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How Property Managers Can Win Big In An On-Demand Economy

February 07, 2019 | Nat Kunes

By Nat Kunes

AppFolio is an IREM President Level Industry Partner. This article is published on the IREM Blog as part of that partnership.

The age of digital disruption has officially arrived. There is no turning back as businesses across all sectors, from real estate and retail to banking and automotive markets, leverage technology to adjust to an on-demand service model. We are officially in the midst of the 4th industrial revolution.

Off the top of our heads, there are industries that have been obviously impacted: Uber and Lyft have changed the transportation industry, our retail expectations are forever changed with Amazon, and Netflix has transformed the way we consume entertainment media. Companies that didn’t adapt to this changing landscape fast enough were left behind—remember Blockbuster Video?

Today’s consumer expects mobile and modern experiences, but there is a gap between this expectation and what the typical property manager is delivering. This gap is growing every day.

The real estate revolution is happening now, and let’s remember that disruption like this is a good thing. Change offers opportunities for real estate investors and property managers to explore more on-demand solutions for their customers.

Leverage Technology For Growth in an On-Demand Market

In a recent survey we conducted with John Burns Real Estate Consulting, we found that 82 percent of property management professionals face significant challenges managing leads and property inquiries. A well-equipped website, with guest cards that allow you to collect, sort and manage lead data saves staff time. When coupled with an auto-response, then timely and personal follow-up, it also satisfies the current demand for instant answers.

Back office data also provides a granular view of how online visitors find your business website, metrics that demonstrate ROI on specific marketing efforts and the number of prospects who view virtual tours.

Give Renters What They Expect From Businesses

Almost one in five of our survey respondents said that manual processes are their biggest challenge. Incorporating self-scheduled showings, self-guided tours and online lease signing capabilities frees up hours of time each week for real estate managers and their teams. Plus, these available-any-time services allow customers to build engagement relationships on their own terms.

Utilize Employee Technology to Your Advantage

The customization of today’s SaaS property management solutions streamline the application process, enhance employee screening and make it simple to request maintenance service from anywhere, at any time. There is no valid reason to ignore the great digital wave when embracing the change results in meeting customers where they are and increasing the reduction of operating costs.

Use advanced technology to build your brand. Make sure you choose technology today for tomorrow. Create memorable experiences for your clients. Customers get excited when a brand “gets it.” Show your prospects and current stakeholders your number one goal is delivering exceptional service.

There may be a bit of initial resistance from the staff. But technology can even help real estate professionals in this area. While 90.8 percent of our survey respondents claimed that standardized processes are critical to them, less than half said they are confident employees follow standard procedures. Although computers won't replace people in the real estate market any time soon, automation provides a level of consistency far superior to anything human staff members can achieve.

Advanced technology empowers business leaders with tools to collect, parse and disseminate data that informs better decisions. Technology also provides an efficient, cost-effective path to transform a mediocre business into one that outperforms the competition every time. And it can all be done from the touchscreen on your phone—just like so many other tasks, from ordering a ride, to meeting up with friends, to watching your favorite movie.

About the Author

Nat Kunes is the vice president of product for AppFolio. He works on a daily basis with property management professionals to identify industry trends and product features that are included in AppFolio's property management software.

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