We recently held a webinar, in conjunction with facilities maintenance software provider SuiteSpot, on how to save time and cut costs on your unit turnover processes. The webinar was hosted by REdirect’s Mitch Rich and SuiteSpot’s Darren Sharpe. You can now watch the webinar recording.
In today’s blog, we will cover some of the key learnings from this webinar to help you modernize and streamline your turnover processes.
Why Is the Unit Turnover Process So Important?
Before we delve into some specific strategies you can use to improve and streamline your unit turnover processes, it helps to understand why these processes matter.
Unit turnovers impact stakeholders in many different areas across an organization, from the maintenance team to leasing and finance. It touches the three core areas of operating a successful real estate business: people, processes, and technology. Your turnovers can impact your net operating income (NOI) positively or negatively, depending on the strength of your processes.
An effective turnover process also has a huge impact on residents at the move-in and move-out stages. Resident experience is crucial in today’s real estate market, and effective use of technology is a big part of providing that experience. Good property maintenance and positive interactions with your organization can largely influence the tenant experience.
Turnovers often operate on a tight timeline, with real financial and reputational penalties if things go wrong. A poor turnover process can result in lost rental incomes every day the property is off the market, an inability to recover chargebacks, and a bad impression on incoming or outgoing tenants. On the company side, poor processes also have a negative impact on employee satisfaction and retention, risking the loss of your best people to the competition.
In other words, if you are not working to improve your unit turnover processes, you are at risk of being left behind by your competitors. When you build a foundational, repeatable process, you ensure the highest standard every time.
Read on to learn how.
What Are the Biggest Challenges in the Unit Turnover Process?
All businesses operate slightly differently, with different move-in and move-out procedures. As such, your challenges will not be exactly the same as other companies’ challenges. However, we have identified some common themes in the struggles our clients have with their unit turnover processes. These include project scoping, work scheduling, vendor and stakeholder engagement, and escalations when issues arise.
Visibility is a major problem for many clients. All internal and external stakeholders need to be kept updated on a unit’s turnover progress in real-time. A lack of visibility can lead to delays, unnecessary expenditure, and avoidable mistakes.
The second major issue is control. Unit turnovers are complex, dynamic processes with many moving parts, and the appropriate people need to be able to make quick decisions, schedule or reschedule work, and communicate both internally and externally to keep things on track.
The final challenge is automation. Automating tasks and work orders saves you time and ensures the turnover is completed on time and on budget.
Without visibility, control, and appropriate automations, you are setting yourself up to miss deadlines and provide a less than stellar resident experience.
Are You Using the Correct Solution for the Correct Problem?
Many of the most widely used real estate software systems, including Yardi and MRI, are somewhat limited in out-of-the-box functionality for unit turnovers. The basic systems typically require additional modules to solve clients’ real-time tracking and reporting needs. This often results in clients choosing to use off-system solutions (such as Excel or even pen and paper).
It is possible to build systems leveraging Yardi or MRI alongside additional tools. However, this requires significant upfront investment to design, test, and implement. We have noticed that many clients are reluctant to move away from doing things in this inefficient manner.
It can feel intimidating to rewrite your processes and bring in new solutions. It requires cross-departmental buy-in from all your teams, from leasing to financial to maintenance. However, we have noticed that many organizations are willing to invest time and resources in maintenance operations this year.
This change was partly driven by the Covid pandemic, but it is also attributable to the desire to offer a great tenant experience and the recognition that excellent maintenance systems are key to that goal. Residents have higher expectations than ever, wanting to be kept updated on work in real time. On-site staff are often young digital natives and expect to have access to great tools. And leadership teams expect to be able to generate reports and access forecasting information at the click of a button.
Digitizing Your Processes
If you are still using an old-fashioned pen and paper approach, it is time to digitize your processes. When SuiteSpot begins working with a new client, they like to show them the costs of not making these changes and support them in gaining buy-in from all departments. Though it takes some work and investment upfront, you will be amazed at how much more efficient digitizing makes things in the long run. Even a relatively small investment can make a big difference.
Examples of processes that can be digitized include move-ins and move-outs, incident reports, fire logs, and inspection records.
