Property Management: Why Bad Debt Doesn’t Have to Be a Bad Thing

Bad debt doesn’t have to be a bad thing.  

 Many residents have suffered economic hardships in the past year as a result of uneven employment, and other personal life factors. The federal eviction moratoriums – which protected residents to some degree – have delayed, and in some ways, made things more challenging for residents and owners to pay their bills. 

It reminds me somewhat of what happened after September 11th and the ensuing widespread financial downturn the country endured. And years later, again, the economy fell on hard times during the Great Recession from around 2008-2010. 

Working in property management in both instances, I spoke on a personal level with many of our residents, residents who were significantly impacted and that spanned every demographic group.  We had dealt with residents who failed to pay rent, but what I was hearing from the site level team was different.  We hate to see things evolve to where eviction is required, but there is a difference when you have consulted with renters who continue to deprioritize paying their rent from those who have had the rug pulled out from underneath them and cannot meet their rental obligation for the first time.   I remember sitting with residents while on site visits that were my parents’ age at the time, they had used up their savings and cashed out 401k’s hoping they could hold out until the job market improved.  Hearing their stories really hit home for me.  

Sadly, many of these same people were unable to regain employment in time to avoid eviction proceedings. Across the country we saw evictions increase and with that an increased number of renters who had significant damage to their rental history and credit reports.   Evictions not only damage a consumers’ credit scores for years; the eviction is a public record that can follow them for 10 years or more.  

Now, here we are in 2021 and we are looking at a backlog of eviction filings with more on the horizon.  Eviction should be the last resort, because it is hard for these unfortunate residents to start their lives over without quality housing.  The industry stepped up and worked with renters like never before. I have no doubt that operators of all sizes are willing to work with residents to help them file for rental assistance and for those who must move, they are open to payment plans.  

Working with residents to set up resident debt relief programs is a smart course of action. The challenge has always been that there was not much serviceable technology to help property staff offer, set up and track payment arrangements for former residents. If the management company had a way to effectively deliver payment plans while having visibility so that balances do fall through the cracks, they would be happy to offer this an alternative to eviction and negative reporting to the credit bureaus.  

Today, ResMan, is here to help you with this. 

During those past financial crises, we created a solution in house to manage former balances which in turn increased the revenue from bad recovery.  Revenue that was desperately needed as we faced decrease effective rents and saw our occupancy drop.  (The functionality is now part of what later became the ResMan’s Core Platform) Not only did the in-house collection model prove to be impactful financially, but it also provides an alternative solution that helped us to do the “right thing” for our residents. My recommendation is to rethink your bad debt policy and aim to avoid collections agencies, because when using those, you recover only a tiny portion of the back rent owed.  

You can send your bad debt (unpaid rent after 30+ days) to collection agencies, but you’ll only get about percent of what they can recover, and they won’t recover a lot. 

As an owner or manager, you have to ask yourself: How much of our rent write-offs are collectable? Are we paying for someone to manage something we could have done on our own?  How many days does the balance remain unpaid?  

We have found that when you work to recover it yourself, it oftentimes can lead to a significant financial bonus. We realized that we could collect on 85% of the balances when we worked them in house with the right tools.  

Forecasting Bad Debt Recovery for 2022 

Here are some national numbers on what our industry is facing in terms of bad debt: 

According to Moody’s, CBRE and National Multi Housing Council, 22.2 percent of the nation’s units owed approximately $70 billion as of year-end 2020 on rent and utility payments, that totals 12 million renters. 

Say you write off $21,000 to your collection agency, it might capture $3,150 of that and keep 65 percent of it for its efforts. So overall, the owner recovers just $1,102 of that $21,000. 

If you attempt to collect that same $21,000 in-house, you likely will still end up writing off 15 percent of it as truly, uncollectable rent. But if your software helps you to put in place a resident payment-plan strategy that recaptures 85 percent of it, the owner recovers $17,500 of that $21,000. 

Evaluate your residents’ debt load on an individual case basis. For example, if the resident owes $2,000, you could give them 12 to 14 months to repay it. When doing so, it’s important to let them know by agreeing to this, and by fulfilling their promises, you won’t report the debt to the credit bureaus.  

Visibility is key, the property manager and corporate accountants need to know collection status on all payment plans in place.  When you don’t have the right tools in place, setting up and tracking falls to manual processes which is where the problem was to begin with. Ever taken over an asset and found the formers who have balances that are not being worked and that were never processes to collections? When you have technology in place to manage the process, you can effectively administer payment plans and increase your bad debt recovery.  

There are plenty of reasons why apartment operators should avoid letting bad debt become a bad thing. Here is one more: Have you anticipated spikes in move-out damage expenses and other oddities that might come from what figures to be a volatile 2021? For this and variety of reasons, recovering money owed becomes even important. 

Property Management: Leveraging Resident Fees as Ancillary Income

With the country full-speed ahead on its pandemic recovery, there are many ways to define the new normal and offer what to do about it. 

Here’s my take: It’s time to restore your pre-Covid resident fee schedule. Many suspended parts of it – and for good reason – during the pandemic as the country’s economy struggled. 

The hangover effect of the pandemic is leveling off. Job creation is healthy. Wages are rising from the competitive demand for labor. Today, even struggling gateway cities are seeing boosts in rents and occupancy. In fact, our data is suggesting that we are not only seeing rent growth come back, double digit growth in some regions.  Interesting that ancillary revenue has not bounced back at the same rate.   

Typically, 7 to 9 percent of effective rent comes from ancillary income. It can be higher. Restoring your resident fees and even adding new ones will help to revive your NOI.  

Reinstate Resident Fees

The market is well into recovery at this point, and so should your fee collections.  Economic challenges are still lingering in many areas to be sure to evaluate where the asset is located when you reinstate fees.   Don’t assume that your competition is charging what they use to, as with all things you need to know what the market will bear, so do shops the comps.     

Take this advice to heart:  

Figure out what’s important to your residents and come up with ways to monetize it. 

