by Demetrios Barnes
The age of property technology that solves for only one on-site issue was bright but brief. Multifamily operators quickly recognized that the most powerful drivers of NOI are technology solutions that serve a primary function while also complementing or enhancing other proptech. Those synergies between tech solutions establish efficiencies and create an Internet of Things (IoT) that delivers benefits greater than the collective sum of its parts.
Operators are now realizing they can spread those synergies across all areas of operations and levels of their organization. When the entire company is provided access to the performance and benefits of synced smart home solutions and digital platforms, further opportunities can be identified and property performance optimized.
Here are a few key areas where operational synergies deliver the greatest impact.
When an apartment community has its proptech solutions working in harmony, prospective residents feel it when they first step foot on the property. Operators deliver next-level tour experiences when smart lighting and thermostats are preset for optimal conditions, and smart access controls are set to facilitate seamless navigation throughout designated homes and common areas. Self-guided touring platforms connected to smart property features enable prospects to experience the difference for themselves, creating a positive first impression and boosting application and conversion rates.
Through connected smart home technologies, on-site, centralized or after-hours associates have the ability to remotely respond to resident needs. When a guest, delivery person or vendor requires access, associates can provide temporary cloud-based credentials in real time without needing to physically bring keys to a door or gate. Parking management can be conducted through the same dashboard. Via real-time video and sensors, operators can open garage gates or locate available parking to assist residents, guests or vendors. They can also manage parking reservations and promptly identify and resolve parking violations. Proactive or timely responses to common resident needs and concerns improve resident satisfaction and retention, powering rent growth and NOI.
Smart devices like smart thermostats, smart lighting, smart blinds and smart plugs create their own in-home network of controls that enables residents to optimize their home environment through minimal energy usage. They can be controlled remotely, as well, so renters can turn off or reduce energy use if fixtures were inadvertently left on. Some of the greatest benefits of such smart home devices come into play when management companies also have the ability to control in-home settings. Operators can automate a “vacant mode” for apartment homes when a resident moves out, turning off lights and customizing climate controls for optimal cost and energy reductions. They can also install leak detection and humidity monitoring sensors in homes to generate alerts at the first sign of plumbing issues, preventing both property damage and unnecessary water usage. Through product connectivity and oversight, smart home technologies substantially reduce a community’s energy and water consumption, reducing operating costs. From a corporate standpoint, a demonstrated commitment to sustainability may also prove appealing to green-minded investors.
Opportunities for Innovation
Ideas for further implementations are born when more members of the organization – from the C-suite to maintenance – have visibility into the efficiencies and cost savings created through complementary solutions and IoT systems. Technology deployed at the property level may have portfolio-wide applications. Aspects of a maintenance workflow system may prove useful at corporate offices. Data analytics may reveal unexpected benefits or opportunities for further optimizations.
Like proptech that enhances the performance of other products, organizations grow and evolve through connectivity, overlap in the corporate structure, visibility into processes and exposure to new ideas. Those ideas will largely come from outside the organization, meaning synergies with supplier partners are equally important. Complete product integration with existing systems is just the baseline. A mutual understanding of the targeted problem, along with a shared vision for the solution and partnership, is essential. Supplier support teams fully invested in the success of the operator can lead to further technology development and mutually beneficial innovation.
Partnerships with technology providers committed to optimized asset performance can lead to not just connectivity at the property level, but collaborations that help to drive the entire industry forward.