Full Transcript

Greg Demski (GD): Welcome to PropTalk, a property management podcast powered by ResMan. I’m Greg Demski, Senior Vice President of Business Development. 

GD: Today we’re excited to have Terry Danner, CEO of SightPlan, and Elizabeth Francisco, President of ResMan, discuss the ways multifamily tech solutions are empowering on-site teams, the partnership between SightPlan and ResMan, and how their backgrounds in the multifamily industry have helped shape their products. 

GD: So, I’d like to introduce Mrs. Elizabeth Francisco, President of ResMan. Elizabeth is known for her high energy and tenacity and has spent the last two decades building a successful career as an operator and a technology provider in the multifamily industry. Mrs. Francisco, who started her career as an on-site leasing agent and worked her way up to the VP of Operations while simultaneously helping to launch ResMan, a property management technology platform. 

Welcome, Elizabeth. 

Elizabeth Francisco (EF): Thank you for having us. 

GD: And Terry Danner, CEO of SightPlan. Terry spent a decade with Trammell Crow Residential Services, where he served as President. He started Riverstone Residential Group in 2006 and ran the company as President and CEO until merging with Greystar in 2014. After two years running US real estate operations in client services for Greystar, Terry brought his thirty years of multifamily experienced to SightPlan. Terry, lots of experience there. 

Terry Danner (TD): Awesome! Great to be here, Greg. 

The Transition from Operators to Suppliers

GD: Thanks for joining us. From your bios, it’s obvious you have a commonality: Operators who moved to the supplier side. So, as an operator, what drew you to the supplier side? 

EF: I like the fact that you said we have a commonality. I think that means we’re both crazy, I don’t know…That’s a huge leap. I don’t know if we’re going to have a read-in about the history of ResMan, but our stories a little bit unique, just on the fact that we never built our products to sell it. We built it in-house to help us navigate the landscape that was changing during the Great Recession. So, I always joke that I fell into the supplier side. I didn’t know that’s where I was going. But as we navigated that situation and ended up getting really good results with our platform, and we decided to take it to market, that’s when I realized what I really got into. 

TD: I mean, both of us have a long history…we’ve got many, many years, you know, Greg, you mentioned 30 there, which is actually probably why I got into doing what I’m doing. In 30 years—and as long as Elizabeth’s been in the industry as well—you learn a lot of things. And then you would take that, and you say, Well, based on what I learned, there’s something I can do with that knowledge. I can provide some solutions. I can better help other individuals.  

And I’m guessing that, you know, based on what you said about ResMan and how that started, the same is true of me. It’s taking what you learned and then trying to say, Hey, I saw gaps, I saw operational shortfalls that needed the proper solutions. And so, you start to work on those. And because you’re so intimate with the industry, because you’ve had that history, it’s easy to turn around and say, OK, I know exactly what I need to do, ’cause I know what the teams need, I know what I need, I know what the rest of my counterparts need. And so, you put that in a solution. 

EF: Yeah. I would agree with that. I think what’s been interesting as I’ve navigated this journey, I’ve seen different tech companies come and go. When you come into the industry for the sole purpose of wanting to position products—and we’re all in this to make a profit but there’s a difference when you’ve actually walked in their shoes. I don’t know if you still do this, but I know in our executive meetings I find myself still saying WE need. Sometimes when I get really excited about a new product or solution, I find myself thinking Oh man, I wish I still had properties. 

TD: But you’re right. There’s a lot of startups in our industry that started because they heard there was a need for a solution, so they said, Well I’m going to develop that solution. But if you don’t understand why the problem existed in the first place, what it really is, what are all of the pieces that are involved in the individuals that are going to interact with that solution, there’s a lot of potential for it to fail. I mean, we know this, a lot of the implementations today involve not just leasing. They involve IT, they involve marketing, they involve a whole host of departments out there. Too many people are focused on one of those groups and not satisfying their broader base of customers. 

EF: Yeah. And I like the fact that you made a point of saying individuals that are affected. The people that use our software and our technology, that’s what’s always drawn me to SightPlan in the very beginning, when we started talking about our partnership in the infancy stage. I was drawn because of the commitment and the passion to the people in this industry. Because, obviously with Joseph’s history and how he came up through the ranks much like I did, I think that’s really important and—who is it? I think it’s Richard Branson that says—As long as you take care of the customer and your end users, the business will always be there. 