The biggest no-brainer is to focus more on residents with pets. Don’t underestimate the value of pets. We have seen record numbers of adoptions across the country and many residents welcomed in new pets during the pandemic.  The U.S. Pet Market Outlook Report 2021-2022 reported that retail sales of pet products and services reached $107 billion in 2020, up 9% over 2019, due largely to a COVID-19 driven spike in the pet population.  

Residents are more emotionally attached to their pets than ever. People are willing to pay whatever it takes to keep their pets as part of their family.  

Re-evaluate your breed and weight restrictions and with that your fee deposit and pet rent.  Offer pet engagement activities for a fee. Provide mobile pet services. Offer pet clinics and grooming services, along with the standard pet fees and deposits as part of your lease.   In years past, we have seen communities set up a mini store for convenience store items, why not work with a retailer to have cat and dog items for purchase.  

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Try It, You’ll Like It 

Another idea: Continue things that worked for you (and that your residents loved) that were offered during the pandemic. 

Did you offer classes in alcoholic beverage mixology? Host wine tasting parties? Cooking classes? Don’t be afraid to continue these events if they worked the first time. Regional managers need to give their onsite staff members the confidence to execute them. Remember: People will pay for value. 

Some more: Have you done a deal with your popular, local food trucks? Identify the best ones in your neighborhood and arrange for a revenue share with the truck owner. 

It can’t hurt to create fees for VIP parking, package concierge services, scooter rentals, mobile car detailing and premium fees for convenience-based services. 

 Here are the numbers: 

For a 270-unit garden-style community, with $1,318 in average monthly rent and $2.5 million in annual net operating income, the impact of even small fee increases is significant. Think of it like this:  

$5 per month, adds $270,000 in property value. 

$15 per month adds $810,000. 

$50 per month adds $2.7 million. 

We’re in a period now where there’s no better time for businesses to latch onto the economic recovery – and that can happen in your apartment community. 

Resident Retention Tips: Your Best Response to Curbing Resident Move-Outs

Proactive Ways to Improve Resident Retention

You and your residents have been through an awful lot the past year. Many of them have been facing difficult situations personally, in their living arrangements and financially. Fortunately, well managed communities and their staffs have been with them every step of the way. 

This is something worth reminding them when it comes time to renew. 

Retention can and should be more than just reporting on renewed leases; your software should allow employees to chronicle activities by its staff members at the individual resident level that improve resident satisfaction. 

Is the past year a blur? Probably. Residents might only remember what’s been happening with them since that morning, or maybe just the past week. So, it’s important for your team track all those positive moments. 

Imagine. While on a service call, the maintenance tech notices a beeping smoke detector so they go ahead and take care of it much to the resident’s delight. Or maybe on the walk to the office, an onsite team member helps a resident clear snow on their windshield or help them manage packages. 

I know, these kinds of nice deeds happen all the time, but wouldn’t it be great if what your employees did to make their residents’ lives more pleasant was recorded in your property management software instead of being written on a note that was left in a drawer in the office somewhere and forgotten? 

When it comes time for residents to renew, have that documentation out and ready to show them. Not in an obnoxious way, but as a reminder. Residents often forget all the little things you might have done for them. 

During this past 15 months, you’ve built up a lot of emotional credit with them. 

This is a simple thing. It works. And while tracking these types of events, if the onsite team notices that some residents’ “good deed” files are empty, then those are the residents you should target. Look for ways to engage with them and to do something special. Really, retention efforts start the minute they first walk into their new apartment. 

This is something worth reminding them when it comes time to renew. 

Retention can and should be more than just reporting on renewed leases; your software should allow employees to chronicle activities by its staff members at the individual resident level that improve resident satisfaction. 

Is the past year a blur? Probably. Residents might only remember what’s been happening with them since that morning, or maybe just the past week. So, it’s important for your team track all those positive moments. 

Imagine. While on a service call, the maintenance tech notices a beeping smoke detector so they go ahead and take care of it much to the resident’s delight. Or maybe on the walk to the office, an onsite team member helps a resident clear snow on their windshield or help them manage packages. 

I know, these kinds of nice deeds happen all the time, but wouldn’t it be great if what your employees did to make their residents’ lives more pleasant was recorded in your property management software instead of being written on a note that was left in a drawer in the office somewhere and forgotten? 

When it comes time for residents to renew, have that documentation out and ready to show them. Not in an obnoxious way, but as a reminder. Residents often forget all the little things you might have done for them. 

During this past 15 months, you’ve built up a lot of emotional credit with them. 

This is a simple thing. It works. And while tracking these types of events, if the onsite team notices that some residents’ “good deed” files are empty, then those are the residents you should target. Look for ways to engage with them and to do something special. Really, retention efforts start the minute they first walk into their new apartment. 

A Fresh Look at Four Walls 

When trying to make up for move-outs, it’s too easy to just try to buy occupancy. You don’t have to. During my property management days, our goal was a 60 percent retention rate. That’s high, but it was our bar. If we fell behind, we’d know it and try to fix it. Dropping rents does not have to be the answer. 

Some say, during good times, if you’re 98 percent occupied, your rents are too low. But wait: You can be 98 percent occupied and also lead your market in rent if you do everything right. You have to remember that this is your residents’ biggest investment. It’s the place they call home. Doing the little things will add up to make that difference. 

In 2021, we could see big swings when it comes to year-over-year numbers. Many residents, at this point, are sick of staring at their same four walls and will want to move. 

When you meet with them, ask them what you can do for them. Don’t underestimate the emotional credit they help to build between you and your residents now – after everything you’ve both been through the past year. 

If you listen to what it is about their apartment home that has become stale in their eyes you might stumble upon ways to improve the environment.   Be supportive by offering alternatives to another month looking at those walls. Offer them a new environment. It might mean suggesting that they move to a different apartment in your community, or to a nearby sister community.  

