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The Multifamily Innovation® Show
61 minutes | Jun 11, 2021
Create an Experience Residents Never Want to Leave
Reimagining the Multifamily Consumer Experience Daryl Smith, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Kettler. Summary: Right now, Daryl Smith is working to create a fully-integrated omni-channel marketing platform, while also growing the name for his multifamily development plan. Key Topics: (2:10) – Kettler is reimagining the multifamily resident experience, namely figuring out how to best use the digital tools available. Smith is trying to eliminate friction as best as possible. (3:30) — What does reimagining really mean? Multifamily has been lagging, compared to other industries. Sit down and be bold and think about how to enhance the consumer experience for tomorrow. That includes both improving the digital experience and giving consumers more choice. Offer them both online and in-person sales experiences, so they can choose what they prefer. (7:45) – Be bold. For Kettler, they make decisions to figure out what tools best help enable leasing configuration and digital tools. Of course, those things come with price tags, and you have to take your budget into account. (9:50) — Keep your brand connected to your multifamily resident through personalization. Even if consumers prefer digital contact, they still want to be able to get in contact with a human if needed. (12:00) – What is “omnichannel?” The basis is to reduce consumer friction when multifamily residents engage with touchpoints. Kettler uses curated ads showing what the property can offer. They basically use a chatbox as a leasing agent. You have to reimagine what you can do and who you can be in the digital space. (15:00) – Kettler’s platform experience has two levels: the enterprise, which goes over basic tools and solutions the owner would need to use the assets; and the discipline, including marketing. (17:10) — Figure out what partners can solve for what and how you can create a frictionless multifamily resident experience. (20:20) – Be careful about your decision-making. Figure out who can best fulfill what you’re trying to achieve. Create a picture of what you already have and what you’re missing. Interview your on-site teams to figure that out. (23:00) — People don’t engage with platforms in the same way. That’s why you have to have choices available. One good example of tour technologies – people want different options, like in-person, live-virtual, pre-taped virtual, and so on. (25:40) – Of course you have to address consumers’ needs, but make sure you’re still protecting your reputation and your brand. (27:10) – Chatbots are conversational AI tools. Implementation of that into your strategy is what extends your availability to 24/7, which today is crucial. Consumers want immediate answers. Time is intrinsically linked to engagement. (30:00) – Any partner you choose should also be bold and innovative. The product should be challenging itself to grow along with the consumers. Consumer data is attainable – you don’t have to guess what people want, just look at the data! (34:40) — The goal is to create an experience that consumers never want to leave. But is that really attainable? Digital tools will help. Plus people are trending way from home ownership. People like having managed care, with maintenance and amenities available. (40:00) — Some multifamily companies are bringing services to them to make things all-encompassing. Some companies are playing with that new model. Think of Google: it remembers what you searched for and then brings new services to you, curated to your previous searches. (42:00) — Figure out what’s broken and start fresh before you figure out what tools you want. Also figure out what exactly your consumers want! You’ll also need to consider cost and timing. Digital doesn’t just give you the opportunity to relax – it also allows you to boost engagement every hour of every day. (45:30) — Covid changed everything. It positioned multifamily forward much faster than people could have anticipated. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It pushed people forward to engage better with their consumers. (47:40) — Someone has to drive expectations. That’s true for accounting, asset management, acquisitions, and all other aspects of the industry. (49:00) — Delta Airlines is a good example of a company that’s doing things differently. Other airlines focus on revenue building and how they can boost profits through shortcuts; Delta’s new CEO focuses on the consumer experience to impact revenue that way. (51:00) — How do you convince your team to take on new products or ideas? Get a good team and build your relationships with one another. You all have to be in sync and work in partnership for the bottom line. Having clear lines as to who is responsible for what roles and then later combining your ideas to be in sync with a coordinated solution will help. (54:50) — The agent experience is the frontline sales experience. Next is the employee experience, which relies on changing and enriching as cultures change. Bring in people who truly want to be part of your team and who want to be part of the digital space. Kettler is starting to measure all that. (57:10) — Kettler is going to start focusing more on sales opportunities. There are expectations there, but they might need reimagining. Figure out what your sales-centered standards are and what your consumer-centered standards are and develop strategies based on that. Pricing is another consideration. (59:00) — Challenge yourself to think about what’s next for the industry. Resources: Have questions? Want to be part of the Innovation Advisory Council? Text 480-760-2811Connect with Daryl:LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/darylesmith/Website: https://www.kettler.com/Instagram: @kettlerlivingTwitter: https://twitter.com/KETTLERlivingFacebook: https://www.facebook.com/KETTLERliving The post Create an Experience Residents Never Want to Leave appeared first on Multifamily Innovation®.
34 minutes | Jun 9, 2021
COVID Driven Risk Management featuring Rachael Kish
Rachel Kish has been busy through the pandemic. She says she’s working on growing her team while focusing on acquisitions for Asset Living, all on top of dealing with things like evictions. Kish joined the Shelton Residential team in 2017, and Asset Living acquired that company in 2020. “The joining of those two families has been a huge success for everybody,” said Kish. “Watching two different worlds collide and watching all of the success that comes out of that has been really fun to be a part of.” Kish says she’s proud of how Multifamily has responded to the pandemic. Companies made adjustments and tested new ideas extremely rapidly, and were largely successful. “I think the pandemic emboldened us to take risks and actions that we just – we wouldn’t have tip-toed around prior to that. And I think moving forward, as we come to a post-pandemic era, we can continue with that same boldness.” Kish says it’s important to analyze the priorities for each client and see where there’s overlap so you can work efficiently. “I feel like the most success comes in hiring great teams. Just this morning, I was texting with my managers, and I just thanked them, saying, ‘I couldn’t do what I do without you and the way that you pour into your people on-site.’ When you can find the right leaders, the execs at each of those sites, you can grow properties, you can grow portfolios. For me, that’s the biggest challenge and the great reward, also.” For a while, Kish was working on ways to try to be open, rather than figure out ways to work through closure. The response was focused on keeping people safe and keeping the virus from spreading. Now, Kish thinks people should shift the focus to making sure things stay open in a safe way. “We have to be very nimble in the way that we create policy in that environment. Really, it’s just, how do we be open, how do we do it really well, make people feel safe and also create the community that our people really desire,” said Kish. Kish says face-to-face interaction doesn’t have to be prioritized in the same way it is now. For instance, self-guided and virtual tours have been extremely successful. However, that’s not to say face-to-face interaction is no longer important. “Moving forward, we should continue to engage the technology to the degree that we have and look for new ways to utilize that platform. I also think we need to reevaluate how we deploy resources. In the COVID environment, we all had money set aside for social activities and then social activities got nixed. So how can we take that funding and re-deploy it so that we can still create community or be open on some level and just repurpose that money?” At one property, Asset Living used the money it saved by not having community events to hire someone to oversee the fitness center, making sure it’s regularly sanitized, and that people wear their masks. At another property, the site had an on-site housekeeper; she was repurposed to focus on amenities, and the property brought in another third-party company to take on her old role. Kish says there are some ways she thinks people’s decision-making and habits may forever be changed. For instance, she thinks people will always keep hand sanitizer in their cars. However, when it comes to residents, people still want the same things for the most part. Properties still have to deliver on those expectations. Communication and even over-communication encouraging people that they should get out and be active, but they need to do so safely has also been important. Choosing the right staff can help with that messaging. “You need the CDC guidance, you need the person who’s highly driven and motivated by all the rules and dotting every I and crossing every T. You need that person in the conversation. But you also need site-level people, because they’re operating within the constraints that some high-level office is feeding down to them. How practically is that working? If we don’t involve those people in the conversations, I think we run the risk of making policy for the sake of policy, which for me, doesn’t work in real life.” The client should also be a part of that conversation. Some property owners might feel differently about how to handle things than others. Remember, everyone is just trying to get through this. Kish also believes it’s important to make things as simple as possible, especially for property owners and managers. “‘What are my priorities? What do I value, first and foremost – not just as a business but as a person? What do I truly value?’ And then let that inform some of the policy. You have to remain energized. A lot of it is just your mindset. If we look at this challenge as an opportunity to find success in new ways, we’re going to find success in new ways. But if we understand the challenge to just be a barrier to success, I don’t think we pursue solutions with the same energy or vigor,” said Kish. Things like that are lessons you learn over time. For Kish, she remembers learning it as a young kid telling herself, “I can do this!” when she was faced with a difficult task. Kish also thinks sometimes it’s important to be stubborn. “Maybe I buck the system by bucking the challenge and finding ways around it. But what keeps me going is just remembering to look back. When I find myself somewhat road-blocked or stalled, I can think to myself, ‘Okay, Rachael, what other disasters have you come through and what wins did you find in those opportunities?’ And I just let those prior victories, big and small, some of them no one else would recognize or even know about, but I draw them as experiences to fuel me through the next challenge.” Kish became a Regional Portfolio Director right at the start of the pandemic, and obviously, she faced a lot of challenges. She says that amassing small victories helped other challenges to seem less daunting. When it comes to evictions, Kish says talking to legal experts early and often has been crucial. “As far as evictions go, they are really very necessary. And I don’t want to sound like a big, bad, evil landlord, because that’s certainly the reputation we’re getting. But the right eviction can save a lot of people and can make people safe. In a 300+ unit building or even a 100-unit building, one bad resident who’s behaving like a criminal, treating people poorly, making a lot of noise, making the property unstable – by removing that individual from that environment, we’ve made a lot of other households far more comfortable and probably more safe. So I think we need to remember what the eviction tool does for Multifamily and for the households that remain on the property after that eviction is complete.” When it comes to evictions in the pandemic, Kish says it’s important to be stubborn. You have to protect the asset, the staff, and the residents. But this isn’t about evicting people willy-nilly. “Don’t just think that because there’s a CDC moratorium that your hands are tied, because they’re certainly not tied. If you feel like they are, get an attorney – or get a better one,” said Kish. Kish says a lot of these issues come down to whether you’re comfortable having hard conversations. Some of those conversations can be friendly but are still difficult. For instance, talking with someone who lost their job and now owes $10,000 in rent can be challenging, but doesn’t have to be adversarial; just discuss with people what’s about to happen. Offer up some ways to help or talk about potential solutions. Keep engaging people in conversation. That helps lower delinquency, because people will pay what they can, even if it isn’t the whole amount. When you’ve hired good managers and leasing agents, that takes care of a lot of problems. Communicate with your staff and figure out what sorts of conversations people are having repeatedly, then write a script for how to deal with that conversation in the future. Once you practice it a few times, it becomes effortless. Kish says the Phoenix market is exploding. People are buying up properties left and right. A lot of people are coming in from out of state, too. “The growth is very exciting, it’s very encouraging. It tells me that the growth we’re in is going to be sustainable, it’s not crazy-growth, it’s exciting. There’s a lot happening.” Kish has about 2,000 units in her portfolio currently and expects that to go up by the hundreds soon. She says she loves site teams and thinks having a great team can make an enormous difference. The more buildings she works with, the more teams she’s able to develop. When your investor or asset manager isn’t local, it’s important to communicate often. Kish recommends taking videos rather than pictures. For instance, she might send a video of a manager or leasing agent talking about their successes and send that to the client, so they feel like they’re part of that environment. “It’s not just about the performance metric, it’s about the people getting the job done and bringing those groups together from very far places.” The operators are juggling both the emotional and technical side. The investor should be made aware of challenges those operators face, and staff should be made aware of investor priorities. “When we link arms and we make our industry more whole and more strong, we can fight the very real battles that we face. With the change in administration, certainly the dynamics in Arizona are changing very quickly with the rent control issue in Arizona that we’ve had some success in abating, but again, is resurrecting. We have to stay sharp, we have to stay connected, and it has to be bigger than our individual management companies,” said Kish. “Make your friends. Stay connected to others, get involved in the AMA or your local association. Look up from your portfolio, look up from the technical side of what you do and really identify, ‘How can I add some value to the industry so that I can leave a legacy, so that our work is sustainable, moving into the future?’ Because if we don’t, we’re going to take some hits, and they’re going to be big ones.” Connect with Rachael and Asset Living: LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rachael-kish-cam-caps-26103494Website: https://www.assetliving.com/Instagram: @assetliving The post COVID Driven Risk Management featuring Rachael Kish appeared first on Multifamily Innovation®.
28 minutes | Jun 7, 2021
Winning with Company Culture featuring Jamin Harkness
Patrick Antrim, CEO and Founder of Multifamily Leadership, prompts Jamin Harkness to talk about what he went through transitioning his business to remote work and building a winning company culture. Harkness is the Executive Vice President of The Management Group (TMG), a company that’s ranked three times on the Best Places to Work Multifamily® list. “It was a very uncertain time for our team. We decided to close our offices,” said Harkness. He says the teams have now started communicating weekly using Microsoft Teams, and he hopes to have the offices open again by sometime in April. Harkness worked for the same family-owned company for 20 years. “This family is very persistent and consistent in one thing: they set up meetings. They have a legal meeting every Monday, a maintenance meeting every Friday, and they just are clockwork with it. Even on vacations. They taught me consistency.” Harkness says he took that model to The Management Group. They have three meetings a week: one for leasing and assistant manager teams, one for maintenance teams, and one for all of the corporate department heads and managers. He says people enjoy that consistent communication and the ability to meet people from other teams that they might not interact with otherwise. That decision to ditch the office in the first place came from meetings between leaders within the Multifamily business. They discussed things like how to run the offices, how to respond if someone doesn’t pay their rent, what will they do about service requests that will keep the maintenance people safe? Those discussions are still going on monthly. “Unspoken expectations are the breeding ground for resentment,” Harkness says. They send out weekly questions to help keep everyone on the same page and activity reports. That form would ask simple questions, like how the respondent is feeling that day, and communicate what the organization is expecting that day. They don’t want to micromanage every minute of every day, but they want to express what the goals are. That form can be submitted at the end of the day to keep track of how well those goals are being met. For instance, they’ll ask the maintenance staff how many work orders they’re getting and whether they have sufficient PPE. They’ll ask the leasing team what its occupancy is and how many renewals they have coming up. If the managers don’t have the numbers, they’re asked to go find them. At the end of the week, everyone reports on those answers, creating a friendly competition and a better understanding of how the company is functioning. TMG committed to two goals before the pandemic. “We could have easily shelved those initiatives,” said Harkness. “But we decided to lean into them.” The first goal was to create a women’s leadership group within the company. “I needed to create a space for the females. I didn’t want to be in their meetings but I wanted to be their number one hype guy, I wanted to help set it up, support it, fund it. I wanted to bring in some of our industry leaders that I know – and some that I don’t know – and ask them to come share their advice. How can they connect? How can this group hold our company accountable?” Harkness says that’s been a tremendous success so far. The second goal was a D.E.N.I. Initiative. Harkness says the company will occasionally shut down for a day to go on a trip or at- tend something together and discuss. This year, with the pandemic, the staff watched a documentary about a Georgia congressman and civil rights leader called John Lewis: Big Trouble. Before, the whole company went to a civil rights museum. The company remains committed to those initiatives. “The title of what we’re talking about is winning on culture,” said Antrim. “How would you shape up the word ‘winning?’” “From the very top of our company, all the way down,” answered Harkness, “we understand that winning on culture is – ‘I want to everyday try to create an organization where our team members want to work. That’s the way we look at it.” To do that, Harkness tries to reward his team’s efforts often. He also tries to express that he supports and believes in people. “Some days, we don’t always win. Some days, we don’t always do the best. But I try everyday to engage with the person I’m with, to be present.” Harkness says he goes to his office once or twice a week, and otherwise spends time at the properties and with the people managing those properties. Harkness has participated in the Best Places to Work in Multifamily® program for years. That’s when he learned that it’s vital to listen carefully and to treat the team members as the asset they are. For instance, TMG would provide lunch for the maintenance team every week and a $500 bonus each month, because they weren’t able to work from home. The entire team got UberEats gift cards, cookies, t-shirts with fun designs, TMG branded sweatshirts and sweatpants, and more. They also do a monthly employee gift program. It costs about $45 a year per employee and takes one hour to plan, but it results in monthly gifts from the company showing TMG cares and respects its employees. He also says he’s leaning more into technology like self-guided tours. Those aren’t that common yet in the suburbs. Leasing agents were also hesitant about self-guided tours because they were worried they wouldn’t get their commission. Getting infographics, explainer videos, pop-ups, and more into the mix to educate people about the availability of those tours was important. He says they’re here to stay. Structuring all that comes down to the property operations level. Typically, the first person who gives a tour gets the commission. Now, TMG has people make a video ten or fifteen seconds long to send to people before their self-guided tour, welcoming them and reminding them of their appointment time. That’s how leasing agents “claim” the client now for commissions. “Every company has a version of a CRM system,” said Harkness. “We really explored all the tools, all the triggers, what makes sense, what doesn’t make sense, what’s overly burdensome, and we really focused on what we could do with our CRM system that was already there. It helped us work remotely.” The company made other transitions, too. For instance, all the computers they purchase are laptops. They got free apps that let them link their office desk phones to their cell phones. Harkness also says that when people work from home, they don’t have any of the distractions that they might run into the office. Harkness says he had to learn to treat people like adults who respect their positions, not like they’re trying to steal from the company. “When we return back to work, we’re very adamant that because our customer service has gone up so much with work order call backs and extra retention on renewals, we think we’re going to have somebody working from home every day.” Right now, retention and reviews are high for TMG’s apartments. He says that renewal rate might be because fewer people are moving during the pandemic, but he thinks it also comes down to customer service. “What are some things you think operators are missing?” asked Antrim. Harkness answered by explaining that team members don’t expect their bosses to know the future, but they do expect them to be present. Those team members are scared about what’s going to happen to their positions, so trying their best to provide consistent updates and answers when possible makes a big difference. He also makes a big point to make sure employees’ first days are pleasant and memorable. They’re greeted with a welcome box of different goodie-box style items, mixed with information they could need that first day. Harkness says that first impression is extremely important, but it’s also important to continue listening and making sure that first impression carries through and stays positive. Connect with Jamin and The Management Group: LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamin-harkness-cam-caps-8a291110Website: http://tmg-atl.com/Instagram: @jaminharkness The post Winning with Company Culture featuring Jamin Harkness appeared first on Multifamily Innovation®.
28 minutes | Jun 4, 2021
Building Community During a Loneliness Epidemic featuring Pete Kelly
Pete Kelly is the CEO of Apartment Life, a faith-based nonprofit serving the Multifamily industry for over two decades building community. That company helped with the Loneliness Epidemic. “About a year ago, the insurance company Cigna came out with a study that found that 60% of Americans would describe themselves as being lonely. If you’re an apartment owner or apartment operator, that’s a problem, because if your residents are lonely, that means they don’t have any roots in that community. And if they don’t have any roots in that community, they’re just as likely to move to the community down the street if they’re offering a good enough deal.” Apartment Life has a program that helps with building community. Coordinators do wellness checks to see what residents need. In some cases, they might pick up groceries for those that can’t afford it, or pick up prescriptions for elderly people struggling. “It’s not only the right thing – it’s good for people – it’s also good for the bottom line.” Kelly says on average, you can save up to $188,000 a year in marketing and overhead costs if you have a program to help with loneliness. “Obviously, we had to pivot a little bit. A lot of what we did pre-pandemic were faith- based events. The pivot was really caring for our neighbors.” Apartment Life has a couple different models for its program. The first uses two people who are living in the community as an ambassador for the manager. They’ll bring a proposal to property managers showing off potential event ideas and coordinating on marketing for that. They act as a welcome wagon, throwing parties and events, greeting new residents as they move in, and keeping on the lookout for ways to help people. About 3 months before a resident is set to leave, that ambassador will go over and talk with the resident about staying. That gives people a neighborly experience that makes them want to stay. It also gives managers time to potentially change people’s minds, or find out what they did wrong that they should address. “What’s different is, they’re not just setting up the event, they’re also playing host. And that’s a really key differentiator. If your goal is to put food on a table, you probably don’t need apartment life to do that. But if you want something to help your residents get to know each other, having somebody be really thoughtful about the event can help,” said Kelly. There’s also an off-site model, where the ambassadors are not literal neighbors, but they check in with residents to create that same feel. One coordinator is paid an hourly wage, rather than living in the community. That person looks for ways to create a sense of connectedness in the community. Kelly says he loves technology and social media, but that technology is not meeting the core need of connection. Social media has made the country more divided and lonelier than ever before, Kelly says. “We help residents to make friends, we help them get to know their neighbors. There’s a personalness to it that a chat bot could never replace. Even if we had the most advanced artificial intelligence that could anticipate people’s needs, there’s something about knowing there’s an actual person on the other side of that communication that makes a big difference.” Having those particular people fill that role is crucial. People simply can’t be friends with their apartment managers, because that relationship is transactional. And people don’t always extend friendship to their neighbors naturally. So those on-site neighborly ambassadors serve as the push people need to build community. In some lower-income communities, those ambassadors can also help meet some of the social, physical, and economic needs, Kelly says. That might mean connecting people who lost their jobs with resources that can help them pay rent and get groceries. The visit before people renew is a situation where properties can make a real impact. Kelly tells a story of a single mother named Kathy in Houston. The coordinator for that community went by to do a renewal visit, and learned Kathy had recently put a deposit somewhere else. She explained, she had a spider infestation that the management team hadn’t been able to solve. The coordinators expressed how sad they were to see her go and how much they’d enjoyed getting to know her. That night, Kathy emailed the team, saying she realized that she wants to raise her daughter in a community like the one she’s in, with great personal relationships with the people on site. Kelly says Kathy let go of her deposit, losing the money, and decided to stay. “That takes a human element. I don’t know that an AI chatbot would ever be able to accomplish the same thing as an interaction like that.” Kelly says it’s hard to decide on a single event that’s been the most impactful. But he did bring up the example of Texas losing power. “The problem with apartment owners in Texas right now is, a lot of those pipes have burst and it’s created chaos. There’s a lot of people having to move out of their apartments, or their furniture has been damaged, and it’s been a really stressful time. So one ‘event’ that comes to mind is we were able to partner with somebody and raise some money for some food trucks and just say ‘Hey, we know it’s been a hard week. We just want to treat y’all to a free meal.’” Apartment Life is still working through its pivot to try to be there for people in the communities they serve. In some situations, that just meant doing wellness checks. “But as we go into 2021 and the pandemic winds down, there’s been increasing demand from a couple different sectors. We’ve had owners of affordable communities that have reached out and said, ‘Hey, we need help with the wraparound services, and we need a solution.” Kelly says that’s been a growing arm of the business, along with senior communities. Senior communities experience a lot of loneliness. Student communities are also an area of growth, Kelly adds. “I haven’t met anyone that works in property management that doesn’t want to create a sticky community. I haven’t met anyone that’s like, ‘I don’t like my residents,’’ joked Kelly. “Generally, these are things they want to do but don’t have time to do, or don’t have time to do consistently. Or if you’re a leasing agent or a property manager, assistant property manager, and the event is scheduled for 8:00, you want to be home with your family! So it’s nice to know that the event is going to be taken care of, there’s somebody who actually lives there who cares about the atmosphere and the environment that’s working on your behalf to create that sticky community.” The Apartment Life team is also helpful in transitions to new management, since they maintain a level of consistency. Some of this takes a bit of trial and error, where you learn what individual communities or people would be interested in. Some of that you solve by having a variety of different creative events. People will always respond to food, but you have to tap into their personal relationships too to help build community. Apartment Life does extensive training for its coordinators. They have to be okay with a flexible, part-time schedule; they have to have administrative experience; and they have to be social. They also have coordinators form a network of other teams from different communities and cities to discuss what worked for them and what didn’t. “I see the direction the industry is going is increasing automation. I see the use of technology to run these communities as lean as possible, so that they’re as profitable as possible, using technology to replace the transactional relationships,” said Kelly. Still though, management companies are bringing up questions about how automation might affect the feel of a community.” In newer markets, Apartment Life can establish a team within about three months; in markets where the company has already set up shop, it only takes about a month to begin building community. Connect with Pete and Apartment Life: LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/pete-kelly-31220222/Website: https://apartmentlife.org/Instagram: @aptlife The post Building Community During a Loneliness Epidemic featuring Pete Kelly appeared first on Multifamily Innovation®.
26 minutes | Jun 2, 2021
Stabilizing Multifamily Cash Balances featuring Brady Nolan
Brady Nolan says his company is here to build something special and transformative, that can be innovative and solve big problems. “We are really playing around the rent payments experience. In the United States, rent is a $700 billion payments industry. It’s the largest single payments industry in the world. So on a macro level, I’m excited, because we have a huge opportunity ahead of us to build a really big and special business.” said Nolan. “There’s $50 billion of late rent paid every year. $5 billion of late fees paid every year. We’ve got a big opportunity to help lots of people.” Till’s core platform is called “Flexible Rent.” “The idea is, rent and the policies that have been created around rent have been incredibly inflexible since kind of the dawn of time. We have introduced a platform that sits on this incredibly advanced technology and data analytics platform, really deeply understanding each individual renter sitting in every one of the communities in which we operate.” Till has a few goals: It wants to improve the rent payment experience; it wants to solve problems around payment timing; and based on thousands of renters’ testimonies, Till believes one of the biggest challenges is how inflexible rent is. Nolan points out that rent is due at the first of the month, which is the point when the average American has the least amount of money in their account. “I say as a joke often – but it’s not really a joke,” said Nolan, “we’ve tried to make it as hard as possible for our renters to pay us.” Till helps people who normally pay their rent on time budget for how to pay for rent. It supports them if they run into a short-term pitfall. It also helps design schedules that are tailored to each renter. From there, it supports people on-site. It’s also as straightforward and easy to use as possible. “In every community where Till is offered, we’d like to see 100% of rent collected on the first of the month. And we can do that by having a platform of tools which meets each renter when they come to work with Till. It meets them where they are. It helps them stay ahead if they’re ahead; it helps them catch up if they’re behind. And there’s tools like credit boosts to help catch them up or fill any short-term gaps,” said Nolan. He says that can’t be done with a one-size-fits all system. But when Till works with individuals, renters’ payment success rates are 97%+ in just the first month, and 100% by the third month of enrollment. Understanding your cash planning and your expenses proves very helpful. These challenges existed before the pandemic, and still will after it passes. 60% of Americans have less than $400 in savings, and the average American experiences income volatility with at a quarter of their earnings. 50% of their post-tax income goes to rent. That makes budgeting and saving to be extremely challenging. Right now, properties are not set up to manage different types of renters. But it starts with understanding the individual. “Today, the way we work with renters is, we manage their collections through things like late fees, things like eviction filings, which are designed to be sticks to get renters to pay on time. But when they don’t work, when the renter misses that payment, they often just exacerbate the chance that that renter falls behind,” said Nolan. Having a tool designed to support your teams on-site and give the renter something that is positive and designed specifically for them has been extremely helpful. These systems are proactive, rather than reactive, asking ahead of time if they might need a payment plan. Nolan says Till was the first company to create a rental loan, where it would front money for renters who qualify. From there, they’d have a set amount of time to pay it back. A bunch of people used the product as a tool for flexibility. “The fact is, renters that can be very predictable, very reliable on-time payers shouldn’t have credit as their tool to get them a little bit more flexibility. It should be more diligence, more balance, and committed savings. Renters that are too far behind will never qualify for that product.” At the end of the day, this helps the money come in on the first of the month. “When we really boil it down and share the data and walk you through, there really isn’t anything else that can compare,” said Nolan. There’s another new facet of income and rent payments: “The idea that the W-2 is the sole source of income is just not true anymore,” said Nolan. Because of that, the screening for renter risk needs to evolve. A glance at a pay stub when the person first signs a lease and then a hope the person renews isn’t enough. “We only ever know what’s going on in our customer’s financial life once up at the beginning of that relationship. That affects how we set them up in the home, how we work with them, how we risk-manage, how we service. It’s all reactive.” Integration with the customer’s bank accounts and real-time analytics shows that payroll income is a meaningful percentage but is really only 60 or 70 percent of income these days. Timing within the month also matters, because freelance gigs might not line up with when they’re getting paid from their main employer. “We work with renters to make sure that the timing of their payments is in the most optimal state to keep rent the priority expense. What I mean by that is, as soon as income hits the account, the money for rent should be coming out and paid to the property or prioritized to the property before it goes somewhere else. That’s how we ensure payment success.” Till believes it has two masters: the owner/operator and the renter. On the owner/operator side, it only takes about 9 days to set Till up. The set-up period has to integrate with the property and with the renters. The communication with renters should be as automated as possible. Enrollment is optional. But Till can only help the property if renters are enrolled, so communication about it has to be effective. From there, Till’s team trains up the on-site team for the property. Till has found that property managers spend 1-3 hours per week per late renter trying to collect payment. Till saves between 50 and 90% of that time. “Nobody got into that business to be a debt collector. They got into that business because it’s a people business. They want to create really positive relationships with their renters, and that’s what the residents want. So we spend that training time and post-launch time with a full team that really manages their on-site relationships to make sure we are empowering them with time to go create those relationships with renters.” Nolan says they get feedback from residents frequently. One complaint is that people who pay on time say they never hear from their property managers; on the opposite side, people who often pay late feel like they only hear from the staff when they’re demanding money. This helps alleviate that tension. Nolan says he always asks how people are doing and what’s been going on recently. At first, people say they’re doing surprisingly well; but then, they’ll go on to say delinquency has increased. Nolan points out, that doesn’t mean things are good, it just means your expectations were low. Through the pandemic, optimism had waxed and waned. How well a multifamily community is doing also depends on location and the jobs that are most commonly found in each area. Some properties in the middle tier have done quite well, as people move from more expensive properties and seek out a lower price point. In contrast, urban areas have struggled quite a bit. Multifamily is resilient, but innovation can help. Nolan says this is a very exciting time for this industry. Innovating businesses are starting to grow. “We generally really believe that the rising tide raises all boats,” said Nolan. “You guys, as operators, should be utilizing technology platforms in your properties. We believe wholeheartedly that the relationship between the renter and – I try to avoid the term ‘landlord’ as much as possible – the operator has been kind of combative for a long time. It’s kind of been that the power is in the hands of the operator. One of the North Stars here at Till is, everything we do has to be positive for the renter. Probably 99% of things that fall into that bucket are a net positive for the property.” Nolan says that by setting residents up to succeed, the property will make more money and the staff will be happier in their jobs. The experience should improve holistically. Connect with Brady and Till: LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brady-nolan-9803464Website: https://www.hellotill.com/Instagram: @hellotill The post Stabilizing Multifamily Cash Balances featuring Brady Nolan appeared first on Multifamily Innovation®.
