MRI’s conferences keep getting bigger and bigger with each passing event—as does the company itself. MRI’s International User Conference (IUC) in Florida this October was no different. More than 1,200 industry experts attended the three-day event from Oct. 15 to Oct. 18 at Royal Pacific Hotel in Orlando, making it the largest MRI conference to date. About 875 attendees were MRI clients, 150 were MRI staff, and 160 were partner company employees
MRI, as a company, also continues to grow in leaps and bounds. It has added 217 new clients in 2017 and acquired six companies—five of which were picked up just two weeks before the MRI IUC—and has demonstrated an impressive 15 consecutive quarters of net-positive growth. In addition, MRI’s already rock-solid partner network continues to strengthen and grow. (Not to mention, REdirect was the first service partner to sign up for the PartnerConnect program when it launched in 2011.) But, enough about us, let’s take a look at the top four takeaways of the 2017 MRI IUC Orlando!
1. Sweet Suite Updates for Multifamily Connect
MRI’s Multifamily Connect Suite products are seeing some updates that are definitely worth blogging about. Market Connect now offers an internet listing services (ILS) integration, where owners and managers of multifamily properties can update unit availability and pricing on ILS like apartments.com or other online portals in real-time; Resident Connect now offers a resident portal for processing rent payments and entering and tracking work orders; and Prospect Connect’s automated lead-to-lease process is now fully online—from reviewing digital floorplan images and screening applicants via integrated vendors to automating payments for the application fee and security deposit—right down to the eSignature, an applicant and renter can do it exclusively via MRI software without ever having to step into the rental or leasing office. What’s also great about Prospect Connect is that it holds a property for 20 minutes while someone is in the process of leasing it to prevent another prospect from snagging it. Prospect Connect also makes it super easy to add roommates, pets, rentable items.
Then there’s CallMaX, an automated web chat and call service product acquired by MRI in 2016, that now works with Prospect Connect for incoming lead calls. You know when you’re shopping around on an ILS and you see a 1-800 number? That’s CallMax. The number is unique to the property, making it a wonderfully efficient way to handle incoming calls as you know exactly what property you’re calling about before you even answer.
2. Next Generation Functionality
One big thing we are seeing is that MRI is now embedding its partner products right into its platform. For example, the accounts payable payment solutions AvidPay is known as MVP (MRI Vendor Payments) within the MRI platform. Another example is business operations monitoring platform HappyCo, which has been renamed MRI Inspections. They’re the same products you know and love, just under a different name right in the MRI system. MRI will be continuing to add more systems over the next year.
MRI is also working on performance goals and future-proofing. It’s identified the ability to load 10,000 records without an degradation as a priority. Currently, you can load 5,000 to 7,000 records without any impact on performance. In terms of future-proofing, MRI is working toward seamlessly merging existing content and customizations, and has introduced new features like in-product documentation, a preview mode demonstrating how an interface looks on different devices, an expression mode that allows you to store and reuse lines of code to create a consistent experience as well as an action sequence that stores consistent experiences and makes them a repeatable functionality, and a new level of integration that allows the interface to reach out to other APIs.
3. Residential Management Hits “Home” Run
There’s just so much going on with MRI’s Residential Management, we almost don’t know where to begin. MRI’s 2017 focus for improving its Residential Management was to reduce program bugs, or IRs, by 100. So far, 85 IRs have been resolved and the remaining 15 are scheduled to be checked off by the end of the year. MRI has also introduced a multi-property lease renewal worksheet—and a little birdie told us that bulk renewals will become available with X.4.5. Users will be able to create renewals for one property or across multiple with additional options for let rent options (LRO) and Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR.) Letters from the initial renewal worksheet, such as a 60-day or 90-day renewal letter, have also been removed in X.4.5, and the Renewals in Process Worksheet has been replaced by a Worksheet Management Page. Within that page, the sort feature has been corrected so your results no longer scramble the screen as it previously did, and error messages have been improved to be more specific when you’re troubleshooting what went wrong.
Another exciting piece of news is that budgeting and forecasting has been implemented; now you can calculate loss and gain to lease for residential. MRI has also introduced its new Resident Check. But no need to worry, MRI won’t be doing away with their third-party screening solutions; instead, it’s just offering the new Resident Check, which integrates with Residential Management, Prospect Connect, and BostonPost.
Last, and certainly not least, MRI is now offering MRI Inspections, an add-on module that helps recup move-out charges when tenants vacate a damaged unit. MRI recently obtained this software when it acquired HappyCo. According to MRI, Equity Residential had been using this product for two years and has seen brilliant results: a nine percent increase in damage charges, a $25,000 to $50,000 annual labor reduction, and 50 percent less residential disputes on move-out charges. MRI Inspections provides a handful of customizable move-in, move-out, and community inspection templates, and the option to load up to 16 time-stamped images of the unit per line item. Some agents are even clever enough to take a selfie with the tenant upon move-out so any charges are nearly impossible to dispute.
4. A New Roadmap for Commercial Management
MRI’s Commercial Management product is a pretty well-developed, robust product. We didn’t think much could be or needed to be improved. But, at MRI IUC, we were proven wrong. MRI is doing a lot to take its Commercial Management to the next level.
Here’s what’s already been developed: Now you can transfer a security deposit from an old tenant to a new one, no problem—one of the few long-awaited features. Commercial Management Batch Entry hover text has been added to fields like the Building ID, Master Occupant ID, and Income Category, so when you hover over any one of these, MRI now provides a description of the ID. Lease search paging is also new. MRI has added this page-by-page filtering feature to areas that house a lot of data with a grid view. For example, instead of scrolling Building Square Footage’s endless grid, you can set the search up to show results in increments like 300 items per page or 100 items per page. Also, a bulk recoveries calculation has been added for regular and retail recoveries, where you can include multiple buildings in the calculation and several income category codes at once.
5. What’s in the Pipeline
Here’s what’s in the pipeline for the near future: Big changes are on the way for corporate real estate! Setting up operating leases with the functionality for lease transaction handling and transaction update proration is on its way! As for budgeting and forecasting, a residential workbook will be added with a residential workshop as well as general ledger-view account filters, utility to add workbook to a budget, a multi-budget calculation, expense entry for projects, and an alternate “flat grid” commercial management lease entry, making it more user-friendly. ViewPoint will be also be providing setup tables and its remaining reports will be added to the web.
And here’s what’s on the horizon in upcoming years: Improved Workspeed with the addition of mobile repair requests, mobile vendor users, SQL migration, and real-time reporting.
MRI continues to impress us, from the growth of its conferences to the growth of its company and offerings. As always, we’re excited to learn more about MRI’s advancements and to help our clients leverage them. We can’t wait to see what’s in store for them in 2018 and beyond! Until the next conference, this is REdirect signing off.