TD: When we first started SightPlan, Joseph laid the foundation for a resident service platform along with the resident communication platform on top of that. My joining the company was really to kind of take that and say OK how does it actually fit with the industry? Who is this solving problems for? What is the best solution? And it has to be user friendly at the end of the day. So, when I first finished my multifamily operations career, Terry Danner 2.0 was then focused on going back and trying to close some of those operational gaps that I saw. I mean, you spend a lot of time in the industry. You learn a lot of things and you say, Well, how can I now help the industry? How can I solve some of these problems?  

So, I had that multifamily background. I then, at that point, teamed up with Joseph Westlake, an ex-Microsoft exec. Also had a family history in the multifamily business. I knew what I wanted. Joseph had started along that path and so that partnership, with the teamwork of both of us saying, Hey, I know what the operators want—at least I think they do—and I know that you have the wherewithal to solve this because you’ve got the engineering team that can make it happen. This could be a great partnership. And so we teamed up and now here we are five years later. SightPlan has just had phenomenal growth over those five years and I’d like to think we’re an industry leader at this point and we’ve closed a lot of those operational gaps that I first experienced. 

EF: Has it really been five years? 

TD: It’s amazing how time flies. Yes, it has.  

EF: I remember the very first time I ever was introduced to SightPlan, which you know was before you were there. But I’m really thankful that you did decide to solve this gap because it provided an opportunity for us to work together. So, I really have appreciated getting to know you over the years. 

TD:  Yeah, it’s interesting. I mean a lot of people say, Why did you make the switch? Because this says a lot about the multifamily industry in general, is that there’s a lot of great people. There’s a lot of great experiences that are out there. I had a phenomenal experience on the operation side for 25+ years and I worked with a lot of great supplier partners during those years. So, the opportunity, I guess, to broaden myself, to continue to challenge myself and experience everything the multifamily business has to offer, I mean, it’s been rewarding. I have no regrets about the change. 

EF: Well, you started when you were really young, so you definitely were not done yet. 

TD: I don’t know about that, but I appreciate the thought. The solutions that we’ve got right now far exceeded what I ever envisioned when I started. And most of those gaps that I saw, I would say that we’ve closed a lot of them. But the good news is that as our customer base grows, we’re getting a lot of new ideas on how to continue to move the product forward. Just as I’m sure you are at ResMan. I mean, you know, you thought you knew exactly what needed to be done, but your customers are now telling you, Hey, how about if you did this, how about if you did that? And to me, that’s success in the industry, if you’re listening to that customer base and you’re adapting your product. 

EF: Yeah, I totally agree with that. One of the things I’ve always said, if you are willing to listen, the customers will tell you what you need to be successful. 

TD: Doesn’t necessarily make a successful business, like you said. I mean, at the end of the day, still, somebody has to buy it, somebody has to pay for it. And usually that happens if you meet a need— 

 EF: Yes, if you’re solving some pain. 

GD: And there’s a fine balance of listening to your customers and being able to translate that to your product in your software offering. 

EF: Yes.  

TD: Oh, just look at it now. If you could go to Apartmentalize, and you could see in any given area, I’ll use virtual leasing, 24/7 leasing, which pre-COVID, had a lot of players in it. And a lot of them fell by the wayside because they really didn’t deliver the ideal solution. You would think that it would be relatively simple to say, OK I understand what the problem is here and what I’m trying to do.  

But to deliver a solution oftentimes isn’t as easy as you think it would be. Yeah, it is not just necessary about the solution, it’s about the backing. It’s about the customers and getting them on board and embracing them and serving them, as you mentioned. ‘Cause if customers don’t stick with you, if they are not a part of the process of getting you to where you ultimately could be, you’re probably going to fail. 

EF: Yeah. One of the things that was interesting about what you just said about leasing 24/7, it was well on its way before COVID happened, but I think where the industry was lacking was—it’s kind of a different subject—but I think this is where your products shine: It’s not losing sight of the true end user, the consumer, which is the renter, the resident. And I think a lot of these technology offerings—and even when we first started—you’re just thinking about, What is the process and how do I take it online?  