36 minutes | May 31, 2021
Interacting and Transacting with Anywhere Operations featuring Kerry Kirby
365 Connect has been serving the Multifamily industry for sixteen years, helping with things like marketing, leasing, online applications, web portals, and anywhere operations. “We pride ourselves as innovators in the space,” said Kirby. Kirby says there’s been a gradual change in demographics in the workforce. Generation Z, people born (between 1997 and 2012) is starting to have a big impact on the rental market, now accounting for about 23% of rentals. Millennials are still the largest rental group right now, taking up about 47% of the rental space this year; but that number is down about 6% from just a couple years ago. Gen Z is catching up and has already passed up Gen X as the most active renter. “This is our incoming workforce. It’s not just affecting the apartment market, it’s going to affect our team members and our employment base,” said Kirby. The oldest people in Gen Z are now turning 24 years old. That means they’re recent college graduates who are now entering the job markets. They’re big advocates of remote work, listing that as one of the primary things they seek out in a job, and they felt that way even prior to 2020. “The oldest Gen Z’ers identify themselves as ‘Z-lennials,’” said Kirby. “It’s kind of strange; it’s part of what’s called a ‘Generation Battle.’ It’s basically, the older Gen Z’ers that kind of sit on the line feel they’ve grown up as the digital revolution has evolved, whereas the younger Gen Z’ers who are there, and they just expect more and more things and more and more features to happen.” Anywhere Operations is an IT-based operating model that’s been around for a while but is starting to evolve and come to light more these days. It supports customer service so you can deploy products from anywhere, regardless of your physical location. Kirby says 82% of companies plan to let team members work remotely at least part of the time. They might create hybrid workspaces and change up office spaces. Since companies want their teams to be as efficient and productive in remote work as they would be in the office. Things like Zoom and Microsoft Teams are great for communication, but anywhere operations does something more: data security. “This is an entire system that is being orchestrated out there to make remote work more secure, more possible, more integrated into what we’re doing,” said Kirby. Most offices have a secure firewall. That might not extend outside those walls. If someone logs into a company’s system from residential internet, they’re inherently going to be at risk. Anywhere Operations is a cloud-service style service powered by firewalls. It lets people gain access to a network computer system, which lives in the cloud. “It all lives in what’s called a ‘security mesh system,’” said Kirby. “It builds a more modular approach to security, and this is critical in our industry, where we hold a lot of sensitive information.” Kirby says there’s a mix of people who want to go back to the way things were, and those who want to continue with remote work. “The problem with the way things were is, trending behind us is a huge demographic that doesn’t like to talk and would rather text. They don’t like encountering people. These are your next clients, what do you do?” Eventually, Kirby says, even ‘touchless’ won’t be a thing anymore. That’s why he says we should focus on Predictive Projects. “It’s a project that we had in motion long before stay-at-home mandates and mask-wearing was a thing,” said Kirby. “We’ve been building technology, knowing what’s coming into the market. We know that market turns over. We know that the next generation winner is coming in, and just as we started off the year, is going to be that prominent and dominant renter in the market, so that’s what we’re looking at building technology for.” Kirby says the coronavirus helped speed technological advancement. But there were things being built before the virus, based on predictive technology geared toward Gen Z. That means going paperless, texting rather than calling, and making things as un-complicated as possible. Kirby says he calls this the “Uber Generation,” saying the functionality of the Uber app is reflective of the generation today. You press a few buttons, you get in a car, you get where you need to go, and no words have to be exchanged the entire time. With today’s technology in the Multifamily industry, you can do a lot online, but at some point, you do have to interact with someone. Kirby believes the industry needs to make it so someone can apply for an apartment, get approved, sign a lease, all within a matter of minutes at any time of day or night. Right now, AI aids about 90% of the workforce in some form or fashion. It automates something that makes the job easier. Multifamily includes a lot of AI, but application approval and lease generation – two things that have lots of special conditions – still need an actual person to look over. There are a lot of manual pieces involved. Kirby thinks those are the things that need to change to become automated, touchless, and much faster. “I call it Search to Sofa,” said Kirby. “How can I get it search to sofa and not have to involve a staff member? That’s the question we should be asking ourselves.” Applications for apartments have a lot of questions. Some of them go into great detail, hoping to auto-populate in the lease if the person does get approved. But a lot of that information isn’t necessary at that stage. For instance, applications will ask for vehicle information and license plate numbers? What do you do with that information if the person isn’t approved? Nothing! Kirby says you really only need four or five things for the application. People should be approved quickly. “I don’t think we’re ever going to get to 100% pure touchless automation on the application and lease process, because there’s always some piece. But I think we can get in the 90% range,” said Kirby. “And I think the – I call them ‘off-cases’ – can get set to the side, and there’s someone to deal with them. Would you rather deal with 100% or 7 or 8 percent? I’d rather deal with 7 or 8 percent.” Kirby says he thinks there is enough AI out there to make this process better. People should be asked simple questions before their approval, then once they’re approved they can go through the more complex questions. “I looked up some research on what people call ‘response.’ 90% of customers wanted an immediate response. What do you call an immediate response? It was in the study. 10 minutes or less. They want to know something right away.” Leases have a lot of moving parts. Between AI, advanced analytics, automated processes, and more, most of those things can be automated these days. “I think we can use hyper-automation to get there, to get 90+ percent of this done without a human touch.” Kirby admits this might not work for every property type. People in Multifamily are used to talking with customers. Everyone has their different processes, but a lot of people are holding on to processes that are outdated and no longer viable. The younger renters and workforce that will come into the market are not going to put up with old leasing strategies. The new generation will dictate those processes, and corporate America doesn’t have a choice in that. Kirby recommends that leaders shouldn’t spend too much time looking backwards. Don’t revert back to pre-2020, when there was a pandemic, a record hurricane season, and wild- fires torching the West. Look forward, focusing on what might be next. Think outside the box, keep innovating, and keep trying to figure out how to make things better. Then, pay attention to how that affects your team members and your bottom line. Keep in mind, turnover costs money. Another good idea is to pair up with tech companies, sharing some of the information you’ve gathered and walking through other potential processes. Collaboration could be key to moving forward. “We listen to the problems people have and see if they work at scale. A couple things we’ve adopted recently is, when COVID came, a lot of people were doing what I call, ‘paper’ and said, ‘Wow, we’ve got to go digital,” said Kirby. “We tore apart what we were doing, rebuilt some things. Some of the cool things we’ve been able to do is, if somebody’s applying for something online – on an application line – typically, on the other end, that unit is still available. We’ve built some technology that says, ‘this is reserved at the moment,’ and it won’t allow you to apply at the moment. We can set timers on it.” Kirby wants to scale things down and make things more flexible and easier. Those services should be available anywhere. “That’s what excites us. We’re starting to create some things. And as we’re creating them, we’re starting to create some really advanced analytics,” said Kirby. Those analytics will be for big-picture data points, which can be drilled down to get more finite.” Kirby calls those “Actionable Analytics.” He also thinks the industry should take a look at the things it is doing well, like at automat- ed marketing, online service requests, and digital rent payments. All this could use some other pieces, but it’s going pretty well so far. But he says the onboarding process between the application and the actual move-in date has a problematic and fragmented grey area that can be vastly improved. As far as team members, more companies are getting excited about being rated as a “Best Place to Work Multifamily®.” Vying for that title has made Multifamily better at communicating about staff’s wants and needs. “I think we are all moving in the right direction,” said Kirby. “I think it’s about collaborating, innovating, and not thinking that – ‘Oh man, there’s some things I want to know, but I don’t want to call this company because I don’t want to get sold anything.’ Our philosophy is, we don’t want to sell you anything you don’t want. To me, collaboration is more valuable than making the sale. If we can build the right things as partners in the industry, then move things forward for everyone, then that’s the thing to do. I would encourage more collaboration between property operators and industry providers,” said Kirby. Connect with Kerry and 365 Connect: LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kerrywkirby/Website: https://www.365connect.com/Instagram: @365connect The post Interacting and Transacting with Anywhere Operations featuring Kerry Kirby appeared first on Multifamily Innovation®.
40 minutes | May 28, 2021
Why We Need More ADHD in the Workplace featuring Jessica Fern
ADHD in the Workplace Jessica Fern says she wants to start her discussion by talking about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and another less-well known term called Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). “I think when you say ADHD, you automatically have a picture in your head of what that looks like, which is probably a random bee buzzing all over the place, but one of the things I absolutely love about ADHD is chemically wired,” said Fern. ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and ADHD have been combined into the same term. “ADHD is a chemical neurotransmitter disorder that affects the way your brain processes information,” explained Fern. “It’s not necessarily that some folks can think too much like myself – it’s not that I can’t pay attention; everything gets a lot of attention at the same time. It affects different executive functioning corners of your brain. If you don’t have access to certain chemicals or do have access to too many chemicals, it can cause what’s essentially a misfire. So when you think about being impulsive, your brain might walk you through Step A, B, C, and D. My brain just goes to D, which is great because it’s one of the reasons why I firmly believe that Multifamily needs more ADHD.” Fern says not over-thinking consequences leads people with ADHD to be fearless. She views it as a superpower. But it’s important to know how to leverage that. Of course, ADHD shows up differently in different people. For some people the “H” – the hyperactivity portion – shows up more than it does in others. Fern says for example, her daughter is less hyperactive, but is extremely disorganized, a symptom more associated with ADD than ADHD. Fern says HSP is related. “Being a Highly Sensitive Person does not mean that you are sitting in the dark crying after a hard day. A lot of it is just the reaction to your senses. Maybe your sense of taste, smell, hearing. For me, it’s intuition. It’s energy and how you’re impacted by things around you,” explained Fern. Fern says she had an epiphany in the past year when coronavirus hit and a lot of the stimulus she would normally experience in her career with Multifamily came to a halt. “I have a Ferrari brain with bicycle brakes and eat chaos for breakfast,” Fern jokes. “But when you take away all of that stimulus and you are very much stripped down to, ‘Okay, I’m just here in my office and I’m doing the same thing, and while we’re at a high level and we’re functioning at a high level, there is still removal from the external elements that can sometimes mask the struggles and the challenges. Because when you don’t have that high urgency and you don’t have that sense of – almost stress, thriving under stress, you are like, ‘Okay, well, now what do I do?’” Fern says it took her a while to take things seriously and accept that ADHD was a part of her life, 24/7. She had to come to understand what that meant for her and her children, who she sees struggle. Fern says her son has been a distraction in class his whole life and has been punished by being sent to the back of the classroom. She realized recently that different does not necessarily mean difficult. “COVID has forced a lot of us out of our comfort zones to actually ask for what we need. Whether you are learning, or whether you are a leader, it is extremely important to lead and teach the way that others follow or learn and to meet individuals where they’re at.” Identify Different Ways People Can Learn Fern says her company is working on identifying different ways people can learn. That might include anything from focusing on the pace at which you’re speaking, to ensuring the colors on your presentation slides are easily seen even by people with partial color blindness. Providing material ahead of a meeting is also extremely helpful. “Little changes or shifts like that can make a world of difference,” said Fern. “I was almost upset with myself when I realized I had not done that for our own employees, and those are things I had just fought for and implemented in my own home. But we all have those epiphany moments, and I think it’s really important to figure out how humans are working.” She says things aren’t the same as they used to be. For instance, we all know more about each other because of social media. So, you should support how others learn, feel, and grow on their terms, not just your own. Authentic Leadership As far as new leadership is concerned, Fern says people should be authentic. She believes COVID separated managers and leaders, because it’s harder to lead by authority when you aren’t physically in the room with someone. It makes people’s choices become clearer. “I think I get really spoiled because I work for an organization that really celebrates individuality and celebrates inclusion. I always feel like myself when I show up for work. I am fiercely organized, and I was showing the director my project tracker and was telling her, ‘This is just the way my brain needs to function, and all my spreadsheets talk to each other, and I have to have it this way because of my own struggles,’and she just paused and said, ‘Thank God, you have ADHD.’ For someone who feels different and operates to a different owner’s manual, those were wonderful things to hear.” Living With Einstein Patrick Antrim, the CEO of Multifamily Leadership, mentions a new podcast Fern is producing. He says the podcast had him and his wife in tears, listening to the heavy message surrounding children’s experience during the pandemic. Fern says it was hard to start talking about things on the pandemic, but she wants to allow others to feel okay being human. She felt compelled to share her story, and originally wanted to write a book, but felt that would be difficult for her. Instead, she started the podcast, called Living with Einstein. “My fiancé is the one who gave it the name, because I had posted something on Facebook about [my son] Jackson getting his diagnosis at 13. And while ADHD is something that I’m very comfortable with, still, as a parent, to not only go through the process of getting a diagnosis, but then to weigh the option of medication, because it’s not really – it’s definitely a choice you can take back, it’s still really difficult,” explained Fern. She says her fiancé joked that he nearly commented back on that Facebook post to say that living with Fern and their children is like living with Einstein, because their brains all function at a very high level. “It’s not really until somebody else comes into our environment that we think something is different, because all three of us have it – it’s not just me, it’s me and both of our kids.” Fern says she’s always loved Einstein. He has a quote that says, “If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing that it’s stupid.” Fern feels that quote plays into how we’re missing the mark with leadership, development, relationships and more. She reiterates that you have to meet people where they are. “We are sending people to training, expecting them to be the expert. We are saying one thing and expecting understanding. I think we have a responsibility to confirm in another person what it is we want to have been heard. I feel like we’re focusing more on what we want to say instead of what we want others to hear.” Redefine a New Era Fern says leaders should use this pandemic and this new era to redefine what they stand for. “If you are not authentic, or competent, or confident, you’re a distraction. People know. People know when they’re following a leader that’s not authentic. That’s why not everybody is good at everything! Pick what you’re good at and run with it.” Leaders should be looking for ways to amplify individuals’ gifts and talents, rather than trying to fit everyone into a mold. Fern also touches on the phrase, “Leadership of self.” “In order to be successful, whether you are managing ADHD or managing another – I like to call them abilities, because they really are strengths, they really are gifts. Whether it is you are managing those abilities or managing people or whatever, you have to be honest with yourself.” That includes seeing what you’re good at, what you aren’t, how you can get better, and navigating your own fears. It’s also important to have the ability to ask for what you need. “I think a lot of times we get really in our own way with failing and fears of failing. I know I do a lot of work around fearless failure – that’s the most recent podcast episode is foundation work around failing fearlessly. But acknowledging where we are able to grow in that fear, and not self-inflict and get in our own way.” That means that as you walk into a task and get nervous, for instance ahead of a presentation, spend some time to mull over why you’re feeling that way. Think about what’s at stake and why, and how much is just a feeling rather than an actual fact. It’s important to figure out ways to break your own patterns. Score Culture Fern says we grow up in a “score” culture where we’re told we always need to achieve at the highest level, and we’re always compared to everyone else. “It’s so one-size-fits-all. We really have an opportunity as leaders to create some individuality with how we move people from being willing to, to wanting to, then able to.” Fern says some strategic ways to do that could include asking people where they need support or finding out how they learn and communicate best. “Nobody likes an email that says, ‘Hey, can we talk?’” Fern pointed out. A lot of people will run through scenarios right away upon seeing that, thinking they’re about to be fired. A lot of people need to be communicated with in a different way. “Really identifying what you need and what others need from you – I know it sounds so basic, but we have to go back to the basics right now,” said Fern. The payoff will be people taking chances and sharing their ideas. Don’t create an environment where people are ridiculed for sharing ideas. Make people comfortable enough to innovate. Fern also notes that there are many situations where people don’t know what to do with the information they’ve been given. “I really did not come to terms with the fact that I’m someone who’s struggling with rejection for a long time. I worked with a counselor, I have almost a whole team of people that helped me work and do cognitive things and really work through some of these emotions. Number one, I was just at a point where I was just tired of feeling like I was holding my breath. And I don’t know any change that doesn’t start with somebody being tired of their own BS.” Fern says that’s a major problem. People need to acknowledge the things that are getting in their own way, self-reflect, ask for feedback, and be willing to do something with the information you’re given about yourself. “I try not to focus on being a leader. I try to focus on being an example, and let the leadership follow,” said Fern. Fear of Failure Fern says that if you’re scared to ask for what you need, think about why. A lot of it will come down to fear of failure. For people with ADHD, the thought process is, you don’t know that it won’t happen, so focus on the fact that it could. Fern has three simple steps for how to fail at things as though you have ADHD. The first step is to think about why you’re nervous and try to care less. Usually you’re nervous because you think you have something to lose, such as friends or family or your reputation. “What’s at stake? Usually, that is directly related to a value – family, health, wellness, knowledge, competence – if something you care about is at risk of loss, you probably won’t try to do the thing that risks that loss because it’s too great of a thought,” said Fern. “But I challenge you to always ask yourself whether or not there’s any truth behind it, or are these stories that you have told yourself.” If you are actually at risk of losing something, talk to the person about what your worries are. “All we’re asking you to do to manage fear is to manage the unfamiliar.” Secondly, get to know your fear. That’s another way to manage the unfamiliar, and thus manage your fear. “Same thing with value loss,” said Fern. “If I value competence, and I’m scared to raise my hand in a room full of people because I’m scared of how they’re going to think of me and that could violate my competence, how do I manage that loss? How do I internally say, ‘What’s going to happen if I do? What’s going to happen if I don’t?” Build failure into part of your plan. Fern says no one is bad at anything – they’re just out of practice or haven’t had practice in the first place. If you’re trying something new, don’t expect it to be perfect. Step three is to remove unnecessary limits. “I hear people say all the time, ‘Oh, I’m not that person, I could never do that.’ The word ‘capability’ by definition means you don’t know what’s going to happen yet. It means you could, but you’re not going to know until you actually try. So by definition, capability is inherently limitless. Because we don’t know what we’re capable of until we actually try, so why would we put a ceiling on what should be the floor? By telling yourself you can’t, you automatically take yourself out of the game. Because what if you could! What is that space of ‘what if’? That’s where you can leverage things.” Antrim asks how Fern works through people’s limitations with them to help them overcome them. “It’s really working through and talking out loud what the fears are,” Fern says. As an example, if someone is thinking about making a position change. If the person is scared, consider what’s at stake that they aren’t willing to risk losing, which is holding you back. If someone honestly considers what’s at stake, it’s simply that people don’t want to get promoted and then fail. Fern says to remember that no one is ever great at anything when they first start out. So, now you’ve identified your fear: it’s that you aren’t ready. So, go out of your way to get more ready ahead of time. If you’re worried about upsetting or disappointing someone, talk with them ahead of time about the possibility of failure, how you’re feeling, and how you should move forward if you do fail. “The real kicker is a ladder of inference -it’s how we make assumptions based on our own morals and ethics and things we’ve grown up with. It’s basically a path to assumption and not a lot of fact is needed to get from Point A to Point B. You can completely fabricate a story, and that’s what I like to call self-inflicted failure.” Instead, focus on the facts that support the fear. If Fern is working with someone who’s very afraid, she makes sure to spend a lot of time exploring why that is. Fern also likes to make sure to involve people who are being quiet. She wants to make people feel comfortable enough to share their own feedback. Another famous quote Fern loves is, “Your story could be someone else’s survival guide.” That’s what she’s hoping for in discussing her own vulnerabilities. Connect with Jessica and FPI Management: LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jessica-fern-06636637Website: https://fpimgt.com/Instagram: @thejessicafern The post Why We Need More ADHD in the Workplace featuring Jessica Fern appeared first on Multifamily Innovation®.
28 minutes | May 26, 2021
Legislative Impact on Apartment Housing featuring Sheri Druckman
Legislative Impact on Apartment Housing Sheri Druckman, the Vice President of SRG Residential, says it’s an exciting time for Multifamily in legislation. People are going to congress, trying to promote housing initiatives. The main ones are rental assistance, eviction moratorium, and housing affordability, which are part of the American Rescue Plan.At the start of the pandemic, California put an eviction moratorium in place; all but 6 states followed suites.“As an industry, we really had to scramble to figure out, how do we help our residents who were impacted by COVID? What do we need to do to help support their rent deferrals and provide resources for them? That was a big, big issue for all of us as operators.”Right now, the CDC’s eviction moratorium is set to expire March 31st, but it’s likely to extend that. National Debt Druckman says the national debt has also grown by tens of billions of dollars, which is another issue.SRG has been helping residents with their rent deferrals and tracking rental assistance. They’re monitoring how people are applying for it and checking in to see how that affects collections and renewals.“Over the five states that we operate in, we have so many different ways the states and cities are implementing the programs, so we really have to stay on top of it.”President Biden recently signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which provides $25 billion in rental and utilities, plus another $10 billion in mortgage aid and $5 billion to tackle homelessness. It gives out $300 in job aid supplement, which was going to expire, but the plan extends those unemployment benefits. It also sent $1,400 stimulus checks to anyone making under $75,000 a year.“The mounting rental debt is up to $60 billion right now, so even with this $25 billion in rental assistance, it’s not enough for what we need. So what will happen now with this rental assistance, in how it’s being distributed is something we’re watching very closely. The intent for the relief is for housing providers to apply on behalf of the residents, to create that broad recipient eligibility. But what’s happening is, the assistance is going to be distributed by the Treasury to the state and local agencies. It’ll funnel through cities and counties, but there’s a lot of variation in how it’s being administered.”The problem is, not all states and agencies are allowing the housing providers to apply on the residents’ behalf, as the plan intended. The money is meant to go to the people who need it the most. The prioritization is first to go people who make below 50% of AMI and have been employed for 90 days. There’s also a higher threshold for people earning up to 80% of AMI.Druckman says property managers should figure out how that money is being distributed in their individual communities and get on the registration list.“These agencies – some are more equipped than others to handle this type of an influx,” said Druckman. The best plan is to elect one person to represent your entire region, who can deal with the state and put in a mass request for funds. That should help expedite the process.If the funds aren’t used, they go to waste.Druckman says through the pandemic, tons of different property management companies have come together. NAA and NMHC are an example of that.“They historically have partnered up on initiatives, housing initiatives, and strategies for consistent messaging,” said Druckman. “NAA spearheads the advocacy efforts through Advocate, but it’s all one global housing message. When we’re speaking with members of congress and our senators and our legislators, we definitely use the guidance from both of our leaders in housing.”Druckman previously served as past president of Washington Multifamily Housing and brings that experience to her new role with SRG.“It’s really about the passion for our industry. I think sometimes what we do is, we sometimes lose focus of why we’re even in this industry to begin with. It’s to improve housing for all. For all income types. My takeaway is to get involved, to have a voice, and to make a difference,” said Druckman.Getting involved with different organizations can help you to do that.“We’re in a position to change housing, as housing providers. That’s a real privilege, and that’s where the reward is, is when you take those steps and team up with others in the industry to make a difference.”Druckman says in her early career, she wanted nothing to do with legislation. But when she started learning about how much lawmakers count on being educated by the people involved in the industry, she jumped onboard.“We are facing a severe housing affordability crisis. Before, if you were to tell me ‘housing affordability’ I would only think about a HUD property or a low-income site. And that’s not the case,” said Druckman, who points out that the pandemic has put a spotlight on the issue. “This has been a crisis for years and years, but now it’s exponentially worse because of COVID.”The challenges vary by state. For example, Washington State needs 10,000 new units each year; in New York, that number is 9,000; in Arizona, it’s 17,000; California needs 47,000 new units each year.“There’s so many barriers to housing that we need to overcome and work on. It’s a severe crisis,” said Druckman.New advancements are making a difference. In other counties, big housing sites are going up in days. Tiny homes might be a game-changer.But Druckman says it isn’t just about building quicker, the materials we use also have to change. Lumbar has skyrocketed in costs. Druckman also says we need start building denser.Right now, she’s speaking with legislators about zoning reform. The “YIMBY” Act (Yes In My Back Yard) is in the works.“Over the years, we’ve really had to combat NIMBYism – ‘Not in my backyard.’ So part of this bill would require participants of a grant called the CDBG – the Community Development Block Grant – so it would require them to do reporting annually on how they’re working on improving density, to allow more high-density and extend the zoning for Multifamily. If you think about it, we’re not living in the 50s any longer with a one-and-a-half-acre lot sizes. We just have to think differently. We need to create more middle housing.”Druckman brings up something called hyper-local zoning. The idea is, state and local governments’ streets and blocks would be given the ability to decide how much more density they’d want in individual neighborhoods.It’s important to create more accessible dwelling units, too. Beyond that, it would need legislation to support that.Druckman urges people to get involved.“There’s one great thing from COVID that’s impacted legislation: the ability for you to be able to speak on behalf of our industry virtually. Before, we’d go to the Hill and meet in person. Now you can do that virtually. There’s also what’s called Voter Voice. Your local affiliate will have a government affairs director or program that can help guide you, but there’s no reason why we can’t all get involved. The more volume we have on any given topic, the more power and more persuasive that becomes. So get involved, and educate yourself so you can educate your clients and your local senators and representatives.”In 2019, there were only about 300 people going to the Hill to talk about Multifamily. Now that that’s gone virtual, the number in 2020 was 900. Connect with Sheri and SRG Residential: LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sheri-druckman/Website: https://www.sares-regis.com/srg-residential/homeInstagram: @sheridruckman The post Legislative Impact on Apartment Housing featuring Sheri Druckman appeared first on Multifamily Innovation®.
