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About Edison47:

Edison47, Inc. is an innovative, results-oriented property management company located in the Puget Sound region of Washington state. With over 40 years of staff experience in multifamily, mixed use, and new construction, their thriving portfolio consists of residential projects, long-term holds, renovated properties, pre-construction, and lease ups. The team at Edison47 is focused on providing new customers and existing residents with the highest level of customer service. And by investing in resident satisfaction through innovative technology, concierge services, and monthly events, they’ve created a family of warm and welcoming communities.

  • Portfolio: Multifamily
  • Units Estimate: 2,000
  • Zego Products: Zego Mobile Doorman
  • Accounting Software Integration: Yardi
  • Location: Washington

Results highlights:

80%
Portfolio-wide percentage of units with app adoption
40,000+
Messages sent by residents through the app in 2020
500,000+
App opens by Edison47 residents in 2020 alone

The challenge

For Edison47, the resident experience is multifaceted and starts at the top of the leasing funnel. They’ve carefully curated every resident touchpoint, from their marketing initiatives to the first point of contact, to follow-ups and in-person tours. This level of care extends throughout the resident lifecycle – through the renewal process, move-out, and so on.

But the COVID-19 pandemic threw the industry for a loop, and Edison47 was no exception. Thankfully, their resourceful team was able to evolve operations as apartment living transformed due to ever-changing safety regulations. “We’ve had to be very nimble in how we approach in-person tours and operating within governmental guidelines and even regional guidelines to make sure we continue to meet those needs,” says Jered Lerum, Director of Business Development for Edison47.

Another challenge that they faced, not only during the pandemic but also pre-pandemic, was finding a single solution that satisfies multiple customers. Jered admits it was hard to find technology that improves efficiencies for owners, site-level teams, and the residents in the communities. “The challenge is finding something that touches all of those areas of concern, and all those individual customers that are all looking for something different.” They would implement a solution that the site teams loved, but had no benefits for their residents. Or a solution tailored perfectly for accounting, but not well-suited for the site teams’ day-to-day use. Edison47 was looking to streamline their communication process across the board. So satisfying these different stakeholder groups was the core challenge that they struggled with.

The approach & outcomes

With the goal of finding one digital communication tool that would make life easier for their staff, owners, and residents, Edison47 partnered with Zego to elevate apartment living through the pandemic and beyond. “The biggest metric that I look for in any of the technology that we roll out is adoption. It doesn’t matter if I think it’s a great idea… if the residents and the team aren’t behind it, then it’s not going to be successful.” With the Zego Mobile Doorman platform, Edison47 was able to reach 80% portfolio-wide app adoption by observing the following five key principles:

1. Meet residents where they are

2. Communicate with groups and individual residents

3. Allow residents to self-serve

4. Help residents build relationships and a sense of community

5. Provide one comprehensive app across the full resident living experience

Edison47 app1. Meet residents where they are

Property management companies today are eager to meet residents where they are - on their phones. But the Edison47 portfolio spans the multifamily spectrum - from brand new lease ups to stabilized 55 and older communities. So to be able to serve those drastically different demographics, they knew they needed a resident app that was extremely adaptable and easy-to-use.

“It's a struggle to be all things to all people when they want it. That goes for any of us. Not just folks who reside in our communities… I want the information when I want it, but leave me alone the rest of the time,” explains Jered Lerum, Director of Business Development for Edison47. He admits that the consistent miscommunication had become a problem. Some of their residents aren't computer-savvy. Some would admit to losing paper documents, or not reading their lease agreement properly. Which heightened the need for a streamlined and effective method of communication.

The pandemic complicated resident communications even further. Because, unlike any other business, in multifamily, your customers are there 24/7. “I don’t think there is any facet of our operation that hasn't been impacted by COVID or the policies and protocols in place during the pandemic.” Office hour reductions, staffing schedule changes, and all of the additional challenges brought on by COVID-19 put a strain on their community. “So the ability to inform our resident base of the ever-evolving information stream – I couldn’t think of a better way to have handled it than using Zego Mobile Doorman.” Jered and his team at Edison47 have found the instant notification feature of the app extremely useful throughout the pandemic. “It’s access to that information in your pocket. They aren’t logging into a website, or checking for an email that may have gone to spam.” 

