Home Depot: Trends at NAA 2015

With topics of conversation spanning growth opportunities and current business practices, the multi-housing community united to discuss the needs of property managers and how suppliers can best meet those needs.
scott matthews in focus

This year’s National Apartment Association (NAA) Education Conference & Exposition attracted more than 9,000 attendees and 425 exhibitors. With topics of conversation spanning growth opportunities and current business practices, the multi-housing community united to discuss the needs of property managers and how suppliers can best meet those needs.

Looking ahead

  • Capturing a new audience: Approximately 35 percent of all U.S. households are rentals, and 51 percent of those in rental housing are under 30 years old, according to the National Multifamily Housing Council. While all eyes are currently on Millennials for marketing prospective renters, an even bigger demographic is on the rise. Fast Company notes that this Post-Millennial group–dubbed Generation Z–already makes up one quarter of the U.S. population and will account for 40 percent of all consumers by 2020. Many property managers already are planning and implementing tactics for reaching and influencing this new generation that will undoubtedly bring unprecedented knowledge and adoption of technology.
  • Increased need for technology and web presence: Another trend we heard from property managers is the need for a strong web presence. Residents already expect a simple, intuitive online resource they can access 24/7 for paying rent and scheduling maintenance appointments. To help stand out from competitors, it’s increasingly important to make sure the website is easy to navigate and offers an appealing aesthetic. This is a great tool for attracting new residents and facilitates the opportunity to create a community with your residents–enabling two-way communication between you and your residents. Once the web presence is established, digital marketing tactics like search engine optimization can help increase traffic to the website.

Maintaining current benefits

  • Convenience and cost savings: Saving time and money is a resounding and ongoing need for property managers that echoed throughout NAA. To help meet this need, suppliers are partnering with software companies such as Yardi and RealPage to help property managers easily access inventory and enable purchasing across a variety of different ERP systems. At the same time, suppliers are working with these companies to help personalize the experience for property managers with profiles that will help track activity and automatically compile and apply available discounts.
  • Amenities: Competition remains fierce in the multi-housing community, making it more important than ever to “sweat the small stuff.” Property managers can make simple and unexpected upgrades to leave a strong impression on potential residents. If budget allows, hire an interior decorator to redesign the leasing office and spec apartments using quality materials, finishes and furnishings that excite potential residents and set units apart from competitors’. Upgrade to solid surface countertops, or refresh your fitness center with new equipment and finishing touches like flat screen TVs, flowers and free water. Entice residents to the pool with a welcoming archway and seasonal flowers. Group matching tables, chairs and umbrellas like Hampton Bay to create an inviting gathering space around the pool or other common area.
  • Maintenance, repair and operations (MRO): While not as charming as aesthetic updates, maintenance remains a critical component with property managers. Ensuring inventory is up-to-date for these last-minute requests is key. Suppliers with national footprints can offer quick delivery options–such as The Home Depot’s Pro Direct program–and other advantages that make it easier for property and facility managers to minimize on-site storage and reduce the costs associated with holding that inventory on site.

Scott Matthews is responsible for managing national accounts and e-commerce while overseeing business-to-business relationships. During his 25 years at The Home Depot, he has served in a variety of roles and capacities, including regional pro sales manager, district manager and store manager.