But I always say all of our customers and their customers, they’re all being trained by companies like Amazon and Netflix and we were not adjusting in any regard. And I think it’s funny, as we started having these conversations internally about What’s the resident experience that B2C really needs to look like, then that naturally falls back into the people that are in the offices and the maintenance teams. Well, they’re online users, too. They are also being trained by these other big technology providers out in the consumer space, so why shouldn’t we be taking that same approach with them? And that’s where I think—hopefully you agree—we both do a good job of trying to take care of the B2C and the B2B. 

TD: Oh, yeah, no, absolutely. I mean, when we started SightPlan—and I talk about kind of closing those gaps—realize I was in corporate leadership in the operation side, at that point, and I saw a lot of gaps there. But what I saw in the Back to Work Series, and what I really experienced over my career, are a lot of those issues at the site level itself. And you know this, when you implement anything, if the site doesn’t buy into it, it is not going to happen.  

EF: Yep! 

TD: So, our first goal was to develop a solution that worked for the site team. Particularly when we got into business, I mean, most of the technology was focused on leasing. If you think about Y2K, for those who have been around that long, it was all about the leasing side, the prospect side, and we went technology crazy— 

EF: And forgot about our service providers. 

TD: Well, we did, but I think there were limitations that caused us to do that. One being you needed to have smartphones in the hands of your on-site team members. You weren’t going to do a lot of things with a flip phone, or you could have said Well, we’re going to give iPads or computers. That’s not really practical. And even then, with smartphones, you needed unlimited data plans, and you had to have a willingness for them to use your devices.  

So, there was, I don’t know if it was a perfect storm necessarily, but 5-6 years ago, things started to come to a head where you could actually put mobile solutions in the hands of the on-site team members. So, realize that nothing was going to occur unless you put something in their hands that was what they wanted to use. Everything else is secondary. And you can use those elements later, once your teams are actually adopting, using, pushing forward, to do a lot of the things that help them perform, make them more efficient. And with that thing comes a whole second subset of information, but that’s the precursor. That’s the foundation. 

Importance of Empowering On-site Teams Through Technology

GD: So, as your technology supplier today in the multifamily industry, why is it so important to not only deliver solutions that empower the on-site teams but to constantly innovate on that technology? Terry? 

TD: One of the things that I found in the Back to Work Series is that on-site team members want technology, yet there’s a disconnect because oftentimes corporate will tell you, You know we just can’t shove too many things on the sites or they go nuts. So, I would say there’s somewhat of a disconnect there, ’cause I think the on-site team members, particularly in maintenance, which is what we’re talking about here, is kind of a new frontier in mobility. They want these tools, but nobody really delivers the perfect tool first time out. We didn’t, either. You know. It goes back to the service level. You’re talking about the communication channels that you have to say OK I know what you need from a basic standpoint, but now let’s talk about all these other things

EF: Yep! The devil’s in the details. 

TD: It is! And, you know, as much as we thought we got all the details, right, I mean, people start coming up with all kinds of ideas: Well, it’s got to be in Spanish, and oh, we’ve got to be able to communicate effectively with one another, not just with residents. Oh, by the way, we don’t really have anything in assets, so let’s do something in assets. Oh, wait a minute, people are going to have to follow tasks, let’s do that too. It’s like, Wait a minute! I thought it was as simple as you got assigned a task, you did the task, life moved on. And that’s not the case at all. 

EF: No, I can completely relate to that, given the scope and the breadth of our solution. Yes. I imagine our backlogs or our enhancements are pretty lengthy at times. I know they were for us in the beginning. 

TD: Yeah. And to your point, Greg, this is what people expect. They expect that a solution is going to come up, it’s not going to be perfect, but in our industry, there are people who are willing to share, to communicate. They have ideas, There’s no lack of ideas, and there’s no lack of communication among people in the multifamily industry. It’s just people delivering the right tools to them. 

EF: Yeah. And I think what you said about the need to constantly innovate, when we bring new people into the company and they join our teams—fortunately, I get to spend some time with them—and one of the first things I try to do when they’re new to this industry is really share with them how much of the industry is built on the backs of the frontline team members, from maintenance to the end office staff.  

