Last modified on September 15th, 2022
By Marc Frenkiel
Despite the growing digitalization of the way we interact with the world around us — which has been greatly accelerated by the pandemic — data shows that human connection is more important than ever. The AppFolio National Renter Motivation Report found that 30% of renters surveyed view responsiveness and flexibility as more important now than pre-pandemic. Despite the many new ways people can connect virtually, many feel isolated — and they’re hungrier than ever for human connection.
In property management-resident relations, this human connection equates to presence, but here, “presence” has a deeper meaning than just physically being there for your customers. Presence is a feeling, an experience, and a way to show up in service to your residents and property owners. But herein lies a challenge: While the past two years have disproved the assumption that roles like property management and leasing always have to be done on premises (unlocking the option for more flexibility), not being 100% on site might give residents the impression that their property managers are not truly “present” and attentive to their needs.
Technology can help unlock the power of presence
Thanks to advancements in technology, property management teams don’t necessarily have to be physically present at all times to invoke the feeling — and power — of presence. They can still accomplish everything that goes with being present — being responsive, attentive, accountable, and connected at all times — from virtually anywhere.
While technology can help unlock the power of presence in numerous areas of property management, for the sake of brevity, we’ll focus on maintenance, where the power of presence is vital. After all, search engines and social media empower renters who feel their maintenance requests go unanswered or have experienced a delayed move-in due to slow unit turns to make their voices heard. This can make it difficult to attract and retain residents, and thus drive NOI.
Season three of the Top Floor podcast features an illuminating conversation about the relationship between maintenance, resident satisfaction (and expectations), and NOI. Ray Hespen, CEO and Co-Founder of Property Meld, a leading property maintenance platform now available as an AppFolio Stack™integration, explained:
“When I am a resident, I just want my thing fixed as fast as possible. That’s all I want. I want to know when it’s getting fixed, that’s it. So with maintenance, if everything is about compressing the speed and the transparency of what’s happening, the resident really likes it.”
Cat Allday, Vice President of the Artificial Intelligence Initiative at AppFolio, expanded on this thought:
“If you’ve got an issue that’s making you feel uncomfortable in your surroundings, the length of time it takes to fix is really impactful. So that’s one thing we hear all the time. The other thing we hear is not being informed. Just letting the resident know that the issue is being addressed is so important. It’s that black hole of not knowing — ‘When is it going to get fixed? Who’s coming? When are they going to get here?’— that causes so much frustration for residents.”
It’s this “black hole” that Cat describes — this feeling of limbo — that we understand as a lack of presence. To reiterate a previous thought, presence is responsiveness, attentiveness, accountability, and connection. It’s the ability to accomplish everything that goes with being present, remotely.
The leading property management software solutions provide the control and efficiency property managers need to establish a consistent, centralized maintenance process and effectively attend to resident and business needs. Key examples include:
- Providing 24/7, instant maintenance support
- Offering greater accountability and consistency with a consolidated, digital communications hub
- More efficiently procuring materials for repairs
- Turning units more rapidly with less oversight
- Optimizing unit and property-level inspections with mobile-friendly, offline functionality
- Streamlining error-free accounting workflows and freeing up time to strategize on future goals
Over the next several weeks, we’ll explore in much greater detail the tech tools that allow property managers to be more present for residents — both in person and virtually — improving retention, boosting NOI, and creating more space to focus on growth. Stay tuned!