Our world today is a 24/7, instant-access world. We bank online, depositing checks using digital pictures. We reach out to family and friends, communicating instantaneously via email, social media, and text without regard to time of day or geographic location. This high-speed world includes everyone, including the residents of your multifamily and single-family properties.
Whether you manage those properties directly or indirectly, your bottom line will benefit from making sure that your tenants are able to interact with you in the same context as they do the rest of the world. That means reaching you with an incident report needs to be fast, easy, often electronic, and elicit nearly immediate acknowledgement.
Today’s property multifamily and single-family rental (SFR) managers must offer the most convenient options for residents. Remember: happy tenants are most likely to be long-term residents.
Start by Breaking Down Your Communication Process
You have more communication methods and tools at your disposal today than any investor has ever had before at any point in history. Take a deep breath and remind yourself: More is not always better, but more options, when well-managed, do increase your likelihood of achieving the best fit for each resident.
Implement your offerings in a way that enables you to monitor how the communications work from your residents’ perspective and your own. If your communications system is poorly managed, I can guarantee you no number of options will make your tenants happy.
Important: Your tenants don’t need to love all their communication options. Just one. You, however, need to make sure someone can respond effectively when a tenant uses their communication method of choice. Create an implementation plan, set up workflow, and look for gaps in your process.
Test the technology on a small scale before you convert completely. Test everything internally with employees and contractors. Give yourself permission to take some time. For example, changing software will require an extra financial reconciliation on your end prior to the switch. Many property managers and investors may run two systems simultaneously for a time to make sure things are fully functional.
Overcommunicate About Your New Communication Options
It sounds like overkill, but overcommunicating about your communication changes will pay off. Residents need to know what’s coming. If they don’t get all your messages in the present system (or ignore them), then you’re going to need to tell them more than once. Use every method you have: send text alerts, multiple emails, make phone calls, use automated voice calling, and even send letters or postcards via mail.
Remember, this is all to improve your communication with your residents, and it will pay off. You’ll see results much sooner (and avoid a lot of headaches) if you make your plans as clear and transparent as possible for residents, employees, and anyone else involved in your property management process.
Now that you have decided to shake your communications tactics up, be responsible about this process! Resist the temptation to implement two dozen new strategies at once or investing in eight different types of software to text, tweet, email, and voicemail your residents all at the same time.
Remember your employees and your residents will experience a learning curve with these new avenues of communication, and not everyone will love every single option.
Dealing with Digital Issue Reports
One of the biggest benefits today’s property management software platforms offer is the ability for residents to log into the system and report an issue. Some platforms allow residents to select from dropdown options that categorize maintenance requests, while others automate more of the process and provide answers to simple questions about payments and other frequently-cited concerns.
Be certain that you test where these reports are going and insure that they are arriving on time and to a receptive audience. Most platforms tag departments or flag priorities of reply after the report has been submitted. Test runs help guarantee that the right department is receiving notice of a report and responding appropriately.