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How to Use Technology for Amenities Management

November 6, 2020 10:00 AM By REdirect Consulting

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As a real estate owner, manager, or investor, you more than likely understand how important technology is for your day-to-day operations. But what about using technology to manage your built-to-rent (BTR) property amenities? This might be something that hasn’t quite hit your radar...yet.

Multifamily housing has changed over the past few decades as far as amenities are concerned. In the 1980s and ’90s, complexes in the United States might have had a playground or pool area as well as laundry facilities and trash collection areas. Some leading-edge complexes might have had more amenities, but those were few and far between.

What Are Expected Amenities in Multifamily Housing Today?

Comparing these multifamily complexes from a few decades ago to the built-to-rent complexes of today is almost like comparing that old reliable vehicle to a new top-of-the-line luxury sedan.

Today’s BTR complexes have become much more resident service-oriented, and residents are becoming more and more vocal about what extras they’re looking for in their homes. According to the 2019 Renter Preferences Survey, while more traditional amenities like central A/C, garbage disposals, and visitor parking made the list, there were a host of other amenities tenants looked for before signing on the dotted line:

  • Soundproof walls
  • High-speed internet access
  • Reliable mobile reception
  • Video doorbells
  • Electric vehicle charging stations
  • Recycling
  • Non-smoking buildings
  • Modular closet systems

And when millennials were polled back in 2017, other desired—and maybe not thought of before—amenities made the list:

  • Solar power and other environmental and sustainability options and building materials
  • Balconies
  • More spaces for community activities

The list of service-based amenities can also include fitness classes, hobby-related classes and spaces, salons, gyms that rival your local gym, and even pet amenities. Where amenities are concerned, the sky really is the limit when trying to attract your ideal resident.

Technology to Automate + Attract Tenants

Before we get into how automating amenities will give your tenants a seamless experience (and likely higher tenant retention), there are systems that will allow you to showcase the easy user experience before your residents even walk in the door. Software like MRI Engage not only allows you to automate customer-centric processes, but it also simplifies the way potential residents shop for housing online by giving them access to online applications and digital lease execution. Another great option is Yardi’s RENTCafé. In addition to the above, it also allows prospective tenants to view detailed information about properties, large photo displays, floor plans, and included amenities. Both options can get potential tenants in the door faster with an automated and simplified experience from the moment they walk in to the time they move in.

Technology Can Help Manage Amenities

Offering amenities can make a drastic difference in your occupant rates and tenant longevity, and technology can make this aspect of your business much more manageable. Technology can also offer metrics and measurements around your amenities to ensure you’re moving forward with the most profitable and popular amenities and eliminating the ones that aren’t quite carrying their weight. Here are two ways technology can help manage amenities:

Vendor relationships.

Keeping track of vendors and vendor payments can take time and labor. Automating and managing amenity-related vendor relationships (like trash management, recycling services, community space maintenance, and activity leaders, for example) helps lessen the chances of human errors and missed invoices, and may reduce labour costs. This allows you to spend more time concentrating on other, more hands-on aspects of your business.

A great way to help manage vendor relationships is through Yardi Facility Manager or MRI’s Resident Portal. It automates and simplifies preventive maintenance, inspection tracking, work order management, and team communication. This allows property managers to streamline the entire facility management lifecycle by keeping your equipment status and maintenance records in a single easy-to-use system.

Additionally, when it comes to understanding your reports and pulling analytics, Yardi Elevate, the most comprehensive asset management solution on the market, can help investors gain in-depth operational data, streamlined revenue forecasting, and portfolio management. All of this allows users to lower costs, balance risk, and increase revenue.

Elevate can also automate work orders, preventive maintenance, and inspections. It enables auto scheduling and assignments that can be delivered via text message notifications. For many tenants and vendors alike, it provides a seamless, and much needed, communication. When it comes to missing invoices, Elevate works with COMMERCIALCafé Tenant Portal and integrates with Voyager, Procure to Pay, and VendorCafe for purchase orders and tenant bill-backs.

Resident relationships.

Your tenants are your greatest asset. Instead of employing an in-person tenant concierge to help manage your amenities, you can automate these services, giving tenants access 24/7/365. Especially for those tenants who prefer digital communication, this service could be what sets you apart from other competitors.

A popular option among our clients is Yardi’s RENTcafé and MRI’s Resident Portal. Both give tenants access to tools such as online rent payments and maintenance requests, as mentioned above. They also allow tenants to take advantage of property site features and amenities. When access to your amenities is online, tenants can schedule appointments or usage times, file maintenance requests, and offer feedback, allowing this part of your business to run more seamlessly and profitably.

The ability to book a lounge, workspace, or time at the pool gives modern tenants peace of mind as they know from the click of a button how full a shared space will be. You can also regulate, for example, how many people are in the gym at a given time by restricting booking times, making proper social distancing practices a breeze.

Offering the amenities your residents and potential residents want can feel like an overwhelming task, but it really doesn’t have to be. Technology can help you manage these amenities, offering you easier operation and your residents the living environment they’re wanting. Contact us today to talk about how to implement additional modules in your ERP technology to manage your BTR amenities.