Living the Life of Ease: Self-Service Technology

Michael Slovin from XFINITY Communities shares three main means through which technologies can ease the daily burdens for a property manager.

Michael Slovin

The life of a property manager is hectic, it is not a 9-to-5 position. There may be calls in the middle of the night due to a broken pipe, or for something as simple as a resident locked out of their apartment. On an average day, a property manager will handle multiple maintenance requests, interact with repair personnel, respond to resident issues, collect rents, show apartments, and more. Essentially, a multifamily property manager must be the ‘jack of all trades’ to juggle the various tasks required to keep everything running smoothly for residents.

With the industry already experiencing a housing shortage for rental units and more individuals and families opting to rent rather than purchase a home, the demand for multifamily properties—and efficient management—will only continue to rise. Additionally, properties are adding more amenities and common spaces to attract residents, which lead to more tasks and areas for the property manager to oversee. The struggle to keep all these spaces along with maintenance, rent/leasing responsibilities and prompt customer service for resident requests is becoming overwhelming. 

Yet, the outlook is not altogether bleak. Technology can assist in streamlining many of these daily activities, helping managers to focus on larger tasks and projects and hopefully allowing them to relax a bit more. There are three main means through which self-service technology can ease the daily burden for a property manager.

Smart buildings provide remote management

Smart home technology is becoming widely popular among residents as they seek to control their environment and appliances with the sound of their voice or through an app on their phone. According to Statista, this popularity will continue to take off—it’s projecting the global smart home market to grow to approximately $40.9 billion by 2020.

Smart home technology, such as remote-controlled locks, thermostats and appliances, can simplify the life of the resident by automating many manual processes and allowing for remote control over the unit. It also gives the residents more control and less of a dependence on the property staff. For instance, if they lose a key with a standard lock, the manager must physically meet them at their location, check ID, arrange for the lock to be changed and be available to let them in. A remote-controlled door lock eliminates this extra work for the property manager.

Additionally, the launch of smart building technologies is assisting with streamlined management of common areas along with unoccupied units. From the comfort of their office, property managers can turn lights on and off, control thermostats, monitor for water leaks and more. Instead of having to patrol these areas, property staff can maximize their time through remote management.  

Apps and portals put the resident (and manager) in charge

Self-service technology is extremely important not only for the management of smart home appliances and unit maintenance, but for current third-party services such as entertainment, internet, food and other goods. Residents want— and expect—fast response to ordering services and products. When there is an issue, the property manager is the first contact many will ask for assistance.

When moving into a new residence, managers are the first people that residents turn to for help scheduling service visits for internet, entertainment and other services. A property manager must be ready to answer any questions, offer help with simple technology issues and troubleshooting, manage technician visits, etc. With the use of self-service portals, managers can simply find the information to quickly address the resident’s concerns and assist with any issues.

High-performance communication networks keep everything running smoothly

While smart home and building technologies, self-service portals and apps are great, none of it can function without an effective, high-performance communications network. The need for technology connections are paramount. According to an April 2017 XFINITY Communities survey, 87 percent of multifamily property managers reported that technology plays either an extremely or very important role in keeping residents satisfied. 

This technology network not only enables residents to remain connected in their units, but in many cases, across the entire property through Wi-Fi services. Managers also rely heavily on it to stay connected as they visit with residents, check various areas on the property and engage with vendors. It ensures managers are responsive to residents, calls are not dropped, emails are not lost, and issues are addressed as they arise.

While property managers have to juggle many activities to keep their residents happy and their sites operating smoothly, self-service technology helps to simplify many of these tasks. As a result, managers have more time to relax and focus on interacting with residents to provide a high-value customer experience.

Michael Slovin is Comcast’s vice president of National Field Sales. In this role he manages the Direct Sales and XFINITY Communities sales channels. Slovin is responsible for national sales, field operations, marketing and developing programs that improve the community and resident experience. In addition, he is also responsible for identifying and launching new business opportunities and markets for XFINITY Communities. 

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