Skip to main content

Managing Change and Systems for Success in Multifamily Operations

Join Charles and Yolanda as they continue to discuss sessions from RETCON 2024, focusing on effective change management, navigating the hurdles of system integration, and overcoming system failures in multifamily operations. Hear real-world examples of how to tackle complex data challenges and manage change effectively using psychological strategies to ease transitions and frameworks for successful implementation. Tune in to Part 2 to learn how to ensure high user adoption and maintain seamless operations in your multifamily properties.

Listen to the episode below and subscribe to The Resident Experience Podcast for more episodes.

Insights on Overcoming Multifamily Operational Hurdles

Introduction (0:00 - 01:25)
Yolanda and Charles welcome listeners back for part two of their discussion on insights from RETCON panel discussions that were posted on Revyse, a community hub for multifamily operators. These panels focus on critical aspects of multifamily operations such as change management and system failure.

Psychological Reorientation and Change Management (01:25 - 05:25)
Yolanda and Charles discuss the importance of proper change management, highlighting insights on handling psychological aspects of change. They emphasize the need for psychological reorientation even in positive changes and framing change from a loss perspective to ensure smooth transitions.

Purpose-Driven KPIs and System Complexity (05:25 - 09:57)
The hosts explore how to define and align success KPIs with the adoption purpose and discuss examples of system complexity in multifamily properties. They emphasize the importance of integrated systems and centralized data intelligence to prevent failures.

On-Site Staff Insights and Resident Focus (09:57 - 11:45)
Analogy of on-site staff as the "fingerprints" of the system is explored, stressing the importance of listening to staff feedback. Yolanda and Charles  discuss the need to balance business objectives with resident experiences, recognizing residents as a finite and valuable resource.

Conclusion & The Good News (11:45 - 14:10)
The hosts wrap up the discussion and introduce the Good News segment, sharing positive updates and achievements from the multifamily community. Listeners are encouraged to submit their Good News for future episodes.

Send in Good News to Share on the Show

We want to hear your good news! Have a recent multifamily win? Maybe you have a personal growth story. Whatever the good word is, let us know and we'll highlight it in the good news of the week.

Send a Show Shoutout

Share with us your good news and we’ll highlight it on the next show. Good news can be anything - a successful initiative, a fantastic resident review, or even a shout out to a work colleague or friend. Heck, go ahead and promote yourself. Maybe you just earned your CPM or CAAM. Whatever it is, we’d love to hear it. There’s enough stress and anxiety in multifamily, so help us shine a brighter light on what’s going right.

Episode Transcript

Yolanda Muchnik:
Hello and welcome back multifamily pros. Today’s part two of our discussion, breaking down critical information from RETCON panel discussions. You won’t have to listen to our previous episode to understand today’s discussion, but of course we highly encourage you to do so.

Charles Buggs:
Can we emphasize highly on that? I agree, Yolanda. Our discussion of use cases and renters expectations regarding technology yielded a number of valuable morsels for our listeners to chew on. I know today will be the same.

Yolanda Muchnik:
Definitely. So today we’re breaking down some of the key insights from two RETCON sessions focused on change management and system failure. These two aspects are critical to understanding and discussing multifamily operations, don’t you think?

Charles Buggs:
100% the heart of what we do entails proper change management. Change can happen in many areas, but, but, when bringing on a new vendor, new technology, the real work starts when.

Yolanda Muchnik:
The implementation starts exactly on the vendor side. It’s our responsibility to help walk clients through the process of implementing the change, but the property and staff still require a lot of other work to implement themselves. The session that Jessica Fern-Kirkland from Einstein Consulting had many critical takeaways, but let’s highlight some of our top ones. One of the first things Jessica said was that even positive change needs psychological reorientation for folks experiencing it.

She notes that management needs to frame and approach the implementation from a loss perspective. So, for example, using a new software might save you so much time, but a person can still feel a loss as they’re losing the familiarity of how they’re previously doing that work or process. Right. And the implementations take into consideration that even positive change can be uncomfortable. I thought that was a really salient point that you made.

