Case Studies in Resident Self-Service

What three cutting-edge communities reveal about the future of property management.

Multifamily managers and marketing professionals are adapting to changes in renter habits and preferences, which have been driven by both demographic shifts and an increasingly tech-centric landscape. Once thought of as a temporary fix for pandemic-induced isolation, self-service solutions are proving a game changer for the leasing process, resident communications and internal building operations.

Image by zeljkosantrac/iStockphoto.com

Image by zeljkosantrac/iStockphoto.com

Offering renters the ability to move autonomously, at their own pace, has helped property managers attract and retain high-quality leads. Additionally, this approach can free up time and resources on-site.


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Multi-Housing News interviewed executives at three communities that are integrating self-service into key aspects of the resident experience. They say choosing this path can bring sizable benefits for the communities, their residents and their operators. Here’s how.

Interactive maps at Solis Midtown. The pages offer prospective residents the ability to directly view available units, their dimensions and monthly rents. Additionally, the page offers direct access to the community’s application portal. Image courtesy of RKW Residential.

Interactive maps at Solis Midtown. The pages offer prospective residents the ability to directly view available units, their dimensions and monthly rents. Additionally, the page offers direct access to the community’s application portal. Image courtesy of RKW Residential

SOLIS MIDTOWN: A layered approach

The 328-unit Solis Midtown, rising near central Charlotte, N.C., and adjacent to the Atrium Health Carolinas Medical Center, is targeting two demographics—one more solitary and career-focused, and the other more leisure- and family-oriented. Self-service is particularly appealing to both these groups. 


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“Typically, we are looking at metro renters, everyone in their 20s (and) 30s, looking to live alone and are interested in being close to the city center, surrounded by a lot of different opportunities,” detailed Sarah Randolph, director of marketing technology at RKW Residential, the community’s property manager. On the other end, there is the renter that Randolph refers to as being in their “golden years”–married, with leisure and social time to spare.

Through the Hello Alfred app, residents at Solis Midtown can access all of the services and amenities at the community in one centralized platform. Image courtesy of RKW Residential

Through the Hello Alfred app, residents at Solis Midtown can access all of the services and amenities at the community in one centralized platform. Image courtesy of RKW Residential

The self-service offerings at Solis Midtown combine autonomous elements with in-person consultations. Randolph described the property’s self-service offerings as “layered throughout the entire marketing funnel.” The demand for these options emerged out of the pandemic’s remote work phase, as well as the oftentimes conflicting schedules between renters and leasing staff. “When and where a prospective renter is looking for an answer, wants a tour or is able to sign their lease, could very possibly fall outside of the standard office hours,” Randolph said .

To fix this, RKW turned to making touring, communication and leasing as smooth as possible. For viewings, Solis Midtown’s website offers a handful of options: self-scheduled tours that can be conducted through video call with a leasing agent, in-person guided tours and virtual ones. The website also offers top-down interactive community maps, allowing prospective renters to directly access the online leasing portal.

Renters like the convenience. “If you want to schedule on your own time, you can go to the website, and it is as easy as clicking a button,” Randolph added .

RKW’s leasing staff utilizes an artificial intelligence-based chatbot powered by Funnel, one that has been taught to answer questions specific to the property and can further the outreach process through text messages and emails.

Through the Hello Alfred app, residents at Solis Midtown can access all of the services and amenities at the community in one centralized platform. Image courtesy of RKW Residential

Through the Hello Alfred app, residents at Solis Midtown can access all of the services and amenities at the community in one centralized platform. Image courtesy of RKW Residential

“Not everyone is available to talk to someone working on-site between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., so having that ability to automatically re-engage a prospect has been a big component of our approach to self-service,” Randolph emphasized.

Residents also have their own form of self-service, provided through RKW’s parent company, Alfred. The resident portal, called Hello Alfred, gives access to a plethora of features and services, from paying rent and submitting work orders to RSVP’ing to community events. The app also partners with local businesses and services.

Despite the obvious upsides, Randolph emphasizes that self-service, same as other automation tools, should assist property managers as tools, not replace their skills. For example, during the rolling out of RKW’s self-service offerings, a team is dedicated to analyzing data and feeding it to the right sources.

“For being able to give someone the ability to self-serve and submit a work order, we have to make sure that that work order ends up in the right place for the team to take care of,” Randolph reasoned .

Additionally, the human element is there also for when pure tech becomes too much. “It sounds fantastic to have an integrated community map that integrates with our online leasing platform, but what happens if that integration is no longer functional?” Randolph asked.

WRIGLEYVILLE LOFTS: Online efficiency

Wrigleyville Lofts, a 120-unit community located in its eponymous Chicago cultural district, has also digitized most of its rental experience.

The property’s “digital front door” presents every aspect of the community online, from its maps and tour scheduling, all the way to applications, according to James Love, vice president of marketing and brand for Draper and Kramer, which owns and manages the property. Akin to Solis Midtown in Charlotte, the move to self service was motivated, in part, by the community’s target base of “diverse professionals who are tech savvy but also very busy,” said Love.