After implementing the Zego Mobile Doorman app, the team at Edison47 was finally able to meet residents where they are, and communicate based on their preferences. Jered loves that the app is always available. “It’s not my site teams chasing down somebody to see if they got an email.” It’s also become a mechanism to help simplify the move-in process. “There’s a whole different set of tasks, circumstances, and questions that come up pre-physical move-in, so to get in front of those and really show the residents that there is a partnership between the property management company and the renter has been amazing as far as communication, retention, and feedback.”

  • “The ability to inform our resident base of the ever-evolving information stream - I couldn’t think of a better way to have handled it than using Zego Mobile Doorman.”

    Jered Lerum
    Director of Business Development at Edison47

2. Communicate with groups and individual residents

Before implementing the Zego Mobile Doorman community app, Edison47 relied on email, phone calls, or in-person conversations to communicate with residents. “Site teams were answering the same questions - what time is the gym open? How do I submit a work order? It burns folks out, and it distracts the site teams from making the communities a better environment for our residents,” admits Jered.

edison47 eventsAnswering the same questions time and time again put an added strain on the site teams’ already never-ending to-do lists. So Edison47 looked for solutions from a process and technology perspective. They included links to FAQs on their website, they added important property information to their move-in packets, they tried sticking paper notices on front doors to alert residents of upcoming fire alarm testings, etc. “The problem is that there are inherent opportunities in each one of those for miscommunication. Even something as simple as a door posting - the wind blew it off the door, so resident A never got it, but resident C did,” explains Jered. “And all of that distracted from our core mission of taking care of our folks. At its core, this is a customer service business. No matter what customer it is, whether it's the ownership or it's the folks that choose to rent in our communities. You’ve got to keep them both happy as much as you can.” And communicating through a comprehensive yet easy-to-use community app was the solution.

Even before COVID-19, the Edison47 team found the event management feature of the Zego Mobile Doorman app to be a “game-changer.” It was a real asset to the site teams early on, as Jered describes, “the events, the RSVPs, the understanding that you could get active feedback from residents after the event.” And then on the operations side, being able to manage expenses and keep track of attendees added a new level of visibility to Edison47’s event planning. “It was huge to be able to quantify that I had 80 RSVPs, I spent $2,000, and the impact that we’re seeing on social media has been huge. The analytics look great.”

Beyond events, the app has increased efficiencies throughout the entire resident lifecycle. For instance, during move-in, being able to complete the unit checklist and attach photos within the app keeps everybody on the same page. Work order submissions have also been streamlined thanks to Zego Mobile Doorman. Residents can easily fire off a work order and receive excellent customer service directly from their phones. As Jered describes, “for the site staff to be able to actively engage in conversation from a maintenance standpoint - clarifying questions, seeing photos of the issue… it just streamlines the process, it makes maintenance more efficient, all with the goal of making for happier sites and happier residents.”

thermostat app3. Allow residents to self serve

There’s nothing more frustrating than calling customer service only to be put on hold, rerouted to the wrong department, and then rerouted again. People want self-service. Residents don't want to have to call the leasing office to get the number for the cable company to be able to set up service. They want access to the information they need when they need it. And that is what Edison47 experienced with the Zego Mobile Doorman app that puts key information at their residents’ fingertips. “It changed the way both our residents and our staff interact not only with each other but with the asset as well.”

The app also contributed to the self-service aspect of amenity reservations amidst the ever-changing COVID-19 safety protocols and guidelines. The biggest amenities impacted were their community fitness centers. “With standard fitness facilities and conventional gyms being shut down, residents were just aching for the opportunity to use those amenities,” explains Jered. “Using the amenity scheduling tool and being able to block out individual times so those residents still had access to that core amenity was awesome.”

With new CDC guidelines being released constantly, the team at Edison47 was thankful to be able to quickly make adjustments and send notifications to residents through the app. “It seemed like daily we were dealing with a new modification to those policies, so being able to keep them updated was huge.”

