How to Think About Smart Building Investments

In today's multifamily industry, technology offers the opportunity to revolutionize operations and resident experiences.

In today’s multifamily industry, technology offers the opportunity to revolutionize operations and resident experiences. As the universe of solutions and suppliers keeps growing, it’s getting harder for operators to choose the right technologies at the right time.

When operators think about new technology projects, they don’t always estimate the returns the new solution will deliver. At Latch, we’ve been thinking of ways to help our customers understand the financial impact of smart building technology.

The range of benefits that a technology like smart access offers is unusually broad, improving both the cost and revenue sides of the ledger. As a result, several divergent views have emerged on how smart communities achieve ROI.

Attract Higher Rent‍

Smart access control improves the resident experience, enabling the technology-driven lifestyles of increasingly digitally-native residents. When the resident gets to control building access via an app, rather than with keys, it becomes easier to schedule services and package delivery and manage guest access.

This technology is a powerful amenity that increases the appeal and the stickiness of the community, adding tangible value to the living experience. A community with smart access, for example, should be achieving higher rents than an otherwise similar neighboring property that still uses keys.

Create More Productive Associates

Processing keys for move-in and move-out costs time and money, and site team members have to make unnecessary trips to and from units to open doors and collect keys. Lock-outs, guest access, and package handling all cost time and money for properties still handling access the old-fashioned way.

These inefficiencies are worth removing from property operations, and the efficiency gains are a big motivator for companies choosing to enable their buildings with IoT technology. If we could convert the hours site teams waste each week handling keys into more lead follow-up, more lease renewal outreach, and more maintenance tickets addressed, efficiency gains would accrue.

Consider Different Operating Models

While efficiency gains put more hours back into site teams’ weeks, technologies like smart access also enable operators to change their operating models. Keyless entry is foundational to the self-service leasing model, which can provide operators with the opportunity to centralize some of their leasing.

While access is only one step in creating a different staffing model, it’s arguably the most foundational. In today’s challenging talent environment, operators should not overlook improvements to associate experience. Focusing leasing agents’ time on closing leases creates a better job with a better career progression.

Easier to Market

Some operators find the way that the technology enhances marketing and leasing, creating an even bigger benefit. Tours that showcase beautiful, simple access control tend to be more successful than tours that start with a lockbox, for example.

The reputational benefit of the technology can also be a force multiplier for marketers. Reputation scores have grown in importance to multifamily marketers, amplifying current residents’ digital “word of mouth.” A tech-enabled tour and living experience burnishes the reputation, ultimately improving marketing performance.

Operators tend to use at least one of the above benefits to estimate ROI, and ultimately, plan and execute their smart building projects. Learn more about the ways communities can characterize the benefits and costs and the payback on the technology investments in our four easy-to-read guides.

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