Charles Buggs:
Absolutely. And you know, I really, really, you know, piggybacking off points made her example of renovating a room. I think she said something like, by not considering the lost lens when planning of the rollout, you might have brighter, cooler looking chairs in rearranging a few things, but you haven’t changed the room. I thought that was so powerful and like a really cool example.

Yolanda Muchnik:
Yeah, and of course, good change management equals people management too, leading to higher user adoption, which we all obviously want. No company that takes the time and effort to bring on a new vendor or service doesn’t want high adoption. Right? But operators often unintentionally shoot themselves in the foot by not keeping that change management equation top of mind. So Jessica also provides a really good framework for change management, which connected both sides. Both product and people perspectives.

She says each side has three main steps: new policy, new role, and new technology. We don’t have time to go into all the details here in this episode, but you should absolutely watch and listen to the RETCON panel to see how she breaks those down.

Charles Buggs:
Yes and after this, she transitions to a topic that’s so near and dear to my heart when talking about client KPI’s. She calls out, and I agree, a critical implementation aspect is purpose-driven outcomes. I’ll say it again, purpose-driven outcomes. A significant oversight is not defining the success KPI’s directly linked to the tech you bought.

If you ask how he will know it’s successful, a generic phrase like more folks are using. It is just not a good measurement.

Yolanda Muchnik:
No, appropriately linked KPI’s are critical. One aspect I don’t often think of that Jessica brought up also, and this is a crucial call out, is guiding folks through the process of letting go. She calls this out as a big mess, and it’s definitely an eye opener for me. I’m taking this as a little learning nugget for myself, for humans, right?

Charles Buggs:
Yeah, I love it. I mean, she made so many good points. My final call out is to go check out her final slide title, Check yourself before you wreck yourself. And I love that title. It’s a list of questions to check your processes against. It’s too long to recap here, but our listeners should definitely go check it out and watch it and take notes.

Yolanda Muchnik:
Yes, that was an extensive and comprehensive list of critical questions. Okay, pivoting now to systems and system failure. These topics are interconnected because the vendor you bring on creates change and impacts your systems, ideally for the better. I found the examples that Heather Wallace from Bouzzuto provided around system failures to be illuminating. Her first example of the complexity of the data system for a portfolio was so stark when she laid it out. She presented a scenario with one property management company that has properties across a portfolio using six different property management softwares, all with different data types that can be pulled to varying depths for each. Ten different platforms or vendors at each building, with different sign ons for each, and also different trainings. And then even properties within the same PMS will have different subsystems or a combination of those systems.

Charles Buggs:
All right. I’m trying to keep up, but, yeah. Ten different platforms, trainings. It’s such a mess. Like what a mess, but it’s incredibly typical for multifamily companies. I sometimes describe working in property management as being in a zoo, so I really appreciate it. Her example of the zoo and how data systems work. But like a zoo, there are many subsystems within the main systems, but then they’re all not connected. You visit, you learn something, and then you leave. If the cages are removed, the subsystems will all eat each other. For lack of a better term.

Yolanda Muchnik:
Wow. Yeah. You could say zoos accurately reflect both professional and personal lives. I think certainly for me that’s the case. Anyway, I appreciate how she translates this into what the system should be like by drawing parallels to the human body. Also, different subsystems are connected to one main system, and for us as humans, that’s the nervous system. For property management companies, business intelligence can be used to connect all the different subsets, systems and aggregate the information, just like we do in our own bodies with the central nervous system.

But multifamily is different from other businesses. I think that’s important to point out. And I nodded to Heather as she discussed that we can’t look at properties as businesses alone. We do, and we need to care deeply for the residents who live at those properties. And our industry is unique in that one person. The resident pays for almost everything, and that resident is actually a finite resource.

So as an industry, we have only sometimes acknowledged this concept. I think of a finite resource when building our systems, and that’s led to regulations and other roadblocks that impact us. If we don’t consider this over time, our systems are generally going to break.

Charles Buggs:
Yes, take a moment, let that sink in. I think this is such a clarifying point. I think this is a direct quote, but I’m fully co-signing. When she said, people are the ultimate responsibility of real estate, people are the ultimate responsibility of real estate. I also enjoyed her example of a method she uses to ensure there are, there aren’t large system failures to catch a small failure before it becomes system wide.

This is to play, as she put it, within the system. So you’re aware of what’s happening at each property?

