As business is set to begin cautiously opening up again, property management leaders are beginning to look to the post-pandemic world to come, and re-evaluate their business models. Specifically, more and more executives are embracing the mantra to “think like a tech company.” But what does this really mean in reality? Often it refers to the ability to be an innovative, learning organization that can respond quickly to new ideas or market changes. Yet, historically, the property management sector has a reputation for being a very traditional industry, one that is slower to adopt change.
Two strong hallmarks of startups and tech firms that facilitate learning and agility are:
- Harnessing technology to automate tedious work
- Intense customer-focus
Technology is the link between any business and its customers. Anyone who says technology is not core to their business strategy is essentially saying that their customers are not the key to your business success. So, your property management firm is a technology business whether you want it to be or not.
Too many property management teams find themselves stuck in the weeds, held back by tedious administrative and manual tasks that could be – and should be – automated. As web-based solutions are being gradually adopted by the property management sector, this allows property management teams to pivot to more strategic, high-level work.
Additionally, in today’s rapidly evolving, customer-driven landscape, property managers need to please increasingly demanding and tech-savvy customers, and reduce the cost of operations. Leveraging technology allows property firms to offer anywhere-anytime, digital self-service solutions to tenants, like paying rent online and requesting repairs. Property management technology can also drive increased efficiencies while lowering costs --- even when scaling up operations with new portfolios.
While technology is a key component in the ability to be more agile like a start-up it isn’t the only aspect to modernizing property management companies. Let’s dive into how start-ups and tech companies approach business.
No business survives for very long without satisfying its customers. However, there is a big difference between being customer-focused, in the traditional sense of delivering service to the client, and placing customers at the very heart of everything you do. One is a lip-service acknowledgement and shows up on Mission statements as “our customers always come first,” the other is a philosophy that threads its way through an organization, engaging every employee and influencing every decision.
In a letter to shareholders, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos wrote, “One thing I love about customers is that they are divinely discontent. Their expectations are never static – they go up. It’s human nature. We didn’t ascend from our hunter-gatherer days by being satisfied. People have a voracious appetite for a better way, and yesterday’s ‘wow’ quickly becomes today’s ‘ordinary’.” Most likely, every property manager can identify with at least one “divinely discontent” tenant!
The property business is a people business. Yet, the consumer economy has changed. Consumers operate on a mobile phone-driven lifestyle, and property management firms have had to adapt. A mobile-first business model includes being innovative, scalable, and immediate to customers’ needs.
Customer-focus is critical to tenant retention. Property management firms must adopt different strategies to compete and stay relevant to modern consumers. For example, the leasing process should be seamless and tenant-centric. When a prospect inquires about an available unit, can they opt for information to be sent in the manner that is most immediate and relevant to them? This may be text message rather than email or phone.
Also, most applicants or renewing tenants don’t want to have to print out forms, sign them and email them back. Every step of the process from inquiry to application to move-in and renewal must be intensely customer-centric.
In conclusion, no matter what business you are in, technology and a customer-driven approach fit hand-in-glove to driving revenue and remaining viable. It is precarious not to see technology as a competitive differentiator and a core driver of your property business. Instead, PM firms could take some learnings from tech companies in order to generate deeper customer connections and more meaningful experiences.
If you’re looking to use technology and build outstanding customer experiences, check out our pricing and book a demo.