34 minutes | May 24, 2021
The Fully Connected Community featuring Demetrios Barnes
The Fully Connected Community Demetrios Barnes, the Co-Founder of SmartRent, says in the future, every element of a home needs to be connected online. That means from the front gate to the operational tasks, everything should be online and have corresponding software connecting those things. SmartRent serves over 2,000 customers and was recently recognized as one of the Best Places to Work Multifamily®.The components of a truly connected community start with “smart access” – that means making sure people can get in the gates, the common areas, and the units themselves. Energy saving and energy monitoring is important too, including connected thermostats and tracking of water usage. Also, having sensors around the community will help inform people.SmartRent has a general protocol for in-unit connection and others for elsewhere in the community. Some rely on WIFI, some use cellular data or things like Bluetooth.Barnes says to consider whether the problem you’re solving would benefit from use of a hub.“For us, we can go both ways. But the value of a hub really allows data to be collected and drive action in the presence of not having WIFI or not having cellular. So you still have the ability to have a network that’s running, the devices are communicating with each other. And that’s device-to-device communication, rather than sending data out to the cloud and inflicting change,” explained Barnes.For Barnes, community-wide WIFI is crucial, and residents should be able to benefit from that WIFI. When it comes to devices, he wants a hub and he wants Z-Wave so devices talk to each other on their own network.“In a general scenario where you are buying devices that solely rely on WIFI, there’s a really good chance that that’s a consumer device, so you don’t have the ability to have a management level of control over these various devices, because those devices require a login.”As a manager, you don’t want to have to manage 100 different logins around your community. Z-Wave removes that over-arching credentialing system and allows the devices to talk. The software provider handles the ownership.Barnes provides the example that without managers having access, if it’s up to the resident, the resident may (accidentally or not) sign the manager out of the account so he/she no longer has any control over a certain device.Barnes recommends contracting with a specific tech team or company. Trying to do it yourself is nearly impossible, or at the very least won’t be as good. The other problem is, tech is constantly changing.“That being said, we are a provider that wants to help companies who believe they want to take that burden on themselves. For us, if we find a partner that says, ‘I’ve got my own website, I’ve got my own tech team, I’ve built some key things, maybe we have our own property managing software that you leverage.’ We’re a company that’s got a full suit of APIs through all of our various products. We’ve got large national and global clients that have their own system. And for us, we want to be the hardware/software experts when you’re thinking about connected communities. So if you’re working with a partner like us that can divide you a simple set of APIs, it really keeps your development costs down, keeps your research down, and it gives you that security of knowing this is someone who’s done this across the globe now, which is going to cut your development down.”Barnes says when you do form a partnership with a company, be it SmartRent or any other, that company should walk you through what it’s doing and encountering every step of the way, even if they run into some bumps. Tech for Tours A lot of companies are making the switch to use tech for tours. That isn’t just going on a virtual tour where something is pre-filmed or you video chat a leasing agent who walks you through the unit in real-time; it includes self-guided tours. That means prospects show up to the property and take a look around themselves, without a leasing agent present. Many companies, such as Mark-Taylor, are trying this out through a pilot program to see how they like it. Barnes says most end up considering it a success.Of course, that requires working on access. Once you’ve set up a system for access, you can expand it to include many other aspects of your community.Barnes provides parking as an example. Managers can install technology so they can assign parking spots and see when the wrong person has parked there. They can monetize guest parking, which SmartRent is already working on. The options are endless.“How many times have you had to go find the little kiosk station and that’s how you pay? You’re seeing this all over the country, and Multifamily is behind,” said Barnes.Barnes says there are two options right now for that parking program. The first is to provide decals for residents’ cars and put signs up with QR codes.“In both scenarios, residents get a sticker that goes with their car, and through readers and sensors around the community, we know where you car should be, where they’re at, and we can notify the resident if they’re in the wrong spot – or the manager if they’ve been in the wrong spot for too long.”Another option is to put QR codes on signs so people could scan and choose to pay to check in for however long they’d like for a particular spot. The entry for this is fairly low- cost; sensors can get a little pricier. The setup starts with a site survey; software, resident notification, and all other aspects can be taken care of in just a couple weeks. Leak Sensors Leak sensors have been a big deal for Barnes’ clients. He says what they save in insurance usually pays for the sensors. Residents are more comfortable knowing they don’t have to be home but will still be protected. SmartRent has installed about 500,000 around the country.“Maybe you just have a running toilet. Well, times that by 100 runny toilets, and the cost goes up. Let’s say there’s a leak that’s happening; not only did we tell you about it, we also turn off the main water to the building.”In some cases, they may notice something irregular and catch leaks before they even hit the sensor.SmartRent is also working with other partners, like electric companies. SmartRent can shift energy load to save the residents and management companies money. Some companies will even pay for SmartRent if you sign up for their energy saving program because it helps those energy companies manage their electric grids better. That helps avoid things like the tragedy in Texas when its electric grids got overloaded.Barnes says return on investment is difficult to pinpoint right now for the leak sensors.“Generally, what we see is about a 10-13% saving in various utility costs. Then there’s that hidden ROI when the catastrophe happens. We’re decreasing that response time.”Barnes says 90% of the units they’ve worked on are retrofitted. That requires working with the leaders and making sure they understand how everything works. SmartRent doesn’t want people installing or deploying things just to do it.“The good news is, the way that we deploy our tech, there’s nothing overly proprietary about the hardware when we’re thinking about locks and thermostats,” said Barnes. They work with brands the customer is already familiar with, which makes the transition smoother.” Fusion Hub Right now, SmartRent is working on a new product called Fusion Hub. One of the company’s larger clients already purchased 25,000 of them to go across predominantly B-style communities.“That’s a touch screen device – 8-inch LCD,” said Barnes. “What exciting about that is, the Fusion Hub not only is the hub for the devices, it also acts as a thermostat, so now we’re combing combing devices, keeping that cost down. It also now is going to act as the gateway, the portal – whether that’s our brand, our client’s brand – it now acts again as that communication device.”Barnes says there are still people out there without smart phones or other tech. So when people move in and see that device already installed to help you control your home and engage with your property manager, it’s extremely helpful.Another partnership they’re excited about is the one they have set up with Ring. They’re the only Multifamily partnership with the company.“These are products that are exciting to me because it helps the infrastructure of the community. Look at Ring, they’ve got the neighborhood app where folks are talking to each other,” said Barnes. “You’re really just taking it to the next level, is where I see it going very quickly.” SmartRent’s portfolio includes over 189,000 units total. To anyone on the fence, Barnes says do not miss out on making money.“90-95% of the time, a prospect chooses a smart home over the dumb home,” Barnes laughed. “And it typically comes with a rent premium. So when you look at that alone, and I look across the other vendors in this space, we’re all moving very aggressively in the conquest of making this industry extremely smart. So why leave money on the table?”Barnes also says smart technology can make your team much more efficient. For instance, in the pandemic, virtual and self-guided tours were crucial in the pandemic.“Lastly, we’re working with 24 of the top 25. We’ve got 169 logos under our belt just within the last year. So do you really want to show up late to the game?” The post The Fully Connected Community featuring Demetrios Barnes appeared first on Multifamily Innovation®.
48 minutes | May 21, 2021
The Psychological Impact of a Vibrant Community featuring Fatima Dicko
Having a vibrant community means having connectivity among your residents. The company Sugar was named on the concept of borrowing a cup of sugar – something that involves friendly interaction, a conversation and building of trust that can bring you closer, and a shared moment that enhances friendships. Nothing will make people renew a lease like feeling part of a community. So how do we achieve a vibrant community? What tools can we use to help us get there? How might a sense of engagement change in the future, and how can we adapt and keep up? (3:00) Dicko’s focus is to turn mere buildings into communities. That’s done through micro-interactions and residential engagement. Isolation can be devastating. (5:40) The convergence of old ideas can lead to great new ideas. Being first isn’t necessary if you’re different or better. (8:00) Product adoption needs to combine utility and community engagement. The app has to have a reason to be in the app every day and be excited about it. They have to be able to hold the user’s attention too. All of this leads to product stickiness.(11:55) The apps we use are going to switch from focusing on productivity to connectivity. They need to go beyond the bare necessities.(16:30) Research and data can help with lease renewal. Studies show that if residents know at least two people within the vibrant community, they’re much more likely to renew their lease. You can use analytics to track how often people are using certain amenities, so you know what’s hitting best.(19:50) Sugar is trying to understand the difference between features and benefits. Engagement features are only as good as the amount of time people spend in the app. Understand the biggest problems and figure out how to fix them. Use what people are writing on Yelp and Google to do that.(26:40) When people contribute to the wellbeing of a space, they’re more invested in it. They take greater pride in the vibrant community and feel more connected.(27:40) If you get a bad review, respond to it quickly! That shows engagement from management and displays that they’re willing to address a problem or intervene to fix it.(32:10) Apps should integrate with other technologies. It’s important to figure out what your residents are happy about experiencing. (35:20) The market is evolving, and the future is unknown. Use data to lead your marketing. (39:11) A vibrant micro-community involves a self-sustainability component. That means removing the barriers of making things difficult to share. Sharing both relies on and builds trust.(42:40) What are things that are going to change over time, versus things that will stay the same? What will apartments look like ten years from now, and how will people interact? The need to connect will always exist.(45:20) Keep in mind that everything you do needs to somehow loop back to a return on investment.(46:40) The pandemic has given the multifamily industry a good opportunity to reflect, rethink, and reimagine connection. The post The Psychological Impact of a Vibrant Community featuring Fatima Dicko appeared first on Multifamily Innovation®.
49 minutes | May 20, 2021
Construction Transformation to Urban Elegant Living featuring Dale Phillips
A bold multifamily development is setting a new benchmark for urban elegant living in the Southwest. Dale Phillips, President and Founder of Stellar Residential, the management company for One Camelback is leading one of the most ambitious construction transformations ever undertaken in Phoenix. This boutique, Class A development will deliver a vibrant use of residential space, with soaring and dramatic floor-to-ceiling views of Central Phoenix, modern and functional floor plans, upscale amenities and first-class services – all under one 11-story roof, while aesthetically adding some more glamour and elegance to the Phoenix skyline. We will share the stage with Dale as we take you through the progress updates on One Camelback and talk about the multifamily technology making it all happen. In May of 2018, Stellar Residential was invited to participate in a project. Initially, that was intended for their contributions in property management, but that changed. They started getting involved with the selection process with the architect and design team, then the general contractors. Dale Phillips created a comprehensive marketing plan with a “Vision Session” where the team brainstormed ideas.“We decided to make this the most memorable development in all of our careers,” said Phillips. “So, with the support of ownership, we went down a path that included a theme. I’ve always been of thematic builds, where we make commitments in the very beginning that all of the partners, from design, architecture, they all are tied to one thinking. Because this is a 1985, very iconic structure, the commitment is to the building itself.”That way, any time they’re faced with a challenging decision, they reflect back on the central theme of the building.“Even though everyone involved in this project, to their credit, deserves to be part of it, based on their experience, the most critical component is the ability to work together and solve problems.”Phillips says this could have been a merchant-minded project, where the intent of the investment was to redevelop and then sell. Instead, they decided to make this a legacy project.“When a tough decision is necessary, you just have to think about the fact that there’s 120,000 cars that drive by that project every day, and he wants to be proud. That’s the perfect scenario for someone like me, who’s in the twilight of his career and wants to apply my experience and feel proud as well, because Arizona is my home.”Phillips is focused on an adaptive re-use of the land. Stellar is still brand new, comparatively, but Phillips has had a long career where he’s worked with other adaptations and restorations that have prepared him for this new project.“With our second architect, we’re well on our way to producing what probably will be the most exciting for-rent product that Arizona has ever seen.”Phillips has also been inspired by things he’s seen in his travels. For instance, he’s adding a fitness boutique rather than just a basic fitness center, based on something he saw in Milan, Italy.Stellar Residential’s role is unique this time around.“Anybody that’s in property management that has participated in a lease-up, typically what we are tasked with is, the developer says, ‘I just built 300 apartments, now go find 300 customers’ and you have no influence on anything at that point – the ship’s sailed in terms of any form of alterations in the size of the apartments, the configuration, the amenities.”Phillips says what normally makes things even blander from there, is that you just look up the demographics for who is most likely to live in your community, and you go after that subset of people.“We worked it completely the other way around, where we identified 6 personas, such as single male/single female professional, married couple, empty-nester single, empty-nester family – we identified 6 critical personas that we believe would appreciate and could afford this project. And then I created a questionnaire of 25 questions surrounding expectations in the common area, preference in the floor plans, kitchen island over table. ‘If you have a kitchen island, would you like a cook top or a sink?’”Phillips says he surveyed 6 people in each of the 6 personas and wrote up summaries on their responses. Then, he pushed that over to the architect to show what would work well for their customers. Everything is being built specifically for the people they’re being built for, not what the architect thinks might be best.Phillips gives the example of the draw of the Peloton bike. People can hop right on the bike and get a workout from home with a beautiful view overlooking mountains right from their home window. That’s a better option than going a to a gym and staring at other equipment.“Early on, the idea was to create spaces where people could have some level of flex space. If they chose to work out in their room, we’re going to provide them with a piece of cardio equipment, no charge. If that’s what makes your lifestyle great there, I’ll give it to you.”They also did a feasibility report. Safety was the major concern, followed by size and price, but third was to see whether there’s enough space for storage. Because of that, he’s going above-and-beyond.“So I have five stories or five floors of basement for parking. I’m over-parked. And I am going to build the largest storage containers in a basement that I think have ever been built, which is going to allow people to move a piano in. I’m going to have underground garages for your Ferrari and your Lamborghini. It’s going to be a building of convenience.”Stellar has started getting engaged in social media, sending out little teasers. But it’s on a major road and with so many people passing it every day, wondering what the project is, Phillips isn’t particularly worried about whether people have heard about it. Right now, though, it isn’t obvious that the building will be a luxury apartment.Phillips says they’re also starting to get information about the building out, like rental rates, which will be the highest in Phoenix.There’s also some information about the floor plans, but the overall shape of the building isn’t revealed online. The building is offering lots of different floor plans, of varying sizes. It also has a penthouse option with windows extending all the way around.Soon, they’ll start thinking more seriously about applicants.The building is located in Uptown Phoenix – not Downtown, a distinction that’s very important to Phillips, though he says he still loves Downtown areas. Why does the difference matter?“It’s the best of all worlds. You’ve got an insulation from the hustle and bustle and the traffic congestion. Anybody that knows Downtown – specifically Roosevelt Row – it’s vibrant, but it’s challenging to navigate if you’re trying to get in and out quickly, and you’re subject to a true Downtown living environment of noise and disruption and what have you. Uptown is upscale, it’s sophisticated.”Stellar Residential leased an office space in a high-end plaza right across from the project, intending to do pre-leasing. They planned to print and hang up pictures of the floor plans for the apartments for people to view. But one of Phillips’ friends passed away, leaving behind a robust art collection. He hung that collection up instead, and found he generated more foot-traffic from people viewing the art than he would have from people looking at floor plans.“It was not part of my marketing plan. It generated a good 200-250 leads that I may not have ever had. So I guess if there’s something to learn, it’s: as you’re crafting your path to success, keep some options open. Because if you’re open to new thinking, there’s always going to be an opportunity to explore,” said Phillips.In a video of Philipps giving a tour to Patrick Antrim, the CEO of Multifamily Leadership, Philipps tells Antrim, “The story is all about the building first, the intersection second, the design third, then the floor plans and the views. Every challenging decision has to tie back to our theme. It is about the building, the integrity of the building – a 1985 build. It’s going to be here for the next 5 decades, so we have to get it right. We just don’t get knocked down when someone is tired of it. It’s going to be here forever. That’s our commitment. That’s what makes our decision-making somewhat easier – not always cheap, but I think we come away with the right decisions on what to do in this build.”Phillips has been doing a lot of those tours, but not for potential renters yet. He’s just showing it off to people who are interested in the project. He says the building itself is his billboard right now.“One of my favorite stories is when the first architecture firm would send over their draft of the floor plans. I think at one time, we were at 220 units. The average size was 20% smaller than what they are today. We had some very interesting shapes.So I challenged them, because there was a heavy New York influence here. In the 25 years I’ve been working in Arizona, I’ve learned, we’re not New York. We can learn from there, but we can’t expect our customers to be New Yorkers. Yeah, we’ll get 10% of New Yorkers living there, but we have to compete with Arizona product, which is a larger product and they like fresh air,” said Phillips.He started marking the floor plans and sending them back with notes.“There was one particular studio that never changed. I kept re-writing it, crossing this out, re-directing the floor path, and it was based on – in my opinion, one of the best studios exists in the Optima Signature in Chicago. I’ve been in it, and it rocks. So, I kept sending the changes back, and it just kept coming back the same. So I read it, and beat my head against this. I thought, ‘Well, there’s one way to prove this. We aren’t going to go down to Chicago, but I’m going to go to Home Depot and I’m going to fill up my truck with two-by-fours.”Phillips framed up the studio, building it from the specs. He got a refrigerator box and an oven box as placeholders for the studio so you could feel it. He walked the owners through it to show them that the design simply didn’t work. There wasn’t enough room.“Yes, singles tend to be single occupants, but at the same time, they like company. They like to be able to cook a dinner, or whatever. It’s got to function. So the big suc- cess story there is, don’t give up in what you believe in. I didn’t want to have excuses for why 20 of the units didn’t rent. I didn’t want to say, ‘I told you so.’ I wanted to exhaust every option I had to convince someone to think differently.”Philipps had retired before starting Stellar Residential, but he realized he had more fuel in the tank and he had more ideas. He tries to learn from all he can and hopes to impart a piece of himself that can have a lasting effect.“You touched a little bit on the amenities throughout the building. It’s a very, very challenging building in terms of common area. We cannot compete with a new build. We’re working within some very strict restraints.”During part of his demographic analysis, he found 40% of responses were dedicated to common areas and space. For instance, people said having a fitness center was absolutely crucial in the building, even for people who said they wouldn’t use it. That means it isn’t going to be packed in that center, so they might as well limit the space and fill it with a few nice things, rather than wasting space that will go unused.The basement space will be catered to the services that make life easier. For instance, they can have on-site car detailing.Antrim points out, people tend to ask solely about square footage and pricing, but that may not just be because those are the only things they care about; they might not know what else to ask.“I’ve always been a student of consumer behavior, and even more so, specific to the renter’s behavior and what motivates them to make a decision to come live in one of my communities and pay me rent every month,” said Phillips. “There’s a word I like to use, which is, the ‘reveal.’ The reveal is, when you’re walking into a space that has impact. Most communities, it’s walking up to the clubhouse, going past the pool, into the model, and those are the points of reveal. Our point of reveal is, imagine you’re standing in the bottom floor of the building, the center of the atrium, and there’s a 7-story art sculpture dropping down over your head. You’re not thinking about square footage and rent anymore.”Phillips says the appeal of wanting to show that off to their friends is a big draw, even for everyday life. Because of that, it’s his team’s job to make sure to give people time to talk about what they see as the building is first being shown off.“I almost envisioned that, with my team gaining a little confidence, if they follow my lead, if they trust me, to say, ‘Please bring someone right here and just have them stand here and let them look around. The first thing you should think about saying is: It’s not for everyone.’”Phillips says when he started Stellar, he thought he’d build a third-party management company off his experience and the relationships he’s built.“While that is in play, and it’s growing – it’s a growing part of our company… I’ve looked at more site plans and floor plans and blueprints in the last 3 years than I did in the first 25 years.”Stellar also just built 150 apartments in Prescott, setting records in rent. Phillips is proud of that.“When somebody asks me, ‘What does Stellar do?’ I say, ‘There’s nothing that we don’t do, as it relates to apartments.’ We’re building, we’re managing, we’re buying, we’re involved in all aspects of it, and it feels good.”Phillips says his second piece of business with Stellar was the Empire Group. They felt they could be a competitor in the single-family for-rent market, which is quite popular in Arizona. That’s an average square footage of 670-1200 square feet, with no one living above, below, or beside you, with small yards. It’s been extremely successful so far.Stellar stabilized 180 units in 6 months and it’s now going to market.“I don’t think you can build enough of that product. There’s a lot coming, don’t get me wrong. But the net migration numbers for Arizona are staggering.”Phillips expects population numbers are going to continue trending upwards. If four out of ten people need apartments, the city is under-developed.“If COVID has had a positive affect on any asset class, it’s the single-for-rent product. Because they’re easy living, and now that you don’t have to commute in and out of the city, they’re located out in the periphery, where the land is more affordable.”To manage them, Phillips says, all you have to do is get out of the way.“Our branded tagline is Living Simplified,” said Phillips. “We stepped back from every aspect of finding an apartment, touring an apartment, renting an apartment, and living in one to determine if there was anything we could do. We found a handful of items that would make it easy on someone to support our tagline, because I didn’t want to have an empty promise.”That tagline extended into the design of the apartments. They include specific furnishings that are extremely efficient, helping to make use of a small space.As for Stellar’s lightbulb logo? “What’s it mean to you?” says Phillips. Antrim guesses innovation and ideas.Phillips jokes that the light is out in the logo. He links that back to their hands-off approach: The lights are out!Really, he says, it’s just a thought-provoking image.“We have a little commitment amongst ourselves that every milestone we hit, we’re going to create our new logo. That’s our second – that’s 2.0. 3.0 is in the workings. We just don’t take ourselves too seriously, as you can tell.” The post Construction Transformation to Urban Elegant Living featuring Dale Phillips appeared first on Multifamily Innovation®.
58 minutes | Apr 27, 2021
Developing Emotional Intelligence – Navigating Your Emotions
Audra Lamoon and Scott Sheppard joined the conference from the United Kingdom to discuss emotional intelligence. Sheppard has worked in customer service, the airline industry, and the cruise industry, and the hotel industry. He says he’s traveled to five dozen different countries through his work in the travel industry, learning about how different cultures and communities experience things differently. “Recently it dawned on me that everyone was saying, you’ve got to say please, saythank you – the niceties of customer service, but no one ever really spoke about howour emotions affect our feelings, how our emotions affect our day-to-day lives. Whatgoes on in our mind isn’t always exposed on your face,” said Sheppard. He says even things like the weather can impact your mood. If the weather is bad, createthe weather in your mind! Imagine somewhere with beautiful weather and tell yourselfyou’ll be there one day. Sheppard started reading books by the researcher and publisher Daniel Goleman, whowrites about emotional and social intelligence. He combined what he learned with his ownexperience to create training materials to help people navigate their own feelings and dealwith personal relationships. “I always try to explain to people, can you remember the first time you had an emotion or the first time you had a feeling? A lot of people will say around the age of 5 or 6. Who shows us those emotions? The most influential people in our lives show us the way – and that’s our parents, our friends, our siblings, our teachers. We always think at that particular time, from the age of 5, up to adolescence, up to now, we think when we do things, it’s the right thing because we were shown by our parents, siblings, teachers, that that was the right way. But sometimes it’s not, sometimes we have to change our outlook, and we have to regress back to those times for emotional healing. Sometimes we get stuck in a rut, we do the same thing again and again and we make the same mistakes again and again. But people need to understand, emotional intelligence, we’ve all got that.” Sheppard said it’s important to check in with yourself and analyze how you’re feeling and how your emotions might impact the rest of your day. Sometimes you have to differentiate between emotions and feelings and think about how to manage both. “On average, an adult will go through and feel 22,000 different types of feelings,” said Sheppard. “What we need to understand is where that emotion stems from.” So what is an emotion and what is a feeling? Sheppard brings up something called the Wheel of Emotion. In the center are seven key emotions: Happy, Surprised, Bad, Fearful, Angry, Disgusted, and Sad. Looking at the Happy category for instance, you might feel trusting, optimistic, peaceful, playful, or accepted. What leads to those feelings could be that you’re feeling valued, thankful, or courageous. The emotion associated with those feelings is happiness. Under the Angry category, the middle ring of the wheel lists things like let down, humiliated, mad, or frustrated. In the outermost ring, you’ll find things like betrayed, disrespected, jealous, annoyed, and withdrawn. Realizing what feeling is leading to your emotions, and what happened in the first place to make you feel that way, can help you overcome what you’re experiencing. Sheppard suggests keeping a journal where you write the things making you feel positive on the front, and all the negative things on the back. Then, glue the back page down so you don’t dig it back up. Instead, focus on the good things. Sheppard says doing that is proven to help people sleep better and reduce stress. Meditation can also help. From a young age, children are educated by their own emotions with the videos and movies they watch. For instance, the Pixar movie “Inside Out” breaks emotions down and shows people how your memories can evoke certain feelings. Even sad movies like Bambi make kids reflect on their own emotions. Often, people who are very intelligent and have a high IQ have comparatively low emotional intelligence. Sheppard says the good news is, you can improve upon that. Emotional intelligence is abbreviated “EI” or “EQ” for emotional quotient. “It is regarded as more important than IQ – than intelligence quotient in attaining success in people’s lives, in your careers, and as individuals,” said Sheppard. “Our success of our professions today – especially since COVID – depend on our ability to be able to read people’s signals – this is what it’s about, and how you react to them appropriately.” There are ways to strengthen EQ. You can reduce negative emotions by stepping back and appreciating someone else’s point of view; stay cool and manage stress by reflecting on how you can handle something; be assertive and express your emotions when it’s necessary, even if doing that is difficult; stay proactive rather than reactive when dealing with a person you find challenging; bounce back from adversity by being totally honest about where you failed and try to figure out what you could do better; and express your intimate emotions in your close, personal relationships. Audra Lamoon, the Chief Happiness Officer with Livewire Performance Consultants, says she got involved with multifamily by happenstance. She was working with retail and hotels, and while working with a developer in Atlanta, she made connections that brought her into the multifamily industry. Lamoon and Sheppard have a presentation on emotional intelligence. Sheppard says there are five elements of emotional intelligence: self-awareness, empathy, motivation, self-regulation, and social skills. Self-awareness is the ability to recognize an emotion in yourself. It’s the key to emotional intelligence. That includes recognizing your own emotions and understanding how they might affect other people. “If you evaluate your emotions, you can manage them,” said Sheppard. Sheppard recommends talking to yourself about your emotions aloud. Doing that out loud gives you the chance to hear yourself. “You don’t always wake up in the best of moods,” said Sheppard. “But if you’re aware of it, you can start to alleviate some of these problems that might’ve gotten you to that feeling in the first place.” Next comes empathy. Sheppard says some people confuse this with sympathy, but the two are not the same. “The more skillful you are at discerning the feeling behind other people’s signals, the better you can control the signals that you sent out.” Lamoon asks the audience or reader to reflect on whether you really know the difference between empathy and sympathy. Brené Brown, a researcher professor who studies courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy has her own definition for those terms. Lamoon plays a video of that distinction: “Empathy fuels connection. Sympathy drives disconnection,” says Brown in the video. She breaks down empathy into four qualities: the ability to take the perspective of another person or recognize their perspective is their truth; staying out of judgement; recognizing emotion in other people, and then communicate that. “Empathy is feeling with people,” Brown says. “Empathy is a choice, and it’s a vulnerable choice, because in order to connect with you, I have to connect with something in myself that knows that feeling. Rarely, if ever, does an empathic response begin with, ‘At least.’” She explains, you don’t always have to find the silver lining in things or try to make things better. Brown gives examples like, if someone tells you they had a miscarriage, the appropriate response is not, “At least you know you can get pregnant.” Or if someone says, “One of my kids just got kicked out of school,” you shouldn’t respond, “At least your other kid is an A student.” The response you give will almost never make someone truly better. What will help is the connection you form. It’s okay to simply tell someone that you don’t know what to say. Just be there for people without trying to fix things. “I think the dictatorial, autocratic leadership is going, going gone,” said Lamoon. “And I hope to God that these generations – these new generations rising through the ranks are going to understand empathy more than any other generation.” Sheppard says schools in the UK are starting to incorporate emotional intelligence into their curriculum. Lamoon shows a quote on screen attributed to President Theodore Roosevelt: “If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.” The next key to emotional intelligence is to motivate yourself to have a positive attitude. You need motivators other than just money. Yes, money is important, but you need other targets. Not just the targets your boss gives you, but your own smart targets for yourself. Self-Regulation, the next tool to EQ, is when you have a little control over something. “I’m sure we’ve all been in a situation where people are pushing our buttons and keep pushing and pushing, because they want a reaction from us. Sometimes, we break. Sometimes we crumble, we let into that. Signs of bullying, signs of people being a pushover come in. But if you can understand what that is, and how to deal with it, when to say the right thing, when to walk off is key to this self-regulation,” said Sheppard. This, like the other steps in this process, requires conscientious thinking. Sheppard says it’s important to reflect on your conscious and subconscious mind. Sheppard says we only use about 5% of our conscious mind each day. The subconscious mind deals with the constant autopilot we put ourselves in every day. The subconscious doesn’t evaluate thoughts, memories, and feelings. The capacity for memories in your subconscious is virtually unlimited, but you have to bring those memories back up to your consciousness. Do you remember the first time you fell in love? “Imagine you’re going on your first date with this person,” said Sheppard. “How long would it have taken you to get ready instead of normal?” Lamoon answers it would have taken her twice or three times as long because she’d want to look good. That’s a conscious effort you make, hoping to impress. You might be more conscious about how you ate or how you acted – things that are normally subconscious/autopilot acts. Eventually, as you’re with that person longer, you fall back into autopilot. “Don’t keep pressing play,” said Sheppard. Sheppard says there are tools you can use to control how long an emotion lasts. Mull over how you’re feeling. Use that emotion to facilitate cognitive process and consider whether the situation might have a different explanation than you originally thought. Understand how your emotions are linked to your relationships and consider what you’d like to do about those feelings. Then manage those emotions to promote personal growth by using your self-awareness of the situation to help cope. Lamoon shows a December 2017 tweet from Elon Musk where he says, “Wanted again to send a note of deep gratitude to Tesla owners WW for taking a chance on a new company that all experts said would fail. So much blood, sweat & tears from the Tesla team went into creating cars that you’d truly love. I hope you do. How can we improve further?” Lamoon says, regardless of whether you personally like Elon Musk or not, he has a high level of EQ. Lamoon says he’s shown that with his employees multiple times, for instance meeting personally with anyone who was injured while working for his company. Another good example is the CEO of Pepsi, who went back to India to visit her family and lots of people came to see “her.” But everyone who visited didn’t talk to her; instead, they went to her parents and congratulated them for raising such a successful child. She took that idea and rolled with it, writing to her employees’ parents to tell them that they should be proud. Sheppard says that once you make a difference in yourself, people will see that change in you. Finally, the last portion of your EQ: recognize that your social skills matter. You may have lost some of those during the pandemic, since you haven’t been exercising those interpersonal muscles. But your people skills are paramount to success in your personal life. Acknowledge how other people are feeling. Differentiate feelings from emotions. Accept and appreciate those emotions, then reflect on them and consider how to handle them. Also, try to accept and handle other people’s emotions. Patrick Antrim, the CEO of Multifamily Leadership, asks about how to “press stop” on the autopilot we live in. Sheppard says it’s hard to take yourself out of your comfort zone, but doing so can be a good thing because it gives you a reality check. You’ll think differently. You might react differently to the same situation depending on whether you’re in or out of your comfort zone. Lamoon says changing tiny things are a good way to do that. Tiny, incremental changes are best. She gives examples like having tea instead of coffee, or reaching out to different people than the ones you talk to every day. Sheppard says getting feedback from all parties in a group can be beneficial. He calls this 360 feedback. It helps you to learn what motivates people as well as yourself. Lamoon recommends writing up a list of favorites and keeping it at work. That way, if you’re having a bad day and a coworker notices, they can look at your list of favorites and go get something to surprise you with to lift your spirits. List of Audra & Scott’s Book Recommendations: – The Chimp Paradox – Professor Steve Peters – Emotional Intelligence – Daniel Goleman – Working with Emotional Intelligence – Daniel Goleman – Primal Leadership – Daniel Goleman – Dare to lead – Brene Brown The post Developing Emotional Intelligence – Navigating Your Emotions appeared first on Multifamily Innovation®.
