by Lucas Haldeman
When most people think about “smart home technology,” they immediately envision smart thermostats and lighting, maybe even door locks, doorbells and motion sensors. They think hardware. But it is the software side of smart home tech that has the biggest impact on the bottom line.
Physical products – which also include cameras, lock boxes, plug-ins, readers, dimmer switches, leak and moisture detectors, parking sensors and hubs – make up the visible aspects of smart home technology. But what’s happening under the surface is just as important. Individually, the features and capabilities of each piece of hardware delivers a direct benefit to residents and property managers. Compatible and fully integrated devices create far more comprehensive advantages.
It is the software side of smart home solutions that creates a next-level experience for residents and site teams. When hardware is connected and managed using a singular interface, invaluable efficiencies are introduced that have a real impact on operating budgets.
One of the best examples of smart home software expanding on the individual benefits of smart hardware is found in self-guided touring. The Internet of Things (IoT) created through smart home products effectively guides prospective residents throughout their tour.
When prospects arrive and begin their tour at an integrated smart home community, they start by utilizing a smart access solution for contactless community access. Initiation of the tour simultaneously generates a notification to office and site staff. From there, interactive maps and geolocation services create a seamless prospect experience and enable site teams to pinpoint a prospect’s location. Smart access controls can be set to grant access, via a prospect’s mobile device, to select homes, common areas and amenity spaces throughout the community. The customizable software facilitates a seamless and hands-free tour experience. Site teams can also remotely customize thermostat settings, lighting and motion-activated prompts to set an ideal environment and further demonstrate a level of sophistication and professionalism to the prospect.
At the conclusion of the tour, the touring software automatically prompts prospects to complete a survey about their experience and provides information to start the application process. Leasing teams are also notified at the tour’s conclusion so they can follow up with the prospect in a timely manner. By connecting the smart hardware that goes into self-guided touring via smart software, operators also bolster lease conversion, reduce labor costs and optimize property performance.
Similarly, smart software solutions enhance the benefits of smart home hardware for maintenance teams. Digital maintenance workflow platforms can be equipped with smart access credentials, providing technicians with home access for requested repairs. Cloud-based access systems enable hands-free access, which can be crucial for technicians carrying parts or tools and eliminates the need to backtrack to the maintenance office for keys. Software-supported devices like leak detectors and humidity sensors can be set to generate real-time alerts to maintenance teams when an issue is identified.
The integrations optimize response times, prevent property damage and limit the cost of repairs. They also make maintenance teams far more efficient, reducing staffing needs and labor expenses by enabling teams to do more in less time.
Most importantly, the software supporting smart home hardware can integrate with property management systems (PMS) and customer relationship management (CRM) platforms to consolidate data and controls. By using a software hub to connect devices and function as the brain of a smart home, users can remotely update multiple device settings from a single app.
By establishing one dashboard to remotely manage the entire community, including its smart home IoT, management companies have the ability to drive enhanced property performance and create a truly connected community. When leveraging that improved efficiency in both the renter and associate experience, operators increase resident and employee satisfaction, leading to improved renewal rates and reduced associate turnover. At the property level, these outcomes have a considerable impact on both the bottom line and overall asset value. When deployed across an entire portfolio, smart software gives property managers a solid competitive advantage.