As a result, Wrigleyville Lofts’ service offerings are available across a whole range of possible devices. On the website itself, visitors have access to top-down apartment maps, but also have the option to conduct three-dimensional virtual tours of all the community’s floorplans, in addition to its lobby, exterior amenity spaces and fitness center.


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For Love, these features appeal to a broad array of time-stretched renters, while catering to their varied thought processes as well. Some renters just want to see available units, while others need precise data about their potential future home, such as its location within the property, as well as its estimated rent and other expenses.

The lobby of Wrigleyville Lofts. Through the community’s website, prospective residents can virtually tour the space, alongside the community’s other amenity offerings. Image courtesy of Draper and Kramer

The lobby at Wrigleyville Lofts. Through the community’s website, prospective residents can virtually tour the space and the amenity offerings. Image courtesy of Draper and Kramer

“It’s all about that pipeline of self-service—How do you learn? How do you educate yourself?—and we want to see all of those tools available for how people think,” Love pointed out. As a result, renters often come in “just to verify that (the property) is there, and to get a feel for the neighborhood, as well as what it’s like to live there.”

Draper and Kramer analyzes the self-service usage data across its various CRM platforms. One key benefit has been the ability to optimize advertising, branding and marketing data in a way that it could not have previously.

“Not only is it valuable for people who are using it but it’s also convenient for us to manage because it’s all in one place,” Love said.

This focus on quantifying has extended to Draper and Kramer’s use of automation, which Love sees as a form of self-service on its own. Using machine learning, the firm inputs the data about Wrigleyville Lofts’ available units and community features, which in turn assists with increasing the community’s access to leads.

“It’s able to match all of what we are selling to all of the data points that it has that we don’t know about, (such as) who is shopping, who is making buying signals, and that connects the two.”

The data is also utilized by a chatbot on the community’s website, which serves as an informative tool for apartment hunters with specific questions, some that a human may not immediately have an answer for.

Not only does the chatbot assist Draper and Kramer with answering questions 24/7 but it also indirectly gives property managers and marketing staff pointers for improvement. “What are they asking about, and what do we need to maybe communicate better?” Love pondered.

The interactive map of the Lofts at Front Street. The map indicates the surroundings of the community, the units’ rents as well as their location in the context of its amenity spaces. Additionally, renters have the option to directly filter to their desired units based on size, rents, and availability. Through this map, prospective renters can apply directly for residence. Image courtesy of The Breeden Company

This interactive map shows the The Lofts at Front Street’s surroundings, rates and unit locations in the context of its amenity spaces. Additionally, renters have the option to filter units based on size, price and availability. Through this map, prospective renters can apply directly for a residence. Image courtesy of The Breeden Co.

THE LOFTS AT FRONT STREET: Management matters

The Lofts at Front Street, a 258-unit property centered around Norfolk, Va.’s medical district also places the renter’s experience and the versatility of its platforms at the forefront.


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According to Jamie Kane, vice president of marketing and brand at owner and operator The Breeden Co., The Lofts at Front Street targets the area’s many busy employees. Like Wrigleyville Lofts, the community, which also includes corporate apartments, integrates many self-service features into its online leasing experience, including direct access to residence applications.

Within the community’s interactive map, renters can request to live at a given apartment simply by clicking on its map profile. “By clicking on the unit, they can apply and get qualified right there and pay their application fees without walking through the door,” Kane explained.

The resident portal of the Lofts at Front Street. The portal offers the full scope of rent payments and service request capabilities. Internally, the Breeden Co. uses these capabilities to save time for its on-site property managers and leasing staff. Image courtesy of The Breeden Company

The resident portal of the Lofts at Front Street. The portal offers the full scope of rent payments and service request capabilities. Internally, the Breeden Co. uses these capabilities to save time for its on-site property managers and leasing staff. Image courtesy of The Breeden Company

For residents, the experience extends with keyless entry systems and a 24-hour resident portal.  When residents use the portal, The Breeden Co. benefits from both the data and detail of tasks such as work-order requests.

“It eliminates a lot of questions we have when someone is phoning in or leaving a message by allowing a resident to go in and write specifically what their request is,” Kane said.

Somewhat ironically, the biggest beneficiaries here are the in-person service teams. “It allows us to streamline our services, and (have) better time management for the on-site teams,” Kane reflected. “Doing everything virtually and interactively opens a lot of windows for other in-person things that we have to do.”

For The Breeden Co, the end goal remains enhancing the full scope of its on-site services. “As much as we want to focus on interactive maps, we do want to understand that there is a demographic out there that doesn’t want to pay online,” Kane said. “They don’t want to do their applications online. They want to physically give you a check, sign their lease and talk to somebody.”

Read the August 2023 issue of MHN.

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