41 minutes | Apr 22, 2021
How Covid Has Forever Changed the Multifamily Leasing Industry
Apartment searching and Multifamily leasing as we know it has changed dramatically. The current pandemic has significantly shifted the means in which apartments are being marketed and leased. The pandemic prompted a much-needed advancement in how we work with potential renters wherein advanced technology is matched with well-trained leasing professionals. We explore the future of multifamily leasing and what you can do to prepare. John Carlson is celebrating his 20th year working at Mark-Taylor. He was an out-of-work engineer when he started with them in 2001 and has never looked back. Carlson’s mission is to make sure the company constantly improves. Mark-Taylor has three core initiatives, one of which is people. He wants to make sure his employees feel at home with his company. “They really are the foundation of the organization,” said Carlson. “The employee experience matters to me, so we’ve doubled down on that over the last six months.” Patrick Antrim notes that leadership starts at the top and trickles down. Carlson has worked his way through multiple generations with Mark-Taylor and is now a leader himself. Carlson says you have to be able to stick around through different market cycles. He was with Mark-Taylor through the recession in 2008 and the recovery thereafter. Rent went up significantly during that time, clients reached their highest NOA. Carlson thinks the Multifamily industry became complacent in some capacities after the recession. It’s important to adapt. That’s why one of the company’s mantras is, “Be better than yesterday.” Carlson is even trying to see the pandemic as an opportunity to learn and grow. In May 2020, just after the start of the pandemic, Mark-Taylor realized it was renting more apartments with their office shut down then they had before. So, the company focused for months on breaking down their business and figuring out how to optimize what each person in every position is doing. Carlson wants to re-think how everything is done at the site-level and re-design the business. “We’re looking at, how do we modify our behaviors, our culture and adapt and utilize technology? We’re in a technology revolution,” said Carlson, adding that this particular revolution is coming at light-speed. Keeping things with clients personal and human amid all those technological advancements can be a challenge. Carlson says his company has been adapting constantly. For instance, they began to add virtual guided tours and have now switched to include self-guided tours. Now, those two things make up as much as 75% of the tours completed at all, taking out the human connection. He also says he wants to create what he calls a “white glove experience” for the customer. “From the first time they search, through their leasing process, through the move-in, their living experience, and the move-out. Because we get dinged on the move-out. They could have a phenomenal experience, be a resident for five years, and the move-out process is negative, and you get a one-star review. So how do you have that white glove approach from start to finish?” Mark-Taylor is using technology to ensure that experience stays positive throughout. Their CRM is a big help with that, showing multifamily leasing agents who’s looking at the property, who’s calling, who exactly the consumer is, and where they’re coming from. The old model of having a leasing office with limited business hours where people can learn about the property is not going to work moving forward. The company has to be available to the consumer at the exact moment the consumer shows interest. That means connecting with them 24/7 through AI, making the process as simple and easy as possible, and then finishing the deal with a five-star experience at Mark-Taylor. The pandemic has shifted the mindset for the executive team. “The question is, from a leadership perspective, how do you adapt and grow your business to take advantage of the technology, while maintaining the personal edge?” For Mark-Taylor, that starts with making sure your employees are happy and that they understand the ‘Why’ aspect of their jobs. If they don’t understand why they’re doing something, they might not execute it well. Giving orders without listening to the employees’ feedback can also do a company in. Carlson believes in transparency. He does live chats with his employees and tries to answer even the hard questions. That connection might take some time but will lead to success. It’s also important to work with potential clients. If they’re having trouble, help them out! The technology has to be easy-to-use and it has to run smoothly. If it doesn’t, you need someone on hand who can help in a timely manner. “We’ve always been a boutique personal touch organization,” said Carlson. “We pride ourselves on that connectivity, assuring that you have that concierge-level, high-touch approach. So it was odd to see a prospect come through one of our sites and not talk to us.” Carlson compares self-guided tours to self-checkout at the grocery store. Antrim points out that other stores and industries and the technology that’ve been adopted have made consumers more adapted to self-guided tours. Carlson thinks that change would have happened even if the pandemic hadn’t sped-up the change. The next step, he says, could be someone moving in without any interaction in-person. Mark-Taylor is focusing on investing in technology that can be built upon as new technologies develop. It’s also important to make sure that customers are comfortable with that technology. For instance, in-person tours are still available for those who want it. Analyzing the business and understanding how it worked was important to figuring out how to re-shape and reformat the day to maintain efficiency. One example of that was finding out that if customers want to have face-to-face meetings, they should be able to book that time. As for verifying customers’ identities, that was a challenge with the shift to things being virtual. Mark-Taylor wasn’t sure it was a good idea to just let anyone in who expressed an intention to rent, but it didn’t want to be bothersome or burdensome to those potential renters. Making it easy to scan your ID to enter a unit will be vital moving forward. This journey has come with a lot of surprises. Mark-Taylor did an assessment starting from March 15th 2020, and did a year-over-year comparison for that same time frame. They found web sessions increased 45% and lead conversions were up 26%. That amount of success with less access to property managers was surprising. It turns out, consumers want to handle things themselves, they don’t necessarily want contact with the staff. The staff being able to adapt quickly to a new process was also a surprise, and something Carlson is very proud of. The way those teams are used may change. “We asked every employee to take extreme ownership,” said Carlson. “By that I mean, if they’re looking at ways to be better themselves but also better the business, we’re asking, we’re getting feedback, we’re trying different things to ensure the multifamily leasing consultant of tomorrow is focusing on high-impact items, efficiency, doing things that really matter. An assistant manager in 2019, did bookkeeping, was a salesperson, was a resident counselor, was a manager when the manager was away, might clean units if we’re short staffed. They’re doing all these things without a lot of efficiency. So how do we carve that up and make sure that if someone wants to be a bookkeeper, we take advantage of their skillset.” Carlson explains, roles are likely to adapt. People should focus on their interests and their talents, and companies should mold around those assets. Antrim asks Carlson what advice he’d give. He says he has a lot of it. He emphasizes that focusing on the “why” has been important. That helps the company to understand whether potential employees fit the path Mark-Taylor is interested in. It isn’t just about being talented and educated and motivated; you have to be motivated in such a way that fits your organization. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re coming from the Multifamily industry. Carlson points out, he came from an engineering field before he got to where he is. If you have someone with the right attitude who fits the company’s principles, you can train them to fit their new career path. That’s more important than previous experience in Multifamily. Carlson says all arrows point to Phoenix, Arizona. People are moving from what have tradi- tionally been known as major cities, and many are moving to Phoenix. “Go back to 2009, 2010. No one wanted to be near Phoenix. It was like the plague.” Now, Carlson says the industry is what he calls “anti-fragile.” “I think we really learned from our bad decisions pre-recession. We were a construction-heavy, single-family home market. I think through great leadership and the state level and local level, Michael with ASU, investment in education, diversifying our work force, ensuring we have the right talent to focus in on organizations that want to move to Phoenix, they’re looking for just that. We have that today. We’ve become more competitive in the pro business space.” Multifamily has always assumed that job growth means apartment growth. Carlson says the pandemic has shown that isn’t necessarily the case. The question will be whether that changes again or if remote work becomes more common. There has also been a big boost in supply, as more Multifamily homes are being built. That could have unanticipated affects. Carlson says the fundamentals of investment into Multifamily still exist. Go after deals that make sense in good locations. Go after things that are high-quality. It’s also important to understand the exact market you’re dealing with. Get to know the municipality, the sub-markets and so on. Carlson says it’s very important to get involved with your local associations so that you can get to know other people in the industry. For him, that’s the Arizona Multihousing Association, which has been around for over five decades. There, people and even competitors come together as one voice to make sure the industry as a whole is successful. Carlson says the Multifamily industry has been under attack, having to deal with things like rent control and a shift away from apartments. That’s why it’s important to talk with local council-members and lawmakers to prove you are trying to develop homes for people and have no intention of being a bad landlord. The post How Covid Has Forever Changed the Multifamily Leasing Industry appeared first on Multifamily Innovation®.
53 minutes | Apr 20, 2021
Pivoting Internal Communications During a Pandemic
Dustin Lacey is one of three executives at Mark-Taylor, a 35-year-old company headquar- tered in Phoenix, Arizona and the largest commercial developer in the state’s history. He oversees a fairly broad umbrella of functions within the Marketing division of Mark-Taylor. The company deals exclusively with Class-A assets, of which it has 67 in Phoenix alone. 80% of the company’s portfolio is fee-based. It manages for big-name companies like Gold- man-Sachs and Premier Group. Lacey leads a team of five, focused on delivering the best possible value proposition for the product, which is tailored to the Class-A market. Lacey says dealing with the pandemic has been a journey. Arizona wasn’t among the first states to go into lockdown; Lacey was fortunate in that he happened to visit a brother in Seattle in March and saw what that city was doing with its shelter-in-place plans. That gave him a heads-up, so he started preparing early for the same thing to happen in Phoenix. “We identified our key stakeholders – we have our residents, we have our prospects, we have our clients, we have our internal team. What are their needs going to be? What does this look like elsewhere? So we started to lean on the Arizona Multi-Hous- ing Association,” said Lacey. They leaned on a few other organizations, too. Lacey tried to prepare for large-scale closures and changes in behavior. He wasn’t sure whether that would change patterns with prospects, but he wanted to make sure they were braced for it. “The key for us was two things: We wanted to make sure we were first to our resi- dents and our employees with what’s going on, so they felt like they weren’t discov- ering stuff outside of our purview. Then the second piece, we wanted to make sure we were right when we came forward with it. We were very judicious with our deci- sion-making.” That meant making sure that if they did close down, it wouldn’t just be for a week or two. Property managers were considered essential workers in both Arizona and Las Vegas, where the other branch of the company is centered. As more businesses started to close, Mark-Taylor had to form a plan to keep residents and staff safe from each other. “By arming both our employees and our residents with answers as best as we could and we always framed any in-bound inquiry from a resident or an external vendor with this prefix statement: We’d say, ‘We are not a news source, we are not an information clearing-house, but here’s what we know – we know this doesn’t look like a brief interlude.” Mark-Taylor partnered with another company to create an app that helped residents to pay on time, helped them to schedule meetings with property managers, and more. “The challenge is, when you lock your offices, that [time to build relationships] no longer exists, and there’s a sense of loss for your residents. And that sense of loss can manifest into a sense of, ‘Hey, I’m not actually getting what I’m paying for here.’” The scheduler was meant to avoid that feeling. That technology also gave people a new channel to communicate with the property teams, which had the unanticipated affect of giving those teams’ days more structure. “There’s a lot that we ask them to do. We run large teams, so by saying, ‘This specific time period, this is going to be your resident period, they’re going to be scheduling you to do this. They’re going to get your undivided attention, which is actually kind of unusual in previous forms. There aren’t going to be any interruptions. Our property teams can prepare for your meeting.’ It’s very different from just dropping by and saying hi to the teams. So it felt more tangible, it felt more substantive. There was value there that was discovered by us at the time that we weren’t anticipating. We think we’re going to carry that through, candidly.” The other surprising element that was by introducing a more structured day, they were able to be more productive. “By addressing our residents, we indirectly addressed our employees. Then we had the last piece, which was our prospects.” About 8% of the total prospects in Arizona qualify as a Class A capable prospect. That’s a small pond. “So we wanted to ensure that the white glove experience people had come to know with Mark Taylor persisted.” The company also added a Ring doorbell to its front door to incorporate a familiar ele- ment. It also allowed property teams to stay focused on what they were doing. If someone is at the door, the property teams will get a notification on their phone. Another piece was to make sure people could see themselves living in your community. To do that, Mark Taylor worked on incorporating self-guided tours. “This created more optionality for them. And in fact, when you talk about your target demo, who for us is what we termed ‘The Modern Millennial’ – Millennials like a softer sell anyway. They’re not interested in a hard sell. So this kind of met a need they didn’t even know they wanted.” Finally, Mark Taylore created its own AI chat capability that works on both of its website platforms. “When we push them to our site, how do they engage us? They can still pick up a phone, and they oftentimes do. During COVID, we recognized also that answering the phone became evermore important as people realized there’s probably less move- ment in this space. So while the phones still rang and the emails were still received from the form-fills on the website, the addition of the AI chat channel has been very helpful for us, because it’s allowed a low-touch experience.” Now, upwards of 40% of all Mark-Taylor’s tours are scheduled with the chat tool. Lacey says it’s had very engaged ownership groups that wanted to know exactly how everything the marketing team did was going to work. If something failed, they would notice it quickly and change gears. From a client perspective, that meant making sure they were managing the perception of what they were doing well. “Part of it was communication; the second piece was activity. We had very obvious cleaning schedules. We had cleaning sheets that were placed in very obvious positions, where anyone entering the fitness center could tell this was being addressed,” Lacey gave as an example. Mark-Taylor also worked closely with the Governor to get updates. Communal areas like clubhouses, fitness centers, pools, and more are all extremely important amenities for apartments. Keeping the culture alive with the company and the employees has been another chal- lenge in the pandemic. “This is a lead-out-front moment. If you’re a leader at these companies, you should look for these opportunities.” said Lacey. The pandemic has been an opportunity to truly listen, and to ask questions. Every aspect, from the number of calls to the volume of in-bounds on the resident portal, to the overall tone people are experiencing all matters. “Are we doing too much? Are we doing too little? Cadence in communication was important, how affirmative we were in our disposition. We don’t want to take a position, absent perfect knowledge, so we wanted to take more of an ambiguous approach, while saying explicitly, ‘Here’s what we know: Governor Ducey did this, which means we have to do this, you will start to do these things happen in this time frame, should you have any questions, here’s how you approach that.” Lacey developed an FAQ-approach that he learned from his 15 years of experience in man- ufacturing. They might not have all the answers, but they can expedite the way to get to information out. Using the FAQs without deviating also means everyone is getting the same information, so things aren’t inconsistent in a way that might cause worry. Not all things were bumpy. “We thought we were going to see a broad impact to prospect, i.e. lead generation. We thought that with the dampening of the economy, you would see result and im- pact to movement. We also knew that folks who are typically transient – Multifamily is interesting, right? 50-60% of your resident population turns over every year. It’s different by property, but that’s an interesting reality, which means folks are constantly bouncing. Fortunately, we have a footprint here where they’re often bouncing from one of our properties to the next, but we knew that would be suppressed a bit. So we had to figure out ways to continue our lease appetite.” Mark-Taylor was concerned with the ability to keep bringing in high-quality leads. Technology helped with that. It also helped so that the company was able to maintain its entire staff throughout. “We are very proud of the fact that we didn’t have any sort of furlough. We are in fact hiring! We hired throughout the entire period. We maintained full staff. Our commitment to our residents is that we maintain a white glove experience. We are not perfect, we fall down often. But we endeavor to be the best version of ourselves. Delivering on that promise is a contract we signed with our residents. We feel very proud to be one of the premier, boutique brands in Arizona. We wear that.” No one in Multifamily had a model for how to deal with a pandemic. Being clear and fair and communicating that, asking for input and accepting it consistently has been crucial. “I think as leaders, we want to always look for the opportunity in an unseen circumstance,” said Lacey. “Like anybody else in this state, we suffered from a modest amount of COVID exposure. And when that hits a property, it can take an entire property offline. So we’ve learned some things. Technology as a surrogate or a proxy can be utilized in a way that facilitates. We’re always looking for conduits that can expedite the experience, improve the experience from both sides. So the schedulers is a piece that’s going to stay. The AI chat piece is going to stay.” Mark-Taylor also built its own CRM. It happened to go live March 1st of 2020, a coincidence that happened to be extremely fortunate. “When you ask us where the impetus and the fortitude came from to approach it this way, we looked around at other industries and I can say this candidly, not meaning to offend anyone, but it’s more anecdotal, I’ve been in this industry more than four years now: we are a bit antiquated with some of our best practices. So there’s a lot of opportunity externally,” said Lacey Controlling the brand experience has had to change, since people weren’t out driving as much. The CRM focuses on call-answer rate, which Lacey says is anemic in Multifamily. Even Mark-Taylor was struggling, answering only about 6 in 10 calls, even though 93% were happening during operating hours. Lacey says that’s unacceptable. Now, with the CRM, they can get to leads first, fast, and professionally, to make sure to convert that prospect into a lease. That saves money in terms of ads. “We’re not different for difference’s sake. We are focused on one thing: We either save our clients money, or we make them money. To do that well, you have to do the other pieces that fall from that well.” By managing leads in deliberate fashion, Mark-Taylor was able to have 71% of its properties see record growth in 2020, despite the pandemic. Lacey believes that’s because the company became fixated on lead management. Lacey also says Mark-Taylor wants to get a bit better at crowdsourcing. “Before we push anything out that’s final and say, ‘This is an activity we’re undertaking’ or ‘our new approach’ we survey the team. We administer two surveys a year that are broad surveys. We survey key stakeholders, key decision-makers, thought leaders, those that can manufacture consent when we in fact do deliver a change to something new. You have to have ambassadors for change within a distributed workforce. You have to know who your people are who move the needle from an influence standpoint, because they’re the ones that will be able to influence outcomes. If you don’t include them in the conversation, their investment isn’t there. If they’re not in- vested, the emotional piece that is really what induces change – especially for those that are change-averse – isn’t there.” Mark-Taylor goes over its ideas with members of every team and every aspect of the com- pany before moving forward with it. If they make mistakes or try something that doesn’t work, they apologize and move on. Another piece the company wants to improve on is its roll-out of software. “As hard as we’ve tried to preview, understand, surface bugs, squash them, do all the things, things sometimes happen.” New programs require trial and error. For instance, Lacey says, there are 17 different ways to say “yes” in the English language. Your software needs to be prepared for that. Mark-Taylor’s approach is to pay attention to the entire Multifamily universe, and even outside the industry and see if the company can draw inspiration. There’s a ton of opportunity and no one has reached perfection. Lacey says to identify thought leaders and lean on them. “Expand, ask questions, don’t be afraid to fail in full view. Nobody is expecting you to understand every aspect of building an AI chat bot, for example. But start somewhere, start asking questions,” said Lacey. It’s also a good idea to lean on your IT team and anyone else who seems tech-savvy. You can even lean on your residents in some cases! Gain knowledge anywhere you can. Lacey says he’s been learning a lot from the furniture industry’s chat bots, which are done quite well. “Fortunately, there’s ample data around the value of CRMs. How it improves engagement rates, how it improves conversion rates, how it improves these touch points that are measurable… You want to know what those metrics are that indicate performance. That’s your vantage point from which to manage.” By watching those data points, you can figure out where you need to improve and how to do it. Hiring is also important. Attrition rate can make or break a company, and Lacey says Mark-Taylor truly endeavors to find the right people. Lacey also had some final thoughts: “I’ve been so heartened and impressed by our industry and how we’ve strived to do the right thing by our employees and by our residents. I sit on the board for the AMA. I’ve seen all our competitors – we are honored by their effort to compete with us, and they bring their best everyday here in this marketplace… And we’ve paid attention and we’ve watched how they’ve been judicious and deliberate, and I think that is, broadly, what our industry has done.” Lacey says Multifamily is surely facing some challenges right now, from legislation and what he feels is unwarranted bad press. “I have been so impressed by the thoughtfulness with which we’ve approached our residents, specifically, in evictions and all of that. It’s been really awesome. I think we all should take great pride in the fact that during a peak moment, where all others may have been losing their heads, we were a point of strength for our employees and our residents.” The post Pivoting Internal Communications During a Pandemic appeared first on Multifamily Innovation®.
40 minutes | Apr 7, 2021
The Argument Hangover
Jocelyn and Aaron Freeman are relationship experts, founders of Empowered Couples University, and the authors of The New Power Couple and The Argument Hangover, which just hit shelves in March 2021 and was listed as the #1 New Release. Aaron Freeman directs the viewer or reader to – before the presentation begins – pause for a moment and consider what brought you here. Some people wanted to learn more about marketing, or innovating, or working on retention, or just gleaning ideas on how to expand a company. But even then, what’s the benefit to you? You earn more money. So what? “So that you can have the freedom in your life. So that you can feel achievement, accomplishment. So you can provide for your family, be a legacy. Why we are all here is relationships,” said Aaron. The Freemans begin their presentation with the following notion: Relationships are the key to success in your business and in your life. Consider whether you’ve had an argument with someone close to you? Be it a friend, a family member, a person you have a romantic connection with, or a coworker, the Freemans note that afterward, no matter what, you likely feel disconnected, upset, hurt, or guilty. They call that the “argument hangover” – the period of time between having an argument and fully resolving it emotionally. Until you resolve things, you can be distractedand upset in your everyday life. Most people see only two choices when it comes to arguments: either avoid getting into conflicts altogether; or avoid the person you feel tension with, thereby ruining that relationship instead of tackling what might be a difficult conversation. The Freemans note, ruined relationships can tank a business empire. “How many of you remember the brand National Lampoons? John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray – their career was launched through National Lampoons, that started as a small comic publication, which grew into huge comic magazines, radio stations, TV spots, skits, and is actually what led to Mad TV, if you remember that, SNL was all birthed from that, and this became a huge comic and entertainment empire. But after, the founders let a lack of communication, conflict, avoiding each other – it ended the business, it ended friendships, and it even ended the life of the founder, Doug Kenney,” said Aaron “But on the other side of it, financial success doesn’t guarantee relationship success,” continued Aaron, noting that Jeff Bezos’ marriage fell apart. “And relationship success is where you feel the connection, the collaboration, that’s where life is.” Argument hangovers can lead to elimination of relationship with managers, investors, and other partnerships. Jocelyn notes that of course, challenges happen in any sort of relationship. But there are tools you can use to strengthen, rather than strain, your relationship. Jocelyn prompts the viewer or reader to have an honest check-in with yourself. Would you consider yourself a great communicator? Regardless of your answer, Jocelyn notes there’s always room for growth and improvement. Keep in mind, it’s easy to communicate when people are doing what you want, such as if they feel pressured to because you’re their boss. Masterful communicators strengthen relationships when there isn’t agreement, the Freemans say. Life is a negotiation – it’s conversation, it’s understanding, and, as Chris Voss once said, it’s a game of empathy. “You probably do more damage by how you fight – the things you say, the things you do, the things you don’t do, like continue to stay in communication – that does more damage than the original cause of an opposite perception or a disagreement,” said Aaron. Think: Do people in your life ever feel that conversations with you go unresolved? Do they ever feel invalidated or misunderstood? Is there resentment building up in your relationships with investors, with staff members, with friends, or even more importantly, with your romantic partners, your spouse?” Jocelyn says the goal is not to avoid conflict. She says research proves that avoiding conflict in the short-term builds resentment in the long term, which is harder to recover from. Instead, the goal is to shorten your argument hangover. Effective communication is the key. The Freemans provide a list of things that do not work to influence change: blame, judgement, reactivity (being defensive), resentment (not letting people know something is wrong), criticism (whether they’re overtly mean or even just a micro-criticism), labeling, avoidance, complaints (there’s a subtle difference between complaining and truly expressing yourself), and passive aggressive statements. “A lot of these are attitudes or moods, and some of them are actions,” notes Aaron. “These only create power struggles, resistance – you could say defensiveness – and at very best, only create compliance.” He explains, a person might say “Yes sir” and agree to do what you asked, but may be thinking “Get off my back, already. Why are you always complaining? I’ll tell you I’m going to do that, but I’m not going to.” That isn’t what you want. There’s a difference between compliance and commitment. Jocelyn says the things that can actually influence change come from the following: empathy, agreements (rather than assumptions), clear boundaries, accountability, consistency, communicating proactively (instead of waiting until after someone is already frustrated), healing resentments (and not letting those resentments last longer than a day), asserting your needs from an “I” perspective, and commitments. Empathy is one of the more complex of those notions. It means being able to validate someone else’s reality, even if it’s different from your own. As for the goal of asserting your needs from your own perspective, Jocelyn explains, “Instead of sounding like, ‘Here you go again, this is what you always do,’ instead say, ‘Hey, I’m realizing what I need is…” Jocelyn and Aaron model a typical conversation, where people point fingers and get defensive. Jocelyn approaches Aaron and says he’s been working a lot and they aren’t having enough date nights. Aaron points out they just had a date night the previous Sunday and asserts that nothing he does is ever good enough. Jocelyn brings up again that Aaron has been working a lot, to which he replies, “Why do you think I’ve been working?” The conversation has a lot of tension and frustration. Each person involved assumes what the other is going to say and doesn’t let their partner finish their sentence. “We’re all human! We all do it sometimes!” says Jocelyn to the audience, asking them to ponder whether they can see any part of themselves in that modeled argument. “One of my favorite things,” says Aaron, “is, ‘That wasn’t my intention.’ So then you argue with, ‘That wasn’t my intention so it’s illogical that you responded that way or you’re experiencing that.’ You’re already in the place of no influence. That doesn’t work. So what does work?” The Freemans present three steps to empathize with someone. First, say, “What I’m hearing you say is __. Is that right?” That lets the person you’re speaking with know you really are listening. The Freemans re-model the same conversation using that tool. It also gives them time to reflect on whether what they were saying really is what they intended to express. Often, when someone is feeling emotional, they say things that aren’t exactly representative of what they want to get across. This gives them a chance to clarify. Jocelyn says it seems like Aaron has been working a lot and the couple’s number of date nights has reduced and they aren’t spending enough time together. Aaron responds, “So what I’m hearing you say is, because of the amount of hours I’m working, we’re not having the same amount of time together. Is that right?” Jocelyn says yes, that’s correct. The next step to continue empathizing is to say, “It sounds like what you are feeling is ___” This is where the real empathy is. It communicates that both people are on the same page. In the couple’s conversation about Aaron working more, Aaron continues the conversation. “It sounds like what you’re feeling is maybe not as prioritized. It sounds like you’re feeling a desire for more actual connection between both of us.” Jocelyn answers yes, that is how she’s feeling. Finally, as you continue to try to empathize through the discussion, respond, “I would love to hear more about that, and what you need.” That lets people focus more on the solutions rather than on the blame. You have to be comfortable both with the emotion your partner is feeling, so that you can connect and come to a collaborative solutions together. In the couple’s discussion, Aaron might say more exactly, “I would love to hear more about how you’d like to go about that. How would you like to experience more connection and more quality time together?” That prompts Jocelyn to explain her thoughts and feelings without being combative. To the audience, Jocelyn explains, “In real life, you can slow down, and you can acknowledge and make sure you hear what they’re saying. So often, we aren’t actually hearing what they’re saying. We’re hearing through the filter that we have.” Those steps make sure you aren’t just trying to justify your own point of view and make your partner feel like they don’t have a right to be feeling or experiencing what they are going through from their own perspective. Communication with family can be especially difficult because people tend to take things quite personally. The second way the Freemans have come up with to prevent an argument hangover from ruining your relationships is something they call the “5R Method” The 5R Method is about Repairing a Conflict. – simply saying you’re sorry isn’t enough. “I know that’s what we all default to, because it’s the easy thing to say,” said Jocelyn. “Eventually, after hours or days, you come to them and say, ‘I’m sorry’ and you think that should just be the end of it, let’s move on! But does ‘I’m sorry’ really repair things emotionally? Sometimes, if it’s something small, maybe. But usually if there was damage done during the disagreement, things said that were hurtful, past resentments coming up, ‘I’m sorry’ doesn’t address the impact of what was done during the disagreement.” Another problem is that “I’m sorry” loses its weight after a while, when you hear it repeatedly from someone. The apology has to come with change. The first R is Reflect. After you notice things as not being productive, request time to pause so you can think things over a bit. Don’t use this time to just stew over all the ways the other person is wrong. Consider what it is you’re really upset about and why you’re feeling the way you are. Then, it’s important to consider what you yourself had been expecting from your partner and whether you ever actually expressed that to them or even to yourself. “In this reflection period is where you’re going to access something new. We’re talking about how conflict can actually strengthen your relationship. But it can’t if you don’t realize anything new,” said Jocelyn. “Does this keep happening to us? Why might this keep coming up? The reflection period – whether it’s five minutes or it’s five days of reflection, is where you’re hopefully getting some new awareness.” Second, Responsibility. This is technically still part of your reflection, where you consider the role you played and the impact your actions had. Some suggestions from the Freemans are to approach this by considering not if, but where you bear responsibility. “If you’re actually committed to being a leader and to having conflicts lead to inno- vation, to strengthening relationships, you must commit to not just saying if you had responsibility. If you’re reflecting on if you had responsibility or not, you’re not a leader,” said Aaron. “If you’re a leader, you’re going to look at where you had responsibility in this conflict.” It’s also a good idea to acknowledge any withheld or unexpressed communications. You may have avoided saying something because you didn’t want to rock the boat; but in many circumstances, it’s better to say something than to avoid conflict, because if things get worse, it is partially your fault for not expressing your feelings earlier. Another big piece is to take responsibility for what impact your actions had on the other person. The most important piece of this is, it doesn’t matter if the impact doesn’t make sense to you. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what your intention was, it matters how the person is feeling in response to your actions. Then, take responsibility for any areas you’ve broken promises or agreements. Next, Reconnect. This is where you’re coming back together to validate each other’s perspectives and share where you take responsibility. “If something did get escalated within the disagreement, you can’t just come back together, say ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘Oh, we should be able to move on.” Don’t approach things like you’re waiting for the other person to apologize. Be a leader! When you come back together to have a conversation about the disagreement and what happened, the very first thing you should say is, ‘Where I’m taking responsibility is ____.” Then, ask the person, “How did that impact you?” Don’t make assumptions. If you said something you know probably hurt your partner, don’t assume why it hurt them, ask them. Likely, the person will match that behavior. Then, Remind. “Now, you can feel how the energy there is one of understanding, of empathy, of collaboration, of at least being the same thing. Now is the next step to remind,” said Aaron. “This is where we really start to complete whatever sort of impact, whatever sort of disagreement was there, by now reminding each other of what your commitment is to that relationship, and what your agreements are.” First, get to what it is that you’re committed to. In a romantic relationship, remind your partner that you’re committed to compassion and understanding and the love you share. In a business partnership, you’re likely committed to growth for the brand, or to success and expansion. “The thing is, you are always committed to something. When there are disagreements, when you don’t see things the same way, what is that people are normally committed to? Being right. Is that what you want to stay committed to?” prompt the Freemans. Then, think about what agreements you can put together in the future. For instance, the Freemans have agreements not to swear or leave the room during arguments. In your business, you might remain committed to your brand or your vision. Finally, Reconcile. “Now that you’ve reminded each other of what you’re committed to, now you can reconcile the conflict into an opportunity,” said Jocelyn. “Yes, we are saying that conflict can be an opportunity!” Innovation often comes from challenges. That’s possible within relationships. View conflict as something that births a new awareness about each other, a new level of partnership, and a new connection. That is a completely different way to see conflict. Discuss with your partner what lessons you each may have learned from the conflict and what new things you may have learned about each other’s needs. You can also vocalize your appreciation for how that conflict is strengthening and evolving your relationship or partnership. “If you see conflict as something that strengthens your relationship, rather than strains it, you show up differently. You want to repair faster, because you want the gold on the other side,” said Jocelyn. “That is so transformative.” The Freemans challenge the viewers or readers to consider what your own personal com- mitments are. What steps of the 5R Method are you going to commit to being even better at? “By practicing both of the things we talked about today, the secrets to influencing people through empathy, as well as the 5Rs to repair from any conflicts, you will keep unresolved argument hangovers from ruining the most important relationships in your life,” said Aaron. Relationships are the purpose of life, and developing and maintaining them is how you remain successful. Patrick Antrim, CEO of Multifamily Leadership, asks the Freemans to talk more about why family disagreements are particularly challenging. “A couple things,” answers Jocelyn. “There’s the practical reasons that we could give, then there’s the emotional reasons. From a practical perspective, when we are working during the day… whatever your work looks like, a lot of times, people are having a hard time transitioning from work mode to family mode. So we actually recommend a transition activity. You can take five minutes, twenty minutes, to transition your mind from work mode to being present and thinking, ‘Okay, I need to be here with the family.’” Jocelyn recommends going on a quick walk or listening to some music, or watching a fun video as potential practices that can help you transition. A lot of people feel like their partner doesn’t have energy for them at the end of the day. As for an emotional reason, a lot of people haven’t gotten comfortable sharing their feelings. Even when people share children and finances, they often only have surface-level conversations. It’s a good practice to ask questions about your feelings and experiences of the day, rather than just the sequence of events. Aaron notes that people spend a lot of energy at work, and likely don’t want to risk getting into an argument once they’re home, because it can take up time and effort. But realistically, by slowing down and giving your attention to your partner and taking on a harder conversation to understand their emotional needs and make the person seem seen and heard, you open a depth of connection that isn’t there when you simply manage tasks. Antrim notes that taking responsibility in work could have the unwanted effect of setting a precedent you don’t want. You don’t want people to walk all over you! Aaron explains, the difference is that you should take responsibility in such a way that the person is heard and understood, and the impact of what you did was acknowledged. “It’s a really big difference between understanding and empathy, and the solution that you move forward with. Especially nowadays, people don’t feel seen and heard.” Aaron details, take responsibility for how your actions made the person feel. Maybe you made them feel undervalued or like they weren’t collaborated with. Now they feel heard and understood. Then, you can explain, you are still going to move forward with whatever was decided on previously, but you do understand what the person was feeling and can improve in the future. Jocelyn expands that it’s important to avoid assumptions. Write out your agreements so that you can reference that – rather than saying “you’re wrong” saying “this is what we agreed to.” If you’re interested in getting the Freemans’ book, you can find it on Amazon or with any retailer or bookstore like Barnes and Noble. You can also visit TheArgumentHangover.com The post The Argument Hangover appeared first on Multifamily Innovation®.