And you know, we can talk a lot about what we need at the back office in the corporate office, but in reality, it’s what’s happening out there day-in and day-out for the people that really support this industry. And all of us, including us on the supplier side, are beholden to. Because if they’re not doing their jobs and they’re not empowered to do what they need to do to be effective, which gives them the bandwidth and the financial resources to weather the tough storms like we just went through, that’s an important aspect of this.  

And it’s important to us and I know it is to you, too, because that’s where we really make the difference. And then everybody wins. You empower the frontline teams to be their very best, to have that pride and feel empowered on-site. Then they do amazing things and, in turn, the leadership achieves their goals, the investors achieve their goals. So that’s always been a really important aspect for us. 

TD: Yeah, developers would say that the value is created in the quality of the product that they deliver, and that is certainly true. And then the other piece of that is that it’s created in the interaction, those touch points between the staff and the residents. Because that’s the experience. Yes, you’ve got a product, but then you’ve got the experience after that, so it’s how do I perfect that experience? 

EF: Uh huh. We were just talking about that on the way here. One of one of our coworkers, Angie, and I were talking about that on the drive in about the experience. And she was saying Sometimes we lose sight of this, but this industry is unique. We don’t sell tennis shoes. We don’t sell cars. We basically put people in homes. So, you’re exactly right. Experience matters. 

TD: I use this comment when thinking about property operations, generally, I would say that people are the happiest the day they move in, right? They believe that the service is going to be as good as it possibly can be, because they’ve chosen you, your property, among other competitors. They like the product better than anything else. So, at that point, is it only the expectation that things could get worse to them? Yes, I think the really good teams can raise the expectations, can make them happier during that stay, ’cause I also think that a lot of people come into a multifamily environment without the expectations.  

And I think we saw that in COVID. Communication was so key. The industry was really behind in the tools that it needed to communicate with its residents, and you saw in the Texas freeze, right, you and I both here in Texas, I have three kids that are in apartments. During the Texas freeze, at no point did management ever communicate with any of my children to keep them informed of what was going on at the community. At my son’s community, the community was without power for three consecutive days—  

EF: Oh my God. 

TD: And at no point did he ever receive anything from the office that indicated, Hey we’re aware of the situation, here’s what we’re doing, any of that. 

So, those are some of those pitfalls that we’ve got to find the tools to solve. And it’s sad to think that we’ve been in the industry this long and those types of things still exist. 

EF: Oh yeah. This probably isn’t the conversation for that—at a later PropTalk we can talk about the leasing experience that I helped my son just go through in downtown Dallas, which was the most shocking leasing experience. I never would have thought that would have been possible given the last 12 months. I would have expected especially lease-ups to be at the top of their game. But yeah, there were a few phone calls we were making afterwards. 

TD: What I do think is important in our conversation is really to talk about the relatively slow adoption of tech of any type. A lot of times, we’re either so embroiled in our day-to-day or we just say, Well, you know we can’t deploy too many things at one time, so we put a lot of things on the back burner when there are actually a lot of tools out there that can actually help you. 

EF: And make a difference. 

TD: Yeah, there may be a little upfront pain in doing it, but in the long run, it’s the right thing to do. And I think our industry has been slower than other industries and maybe a little less willing to push the envelope a little bit. 

EF: No, I completely agree. But do you think that, from what I’m hearing the last 12 months since we entered into the pandemic, it does seem like we have put the throttle down on adopting technology. Now, whether everyone adopted the right technology, because it seemed like now there was a mad rush. Did you guys experience that? 

TD: Well, I saw that in the Back to Work Series, ’cause I was out and about, I went to 15 cities around the country and spent most of my time at the site level. They were highly energized during this pandemic, which is surprising. I mean, they’re also overworked, they’re busy, and life is changing around them. But at the same time, I saw great adaptation on their part. At the end of the day, they have a desire to help the residents. I think that’s what we see, most of the people on-site, is they want to help the residents. They want to do everything they possibly can. And we saw great things in the pandemic, whether they were forced to or whether they realized, Hey I’ve gotta start using some of this technology to help me in what I’m doing. And as a result of that, we emerged from this a much more receptive group to technology. 

