Patrick Antrim, Founder and CEO of Multifamily Leadership, Producers of the Multifamily Leadership Innovation Summit, the Multifamily Women's Summit, and the Best Places to Work Multifamily® will bring you success strategies for Multifamily CEOs, executive leaders and aspiring leaders that want to drive high performance results for their portfolio.
Innovation has always been about people. We are changing the way products are introduced to the Apartment Industry. This show will bring you some of the most innovative minds in the Apartment Industry.
Why Leasing Agents Love This New Way Of Work
Today, we will explore a whole new set of questions for how we maximize leasing operations. Our guest today is Larry Gorman, Senior Technology Executive. Larry has 25 years experience in the multifamily industry and currently serves as the President for LeaseHawk.
Larry builds and leads teams to drive business value through the innovative use of technology.
Prior to LeaseHawk, Larry served as Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer for Invitation Homes, the largest owner/operator of single-family homes for lease in the United States.
Larry led multiple technology initiatives as part of a $20 billion merger with Starwood Waypoint Homes, delivering a unified platform for managing the business-critical operations of an 80,000-property portfolio across 17 markets in the United States.
As the Chief Technology Officer of Starwood Waypoint Homes, Larry led the technology team that pioneered the use of smart home technology in the single-family residential space.
Prior to his role at Starwood Waypoint Homes, Larry served in multiple technology leadership roles at Choice Hotels International, one of the largest lodging franchisors in the world.
He led efforts to create the hospitality industry’s first large-scale, cloud-based property management system used by thousands of hotels in North America, Europe, and Australia, and was instrumental in bringing this platform to the broader hospitality market as a co-founding leader of SkyTouch Technology.
Topics of Discussion:
* What you never thought about the future of leasing
* The evolution of the leasing role
* Exploring the parallels between the multifamily and hospitality industries
* The evolution of users completing everything online (travel plans, banking, finding a home, etc.)
* How a leasing agent’s biggest fear can actually be their greatest opportunity
* Why teams should embrace technology to gain efficiency in their operations
* Demystifying Artificial Intelligence (AI) and how it can be used to gain prospects
* How to lease 24/7 without depending on a human being
A Technology That Helps Identify Quality Leads and Convert More Rentals
Today’s renter wants control over the leasing process and access to information wherever, whenever, but today’s leasing team simply can’t keep up. On this episode, Patrick Antrim and Robert Turnbull explore Multifamily’s most adopted digital leasing solution providing renters the information they want 24/7/365 anywhere on the Internet.
Robert Turnbull is the Founder, President and COO of BetterBot and will discuss the following topics:
* Where BetterBot is at in the leasing journey
* BetterBot for Leads, and how this tool helps fight lead fatigue and deliver qualified leads
* How renters can gain control over the leasing process
* Helping leasing teams keep up with the influx of prospects and get their time back
* Where we are going with the future of leasing for consumers and property owners
* The reasons why having too many leads can actually hurt your business
* How technology can be used to sort through ILS data keep track of lost contacts
* How to get consumers the information they want quickly
* What percentage of prospects are searching for an apartment after hours
* How BetterBot is single-product focused and different from other brands
It’s Not About Bringing New Technology to the Game, Let’s Change the Game
The multifamily industry is changing, and it’s important to change with it. To do that, you should keep an eye on the way society is changing as a whole, the differences between generations, and the types of things people are already interested in.
Kerry Kirby, Founder and CEO of 365 Connect
Technology is a huge portion of that. Multifamily needs to trend toward automation, streamlined online interactions, and no-contact exchanges of information. Think long-term and prepare ahead of time so you don’t fall behind.
(2:45) — Demographics is the most under-utilized tool in multifamily. Figure out who your renters are to determine larger trends. Are they moving out of the area, are employment numbers okay? If not, you might not want to build in that area, or might want to rethink your plans at least.
(6:00) – The banking industry has changed to be completely digital, with automatic online payments, money transfers over PayPal and Venmo and the like. Even money is becoming digital, with things like cryptocurrency. Consumers have spoken, and they’re saying they want to move transactions online.
(7:55) – Consider the auto industry. It’s a physical product, like apartments. You’re both selling units, and the goal is to get people to the office to make the sale. But just about no one likes the experience of shopping for a car; multifamily needs to make sure the shopping experience is a pleasant one and not something people dread. Tesla has already renovated the supply chain to go directly to the consumer. They recognize they’re selling (or will be selling) to younger generations that don’t like interaction.
(14:35) –365 Connect has accumulated a lot of data in its nearly two decades in business. There’s a disconnect between what’s happening with the customer and what property managers expect. The in-between, unexpected things are what matter here.