42 minutes | Mar 22, 2021
The Chatbot Technology that is Making Life Easier for People
Robert Turnbull, CEO of Betterbot talks with Patrick Antrim, CEO of Multifamily Leadership on how AI technology is impacting the Multifamily industry Website: https://betterbot.ai/Demo BetterBot: https://betterbot.ai/demo-selection/ Today’s renter wants control over the leasing process and access to information wherever, whenever, but today’s leasing team simply can’t keep up. We will explore Multifamily’s most adopted digital leasing solution providing renters the information they want 24/7/365 anywhere on the Internet. Welcome in, how are you? Very good. Great to be with you today. I’m excited to spend some time. This has been a hot topic. Obviously our audience is really wanting to, you know, excited to have you show up for this, this conversation. And I thought I would take a moment to just kind of give the background on what you’ve been working on for all these years. You’ve been impacting multifamily in so many great ways. I know you’ve apartment guide to rentals.com. I’ve got a, a long list or real estate.com rent, Wiki, live person. And now you’re doing something really exciting with better Basel. So tell me what that journey’s been like. Yeah. Wow. I, I feel old all of a sudden hearing it, hearing all of that. And by the way, let me just give a quick shout out. I love your format. I love it. I love what you guys are doing. The content is great. I’ve known Dale for a long time, and I really enjoyed listening to your sessions today. It’s been, it’s been great. So, so, nice work. Yeah. So I did a, I’ve done a lot of that over the years. I won’t say exactly how many, you know, it’s interesting though. I learned, I’ve learned a lot in doing this as over the last, you know, 20 years that what you start out doing is not often what you end up doing. You have kind of an initial game plan, but it changes over time. And so you gotta be flexing, flexible and willing to change. As time goes on. As we have with our product, we started with NLP and current resident. Now we’re kind of doing prospective resident guided conversation. So it has been a, it’s been a journey and a learning experience for sure. Well, the great news is we recognize all those brands. Now it’s time to make sure all brands use the products you’re talking about. So tell me what, what are you building? Who’s it for? How’s it helping people? Yeah, so really it’s the, the best way I can put it as better as conversational leasing. We built it for the goal of getting rid of 80% of the repetitive, low value menial tasks that leasing teams are so often bogged down doing today. That’s the number one complaint that properties have and why we have such a high attrition rate in multifamily is because they feel overwhelmed with the property. So, so today we’re the most adopted bought in multi-family. That’s great, but we certainly, we don’t want attendance stopping there. We we’ve launched Lisa bought a student housing, bought affordable housing that actually has wait lists and does pre-qualifications in addition to our conventional, but you know, it’s interesting, there’s so much more you can do with bot technology. We intend to, and not just being on a property website, distributing it to other social channels, but even email, like responding to emails and, and missed calls and texts. So the bot technology, there’s, there’s a big tomorrow coming down the pipe with automation technologies. Can we talk a little bit about that? I know maybe by the way that the viewers have learned about it, maybe it came from a marketing conversation, maybe a technical conversation, or, or maybe it’s just a consumer that’s renting and they’re like, I can do all these things and these other industries very well. So what’s, what’s the w what’s really different about what you guys are building versus maybe some of the other things that are available, I guess. So, you know, let me put it this way. So the kind of maybe answered it a slightly different way. So four years ago, our intent was to be the absolute best chat bot property websites that we could build. What we, we didn’t realize that the automated technology could be repurposed. As I, as I just mentioned, we had some aha moments in 2020 after conducting about 4 million conversations, was that, you know, wow, this bot actually really, really does work after hours. It really does save property management time and facilitates. Lisa’s. What was interesting after 4 million conversations last year, we realized that 60% of the conversation happening on the bot were happening after hours. So after a 6:00 PM and before 8:00 AM, and it saves about an eight 80 hours of time for, at the property and facilitates an average of about four leases a month. So, so we had this thesis for what we believe the bot would do for people in the industry over time. But now we’ve got a lot of hard data to kind of, to back that up. Does that answer your question? Yeah. Yeah. And I, I, I’m really curious about through that data there, there’s always been conversations around, you know, how to show up and prove the leasing journey and you know, all of this like that, but what, what is it truly that a renter wants, discovered anything about it? Yeah. You know what I think, and most anyone listening will agree. They want real time accurate conversations. They want information 24, seven, three 65, and they want control of the leasing process. I mean, if you think about it, you’ve got, so I can, I can book a flight, pick my seat. I can upgrade my hotel. I can have pretty much any food now ordered and sent to my house. So we are, we’re basically realizing we have control over so many processes and things today. It’s really not that different with, with the leasing process. They want control and they want the information when they want it. Here’s what the renters don’t want. They don’t want lead forms. I think, and look, I’ve built, some sites have lots of lead forms. So I lived a diet on the lead form, but they don’t want to do that nowadays. They just want a simple, easy access to information they want when they want it. They want it 24, seven, three 65. Yeah. And, and a lot of, I would imagine mobile is driving a lot of that, especially on the fly know the, just the tapping versus, you know, completing the long forms. I know, I know when we even do our events and things, we’ll get a bounced email because, you know, they typed in the information and accurately because, you know, they, they forgot they did a dot con instead of.com. You know, like there’s some kind of a typo. And so I imagine if you could take some of those elements away from the customer and make it easy on them, that end, except with better, better. Okay. Yeah, it went, okay. So it’s funny we use the term tenderized. So our F if we think about it today, especially with mobile cars, so 65% of the people using it are actually using it on mobile. And it’s a great user experience. What people don’t want to do on mobile is they want to have type stuff in, right. They want to touch and swipe, swipe left swipe. Right, right. But Tinder. So, so what we realized, and one of the reasons we ended up going over to guided conversations, because you could swipe and tap. And that’s just a great user experience, especially with the mobile. And you, you eliminate some of the complexities of trying to figure out what people are saying by doing the tenderized approach of touch and swipe. Yeah. So tell me about the conversations you’re having with executives today. Obviously, you know, sometimes we’re talking about leasing journey, it’s, it’s passed on to marketing departments, or, you know, other business leaders within the business unit, but a CEO today, it has to think about how to design a business so that it’s very easy for people to become customers. Right. That would be a great thing. If you can keep the revenue going, chances are, you could reinvest in the business. And so is this a conversation you’re seeing that it’s, it’s taken on more of a, a global, you know, executive role in terms of, of, of caring about how to build these, these things into our business? Well, certainly when you look at operational efficiencies, when you look at the fact that my folks are going home at, you know, six, six 30 at night, well, who’s mining the Ford and having a digital agent available to answer these questions after hours becomes very effective. When you realized that I’m hiring a group of people to really, and let’s, let’s talk about leasing professionals, they’re, they’re there to provide empathy. They’re having conversations. They connect with humans, the bots never going to do that. It’s just giving them information. But what’s happening is we’re, we’re kind of putting our leasing team in almost this scenario where they have to be bots reply to email, reply, to text reply, to, and rather than doing what they do best, which is conversations with people. So when you look at operational efficiencies, let 80% of the repetitive menial, low reward stuff, be automated, let a bot and handle, let the humans then be freed up to do what humans do best and have conversations and the thighs with the renters and provide great customer support. So every CEO and operational person should absolutely be looking at it for those metrics. Yeah. I always, I would probably only ask you this question, but I’m curious, you know, back, even in the early days of launching some of the earlier brands that you’ve worked on, there’s always been that moment where we’ve got to sell the future or, or paint the picture of a bigger and better future using this new way. You know, are you seeing any parallels by going through those transitions? I remember back in the days when we had to sell people on, you need a website, you know, so they’re coming from different areas. Are you seeing any kind of parallels to, you know, adopting this type of technology? Am I seeing parallels relative to like in the early days clients? Oh yeah. So it’s funny you say that. So I think of back when we started apartment guide.com in 1999, Hey, put in your pricing because the people that want to put in their pricing, please call for pricing. What we noticed was consumers had skipped right past it, and they went to the properties that pricing. So if you have pricing, you got 10 times the results. And so finally people figured out, well, I probably should put pricing in here because it’s, it’s helping my Results. And it’s really the same thing that we’re seeing now. I mean, when you look at some of the, you know, is the, it does really work. Just some of the questions we get asked is this thing really going to help me? What are the pushbacks? And, and that’s what we get asked. It looks cool. It looks kind of fun, but it isn’t gonna make a difference. And the reality is that it absolutely does. Again, we talked about the after hours on day 30, when we launched them, bought for property and they distributed, we do a 30 take 32 day review. And that is where you really start to see the fun because they were thinking, my gosh, this thing is really working. Like it’s working after hours, it’s setting up appointments. We just got two leases as Results of the conversations. And so you have the shiny toys and look, I’ve been part of that. And in 2002, I was speaking in San Antonio and a guy said to me, you know, the internet, when I was running apartment guy.com, just like the CB radio, the seventies, it’s just a passing fad. I always wonder where that guy is today. But clearly the ILS is, became very much an intrinsic part of the marketing outlook and bosses are going to be very much the same way and automation technology. Yeah. And, you know, historically real estate operators, we tend to want to build our own stuff. Let’s just, you know, and, and I’m seeing a, more of a trend in partnering with real experts. And in my opening remarks, I talked about where the automotive industry we talked about, you know, I, I grew up when you had cars that had really crappy radios and, and, and because the were trying to build them and, and I don’t know, we need a radio. Let’s, let’s just manufacture one. And finally, they, you know, Bose gets in there and JBL gets in, there were like, these guys do sound really, really, really well. Well, and they’re like, Hey, you know, there’s value in partnering and people that focus on one thing and make sure that it’s continually evolving, continually developing. Are you, are you seeing any trend like that? Is this something, anybody can build themselves? Oh, wow. Loaded question. Can they possibly, but you meant to build out your own bot. We’ve had people try and they come back and like, this is way harder than we thought. Right. Right. And so suddenly all the resources and we’re like, look, don’t, don’t worry about that. We’re the experts in this. If you ever see the movie city slickers with Jack plants and Billy crystal. Yeah. I think I may be dating myself, but that can be like the late eighties and early nineties Jack<inaudible> in his, you know, ruffian cowboy says, if you figure out, just figure the secret to life is one thing. If you figure out that one thing, just do that. And, and for us, we, aren’t doing three other things. One of the 20 products, we’re kind of an afterthought, you know, we focus entirely on nothing but just bots and bot technology. And that’s why we’re, we’re kind of ahead of the other folks. But look, if you’re a property management company, you could hire a team of 15 people for a year and it’ll, it’ll take a half, a million dollars to go out and do this, go with somebody that specializes in multi-family technology. And look, we’re not the only game in town. I get that there were other bot solutions as well, but let the people who are experts in that manage that for you. It’s a tough technology to build and build, right? Yeah, absolutely. And to get access to all those conversations, what is influencing these conversions to appointments? Is it the way that we’re messaging them? Is it the ease of it? What’s what’s the, what moves the needle there? I guess It’s it’s so, okay. When we look at, when people come in, sometimes people come in and they want to look at, find a home. They’re looking at availability, maybe it’s specials. The point being is you’ve got to give them the information they want, but the moment that they want it. So if I wonder what your specials and your amenities are, give it to them in a second. And once you give that to them or want to look at a Matterport video. So I want to take a look at the tours and videos. Well, what we do is we put right below that schedule appointment. And so we know that where they’re going to leak to likely from after looking at a video to schedule appointment, they’re going to, they’re going to do that. So the, the magic sauce, if you will, is really just giving them the information that they’re looking for, the moment they’re looking for it and letting them kind of guide their own path down the search, when they’re ready and they have the information, they will then schedule that appointment and come into the property. And so it’s just having an information. And honestly, it’s a three o’clock in the morning. It’s 11:00 PM. It’s at 1:00 AM. And so you have to have that information readily available. Exactly what they’re looking for when they’re looking for it, wherever they’re looking for, it could be on the Yelp. It could be on Google. My business could be on Facebook. So tell me a little bit about, you know, once you have this in place, how does it, how does it get into my portfolio? What’s that look like? The next steps onboarding? Or is this like months as a days? Is it, Well, it depends on the product. It could be months. So the typical I can speak for ourselves that the typical process is. And that really is the question. It’s funny. We we’ve toyed around with doing this commercial around the, Hey is your onboarding experience band. And then we have like a 50 tons of bricks just falling on someone’s head. And that’s what people feel like when they think, Oh my gosh, I got to launch this new product. Oh, I got to train everybody. It’s daunting. I get it. As some of these products are very intensive, great products with us. We basically say, Hey, look, it’s very simple. Give us your property name and your hydro website address. We’ll build it two days. We’re going to send you a link, upload it with your website provider. You’re live, literally. That’s all you have to do. And when they realize how easy it is and the process and the customer support that you provide, and then they see the data, it really becomes a bit of a no-brainer because they’re like, wow, this is quite simple. I didn’t have to do that much. I didn’t really have to train my people because while the bot does everything, so let’s start deploying more. So that’s typically the path we see when we, when we introduce the bot to somebody we’ll test a few properties, they see the data, the ease of implementation, and then they kind of go down the path and yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And so I’m also curious, and maybe, you know, this off the, off the cuff is, you know, testing the assumption. Sometimes people, you know, don’t engage, they don’t get on the call with you because they have a presupposition about, Oh, I don’t have time for this or all those things. Was there anything that you’ve discovered or learned that a prospective client or client had about what, how things would go, but then after they became a client, they’re like, wow, that was just a lot easier. Or that just went a little smoother than I expected. I more like testing our assumptions. Sure. Yeah, absolutely. And the assumption is this is new technology. I mean, Boston new technology, it looks cool. Hey, look, I’ve been around 22 years in multifamily. I’ve seen some shiny, totally has come and go. I get it. And some of them were just that shiny toys. They, they look cool. But at the end of the day, they just really did. Didn’t do that much. So one of the big questions we always get us, what is it doing? Where, and how does it work? Is this just another shiny toy or is this actually going to have a significant impact on my business? And so that’s the question and it’s a valid one that we’re getting. And it’s the same question. I’d be asking as an operator. And that’s why I always say the proof’s in the data. The proof is absolutely in the data. When you look at what it’s doing, what it’s setting up, how it’s facilitating leases, how it’s working after hours, and you have hard data to support that you begin to realize, wow, I’m getting a few less emails. I’m getting more appointments. I’m getting a few less phone calls, but I’m getting great conversations through the bot. And this data supports the fact that this is a digital agent working 24 seven. It is affecting my bottom line. Yeah. And that, that data continues to grow as you enroll and enroll more clients. I imagine just getting better at knowing what those compelling points are in, in, in the technology. Are you, do you see a roadmap for a future for this? Cause I, I imagine that bots, even though they’ve been around, they’ve come a long way and there’s some excitement and you mentioned senior house, there’s other aspects of what you’re doing at the wait lists and these types of things. What do you see the future for them? So that’s interesting. So three years ago, four years ago, but really three years ago, we thought this’ll be cool. A chat bot. What we did not see to be honest with you was, and what we’ve learned is there are so many other issues and other channels, whether it be missed calls, whether it be text, email, current resident, all the places that consumers can find you in all the digital landscape. And so we realized that the bot and, or more importantly, more accurately stated automation technology can solve a lot of these issues. And again, give people time back the, the proliferation or the ability for consumers to find content in. So many places is a good thing and a bad thing because now you have to be present and available and all of these channels that’s impossible. And you can’t do that 24 seven. So we’re a technology has kind of created this problem of you can be everywhere 24, seven. You can’t really be everywhere. So let’s let technology solve the problem by using some automation technologies. And that’s where we’re going to be going with with all sorts of other channels, as well as tracking sources. And look, this’ll be fun this time. Next year, we’ll be talking about the renter’s journey and multitouch action. You should, the bot offers a three-dimensional view into where the renter has been. Did they engage if they did engage? How valuable was that engagement? And so now you can start to track the value of your marketing sources, how, how valuable they were. Did it send you an email? Was it an engagement and conversation? And then you can really put the power back in the marketing team. Folks who say, I know where my traffic’s coming from. I know who’s engaging based on that traffic. And they have a much better window into decision-making moving forward. Yeah. We’ve, we’ve got a question here from Paul. He’s asking, you know, are there, can you tell us about who’s using the product, maybe some leading clients. I’m not sure if you can share that or not, but I think I know which Paul you’re talking about too. So yeah, we have about 120 property management companies today that are using us. We, again, last year we did over 4 million conversations. We have all of the five top largest management companies that the big five, if you will, we have a number of companies that have partnered with us. So they’re re they’re actually building their bot solution on top of our bot. And so many big companies in our industry, they realized we can’t build this thing. This is just impossible to manage. So you guys have the only enterprise grade solution that is scalable, that we can build on top of. And so we have some partners that we have put in place that, that are also building on top of her bot. So, so there you go. We’ve got about 120 management companies, but we’re going very quickly. And quite frankly, we’ve only been actively selling for over two years. So it has taken off very quickly. Yeah. Actually I was at an innovation summit in Atlanta and I met, I think your, your partner there. So I was let go. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So I’m the mouthpiece, but he’s the brains behind it, all the toughest. I’m asking you all these, I’m asking you all these technology questions and, and it’s, it’s awesome to see a leader that understands all aspects of the business, you know, and, and you have a good understanding of what these clients need. I mean, it’s like, I, I think about like you got to build a great team, you know, you mentioned the technology and how it’s evolving. I mean, you’re talking about like software engineers, you know, just that, but you have to build something that the customer wants the client, but also you’re creating a victory for their resident, which is the win for them. And it’s, you just need to be bring all those pieces together. So it’s been fun actually seeing that journey. It has. And you know, it’s funny, I’ll tell people I I’m a mentor for startup businesses and companies over the years. And I always say, pick your partners very wisely. They will make or break you. And I was very lucky to meet slot, go through a friend of a friend Z had the other side of the coin. So yes, I have the industry background and knowledge and I get technology, but he got this to a whole other level in his subject matter expertise made such a difference in the decision making. And I’ll be really all air, some dirty laundry. I’ll tell you, I, I loved natural language processing. I thought it was cool. And this is what we need to do. And he just said, it’s not there yet. It is not there yet. And I said, well, hold on. That’s the wow factor. And he goes, it made me the wow factor, but it’s not working. We have the largest multi multi-family proprietary NLP engine and all of multi-family. And so he said, look, we got to move to guided conversation and I fought him on it, but he was right. And the, and the data proved out. So picking your partners<inaudible> is such an important thing. And he has made such a contribution to our technology. Yeah, that’s, that’s awesome. I think about, you know, w our brand brings together, it’s one thing to have information about products and services, but how do you take that and bring it into the business? Who is it that helps identify those things? And I know as, as the, the, the partner team that you guys have been getting a lot of momentum and, and you’re sort of scaling and growing those S aspects. So I think it’s important that investors and operators know that too, that you’re, you know, you’re sort of in this for the long run, and it’s something that people can count on. I think through the journey, you’re not going to be forced to switch Great. We’re going to do a fire sale tomorrow. Yes, we did actually get a, we self-funded for awhile. We did some investment capital. We’ve got a wonderful partner and our investors and we’ve, and they’ve got a lot of background in, in our, in our industry. So no, we’re not going anywhere anytime soon, we’re doing quite well. And there’s a lot of problems that we intend on solving over these next, over these next couple of years. So we’re not going anywhere. And we want to continue to expand our product offering and look partner with as many companies that we call it, the ubiquitous bot, because the bots in so many middle of so many conversations, we realized that we need to have this integrate with self guided tour companies, which is another big thing is coming in our industry. It needs to be integrated with content appointment types. And so we’ve done a ton of integration so that we can actually have the bot work in any platform with anybody at any time and, and provide that the conversation from one point to another. So that’s where I come into being able to understand what some of those relationships are Slack go in his team were fantastic at building out those integrations. That’s great. And are you helping brands with that? I mean, I know like Google my business and the move to even Google themselves, understand the power of the messaging component, even, you know, ranking other companies and brands higher in search results, because they have the ability to, it’s a message. I mean, that’s a component too. I don’t know if brands are thinking about that or you’re seeing anything there. Well, well, they are, and I’ll tell you right now, Google, my business is killing it GMB. So because our bot is able to launch onto, you know, we can put it on Google, my business, Facebook, Yelp, Instagram, Twitter. So you, your name ILS is so our bot doesn’t just live on a property website. It actually can go on all of these channels. So it actually sees how well these other channels are working. And let me tell you, GMB is absolutely killing it with, with conversations. So I always tell people, they say often get asked, well, where should we put it? Well, the first is run your property website. The next is Google my business because we’re seeing so many people start a conversation on GMB. The question we get asked sometimes is, well, why wouldn’t I have it just come to the website? Well, the answer is because they’re probably looking for a very specific set of information. And if you have a digital agent pop-up right off GMB, then they’re going to go right to where they want versus a website, which is fine, and websites are good, but you kind of begin the whole process. You know, a bot is a user interface that, that actually allows you to get exactly what you want within a second or two. And so I say, put it on GMB nexus, probably Facebook, then Yelp, then maybe Instagram and a few others. But those are where we’re seeing a ton of pickup and Google my business being one of them. Yeah. That’s amazing fun stuff there. And I’ve got a question here from Josh. She’s asking automation technology gives the front office time, their time back. Of course, that’s, that’s a great aspect. Would love to know how many property management companies are using automated technology. I think kind of addressed that a little bit, but is this in automation giving time back? Well, so there are other kinds of automation technology. There’s ours. Ours is really on the front end. So today it’s very much in any it’s on their property websites on the front end of the consumer funnel. You do have other automation, other automation technologies that actually can respond to your text messages and your emails that are post to guests card, maybe manage more of the consumer, the perspective, excuse me, the current resident. And so look, here’s the, I think a friend of mine Jennifer’s to joke is I’ve known for many years, said at NAA last year, or whenever the last Nia, we look automation, AI bot technology are coming and they’re staying. So they’re not going anywhere. Pick your technologies and the ones that solving your biggest pain points today and start engaging them and optimizing. So, so yes, there’s other automation technologies. I think we’re probably at about 40% of the active marketplace and adopting this. So we’ve got a long ways to go there, different kinds of technologies you can deploy. That’s great. And are, do you see an aspect, like at what point does it interact with the leasing agent? Is there any human takeover aspect or a, to really that conversation, I guess, that you focused on? Yeah. So before I came here, I was at a company was the largest tech company in the world. And so my job is to deploy chat worldwide. Like it was kind of a big footprint. What I realized going into multifamily here in the U S is that chat was there’s challenged because in multi-family the people, as we said are so busy, they really don’t have the ability to sit there and wait for a chat. So getting someone on the other end to answer was actually very difficult. You can deploy that to a chat center or a call center and, and there’s some good ones out there. They’re never going to entirely know the property as well is that property agents is going to know that. So, so what we learned is chat was difficult. There is a tech, there is a concept where, Hey, if the bot gets in trouble, then let’s put a hot transfer to human, which sounds great. That sounds like, Oh, well, that makes sense. The problem is the, the it’s very clunky. It’s not easy to do. You’re waiting for a human people, get frustrated. Then the human has to review all of the contents, see what the conversation was. And they just went from a one-second response and a bot to now a 38 seconds up to 45 second response. So what we call human transfer of bot to human transfer sounds cool, but it actually really does not work that well in practice, the C-SAT scores or customer satisfaction scores for that are below 35%. That’s not a good customer satisfaction score. So we actually take a different tactic. We encapsulate the conversation, get that off via an email or into the lead center. And we put what the conversation is, but the property can see, wow, this is a really interesting conversation. They have a lot of great questions. Okay. Here’s what I need to do and they can respond. So that’s how we handle it on our side. And I would just be very careful of the, what we call it, the hot transfer to human. It doesn’t always work so well. Yeah. I mean, it feels like we’re always trying to get new traffic, new leads, new rentals. And it sounds like even on the website aspect, I mean, there’s found money here just in capturing people that, you know, they don’t want to do a contact us. They don’t want to submit an application or even a form, as you said, but right there you’re, you’re capture them in that conversation. It’s pretty interesting. Yeah. We actually saw about a 20% what we call lead or appointment lift because so many people do come to property websites. They don’t want to pick up the phone and they really don’t want to fill out a lead form, but they do see this little widget down here and they click on it. Oh. And so what happens is it becomes a third point of contact. So when you add a bot to a typical property website, you actually see 20, as much as 40% incremental lead and appointment lift when adding it. So it doesn’t really, and the value of what you’re getting as much higher because it’s a conversation, not just a whip. So we do see some lead lift coming in from bots being added to websites. And you guys are taking more of that, that conversational approach anyway. Right. I think I saw that in your messaging, in terms of, it’s not really, even about leads, it’s really about having that effective. So I have a, I think our industry has what we call lead fatigue. I’m, I’m, I’m, I’m partially responsible. So I built out some ILSs and our goal was to drive as many leads as we possibly can. And to the point now where properties feel overwhelmed, they’re like, we just can’t handle all these leads. And so what we have is this, again, the lead fatigue, our goal is to not drive more leads, though. We do see incremental lift at times is to drive more conversations. It’s a very different thing. When you say, Hey, what do you see? Standards, something come through and it’s you see it? 55 times in a web lead is very different than when a property and a leasing team says a hundred tire conversation. And all they really want to know now is, do you have any covered parking spots left? Well, that’s a high value conversation. They know what they’ve been looking for. They’ve narrowed it down. They just have one question that maybe the bot just can’t answer because the bot doesn’t know, now you have a much higher value conversation, which has a much higher proclivity becoming an appointment. And ultimately at least, Yeah, you get all those other things out of the way. I mean, that’s a buying signal right there. I mean, they’re already thinking about where they’re going to be parking that’s Right. That’s a good point. I didn’t think about the, a great, yeah. You know, back in, you know, you want them thinking about where’s the furniture going when they’re inside the unit. But if there are parking has been that, that challenge that a lot of communities have struggled with and who knows maybe the customer’s coming from another scenario. And so that leasing agent, now isn’t dealing with all that other thing, you know, capturing the leads and all that stuff, they then can be effective in a more relationship way. And this, this journey that people are on, do you find that the more, the more conversations that we have, the more rapport that’s being built, the more emotional connection that’s happening, even though it’s a chat conversation. Oh. So if I’m being really honest and that’s what I was saying in the beginning, bots are not good at empathy. They are not good. They’re never going to connect with you on my sister had something happen. And so therefore I’m this bot doesn’t care. It’s there to give you information. And if you’re just looking for gracious, wonderful. That would be like that. You know, that they’ve already had an engagement on a website, a little chat, little question, or a response, I guess, to the, to the, to the tool, the technology, and then they’re invested in this sort of process, or they have confidence. I can come back. I only had an hour at lunch. I’m just, I’m here. I need quickly information. Do you find that when they come back and revisit the site that there’s more stickiness, I guess is probably my rephrase my question as to the conversion. Yeah. So the bot knows if you come back, what’s interesting. I think the best way to answer that question is if I call a property and the property is having a kind of, so what are you looking forward to bedroom? What are you looking to move to? Right? It’s almost become very automated. The leasing team. What if the leasing team actually had all of that information knew exactly when they’re moving new, the floor plans knew the, the budget got all their information and all they wanted to know is that they had a parking spot. So now the properties proactively calling the consumer, Hey John, great. Hey, just want to let you know. Yes, we do have that covered parking spot. We’d love to have you come on in what fantastic consumer experience that was, that they’ve run through all this. So I’m not going through a checklist. I’m actually having a conversation and they have the answer. That to me is a fantastic customer. Yeah. So here’s an example of a technology that’s changing the way we may lease, but it’s activating and empowering the leasing agent that’s in place to do to be more effective and maybe more money in their pocket if they’re, if they’re committed. Right. Right. Well, so we’ve noticed what we call w w w we’ve been calling the Pavlovian effect. You get leads, come through leads, come through PR leasing teams. Seeing this a thousand times, I have a 100,000 chance of this actually becoming a lease. Then you see a conversational note come through and you can see the whole conversation and exactly what they’re interested in. Exactly what it was, what we started to notice as those leads are responded to so much faster, because the person knows that that’s most likely going to convert to appointment into a lease. And a, and so it’s changing a little bit of the behavior on the property side. All of this can be summarized on both sides of the equation by expediting and speeding up the leasing cycle because the property is getting information specific that they can answer. And now the residents getting what they want. And so rather than all starting from mountain here, they’re starting right here. And so it is speeding up the leasing cycle and that’s what conversational leasing is really benefiting. Wow. That’s great. Would you share any sort of do’s and don’ts that you may think would be valuable, I guess, for, for the viewers? Yeah. I could get in trouble on this one, but I’m gonna go ahead and do it maybe subs in general. So we’ll start with the dues. I may have a couple of don’ts, but yeah, if you’re out, if you’re looking at bot technology, automation technology, the first thing I’d say is personalize, whatever that is, customize it, let it be your brand, build your brand. So make sure that whatever that widget is on your site, wherever it is, it’s reflecting new brand, put your bot everywhere, make sure that you can put it on Facebook and Google my business and all of these channels, 24 seven, not just your property website. So that’s a very important thing. And then make sure you have all of your appointment types scheduled. So if you have in-person self-guided because since COVID, it used to be everyone who would show up at a certain appointment time in person, but now it’s self guided live video phone, and all of that. So make sure that you have all of your appointment types engaged and, and made it made available to your, to your prospective manner. Some of the don’ts I have a challenge when people say, Hey, we’ll help you train the bot. That’s, that’s hard. That’s very hard to, it’s very labor intensive and it’s not very scalable. So if someone says you can help us train the bot, or we can help you train the bot that that’s, that’s a red flag, but do not put endless widgets on your website. It’s turning into Las Vegas. Some of our websites, you’ve got nudge camp, you’ve got this, you’ve got that coming in. And so our sites are looking like Las Vegas. And the last thing I’ll say is, look, I can’t wait to have natural language processing, be where it needs to be and handle 95% of the conversations with only 5% breakage. That is because we have the largest NLP engine in all multifamily. The problem is it’s just not there yet. The average natural language processing bot breaks 35% of the time. So that may not sound a lot, but that means three and a half times, or having a bad experience. So NLP is not ready for prime time. Hopefully it will be in a year or two and we’ll be ready for that. But it’s not quite there yet. Yeah. Listen, this has been awesome. I just think about some of the time we could share. We could spend all day talking about This, but I, I, I really appreciate you showing up for our audience. I know these are some things that they have questions about. Tell us a little bit about where they can get information from you, and then we can probably even link it in the comments below, but again, just being a thought leader for this topic, appreciate what you’re doing and thank you for showing up. Absolutely. Yeah. And they’re welcome to go to a better bot.com. They can reach firstname.lastname@example.org and happy to answer any questions as you, as you mentioned, I could talk about this all day, so I’m happy to answer any questions they have. And we’ve got a fantastic team of people who provide outstanding customer support and service. So any one of them can help anytime too. So, yeah. Thank you for having me on. I really enjoyed this. Yeah, that’s awesome. And we’ll be tracking your success. So we’ll see you in the next show. Sounds like a plan. Appreciate it. Thank you, Robert. Appreciate it. Website: https://betterbot.ai/Demo BetterBot: https://betterbot.ai/demo-selection/The post The Chatbot Technology that is Making Life Easier for People first appeared on Multifamily Innovation®.