EF: Yeah, tech-forward. What’s interesting is, as we were also having different thought leadership and brainstorming sessions, I was surprised that there are still a percentage of PMCs out there—property management companies—that maybe didn’t get on the bandwagon, they weren’t moving fast enough. And, as the country started to open up in different parts of the country, especially the Sunbelt, they were quicker to fall back into routines and old habits, whereas I would have thought, OK now is the time to evaluate technology. And we’re having some of those conversations, but I was surprised to see that as people don’t like to let go of old habits, there is a percentage of people that really just were like, OK, we just want back to normal and It was OK for us before, but at least we know this. I don’t know if you have come across any of them. 

TD: No, you know I think that’s certainly true. I would say it’s a temporary blip, because I gotta believe that at the end of the day, it’s still a competitive environment. 

EF: Yes. 

TD: So, whether you’re in the third-party business or whether you’re just flat out competing for renters and you’ve got to up your game—a lot of people during the pandemic upped their game. So, those that are the laggards are going to have to step up and catch up. I don’t know that there is a new normal that’s at that kind of, I’ll call it, lower level or pre-pandemic level. I think we’ve set a new bar. 

EF: Yeah, I agree with you. 

How to Help On-site Teams Adapt New Technology

GD: With the constant change and innovation that suppliers like ourselves are doing each day, what can we do a better job of in assisting the on-site staff in adopting that technology? 

EF: Well, it’s interesting, I was working on something; I have a deck about what does it take to navigate your career? And one of my slides—I literally just worked on this last night—was about becoming a change champion. I think there’s a messaging internally that, as you’re looking to adopt new technology, you’ve got to find some advocates, get people engaged in the conversation. We see, at least at our level, a lot of the top-level executives, high-level decision makers and influencers that make the decision for our platform.  

But at the end of the day, the majority of people using our platform day-in and day-out, the actual time in the platform, is by the frontline team. So, getting them engaged and getting them to understand before they’re sitting in the first training environment, to understand how does it benefit them? What is their return on expectations for them? How is their workday going to get better? And I think if you can start having those conversations earlier on and find those people who are excited and get them to be the change champion and lead that internally. 

GD: Terry, at SightPlan what are you guys doing to really help that adoption on the on-site? When a new owner rolls out your software and you’re constantly enhancing it, making improvements as you go, what are the things that suppliers can do a better job of to ensuring that we get the engagement on-site, but also keep them constantly up to date with the changes? 

TD: Yeah, well, you have to deliver a holistic solution right? It’s not just about the product. So for us, we could talk all day long about the product and say, Well, you’re getting the feedback, you’re adapting the product to the needs, you’re hearing their thoughts about how they want you to advance the product, so you’ve got that piece.  

But we talked earlier about the slow adoption, of corporate saying, basically, My sites can’t absorb any more information. And that’s probably, certainly not only, but it’s the results, oftentimes, of poor implementations. Either poor from the corporate perspective or poor from the supplier perspective. And a successful implementation has to be people first understanding what it is they’re going to be adopting here. I mean, you don’t just throw something at a user without them understanding what I’m going to use, how I’m going to use it, how it’s going to be supported. And then you actually have to do that, to live it.  

So, with us, we have a customer success team that will take most of that heavy lifting off of you. We provide all of the training. We do it live, because we want people to ask questions. It’s an opportunity to engage. But then we also record those trainings so that anytime—we know the multifamily world is busy right? If you try to schedule a training class at a certain time, half the people may get to show up—but record those trainings and store them. Have them available so those folks can listen to them at their leisure.  

But then, on an on-going basis, it’s, How are they engaged with the product? So, we have an engagement manager who monitors whether teams are actually using it or are they just, Corporate said ‘oh, do this,’ but then they’re not really using it? And so, we want to work with individuals, whether it be corporate or whether it be site teams, to say, Hey are your people really engaged? And if they’re not engaged, how do we get them engaged? What areas could they even advance more?  

There’s one thing to use the product. There’s another to use it to its fullest. I think a lot of times when people use something, they use 20% of its potential. We’re trying to work to get somebody to use 100% of the potential. But then on an ongoing basis, I mean, I would hope, that people are continuing to advance their product. But then, when you advance it, how do you communicate to folks on what you did to actually advance the product and why you advanced it? Oftentimes it’s—in our case—it’s a What’s New? webinar. So, every month we do a What’s New? webinar for the customers that talks about those specific releases that we just released this month and what’s coming in the next 30 days that will enhance their experience. 

