May 15 2024

Nothing is moving faster than AI — Nothing scales your customer experience faster either. 

During this Forum panel, leaders shared their best practices, misconceptions, and the unique needs that the multifamily industry has for its AI solutions. 

On this panel:

  • Cara Athmann, COO, Cardinal Group
  • Emily Copeland, SVP of Property Management, LCOR 
  • Ben Rubin, Chief Product Officer/President Funnel, and Tyler Christiansen, CEO, Funnel moderated. 

They talked about how much Chat-GPT accelerated AI growth, the need for industry-specific solutions, voice AI, and leveraging AI to provide optionality for renters.

Keep reading to learn from these AI leaders on AI’s influence on both the team and renter experience.

How LCOR drove a 62% increase in tours year-over-year

LCOR is a build-to-core, transit-oriented, multi-family development company focused in major east coast urban markets with over 7,500 units. What sets LCOR apart is how they’ve leveraged AI to give their teams a hand and provide a better experience to their renters and residents — Emily Copeland SVP of Property Management at LCOR — was key to their AI journey. 

(Some) AI is so convincing your renters ask to meet them…

LCOR, like many property management companies, was Initially reliant on traditional leasing methods, however, LOCR recognized the untapped potential of AI to revolutionize their processes. LCOR rolled Funnel’s CRM and AI products out across their portfolio. The Virtual Leasing Agent, which they named Brianna, handles inquiries, follow-ups, and tour scheduling. The communication is so smooth many renters and residents are often oblivious that Brianna is an AI solution and not a human team member. “She’s [Brianna] been an additional person on our workforce and many people actually believe that she is a person on our workforce.” says Copeland. “They [renters] come in and believe they have a tour with Brianna, so we have to introduce them to their new leasing agent when they get there.”

LCOR’s AI journey didn’t end with Funnel’s VLA, aka Brianna, they also expanded into Funnel’s voice AI. Copeland stressed that LOCR’s AI adoption is tailored to each property’s unique demographics and client preferences. For properties with a high call volume, they knew they couldn’t reasonably staff to a level to answer all the phone calls. So, LCOR opted to deploy Funnel’s Voice AI solution. 

“[It gives us] The ability to give more options for people when they’re in the moment they’re looking to speak with somebody immediately,” says Copeland “The same goes with the nighttime chats. We still see a lot of the emails that are coming in getting responded to by Brianna.”

AI isn’t just for when the office is closed, it helps 24/7/365

In multifamily we often talk about AI being helpful when the office is closed because your teams aren’t there to follow-up. This is true and it is helpful. But the hard pill to swallow is: AI is helpful and needed when the office is open as well. 

Teams are busy and automating expected frequently asked questions removes the burden of rote follow-up from their plate, and allows them to focus on high-value tasks. “I think it’s realizing that while your doors are open, you’re actually missing out on a huge volume of people as well,” says Copeland. 

AI helps the LCOR team stay on top of responding to renters and residents promptly and allows them to scale their communication to provide consistent on-brand responses to everyone who reaches out. By seamlessly integrating AI to work alongside teams they’ve optimized operations and elevated the renter experience.

The results speak volumes, with Brianna alone responsible for scheduling 20% of annual tours, and a 62% increase in tours YOY. 

Looking ahead, LOCR aims to further refine workflows and automate administrative tasks to drive operational efficiency. Copeland also emphasizes the importance of human oversight, advocating for periodic audits to ensure the accuracy and efficacy of automated processes. Read more about LCOR’s approach to AI in their case study. 

Revolutionizing property management: The role of AI in streamlining operations

Not a Funnel customer, Cara Athmann, COO of Cardinal Group shared her perspective on AI’s opportunity for the multifamily industry and what’s to come for operators. Cardinal Group Management (Cardinal Group) is a fully integrated real estate management, investment, construction, consulting, and marketing firm focused on multifamily and student housing throughout the country. Cardinal Group Companies’ is a NMHC top 50 top 50 manager with over 46,000 units under management. 

Athmann’s perspective is particularly poignant because of her experience as the Chief Technology Officer before becoming the COO at Cardinal. 

Cardinal started its AI journey with tools targeted at collections and delinquency management to address these longstanding multifamily challenges. “It was a great place to start because what we found is our onsite teams like don’t really want to go around asking people for money,” says Athmann. With all of the lease and payment data in one place, the tool can look at the date, and late fees and start the conversation. “The other great positive thing about these tools as you use them is like they don’t get heated,” says Athmann. “Some of these conversations can be a little tricky. It’s a great way to have a trained very objective conversation.” 

In an industry where accessibility is paramount, the integration of AI in leasing processes has proven transformative. Prospects can now receive immediate responses, even during off-hours. This enhanced level of service caters to the evolving needs of customers while underscoring the potential for AI to drive efficiency and satisfaction in leasing operations.

“I think to me, what’s so exciting about how technology has progressed over the last several years is it is that natural language,” says Athmann. “It can be a really high-quality experience if you train these models right, and provide them with the right information about the community.”

According to Funnel data: 

  • 22% of all AI messages sent are SMS
  • 41% of AI messages sent are emails
  • 37% of AI messages sent are via website chatbots

While email and SMS remain prevalent channels of communication, there’s a palpable shift towards chatbots, particularly among younger demographics. Despite past skepticism stemming from (early) subpar chatbot experiences, advancements in AI technology promise a new era of immediate, personalized responses. Because of the hesitancy to give your cell phone number out, and the legal implications that businesses need to address when texting clients, chatbots are poised to become the preferred mode of communication, offering unparalleled convenience and efficiency.

Where AI will go next

The consensus among industry experts is clear: AI presents many opportunities for businesses. By prioritizing use cases, addressing data challenges, and ensuring compliance with regulations, businesses can unlock AI’s transformative potential and stay ahead in an increasingly competitive market.

As businesses continue to adapt to the AI revolution, collaboration and innovation will be key drivers of success. By leveraging AI to gain actionable insights, personalize customer experiences, and streamline operations, businesses can position themselves for growth and resilience in the digital age.

For more information on multifamily AI, and the future of GPT models leveraged in multifamily AI read our recent ebook.