Calendar icon October 10, 2023

20 Top Experts Weigh In On Optimizing the Resident Experience

In today's ever-evolving property management landscape, the focus on resident experience has taken center stage. It's not just about the bricks and mortar anymore; it's about building meaningful experiences, fostering connections, and ensuring residents truly feel at home. 

And have you heard? We published a comprehensive report on just that: The 2023 State of Resident Experience in Single-Family Property Management. The report includes in-depth studies and impact data on the most innovative strategies in property management right now.  

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In the meantime, we’ve curated the top 25 insights about resident experience from 20 experts in the property management industry. These pros have been there, done that, and seen it all. We’ve been fortunate enough to chat with them on podcasts, document detailed interviews, and have in-depth conversations across the country. 

Whether you're curious about the rise of resident benefits packages, seeking inspiration on innovative revenue streams, or want to learn more about automation and AI, read on to hear directly from the experts – or go directly to our in-depth, downloadable report

Why Focusing on Resident Experience is a Strategic Goal

Centering your property management strategy on resident experience isn’t just a nice-to-have – it’s a strategic imperative that drives success and sets industry leaders apart. Here’s how…

“Property Managers who are on the cutting edge realize that by focusing on the resident experience, they will earn better returns on investment for their investor clients.” -Gregg Cohen, Co-Founder of JWB Real Estate Companies

Melissa Gillispie
 
“Resident retention is a direct reflection of your customer experience. If people enjoy working with you, they'll stay. If they don't, they won't. We use resident retention as a key benchmark for measuring our customer service. In our market, we renew 72% of our leases annually. A standard PM benchmark historically is that about a 70% renewal rate for residents is a huge success.” -Melissa Gillispie, Director of Leasing & Property Management at JWB Real Estate

“As the operator of a business, how can I get from something transactional to something transformative – so that people are getting something from me that they aren’t getting from most other businesses.” -Jordan Muela, CEO of LeadSimple

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“We’ve really started to notice that the better experience we can make with the tenants, the more they want to come to us as opposed to our competitors. It's all about the experience. Think about Starbucks. It’s essentially the same cup of coffee as McDonald's. But it's the experience that Starbucks gives you. So we’ve held onto this idea that we want to provide the experience that residents gravitate to.” -Chenoa Stark, Property Manager at American Leasing and Management

“When you're giving that great experience to your residents, you're also giving that great experience to your owners. They have less lost vacancy, they have more care and more respect given to their property, and that's going to protect their assets. That shift in the industry is already happening, and those that are able to make that pivot quickly are going to be able to level themselves up and really get ahead of the curve.” -Kelli Segretto, K Segretto Consulting

Melissa Gillispie
“Happy residents stay longer, take better care of the home, and provide better long-term stability and return on investment for clients. They also spread the good word locally and refer more renters to you. And happy residents are usually nicer, leading to happier staff!” -Melissa Gillispie, Director of Leasing & Property Management at JWB Real Estate

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“When people come into my office and say this is the best experience I’ve ever had, I know we’ve done our job.” -Janet Sprissler, Broker/Owner, Rent 805

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Changes in the Property Management Industry

The evolution of the property management sector has been remarkable. Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all solutions and impersonal transactions. Today, as these insightful quotes highlight, the industry is transforming to meet the increasing demand for personalized, consumer-centric experiences that elevate convenience and satisfaction.