EF: Yeah, I would agree. It’s funny, I took it from the operator side, but I think it’s important about the feedback in that constant communication, about How is the technology being utilized? So, for us, we have a layer that we put on our software that shows us engagement. We can see how people click through things and how they interact with it. But what do you deal with that afterwards? How do you circle back around?  

I know one of the challenges we’ve had is, because of the magnitude and sophistication level that we’ve gotten to within the platform, we have customers who have been with us since we started in 2013. And there has been quite a bit of an evolution to the solution and the products. And they struggle. So, we’re having to go back and set up the time to revisit with them. Here’s everything. Here’s what we’ve done, here’s what you might have missed, even if it was a while back. And You may have missed this, but this would enhance your work experience or would help you with your efficiencies.  

But I know that it’s one of those challenges and I think when we get the chance to talk with our customers, truly, they just get so nailed down, so you have to provide the knowledge, the training, it’s got to meet them where they live. They have to have the opportunity to train and educate themselves when they can. 

TD: We talk about the supplier/manager relationship as a partnership, right? Well, that partnership isn’t just about, Hey, here’s an engagement score or Hey, here’s some data. It’s How do I take that and how do I change my business? What’s the benefit of this data?  

You know, oftentimes you can do data overload. You could be the best at providing data, but if somebody is not using it, interpreting it, and growing their business as a result of the data, then you failed. 

EF: Yeah, I agree. 

The Collaboration Between Different Software Service Providers

GD: Let’s switch gears a little bit and let’s talk about the importance of working with other software service providers, and what does that really mean to the on-site operators? For example, Elizabeth, at ResMan we’ve got 120 different integration partners that we work with, but tell us what that means to the operator in that experience? 

EF: You could say that’s the original can of worms, if you will, that I opened up. Because we started down this path and we were just evaluating what we could bring to market. Well, we were able to develop in-house with ReMan’s core solution. And then we had things that we needed to solve for. As we were considering how we were going to approach the market, one thing that really stayed with us and was a key part of this decision was during the recession—the Great Recession, as we call it now—there were so many suppliers that stepped up in this industry and they stepped up for us in our management company. And they were exactly what you would hope you would have with a supplier partner: A partner.  

And so, when we were looking at launching the software, we were learning about the space, and we were hearing our early adopters really voice their frustrations about what they wanted—which is what they thought was best for their business—and finding that there was obstacle after obstacle in the property management platform and software space with the legacy providers. To me, I just couldn’t fathom being told what I had to use to run my business by somebody who’s not invested in my business.  

And that’s really where the foundation started in the original vision for us. I can tell you it definitely snowballed quickly, because we definitely want to stay an open and connected platform. It is important to us. It is part of the founding vision and that is, if we truly are a growth partner, we want our customers and our base to be able to utilize the supplier partners that they think are going to be the best for their business.  

But with that, we also want to develop new technologies. We have great insight and we want to be able to position those, but I think it should be a level playing field. And it’s about a healthy competitive landscape and being able to win the business because it’s the best solution. And not necessarily having to put up the barbed wire fences to guide your business and grow your business. You should grow the adoption of your products because they are the best that they can be, and they do work and the customers see value in them. 

TD: You know, we had one of our investors say early on to us, Do what you do and make sure it’s the best that there is out there, and have customers rave about your product. And that’s always been in the back of my mind, because over the years now, people have said, Oh, with your product you could extend it and do this, or you can do this, or you should branch into this, or this is related to what you’re doing, why don’t you do this?  

And the problem is, then you dilute what you’re really good at. And part of what ResMan is trying to achieve, and others out there as well, and I think what people in the industry generally appreciate is, they all want to do the best. And to do that you need to have partners that are focused on being the best in that area, ‘cause you can’t be the best at everything, right? If we’d branched out and done some other stuff, we weren’t going to be the best at it, ’cause you can’t be the best at everything. 

EF: The face of innovation is an obstacle in and of itself, right? That’s why you have to focus. Keyword there, focus. 

