May 11 2022

Carlea Jelley, a former onsite manager at one of the country’s largest REITs, Camden Property Trust, now works as a Solutions Engineer for Funnel Leasing. Learn about Carlea’s first-hand experience using the Funnel platform. 

It can be easy to tune out yet another tech solution claiming what may seem to be “miracle” results. But, I’m here to tell you the hype surrounding Funnel is real. As an onsite manager at one of the country’s largest REITs, Camden Property Trust, I learned first-hand how transformational Funnel was to multifamily operations when we rolled out the platform across our portfolio in 2021. Don’t get me wrong, I loved working for Camden and their drive for excellence and culture is something that is tough to match. No matter the company, it is important to set the stage for what leasing professionals know all too well: the multifamily industry is facing a perfect storm of staffing shortages, significant shifts in consumer behavior, and the pandemic’s long-lasting influence on housing. I can attest, the need to leverage a new class of tech — Renter Management Software — to free teams of leasing professionals (like yours truly) from mundane back-office workflows is urgent. 

I’m not exaggerating when I say that Funnel was a sanity saver for my team (and I). The help it gave our team was invaluable. I know, in my experience, Funnel went from “just another tech platform to learn 🙄” to an “automated AI-work bestie 🤩” who couldn’t let you down. 

Here are four ways I noticed Funnel transform multifamily operations first-hand from my time working the front lines:

#1. Time efficiency

Renters have unique preferences and needs for their new home. However, many of the questions they ask property management companies as they search for their next apartment…aren’t. In fact, many of their questions are frequently asked by most renters, and are easily answered via automation and AI. Without the help of AI, automation, and centralized workflows, my leasing team was buried underneath a mountain of follow-up, along with their other daily tasks. We were following up with thousands of lukewarm leads or answering redundant resident questions. This left us with limited bandwidth to provide exceptional customer service to decision-ready renters and long-term residents. 

But it didn’t have to be that way. 

Once we started using Funnel, our onsite teams were free from these mundane, easily repeatable tasks. AI and automation took the rote task heavy-lifting off of our leasing teams plate by nurturing all leads automatically. The Virtual Leasing Agent (VLA) followed up with prospective renters, answering all of their easy-to-answer questions at any time of day (or night). Then, when a prospect’s question is too nuanced or they request a human, the question is escalated to the leasing professional to answer. Specifically, in my experience at a lease up community with almost 1000 apartment homes our team was inundated with requests. In one day, 24 leads inbounded, and had active conversations with the VLA. In other words, the VLA saved my team from juggling 24 new requests (in addition to the leads they were actively nurturing). Not to mention that the VLA had a 27% better conversion rate to book tours. My team and I liked to joke that AI is always in a good mood, and has time (and patience) for the chaos that can be a typical day as a leasing professional.  

We learned that this playbook of smart tech meets excellent customer service professionals is the way to win. Funnel’s tech provides a safety net for frequently stretched-thin leasing teams. It frees them to play to their strengths and focus on what matters most: your renters. 

#2. People-focused

Renters will naturally gravitate toward the best customer experiences. Housing, a universal need, is no exception. In a work-from-anywhere world, renters have more choice in where and how they choose to live their lives. They will vote with their wallets according to their newfound preferences, and they are willing to pay a premium to companies that cater to their needs. 

One thing I learned as a community manager is that every. single. interaction. within your apartment community should let renters know they’re valued and make them feel like they are finally right where they are supposed to be. 

If you go often enough, when you walk into your local coffee shop, the barista tends to remember your usual order. So instead of you ordering “drip coffee with an inch of whole milk.” The barista will simply ask you a single simple question. “The usual?” This makes repeat customers feel known and appreciated. 

Lessons learned from this don’t end at the coffee shop’s front door. Renters want to feel known, too. They spend significantly more time and money on their home than they do at most coffee shops, yet baristas do a much better job of remembering them. Again, it doesn’t need to be this way. 

With Funnel, leasing professionals have bandwidth to focus on building trusted relationships with prospective renters and current residents. For example, we once had a long-term prospect who really wanted a townhome in our community. The thing is, the townhomes rarely came open. We had talked with this prospective renter for months, and remembered that she was pregnant at the time. So, when I reached out later, I was able to re-ignite the conversation (and connection) because I asked about her growing family. Winning the memory lottery isn’t a leasing professional job requirement, but it doesn’t hurt. Fortunately, Funnel acts as a memory-supercharger for leasing professionals, and allows them to pick up a conversation right where it left off (even if it was months ago). With all of the conversation, and renter preferences stored in one place, professionals can make sure that they remember key details — like your dog’s name — and preferences — one-bedroom versus two — to truly help renters find their next home. This makes calling a community home an easy decision for renters. 

#3. Doing more with less

In my experience, Funnel’s fast follow-up drove an increase in inquiries and leads. Many times they’re inquiring at your property because they love the location, or they know one of your current or former residents, who raved about living there. But there is one problem: your current system cannot keep up with the demand and renters want information now. When you provide outstanding customer service, people notice. 

With Funnel’s help, every lead is followed-up with, even when your leasing professionals are juggling a million other things. Meaning, prospective renters are given the information they need to self-qualify without the time and attention of your leasing professionals. This helps to filter out leads for whom your property isn’t a good fit. For example, if Rachel Renter needs a two bedroom, and your community only has studios available, your community isn’t the best fit for her. So, instead of going through the entire process from initial inquiry through touring, Funnel can answer Rachel’s questions and a leasing professional or the intelligent AI can step in to recommend a sister property with units that better reflect her preferences. It’s a win-win-win for leasing teams, renters and the property management company. Rachel stays in-portfolio, and the process is fast and easy for Rachel Renter and the leasing professionals. 

# 4. One platform

Tired of waiting for your Property Management Software to load or sifting through multiple platforms just to see an organic renter journey? Funnel cuts through this chaos. All renter activities are housed in a single, secure, platform. This allows Funnel to create clear actionable reports (that no one on the leasing team needed to build by hand!). 

These ready-to-go reports are a game changer. Personally, this saved myself and my team’s sanity. Without Funnel, team members spent hours each week pulling together information for reports. Now, it took a few clicks and a few minutes. Funnel’s reports were able to develop accurate, detailed information that provided us with insights to directly impact our performance.

Plus, the hours this saved the team every week adds up. If the team is helping renters, signing leases, renewing residents, and in general building relationships with renters and residents then our time was being spent in the best way possible. While reporting is key to the business operations, it’s a lot less important to the renter. no renter or resident will remember if you were an Excel spreadsheet all-star. Renters and residents will remember how you handled their complaints (i.e. if you were empathetic to the fact that yes 100% it did probably sound like their upstairs neighbors were rolling bowling balls across the floor for entertainment and yes, you’d 1000% address it). Bottom line, they’ll remember how you made them feel.

In the end…

Looking back, Funnel was able to provide more purpose to my career. Because the platform helped us build better processes, I was thriving – not only as a manager but also as a friend within our community. I could now foster relationships that would last long beyond my time at that particular community.  

In my experience as a leasing professional the status quo business as usual tech solutions weren’t cutting it. Funnel helped change the way we work, which changed our day-to-day enjoyment of our work, and our happiness outside of work. I can attest that early adopters of a Funnel powered operating model will benefit from engaged leasing teams and increased business flexibility. So what are you waiting for?

Schedule a demo to learn Funnel’s approach to the intersection between forward-thinking multifamily best practices and how our technology can support industry visionaries.