(17:39) – People figure that if something ain’t broke, we shouldn’t fix it. But innovation is crucial! Re-thinking the industry to come out ahead is going to be important as Gen Z becomes the most common renter.
(20:00) – Companies have this misconception that they have to shove as much information out all at once as possible. But guess what? People have pop-up blockers, and they find information overload unappealing. It can be enough to push them away. It’s better to be clean, precise, and transparent.
(22:00) — 365 Connect helps to figure out where there are gaps in communication. There are certain features that simply aren’t on the market that need to be built, but 365 is a huge help in the meantime.
(24:20) — Automation is going to be huge. Kirby thinks we’re going to get to the point that multifamily is completely self-service. There’s a huge turnover of on-site staff. Those folks can be repurposed to more critical roles, rather than giving them jobs that robots could handle. Having automation will also expedite leasing.
(27:40) – When you’re building software, you’re never really done with the project. At first, you’ll run into bugs you didn’t know you had. It’s better to try something and fail and adjust. You learn from your mistakes. After that, you make adjustments and send out updates to make things better. Kirby compares it to Elon Musk purposely making cheaper rockets because he knows he’s going to blow them up in tests.
(31:10) — Everything is technology-driven. If you don’t have the proper tools in place to bring a prospect in and quickly onboard them, you’ll fall behind.
Investments at Different Stages of the Apartment Lifecycle
Real estate is a unique industry that faces unique challenges. When you seek out new technology, you should be careful about the investment. Tom Spahn talks about what to look for in the investments and commitments you make, how to know whether that product will be a good fit for your company long-term, and how to spot a truly great team.
Featuring Tom SpahnVice President of Camber Creek
(2:00) – A lot of companies are being fueled by the new technologies that are out there. There’s new technology for every step of the way, including plans for already-existing tenants, technology to deal with supply, management of energy contracts, pet screening, and much more.
(5:40) — Not all tech solutions are created equal. Additionally, not all technologies are perfect fits for each company.
(6:15) – It’s hard for small companies that don’t have the manpower to innovate. It’s hard for large companies because they’re set in their ways. It’s important to really consider what will work and what will be a good fit with that team.
(8:40) — Things are starting to focus more on tenant engagement and on flexibility. Virtual tours, access control, no-contact delivery – things that emphasize comfort and safety are really big right now. You should balance real estate fundamentals and new technologies.
(12:00) — In the past, real estate has lagged in the technology side. The pandemic sped up the willingness to change workflows and accept new technologies. Plus, more people are coming into the space who’ve grown up with technology all their lives.
(13:20) – Any change is always going to be hard. It takes work!
(14:30) – Think about sports teams. They don’t always focus entirely on the fan experience. Instead, they focus on acquisitions of new players and team members who will do well, and thus improve the fan experience. It’s an investment, not an expense.
(18:25) — Still, you have to be cautious when you invest. Your reputation will be staked on their success.
(19:20) — Almost all startups pivot at some point. That requires a good team that can pivot.
(21:30) – Avoid make-or-break companies and focus on companies with reasonable long-term plans. Analyze the downsides and weigh whether the company would survive market changes.
(23:30) – When building a team, focus on how people speak about their business. Seek transparency and honesty, especially about problems. You also need the team to be well-rounded – the founder can be great, but everyone else involved should be great too. Sometimes bringing people in from outside of the industry can be good.
(26:50) — Understand who your customer is and what they need. The best founders understand having to justify changes in approach and budget.
(28:10) — The industry is wide open! Spahn thinks data will become more important for driving decisions. Smart buildings are on the come-up. In the construction space, because costs are going up, that’ll change how things are built.
(31:30) – Opening the dialogue and having a running conversation is important. Maybe you run into a company when it’s too early in the planning stages, but they might later be a good fit. Bring operators into that conversation.
(33:00) – Right now, the larger players are dominating.
The State of Multifamily Tech
Multifamily has typically been a low-risk operating class, but multifamily operators are facing new challenges.
(2:00) – Innovation occurs not in a breakthrough moment, but in thousands of iterations. It happens with tons of failures over time.
(2:40) – Shadow Ventures is a venture capital firm that invests exclusively in seed-stage real estate technologies that the rest of the market hasn’t found yet. They had to figure out new ways to market to people, so they took a step back and considered the shifts in their business.
(4:50) – What they’d been excited about investing in before the pandemic changed, because life changed. Everyone was in their apartment day in and day out for months. That created a whole host of new things to solve for. That being said, there wasn’t as much uncertainty in multifamily as in other industries, because people will always need somewhere to live.