TD: You know, our industry is so collaborative and people are willing to work together. I mean, heck, in our industry, at times competitors work with other competitors. And I think that’s what’s great about our industry, because we can do that. We can all succeed if we cooperate in that way. And so, yeah, there’s collaboration. Not just, certainly the collaboration we have with you and the other property management softwares out there as well, but now we have a number of other groups that come to us and say Hey SightPlan, we would really like to interact with your product. And so, we have this open-API philosophy, as you all do with your structure. And that just helps tie us all together. 

If you think about it, at the end of the day, take an individual site, and you think about who’s doing the work on the site? Well, there are the site team members that work there, but you think of all the suppliers they bring in to get the work done: the landscaper, the turnkey companies, the marketing companies that are bringing in the traffic. I mean, it’s a whole host of suppliers and you’ve got to get them working well with one another, talking to one another. Because if you can get an efficient infrastructure of suppliers that are all working together, then your community can outperform all the other groups. So, there has to be some degree of cooperation between the suppliers that are working on the site, not just the property management software, but lots of groups. I mean, in our case now, we’re interacting with other supplier partners. We can bring in your landscaper or your turnkey company to do work on the property, to improve those channels of communication. That’s just one way. We’ve got lots of ways, but that’s just one way you’re saying, Hey we’re not going to do those things, but we’re going to help you do those things better. 

EF: Right. Yes. And that’s an important part. And especially over this last year, as people were looking to adopt technology quickly, having platforms like ourselves that are open and—luckily for us, we do have so many integration partners already set up within our platform—then it was just simply making the request and being able to activate things that were already integrated into ResMan, so that’s been an important part, too. 

TD: And that philosophy, at the end of the day, will help people realize, Hey the platform that we have is really what we want or what we should desire. I mean, I can’t take a group that has a bunch of substandard products out there and an unwillingness to work with others and have the ultimate best solution for my site. 

EF: Yes. And it’s going to be a great window of opportunity for the industry. If I still had assets—I don’t know if you fantasize about that; they tell me there’s therapy for this, but I haven’t taken it yet—but there’s this opportunity. We’re coming out of the pandemic, because we as an industry didn’t see the downfall that we thought we would. And the stimulus really did help protect the industry in rental housing.  

But now, as we’re looking at how do we grow our margins? Where’s that rent growth going to go? I think the technology is a competitive landscape because they are still in the high occupancies. I think I saw in our database, we’re looking at 93…94% across the board 

TD: The industry’s roared back. 

EF: Oh yeah. I would even say, we’re kind of even just a shuffle back, because we really, being part of the ______ rent tracker, we didn’t see…there are parts of the country that they really suffered. And I don’t want to take away from that, but I think as people are getting back and they’re looking at business as usual, they want to make the most of these assets. They probably have some investors that are hounding them about, Well let’s make up the lost margins from last year, and technology is an important part of optimizing your business. 

TD: It is. And the whole pandemic has broadened our minds to technology in general and the willingness to try some new things. One of the things that we’re seeing out of this pandemic, and SightPlan was built with this capability, is if you want to operate properties, they don’t have to be individual silos unto themselves. There are limitations that have prevented us from cross-utilizing resources across multiple properties in a geography. You know, I was in the third-party world and a lot of those were created by the fact that you were dealing with third-party owners. But now we have the capability to say, Hey there are new models out there where we can share resources across properties and we can properly allocate costs. And now you see people a little more receptive to new concepts. 

EF: Yes, and I think just to add to that is the shortage of labor. The industry was already struggling. I mean, every session I would seem to go to, every conference was talking about What can we do as an industry to attract talent, especially in the maintenance and technician side of the business? And when you don’t have enough resources, you have to share resources between properties. So, I think this has been a long time coming. And I know that you have a great platform that helps do that. And we have a great platform that supports your platform doing that. 

TD: I totally agree. Well said. 

GD: Alright. Well, Terry, Elizabeth, thank you very much. It’s been great hearing from both of you and your experiences from not only the Operator, but from the new hats that you wear. And the innovation and technology that you’re bringing to the multifamily space is so valuable and so needed. And you two are a classic pair, to say the least. So, thank you again. 

And for those who want to learn more about SightPlan and ResMan, visit our website and social media pages. You can get links to both ResMan and SightPlan’s websites in the episode descriptions. For more multifamily industry news and insights, be sure to subscribe to PropTalk on your favorite podcast platform. Thanks for listening. 

EF: Thank you, everyone. Thanks, Terry!