Maybe there are some furniture discounts you can offer so they can make a few changes in their place. You have to get creative.  Maybe they want a view that is a little greener, so you let them pick from a catalog of patio plant options, plants that not only enhance their home they can take them with them.  If they now office from home, and are using their only bedroom due to space, you could purchase a murphy bed (a nice one not the cheapest one) that makes the room multifunctional but with space.  You can save money when you set up a corporate account with suppliers like wayfair.com.  

At the same time, you also have to do the math based on if you are a short-term property holder or a long-term one.  Incurring the turn and remarketing expense in the current year for a marginal effective rent increase could be the right call if you are looking to position the asset and need the rent growth.  If you are planning a long-term hold, getting a marginal rent increase but avoiding the turn and remarketing expense could be the right call for your cash management.  

If you budgeted for flatlined rent growth or a slight increase by unit type, now is the time to start paying close attention to your value propositions and the demand for individual units. No two units are exactly the same; otherwise, they would have the same unit number on the door. 

So, utilize unit-level demand and occupancy reporting to identify rent growth opportunities at the unit level. 

Your software should provide you with real-time visibility into the retention efforts along with rent growth analysis and forecasting at the unit type and the unit level.    

Good news: ResMan can help with this. 

Managing Lease Expirations More Than One Month at a Time

Managing Lease Expirations

When it comes to lease expirations, the need to look more than 90 days out is crucial. Disregard for long-range lease expiration planning can result in a financially destructive situation for well-intended apartment property management teams. 

While revenue management software is a valuable tool in this process, having your leasing staff address lease expiration on a regular basis eases the anxiety that can come from an unnecessary sense of urgency created to fill vacancies at any cost. 

Historical leasing cycles changed in 2020 as a result of the pandemic. Our normal spring cycle was delayed by two to three months and it extended well into the fall, leaving the industry to question what leasing cycles will look like going forward. 

Coming soon: These adjusted cycles will affect forecasting. Even more, they will make expirations from last year’s lease-ups more demanding. 

Your 2020 actuals are both different and unique, and you can’t really use them for comparative basis in 2021. As for 2022, and it is too soon to know if it’s a safe assumption that you’ll be tracking back in line with 2018-2019 trends. 

Right now, you cannot afford to have a “set-it-and-forget-about-it” lease management strategy. Once you have determined the approach most suitable for lease management at your communities, you need technology to help you to execute your plan and to ensure compliance by the site staff. 

ResMan is here to help with that. 

Our property management software was designed during the height of the Great Recession to help operators navigate down market and aid in long-term planning to create more predictable revenue flows and maintain occupancy.  Our software worked for us when we needed it most, and ResMan can help achieve your financial goals today. 

Leasing Trends

We started seeing in our customer base as 2020 progressed that there was an unusually high number of month-to-month leases at their properties, many of which were carried through into the new year.  Traditional retention rates dropped from a lease term perspective; however, residents were staying in their apartment homes, and it was much because of uncertainty about health and safety, the economy, federal support programs and their own employment. 

We are well into what is considered a seasonal leasing cycle without fully understanding what the emerging trends will on the backend.   What will retention rates look like for 2021 as hold over month-to-months may be ready to make long-term decisions.  How do you balance the leasing activity while not losing sight of the long-term impact to occupancy and rent growth?    

How to Develop an Effective Lease Expiration Management Plan

The key to your asset’s financial stability and ability to make up lost margins could lie in your lease management plan.  

We learned the hard way about the impact of not having a lease management plan during the 1990s – before revenue management was developed – when a lot of communities didn’t manage lease expirations well.   I personally learned my lesson from a group of lease-up communities I was responsible for filling up.   They were in lease-up, and back then, it was all about filling that property up! But there was not much thought beyond that in terms of how to maintain it as a stabilized community. 

In one Dallas property, we had 200 leases expiring over an April to August period.  The property also faced competition from a new development across the street.  Assuming a 50 percent renewal rate, that could have and did result in just over 100 apartments that the site team had to lease and turn in three months.    The property didn’t have the marketing budget we had during lease-up and faced increasing expenses compared to a brand-new community.  That was really a wake-up call. 

From that day forward we had a well-developed lease expiration management plan, and eventually a great set of features in the ResMan Platform to help you develop and manage your plan.   A good lease expiration plan goes beyond tracking and reporting on lease expirations, it is proactive and positions the property, the specific unit types and the team for success.  

Every time our team met about what we were doing, it wasn’t only about that day, it was about how what we do will affect things 30-60-90 days from now. And when they achieve their leasing goals through this hard work, you’ve got to reward them for it. 

Having that kind of mindset put us at ease and helped us avoid lease expiration pile-up and instead drive ahead in an efficient and on a more predictable and profitable road ahead.  Controlling how and when units are available in the market, provides you the opportunity to maximize the rent potential and creates organic sense of urgency for the leasing staff and prosects to lease the units. The last thing you want is to be forced into displaying an unusually high number of a particular unit type (such as one-bedroom apartments) on your community website and ILS listings. If you do, that’s a red flag for prospects about whether they want to lease with you. 

Does revenue management help with this? Yes. But you can handle it without revenue management – it just takes more time and more work and the desire to learn. 

This is the time to teach your staff about pricing. They shouldn’t just be blindly offering whatever the revenue management software says you should that day. 

Understanding Today’s Federal Rental Payment Assistance Programs

The federal government’s seemingly never-ending eviction moratorium made headline news twice this past week when a federal court ruled the national eviction moratorium was invalid, only to have another court issue reverse that decision for the time being. 

Apartment owners and operators continue to work to manage what’s coming next while many residents stay put in their apartments, owing millions of dollars in back rent.  

Debt is piling up all over the place for owners, too, and there is one solution that could make a difference – namely those needles in the recently allocated $50 billion-plus haystack from the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) and The Consolidated Appropriations Act designed to support of eligible renters in need. 

I say needle because figuring out a way to get access to these funds is a 50-state journey, as each has its own criteria. Some operators have not even begun to look into the process which isn’t wise.  The allocated funding is first-come, first served.  