“[W]e’re seeing a huge culture shift in the housing space. How do we provide ease? The Uber or Grubhub mentality of We want it now: How can you do that in the real estate space as well?” -Phil Vera, CEO of Paragon Property Management

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“I think ten years ago, property managers were only concerned with collecting rent and keeping tenants from doing damage to properties. It was a much more adversarial relationship than it is today. Today, the best PMs know that resident experience is vital to minimizing vacancy and creating a resident that strives to be a higher quality tenant.” -Jonathan Cook,  Community Manager at APM Help

“The younger generations we’re dealing with in property management, they want experiences and simplicity, and they’re willing to pay to have things taken care of for them.” -Eric Wetherington, VP of Strategic Initiatives, PURE Property Management

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“What I'm seeing from our residents – whether they're paying $3,000 a month in rent or $1,000 a month in rent – the number one thing that they look for is ease and convenience. They don't want complicated instructions. They just want simple, they want right now. They want contact-free, they don't want to talk to people. So everything we do from showings to move-in to the experience after they move in is all revolved around design for that expectation.” -DD Lee, PURE Property Management

Why More Property Managers are Choosing a Resident Benefits Package (RBP)

Professional property managers are increasingly adopting the multifaceted advantages of the Resident Benefits Package. The quotes below highlight why this holistic approach is rapidly becoming the gold standard in property management – emphasizing the RBP’s value for both residents and property owners alike.

“A resident benefits package – you hear people call it the easy button. That’s because it is essentially all of these different services and all of these different, valuable add-ons for your residents that are done for you.” -Kelli Segretto, K Segretto Consulting

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“As RBP services have evolved to include more products and services – like credit building, identity theft, etc. – they are providing value that affects everyday people. I’ve found that, beyond helping us to stand out in our industry, an RBP means we're actually doing something good for the people that we interact with. It's not just about beating our competition, it's that we're actually providing value that they can really use – services that actually help them for their long-term goals.” -Chenoa Stark, American Leasing and Management

“A resident benefits package alone can result in a 10% bump to revenue per unit, which can result in that 100% increase to profit per unit. This profitability can result in more fuel to your freedom, more fuel to your mission, and realizing all the things you went into business for in the first place.” -Daniel Craig, CEO of ProfitCoach

 

Happier residents

 

Implementing an RBP

Adopting a Resident Benefits Package might seem daunting, but as the insights below will reveal, it’s not as difficult as you might think. 

“The fear (that residents or owners will push back against change) is normal. No one ever wants to say, ‘Hey, you need to pay more money.’ I was the same. But I slowly introduced things like filter delivery, renter's insurance, and ancillary services. What I found was astonishing – nobody pushed back! Out of 300 residents at the time when we first started introducing this, maybe two or three asked, ‘Why why do I need this?’ And we simply explained to them, ‘This is going to make your life easier, and it's not going to cost much more than if you went to the store, spent all that time in the car, and bought it yourself. Plus, you might forget.’ It just made sense to them. Now, we sign residents up as they move in.” -DD Lee, PURE Property Management

“Be ultra-transparent and get it done in the beginning, just saying, we're not hiding anything. This is what you're being enrolled in. This is what it is. I think that helped the adoption rate a little bit. And if people did call in with questions, we were happy to answer them and talk to them about it.” -Kyle Hendricks, VP of Hendricks Property Management

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Automation & AI in Property Management

Leading experts emphasize the pivotal role of automation and artificial intelligence in reshaping the property management industry. Professional property managers are embracing these technologies not just to stay competitive but to elevate the overall resident experience and streamline operations. AI in property management is a big trend to watch.

“People who are against automation say, ‘I don’t like automation because I lose that relationship with my clients.’ I would flip that and say: If I can automate eight of the ten tasks that need to be done, that means I have more time to build the relationships.” -Pete Neubig, CEO of VPM Solutions

“Automation is the great equalizer. It allows us to compete with nationwide companies and to provide not only the same level of service but to be able to pivot and adapt much quicker than those larger companies can. If you're a smaller company, AI and Automation Tech is that equalizer that's going to allow you to shine just as well as these larger companies.” -Wolfgang Croskey, Founder & President of How’s My Rental

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“One of the things I want my clients to think about is that our tech is not just for our benefit. This is not just to make our lives easier and our jobs easier. It's to really be able to reposition our time so that we're focused on value creation.” -Rhianna Campbell, Property Management Consultant, Proper Planning LLC

Innovative Revenue Streams & Ancillary Income

By offering value-added services that residents genuinely need, property managers not only boost their profitability but also create a win-win situation where both parties benefit from added convenience and value.

