1. Residents want instant gratification—like, right now!
Let’s start off by stating the obvious—centralization was a huge theme at this year’s conference. So, it’s no surprise that Entrata’s session, Many Paths to Efficiency: How Are Operators Centralizing Services? was super packed.
During the session, Entrata invited two guests to share their lessons learned from centralization (so far). Suzanne Hopson, President of Tripcap Residential Group, shared that while streamlining leasing responsibilities and other overlap between roles led to greater efficiency and an increase in conversions, it had its drawbacks, too.
For one, centralized leasing offices sometimes find themselves with no one onsite. And, with every other part of the renter experience getting more convenient due to centralization, how do you think new residents react when no one is onsite on their move-in day to answer questions?
Suzanne emphasized the need to plan for that scenario—and to potentially put some associates back onsite.
2. Change is inevitable.
The second speaker at Many Paths to Efficiency, Kimberly Nicholson, Senior Director of Property Systems for Owned Assets at Greystar, shared how her centralization journey taught her to be adaptable.
“Change is going to happen, then it’s gonna change again, and it’s gonna change again,” she said. The industry needs to accept that and roll with it.
By embracing change (in this case, centralized leasing), Greystar has given their customers and employees a better experience. Not only can onsite teams now focus on higher-level tasks with fewer distractions, but residents also feel they have more personal connections with onsite teams because they have more time to listen to residents.
3. Employee turnover is more costly than resident turnover.
Huh, did you just read that right? Yes, you did.
As members of the multifamily industry, we all know that the resident is #1. But, in the last 12 months, 68% of property management companies (PMCs) saw employee turnover increasing, according to the Yardi-hosted session, Automate Routines, Humanize Exceptions: Get Tips for Centralization.
Now, we’re seeing a shift toward focusing on employee retention, not just resident retention, and many industry leaders have set their sights on giving employees the best, most valuable experience through automation.
Employees don’t want to spend time dealing with work orders and invoices. Instead, they want to spend most of their time interacting with residents or heads down on advanced tasks like budgeting. By implementing automation solutions like lead nurture email bots, for example, PMCs can start to add value back into their employees’ days.
4. The future is self-leasing.
Leasing offers an amazing opportunity for centralization, and many PMCs are already seeing great returns. At the Funnel-hosted session, Centralization: The Tech That Matters No Matter Your Definition, the speakers discussed how the disparate leasing function has been one of the top culprits in the 10+ year struggle for talent retention.
Currently, prospective residents have to go to each individual property to tour—even if five properties within a 10-mile radius are all owned by the same management company.
PMCs need to develop strategies to make the entire leasing process more efficient and, in some cases, self-serve. Many property managers already have. Prospective renters visit a community website, interact with an AI chatbot to get answers to preliminary questions, schedule a self-service tour outside of office hours, and then go back online to lease a unit.
By putting more control in the prospect’s hands, PMCs give prospective residents the ability to tour, lease, and live the way they prefer.
5. There are four ingredients to maintenance centralization—people, strategic planning, technology, and thoughtful change management.
Our HappyCo-hosted panel, Maintenance Centralization: The Evolution of Multifamily Operations, was specifically about the maintenance aspect of centralization.
According to Dan Regan, Director of Integrated Operations at Mark-Taylor, change management is the hardest piece of the puzzle. Heidi Turner, Director of Intangible Assets / Principal at Blanton Turner, advised those in the audience to thoroughly “explain the why” behind new initiatives like maintenance centralization to boost adoption.
By demonstrating tangible value—like getting the tedious work orders off their plates and giving them more flexible schedules with options to learn and level up their skills—it’s been much easier to get technicians on board.
Technology (insert shameless Happy Force plug here 😉) is here to help your team take concepts like “maintenance centralization” from idea to reality. When you have the right partner, technology is the easy part.
Bonus: Scared of new technology? That’s okay—try it anyway.
We know we promised five takeaways, but this one is seriously too good to pass up.
During the HappyCo panel, both Heidi and Dan emphasized how important it is to be an early adopter. Many people are dubious about maintenance centralization specifically, but Heidi has been working on a self-service maintenance model for the last 18 months.
“If we don’t start early, we’re not going to have a competitive advantage.”
That’s not to say everything will go perfectly if you try things early—sometimes, you’ll fail. But, as Heidi said, “If we don’t start early, we’re not going to have a competitive advantage.” Dan echoed the sentiment, advising the audience to, “Stay close to the pace of change” and continue moving forward, not backward.
NAA Apartmentalize, one of the industry's premier annual events, drew multifamily professionals from far and wide to Atlanta last month, resulting in the largest NAA ever with over 12,000 attendees.
Whether you didn’t make it to some of the education sessions on your list or missed NAA completely, we don’t want you to have conference FOMO. So, we’re sharing our top five insights from this year’s Apartmentalize…
- Residents want instant gratification—like, right now!
- Change is inevitable.
- Employee turnover is more costly than resident turnover.
- The future is self-leasing.
- There are four ingredients to maintenance centralization—people, strategic planning, technology, and thoughtful change management.
BONUS: Scared of new technology? That’s okay—try it anyway.
Disclaimer: We’re a PropTech company, and as such, we’re focused on how technology can improve resident retention, increase NOI, and reduce manual work for employees. While there were some great sessions on HR, maintenance, and marketing (to name a few), those won’t take center stage in this blog post.
Ever since she was a kid, Ebby has always loved reading, writing, and storytelling. After graduating from College of Charleston in 2018, Ebby started a career in marketing for start-ups and scale-ups and never looked back. She's thrilled that she now gets to share HappyCo's stories across formats and channels for a living.