Solving this big problem is both good for apartment owners and their residents. And yes, you can “apply” on behalf of the delinquent renter and get those applications taken care of.  

Smaller owner-operators were impacted the most over the last 12 months; the smaller the portfolio the bigger the impact from uncollected rent.  For an owner with a smaller unit count, even a handful of residents who do not pay their rent for even one month put a strain on the owner. Several months of back owed debt starts to impact the owner’s ability to maintain the property, or worse, pay their mortgage.  But rent is rent, and income is income.  As of the end of 2020, the average delinquent renter owed approximately $5,000. So, even if you only have a handful of them, it pays to follow up and work out a payment plan for them. 

To Reach Residents, Try a New Approach 

I hear from operators that residents are ghosting them, even though they are trying to help them.  Sincere, direct and persistent resident communications is the key to building valuable and trusting relationships with those who are behind on rent.   

Those who have become chronically delinquent might not be responding – and in fact, avoiding you.  Consider referencing news updates about the eviction moratorium via text or email to create a new sense of urgency.  If standard outreach approaches, such as email or texting, aren’t effective, you need to consider new techniques to connect with them.   

Visiting them at their apartment home is a good first option. And for those who have regained employment – and keep 9-to-5 hours – it’s worth adjusting operating hours for some of your staff so that they can visit residents in the early evening, perhaps after 7 p.m. 

If this timing isn’t right, another option is contacting them by phone. Use the “emergency” contact number they gave you if you have to.  

Finally, during my more than 20 years in property management, including spanning three recessions, one successful approach was to leave residents notes that tell them they have a package to pick up at the leasing office. When they visit us, we give them a gift card (it’s the “package”), but more importantly, it creates an opportunity for the property manager to speak to the resident about qualifying for financial relief. 

It’s at this point when you can help them fill out the application. Many in the industry we speak to aren’t aware of how to apply for this aid. Each state has its own criteria and process. Here are a few resources to leverage: 

LeaseLock’s State-By-State Application List 
Emergency Rental Assistance FAQs 

Onsite staff are going to have a bigger “lift” on this – relying on the resident to know what to do is simply unrealistic.  If owners and operators are struggling to navigate the process to apply for funds, imagine how difficult it must be for the renters.  

Property management companies and their residents need to understand this and more importantly, how to access it. Companies’ corporate headquarters should appoint someone who is expert at navigating this renter support fund procedure.  

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Don’t Let Your Residents ‘Shut Down’ on You 

It’s been my experience that when renters begin to fall behind on their rent, their tough times spiral downward, and they shut down. Don’t be surprised if they display helplessness to you, and then even give up. Unfortunately, they might decide it’s best to move out, but that’s not a good solution and will harm their overall economic viabilities.  

For another group of renters, they were receiving not one, but two stimulus checks. Some were getting significant bumps on top of their state unemployment benefits for a six-month period last year. And every day, they heard from the media that they didn’t have to pay rent because the moratorium protected them. 

Misinformed residents who “feel they are safe in place” because of the moratorium, based on what they see and hear in the news, are often the ones who are most in need of accessing federal support funds through their states. 

Unfortunately, some spent their stimulus dollars to pay down credit card bills or car payments. But really, their rent payment is the biggest check they have to write each month, and it should be a priority, or else their credit score and rental payment history will be hurt. 

Some residents simply take too much of a short-term outlook on their finances and not a long-term one. They might be thinking, “Oh, another stimulus is coming. I’m all right.” 

Owners: Don’t Have a False Sense of Security 

We see in the ResMan database that more residents engaged in rental payment option plans with their owners in the first quarter.  We saw 400 to 500 new repayment plans initiated. That’s a lot more than the .001 percent from a year ago. 

Owner/managers, too, shouldn’t feel they are above it all and don’t have to participate in (the name of the support plan). In recent months, their occupancy and collections might be increasing, but unpaid rent remains and it’s important to address it. 

“Oh, this wasn’t as painful as we thought it would be,” is not the right mentality in today’s market. Don’t let the same sense of urgency you had months ago, go away. You need to get engaged with your renters and be relentless. If they move out, it’s not good for you, either. 

One thing not to do is criticize your residents on social media. You should not be callous about their situations and not rush to judgment about their behaviors because you don’t know the whole story. Therefore, if you get a chance to do so, listen. 

5 Best Practices for Managing Apartment Turnover

The Impact of Apartment Turnover

Apartment turnover has one of the most significant impacts to your financial performance. When you consider the lost revenue from vacancy loss combined with the expense to turn and remarket the apartment, the impact to the bottom line increases with every turn. While it is equally important to focus on leasing activity, you cannot lose site of the impact of apartment turnover on your budgets and maintenance technicians.    

The cost of turning a unit in 2021 could be higher than the average cost from prior years as gas and the cost for materials are skyrocketing. With increased pressure on budgeted turn expenses comes increased pressure on your maintenance team. While the financial impact is cause for concern on its own, the workload on the maintenance team members to turn the units, especially during peak leasing cycles, can be significant.   

How many times have preventative maintenance items been delayed or overlooked due to the maintenance team being consumed with getting units ready or as a result of budget concerns?  Delaying preventative maintenance has a higher cost down the road.    

While move-outs are inevitable, there are ways to minimize the vacancy loss from apartment turnover. Operators can take a variety of measures to lessen the burden on your team members and limit the impact on your bottom line.  

Taking a proactive approach to managing turns and having an efficient make-ready process will save you time and money. Here are 5 best practices to improve your apartment turnover rate. 

1. Proactive Management Has to Include Maintenance

Budgets typically align with historical leasing cycles, which are helpful for staff and budget planning purposes. Your properties are unique. Instead of solely relying on regional historic leasing cycles, you need to track each property’s projected occupancy rate and future lease expirations to forecast appropriately for apartment turnovers.  

Your maintenance team needs as much notice as possible about any potential increase in expected move-outs. Sharing the number of expiring leases for the rest of the year and expected renewal rates with your maintenance team can help them plan spend and staffing appropriately.   