“Prop tech companies are making the mechanics of property management easy – rent collection, maintenance, screening, the day-to-day mechanics of property management. Thirty years ago, that’s what a property manager did. Now, though, when it comes to things like benefits packages, pet guarantees, and rent guarantees with security deposit alternatives, we can offer much more value.” -Todd Ortscheid, CEO of Revolution Rental Management

“There are so many of these things – when you look through all of the different revenue-generating ideas – that are just good across the board for everybody. [The Triple Win] is where you should focus your efforts when you’re trying to bring in the most revenue and do the most good.” -Todd Ortscheid, CEO of Revolution Rental Management

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“When considering a service like pest control, our approach is, 'How can we take this off the property manager’s plate?’ We aim to create ancillary revenue for them, take an annoying task off their list, and enhance the resident experience.” -Landon Cooley, Co-Founder & CEO at Pest Share

“Security deposits and tenant screening are two fascinating areas of real estate that tech companies are attempting to disrupt. Traditional security deposits are starting to become passé in some jurisdictions.” -Peter Lohmann, Co-founder & CEO of RL Property Management

“I think the type of initiatives that we're having success with are those things that provide an enhanced lifestyle for our tenants or residents. And that's all often driven via surveys and input from residents. So instead of us pretending that we know every potential amenity they would like, we’re actually reaching out to them and asking them what the value proposition would be from their perspective.” -Steve Pardon, CEO of JMAX Property Management

Hiring for Single-Family Rental Property Management (vs. Multifamily)

Looking to hire this year? Single-family rentals have their own unique set of challenges and nuances that set them apart from multifamily units. Here’s a great tip from Matthew Whitaker to close us out.

“When you add multiple investors and then the logistics of single-family, it becomes a much more complicated business. If you’re going to pull from the multifamily industry, you’re going to have to make sure that you’re hiring some of the best and brightest from that industry because, again, dealing with 300 homes and 50 investors is way more complicated than a 300-unit apartment community all together with one investor.” -Matthew Whitaker, Founder & CEO at Evernest

Ready to Learn More?

Wrapping things up, it's clear: nailing the resident experience is the secret sauce to elevating property management services and driving value for residents, investors, and your property management company. 

If you want even deeper insights into driving resident retention and investor value, check out our State of Resident Experience Report. The report deep-dives with studies on the value and impact of innovative property management services and explores the changing shape of the property management industry. 

Keep learning

Chambers Theory Endorses Second Nature’s Resident Benefits Package

Chambers Theory is a world-renowned property management team with clients in more than 30 countries worldwide. They specialize in serving the U.S. military, State Department, and Foreign Services families. Their motto “Real Estate With Intelligence” is more than just a saying. It’s on full display through the introductory videos for landlords and residents on their website in seven languages (Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Vietnamese, French, Croatian, and English) - all spoken fluently by their own property management (PM) team. Since its founding in 2018, Chambers Theory has been achieving extraordinary performance benchmarks. They’ve led the marketplace in delivering the “Golden Triangle of Success” to their clients, which means the lowest vacancy, the highest average rents, and the highest quality of tenants of any property management firm in its same service area. They’ve also donated over $100,000 to local charities and community organizations, while also leading the way in promoting sustainability practices in real estate and property management services. Their outstanding team attributes their success to their ability to develop and utilize their emotional intelligence skills to capacity to care with all their interactions with both landlords and residents. That’s why they fully endorse the Resident Benefits Package at Second Nature! Find out more about what a Resident Benefits Package is, its benefits, and how it can help create a Triple Win for you, as well as your residents and investors. Related: The State of Resident Experience Report

Calendar icon July 18, 2024

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Investor Experience Platform™️ IXP™️