Though Excel is a step up from pen and paper, it is still far from ideal for managing your turnover processes. However, it is ultimately a static representation of a dynamic process, with many data entry issues and poor collaborative functionality. It also does not integrate with project management software systems or offer effective automations. Excel is a great tool for some purposes, but running a real estate business is not one of them.
Digitizing for Better Reporting and Measuring
Many multifamily operators are trying to run their businesses without sufficient reliable data. Instead, they rely on assumptions based on anecdotes, which does not lead to the smartest business decisions.
Digitizing your processes allows for far more robust data and accurate reporting. It gives you deeper and broader insights, which you can then use to measure your performance and drive improvements across your organization. Digitization allows you to collect data throughout your processes and flow that data through all your systems to maximize its value.
SuiteSpot can offer key reports, including the average days for a unit to be rent-ready, the variance of cost-per-turn by property, and the delta between a scheduled and actual completion date of a turn. These timely reports enable data-backed decisions that will transform your operations.
If you’d like to understand more about how digital transformation can help your business, read the recent Oxford Properties case study.
What to Look For in a Unit Turnover Management System
The best solutions solve most requirements out of the box, but also allow for configuration and customization according to client need. They should also offer low barriers to entry and require as little implementation effort and investment as possible.
Business owners and operators need solutions that offer visibility and control to all stakeholders, take paper out of the equation, and provide strong reporting capabilities to enable ongoing improvement.
Here at REdirect, we connected with SuiteSpot because we believe they offer a best-in-class solution that hits all these key requirements. SuiteSpot is built on the following pillars:
- Supporting site and maintenance teams with its excellent field app
- Integrating with top PMS providers for superior data synchronization
- Robust reporting and analytics to enable data-backed decisions
- Onboarding, support, and training to ensure your operational success
With the current turnover rate sitting at almost 50%, MF operators need solutions that enable them to carry out digital inspections, work orders, and preventative maintenance in one easy place. SuiteSpot does all this and more.
The Impact of a Modern Unit Turn System
Now that you understand the benefits of digitizing your turnover processes and what to look for in a solution, let’s look at a couple of real-world examples from clients that have implemented these solutions.
IMT Residential manages approximately 20,000 units, spread across 54 communities in nine states. IMT was seeking a maintenance management solution that would integrate with MRI.
The organization was able to measure the performance of everything that happened in its offices, but offered no such solution for its service team. This resulted in a lack of transparency, accountability, and data-driven insights.
IMT initially switched from using a physical whiteboard in the office to Excel, but Excel’s data integrity concerns and high propensity for human error caused additional problems. SuiteSpot is proud to have worked with IMT to build a new way to manage their maintenance processes and turnovers.
A representative of IMT said, “This is an intuitive mobile maintenance technology solution that has taken our maintenance operations into the 21st century.”
Skyline Living, a 20,000-unit operator, uses Yardi as its primary real estate software. In this article and its accompanying webinar, we have talked about enabling positive change with the digitization process. This is exactly what SuiteSpot did with Skyline.
The SuiteSpot team helped Skyline to digitize its inspections, turnovers, and almost all paper processes. Efficiency improved and SuiteSpot is excited to be a partner in Skyline’s digital transformation. A detailed case study can be found here.
How REdirect Helps Clients Transform Their Turnover Processes
Here at REdirect, our approach centers on providing resources based on the knowledge we have gained through extensive first-hand experience. Many of our team members are controllers or former regional managers and understand both the business and technology requirements of running a real estate operation.
We begin with a discovery phase, in which we strive to assess and understand client requirements while sharing our knowledge of best practices. Based on what we learn, we then work to identify the best solutions for each client. This might involve optimizing the existing solutions within a Yardi or MRI implementation, or bringing in ancillary systems to solve for the client’s specific pain points.
Where to Learn More
Great turnover processes can be the difference between satisfied and dissatisfied tenants and can have a real impact on your business reputation and bottom line. Measuring, tracking, and improving at every stage is vital. Including all stakeholders in the process and digitizing everything that can be digitized are also key.
If you would like to learn more about how SuiteSpot enables these improvements, the team would be pleased to take you through a demo. Request a demo here or email Darren at Darren.Sharpe@SuiteSpotTechnology.com.
If you are seeking a consulting partner who understands the complexities of running a real estate business, the team at REdirect would love to hear from you. Get in touch today to learn more about how we can work together to save you time, save you money, and improve your turnover processes with the right technology.