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What you need to know about your apartment management software stack

Learn the critical components of an apartment management software stack, and get 6 tips for building the best property management software tech stack.

What is an apartment management software stack?

An apartment management software stack, or a PropTech stack, is a curated collection of software solutions. They are created uniquely for a property management company and enable, streamline, and improve operations.

Apartment management software made its debut during the dot-com boom. And its growth has accelerated exponentially over the past couple of decades. Advancements in real estate technology and the digitalization of the resident lifecycle have almost eliminated every inefficient manual process of the past.

From marketing to leasing and accounting, the tools in your tech stack shape how residents interact with your company. It plays a critical role in how satisfied your residents are with their living experience, and how easily and accurately your site teams can take care of day-to-day tasks.

The benefits of a comprehensive tech stack for property staff & residents

Apartment management software eliminates the manual processes that bog down your staff and take up their valuable time. So, a well-rounded tech stack can help you run your business more efficiently. It makes work easier for your staff, and scales benefits across your portfolio.

There’s a lot in it for your residents, too.

In a recent survey of over 700 multifamily companies, results showed that property managers think that providing a modern living experience is the most central piece of Resident Experience Management. That’s not so much about the age of the building itself. But rather the apartment management software residents use to interact with property staff and manage their living experience.

How technology has impacted residential real estate

Self-services tools are one of the biggest perks of apartment management software. They allow residents to use online portals or mobile apps to communicate with management, control smart devices, submit maintenance requests, and much more. Ultimately, they eliminate friction and enhance apartment living. That adds value to a community and creates seamless resident experiences.

Digital, self-service, and automated resident touchpoints are becoming increasingly critical elements of a modern multifamily experience. In fact, we found that over 90% of management companies plan to migrate most resident touchpoints to a digital platform by 2022. That is if they haven’t already.

Best practices from tech-savvy property management pros

The PropTech scene is bursting at the seams. For every manual process in property management, you can bet there is a digital solution. These rapid advancements in technology are great for your business. But they can be overwhelming in terms of selection, implementation, and adoption.

We interviewed a few of our most technically-strategic clients who have constructed best-in-class tech stacks for their multifamily companies. They revealed their top apartment management software tips and best practices.

1. Don’t fall for shiny objects

Forty years ago the internet didn’t exist. Now, we have robot assistants in the form of smart speakers telling us the weather forecast and reminding us to take out the trash. With the exponential speed at which technology has evolved, it’s no wonder new tech catches our eye. Advertisements for the latest version of the iPhone will glamorize simple upgrades or a new user interface. And we want it.

Apartment management software has the same effect.

New solutions are emerging all the time. But are you thoroughly vetting if the provider behind the shiny object has a proven track record in the multifamily industry? You don’t want to skip this step. It’s critical to ensure that your provider is familiar with the challenges multifamily operators face. And more importantly, that they have tailored their product offering accordingly.

“A lot of times when new technology will come out, it looks great. It’s flashy. But it’s really not ready to be picked up, and it’s got a lot of kinks to work out.” – Scott Hines, Vice President Of Technology and Revenue at PEM Real Estate Group

2. Don’t be afraid to spend money to make money

Smaller management companies can be too concerned with their budget to spend money on new apartment management software. The harder it is to measure ROI, the less inclined they are to invest. But sometimes the solutions with the highest ROI are the hardest to measure.

“You don’t always see the direct dollar amount. It’s not like you put an amenity in, charge $15 for it, and then see it on your balance sheet. The technology world has this opportunity cost to it that you don’t realize. When you’re not putting it in place, you’re losing out. But it’s really hard to quantify it right away.” – Scott Hines, Vice President Of Technology and Revenue at PEM Real Estate Group

3. Keep your finger on the apartment management software pulse

It’s easy to get lost in the noise if you don’t stay highly involved in the industry. Be sure to connect with experts at the technology companies you trust. They can keep you up-to-speed on what’s new, what’s in-the-works, and what’s actually ready to implement.

Go to industry conferences and learn about the latest apartment management software by exploring the tradeshow hall.

4. Investigate whether they truly integrate

The ability to build and maintain seamless integrations may be the most important consideration when vetting a software provider. Anyone can claim to integrate with your property management system. But the nuts and bolts of the integration can make or break your user experience.

Sales associates can be quick to say their apartment management software integrates with your property management system. This is another area it’s worth doing your due diligence to ensure that is the case.

“If they’re operating off of a legacy-type of integration, there clearly are challenges. It’s at that point we have to ask ourselves if we can live with the experience, which tends to require additional work on our team, or do we have to look elsewhere?” – Shelli Smith, Director of Business Services at Harbor Group

Scott Hines with PEM Real Estate Group recommends having someone on your team with backend technical knowledge attend the demo. They can ask the right questions, such as whether or not it is a truly bidirectional integration.

5. Don’t drag out the implementation of new software for apartment management

Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all apartment management software implementation strategy. Even if you’re rolling out in waves, you never want to let implementation drag on. Because the longer you draw it out, the harder adoption becomes.

Delays in implementation create challenges with training and support. That’s because you will have a hybrid of different technologies in place. If you’re handling implementation, training, and enablement by yourself, or if you’re relying on your asset managers, at some point things could become overwhelming. Top management companies tend to have dedicated trainers and a collection of internal resources. That allows them to efficiently and effectively roll out new solutions across their portfolios.

“Some technology I can roll out across all my properties at once. There’s not a big learning curve – kind of a fire and forget technology. And then other ones, you do want to implement in waves or maybe even beta test.” – Scott Hines, Vice President Of Technology and Revenue at PEM Real Estate Group

Considering the onboarding experience for your site team is just the beginning. You also have to couple that with what type of customer experience you are looking to deliver.

“We want to be able to attract and retain great associates. That has to be a consideration when you’re making these decisions. We’ve done a better job of making sure that, as a company, we don’t have too many things we’re releasing at one time as it could be overwhelming. And when evaluating a new program to implement, we have all workgroups in the room for the product demo to ensure it all makes sense in how we want to run the business.” – Shelli Smith, Director of Business Services at Harbor Group

6. Rely on trusted providers for training & support

Access to implementation and support for each solution is one of the top benefits of best-in-class apartment management software. Most consumers complain about customer service more than the product itself. So pick tech partners that have an established track record of providing top-notch support to site teams and residents.

“Your choice really does matter. If you are looking at onboarding 500+ associates within a half year’ time… you have to train them on all the various systems, which can be a heavy lift.”- Shelli Smith, Director of Business Services at Harbor Group

As you’re choosing your apartment management software, think about the people behind it. Make sure you’re partnering with a reliable, attentive team for when issues arise. Because no technology works perfectly 100% of the time. If you don’t have established relationships and trust with people behind your apartment management software, you can run into a nightmare scenario.

“I definitely will rely on my technology vendors to partner with us, whether it be on rollouts implementation or just on support in general, which is why I’m also very cognizant about who I pick as a technology partner because we do need some support.” – Scott Hines, Vice President Of Technology and Revenue at PEM Real Estate Group

“[With any technology,] there are some pain points, but there are a lot of rewards in having a solid business partnership.”- Shelli Smith, Director of Business Services at Harbor Group

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Learn more about apartment management software stacks

Want to find out what type of tech stack is right for your portfolio? Download our latest eBook, The Ultimate Guide to building a “Best-in-class” PropTech Stack. We offer advice on what type of tech stack structure is best for your portfolio. Plus, we cover what software and digital tools comprise a “best-in-class” PropTech stack.

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