An Investor Experience Platform™️ (IXP) in property management is a suite of products, services, and benefits offered by property management companies to property investors. Just like a resident benefits package is a way to drive value for residents, investors, and property managers, the IBP™️ is an innovative approach to property management that focuses on driving value for an investor's assets and turning that value into profit for the property management company. In this article, we’ll dig into the different features that an Investor Experience Platform™️ can include, and how those benefit not just investors, but property managers and residents, too. What Is an Investor Experience Platform™️ (IXP)? As stated above, an Investor Experience Platform™️ (IXP™️) is a comprehensive suite of services that offer property investors higher quality property management, stability, and profit. An IBP™️ typically includes concierge-level services beyond basic property management – such as property insurance policies, eviction guarantees, rent guarantees, maintenance plans, asset performance reports, etc. These services are aimed at maximizing the investor’s assets, stability and convenience, profitability, and peace of mind in managing their properties. They're commonly managed through an investor experience platform to securely manage and monitor the performance of these assets online, which we'll discuss later. The first step to outlining an IBP™️ is to define what your basic management fee means and covers. If the answer is, it’s collecting rent, handling maintenance, and general communication – does that include maintenance coordination or is that a separate fee? Does it include asset reporting or is that an additional service? In your management agreement, define what the management fee is, what it covers, and how much it is. An IBP™️ can be an effective tool for articulating the new and differentiated things that an investor wouldn’t be able to do on their own and that you are offering beyond basic property management. Articulate your unique and differentiated services (IBP™️) and use that as a tool for positioning and charging for what it’s worth. What’s Included in An Investor Experience Platform™️? An Investor Experience Platform™️ should include a range of solutions to help deliver consistency, insight, and asset protection to a property owner’s portfolio. After all, professional property managers don’t have to be functional managers of a home – they can be strategic partners in the management of financial assets. You might hear services similar to the IBP™️ called an “owner benefit package,” but at Second Nature, we believe that the “investor” term is useful in encouraging a longer-term mindset, and emphasizes the economic value professional property management can bring. According to Eric Wetherington, VP of Strategic Initiatives at PURE Property Management: “As property managers, we need to think more like asset managers. This client made an investment, and we should be guiding that client through managing that investment, not just collecting rent.” To build and manage a winning IBP™️, property managers need an Investor Experience Platform that unlocks scalable product and service customization, digitized onboarding, accounting policy automation, and more. In addition, Investor Experience Platforms provide transparency and convenience for your investors. Here are some of the most valuable services that property managers can offer through an innovative Investor Experience Platform™️. Property insurance program Similar to offering a renters insurance program through an RBP in the lease agreement, property management companies can offer an insurance plan to investors to cut costs and ensure the safety of their assets. Most management agreements will include the requirement that the investor carries insurance on the property and that the property manager is additionally insured. But what if you as the property manager could help manage that for the investor – at scale? Property Insurance for investors should have dynamic pricing based on individual investors’s property portfolio and needs. The benefit beyond flexibility is the savings they’ll see on their premiums while also getting insurance that’s tailored to the needs of their specific property class. At Second Nature, we work primarily with single-family rental properties and small multi-family residences. Property Insurance Programs can bring scale that will drive economic value for the investor over what they could get retail on their own. They’d still have the option to go get their own insurance that meets requirements, but they can pay you a small fee to manage it for them. Rent guarantee An IBP™️ can include a number of financial guarantees to protect property investors and drive ancillary revenue for PMCs. A rent guarantee, or rent protection, ensures a consistent rental income to investors by protecting them against resident defaults or non-payment of rent. If a resident fails to pay rent, the property management company covers the unpaid amount and takes necessary steps for eviction or collection, providing financial security and minimizing the risk for property owners. Rent guarantees work for professional property management companies that have enough properties to balance the loss of rent if a resident doesn’t pay. The risk is low and the additional profit from fees for this guarantee can have a very high ROI, while