Tarragon Property Services, an Investco Financial Corporation company, performs commercial and residential property management services. Tarragon’s residential housing portfolio includes 17 properties with approximately 3,000 units spread across Olympia to Seattle. Tarragon has earned numerous citations from the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association (NAIOP) and the American Institute of Architects.
Minutes saved on labor
Response time to residents
Time savings per inspection
Time savings per inspection
How HappyCo Helped
Tarragon Property Services oversees close to 3,000 residential units across 17 properties in the Seattle area, and prides itself on maintaining a friendly, family-oriented atmosphere for all its residents. Tarragon turned to HappyCo to improve the resident experience, speed response times to resident requests, reduce move-out disputes and demonstrate its commitment to providing superior safety across its properties. Since implementing HappyCo in July 2016, Tarragon has improved resident dispute response times from a couple of days to less than a minute, cut inspection times from 30 to 10 minutes, reduced hotline complaints by 75% and decreased resident move-out disputes by 50%.
Real-Time Operations Delivers Instant Gratification to Residents
Prior to deploying the HappyCo platform, Tarragon used paper forms to perform unit and property inspections. Paper-based workflows bring with them a host of problems for Multifamily operations, which Tarragon had been dealing with for years. One the most critical issues was slow response times to residents disputing charges because resident files were often not immediately available to the corporate team managing hotline calls. “We are in a world of instant gratification — people want to have answers right away,” said Shelly Gil, Regional Manager for Tarragon. “It was important for us to be able to bump up our customer service, bump up our timeliness in getting back to residents and fulfilling their needs. Because HappyCo integrates with Yardi, we are now able to access any inspection from anywhere — and that’s exactly the solution we were looking for.”
Tarragon also faced other challenges using paper forms, including more frequent damage charge disputes, because the lack of photographic documentation as an integrated part of the inspection process made it almost impossible to find those photos later and prove whether damage was caused by the resident. In addition, paper forms often yielded non-standardized inspection data due to inconsistency in how they were completed, and created a slower, less reliable inspection process due to a lack of customizability as the forms couldn’t automatically adjust for differences in layouts, such as the number of bedrooms, bathrooms or special amenities.
"We are in a world of instant gratification — people want to have answers right away. It was important for us to be able to bump up our customer service, bump up our timeliness in getting back to residents and fulfilling their needs. Because HappyCo integrates with Yardi, we are now able to access any inspection from anywhere — and that's exactly the solution we were looking for." Shelly Gil Regional Manager
Integration with Yardi Voyager and Accessible Software Yields Fast, Easy Roll-Out
Shelly Gil first discovered HappyCo at the National Apartment Association (NAA) conference in San Francisco in 2016, and immediately recognized the value of the platform to its property operations. Integration with Yardi Voyager, a leading property management software suite, was a key factor in the decision to go with HappyCo according to Gil, who was looking for a one-stop technology solution for its property management. Initially, Gil was concerned that integrating the two platforms would require vast amounts of time and internal resources, but was happily surprised by the ease and speed of the implementation: “There was a short period when HappyCo and Yardi had to talk to one another. But that process was very quick, maybe about a week total.”
The entire roll-out — from Yardi integration to staff training — only took one month to be fully deployed across all of Tarragon’s properties. Tarragon was able to leverage its existing tablets and phones rather than invest in new devices, making the software investment more cost-effective. “Each site had an iPad prior to deploying HappyCo, so we didn’t have to purchase new hardware,” according to Gil. “Our IT team was able to deploy the app across all devices at once.”
Staff across all Tarragon sites participated in a one-hour webinar and a short onsite training meeting to learn the HappyCo software. Kara Sundqvist, Training and Quality Assurance Manager at Tarragon reported, “We were worried that it was going to be a difficult process because it was a new program to us, but it was easy to learn. It probably takes about 5 to 10 minutes to train someone on how to use the Happy app. We had one webinar and the whole staff just took off and started doing the inspections.”
“I’m an older person, I’m used to doing things old ways,” said Bob Gil, Maintenance Supervisor for Tarragon, “but when this app came, switching to it — once I saw it — was an easy thing to do. I wanted to do it because I knew our system didn’t work. And this has worked.”
"We were worried that it was going to be a difficult process because it was a new program to us, but it was easy to learn. It probably takes about 5 to 10 minutes to train someone on how to use the Happy app. We had one webinar and the whole staff just took off and started doing the inspections." Kara Sundqvist Training and Quality Assurance Manager
Mobile Inspections Improve Move-Out Process, Corporate Transparency & Resident Relations
Tarragon moved many of its core onsite operations processes that were previously done on paper to mobile with HappyCo, including unit move-in/move-out and property weekly exterior lighting and playground inspections. The Inspections app enabled Tarragon to precisely match the layouts for each unit at every property in its mobile forms, and order the forms to perfectly fit their workflow. “The customization is very important,” said Shelly Gil. “Our teams follow a process, so to be able to match that exact process — going through each bedroom, kitchen, bathroom in the order they’re used to — and being able to replicate that on an iPad, is amazing. It feels like the app is our own, like HappyCo made it for us.”
Along with the benefit of customizing forms to fit specific workflows, Inspections also includes inline photos. Adding photos to the inspection is built right into the app, and the software automatically collates each photo to its respective inspection item. Moving away from a separate system for recording photographs has saved Tarragon’s onsite team a lot of time. Previously, staff uploaded inspection photos to USB drives and were required to tag every photo; yet even so, when resident disputes were filed, the photos were difficult to locate. Now with HappyCo, the team can perform an inspection in 10 minutes instead of 30, a time savings of 66% per inspection, and a cumulative savings of 43,740 minutes and counting. And because the mobile app takes the inspector through each section of the form in a systematic manner, details aren’t lost and items aren’t skipped. According to Gil, “I feel that we’re capturing more move-out charges because our teams are having to be more detailed when they do inspections.”