(6:50) – In the pandemic, most technologies were adopted mainly out of necessity. Other things already existed, but were seized upon in the shutdown, like Zoom. And there were already video chat options available – Zoom was just better. You can apply that logic to other startups.
(11:20) – Even if you invest in a technology that turns out to be second-most preferred in the market, that’s still a pretty good outcome. For instance, Coke and Pepsi are both successful. But if the potential solution you’re considering adopting is not going to improve your life or your company by “10x” then it isn’t worth the price and the challenge of switching over.
(14:20) – There are some biases around social proof – if other people like it, you assume you’ll like it.
(15:45) – Commercial real estate success correlates with macroeconomic trends.
(17:20) — If you aren’t getting returns at 20% or better, then you’ve lost money as an investor. If a technology can’t meet that rate and takes on a lot of risk, that needs to be evaluated and considered.
(19:30) – Multifamily has to worry about tings like rent delinquency due to loss of work in the pandemic, and urban flight thanks to more flexible work trends. Technology acts as a safe haven during uncertain periods, because it gives you leverage to curb inefficacies. It also lets you eliminate needless risk. And, of course, it lets you improve customer experience.
(24:50) – The hardest thing about adopting technology for real estate is that there are so many nuanced layers, because there are physical assets you have to integrate with. That might be why the industry has been so slow to adopt new tech. There are three layers: software, physical facilities, and human capital. If one of those layers is not incentivized to participate in what you’ve built, it creates problems with the other two.
(28:20) – At the end of the day, there’s a lot we don’t know. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback from your community.
(29:15) – Consider a hierarchy of needs. Start with the base layer, building resident health. After that is to ensure brand loyalty and drive renewal by improving resident experience. Next in the priority tier is leasing and demand automation. The last piece is data science for site selection.
(33:30) – People are starting to question their gut instincts.
(35:20) – Rethink the way you do things. For instance, leases are all 12 months long. Why? Consider whether things should be altered, and who would benefit if they were. It’s the entrepreneur’s job to think about that.
Create an Experience Residents Never Want to Leave
Right now, Daryl Smith is working to create a fully-integrated omni-channel marketing platform, while also growing the name for his multifamily development plan. He is reimagining the Multifamily consumer experience.
Daryl Smith, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Kettler.
(2:10) – Kettler is reimagining the multifamily resident experience, namely figuring out how to best use the digital tools available. Smith is trying to eliminate friction as best as possible.
(3:30) — What does reimagining really mean? Multifamily has been lagging, compared to other industries. Sit down and be bold and think about how to enhance the consumer experience for tomorrow. That includes both improving the digital experience and giving consumers more choice. Offer them both online and in-person sales experiences, so they can choose what they prefer.
(7:45) – Be bold. For Kettler, they make decisions to figure out what tools best help enable leasing configuration and digital tools. Of course, those things come with price tags, and you have to take your budget into account.
(9:50) — Keep your brand connected to your multifamily resident through personalization. Even if consumers prefer digital contact, they still want to be able to get in contact with a human if needed.
(12:00) – What is “omnichannel?” The basis is to reduce consumer friction when multifamily residents engage with touchpoints. Kettler uses curated ads showing what the property can offer. They basically use a chatbox as a leasing agent. You have to reimagine what you can do and who you can be in the digital space.
(15:00) – Kettler’s platform experience has two levels: the enterprise, which goes over basic tools and solutions the owner would need to use the assets; and the discipline, including marketing.
(17:10) — Figure out what partners can solve for what and how you can create a frictionless multifamily resident experience.
(20:20) – Be careful about your decision-making. Figure out who can best fulfill what you’re trying to achieve. Create a picture of what you already have and what you’re missing. Interview your on-site teams to figure that out.
(23:00) — People don’t engage with platforms in the same way. That’s why you have to have choices available. One good example of tour technologies – people want different options, like in-person, live-virtual, pre-taped virtual, and so on.
(25:40) – Of course you have to address consumers’ needs, but make sure you’re still protecting your reputation and your brand.
(27:10) – Chatbots are conversational AI tools. Implementation of that into your strategy is what extends your availability to 24/7, which today is crucial. Consumers want immediate answers. Time is intrinsically linked to engagement.
(30:00) – Any partner you choose should also be bold and innovative. The product should be challenging itself to grow along with the consumers. Consumer data is attainable – you don’t have to guess what people want, just look at the data!
(34:40) — The goal is to create an experience that consumers never want to leave. But is that really attainable? Digital tools will help. Plus people are trending way from home ownership. People like having managed care, with maintenance and amenities available.
(40:00) — Some multifamily companies are bringing services to th...
Great interviews from Multifamily Leaders
So much information packed into these podcasts! It’s crazy that this is free. 💛