A relative newcomer to the multifamily industry, Dasmen Residential has enjoyed significant growth in the last couple of years, thanks in large part to their commitment to innovation and focus on technology. The company owns and manages 9,000 units in Alabama, North Carolina and Arizona, with some additional managed units in New Orleans. They are very “value add” oriented, which has resulted in heavy renovations for most of their sites, and changes to programs and site offerings.
“We’re a young company that is always thinking outside the box to stay ahead of the game,” said Sean Landsberg, vice president of operations at Dasmen. Sean was kind enough to grant us an interview for this article and share the story about how Dasmen came to embrace Smart Home Automation technology and what it has meant for their company.
“Smart home is something we always knew we wanted to implement,” stated Landsberg. “We wanted to be one of the first companies to bring smart home to the multifamily market in the form of smart apartments. At first, we went the DIY route by trying to integrate a number of popular Smart Home components – a Nest thermostat, a Quickset smart lock, a Ring video doorbell, and some other pieces. We put together a nice package for our residents.
“We quickly discovered that the resident would have to download several different apps to manage their ‘smart apartment.’ And when a resident moved out, we had to go in to each unit and factory reset all the hardware. We had no management platform. That’s when we realized our DIY approach was not going to work.
“As we were asking ourselves ‘now what?’ we were contacted by PointCentral asking if we’re interested in an enterprise Smart Home system. Their timing couldn’t have been better.”
I find that it’s important to point out the differences between consumer-level Smart Home products that so many of us see on the market and an enterprise-grade Smart Home system. Consumer products are designed to provide Smart Home automation for a single type of user (resident or property manager) to a single property, everything from locks and lights to thermostats and video cameras. The major players in this market are numerous and growing – Nest, Amazon, Google, Apple, Samsung, Philips, Belkin/WeMo, Ring – to name just a few.
Enterprise Smart Home systems expands this concept beyond the individual residence (Residence Automation) to a coordinated symphony across the entire property (Property Automation) by giving the right control, to the right user, at the right time in a secure and reliable way, with a minimal amount of involvement from the property manager. To do this, workflows such as unattended showings, thermostat control, HVAC analytics or work order access control, are automated along the property lifecycle as a unit moves from vacant to occupied and back to vacant. Plus, the property manager is able to get real-time data from a central dashboard, email notifications or through PMS integrations. This enterprise level of property automation makes it ideal for property managers managing everything from 10 to 10 thousand units, in short or long-term settings, to realize operational savings while at the same time giving guests and residents an in-demand amenity.
“The management platform was key,” added Landsberg. “We needed a way to control the systems. When a resident moves out, I can instantly delete their lock code, block them from the system and not allow them access. It’s pretty amazing.”
“And the fact that PointCentral integrates with Yardi, our property management software, will allow us to automate much of the process, so that when a resident moves out, for example, the system can automatically notify all the relevant parties and assign them temporary unique access codes.”
The benefits that Dasmen has enjoyed from their enterprise Smart Home system are numerous, not the least of which is new revenue. Home Automation technology has allowed them to add a premium of $20 or more per month to the rent on Smart Apartments. Research from Wakefield and Schlage backs this up – 86 percent of Millennial renters and 65 percent of baby boomer renters are willing to pay more for a unit outfitted with Smart Home.
“When we surveyed some of our residents,” said Landsberg, “asking if they would like someone to contact them with more information about the Smart Home packages, we had more than 500 people respond in the affirmative (almost 40 percent!). People love having the ability to lock and unlock their doors when they’re at work or let the kids in remotely.”
2017 research by the Shelton Group for the National Apartment Association backs this up…68 percent of U.S. renters were “somewhat interested” to “extremely interested” in receiving information about how to make their apartment more efficient. With PointCentral’s smart thermostat, residents can save 10 percent to 15 percent on their monthly electric bill, saving green both in their wallet and in the environment.
But even more important than the new revenue stream, Smart Home delivers tremendous operational efficiencies.
“Going keyless has had a positive impact on our operations,” continued Landsberg. “Let’s say your average property is 200 to 300 units. That means you have 200 to 300 keys in the office that need to be managed. These are large sites with maintenance personnel coming and going all the time. Key tracking is a big part of the day-to-day operations. Who has this key? Where is this key? Log this key in, log this key out. It never stops. You also have lock outs which make up a percentage of the after-hours phone calls from residents. We pay people overtime to handle those calls.
“PointCentral’s home automation platform was designed for the needs of property managers. When a vendor needs access to a unit, I send the access code to their phone. The system records who entered the unit and when. When the vendor leaves, their access code is automatically deleted.”
Landsberg concluded, “From an ROI perspective, Smart Home has been incredibly lucrative for us. The costs are lower than our renovations and don’t require anywhere near the management resources. Plus, with Smart Home, our vacancy loss is zero. We can offer Smart Home to any resident at any time without having to wait for their lease to end and can wait until the unit is rented before installing. We make money and improve operations. It’s really amazing!”
PointCentral thanks Sean Landsberg and Dasmen Residential for contributing to this article.
Sean Miller is president of PointCentral, a subsidiary of Alarm.com. PointCentral provides short and long-term property managers with an enterprise-class solution that monitors and controls Smart Home technology across all properties in their inventory over a best-in-class secure and reliable network – increasing property awareness, reducing operational costs and improving guest and resident satisfaction. PointCentral’s solutions allow property managers to realize operational efficiencies, while 86 percent of Millennial renters and 65 percent of baby boomer renters are willing to pay more for a property with Smart Home automation.
Prior to PointCentral, Sean was global director of sales and business development for Belkin International where he lead the sales and business development team for WeMo, Belkin’s Connected Home/IoT division. Before WeMo, Sean held several positions with Generac, including director of remote monitoring (Mobile Link), where he led the creation of a new business unit around an IOT/M2M solution that connected the company’s standby generators to customers, dealers and Generac corporation.
Sean has an MBA from Kenan-Flagler at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Occidental College. Sean resides in Redondo Beach, CA with his wife and their two lovely daughters.