With property management software, you can provide them access to information to help them understand the renewal value. Every renewal means there is one less unit to turn, which will impact how maintenance team members engage with current renters in the best way.  

Your maintenance supervisor is responsible for staying within the allotted maintenance and turn budget, and he or she may already proactively work with vendors to get products ordered and tasks scheduled in advance. If they can adjust the spend and use of vendors weeks or months in advance, they will manage the budget more effectively.

2. Create Make-Ready Work Orders

Every property has some form of make-ready board. Whether you’re using a whiteboard, spreadsheet or software, you have a way to communicate upcoming turnover tasks to your maintenance technicians. But what if your make-ready board allowed you to maximize your time?  

We all know that time is money. Leveraging property management software to manage the unit turns for upcoming notice to vacates proactively saves time and makes sure that no units slip off the radar.   

As mentioned above, visibility is crucial, but it is not the only way to help your team manage the process. Most maintenance teams are limited in size and rely on outside contractors to prepare units for a new renter. Managing the contractors is one area that turn management software can ease some of the burdens and decrease the time to get the unit ready.    

Regardless of how clean the former resident thinks they left their apartment, you know that you must send in your housekeeper or cleaning contractor, so why not automate the process? With make-ready work orders, your team no longer has to schedule maintenance after they walk the units. Routine tasks can already be scheduled in property management software. Not only does this save time, but it ensures no tasks slip through the cracks and cause delayed move-in dates and vacancy loss. 

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3. Designate Specific Move Out Dates

Taking a strategic approach to apartment turnovers can help ensure your units aren’t vacant for long periods and that the workload is manageable for the staff. Management companies have been moving away from the old concept of ending their leases on the last day of the month, which would often overload the maintenance teams the first week of the following month. 

When there are more units to turn than there is time in the day, they (naturally) don’t get turned, increasing vacancy loss. More and more management companies have lease expirations spread throughout the month—some schedule leases to expire on Saturday or Sunday. Considering the most desirable days for a new move-in are Friday, Saturday and Sunday, your team has plenty of time to complete the turn.   

If you are using property management software with turn management capabilities, the office staff can help maintenance get a jump start on even the toughest of turns while they were doing the final walk-through with a resident upon move-out.  

*Keep in mind that you should document this in the lease if you choose to designate specific move-out dates each month. 

4. Go Green to Cut Costs

Apartment turnovers are a great time to complete budgeted renovations or implement green initiatives.  

With the number of energy-saving products and appliances on the market, consider ways you can go green while saving money in perpetuity.  If going green is something you are looking to evaluate so that you can budget for an entire project in the future, consider selecting a handful of units that are not preleased to install eco-friendly products.  Some eco-friendly products, like LED lightbulbs, are simple to add to your maintenance budget for apartment turnovers.   

When your team is optimized for efficiency and expense management, testing the water for the handful of units selected might be in your budget after all. Once you see the results in net rental revenue for green apartments, you have the justification for the spending in next year’s budget.  Oh, and don’t forget the net rental improvement and increased asset value you will see!   

5. Give Your Team Some Time for Last-Minute Issues

Walking the apartment prior to the resident moving out will help you identify the work and materials needed in advance. When your team is overloaded, walking the unit in advance often gets deprioritized.  

If you have to do a final walk-through only hours before a resident moves in, you may not have time to fix any issues that come up, causing a poor first experience for new residents. When the team and contractors are rushed, there is a potential for a decline in their work quality. The move-in experience for new renters has proven to be a significant factor in lease renewal. Empowering your team will ensure an excellent experience for your renters, too.  

Your maintenance team members and your supplier partners are valuable assets. Working with them empowers them to do their best. Take the time to educate the team and show them how and why being proactive will reduce their workload in the long run.  

ResMan helps teams improve turn management, maximize efficiency and control spending! Learn more with a free demo!

5 Signs You Need a Multifamily CRM

How Does a Multifamily CRM Improve Lead Management?

Customer relationship management software, or CRMs, are the fastest growing software solutions on the market across industries, and multifamily is no exception. A multifamily CRM helps increase conversion by streamlining the lead management process. 

As a supplement to a high-quality property management software, multifamily CRM creates a more personalized experience for prospects, helps teams manage leads more efficiently and gives property managers unparalleled access to customer data in real time. It improves lead flow, increases conversion and drives higher occupancy rates. 

 Here are five signs your company could benefit from a multifamily CRM. 

1. You aren’t attracting enough leads to maintain occupancy levels  

Move outs happen, of course, but if leads are down and it’s getting harder to keep your units consistently filled, you most likely need the power of a multifamily CRM to boost your efforts.  

When coming up with a plan to increase conversion, start with the basics. Most leads come via apartment aggregator websites, but some companies struggle to keep their ILS listings updated.  Before you even have a chance to wow prospects with your properties, out-of-date information or incomplete (Internet Listing Services) ILS listings for your property could be driving them away. 

The best multifamily CRM will ensure that your ILS listings stand out on the best apartment aggregator sites, providing up-to-date and appealing details on availability, unit size, price and more. This can give prospects a strong first impression of your property and drive them to engage. From there, your CRM and your staff can get to work doing everything necessary to convert them. 

2. You have duplicate prospect records  

Inefficiency impacts your bottom line.  Duplicate leads across multiple properties and misplaced data makes it hard to effectively engage prospects. If your competition is using modern CRM solutions to manage prospects while you use outdated systems, you may lose out on deals. 

A multifamily CRM centralizes cross-property prospect records and allows you to efficiently manage leads across your portfolio. If you’re relying heavily on ILS listings, you may save money through more efficient sharing of leads across properties, reducing your cost per lead. This effectiveness also reduces prospect and team frustrations. 

3. Leads sometimes fall through the cracks 

Your leasing team is constantly being pulled in different directions. You need a solution to keep them focused. A multifamily CRM with a powerful dashboard alerts them to high priority prospects and activities ensures they follow up promptly. 

