by Todd Katler
With so many changes occurring in multifamily leasing and management, owner/operators are seeking ways to meet the challenges of shifting consumer tastes, ongoing hiring and retention issues and maximizing revenues.
Centralization is the next natural step in the industry’s continued modernization, offering a path to effectively manage prospects, teams and assets while optimizing their use to most benefit your organization’s operational and financial goals.
With all its pluses, centralization requires asking questions about your company, portfolio, personnel and tech. A helpful jumping-off point is a balanced scorecard, which gives an idea of where a property stands on centralization, the ease of adoption and potential challenges.
There are questions your organization needs to ask before moving toward centralization. You can also take a moment to fill out the Anyone Home scorecard to give an idea of where you currently stand in each category.
- What is the density of our properties in sub-markets?
- Are employees willing and capable of traveling between properties during the workday?
The greater the density in a sub-market, the more you can take full advantage of geographical centralization. Cross-property staffing enables the deployment of onsite associates where they’re most needed for leasing or other essential matters. With the continuing challenge of hiring and retention, maximizing your teams helps maximize revenue.
Owner/operators with lower density can still benefit from centralization but need to focus their efforts on other sections.
- Does our company have the ability to execute a strategy across the entire portfolio?
- Do we have the accounting ability to share employees and resources across properties?
- Is there flexibility to address staffing needs through onsite means or a corporate office?
To gain full advantage of centralization, a company needs the ability to execute a strategy across the entire portfolio, share resources and have flexibility.
Without these items in place, each step can be challenging to execute, so centralization requires a slower implementation pace.
- Does my property have assets with complex access points, such as elevator fobs or restricted parking?
- Do any of our properties employ a full-time concierge?
- Are the average number of units at our properties greater than 200?
- Do the properties have community-wide WiFi and cell/data access with few problems?
A property with a lower amount of complex access points, a concierge and excellent WiFi and cell/data access can implement centralization with significantly fewer challenges. These points, along with a larger number of units, will make it easy for potential residents to gain access to self-guided tours of a community.
Numerous complex access points can make centralization more of a challenge. Your organization may need to assess and streamline for centralization. A lack of online access and a smaller area makes it more difficult for centralization to work.
Playbook and Leasing Strategy
- Do we have a defined playbook that outlines the lifecycle of prospects?
- Does our company have a digital way to evaluate actions in the playbook when completed?
- Do we understand the journey a prospect makes to properties across our portfolio and possess a method to preserve the path taken?
- Are our processes for calls and leads highly consistent with follow-up tasks assigned to the right team members?
- Do we have a CRM that allows associates to work from anywhere?
- Have we embraced self-guided tours?
- Are our teams organized and resourced to handle peak demand without redundancy?
- Do our leasing teams capitalize on opportunities to cross-sell to different properties within the portfolio?
- Are our leasing teams effective at identifying and prioritizing high-value leads?
There are more items to address in this final step. You can make all the necessary adjustments to your properties and set all the policies you like, but it comes down to having the right tools and the right teams. Without that, what’s the point and how will it work? Even with the tech, people are still key to successful leasing, and the use of centralization only improves their efforts, providing them the ability to shift focus to the most demanding tasks.
If all of these apply to your organization, you are in an ideal position to make centralization work. If you miss any or all of these points, you will face challenges. This doesn’t mean that you should abandon centralization, but your company will need to take other steps first to get there.
This is a good time to conduct a complete and honest assessment of your portfolio and the way you are managing properties and then start investing in changes that will get to a point where you can obtain the maximum benefits.
Centralization is the future
The apartment industry has made great strides in technology adoption over the last two years, and they’ll need to keep that enthusiasm moving forward. The pandemic necessitated changes to the way multifamily functions, but now these changes are becoming more necessary based on changing buying habits of consumers. It’s also a great opportunity to increase revenues by using your teams and assets in a manner that benefits the company. Larger acceptance of centralization is key to moving the industry further to the future and reaping all the benefits of that choice.