driving satisfaction and stability for the investor. Plus, if you’re using services in an RBP to help incentivize on-time rent payments, you’ll rarely find yourself out in the cold. Eviction protection guarantee An eviction protection guarantee also goes beyond the normal scope of property management services and can be used as a secondary source of revenue. Eviction Protection is a service provided by property management companies to property investors that offers additional security and financial protection in the event of an eviction. Under this guarantee, the property management company assumes the costs associated with the eviction process, including legal fees and court expenses. It helps alleviate the financial burden on property investors and provides peace of mind by ensuring that they are safeguarded against potential losses resulting from resident evictions. The eviction guarantee helps protect property owners from the complexities and potential costs associated with evictions, ensuring a smooth and efficient resolution to tenant-related issues. Pet guarantees & other guarantees A pet guarantee is a service offered by property management companies to property investors that aims to address any potential issues related to allowing pets in rental properties. It typically involves implementing policies and procedures to ensure responsible pet ownership, such as thorough pet screening, pet agreements, and collecting additional pet deposits or fees. The pet guarantee may also include services like pet damage insurance or assistance with pet-related issues during the lease term. It provides property investors with a framework to accommodate residents with pets while minimizing risks and maintaining the condition of the property. For many residents, finding a pet-friendly apartment increases retention and profitability. They’re willing to stay longer and pay more for a pet-friendly place. And–get this–pet damage is less likely to happen than damage from kids! It’s not a huge risk to the asset, but can provide a big benefit in terms of satisfied, longer-term residents. Maintenance plan Home warranties are a four-letter word for property managers. They’re a massive headache to deal with, and yet there’s high demand for them among property investors. Because of that, most property managers charge a fee for home warranties, for each they have to file. Imagine if there was a world where home warranties weren’t needed. Here’s the thing: Professional property managers already have the vendor network and the know-how to coordinate maintenance jobs. What they don’t usually have is a product that’s priced to give the investor the experience they want. Let’s say right now an investor is paying $50 a month for a cheap home warranty. The warranty only covers 40% of issues and it creates all these extra people and friction in the middle. For anything moderately significant that goes wrong with a property, PMCs generally must contact the investor for permission to get work done. It’s all a massive hassle and loses time in maintenance requests that leave residents frustrated. What if there was a product that costs, say, $150 to $200 a month but it actually covered everything? Instead of having sudden expenses and emergencies, this maintenance plan smooths out the experience and makes it more predictable for the investor. For PMs, it means taking the initiative on fixes without waiting for approval. Imagine a world where you didn’t have to get owner approvals for 95% of maintenance issues – because they’re already budgeted for and already paid for. For residents, it means better maintenance, and faster. Another Triple Win! Asset performance reports Another piece focuses on property managers as asset managers. Think about any investment app, like Robinhood, Acorns, etc. You can log in to these apps any time, 24/7, and see how your stock and investments are performing. In most investment classes, you can see in real time how your assets are performing. Why shouldn’t property investors have that as well? An IBP™️ can include exactly that: a dashboard or online portal that shows investors regular reports on how their property is doing. They could get updates on the value of their home over time, the home price appreciation, rent price over time, and project rent growth, typically maintenance costs and how they’re doing against that, and more. Resident Benefits Package Another piece to include in your IBP™️ is to highlight the benefits of your resident benefits package to your investors. Explain how features like a filter delivery program protect their assets and reduce HVAC repair costs. Show how a renters insurance program can ensure coverage and protection. Give numbers on how credit reporting incentivizes on-time rental payments and helps ensure financially stable renters. Explain how a movie-in concierge saves both time, headache, and money. Each of the pillars of an RBP is critical to encouraging better resident behavior, increasing renter retention and lease renewal rates, reducing vacancies, and more – all primary goals for a property investor. A note about Rent Advance Programs There’s been due buzz about “Rent Advance” offerings, though many advise caution when approaching this financial product. It works in some ways like cash advance programs, which can satisfy urgent needs, but not be more valuable for anyone long term. The way it works is PMs offer to send a year of rent upfront to the