Your brand is at stake. Consumers believe the pre-leasing experience your team delivers reflects the ongoing experience they will have as a resident. If they experience hassles before they sign, what will life be like when they live on your property? An integrated property management solution and multifamily CRM enable consistent streamlined experiences that residents have come to expect. 

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4. You aren’t automating communication 

Being responsive is essential to keeping prosects engaged, but your team can’t be available 24/7. Automating communication through a multifamily CRM simplifies processes for your leasing team and shows prospects that you’re easy to work with. 

More than 50 percent of tours are scheduled outside business hours. Leveraging a multifamily CRM that offers AI-powered chatbots on your website to engage your prospects at any time. While your team is serving other prospects or off the clock, a chatbot can engage website visitors, offer virtual tours, and schedule in-person tours. 

Note that not all CRMs do this effectively. AI-powered chatbots that accurately interpret and respond in context to prospects are best equipped to get prospects the information they need to move to the next stage of the process. 

Multifamily CRMs can also streamline other forms of communication. Consider a solution that automates email and SMS-triggered dialogues to respond to inquiries and further engage prospects. The best CRMs also offer click-to-dial and call-from-anywhere options, increasing team efficiency. 

5. You aren’t sure how your lead sources are performing

Understanding where your leads originate ensures you’re allocating your marketing budget correctly. Without comprehensive lead and conversion data, you may be overspending on low-converting sources or underspending on high-converting sources.  

A multifamily CRM tied to a robust property management platform provides clear marketing attribution reports to help you optimize your marketing investments. With complete data visibility, you can make confident budgeting decisions to maximize conversion. 

Imagine more effective lead management with less effort. Learn how ResMan CRM, a fully integrated, full-feature solution delivers the kind of experience that can make the difference between a signed lease and a lost prospect. Get a free demo today!

10 Qualities of the Best Multifamily Housing Software

Choosing a Multifamily Housing Software

Looking for the best multifamily housing software can feel overwhelming. It’s such an important decision, and there’s a lot to consider. The must-have qualities on your list earned a place there because of specific pain points you’re experiencing or innovation you’ve heard about. But there may also be other features that you didn’t know to look for or that may turn out to be more important than you expected. 

Your discovery process will go more smoothly if you know what you want to get out of your multifamily housing software. Setting goals and understanding the capabilities of each platform you’re considering will drive your decision. The right platform will help you increase efficiency and achieve your goals. 

To help you in your search, we’ve identified ten of the most important qualities to look for in a property management platform. 

  1. Ease of Use
  2. Efficient Workflows
  3. Automation
  4. Big Picture Visibility
  5. Open API and Native Solutions
  6. Support for Affordable Housing Compliance
  7. Frequent Software Updates
  8. Expanded Revenue Potential
  9. Scalable Solutions
  10. A Platform That Offers a True Partnerships

1. Ease of Use 

Naturally, no one wants a platform that is difficult to learn and use. Investing in cumbersome software that your staff won’t want to use is not a smart business decision. The best return on your investment comes from a complete buy-in from your staff, and that can only happen with an intuitive solution. 

To ensure ease of use, get a demo of each software you’re considering. Have a sales representative walk you through routine tasks your team will perform each day. The best multifamily housing software has a simple user-interface and a powerful search function to help your team get to the information they need in three clicks or less.   

2. Efficient Workflows 

Operational processes affect more than time and office morale, they impact your bottom line. Cumbersome software creates inefficiencies across your team, which can ultimately result in low conversion rates, poor resident experience and less tasks accomplished.  

Your software should help you get out in front of your needs by helping you create efficient workflows. The best multifamily housing software allows you to get to or enter information in just a few clicks.  

Pro Tip: Working with a property management platform that has a team with extensive history in the property management industry is likely to bring a higher level of innovation in this area. What is the provider’s story? 

3. Automation 

Manual processes subject your operations to the risks of human error and failures in compliance, which further impact your bottom line. Modern multifamily housing software automates as many processes as possible, enabling staff to more easily manage daily tasks, focus on high level goals and provide personal attention to residents and prospects.  

Automated processes to look for include: 

–  A budgeting tool that uses automation to eliminate errors and provides accurate data 

–  Automated recertification notices for affordable housing 

–  Leasing automation with an integrated CRM to nurture leads even while you sleep 

A big part of running a property is keeping track of what you need to do and when you need to do it. A platform with automated alerts helps ensure nothing falls through the cracks. Receiving alerts in your platform’s dashboard keeps your team focused. 

4. Big Picture Visibility 

The right multifamily housing software supports more than your staff’s daily operational tasks. It also provides comprehensive visibility into property and portfolio performance.  
 
A platform with a robust dashboard allows you to view high-level metrics at-a-glance and dive into reports to analyze operations in granular detail. This keeps you informed of day-to-day performance, as well as make proactive decisions for the future. 

The right platform will also alert you to irregularities and dips in key performance indicators (KPIs), like NOI and occupancy rates. These alerts allow you to react quickly to analyze past and current data, forecast future metrics and make data-driven decisions to mitigate risks and reach your goals. 

5. Open API and Native Solutions 

Having robust native functionality is essential—the most seamless processes are when the functionality is native to the platform. That said, most organizations use a variety of technology solutions to manage operations.  

That said, an open platform provides the most flexibility. A multifamily housing software with an open API and best-in-class integration partners gives you certainty in knowing you have the functionality to address specialized business needs.  

A hybrid solution like this allows you to get the best of both worlds. Not only does it offer functionality, but it also allows you to simplify billing and business relationships.  

6. Support for Affordable Housing Compliance 

If you have or may one day have affordable properties, choosing a platform that supports affordable housing compliance well is important. Not all platforms have the depth of knowledge and commitment to the affordable industry.  

Consider a multifamily housing software that keeps up with the ever-changing affordable housing landscape and alerts you to regulation changes to help you stay compliant. Find a solution with a complete compliance dashboard. This ensures you have a real-time, at-a-glance view into your compliance, from recertification management to building compliance. 

