Industry experts published annual predictions for property managers and real estate professionals a few weeks ago. Based on market research and consumer trend indicators, 2014 has potential to be a year of growth and change. Developing response strategies designed to capitalize on research and indicators is one way to get ahead of the competition in 2014.

Adjusting Marketing Strategies

One prediction suggests that apartment seekers will fall into two predominant categories this year – the haves and the have-nots. To zero in on these two different demographic groups, property managers may need to adjust their marketing efforts. Rather than advertising with a blanket approach hoping to capture interest based solely on square footage or number of bedrooms, ad dollars may be better spent targeting those two groups directly.

By advertising in venues that appeal to down-sizing baby boomers or high-end property seekers, managers create opportunities to highlight property amenities specifically for them. Likewise, advertisements targeting recent graduates and newlyweds struggling to establish themselves might consider youth-oriented online publications and social media hangouts.

AppFolio’s property management software tools allow you to monitor and track advertising results. This allows users to pinpoint which ads are producing strong results and areas that underperform based on completed visits and applications completed.

Responding to Environmental Engagement

The gap is shrinking between what people want and what they will pay for some items. For example, sales for electric vehicles are rising steadily, even though fueling stations are still not available in all areas. The number of total electric cars on the road is projected to reach 2 million in the next ten years – hybrids during the same window will soar to 7.6 million, according to TMC News.

The availability of apartment homes with recharging stations is limited. Small communities can take advantage of the limited availability by installing shared “quick charge” stations with key card access.  Private, per-unit stations come with an investment cap of around $2000. Managers should realize a positive return on investment within the first year or two, depending on rent recovery plans.

Building Digital Relationships

Along with environmental responsibility, tenants want more digital access and higher levels of engagement from landlords. Simon Mainwaring, a recognized branding consultant, advises business owners to remember that positive encounters between any brand and its consumers produce measurable results. The result is that businesses strive to provide better service and customers show their appreciation – often by sharing their experience with people in their social networks.

Initiating positive encounters for property managers includes giving tenants digital options for making payments, requesting repairs and maintenance online and access to the Internet in common areas. Converting manual dispatching to web-based maintenance request processing serves the tenants’ digital needs and streamlines the workflow process, creating positive experiences on both ends.

Feeding the Social Circles

Along with built-in iPad docking stations and Cat 5 wiring for lightning speed access, tenants today want to be connected 24/7 to everyone – friends, family, colleagues, and property managers. They tweet, post and text the superlative and the mundane.

Integrated property management systems close the communication gaps that plague many non-digital systems. The fastest, most efficient way to spread the news about the new electric car recharging station is via electronic newsletters, tweets and Facebook status updates. Digital communication also creates a complete history of correspondence between owners, tenants and managers with a single click.

Upgrading for Efficiency

Digital technology isn’t the only thing tenants look for today. Upgrades must address efficiency. There are still state and federal incentives for property owners gearing up to replace aging windows and doors with high-efficiency products. Look for panes designed to block UV rays that damage furniture and draperies, high insulation ratings and eco-friendly composite frames.

Modern property management strategies to attract and retain tenants should include relationship building mechanisms, energy-efficient and eco-friendly features and social engagement tools that meet the needs of 21st century consumers. One of the most valuable tools to achieve success is a web-based property management system that ties all three together.