Last modified on September 7th, 2022
By Marc Frenkiel
Property management relies heavily on the human touch at all phases, from the first introduction to a potential client through the ongoing contact throughout a client relationship. But property management is also process-heavy and data-intensive, and this is where artificial intelligence excels. With appropriate AI tools, you can streamline your business processes, including vital leasing operations, and provide clients, residents, and prospective renters with an improved overall experience.
What exactly is Artificial Intelligence?
Let’s start with what artificial intelligence is not. Notwithstanding common misconceptions, AI is not a robot that will eliminate a human job.
Instead, AI is one of the biggest trends in optimizing human productivity. At the highest level, AI describes systems that perform tasks usually associated with human intelligence, such as identifying patterns in data, drawing conclusions, solving complex problems, and learning to improve their own performance.
Despite the significant potential for AI to improve property management processes, it has not found widespread acceptance. Misconceptions about the downsides of AI have contributed to this reluctance. For example, one recent survey found that 53% of property managers believe that AI carries risk. But on the flip side, 85% of managers also believe AI can benefit them in what they do.
The reality is that well-designed AI property management tools create neither of these problems. Instead, they actually work to enhance the client experience and relationship.
Benefits AI brings to leasing teams
Adding AI tools to your property management processes can benefit you, your residents, and property owners in many ways. These improvements build upon each other to maximize leads, create new and repeat sales opportunities, and ease your daily workload.
Improved understanding of your customers
Marketers are already well aware that AI can distill vast amounts of data about prospective customers into actionable customer profiles. AI can do the same for renters and property managers.
You may have a considerable number of potential leads that you have pulled together from several different sources. Manually processing all the data would be incredibly time-consuming, and you might miss subtle patterns in the data. AI can quickly process large data sets, extracting helpful insights about customer behavior, allowing you to focus your efforts where they will be most effective.
Improved customer experience
You can also use AI to build high-quality experiences and automate communication with your customers.
Prospective renters expect very rapid responses to their inquiries. But your team may not always be able or available to meet these expectations. Conversational AI, in the form of an AI leasing assistant, reduces lead response times while consistently obtaining useful information from your leads.
The more insights you have about your prospects, the more personalized experience you can give them. AI can help you connect the dots between customer preferences and your offerings — for example, by recommending other vacant units that might better meet their needs.
Far from eliminating the human touch, AI allows you to more instantaneously connect with renters and provide them with the information they’re looking for, while freeing your team to focus on serving the most engaged prospective renters versus managing all incoming leads.
Improved conversion rates
The faster you respond to prospects with information directly relevant to their needs, the more likely you will convert that lead to a signed lease. But leasing teams need to follow through to seal the deal.
AI tools can also build your follow-up communications to ensure you answer any additional questions quickly and provide the prospective renter with all the necessary information. These few extra touches may be all you need to convert a casual website visitor to a new resident.
Improved leasing processes
Allowing AI tools to handle repetitive, routine tasks also frees your team to focus on higher level tasks, like having more personal contact with clients. Just ask Kayla Roeder, Founder and Chief Operating Officer of San Diego-based Cambridge Management:
“There’s so many efficiencies that are created by having the software in place and then you have the leasing team carry those efficiencies on through the day because they’re not handling as much as they were in the past. They’re able to really be efficient with their time and interact and make meaningful relationships and have meaningful conversations with people on a day to day basis.”
Add artificial intelligence to your operational workflows
Simplifying and accelerating the leasing process with AI not only increases the likelihood of converting a prospect into a client, but AI also drives resident retention by streamlining other processes, such as follow-up and resolution of maintenance requests. Better customer service, in turn, generates more repeat business and referral business.
For example, AppFolio Smart Maintenance allows your team to respond to service requests instantly, at any hour. How? By using rules and algorithms to judge the level of urgency for each request, using conversational AI to communicate with the renter and gather important information, and dispatching pre-approved vendors on your team’s behalf.
When it comes to data entry and reviewing and paying bills, the pattern-recognition and automation capabilities of AI can also spot spikes in utility bills, find accounting discrepancies, or parse bills and leases to compile income statements.
Properly implemented, AI makes property management less manual and more meaningful for your team, and contributes to greater resident satisfaction as well, making your business truly stand out from the rest.