7. Frequent Software Updates 

Property management is among the scores of industries that have been disrupted by residents’ evolving expectations and rapidly expanding technology. To stay competitive, you need a platform that aligns with your residents’ needs.  

The platform you choose should be constantly evolving and improving to help you attract and retain residents. To do this, your provider must be in tune with the industry to understand changing needs and listen to customer feedback to improve the product. 

Equally, your platform must enable you to operate efficiently to help you maximize NOI. A provider that’s hyper-focused on enhancing their platform keeps your needs front of mind and is consistently innovating to help you improve. 

8. Expanded Revenue Potential 

With all the upheaval experienced in the property management industry lately, companies are looking for ways to maximize economic occupancy more than ever. A platform with strong marketing capabilities, like a powerful CRM, website solutions, virtual leasing and AI-powered chatbots, can help you attract and convert high quality leads to minimize vacancies and avoid the need for rental concessions.  

Property management platforms can also help you expand traditional revenue-share programs, like utilities. Explore how the system will enable you to generate additional revenue streams through any valuable concierge service you could offer with little effort required on your part. Here are just a few: 

– Credit reporting

– Renter’s insurance

– Tech support for residents’ computers

– Security alarm services

– Ad space for big brands (like sports drink ads in the workout room or gym)

– Daily door-side trash or recycling pick-up

– Appliance and furniture rental

9. Scalable Solutions 

If you plan to scale your business, it’s important to find a solution that can accommodate you as you grow. A flexible solution that allows you to add features as you need them is ideal for growing businesses. Look for a multifamily housing software that has a track record for supporting customers that have successfully scaled their businesses.  

This isn’t only about what the platform can do today. Beyond its current capabilities, look at its mission, industry involvement and history of innovation. Explore the platform’s ability to be a business partner and respond to your unique organization’s specific needs.  

10. A Platform That Offers a True Partnership 

Choosing a property management platform is an important decision that can impact your every aspect of your business. Understanding what your company needs from software and considering your daily workflow, budget and future needs can help you find the best platform for your business. 

Most importantly, though, this decision isn’t solely about the technology itself. While checking all the boxes on features and functionality is important, often it’s the company and the people behind the technology that has the greatest impact on your success. Instead of thinking of a platform as a provider, think of this decision as entering into a partnership.  

The right partner for your business is one who understands your industry, offered the functionality you need, and is committed to being there for you when you need help or run into issues. Be sure to find a partner that listens to your ideas and helps you to use the technology to its fullest so you can realize your potential as a business. 

5 Features of the Best Property Management CRM

The Benefits of a Property Management CRM 

 Vacancies are unavoidable in property management, and as a result so is the need to find new prospective residents or “leads.” But without a property management CRM, good leads may slip through the cracks. 

Your on-site team is busy with a host of responsibilities, and managing prospects is time-consuming. Instead of asking your team to try to keep prospect records organized and manage communication, your CRM can automate some of the process and return valuable time to your team. 

There are plenty of CRM solutions on the market, but some aren’t integrated at all or are only lightly integrated into your property management software. Trying to manage prospects across different systems is inefficient and error prone. For a CRM to truly have an impact, it should be fully integrated with your property management software. 

Property management software with enhanced marketing and CRM capabilities allows your team to improve lead flow, increase conversion and drive higher occupancy rates. When choosing the right property management CRM for your company, look for these five features. 

  1. Fully Integrated ILS Solutions
  2. Automated Communication Methods
  3. Dashboards and Alerts
  4. Centralized Prospect Records
  5. Better Marketing Attribution

1. Fully Integrated ILS Solutions 

When it comes to driving occupancy, the first step is effectively marketing your units. There are plenty of apartment aggregator sites for people to find apartments, and you want to make sure your listings stand out. 

Keeping listings updated with accurate information ensures your prospects have all the details they need on availability, unit size, price and more. A robust property management CRM will have customized connections with all the best Internet Listing Services (ILS). 

Using a property management CRM with powerful ILS capabilities ensures your listings are both accurate and appealing. By syndicating accurate unit availability across all key marketing channels, you can not only ensure up-to-date listings end up in front of prospects, but you can also use your property management CRM to track marketing attribution specific to each ILS (more on that later!). 

2. Automated Communication Methods 

Just like you, your prospects are busy. They have families, lives and jobs, and they want to get things done quickly—and probably online. Simplifying the leasing process and providing a variety of ways to communicate with you shows you’re responsive and easy to work with.  

Chatbots 

While your team can’t be on call 24/7, adding an AI-powered chatbot to your website can engage with prospects on their time. Chatbots also free up your team’s time. 

More property management CRMs are introducing chatbots, but not all of them are using the latest technology. Many deliver templated responses based on hardcoded logic. Those that use artificial intelligence and Natural Language Processing to interpret questions and dynamically respond will deliver a better prospect experience. 

The flexibility of these AI chatbots allows them to engage prospects more freely and nurture them through their discovery – even to the point of, offering virtual tours and scheduling in-person tours. Having a way to engage website visitors at any time ensures no leads fall through the cracks. Ultimately, leveraging a chatbot with responsive communication can make the difference between a signed lease and a lost prospect. 

Learn how AI chatbots and other property management platform features can help you increase revenue. 

Phone and Email Tools 

In addition to automating communication via chatbot, a property management CRM allows you to further streamline messaging with prospects. This can both save your team time and help increase lead volume (and quality!). 

A robust property management CRM generally includes email and SMS triggered dialogues that can keep prospects engaged and help move them further down the sales funnel.  

CRM solutions often include technology to manage phone calls. Consider a solution that increases efficiency by offering click to dial and call-from-anywhere options. These allow your team to make calls through a browser over the internet and without concern about prospects getting their personal cell phone numbers. Solutions that record and transcribe both inbound and outbound calls ensure the best possible prospect experience.  