66 minutes | Jan 5, 2021
Excellence a Catalyst for Thriving
Jon Taylor, Chief Financial Officer for WRH Income Properties, looks back on the challenges of 2020 and highlights the growth opportunities. Jon joined WRH Realty Services in 2018 and serves as Chief Financial Officer for WRH Income Properties. As CFO Jon is in charge of all accounting, finance, human resources, risk management and technology for the holding company and its subsidiaries. He has more than 25 years of experience in the financial industry. Prior to WRH, he served in financial and operational leadership roles with leading companies including GE Capital, Franchise Finance Corporation of America, and EMF Broadcasting, in addition to MC Companies, and global private equity firms. He’s balancing the “Head thinking” with our “Heart thinking” We will look back on the challenges of 2020 and see the growth opportunity. We will forever live with the positive and negative changes from this disruption, and we will create new patterns of behavior until the next major disruption event occurs. The strategy of embracing cloud technology and remote workforce efficiency & effectiveness technology in concert with their commitment to Excellence Through People gave WRH a great foundation to build on in the face of the Pandemic. WRH reached another record revenue year, they delivered on their budgets. Their trust and communication metrics showed a significant rise reaching an all-time high. Their team member engagement and satisfaction are at an all-time high. They have successfully navigated COVID through their team’s and resident’s perspective. Welcome to the multifamily innovation show. This show will bring you some of the most innovative minds in the apartment industry. And today I have an incredible guest to interview. John Taylor is with WRH Realty services. Now John joined WRH in 2018 and he serves as the chief financial officer at WRH income properties. As a CFO, John is in charge of all the accounting, finance, human resources, risk management, and technology for the holding companies subsidiaries as well. He has more than 25 years experience in the financial industry, and he’s served in the operational leadership roles for leading companies, including GE Capital, Franchise Finance Corporation of America and EMF Broadcasting. In addition to MC companies and other global private equity firms, he’s balancing the head thinking with our heart thinking. So look, when we look back on the challenges of 2020 and see the growth and opportunity, we will forever live with the positive and negative changes from this disruption. And we will create new patterns of behavior until the next major disruption event occurs. Now the strategy of embracing cloud technology and remote workforce efficiency and effectiveness technology in concert with their commitment to excellence through people gave WRH a great foundation to build on the face of this pandemic. WRH reached another record revenue they delivered on their budgets. It was a record year. Their trust and communication metrics showed a significant rise in an all time high. Their team member engagement and satisfaction are also at all, all time high. They have successfully navigated COVID through their teams and the resident’s perspective. They tweaked operational things like property COO. We’re going to talk about what is a property CEO is talking about excellence development review. This is really driving excellence and getting through and thriving in an organization. They did portfolio management moves on upgrading the portfolio, converted to loans, to long-term fixed rate acquired properties. Purchased land took on a client with 20 properties, rolled out new things like rent tracker to essentially enhance the residents credit ratings, a rhino security deposit replacements. They’re looking at liability only renter policies implemented new voiceover IP systems successfully navigated the sale of four client properties and operated at a high occupancy. And again, reached a new high milestone for total revenue. You’re listening to the multifamily innovation with Patrick. Antrum your source for innovative strategies for multifamily professionals, CEOs, executive leaders, and aspiring leaders that want to drive high performance results for their property or portfolio. John, I have to say man, reading that you have been very busy. Well, I I’ve been very busy. It’s really been the team. The team has been very busy, very focused. So the head thinking and the heart thinking, talk to me about where you’re going with that. So, in 2019, at April, 2019, we, we did an offsite strategic planning session. And we, we worked with some people that we we’ve used since 2009 and, and did what’s called a 3d collaborative. And so through that process, we really identified the need for what, what, at that point in time, we, we, we termed it WRHH excellence through people and the, and the concept there was, I mean, self-explanatory really right, but the concept is that that yes, WRH has always had a culture of you matter. And that was a real culture, you know, it really does matter. You do matter, you know, as a resident, as a, as a team member, etc. we felt that that to take it to the next level. And that, that was where the excellence of the people came from. So, so we started working toward our vision in 2019. November of 2019, we met with our board and the chairman of the board was, was, you know, this is where the head heart really came from. We had this conversation and, and knowing that WRH is very metric driven. I knew that I needed to, to bring metrics to support the position I was trying to advocate for. Yes, absolutely. You know, at the same time I felt that that heads head thinking only wasn’t going to really win the day the heart needed to be there too. So that, that balance between heart and head and, and so how, how we, we approach it, it was really the issue was what is the right level of pay for a beginning employee that comes on to our team? And we had people that we were paying minimum wage and, and I just, I just took the position. I said, look, I know that we can do better. Right. So, so as a leader in this organization, as the CFO, I’m not proud of where we’re at. I think that, that we need toto address this. And so I you know, brought in the numbers and the numbers were look, it costs WRH $16,000 per person that, that turns over. And so that happens a lot. Absolutely. Especially on that, that, you know, that zero to six month timeframe, there’s a really high turnover, you know, industry-wide and we had our challenges there as well. So we had high turnover costing $16,000, you know, each term. So the point was, Hey, why would we, why would we want to incur that cost if we could, instead let’s, let’s, you know, raise the base for everybody. Right. And so, so we had this discussion and at the end of the discussion, the balance between the, the head thinking and the heart thinking was okay, $15, 25 cents an hour, which is a large increase because, you know, we were in multiple States, for instance, Florida, you know, you’re in the, the $8.75 range, and then for the minimum wage to go to $15.25, you know, that’s a significant increase. But that was what we, our hearts told us that that was the right thing to do. And our heads told us it’s, it’s the right thing to do. So that was kind of the first of the, the heart head conversations, if you will. And that, and that really, it really set the tone because I got to tell you a story. Well, we’re here to talk. So, so you know, you and I, we, we can get that, you know, that’s, that’s, that’s really good. That’s a really good move to be able to get an organization to make that kind of a percentage increase dollar increase, but we’d probably just don’t really grasp what that means day to day to, to everybody in an organization to, to hear that. So, so we had just built a, a really top notch class, a property, and it, it just killed the market. As far as, you know, the leasing velocity, we were like three times better than all the competitors. And so we filled it up rapidly and, and we, we have housekeepers. And so one of the housekeepers, when the manager was able to explain to her what WRH this decision and what it was, meaning she just broke down in tears. And, and she’s, she, you know, shared with the manager that in my whole life, I would never dream that I would be able to make that kind of money. That’s just, that’s not touchable thing, right? I’m a, I’m a single mother. I work here all day long. I go, go home, take care of my kids. Then I go to my next job to work all night long so that I can make ends meet. This is going to change my life. I’m now going to be able to quit that second job because of what has done for me. And that’s just one story. And there, there are many, many more, but that, to me, that’s like, like a very powerful recognition that we, we made the right decision, that, that whole heart head, it’s not, it’s not just buzzwords or anything like that. This is people we’re about. And that’s what excellence through people is all about. Sure. And, and acknowledging people how, you know, what their efforts are and, and, and what their value is. So that that’s where the heart head comes from. Yeah. I love it. I mean, I’m thinking, cause they’re not doing the math, even, even if you look at the, the turnover, because even if there’s not a spreadsheet in the world that would support a percentage increase or the way others would look at it in terms of selling that idea, but going through it in that capacity, what do you think it takes for, I mean, leaders to get to that point where they can have the courage to have that conversation. Cause I mean, you’ve done some really great things in your life and you come in with a, and I love how you’re talking about, you went through things with the residents perspective and the team member’s perspective. I mean, you have to have that perspective to make a decision like that. Right. You bet No question about it. And as far as, like, where does that come from? Yeah. I mean, I think, yeah, because you know, in multi-family you have that we look at what’s already happened. Right. And, and, and we’ll look at something very standardized. Like how many employees, not, how much should you pay them and how many should you have onsite? And the old story has always been, Oh one per 100 unit and then maintenance one per 100 units, like who came up with that number and why is that number there? I mean, if you relate it to advertising or media, they say that they’re, it takes seven touch points for someone to remember content or whatever the data is. We can go search it, but in today’s world, it’s more like 26, 27 touch points because there’s more mediums back then when that data point was in place, it was yeah. TV, radio print, that’s it. And so they’re like, okay, it’s seven. Yeah. You got to get them with some mailers and some, a radio ad and a TV ad and maybe a call, a call center. And then you got them on, on the media piece. But today it’s more like 27 and the world has evolved. And so when, when we’re underwriting properties doing these things, it feels interesting too, to just kind of take a step back and go, you know, do we need to, your new rate is 15, you know, and, and the value that’s achieved from that. Right. Well, you know, Results always, always determined if you know, your, your prior decisions, you know, where are you on target? Do you need to adjust kind of like using the artillery, right, right. You shoot, you see how close you are, you make adjustments, et cetera. And so, so I absolutely we’re on target this year. Not only are we having record record all time highs for revenue, and there’s much more to that story there w record net operating income record EBITDA. I mean, every financial metric and what’s more important. My mind is every employee poli, you know, team engagement type metric metrics around in, in WRH many, many years ago started started a survey. So There’s, there’s over about 15 years, Years of consistent data to look at, right. So the same questions asked at the same time of the year sure. In the same exact wording. And, and so you can see over the year that the trends and yeah, and it’s really interesting. I mean, we’re talking hundreds of questions and so you can really get into granular detail and 2020, you just see a complete new plateau starting. So, so up to about 2012, 2013, there was a plateau, you know, you know, up, down, up, down, but in a certain range, then 2014 to 2019, there was, there was another plateau that had been achieved. And then 2020 is, is, you know, a new paradigm that, that has been established. And, and I think that, that, it’s the, the focus around the, the excellence through people that we were talking about, the, the, the whole tools that we’re talking about, you know, the property CEO, you mentioned, the excellence development, it also gets into wh is, is really a it’s a family office. Okay. So, so the, the structure, so we have, we have a family as, you know, very wealthy, you know, group of siblings that, you know, This is, this is one of their wealth Building strategies and for, for generational wealth. And as you know, there are people, and, and although they are lawyers and, you know, business leaders, you know, people that, that just like as a CPA, you might think, well, why would John care about people, right. John just cares about, you know, cost Per kind of a thing and that, and what CPAs do, But th you know, there are people and they care about people and it’s, it gets back to the first thing we talked about balancing, you know, we all have, we all do think with our heads and we think with our hearts, and when we can find that right balance between the two, we D we get these types of results. And so, so we, we have the support from our ownership structure to, to be able to make these types of courageous moves without, okay, well, you know, right, John, go ahead and do what you, You’re talking about. You, you twist our arm, you do it, but boy, if it doesn’t work, don’t let them, Or hit you on the way out, kind of a thing. So a lot of support there as well. And just that, that empathy, that caring for all of the people on those surveys, one of the questions is, do you, do you intend to retire from WRA? Is that where you intend to retire over 75% of the people that work for WRA say, this is where I’m going to retire. Wow. And, and so when you get past one year of, of, you know, service with WRH, you rarely leave surely because it is a family and, and there’s, there’s that true caring. Yeah. It’s interesting. And, you know, the, the, the bottom line Results, I mean, if someone is just looking at yields and those numbers, I mean, what you said about how the housekeeper essentially stopped doing the second job, I mean, what’s, you’re doing, is you’re putting a customer now they’re in front of the customer with more rest and, you know, leaving their family in new ways, but like enriching their life in new ways. And then you take that along with maybe the savings of not having to, what was it? 16,000 and turnover or something like that. And that number’s growing, I would imagine. Yeah. But yeah. So there’s the bottom line numbers that reflect being empathetic and, and leading that’s. Right. It makes, it makes a big difference. Yeah. So talk to me a little about this property CEO. Is that an accountability? Is it an empowerment approach? Talk, tell me about what that CEO’s All of the above. So again, as we’re sitting down with our, our leadership team and having various discussions, one of the concepts was okay, so let me understand. We have all of these multimillion dollar businesses spread, spread over many States and you know, these, these, so from a sales standpoint, multi, you know, millions and millions of dollars per, per property. And then you have properties that have valuations of, you know, a hundred million dollar asset. Right. So, so is, do you really want to have a manager in charge of that? Or would you want to have managers who are, you know, what they are becoming CEOs surely it’s a CEO that, that I would prefer to have, because whether it’s risk management, right? Because if I have a CEO leading that property versus a property manager managing the property, I think that, I think that my, you know, whether it’s work comp claims, whether it’s resident injury claims, you know, fires just the whole risk profile, right. It comes down, that’s, that’s a bottom line savings, as well as if, if, if my, my manager is thinking more like a CEO, then leadership principles, that’s going to, as you said, is this an empowerment thing? Yeah. It’s an empowerment. Let’s empower the CEO, the CEO who then will empower their team, that, that CEO needs to be able to not be so much in the weeds as a manager is to where I can’t think about, Hey, strategically, where should my property be placed? Is there an opportunity? I know parking is one of the main reasons why I lose lose residence at, you know, fleece. Is there an opportunity for an adjacent piece of land? Is there something I could repurpose to be able to create creates parking spaces? I’m just, just, just an example. So if you can have somebody thinking strategically and long-term, and that gets back to long-term also w H is a longterm thinker, right? So we’re not, we’re not buying to sell we’re buying to hold and create, create significant wealth. And so, so that’s just totally in alignment with, with concept of a CEO. So, so just like anything, I mean, I could have said, Hey, we should have everybody be a CEO. Sure. Boom, you’re a CEO Patrick title. Right. It doesn’t, it doesn’t do anything. So instead we have developed a one-year program that gets into, you know, all aspects of, of being a CEO clearly in a year, you can’t, you know, get complete depth, but, you know, we do have there’s enough depth and enough breadth in terms of, of, you know, providing people with a mentor within the organization, providing people with tools, providing people with real live examples, you know, case studies, if you will, to work through for an entire year. And these people, when I say people are our existing managers, so we’re not forcing anybody to do this. I, you know, I view it as, as if you want to do it, you will be passionate about it, and then you will really succeed. And so, so if, if somebody forces me to do something, I’m not going to be very passionate about it, and I’m probably not going to succeed. Right. So, so it’s totally a voluntary basis. And we started with our first cohort in August and, and it’s going extremely well, so well that, that I’m, I’m watching it. And I’m saying, wait a second, this, the property CEO was a good idea, and this is really, really good stuff. But these leadership principles, our entire organization can benefit through this. So, so that’s one of our, okay. And so now we look at it as it’s kind of like your cell phone, you know, my, my iPhone, it’s a very valuable tool. Sure. Right. But what makes it really valuable is the applications, right? So, so we’re calling these applications, right? So, so property CEO is one application I see within the WRH excellence through people. So you’ve got, you know, here’s, here’s the, here’s the, the, the, the iPhone, if you will, that, that platform, that’s, that’s the excellence through people. And now we’re, we’re, we’re creating the apps that will really make that excellence through people really valuable. So that’s, that’s what the property CEO is. We, we created a program called star trainer best practice sharing. So, so if you, if you are really loving self identify with the name of that, like I’m a star trader. Yes. You bet. And so you’re really good at leasing. So, so you become a star trainer and now you will share your knowledge with others in the organization. So it brings everybody up to a star trainer level within, and we just now completed the development of the excellence development review. So instead of your once a year, okay, Patrick, how, how are you doing this year? Right. I haven’t talked to him for a year long. No. So, so everybody likes to know, and, and any leader stays very close to their team. And, and so that was the, the idea of this. So every 90 days that can be overwhelming. And so once, but, but that’s okay because what we did, and as I said, w H is really metric driven, a lot of metrics. So, so because we have, we made the commitment to go, to go to cloud, to really invest in technology and, you know, be on the leading edge of, with technology. We have this information, so now let’s leverage it. And that’s what, that’s, what we built was, okay. So if you are at a market rate property and you are a, a maintenance manager here is what excellence looks like, Patrick, you’re important. You just want, it looks like that’s right. I’m telling you upfront, this is exactly what excellence looks like. Cause I was going to ask you a lot of people, But we’ll say they have their own idea of what excellence is here you are. This is what it is. We need to do that at this position. Right? Exactly. So, so it’s very specific to them, your position and type of property, because as you know, depending on what the type is there, it can’t. So we ha we wanted consistency, but we, we understood there does need to be some differentiation to make it really meaningful. Right? So, so Patrick, here you are, you are, you are that maintenance manager, and this is what excellence looks like at the end of the quarter here we’re, we will go through this and, and through our systems, you will receive your, your excellence ratings. And this is all about developing you. That’s where we call it excellence development, your review, sorry. And because, because you know, you, you probably start off the quarter expecting that, you know, this is where I’m going to be, but we need to, we need to have that, that, you know, that today It’s so interesting, and this is off topic. But when I played baseball, my whole young life leading up, getting through scholarships and all that. And when I was drafted by the Yankees, they put us through what they called the Yankee way. And it was, this is what, you know, their, their definition of excellence. You know, you don’t clean shaven, they literally defined it. And you sort of step into that. And then, and then you develop as an individual, you know, but I think it’s fascinating to me that organizations expect that excellence, but don’t always not only clarify it, but then develop it as you are. Right. And that that’s really what, as I said, WRH has always been about excellence, right? I mean, always seeking excellence, wanting to do work with excellence, but what we’re doing now is really bringing it to a tangible, you know, reality. And part of that is the defining of it. So there’s no surprises at the end of the quarter that, you know, here we go, I’ve got that automated report. So that, so that, that overwhelmingness of how can I do all these reviews every 90 days? No, it would be easy because the system will provide it to you. You just need to schedule time to meet with me vice versa. And, and then, you know, there will, there’s, there’s a little bit of qualitative in there, but the, most of it is it’s quantitative too, again, trying to make it, you know, ease of use and something that’s consistent and not a moving target and well, but John, you like me better than you do Bob type of thing. No, take, take that out as much as possible and give you good, meaningful feedback on, on a, you know, a 90 day basis. I think that that’s where today’s world, especially millennials, I mean, who wants to wait? Do you really want, you know, let’s, let’s just use Netflix, let’s fast forward. Let’s get to the end of the season and know what happens. Right. So, so that’s the world we’re in. And, and again, a lot of the things that we’re doing, the different levers we’re pulling is because we recognize there, there it’s, the market for labor is intense and we want, if we want excellence, then we need to be excellent. We, you know, birds of a feather flock together, right? I mean, Eagle soar with Eagles. And, and so if we can have these types of tools, then not only will it attract people of excellence to R H it also, it, it just, it just a matter of, of, you know, I, I want to, I want to be there. And I, I understand that this isn’t, you know, with the Yankees, nobody would have, would have said, Hey, you know what, if you go over 20, don’t worry about it. Right. Right. So, so it’s a matter of debate, demanding excellence. So do you need to get together with that batting coach and, and really analyze your swing? What can you do? Right. So that you can maybe, you know, go at least five for 20 minutes, let’s start there. And then let’s get you to 15 for 20 and Better when they’re winning for themselves. Right. Like showing up and contributing and they understand their bigger picture and why all this matters to the whole, you know, operation. So do you find, I mean, this is a lot of leading in, I mean, this would help you raise capital, get investors. I mean, it, you start showing these types of strategies as the leading indicators of what creates the yield for the investor that maybe if, you know, it doesn’t even see anything, right. They’re backing all of these operations. It seems like these are the leading indicators of those things, which seems so obvious. Sure. Why do you think so many people don’t step in and do some of these things that may be even, you know, I don’t want to call them different, but you know, you got, you got your operation where a lot of management companies are. It’s very competitive trying to get new clients and marketplaces and, and they’re expanding into different marketplaces. And, you know, these types of strategies you’re talking about, you know, even in the long-term take time to implement, I would imagine, how do you get somebody that’s maybe operating for a third party that maybe doesn’t drive the vision of that, but the management company ought to, to get the yields. I, I, it’s a great question. So, and I think I have a really good story. Yeah. Me, that really hits on what you’re talking about. So, so from the standpoint of, of, you know, first of all, WRH, you know, we, we utilize our capital. We have, we, we have plenty of capital. So, so we’re not doing this to attract investors, right. Because frankly, we don’t want investors. We’d like to buy on our own account. And sure. So, so, so that’s not necessarily why we’re doing it, w we’re doing this because we want to build that generational wealth. And, and, you know, we look at the constituent wheel if you will. Right. So I’m in the middle of that constituent wheel. I put myself in the middle and I look around and I see vendors. I see, I see team members. I see residents, I see, you know, government institutions. I see. So there’s, there’s a variety of, of constituents and, and we’re doing it for our constituents. It’s, it’s, you know, let’s re if I serve every one of those constituents, I will drive better, better revenues, better net profits, et cetera. So here’s the story. The story is that this time, last year I’d mentioned that we were meeting and we had this discussion about the 1525. And so, so we, we, we, the board was so excited that the board wanted to, let’s go retroactive with this. Okay. Yes, you bet. Wow. So it was, it was, it was very, very warmly embraced. It wasn’t, you know, pulling teeth. Right. You know, you’ve got to do this or I’m quitting kind of a thing. Right. And so, so there was full adoption of it. However, we, you know, we do do some third party management. Sure. And, and on the third-party management, we, we do it because we view it as a way for us to be able to, to even, you know, raise higher the level of excellence in terms of the staffing and the technology tools that we have. Th th cause it’d be hard to justify it if, if it was just for our own own portfolio. So that’s why we do it. And we, and we kind of look toward the people that we do, third-party management for. Do they match, do they match up with us? So we’re definitely not out there Looking for anybody, just Any kind of an assignment, but if you have the same type of long-term mentality, if you have the type of principles that we do, if you, if you would embrace excellence through people. Okay, well, let’s talk, we, we would, we’d like to consider seeing if there’s a way that we could serve you to, you know, meet your, your needs. So one of our, our top third-party clients, long-term client, they said, no, we don’t agree with this 1525. Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. We know, ah, Not onboard with that. Right. And, and of course these are our employees, right. I mean, that’s the way all of these structures are. And, but Hey, you know, what it gets back to, you know, serving, right. So, so it’s not very service oriented, servant oriented. If I, if I try to cram something down your throat, right. I mean, that just doesn’t really work. So, so we said, okay, you know, what, if you’re not comfortable with this, it really, we really would encourage you to, because it’s, it’s really a good message. If, if we can say to all WRH employees across the board, it doesn’t matter which asset you’re working on it. This is w this is the way it works this way. We roll it at WRH. We care about you, you know, it’s kind of, kind of takes away from the message for us to have to say, well, except for, but they, but they felt strongly about it. And, and my view was, you know, what, give them a year and they will see their results and they will be there. And so within a year, we’ll have everybody at 1525. I it’s, it’s almost a year right. About a year. And I believe we have everybody at 1525, you know, I mean, as the, as the floor at the minimum, obviously there’s plenty of people that make above that, but Because we’re not managing to the payroll or imagined to the NOI anyway, right. Like you bet, you bet ended up getting there in some capacity. And I think, I think that we’ve proven over the last year, how, how much that there is a link between pay and excellence and, and know. So, so the, the pandemic, the pandemic was a huge test for everybody. Right. And so, Well, there’s some efficiencies there too that maybe we could rethink some things too, but you best explore that, but you bet. Well, I, I’m just thinking. So, so as most companies and, you know, I put my CFO hat on here, you know, I’m, I’m looking at a PPP loan, right. Because, because th the threshold was, look, is there uncertainty to your future? And if there is, you would qualify for this, this loan. So we’re looking at this, and I was kind of a, you know, an early adopter terms of understanding and learning. What’s, what’s, you know, the different drafts that are going and what it will probably look like when it comes out at the end of the day, we, we made the decision. We don’t want one of those just, it’s not in line with, you know, we were doing projections of, Hey, we might see 50% erosion of our revenues because when you have, you know, how many people sick and not working, being fired, et cetera, who could really be bad. We were doing a lot of pro farmer looking at demographics of our, of our resident base, the whole works. And so, so with, with that, we, you know, right off the bat, our, our CEO, Mark Rutledge, he said, he’s like, you know, we’ve never seen something like this in our, you know, we’ve got, you know, a lot of experience on this executive team. And none of us seen anything like this, our parents haven’t seen anything like this. So, so we need to really come together as a, as a team and really up our game with respect to communication, we need to stay close to the hip with each other. And constantly w as, as things are changing so rapidly, and I really credit, you know, Mark’s thinking along those lines too, the, we were really focused on the excellence through people. And we were talking about, we had just barely done this, another one of these 3d collaboratives, where we developed the, the property CEO and then the pandemic hit. So right off the bat, you know, the idea of, we need to communicate, we need to come close together as a team. Right? And, and in our first meeting, you know, the, the chairman, the board joined in to the, to the meeting and his statement was, you know, even though we have these, these great automated tools that, that tell us on a weekly basis, daily basis, what should pricing be for one of our units? So forget that we need to care. We need to show the residents that we care about them. That there’s empathy, because they’re going through some pretty scary stuff. We’re all going through this. We don’t know what’s going to happen. Right? So I, I think that we should not raise rents on any renewal. We should not raise rent. You know, anybody who wants to let you forget what that all says, keep rents where they are and start, start, you know, if anybody has trouble making their rent payment, let’s work with them, forget the evictions. You know, now if somebody says somebody just a problem, that’s a different story, but somebody, and that’s kind of the commercial real estate, Hey, are you a part of the problem or part of the solution? And, you know, so, so I, I saw that as a really strong signal to, to speak to the entire executive team, to then speak to the entire organization of, Hey, everybody, we’ve got your back. Don’t worry about it. In terms of, of, you know, we, we care more about the safety of our employees, the wellbeing financially of our employees, the safety of our residents and the wellbeing of our residents. Then we do our own situation. We have plenty of capital. We can, we can withstand this storm. Let’s do what’s right. For those, the people, the back to that excellence through people that, that constituent we, right. You know, the residents are our key on there. The team members are key on there. So what we did was we, we said, all right, in April, even though you just received your annual bonus in March, you have now taken on a completely new role because we believe you’re at, we believe that you are essential. And so we never shut down. Yeah. We, we, we operated through the whole pandemic. Of course we provided, you know, all the PPE, we, you know, we had to, you know, follow any local CDC guidelines, you know, so, so we’re doing it right. And, and for instance, if, if you’re a maintenance person, you’re absolutely essential because we have hundreds of people that are relying on you. And if their air conditioner doesn’t work, it’s pretty darn essential. Now, if you don’t feel safe going into that, that apartment and fixing the air conditioner or whatever the need is, don’t worry. We’re not gonna force you. You know, this, isn’t what we’re firing you. We will find another way to do it. So again, it gets back to focusing on the people. So anyhow, so perspective of their needs. Yeah, exactly. And, and so with another raise or not raise another, another bonus in April, plus that, that message of, you know, we, we care about it. Yeah. You’re putting them at ease too. That’s more news, more fear coming at them than ever before. And it’s like, what, they’re going to fill in the gaps if, if you’re not out there with that message. That’s right. And, and, and speaking of message. So when you, that, that leadership team that was meeting every single Monday morning, there was communication, like none other in the organization throughout the pandemic. So, so here, you’ve got, you know, the whole make lemonade with lemons type of thing. I mean, this is right in the face of really nasty stuff, but, but the way that, that WRH chose to, to, you know, really go through this journey, it, it showed everybody how much, you know, what that caring level is. It showed everybody that, wow, the vice president of operations, he really cares he’s, he’s on this phone call with me and giving me direction, asking, answering my questions, understanding why I’m, I’m being fearful. And so, so it was really taking a crisis and, and seeing the opportunity in it and really coming out extremely well. Yeah. What, how do you manage to those expectations in terms of, I mean, obviously you have to be in a, in a position of strength to have the patients and it’s like, solve the income problem. So then you can, so then you can do the right thing. I see a lot of companies, you know, they’re, they’re scared as much as their employees, right? Like, how are we going to remain relevant? How are we going to meet payroll, cash flow, all those things, will we be able to interact with the marketplace, all those things. So if a company isn’t sitting on strength, you know, how do you get through some of those, those things, there’s this, this new, it’s not even a new way of thinking, but it’s a different way. I would say, You know, I I’m sure that you’ve seen it in your career. You’ve seen it in others’ careers and I’ve certainly seen it in mine. And, and that is true. Leadership has, has a big, strong component of courage. And, and so, so to me, you can’t let fear paralyze you. And so, so I I’ve been involved in organizations where, Oh, it’s, it’s a recessionary time. Sure. Let’s cut back on our marketing. Right. And it’s like, no, Yeah, you’ve got the CFO over here saying, don’t spend any money into the CEO’s saying, Hey, go sell stuff. It’s like, wait a minute. There’s other exactly. Now, now fortunately, I, you know, the type I, I’m a very relational CFO. Yes. I understand. Gap and tax, you know, but, but you know, I see, I see, I see the holistic picture. Right. And so, so no, I, I would, I would fight anytime. I would hear something like that. Even if it’s the CEO saying let’s cut the marketing. No, if anything, we’ve got to double down and do more marketing. Maybe it’s smarter marketing. Maybe there’s a new, new types of marketing, but, but definitely do not because we need customers. We need, we need residents and we, you know, we need revenue and let’s, let’s, let’s really find new ways. If that’s what it takes. That’s find new ways to generate new revenue sources, new business models. But let’s, let’s, let’s not hunker down. A lot of companies about now in this pandemic are saying, okay, let’s go on ahead and turn the 401k matching back on. Right. So, so I get it. A lot of companies that, you know, maybe they were in positions where they just couldn’t. But again, this gets back to the fear and not letting fear drive you, but being courage and courageous and letting, letting that be more of what, you know, I we’re going to make this, we’re going to make it through. Let’s not send signals to our team members of, Hey, you know, that, that match that, that I used to do, I don’t have do it. So that’s one of the first things I’m going to cut. Well, think about it. I talked about it earlier. How, how tough the market is right now to find people of excellence. Why would I ever risk over a 401k match, losing somebody? And then what do I get to do? I get to pay $16,000 to replace them. And now I’ve got somebody who’s who’s who may be a diamond in the rough, or they may be another $16,000 bad decision and the lawsuit, or who knows. Right. Exactly. You you’ve been around, you know, that’s true. And so how can you develop When you mentioned relation a relational CFO, is that because of the, sort of the family, like really getting beyond the numbers and into why a family would own multi-family? Is it, is it something you can teach or is it a strength? Well, I, I think that, I think you can probably teach just about anything it’s just as to, you know, how effective does that, that teaching, you know, grab on and, and resonate with who it is that you’re trying to teach. Right. So, so I think you have to have some natural, you know, inherent kind of leaning in a particular direction to then, you know, have those types of concepts, if you will really attach to you, and then you, you actually flex those muscles and because just like anything, right. I mean, you could teach me something today. You know, we went to the gym and, and mentally we went to the gym and, and, and I flexed that, that muscle. Sure. Right. Okay. Well, I better get to the gym tomorrow and the next day. And, you know, I, I’m going to need to repeatedly, you know, flex that muscle, otherwise that muscle will never grow. Right. And so that, that’s where I would, I would look at it, you know, in terms of being a relational CFO, you know, anybody who’s a CFO, I, well, not anybody, but for the most part, you, you went through formal schooling, you’ve had, you know, a variety of, of professional experiences and, and, you know, so, so you’ve, you, you should flex those types of muscles, but, And you’re dealing with exceptions in many cases and absolutes and, and, you know, recurring activities in terms of the it’s like that steering wheel right. In the vehicle. So, but I guess what I’m wondering is do you see that role evolving and because of technology and the different aspects of bigger purchases that are happening, that, that new, new, new ideas, new ways of, of even even risk, you know, new ways of transacting in the world today, I did remote world. I, I think that, that I gravitated to this, this type of, you know, financial leader mentality way early on in my career. And, and I’ve just developed it over the years. I think that, I think that more and more people that are, are on a CFO path, or they are a CFO or that they, they get that, that it’s all about people. And it’s just a matter of where are they on their journey in terms of, of that, that development. I personally, I don’t think I would have ever had the types of success, you know, had I just been a head thinker, only the head heart balance is, is really, to me, that’s the key. Yeah. It seems like there’s a blend of more than the financial piece of it that has to, that has to evolve over time. You guys have done a lot of things, purchased land, acquiring more units, at least for clients. And, and you know, what, how do you, how do you still go on the growth mindset even when you’re still, I mean, you’re, you’re people are going through all these different aspects. Are you, does it feel like, you know, there, there was even early on in, in the stages of, of COVID it was like, don’t show profit, don’t show success, like when people are hurting right now. Right. So how do you go on the offense in, in that period of time? Wow. I, you know, I never even really thought of it in that sense, but you’re right. That, that is something to, you know, kind of care about other people’s feelings almost, you know, if I’m hearing you right. Yeah. Not to apologize, you know? Yeah. Yeah. I, yeah. I don’t think that, that there was any conscious thought of that. It was, I mean, we’re Mark, Mark’s an athlete, I’m an athlete. Yeah, sure. Our, our team has that, that heart of a champion, if you will. And so, so it’s all about, it’s all about finding ways to win and not, not, not with that at all costs. Right. It’s, it’s, it’s finding ways to win so that we all win. And, and so, so I think that, I know, I know with myself as I was going through this, I would have conversation with, with bankers let’s for instance, explain it to them where we’re at and the things that we’re doing and why we’re having success. And I’m encouraging them to encourage their other clients to, you know, try doing some of these types of things I’m talking with, you know, insurance brokers, same, same types of conversations and, you know, other, other people within multifamily as well. So, so kind of, you know, like if you will, a best practice sharing, that’s, that’s kind of the approach. Yeah. And what I guess, you know, through, through all of what you’re doing for this operation, I guess, how, how do you see, and there’s no predictions, we don’t do a lot of predictions and things like that, but what, what do you, what’s your sense of where we go from here? So I, you know, I, I think that, and as we were talking, I was doing pro formas with 50% revenue reductions because you don’t know where it is. And I still think that that there’s a, a large degree of uncertainty still. So, I mean, there’s a lot of political uncertainty in the United States right now that is adding on to a lot of all, a lot of the other stuff of, of 2020. But, but I think that I don’t see, and this isn’t, Oh, I’m the biggest prognosticator. I’m just parroting what I hear from the smart people in terms of, I think that I don’t see the fed, you know, doing much with, with rates. So I think that, that I D now I take that information and I look at history and match it up. And I say, okay, that then tells me that if rates remain low, cap rates remain low, they will still be deal flow. I th I see that in certain pockets, home ownership is starting to grow, but at the same time, you still have that, that fear of, Ooh, I saw what happened to mom and dad. They got really burned on any of those properties. I think I like renting. I liked the flexibility of renting. So, so I think that, that there in pockets, there may be some change in terms of, of, you know, what we’ve seen in the last, you know, five, five, even 10 years. But for the most part, I think there’s going to be deals. I think that, you know, if we were able to go through the 20, 20 pandemic and really not see much compression in pricing, and, and I mean, there is still a plethora of activity out there and, you know, we’re out there competing every day on buying assets. You know, we have capital and we want to buy and, but we’re really disciplined. And so, so more times than not, we don’t end up on the best and final list. And, but that’s okay because we want to be really disciplined with our capital invested, you know, very strategically. And when the right ones come along, we, we, we do those. And then we’re also, we’re also looking at development as, as being a really strong opportunity as well, going forward. So that’s kind of, Yeah. And, and there’s, there’s new innovations coming to that part of the business that could change. Okay. About 3d printing and all that. Yeah. I mean, you look crazy just the entitlement, you know, all these, the technology’s there. And then, you know, you get to the planning commission and everything’s flattened into the, you know, the, the flat 2d plans and stuff like that. And so it’ll be interesting how all those things work through, and that’s the solution to affordable housing, if it’s efficiency or who knows what, but that’s, you know, definitely something to watch. I, I will say that, you know, spending time at, even our, our events and summits that we’ve done, we’ve had sort of a, an inside look at, at some of those leading technologies where they’re building units in other countries, even skyscrapers and like record times days. And it just blows your mind to think of the possibilities, but I know a lot of things have to catch up for, you know, you email@example.com I guess, era where the crash in the early days of.com, you know, you had people trying to do home grocer, home delivery of groceries, and Hey, it made sense, but, you know, people didn’t want to put credit cards online, the timing wasn’t right. And so there’s so many elements that go into making all this. Right. So what, what, what are you excited about? I know you talked a little about where, what you, how you see things, you know, from here out, but what, what are you excited about? Well, I, for, for next year, what’s pretty exciting is, is we’ve already identified eight, eight new applications that we won’t, we won’t develop them all in 2021, but just Dig into these, inside the, the container of your program, right. Applications. Yes, exactly. So those excellence through people, applications that, that content, just like every application that I use on my phone makes my phone more, more precious and more valuable to me, every one of these applications that actually get used, you know, and people embrace them, we’ll make the WRH excellence through people model that much more, that much more, you know, really valuable and, and attracting, right. Because we want to attract the best, right. We, we didn’t, we demand excellence. We want to attract excellence. And I think that, that that’s, what’s happening. We are seeing that where, where, you know, people are learning about what we’re doing. We’re not, you know, we’re definitely not a big player. We’re, we’re a good size organization. We’re well-known, but there’s a lot of other players that are much larger than us. And so from the standpoint of whether, whether I mentioned that we’re not really seeking clients and on the, on the management side, but, but you know, one of our, the, the, the client that’s, that’s bringing 20 new properties. They, they were with one of the large well-known firms and, and they just made their decision what’s best for them. They would rather more of that boutique working with us where we’re going to treat you, just like we treat our own properties that own. And there’s a difference. I know, I, I remember when I, I first started working with GE and one of the, the head honchos said, well, you know, we are entrepreneurial. And, and I, I just kind of check it like you, and it’s like, it’s like, you know, you, you might think that you’re entrepreneurial and that’s great, but when you’re 300,000 people strong across the world, you really can’t act like you’re entrepreneurial. And whereas, you know, a company that’s, that’s smaller has their finger on the pulse of, of the market. I th I just, that’s, that’s a space I like to be in. And that’s, that’s what excites me about being without BRH, it’s, that’s, that’s the organization. And, and you’re able to, you know, really pick and choose who do you want to do business with because you’re partnering with them. And, you know, who wants a partner that, that doesn’t, isn’t thrilled with the, with your ideas and concepts and how you do it. You want, you want it the matched properly. So, so I was like, Oh, great. We got, we got a new client with 10 properties. Sure. We hate each other. They can’t wait to get rid of us. So it’s, it’s, it’s all about, it’s about relationships. It’s about people. Yeah. What you, how do you see as a CFO technology? Talk to me about that. So, so technology, I mean, I think that technology totally embraced technology. And I think that, that I don’t mind being on the leading edge of technology, but certainly don’t want to get so far out in front of my skis that I’m on that bleeding edge. Right. Right. Because, because it changes so rapidly, I need to know that it’s going to be there. I know I was with another, another organization years ago, and I was talking with my chief technology officer and he says to me, yeah, you know, all you CFOs, you all think cloud is the answer. And that’s because we had your typical mainframe kind of environment. And, you know, it’s like, sure, that was a threat to that CTO. Right. And you know, here, here we are not many years later. And cloud is definitely if, if w R H was not dedicated to, to the cloud, this pandemic would have been crushing. We were, we were teed up. We had, we had practiced a year in advance cause that’s a year in advance when we started the, the w H excellence through people. So we were really honing our, our people thinking muscles for a year in advance. So when that pandemic did hit, we, we were, we were flexed and ready to go from, from the people that heart side. Sure. And then at the same time, because as I’ve mentioned, many times already, you know, very metric driven and how are we metric driven? You, you don’t get metrics, good, solid value, you know, type metrics if you don’t have good technology. So, so, you know, we’ve been, we’ve been working out that technology muscle for years and years and years. And we probably, you know, got a little soft on the people, muscle, the heart thinking. Right. And so, so because of a year prior to the pandemic, we were working out both of those muscles day one, we, we, we were able to keep everybody safe in terms of working remotely, because we had all the technology tools in place already. So it wasn’t like, Ooh, I need to learn how to, how to use this new software. Right. And at the same time, I needed to figure out how I’m going to even do my job now that I’m, I can’t meet together in the office the way that we used to. So, so technology definitely is, is, you know, it, it hugely important to the value, the value add process. Yeah. And, and I would follow that up with, how do you see the customer? Are you paying, I mean, the next generation renter, even today’s generation renter, are you, I know you’ve really had a deep, you know, compassion and understanding of the employees. I mean, they’re customers too, but how are you guys seeing the customer, the people that ended up renting and maybe choosing not to buy and end up renting? How are you looking at that? Well, I, I hope that it’s come across in our short conversation here that, you know, we’re, we’re highly focused on that customer, right? So, so the resident, they are, they are the key. And, and so whether it’s providing them with, you know, we’re talking about technology, providing them with the type of technology tools so that they can, they can continue their life dependent, no matter what the future looks like with, with this pandemic or the next pandemic, or, you know, whatever comes our way. You know, we, we are already changing our designs on, on what, we’re, what we’re going to, we’re going to start another development in 2021. And, and so we’re changing up on some of the, those designs and, and, you know, with that thought of, okay, these are the residents, what will be attracted to them? What do they need? You know, we know what they needed for the last five years, but for the next five years, what, what would be more valuable to them? And because just like, just like we’re competing in the marketplace for the best employees we’re competing in the marketplace for the best residents. We have residents that have, have lived in our properties for, for 20 years. I just heard a story yesterday from one of our regionals in the Texas market, where there was a resonant in a property, been there 10 years. And, you know, you know, elderly, it’s, he’s retired and with COVID, he really couldn’t, he couldn’t get out and shop. He couldn’t, you know, just all of the things that we take for granted. Sure. And, and so the team onsite, they, they kind of adopted him and, you know, really took care of him. What do you need? Let us, let us get it for you. Let us help you through this. And I mean, that’s, that’s what we’re talking about. And it’s not looking at, Oh, well, you’re dollars and cents. That’s why I’m treating you like this. Right. It’s looking at you, you’re a person, right. It’s excellence through people and, and there’s value in you being a person. I want to serve you. How can I serve you? Sure. And, Oh, you need me to take you to an appointment. No problem. That’s not my job, but I can take you to an appointment. I have a car you need, you need to have some groceries picked up for you. We got you covered. Don’t worry. And so, so there’s, there’s definitely a very, very high focus on, on our residents as, as a very important customer. Yeah. That’s, that’s, that’s amazing. I love those stories because I mean, we’ve all grown up on and watch TV and movies. And, and obviously the, sometimes the property owner is not portrayed. Yes. And that type of manner it’s, you know, it’s portrayed in other ways. And that brand has to change, you know, because this has been an opportunity for these communities that you guys build and manage and take care of for those people that live within them to have a new way to experience life. I mean, in, in many cases, I mean, I have kids, I mean, we were told to stay home with kids and well stay home. And then the kids were not in school. So you’re working at home and the kids were at home and all these things change. And so I like to hear that even in your design build stuff that you’re, you’re, you’re thinking about what my maybe different in the next five years. So it’s pretty, pretty fascinating. Yeah. And you know, back to the constituent wheel, cause you were talking, it reminded me of that. So the CDC this year somehow decided that they had had this, this authority to get into the real estate world and, and start telling, telling owners of properties, what they can and can’t do with their, with their property. And, and back to, if you, if I look at you and I mentioned, you know, governmental agencies, as I talked, talked about people that are all are around that constituent wheel, you know, I need to, I need to do a better job with the CDC or with whoever is coming up with the next executive order saying, Hey, everybody, you don’t have to pay rent. I need to do a better job with them so that they understand, we aren’t like, you know, we can, we can self police this industry. We can self police ourselves. Nobody wins. If, if we just have, have no heart, we also, nobody wins if we have no head. Right. So if I give you rent for free, you’re going to love it. Right. But you’re not gonna love it in a year from now because that building will have deferred maintenance. It’ll just be a horrible nightmare. And so, so just like we’re balancing heart and hat, you know, we need to, with all of our constituents, we need them to understand that balance of heart and head. You can’t come in and wave a wand and make a dictate that you know what you can and can’t do with your property, right? Maybe you feel like you can, and maybe you even have a legal right to, I highly challenged that you would have a legal right to infringe on, on, you know, very strong rights. But, but nonetheless, you need to be able to, to, you know, look at it from the standpoint of we are, you can’t just lump everybody into one, one size fits all. Here’s here. For instance, WRH w you know, I can challenge anybody to find a resident. Who’s going to say, yeah, they were really bad people. They treated us wrong type of a thing. No, because we don’t treat people wrong. We, we treat people like they are people and people just because you are a person you’re, you’re valued. And if we, again, if we always maintain that balance, I know how many times we’ve said it, the heart, the heart, thinking the mind think and bounce between the two of them. Then I think that people who probably have good intentions, but they maybe don’t understand the logical conclusion to these, these ideas of force, everybody to not be allowed to evict force people, to not, you know, charge rent that’s right. It just doesn’t work. It doesn’t work. And, you know, you don’t talk about what you don’t know. And sometimes the intention, maybe in the public view, it seems like a move to make, but not understanding that do the math and, and, and how that math plays out over coming months. If, if, if you take oxygen away from You stop right. Of essential at some point, it’s going to be Problematic. Yeah. So I can appreciate all that. And I think that it’s, and thank you for some of those remarks, because I think that’s another step in just planting another seed. So other leaders, and, and if it’s congressmen or, you know, you know, just leaders around, even if it’s a city council, Rooney and people to really truly understand this industry at that level and, and hearing from other great owners that are doing great things. So I appreciate what you guys are doing. And you guys also making one of the top places, top 50 best places to work multifamily. It’s been an amazing honor to, for absolutely. And appreciate all that you guys do. All right. So let’s keep the conversation going on. Social. Let’s follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn. We’re also on Facebook anywhere else. You can find us follow us on there, and we’ll be, we’ll be in touch with you for some more upcoming shows some of the behind the scenes, you know, documentaries that we’re filming upcoming events, workshops, and even mastermind. So visit multifamily innovation.com. That’s multifamily innovation.com. All right, we’ll see you in the next show. Thanks for listening to this episode Of the multifamily innovation show. Please remember to like, and subscribe for more episodes. Don’t forget to hit the notification bell so you can stay up to date. Everything is MultiCare.The post Excellence a Catalyst for Thriving first appeared on Multifamily Innovation®.
