, and it can change quickly.
The ROI of Resident Experience
In a competitive market, businesses that achieve long-term, sustainable success are businesses that deliver excellent experiences to their customers, and our industry is no different. This means employing property management systems (PMS) that can streamline the leasing process, make it easy to pay rent and fees online, submit and track maintenance requests, and more – all from one central and trusted platform. With a seamlessly integrated technology platform as your ally, you can generate time savings that can be applied toward residents’ emerging needs while innovating on the amenities they demand.
We are seeing rising operational costs and growing challenges to profitability. Many property management companies are looking for opportunities to work more efficiently and lower operating expenses. We’ve focused on developing technology that makes this possible, whether by leveraging AI and automation to reduce busywork, or creating step-by-step workflows that enable faster, more efficient employee onboarding, and consistent experiences for residents.
We believe best-in-class property management is about people, and the most important people in our industry are your employees and residents. By prioritizing employee satisfaction and the resident experience, you won’t hinder efficiency or profitability, as much as you unleash differentiated benefits. Employees who are satisfied go the extra mile for residents, and residents who are happy with the level of service they receive are more likely to refer their friends, renew their leases, and even purchase more products and services from your company that create additional revenue streams. These are all important outcomes, and losing sight of them in pursuit of short-term cost-cutting efforts may actually prove more costly in the long run. The right property management system will allow employees and residents to connect in meaningful ways that lead to a significant return on investment.
How Tech Can Help – Or Hurt – Resident Experience
Technology holds so much promise to better serve residents – but deployment of such technology has proven trickier in the crowded proptech space. Still, a recent poll on focus areas for proptech adoption indicated that real estate professionals are prioritizing technology that improves leasing and marketing abilities (51%), as well as new “smart home” technologies (29%), which can enhance the resident experience and unlock operational efficiencies.
Despite the best intentions, in some cases, challenges with technology are holding real estate professionals back. In a survey conducted by the National Multifamily Housing Council, apartment company technology leaders cited the following as some of their top PMS-related technology challenges: “innovation,” “ease of implementation” and “product performance.”
So don’t let technology be an additional nuisance and prevent you from focusing on your employees and residents, the backbone of your business. Instead, adopt a PMS that matches all of your needs, eliminating poor functionalities that can impede your real estate work.
More Time for What Matters
AppFolio Property Manager, our industry-leading answer to the needs of both employees and residents, lets you oversee your entire portfolio on one intuitive platform. You can do anything from anywhere and in a fully digital environment – speeding up payments, maintenance, and other day-to-day tasks, introducing new time savings to your team, and your renters. This type of solution will help you create the seamless experience that employees expect and residents demand in 2022.
Our customers have long experienced such benefits. Shaw Real Estate, a North Carolina-based single-family home and multifamily apartment business, runs AppFolio Property Manager and tells us they’ve realized an immense reduction in “busywork.” That includes a 50% reduction in accounting time and 60% less time spent training new hires. Both leadership and associates can now turn their attention to their residents and their larger communities.
Shaw owner Sherry Kent told us she “would tell 100 businesses how great of an experience it has been to switch to AppFolio. The system was easy to learn, and now we can process 1099s, year-end statements, and reconcile accounts in half the time. With the time we’ve gotten back, we have been able to focus on other things, like bringing on new owners and giving back to the community.”
Kent added: “With AppFolio, renters can do 90% of the things with the click of a button that we used to have to talk to them 14 times on the phone. It’s the kind of experience they want and have come to expect.”
AppFolio Property Manager is a powerful and easy-to-use property management software with solutions that not only let you stand apart from the competition, but help you deliver great experiences that employees and residents will remember, and recommend — giving your business a lasting competitive edge.