Yolanda Muchnik:
Yes, that’s also a clarifying example. I thought it was. I thought it was interesting that for a property, she’ll stay close by, you know, buy it at a hotel, for example, so she can experience life in that area, to notice how things function and to connect that to what they’re doing at the property to attract prospects and meet resident expectations. She had then also told a story about a friend of hers who wanted to show someone an open unit at this one property, but they couldn’t get in for a self guided tour over the weekend, and that seemed odd.

And later they came to find out that the property’s reservation system only had four spots open for viewing, even though there were twelve open units at the property. And so luckily they caught this system failure early.

Charles Buggs:
Yeah, luckily is definitely the word. Twelve open units. That’s something you definitely want to catch. From my experience on-site, there’s nothing like being on the ground at a property to get a true sense of the area, the community, and critically, the processes and the roadblocks or missteps. Right. It’s a very, very fulfilling thing to do to really understand the product itself.

Yolanda Muchnik:
Yeah. And to your point, the final takeaway that I thought was important to touch on is Heather comparing the on site staff to the fingerprints of the system. What a cool analogy. I saw. As the fingerprints of your system, you need to rely on your on site staff and listen to them. And she made the point, you shouldn’t be quick to get rid of your biggest complainer.

Charles Buggs:
Right, right.

Yolanda Muchnik:
These are the folks. Right. Who are likely to have those insights you’re really going to miss in their absence.

Charles Buggs:
I completely agree. I think. You know, what’s that saying? The squeaky wheel gets the grease. So sometimes, you know, you gotta look at that squeaky wheel. It’s like maybe it just needs a little help. Right.

Yolanda Muchnik:
Sometimes gears need grease to run.

Charles Buggs:
See, we’re just gonna keep coming all day.

Yolanda Muchnik:
Well, this is the end of our two part series, breaking down some noteworthy panels and discussions from RETCON this year. I know I learned a lot from these presenters, and I highly encourage all of you listeners to give them a watch. Of course, I hope you’re able to note down a few helpful takeaways from our own conversation between Charles and I here.

Charles Buggs:
Yes, yes. As always, I enjoy the time with you, Yolanda, and I think today’s episode was, is, extremely insightful, and I’m super excited to get the feedback from all of our listeners. I learned a lot, and I hope everyone else does, too.

Yolanda Muchnik:
Me too. And hold on now, listeners, for a moment of Good News.

Good News

Charles Buggs:
Hello, thank you so much for joining the Good News. And for the record, Good News can be anything, a successful initiative, fantastic resident review, or a shout out to a work colleague or friend. This is your time to promote yourself. So please take advantage and shine. There's enough stress, enough anxiety in the multifamily industry. So our goal here is to shine a brighter light on what's going right.

So how do you submit your good news? It's really easy. Go to our show bio on any platform you're listening on, or go to our podcast page at gozego.com/podcasts and click the link on the show. You can leave a text or a voice message and we'll gladly shout you out on our next rendition of Good News. Now let's get into some Good News and I think we got about four today. And I'll drum roll for our third one, I'm pretty happy about. But let's get into it.

So our first Good News anonymously says my company is creating a new management company. Big time, please let us know how progress grows with that and we would love to shout you out on the progress that's made.

The next one is from Anonymous. It says this year, I finished my certificate in data analytics. I've been working on it for on and off for about two years and feel good to have a new weapon in my arsenal. I love that. And anytime we can educate ourselves to get better at the job and for the next job, wink, wink, I think that's a good deal. Let us know how you do with that and if there's any good news you can share about your progress with that.

The next one is from Mr. Dean Julius. He says, and I think this is pretty cool, my wife and I bought a brand new house that's 100 years old and we absolutely love it. Shout out to you Dean, I think that's super cool. 100 year old house, please let us know how progress goes on the renovations or lack thereof. We love to hear about it.

And the last one anonymously says, my boyfriend and I started working for the same company and it's been great. I love that. Relationship to the corporate life. I think that's super cool and please let us know the next good news you got.

All right everyone. Thank you for writing in or calling in your Good News. Please, please come back next week and send us some so we have something to share. We appreciate you. Thank you for listening to this Good News.