Like many residential management companies that use paper-based inspection procedures, Tarragon faced regular disputes after move-outs prior to implementing with HappyCo, and its corporate staff had to handle hotline calls from frustrated residents without the ability to respond in real-time to their complaints, as the inspection documents were located at the property, not at the corporate office. According to Gil, “Prior to Inspections when a resident called the hotline number to discuss move out charges, our corporate management would have to call the site to get the inspection scanned and any photos emailed over, in order for us to assess what the resident was disputing.”
And if the resident file had been transferred to storage, the property manager would have to locate the file first, which often took several days. “Now with HappyCo, our hotline staff can just go into Yardi and access the move-out form and inspection photos instantly,” said Gil. Moving to HappyCo has decreased the typical resident response time from about 48 hours to less than a minute, a 99.9% improvement.
"I believe Inspections has helped improve our relationship with residents because they're able to actually physically see everything when we perform the move-out with them, and they trust that the data we're capturing is being accurately entered into our system. My disputes have gone from 10 per quarter down to 3 per quarter." Rachel Smith Business Manager Riverside Park Apartments and Aster Townhome
With Inspections, time-stamped inline photos provide concrete proof of move-in and move-out conditions, which are included in every resident’s moveout report. As a result, Tarragon has seen improvements across the board, including better resident relations, a 50% reduction in resident disputes over damage charges and a 75% reduction in hotline calls. “I believe the Inspections app has helped improve our relationship with residents because they’re able to actually physically see everything when we perform the move-out with them, and they trust that the data we’re capturing is being accurately entered into our system,” said Rachel Smith, Business Manager at Riverside Park Apartments and Aster Townhomes. “My disputes have gone from 10 per quarter down to three per quarter.”
Inline inspection photos have also reinforced Tarragon’s mission to provide a high-touch, caring experience for every resident. During the move-in, the Tarragon staff member can include photos of residents’ pets in case they go missing.
Mobile Inspections Make Common Areas Safer and Reduce Liability Risk
HappyCo also plays a critical role in Tarragon’s ability to inspect common spaces and identify problems. Ten of Tarragon’s properties have outdoor playgrounds, so the company now uses the Inspections app to catch issues like loose bolts, peeling paint and chipped sidewalks in these play areas. “It’s important to keep our kids safe at the playgrounds, so we need to make sure we’re doing those weekly inspections,” said Gil. “Photos are timestamped and dated. There’s no messing that up. We did it, we can prove we did it, we are being safe, and we are trying to keep our properties safe.”
Without working lights in public areas, residents are at risk of accidents ranging from slip-and-falls to car accidents. Tarragon management were especially concerned about outdoor lighting maintenance, so they moved this safety process into Inspections quickly. The app makes it much easier for Tarragon to conduct and document regular checks of exterior lighting, and it significantly reduces the time and effort needed to keep an updated list of which lights are in good condition and which need to be repaired or replaced. According to Monica Davies, Portfolio Assistant, “Site performance has improved greatly. Maintenance has really enjoyed being able to take the iPads or iPhones around, and as soon as they get back in the office, it syncs up and emails a report right to me. Compliance has improved dramatically since we started using the app.”
"Site performance has improved greatly. Maintenance has really enjoyed being able to take the iPads or iPhones around, and as soon as they get back in the office, it syncs up and emails a report right to me. Compliance has improved dramatically since we started using the app." Monica Davies Portfolio Assistant
By implementing HappyCo, Tarragon has not only enhanced resident safety, but has also reduced its potential liability in case of accidents. Regular inspections, logged in the cloud and backed up by timestamped photos, provide evidence of Tarragon’s responsible stewardship and regard for resident health and safety.
With HappyCo now fully integrated into Tarragon’s inspection regimen, the company has seen a dramatic downturn in disputes with residents and improved resident relations. Common areas and features, including playgrounds and exterior lighting fixtures, are easier to keep in better repair, letting Tarragon Property Services improve resident safety while reducing risk. “We are definitely looking at implementing HappyCo in other areas of our business. By the end of the year, we plan to add quarterly preventative maintenance walks, which are key to ensuring our staff are really engaged in actively managing the multimillion dollar asset in their care. We’re very, very excited to see what else we can achieve,” said Gil.
The Road to Success
Slow response times endured by residents disputing charges as move-out inspections not easily accessible to corporate office
More frequent damage charge disputes due to lack of accompanying photo documentation
Non-standardized inspection data due to inconsistency in how paper forms were completed
Slower, less reliable inspection process due to a lack of customizability as paper forms couldn’t automatically adjust for differences in apartment layouts
Separate system for recording photographs required lots of staff time to upload and tag photos
Yardi Voyager integration provides an easy one-stop solution for property management
Inspections app ensures standardized, consistent, high quality data capture for every inspection, including photos, ratings and comments
Integrated inline photo feature ensures every inspection includes visual documentation that is timestamped and automatically collated per item
Customizable forms allows for the precise match of each unit’s specific layouts, and forms can be ordered to perfectly fit a specific workflow
Manage gives management real-time access to inspections and photos from anywhere
Seamless online and offline capability provides for reliable data collection regardless of Internet connectivity
Deployment and user training across 17 properties and nearly 100 users in a single month
20 minutes saved per inspection, equivalent to 43,740 minutes saved in productivity
99.9% reduction in response time to residents disputing charges
50% fewer disputes regarding move-out charges across the portfolio
75% reduction in hotline complaint calls
Greater transparency to damage charges and faster response times to complaints have improved resident relations
Real-time access to inspections has led to better management oversight and higher compliance
Improved compliance provides a history of diligent inspections and reduces risk from liability