Excel sheets are soooo 2000s, but try telling that to multifamily property managers and onsite teams. Even worse than spreadsheets, 52% of multifamily professionals admitted to still conducting move-in inspections using pen and paper in a February 2023 survey by Multifamily Insiders.
So, what gives? It’s 2023, and technology is an integral part of our daily lives. It’s transformed how we work, communicate, and manage our homes. But, while large property management companies (PMCs) have a lower barrier to entry for new technologies, small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) often struggle to keep up with the rapid pace of change.
In this post, we’ll explore the pain points multifamily teams face and shed light on how embracing technology can unlock new levels of efficiency, convenience, and success.
The Persistence of Pen and Paper
Why, oh why, do more than half of multifamily professionals still use pen and paper to track move-ins, inspections, budgets, etc.?
Because sticking with the status quo is easier than disrupting it! However, this reliance on outdated, manual tools limits the potential for growth and efficiency within organizations.
When you rely on physical documents, it’s impossible to track and quickly locate specific information when you need it. All you need is one coffee spill or misplaced sheet of paper, and essential unit info is gone for good. It’s a liability, and a huge potential confidentiality risk, too, for sensitive information to be so insecure.
It’s also causing major pain for property managers when it comes to managing move-ins and move-outs. Say a resident lives in an apartment for three years, and the onsite team can’t locate the move-in inspection to prove that damage to the front door wasn’t there three years ago. That’s too bad for the onsite teams, who find themselves in a bind and are forced to return the full security deposit regardless of any damage that has occurred during that resident’s lease.
There’s also no visibility for regional or corporate teams into the daily operations of their properties. Without getting a physical copy of the documentation (or an email attachment) in hand, everything is murky, which doesn’t paint a great picture on a property level.
Leaders across the industry are looking to say goodbye to paper for good. In RealPage’s Voices for 2023, Sam Rotter, Chief Administrative Officer of CRM Residential, shared, “Eliminate paper. Eliminate paper. Eliminate paper. Those are our three top priorities ... We’re looking to better utilize staff because we’re growing at a rapid rate.”
Beyond Excel: Unlocking the Power of Technology
There’s no denying that Excel is a great tool—spreadsheets just aren’t the best place to manage maintenance team schedules and due diligence processes.
While spreadsheets are definitely a step up from keeping hundreds of residents’ information in a filing cabinet, they have their limitations, too. Similar to pen and paper, spreadsheets still don’t give the entire team the visibility they need. They also require manual updating and complex formulas, which means there’s either a steep barrier to entry or (more likely) teams are using them at minimal functionality.
Having a system in place that’s collaborative, intuitive, and central is not too good to be true. At their most basic level, technology-enabled tools can help property managers solve common pain points, like easily storing move-in inspections and photos in one central place. From there, onsite teams can accurately assess a unit’s condition upon move-out, increasing transparency and ensuring that residents are held accountable for any damages incurred.
Advanced Use Cases For Multifamily Technology
Organized, accessible databases are just the tip of the iceberg. Embracing top-of-line multifamily software and solutions can help with everything from preventative maintenance to life safety. By automating reminders for routine inspections, scheduling and assigning maintenance tasks, and monitoring critical equipment, property managers can proactively address potential issues before they escalate, ensuring residents’ safety and satisfaction while simultaneously extending the lifespan of valuable assets. Additionally, corporate teams can easily view and pull reports to monitor asset conditions, prepare operating and CapEx budgets, and assess overall workforce productivity.
You can also leverage tools that help with resident retention and renewals. Rather than keeping data on resident sentiment in disparate places, resident management systems can track renewal campaigns and communications for you, so that the entire team is on the same page about overall property performance.
All of these use cases have something in common—they free up valuable time for onsite teams, allowing them to focus on providing exceptional service and improving resident satisfaction.
The Path to Success: Implementing Technology
Multifamily is notorious for being allergic to change, and especially for smaller portfolios, implementing new systems may seem daunting. The best thing that you can do for your teams is to start to explore the alternatives that are out there—can they save your teams time and make them more productive? Will they make residents’ lives easier, therefore making them more likely to renew? If the answer is yes, those solutions are worth considering. Creating an experience that stands out from your competitors is the cherry on top.
At HappyCo, we believe that embracing technology can unlock sky-high levels of efficiency. Who doesn’t want that? Our multifamily solutions are designed to make the lives of onsite teams easier—from managing daily maintenance tasks to gauging resident sentiment. And for us, it’s all in the name of happier communities.
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.