December 15 2020

Funnel Footnotes logo with APTVirtual logoFunnel footnotes are summaries of cool lessons, trends, and insights our team gains from multifamily industry events. We package up some of the things that inspire us and share that with you in a compact format for learning-on-the-go.

Emerging Issues: Looking Ahead To The Post-Pandemic Future

  • The pandemic has driven and expedited changes that will indefinitely shape the future.

“The pandemic has driven and expedited changes that will indefinitely shape the future.”

  • Due to greater adoption and acceleration of technology, the customer journey and leasing experience have shifted from in-person to virtual.
  • Technology will continue to contribute to greater efficiency in back-office operations as well as front-line interactions with customers.
  • Automation reduces face-to-face interaction but we still need to have personal agent-assisted experiences.
  • Leasing agents will need to develop new technology-related skill sets to make this new experience as seamless as possible.
  • This is a pivotal moment of change and companies can have a significant impact on shaping our future. Valuing differences and a culture where everyone belongs, showcased in actions… and demonstrated through ERGs (Employee Resource Groups) are essential to company culture. They exemplify a workforce that reflects diversity, equality, and inclusion for all.

Preparing Your Organization For Automation Of The Apartment Rental Industry

  • Over the course of the next decade, the entire resident lifecycle will become automated.
  • Poll: What do you think is the best way to use automation?
    • Communication – 39%
    • Maintenance requests – 6%
    • Payments – 44%
    • Packages and delivery – 11%

automation uses chart - Footnotes by Funnel

  • Poll: What kind of automation are you most likely to adopt next?
    • Automation for resident communication – 21%
    • Automation for maintenance requests – 14%
    • Automation for payments – 14%
    • Automation for packages and delivery – 36%
    • Automation for receivables reconciliation – 14%

automation types chart - Footnotes by Funnel

  • When developing automation practices, use a focus group to determine which processes can be automated. Then, start building technology with feedback along the way.
  • When implementing, test before deploying company-wide. Examples of automation include the rent collection process, accounts payable, move-in and move-out process.
  • To effectively deploy new automation, while it’s not always easy to think this way, change is good! For example, implementing a “going green” campaign by automating payments, putting renter info into the cloud so it’s available from a remote location.
  • There should be a multi-departmental approach, e.g. IT, Marketing Operations, HR. Once you understand all of the pain points, you can bring all the departments together to find solutions.
  • When evaluating technology products and solutions, remember: It’s not just about what the product can do today — it’s where it’s going and how it’s supported. Leaders need to be forward-thinking and not reactionary.

“When evaluating technology products and solutions, remember: It’s not just about what the product can do today — it’s where it’s going and how it’s supported. Leaders need to be forward-thinking and not reactionary.”

  • Executives and operators throughout an organization should comprise an innovation committee to fully vet out technology vendors that are scalable and able to translate between all business units. Scalability is key.
  • Leadership needs to communicate the “why” behind adopting new technologies for automating processes. Upper leadership and owner-managers adopting technology create a better environment for everyone using it.

Build A Bridge And Get Over It: Fostering Collaborative Workplaces

  • Why have we, as an industry, always seemed to focus our career pathway training and operations in a manner that tends to push our team members into silos? While this practice may seem essential to helping one master their specific departmental craft, it pushes professionals towards developing professional tunnel vision.
  • How do we avoid operating in silos? We need to give each department a holistic view of company goals. We waste time and resources when there is a communications breakdown.
  • When operating in silos, employees feel they’re in the dark and are not buying into the organizational goals or getting the big picture. That can lead to resentment and subsequently inefficiencies through errors, wasted time, and wasted resources.

“When we don’t collaborate, we don’t get ground intelligence to make big decisions for the overall organization.”

  • When we don’t collaborate, we don’t get ground intelligence to make big decisions for the overall organization.
  • Promote inclusion — get insights from outside the silo. Create a feedback loop, e.g. internal Facebook page. Implement internal praise, a peer recognition program, and create opportunities to connect.
  • Be open to embracing feedback from all levels of the organization. You can’t be productive without silos, but you must be mindful about when and why it makes sense to create opportunities for collaboration.
  • Communicate the “why” throughout all levels of your organization or else people won’t see the big picture. Not doing so puts people in a losing position and results in a gateway to team sabotage.
  • Tailor the why to your specific audience — not everyone speaks C-suite talk. Make the why relevant to everyday work.
  • By engaging employees in the mission, it shows them they’re important and they are key contributors. Doing so not only boosts morale, it increases the chance that people will take ownership and achieve desired results.
  • How do you prepare team members for promotion? They need to understand the big whys for the roles they are being promoted into. They need realistic job descriptions, peer conversations, in-depth training, and ongoing support.
  • The days of “faking it ‘til you make it” and/or “drinking from a firehose” to acclimate to a new role are gone. Instead of setting up people for failure, invest the time in helping them to make the transition to their new role by being transparent about job expectations, company policies, and chains of command.
  • As COVID has moved us into a more virtual world, it’s important to not leave behind those who are less tech-savvy. Some of your non-tech employees may be your longest-term employees with deep industry knowledge.

“Don’t leave behind those who are less tech-savvy. Some of your non-tech employees may be your longest-term employees with deep industry knowledge.”

  • Training is critical. Make sure your employees are well-trained on every aspect of their role. Create a training manual if you don’t have it and use SMEs to help train. Create these materials with change management principles in mind.
  • Micro-learning is an effective training technique — 3 to 5 minutes online, by phone or computer. Multiple types of media can be engaging and effective. Audio podcasts, video tutorials, and games are all good examples.
  • How do you get to know your employees and what they want? Get to know teams and let them get to know leadership.
    • Empower — everyone is a leader
    • Active and tangible surveying. (Address results with teams not just management)
    • Purposeful focus groups
    • Team member-led focus groups/surveys
    • Team building/surveying
  • Empower your teams to lead their own focus groups without management in the room.
  • Invest in professional training instead of trying to save money and wing it on your own.
  • Engagement breeds awareness and company-wide buy-in
  • Company culture — proactive vs. reactive. Make it a priority.

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