41 minutes | Dec 9, 2020
Adapting Operations Quickly and Strategies for Success
Todd Katler, CEO of Anyone Home talks with Patrick Antrim, CEO of Multifamily Leadership on operational strategies for success post-pandemic. The pandemic led the industry to evaluate the way they adapt. Not only did operators need to pivot their strategies to accommodate for social distancing and health and safety precautions, but they had to adapt new technologies, processes and procedures. The most successful operators have adapted while making the consumer the point of focus. From various technologies to creating future leasing strategies in an unpredictable market, operators have to shift quickly to accommodate for new and changing conditions and sometimes fake it till they make it. This episode will cover the various levels of adaptation among operators, how operations will continue to evolve and discuss specific strategies for success. All right, today on the show we have Todd Katler, founder and CEO of Anyone Home. Todd has a great depth of experience as a 25-year veteran of multifamily on both the management and operational sides of the business, but also implementing innovation into multifamily and his goal and vision for elevating the rental housing experience. For both the prospective and existing residents, the perspective and experience that onsite professionals have is something that we’re really tuned into. He has successfully graduated Anyone Home from a startup to more than 300 employees and doing more than a million contacts per month. We’re here to talk to you today, Todd, about what’s next for leasing and multifamily. Thank you for having me, glad to be here. Listen, I just want to talk to you a little bit about what’s different now and what’s the role of leasing? Where are we going with all of that? You know, it’s interesting. Multifamily, historically, is very, very slow to change because there’s really not a lot of existential risk for the most part. If you’re an operator, you didn’t make a lot of money, or a little bit less than a lot of money, but you’re not going to not make any money. I think with the onset of the pandemic, what we saw is changes that were already happening by early adopters that the whole earlier adopter curve just sort of moved to the left a bit where people who were risk-averse are saying, geez, we got it. We can do something or nothing. You know, let’s do something, but we’re seeing a lot of companies that otherwise wouldn’t have changed changing quite a bit now. Yeah. So a question on that, let’s go into the fears. Let’s go back before the forced innovation with a forced change. You know, you mentioned something very interesting in that success can sometimes be the biggest issue for multifamily and we saw that with the hotels and auto industry. You know, I’m looking at industries like that, seeing massive change in the intermediary areas and in that customer experience. And so what do you think the fears are? I think in bringing on something that maybe it’s not just the early adopters getting involved, but really everybody should just because of the customer experience. I mean, self-guided tours are probably the easiest one to show as an example of that. So we started Anyone Home to serve institutional loans, single-family operators and people that have 10,000 plus units of single-family homes. They adopted self-guided tours in seconds because they had to to survive. It was the only way they were going to be able to operate with a margin even remotely similar to multifamily. So if you’re trying to attract that same institutional capital, you don’t have much of a choice. We launched self-guided tours for multifamily from a technology perspective a year and a half ago and it took almost a full year just to get the first properties to finally commit and say, okay, let’s start testing this. I’ve been in the industry a long time and never have I had so many discussions about what happens if Antarctica melts as I have with self-guided tours. Like, what if someone leaves the door open? Or what if someone steals a pillow off the couch? And you know, then I guess you’re gonna lose it. I mean, they’re like six bucks at home goods. There was just so much of, “this is the way we do it.” It doesn’t fit in this box. So you saw a lot of this, you know, geez, “can we have someone on our property without being escorted?” Which, you know, people kind of forget that’s multifamily, one-on-one, you don’t have control over who’s on your property. Even if you have controlled access, people are coming and going all the time. It’s not like you have tour retina scans. And then we also saw a lot of fear of what happens when it’s not our agent doing this highly curated tour asking and answering these questions. And what we saw is that for the people that gravitated towards self-guided tours, they actually converted to a lease at much higher rates because they got to spend more time on property and didn’t have someone waiting on them and had more time to start visualizing their own experience moving in. And a lot of times a product, you know, you’re talking about leasing agents and the turnover, having a new leasing agent talking about the product from the human aspect. I mean, we make a lot of errors as you’re aware. Sure. Right. And technology sometimes makes less. I don’t know if you’re seeing any benefits to having a more consistent brand experience than having, you know, constantly retraining and training people and hoping that not only they’re going to keep you in a minimize risk standpoint from even fair housing and all these other elements, but also to really talk about the community in the right way. Yeah, I think consistency is a big deal. As you know, we operate a 24-7 contact center as well, actually with about 400 employees in there now. And you know, I always say, your best leasing agents are always better than our contact center because they live there or they live in the neighborhood and they know the property inside and out. They’re always going to be better. But our average is always better than our customer’s average because of that consistency because you only have to train someone to do something one way. So I think this, what you just talked about as like, how do you be consistent on every encounter to make it predictable? It’s certainly something that, that really presents itself in that you can start to say like, okay, we’re going to have a thousand inquiries this month. They’re going to go about like this. You’re gonna have some really good ones. You have some really bad ones, but they’re going to go about like this. And it allows you to forecast in a much more efficient way and advertise a much more efficient way. Cause you understand how your leads are going to convert. I always wonder about that consumer because even now with the acceleration of the customer is still needing a place and people were forced to not do tours because of social distancing and things like that. And the customer has now come to expect even a virtual tour or self-guided tour, or something of this sort. Right. And I always just think about, you know, how much sales is really involved in the process of customers starting to sort of decide. Like, I know this is a location, I’ve seen this property. I’ve been driving by it for a long time. I’ve heard of some people that have already lived there. Like, are people coming in a little bit more educated and do we even need to close as much in terms of being more consistent on things? I think across the board, consumers are more educated than they ever were. And that changes sales in every environment, right? Not just at leasing apartments, but you know, B2B sales and whatnot. People are more educated. That being said, I like to kind of compare to Zappos all the time, who in most of our opinions is probably one of the best service companies in the world. And one of the reasons why Zappos is so successful is because they’re agnostic in how you get to interact with them. And that’s really important. Some of us are gonna say, no, no, I don’t want to talk to a human. I want a self-guided tour. I want an online app. I want an online lease. And frankly, if there was something I could do to get my key or code and move in and never speak to a human, that would be great. And you would have someone on the other end of the spectrum say, actually, this is where I’m going to live. This is home and home to me is about who I’m surrounded by. And I want to know, Hey, if I’m having a bad day, are there a couple of smiling faces in the leasing office that are going to sit and chit chat with me for a minute? You know, I’m a dog lover, are there other dog lovers here? Things that are not necessarily about, you know, where’s the fridge and is there a walk-in closet, right? Stuff, that’s more expository, like what is it going to be like to live there? And that’s a little less binary. So I think the, you know, kind of taking the cue from Zappos rather than try and say, okay, well leasing is going to be this way forever, or we’re going to use AI for this, there’s a certain number of leases we want to transact. We want people to be happy because if we minimize turnover, it really pays off in the long run for all of our financials. So how are we going to give people choices and let them communicate in their own currency and the way they want to so that they can say, Hey, I’m all automated, but you know, I just hit a stumbling block. I don’t want to talk to a human now and allow them to transition. However they want to talk to that human in real time. That’s a good point. You have emotional buyers and logical buyers and they make decisions off of different information. And those are some really powerful points. And, you know, it’s interesting. How do we have the tech stack, I guess, to fully do something like that? Can you talk to us a little bit more about what you’re doing with your platform on how to solve some of those, even in the forms of automating the tasks so that maybe when someone gets to that stop point, then you have really a concierge, maybe the role of leasing changes. Talk to me a little bit about what you guys do. Yeah. It’s funny you use concierge. We actually launched a product last year called concierge for how to attack that exact purpose. So we look at it and I think, you know, if this interests you, if you’re viewing this, you should look at everyone out there and decide who’s best for you. But we look at it as there’s a combination of automation and human interaction that work together to do that. So, you know, kind of looking at the different channels, you know, obviously you need to be able to have, you know, SMS and web chat and phone and email slash kind of web forms, but you also need to be able to have consistency in how those are responded to. So for instance, when we look at how many inbound SMS are not responded to by the customers or people who like to try and do web chat, but have the properties responding to it, where those webcasts sit there for 20 minutes unresponded. So it’s not just having a technology, it’s having a catcher’s mitt. And when you set the expectation that, hey, if I SMS you, my expectation is I’m going to get a pretty quick return. If I say, I’m ready to web chat, my expectation is 30 seconds, maybe 45 seconds. If it’s 10 minutes, you just completely let down that prospect. And you actually set the stage that if I don’t care enough about you to respond now, how much am I going to care about you once you’re living here, when you have a service request that you need. So setting the stage up front, that your interaction is important to me. So therefore 24-7, whether you call, email, webchat or SMS, do one of those because you want to book a tour using a widget or a chatbot or a self-guided tour using, you know, those same interactions and then having automated follow up that compliments the physical follow up. And those are those, you know, I actually just kind of described our company in a nutshell, it’s all those things. That’s great. You know, Apple Figured that out early with the bubbles. You know, if you’re on an iPhone, you know that you send someone a text, she’s like, okay, they’re on it. They’re, you know, they’re gathering the response and it puts that customer at ease like, hey, you know, that expectation of responses is different in really that these are like little cultures or atmospheres, depending on how they engage. What are you seeing in terms of, I mean, you’re spending a lot of time with a lot of executives, innovation and, you know, people that are onboarding a process like this when you’re getting a new client. I imagine what’s changing in the role of who identifies all of these things and how do they bring them actually into an organization, what’s that process? Well, prior to COVID, it was very similar to how it’s always been, which is, you know, depending on the size of the company, it’s either something led by operations or something led by either marketing or it depends on the structure of that company now, you know, with or without COVID. The attention on operations is different than it was six months ago. So you’re seeing a lot more C-level people get far more involved than they used to because there’s some quick investment that needs to be made or some stuff regarding the real estate, particularly with self-guided tours that might make people uncomfortable. So we’re seeing a lot more with that, but I think the most interesting part of it is the shape of the industry. There’s been a lot of companies dabbling with what I would call inside sales, and we’ve been powering that person’s customers for years and now we’re starting to see more and more customers understand that, geez, you could take some folks, centralize them, or in COVID de-centralized them, but nevertheless, make them work and make them effective over a larger number of properties and really change the way you think about how you lease and service your customers, your residents and your prospective residents that way. In fact, geez, 10 years ago, when I was at BRE, I was trying to do this and there just wasn’t any software to do it. You know, everything was very property centric. So it kind of goes back to accounting. You have a management company, you have a property, and then you have people associated with the property. So when you have density, like all real estate has, you know, you keep duplicating prospects and you’re trying to get them to lease over here, but they already leased over there. What are your sister communities? So you kind of sound like an idiot. So having a prospect centric architecture was key to that. And it was something that was really near and dear to us. When we started the company, it really has enabled people to say, hey, I can work all of a sudden California, or I can work, you know, out of Dallas, regardless of how many properties there are. Yeah. Let’s dive into really how you ventured out. What inspired you to start that company. Obviously, you mentioned a little bit about BRE and things, times have changed since then this prospect centered, you know, network or architecture, whatever that might be, how do we really get to that? So it was a really interesting opportunity for me to go on the property side and probably not the best fit for a serial entrepreneur to go work for a public REIT. But it was R and D, because over half of what we built at Anyone Home came out of that experience. So you know, when you’re on the vendor side, the supplier side, you tend to see what’s going on and say, oh, here’s an area of inefficiency that I can build a product around. And that’s really how you look at it, right? Or here’s something I can solve a problem with once you’re neck-deep in it. And I would, really for anyone who’s only been on the vendor side or supplier side, see, what you learn by going to the property side and understanding how challenging the job is that a leasing agent has and just how chaotic it is. It’s very humbling because you know, when you’re only on the vendor side, oh, properties never do this, or they never answered their calls, or they never respond to leads. And then you go spend a day in their shoes and go, I don’t know how to do this. Like, this is really hard. And so it really inspired a lot of innovation for us. And we continue to try and advocate for that baseline team. Cause that’s, you know, that’s really, what’s going to move the needle the most. So I was just watching people spend 15 minutes deciding how they can spend five. Right. I mean, I’d watch it all the time. I spent about one day a week on site and I’d be like, okay, so what’s timing look like? Well, I have another appointment at two. Great. What are we gonna do now? I got to figure out maybe some follow-ups to do. I’m like, okay, how are we going to go do that? And I would watch the system going, oh my God, like, you should be able to do what everyone does. And B to B sales, which is loaded up on a dashboard. And it has prioritized for you what the next three things you should do is and if you can get to all three, great. If you can only get to one, okay. But I would watch them spend 10 minutes and actually not do anything because they took 10 minutes to figure out what to do. And that’s, you know, so I wanted to build something around that. And then I realized, oh, well, they’re never going to get to everything. So how do we automate that? What they would do, when they are going to get to it. So at least there’s some air cover. So it was really interesting to watch that. And then how much stuff did we put down onsite that shouldn’t be onsite. It should be centralized. So that was, you know, we did a lot with that. I looked at our long-tail leads. I remember saying, okay, a third of our leads are looking more than 30 days out. So we’re calling them and saying, Hey, do you want to come in to tour? Oh, can I see the unit I’m going to rent? No, well do know how much they’re going to be? No. Like, why are we telling you to commit to a tour? So what we did is we took two people off-site, put them in the corporate office and said, I want you to nurture these leads. And our conversion rate on those leads doubled instantly because we would say, Hey, it looks like Patrick, you want to move October 1st. I’m going to call you around September 10th. I’m gonna have you come in. And then we’ll be able to show you the unit you can live in, or at least something very similar to it. But if that’s what you’d like, we can lock it up for you. Meanwhile, your VP or regional is saying, Hey, we gotta rent today. So get them in here and do what you can. Right. But they’re not renting from you right today. Like if you could read to a hundred percent of people, the job will be easy. All right. So AI did a study a while back about, you know, you go back in the day, they had the home shows or even like the bridal expos and home improvement shows. And if you remember, you’d go to these shows and they’d have these like cards you’d fill out and they’d give away things. And then somebody would call them back while they researched the company that sort of administers all of those. Where are all those cards, the data warehouse, it’s where all those cards go to. And in the first place, you know, most sales are done like in the first 90 days, like, they’ll follow up. And then after 90 days, they’re like, they’re not a buyer. Right. And someone comes in at some point, fills out a card for, I don’t know, shutters or something, you know, in their new home. And they’re not really wanting to buy it now, but the sales team sort of aborts after that 60 days, 90 days. And they said something like, I think, 50% of them will buy something within the next 18 months,or it was a longer period of time than most would focus on following up. But they had a system where every six months they would just send an email like, Hey, you were looking for shutters. Did you buy any? And that simple email, just a check-in, you know, converted substantially more just by, you know, having a process to say, Hey, look, we’re not going to give up on the lead because they didn’t, you know, rent now as we want them to, because we have some financing event going and we need to, you know, rush the process. But they had a system, automation that said, look, this is somebody that showed interest at some point in time. And the numbers, the data just doesn’t lie, you know, on that process. So we believe in that very deeply, we believe that you should deliver the right message to the right person at the right time. And the biggest, one of the biggest mistakes I see our customers make, or another that they used to make is if a lead was created today, we’re going to follow up every three days. We’re going to follow up five times and it’s a kind of a fire and forget way of going about it, where the reality is it should be Mr or Mrs. Prospect. When are you planning on moving? And the cadence of your sales process should be dictated on the, on the Delta between today and when you’re planning on moving and how far you are in the sales process. So we built our system around that, so that the engagement for each prospect is cultivated rather than kind of fire and forget. Yeah. It’s interesting. You mentioned earlier in the show about concierge, that was something I hadn’t heard about this. Will you talk to us a little bit about what you see for the future of a leasing agent? Let’s say there’s somebody leading their teams. What does the future look like for them? And how can they make an impact? So, concierge for us was really a chatbot. We were looking at the user experience and saying, there is a chat icon here, and a phone number here, and an email here, and a self-scheduled tour here, and a self-guided tour here. And it was like widget overload. And there could be duplicative stuff. So we wanted to combine every way. Prospects and residents should communicate into one interface. But you know, when you go past that, when you talk about the role of the leasing agent, not the role of the technology, I think what we’re going to see is the centralization and our industry’s ability to get comfortable with people being off site is going to allow for a bifurcation in skills. You know, if you talk to any great regional manager, they’ll tell you that, you know, a lot of the great recruiting they’ve done is at the shopping mall, right. You know, where they met someone at a clothing store who just had that one of those great personalities and you were able to recruit them, or you met someone at a Starbucks and they’re like, Hey, you don’t have to wake up at 5:00 AM anymore. Come work here. You know, they just have one of those things that you can’t teach someone, but that’s because our industry has always looked at sales as a four-letter word. So once you bifurcate, like, Hey, these are people that are going to be responsible for selling. And these are people that are going to be responsible for service. While we have been able to do that in the past, unless you’re over four or 500 units, you just don’t have enough staffing to bifurcate responsibility and provide coverage. So now once you centralize a lot of this, now you can, because all your appointments will be by, Oh, excuse me, all your tours will be by appointment or self-guided. And maybe that you get to walk in, there’ll be somebody there that can help, but that’ll be the minority of what you do. So much of what we do in multifamily is just about coverage. Yeah. You know, it’s interesting. And in some cases, maintenance is the first point of contact because the whole process has, you know, automated and that’s the first contact that they’re seeing in many cases. It’s very interesting. So let’s talk about, I guess, where are we, where are we going from here? I mean, I think there’s, we’re coming out of this pandemic, this forced way to think differently. And we’ve added new ways to even work and collaborate with teams. You were getting involved with, you guys have a lot of units in your ecosystem. And so now I imagine things are even accelerating, but where do we go from here? So first, I think we’re going to see a bit of a metamorphosis and how executives look at success. So if you historically look at multifamily and you look at any C-level person, when they’re looking at a box score or whatever management report they’re using, it’s how many leases did we do last week? And how many tours did we do last week and yada yada, and it’s all a derivative of a financial metric. And the comparison I like to draw is if you were talking about how do I go win a football game? You could say, well, we gotta go score four touchdowns. Sure. Right. That would be great. But what a winning football team really does is do really well on third and six, right? So it’s those core competencies that you have that allow you to consistently move the ball down the field, get first down conversions and a touchdown or a field goal. It’s the natural evolution of that consistent way to move the ball. So if all you’re doing is measuring points on the board, you’re actually measuring past tense. If you’re measuring or managing activities and the right activities, you’re actually putting yourself in a position to produce success. So slowly, I’m seeing more C-level executives start to look at, okay, what percentage of our leads are managed? What percentage of our tours have dispositions that allow me to say, how did this go? How are we doing quality analysis on our inbound contacts and evaluating them for what the likely outcome or the desired outcome that we would like to have will be? What percentage of our tasks have been completed? And when, so these are all metrics that, you know, on your Yardi or one site or MRI or whatever report would never show up because of their CRM metrics. So it’s this true adoption of CRM, not that software that tells me where I should advertise, but software that helps me manage my teams forever. We would see you would deploy CRM to the properties. Sometimes even the regional managers would want access. Now, it’s, you gotta have, if you can have the CEO have access, that’s fast. If it’s such a big company and they just don’t look at that stuff fine. But the highest person in operations needs to, that’s going to be the biggest driving change of everything else. Because once you start looking at all those levers as a C-level person, you start to adopt, Oh, I see what will move this dial. Boy. I really see changes. And by the way, when this dropped did we have to advertise a whole lot more to make up for poor sales skills? So it really gives you a deep understanding of how to predict rather than respond. It’s sort of like measuring exposure versus measuring vacancy. Biggest is a past tense measurement. Exposure is telling you about that bus coming down the street that may run you over. That’s great. That’s right. And you know, you’re talking about even the leading indicators, good asset managers are now having some of that data at the same time, the property managers have it. And so we have to be even faster to move those levers. As you say, I love the sports analogies. You know, they matter so much because you know, the athletes, aren’t looking at the scoreboard, you know, during the play, right. They’re there, they’re looking at the scoreboard, maybe for a replay of a great play they’ve made or something like that, but it’s already happened. Right. So if you’re doing all those great things, you’re moving those levers, then you know that four touchdowns as an outcome of the things that you do versus the, yeah. I love that. And I know when we think about it, you know, sports gives us that perspective of they get it investing in the process that allows you to put better people in the winning positions, because everything’s at stake, the beer contract to the signage. And now if you had TV contracts, you’d still be showing something, but all of that matters to the whole customer. You know, you’ve got investors as customers, you have employees as customers, you have the real customers. So the ones that make all this happen, the residents, and it sounds like you’re giving people their time back, but also the ability to sort of look forward in an industry that’s always looked back. Yeah. And be able to increase the professionalism of our industry. Our one thing that our industry has an abundance of is people who are kind of salt of the earth. And good-hearted, I think in the nature that we provide housing, I think we tend to gravitate towards some of the best people. And I, you know, I just think about all the people I’ve met and I’m sure as you have over these decades and they’re lifelong friends, and I’m always impressed by the quality of the humans. So I think taking and adding, Hey, you know, this is the way a professional B2B organization would operate. You can actually do that here and do it more efficiently. And you mentioned fear a couple of times, is staffing going to change on-site? Yeah. Now, you know, when I see people get up and say, there’s not going to be a need for leasing agents, let’s go back to Zappos when you’re really having an issue. And you’re upset, you’re going to do web chat or phone. Both of which involve a human. You know, some of the web chat maybe AI at first, but when, you know, when on your forehead, there’s crinkles cause you’re pissed. You’re going to talk to a human to try and help you. Is the staffing level going to be the same as it is today? Probably not. But you know, every time I hear people say you don’t get leasing agents anymore. I’m like, this is a people business. Those people may change. They may evolve. There may be fewer, but that’s not going away. Yeah. And you know, there’s so much, there’s been a lot of study around even AI and even going back to conversations outside our industry about how, you know, AI is eating jobs and all these things. And you know, you look around us we were watching an old office space. I think it was the movie. And you look at one of those scenes and you look at like all the things on that little cubicle as no longer, you know. And it’s essentially been eaten by technology and allows them to essentially do more important things than, you know, entering data and printing data and things like that. But as time goes on, you look at people who are behind the cloud, you know, technology. You look at even Uber, they’re using the technology, but you still have a driver doing the things. And so it’s interesting when I think of the role of the leasing agent. Do you see somebody that has different skill sets? Like, hey, listen, there’s no doubt about that. The world’s changing and the customer expectations are changing and the platforms that you use or, you know, will, will evolve. maybe it’s if you’re a leasing agent today, you training them, like let’s get involved. Let’s figure out how to engage in messaging people in written form and sort of the Zappos approach, you know, by the time they get to a conversation they’ve been through those steps. Like, what are you telling people to tell their teams about how to sort of prepare people for the future is that they just need to know how to use the platform, you know, not be curious about new tools, how to move swiftly through them, you know, how to be patient, how-to, you know, communicate in different ways. Well, I think it starts with, are you hiring for the right skill set? Right. So if you start to think about it as I’m going to have outside sales, which is how we would look at the leasing agent role today inside sales customer service roles, right. And I’m going to leave service out of it. And then really go into the assistant manager role, right? So there are really four distinct skill sets there. So working backwards, the assistant manager role is more of an admin role, right? It’s a lot about collecting rent and processes, right? When you get into customer service, it’s really just about being friendly and competent and organized. Inside sales and outside sales are somewhat similar forms of skill sets, except that outside sales persons, you know, couldn’t be in front of a computer all day. They’d go crazy, they need to have that human contact. Versus inside sales might have a good phone voice and whatnot but actually is comfortable with that little bit of anonymity that the computer screen creates. So if you’re hiring for those four distinct core competencies, you know what we’ve done historically, as we hire someone to be leasing cars, that’s the baseline role, and then promote them into assistant manager if they were really good. So we took someone who actually probably had decent sales skills and made them a junior bookkeeper, and then wonder why we have high turnover. So, you know, if you have someone who’s apt to be a people engager, like let them do that. The problem is, you need better leverage of your folks in order to give someone a career path. So I think once we start with hiring for those skill sets, this is going to present itself easier. You know, when you look at who we’re hiring today, for the most part, the people looking for the jobs that we’re offering, you know, if you grew up in the last 15 years, you’re somewhat adapted to technology. Anyways, you’re used to working on a mobile device and whatnot, even if you’re not, it’s upon all of us to make sure we’re producing software, that’s fairly intuitive and not super hard to use. And then from there we see where it goes. I saw, you know, like for instance, Avalon Bay, I don’t even know how long ago, took all of their assistant managers and centralized it, I think, in Virginia Beach. So they took that role and made it far more efficient. So there’s going to be a lot of centralization. So it’s not necessarily that jobs are going to go away. It’s where they are that are going to change. Very interesting. We are tracking other interesting either technologies or trends outside the industry, but we try to keep a really good look on what a consumer engagement looks like as a whole and what applies to our industry and what doesn’t. The thing to remember about our industry is the transaction volume is very low. So when you look at, you know, a 250 unit building, and let’s say it’s 6% exposed, that’s what, 15 leases a month. It’s not going to change. There’s just not a lot of transactions. That’s one every other day and let’s face it, two or three of those happen on Saturday. So the transaction volume is really, really low. So it’s hard sometimes to take things from other industries there is some comparisons to like the auto industry. Cause you don’t go buy a new car every month, but something you buy infrequently and is an expensive purchase. So auto translates well in some ways. And it’s an important personal acquisition for most people. Just like where you live. Yeah. No, that’s a great analogy, I guess, or explanation there, because you still have leases that come due and if, if the dealer’s on it, right? You know, then they’ll know like, Hey, this person’s going to be in the market at this point in time, but you’re right. That the dollar amounts in those transactions are significant when you calculate like all the rents and stuff, but certainly not like at an in and out or something where, you know, they’re just thousands of customers coming in. Yeah. Or even Amazon, like, where am I going to order this from this week? Or do I like going to the same supermarket to buy detergent? Or do I like going to Costco? So you don’t, you’re not going to have this high transaction volume where you look at a typical brand marketer that can say, Oh, okay, like I’m Coca-Cola and I’m going to do this. So when you’re thirsty, you think of like beautiful white polar bears that doesn’t translate as well in our industry, which is, Oh, every time I think about renting an apartment, I’m going to think about XYZ company. And I think there’s some good examples of that. Like, you know, where I live in Orange County kind of hard to miss here, Irvine company, you know, back in the day, if you lived in Atlanta kind of hard to miss posts, right. So where you are in Phoenix, you know, it was hard to miss a Mark Taylor sign. Right. So there’s been good examples of a brand identity within a market. I think nationally it’s a little harder to achieve that. Yeah, no, absolutely. Those are some great points. Well, listen, this has been an amazing conversation. We’re coming up towards the end of our time together. Are there any final thoughts you want to leave our viewers with? You know, to be bold, out of this adversity comes a lot of opportunity and we’re seeing customers really just sort of, you know, where before is. Oh, well, we can’t implement that because of this Microsoft word document that we’re holding, you can choose to put the Microsoft word document down and say, what has worked for us before may not be the best way to work in the future. And it’ll make everyone uncomfortable because people like that safety blanket, but that’s okay. You know, I would say, learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable. And it’s amazing how much you’ll be able to achieve. Some of the stuff that we’re seeing. Some of what our bolder customers do is just really exciting to watch. That’s great. We’re in a time of innovation and change, and that’s a time for leadership. Obviously our industry is growing. We’re still building. There’s a demand for more units and more solutions and leaders. And when we think about things that have happened in the past, you look at the automobile, you look at, you know, when the automobile came along, it was defined as a horseless carriage, right? Something had to define it as something old to really talk about, even something new. Like that’s just the way we did it. Cordless phone, same thing. Like why would you ever have a phone that didn’t have a cord? So we have to just talk about it as a cordless phone. Even in the movie industry, it was a motion picture. It’s like this picture actually moves. And so in a lot of ways, we’re at a time where people can really be part of where things are going a step up and lead. We want to bring on guests like Utah, because not only are you excited about things, but you’re getting it done, helping people solve big problems in multifamily. And you know, you’ve been through, like we talked about earlier, their R and D of multifamily and taking some of those things and getting excited about really, truly helping people. And when you can help people, it’s really remarkable how they will at the end of the day, want to work with you. And so thank you for all your service in, and for multifamily and all the things that you guys are working on. Likewise. And thank you so much for having me. It was great to be part of this. Yeah. Very good. Well, we’ll see you on the next show then, we’ll love to have you here. Connect with Todd Katler on Linkedin Anyone HomeThe post Adapting Operations Quickly and Strategies for Success first appeared on Multifamily Innovation®.
45 minutes | Dec 13, 2019
Shaping the Future of the Connected Apartment
Sean Miller on the future technology that is here and how it can help us evolve with the needs of our customers, and knowing how to derive more value from the platform. Sean Miller is the President of PointCentral, provider of the leading IOT platform for residential property managers to improve their profitability through increased operational efficiencies, asset protection, and resident amenities. He has almost 10 years of professional experience with B2B and B2C IOT/home automation technology. In This Episode Patrick and Sean talk about the following: What people should be thinking about when it comes to smart home platforms and IOT devices.How property owners and operators, third-party managers, and investors impact the decisions of developers of smart home platforms and products.What it is like working with PointCentral based on the experience of property managers and owners of the Cedars District community.The opportunities available for B and C properties in terms of ROI, cost savings, efficiencies, and other operational aspects. The different people and departments that work together to market and deploy PointCentral’s smart home solutions.What makes people more comfortable and confident in making sure it is the right decision to use PointCentral’s smart home platform.What happens after having a smart home platform in place and what platform support and updates are available.How smart home platforms are evolving from reactive to proactive.Collecting not just the right data points but turning that into useful information.What Sean is excited about right now.The conversations happening today when it comes to using smart home platforms and where people are getting stuck in terms of adopting these solutions.What’s next for PointCentral and alarm.com. Sean’s advice to growing and innovative management companies that are looking to move forward in all aspects of the business.How management companies can build better teams so these types of partnerships can be successful.The Innovation Showcase in November.The best way for people to work with the sales team and development team of PointCentral. Find Sean Miller Online Sean Miller on LinkedInPointCentral The post Shaping the Future of the Connected Apartment first appeared on Multifamily Innovation®.
38 minutes | Nov 16, 2019
Building a Team for Innovation
Larry Gorman on what it takes to build a leadership team to bring on innovations into your business and what executives need to know about what’s next around smart home, smart cities, and IOT. Larry Gorman is the Chief Operating Officer for LeaseHawk, a provider of software and services powered by artificial intelligence for the apartment industry to track prospects, optimize marketing activities, and close leases faster. He is a senior technology executive with more than 20 years of experience building and leading teams to deliver business value through the innovative use of technology. In This Episode Patrick and Larry talk about the following: The disruptive things that LeaseHawk is doing, particularly leveraging voice to solve some pervasive problems in the multifamily space.A project in the 90s that Larry was able to work on in the hospitality company he was with.How to leverage technology to solve specific problems in the multifamily and single-family space.The use of smart locks to easily manage and control home access.How executives can build teams and make decisions when they want to innovate and do something that has never been done before.How operators can pick the right vendor and partner.Recognizing that some operators are not not strong on technology in real estate and how it led them to build a great partnership with PointCentral.Larry’s background in guest experience in the hospitality industry and how it translates well to resident experience in apartments and homes. Driving customer satisfaction for a resident.The different compelling innovations in voice technology.Introducing voice-enabled virtual assistants to help with the processes of leasing an apartment.The calls and data recorded by LeaseHawk and its value in training the AI models to understand what a caller trying to do when they’re calling.Getting better analytics from the technology available to help you understand what’s driving the traffic and how well your marketing functions are working.How Larry got excited to join LeaseHawk.Larry’s tips for executives on building leadership teams.What Larry looks for when hiring someone.The importance of encouraging people in a team to be innovators.Larry’s final thoughts on innovation. Find Larry Gorman Online Larry Gorman on LinkedInLeaseHawkThe post Building a Team for Innovation first appeared on Multifamily Innovation®.
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