investor in a big chunk, and collect monthly from the resident. The investor typically pays a 5-10% premium on the advance, which can be their entire expected return. So the question becomes, where do they put that cash to get a better return instead? Another thing to think about is who would actually use this product. Investors who don’t have enough cash on hand? How does that benefit anyone in the long run? What happens when there’s a big maintenance bill later? Does this encourage better decisions and practices by the investor? To date, there’s been pretty low adoption of this program, which is another sign it may not be hugely beneficial to everyone involved. But plenty of innovations start that way, evolve, and find traction. One case where it might be a value generator is if an investor is looking to take a cash advance and put it toward a down payment for another house. That would benefit the property manager as well, promising more business, and the PM could offer a lower rate for getting more properties to make the financing more attractive than hard money loans or other alternatives. The jury is still out here, it’s an interesting one to track. How Can Investors and Property Managers Benefit From an Investor Experience Platform™️? Investors and property managers can benefit from an Investor Experience Platform™️ in several ways. They’re also great for residents in the sense they build more stability and quality into the renting process. Here are just some of the benefits of an IBP™️. Enhanced investor attraction An Investor Experience Platform™️ provides incentives and advantages that can attract more investors. Financial guarantees and protections against the risks associated with evictions or late payments can increase stability, while services like a maintenance plan can ensure premium care of their property assets without increasing their workload. By offering attractive perks, property managers can differentiate their offerings and generate greater investor interest. Increased investor retention Both IBP™️s and RBPs help build loyalty with residents and investors. By fostering a strong relationship and demonstrating ongoing value, property managers can build trust and loyalty among investors, and retain them over the long term. IBP™️s help establish the stability, transparency, and asset growth for a real estate investment that an investor hopes to achieve. Improved property performance An Investor Experience Platform™️ can also contribute to improved property performance. For example, by offering discounted property management fees or access to professional services at reduced rates, property managers can help investors optimize their returns and reduce costs. Additionally, incentives such as rent guarantees or eviction protection can mitigate risk for investors and attract more capital to the property. Streamlined communication and transparency A well-designed Investor Experience Platform™️ facilitates effective communication and promotes transparency between property managers and investors. This can involve regular reporting on financial performance, property updates, and the sharing of relevant market insights. Transparent and consistent communication builds trust and confidence among investors, fostering a positive and long-lasting relationship. Competitive advantage A comprehensive Investor Experience Platform™️ can give property managers a competitive edge in the market. When investors have access to exclusive benefits and advantages, they are more likely to choose a property managed by a company that offers a compelling package – and to recommend it to others. Say hello to increased investment inflow and a stronger market position for your PMC. Should You Make an Investor Experience Platform™️ Mandatory? The first thing most property managers ask us when we’re talking about an RBP or an IBP™️ is: Should I make this mandatory for all investors or do I make it a flexible opt-in/opt-out program? Unlike RBPs, where best practices are more proven and established, different PMs are taking different approaches with their IBP™️s. Some have a mandatory level of service set at a flat price. Others may say they’re fine offering a base level of service without these differentiated products, giving investors the choice to simply pay a baseline management fee and opt out of the IBP™️ premium service. Some may offer a baseline to all investors and then give them the chance to opt in for premium IBP™️ services. There are a lot of ways to do it. With the RBP, we’ve found that making it mandatory does not generate nearly as much pushback as people expect – and can be a strong value add overall. Final Thoughts About an Investor Experience Platform™️ The Investor Experience Platform™️ is an innovative way to generate ancillary income and create more value for investors and residents. Similar to Second Nature’s premier Resident Benefits Package, the IBP™️ can deliver high-quality service for investor experience – and help create a triple win for investors, residents, and property management companies. The IBP™️ reinforces the value of a professional property management company for investors and helps differentiate you from the crowd. Stay tuned to learn more about the latest in the IBP™️ space, or learn more about how a resident benefits package can launch a whole new level of value for your PMC.

Calendar icon July 17, 2024

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