By Laurie Mega
Leading up to the beginning of 2020, there was already a push for property management to go digital. Apps and digital management tools made lead generation, listing syndication, and even website management easy.
All of it was fueled by the generational shift toward all things digital. Both millennials and Gen-Z expect to complete their day-to-day business online.
In the midst of a global pandemic, the need to offer digital services and adapt to changing tenant needs has become paramount. More and more people are jumping online to shop, order services, and even pay rent.
Now more than ever, going digital and providing topnotch service online is key to remaining on the cutting edge of property management.
Here are just four examples of how property managers can stay competitive in this ever-changing market.
1. Smarter Tenant Screening with AI
Every time you search on Google, ask your smart home device a question, or use the autofill function in your Gmail, you’re reaping the benefits of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. Simply put, your apps learn how to give you the best search results or finish a sentence for you by analyzing large sets of data and learning from past behavior.
For property managers, there are apps that can use AI to screen potential tenants. An AI tenant screening tool pulls in information such as rental history, credit scores, and debt-to-income ratios on a prospective tenant. It then compares the analysis to a large pool of tenant information to come up with a tenant score, much like a credit score.
Using an AI tenant screening tool can make what was once a time-consuming process more efficient and less labor intensive.
2. A Mobile-Responsive, UX-Friendly Interface
When a website is responsive, the layout adapts to the type of device someone is using to access it. The images, text, navigation, and other elements will move and change to fit a laptop screen, tablet, or smartphone.
UX is short for user experience, which simply means that anyone coming to your site will find it easy to use and get to what they’re looking for.
Have you ever gone to a website and found it hard to navigate or find what you’re looking for? Perhaps you came across one with a layout that looks 10 or 20 years old? Did you trust that site? Did you stick around to figure out its complicated navigation?
To stay in the game, your website should be well-designed and easy to navigate, especially on mobile devices.
Both mobile responsiveness and good UX are so important that search engines like Google reward sites that incorporate them. In fact, Google uses the mobile version of a site to index it in search. That’s because more than half of all global internet traffic now comes from mobile.
And beginning this year, Google now favors sites with good UX.
The good news is, you don’t have to be a web designer to get a well-designed, mobile-friendly site. There are templates out there that can help you build the kind of site you need to get noticed.
3. Lead Generation
While syndicated listings and advertisements are still important ways to generate leads, there are other strategies you can build into your marketing plan to maximize your lead generation efforts.
First, make sure that website is optimized and that it’s easy for prospective tenants to apply right from your site.
Second, don’t underestimate the power of social media. Did you know that 30 percent of millennials engage with a brand via social at least once a month? Use your social media channels to build an audience, list your properties, and link to your site where people can apply.
Step three is to make sure you’re engaging with your audience on review sites and actively working to collect good reviews. Place a link in your bio that takes people right to your listings.
Finally, one of the best things you can do to stay competitive is to minimize the time and resources you spend on everyday tasks. By doing so, you can reallocate your time to providing great service and keep costs low for your owners.
There are a number of ways you can automate the time-consuming parts of your business. Here are a few:
- Lead Tracking: By using an automated lead-tracking system, property managers can move someone from prospect to tenant without a lot of paperwork. The tool can help them analyze successes and challenges, as well.
- Application Portals: An application portal will allow prospective tenants to apply on their own time and see the status of their application without having to call your office.
- Email Automation: There are all kinds of emails you can automate, from lead generation to regular newsletters to tenants and owners. For example, property managers can set up automatic emails that are triggered when a lead doesn’t finish filling out an application.
- Online Payments: Online payments make it easy for tenants to pay from anywhere and for property managers to keep track of rent. It’s also contactless, so there’s no risk of breaking social distancing guidelines.
- Work Order Management: Work orders are a lot easier to track with a management tool. And you can pull in more than one vendor at the same time. Finally, this tool allows you to track time to improve efficiency and response time.
All of these tools do more than just reduce time and effort. They collect valuable data you can then analyze to look things that are working and need improvement. They also help you reallocate funds to other business initiatives like adding services or expanding clientele.
The future of single-family property management is most certainly a digital one. But it’s not just about looking good online. It’s about leveraging the right tools to streamline your business, reduce costs, and provide top-of-the-line service to owners and tenants.