The Next Gen of Resident Experience: 5 Takeaways for Multifamily Operators
Our take on what lies ahead for the industry and how can tech and data help
1. Focus on hard value.
"‘Show me the money. Show me the hard value.’ We hear that more and more these days,” says Or Bokobza, Venn’s CEO and cofounder. Owner-operators have every reason to demand clear and measurable results in the short term. In this economic climate, who has time or runway to wait and see?
The good news is that property teams and solution providers have a huge opportunity to optimize every line item of a portfolio’s existing P+L. According to Bokobza, there’s money being left on the table that owner-operators can tap into. It just takes the right tools and data.
Using a platform that serves up resident data and operational insights — shining a light on teams' blind spots and making them aware of what they can already monetize. Then, they can tap into new revenue streams from existing line items like insurance and amenity spaces.
2. Control operating costs.
Owner-operators in today’s industry know what they’re up against: the days of low interest rates, steady rent increases, and high occupancy are long gone. So for owner-operators who want to increase, or at least, stabilize NOI, now is the time to get creative. For Michael Mintz, CEO and founder of MD Squared Property Group, an NYC-based management company, one way of doing this is by being much more “conscious of operating expenses.”
Products that are designed specifically for property teams and that introduce operational efficiencies can also help. For example, tools that help owner-operators like Mintz scale the resources, teams and infrastructure they already have through replicable workflows will go a long way in bridging the revenue gaps created by flattening rents and increasing rates. Automated and centralized platforms that house entire teams’ toolkits can also help owners grow their pie and get more value out of what they already have.
3. Invest in retaining residents.
“Turnover costs are a lot higher than what people think,” says Mintz, “So the money spent retaining tenants is tremendously valuable.” His team focuses on identifying amenities and experiences to engage residents, like community-building events. Because when people make friends in their building, they'll want to stay.
For Susan Gerock, CIO of Elme Communities, a publicly traded DC-based REIT, it’s all about keeping residents happy and in place in order to increase rents over time. When she thinks about the cost of acquiring a new resident versus retaining an existing resident, she always doubles down on retention, knowing that her team can push higher costs, especially if they’re enjoying where they’re living.
“As a tech leader, I am passionate about simplicity for the resident,” she explains. Suppose digital and IRL experiences like paying rent, requesting maintenance, and booking amenity spaces are frictionless and optimized for resident needs. Property teams can expect increased satisfaction and engagement, which ultimately drives retention. "It has to be like Amazon."
4. Keep property managers (and your bottom line) happy
Increasingly, multifamily leaders like Gerock and Mintz are zeroing in on property team retention and its impact on their bottom line — with good reason. A recent study from the National Apartment Association shows that turnover is as high as 70% and can cost as much as $20,000.
“Yes, your residents are really important,” says Gerock , “but you have to keep your community teams happy too.” To do that, tech leaders have often looked to point solutions that promise to simplify things, but often focus on a discrete pain point. “My team had one app for service work orders, one app for preventive maintenance, one app for turnovers.” The upshot? Her team was overwhelmed. The solution was centralizing all their workflows into a single platform, which may seem intuitive, but technically, is a huge challenge.
Bakobza and the team at Venn have taken this idea one step further and created a centralized platform for property teams that’s about more than just automations and operational efficiency — though it does that too. Venn introduces a centralized ecosystem that can manage an entire team or portfolio’s system of point solutions, which empowers them to do their best and most impactful work—scaling the business and connecting to residents. "The way to keep employees in place is to make them feel proud of their job and turn them into heroes," says Bakobza — and it starts with the right tools.
5. Build trust between residents and property teams.
Tech has to be a means to an end, and for resident-experience focused leaders, that end goal is connection and building trust between residents and property teams. That’s because transparency, authenticity, and trust are critical for brand reputation, resident satisfaction and, of course, revenue.
In today’s climate, resident experience solutions have “to come with real, hard facts about the dollars,” says Bakobza. By viewing residents as customers, property teams can offer services and experiences beyond the four walls of the apartment and engage in authentic, valuable and delightful ways. “Resident engagement is proof that they trust us,” says Bakobza, “and this is the gateway to sell additional services, which ultimately shows hard value.”
Want more takeaways? Watch the video below for highlights from the panel.