3. Dashboards and Alerts 

When it comes to maximizing lead conversion, you need your team to be at the top of their game. That said, with so much on their plates, agents can have a hard time knowing where to focus. 

A property management CRM with a dashboard makes it much easier for teams to keep track of prospects and follow up activities. Alerting functionality is also important because it calls attention to high priority tasks, ensuring your team is engaging as needed so no leads fall through the cracks.  

4. Centralized Prospect Records 

Every property management company aspires to have their team act as a well-oiled machine, but without comprehensive visibility, your team can’t be as efficient as you’d like. Duplicate leads across multiple properties and issues with data accessibility make it hard to effectively refer and share leads. 

holistic property management CRM that centralizes prospect records will keep your team organized and efficiently manage leads across your portfolio. A consolidated, cross-property view of each prospect streamlines referrals and ensures the best prospect experience.  

Centralized prospect records have an added benefit for organizations that rely heavily on ILSs for leads. When leads are maintained at the property level, depending on the ILS pricing model, property management companies may pay multiple times for the same lead if they fill out a guest card for multiple properties. With centralized prospect records, you will only pay once for that lead.   

5. Better Marketing Attribution 

The most comprehensive CRM systems help property management companies improve all aspects of marketing. This includes attribution. Centralized prospect records eliminate duplicate leads, providing clearer data about where leads originate.  

Reporting that is focused on attribution surfaces the leads sources and touches that are driving conversion and helps you optimize your marketing investments to maximize conversion.  

See how ResMan’s fully-integrated CRM can help your team maintain efficient workflows and increase conversion! Take a tour of ResMan CRM in this on-demand webinar.

5 Ways Property Management Companies Can Manage Communication During a Weather Emergency

Emergency Communication Tools for Property Management Companies

Communicating with residents before, during and after a weather emergency is critical for property managers. Whether there’s a snowstorm, tornado, hurricane or natural disaster, your job is to keep your residents and staff both safe and informed. In the aftermath, clear and frequent communication regarding repairs, timelines and building access will help you better manage expectations and make the weeks and months to come a bit easier for all involved.

Juggling tasks during a stressful situation can leave you with little time to manage communication, especially if you’re relying on a system that doesn’t offer robust messaging tools. Leveraging a modern property management software to streamline messaging one of the easiest and most reliable ways to manage both internal and external communication and, quite literally, weather the storm.

1. Company Communication Tool

In a weather emergency, you need to be in constant communication with your internal team to ensure individual properties are planning accordingly and following company protocol.

While two-way radios are great for quick communication between maintenance crews and other teams on individual properties, you also need a way to deliver messages across individual teams and multiple properties to alert them to high priority tasks and align resident communication and maintenance processes.

Emails can often get overlooked. Communicating with property managers and other staff within your property management software is the best way to convey needs, as your team is constantly working in the platform.

During a weather emergency, property management companies can segment relevant properties and brief them on how to stay prepared. For example, PMCs can remind property managers to coordinate with maintenance teams to de-ice steps and treat walkways during winter storms or provide messaging for resident communications.

Not only does this keep you in sync, but getting regular status updates to and from your team also allows you to send the most accurate and timely updates to your residents.

2. Bulk Email and SMS Messaging

Keeping in touch with residents is always important, but when during a weather emergency, property management companies need to prioritize resident communication. Emergencies like this can be a scary, stressful time for your residents, and they need to know you’re there for them.

Before the weather event (if possible), inform your residents of any preventive measures they can take to secure their units, like keeping faucets dripping during a hard freeze or getting to a safe space away from windows during a tornado. In the days and weeks ahead, it will be equally important to keep residents informed of unit access and repair timelines.

While most PMCs use some form of messaging system, having a property management software with powerful email and SMS messaging tools ensures you can deliver information quickly – especially in an emergency.

Using a platform like ResMan allows to further streamline emergency messaging by setting the message type to “Emergency.” This will bypass resident opt-in settings and send notifications to all residents.

3. Segmented Messaging

Particularly in weather emergencies, property managers need to be able to contact specific residents to communicate issues. Instead of mass messaging everyone at your property, leveraging a property management software with bulk messaging segmentation makes it easy to contact residents in specific buildings, floors, units or other areas of the property.

Some software only allows you to send bulk messages to all residents or email specific residents—nothing in between. Receiving irrelevant messages can be frustrating for residents, and while emergency messaging them will ensure you reach them, you want to ensure you’re only sending relevant information from your platform, especially during severe weather.

Robust property management software enables to you segment contacts to ensure you can easily communicate information to the right people. You can notify certain residents about burst pipes, roof restoration and other pertinent information quickly and avoid disturbing or confusing the rest of your residents.

4. Resident Portal Emergency Messages

We all know that messages can get accidentally overlooked. Communicating with your resident across multiple platforms is the best way to ensure you’re heard. In addition to email and SMS, you should also add any emergency weather messaging into your resident portal.

Leveraging a property management software with a powerful resident portal allows your residents to access all the information they need in a single location. Before, during or after weather emergencies, property managers can create a pop up to communicate with their residents. This can be particularly helpful after an emergency or natural disaster when residents may be logging into the portal to create maintenance requests. Property managers can insert messaging into the portal to improve transparency and communicate procedures for the days and weeks to come.

5. Templates

Property managers know to expect the unexpected and have a plan in place for any scenario—including communication. Ensuring you have systems in place for emergency situations, weather events or even routine correspondence, can save you valuable time.

Taking proactive measures now to streamline communication allows you get in front of your needs. Property management software enables you to create custom messaging templates for different scenarios. Instead of having to craft a message on the fly, you can simply select the appropriate template, edit if needed and hit send.

Depending on your geographic location, you may choose to make templates based on likely weather emergency scenarios. For example, if your property is on the coast, prepare messaging for hurricanes. That said, when it comes to weather, expect the unexpected. Consider creating templates for less likely scenarios. Even if it snows in your city once a decade, it’s best to be prepared.

When times are tough, ResMan is here to help. Learn more about how your team can improve communication with a powerful property management platform.