4. Help residents build relationships and a sense of community

Building a strong sense of community is important to the Edison47 team, who has found the perfect balance between providing residents with self-service solutions and maintaining meaningful staff interactions. “The struggle when you’re dealing with technology, especially in our industry, is trying not to lose the human element.” Jered believes his site teams are what really set their properties apart from their competitors. He feels that residents are, “not necessarily renting Edison47 based on the asset – they’re renting because of the relationship they have built with that site manager or that leasing agent that they met on the tour.”

Maintaining that personal connection, especially given the COVID environment, has been a struggle for most property teams. But Edison47 focuses on building relationships by connecting through the app, so residents still have that sense of trust and familiarity with the staff. “Those opportunities for residents to ask questions and know that they have an avenue for that… has been really important.”

5. Provide one comprehensive app across the full resident living experience

edison47 content tilesWith the growing number of software solutions and multifamily apps on the market, it’s hard for operators to sift through the noise to find what truly works. “One thing that we struggle with as an industry, and especially as portfolios grow... is this struggle to find a one-size-fits-all,” Jered confirms. “Our residents are drastically different across demographics, across regions, across asset types. So to try and shove a solution onto a property without an understanding of what makes that property, those residents, and the staff unique is a common mistake.” But after implementing one comprehensive app with so many capabilities, Edison47 was able to provide a more seamless experience for their residents. “As we rolled Zego Mobile Doorman out, that was probably one of the greatest strengths that we found early on, is the ability to tailor the experience to the residents at that particular asset.”

Now that the Edison47 team has been involved with the Zego Mobile Doorman platform for a while, Jered says they have a great appreciation for the flexibility and customization piece. For example, the site staff loves being able to customize the Content Tiles to reflect upcoming events and promotions at their specific property. “So much of the industry is very static, and you don’t have the flexibility or agility to make changes rapidly with a lot of solutions,” Jered admits. Their team has piloted and implemented a number of solutions that fell through due to a lack of adaptability. “That’s definitely been one of the greatest strengths with the [Zego Mobile Doorman] platform is being able to be very flexible and very quick to roll out policies and information to keep our residents informed in a much more concise and direct way.” They’ve found that there is a far greater chance of their residents seeing a push notification through the app than a single email amidst the hundreds of emails people receive daily.

And in terms of consolidation to one platform, Jered agrees, “consistency is important, especially from the management company in disseminating information, policies, or guidelines… That is a challenge when you’re running multiple solutions at a time.” Residents don’t want to have to log in to multiple apps or online platforms to manage their apartment living. As Jered previously mentioned, with such a diverse resident demographic, having one consolidated platform with an easy-to-navigate user interface is powerful. “The Edison portfolio spans from brand new lease-ups in conventional to a stabilized 55 and up property as well. So to be able to field both of those drastically different ends of the spectrum, that tool has to be adaptable and it has to be easy to understand from a resident perspective.”

Listen to The Resident Experience Podcast with Jered Lerum from Edison47

Want to hear more about how Jered and the Edison47 team view the resident experience as a critical component of customer service and resident retention?

Conclusion

Before Zego Mobile Doorman, Edison47 had a decent solution that checked a few boxes. It was a more traditional product that required residents and staff to log into a website. Around that time, Jered had a conversation with their then Senior VP, and they both agreed there had to be a better solution. At first they thought - we just need to build an app! But Jered had hesitations. Creating their own enterprise software from scratch would be an enormous undertaking with a lot of moving parts. 

Halfway through a consultation call with an app developer, Jered knew the plan to build an app was not going to work. So he jumped onto Google, and Zego Mobile Doorman popped up. “I reached out, and about a half an hour after I had sent the request, I had a contact set up for a demo,” Jered recalls. “After a 45-minute conversation with Zego Mobile Doorman, I agreed to launch two properties. We took two drastically different assets from two different areas because I didn’t want to work in a vacuum.” Jered reveals that they chose a property that was not the most tech-savvy and a property he believed would have high adoption levels if the app performed well. Jered confirms that was the case, because after the successful trial run with the two properties, “we were off to the races!”

Now Edison47’s residents and staff love the app, which has simplified operations and made life easier in numerous ways. “It’s non-intrusive. Second to that is that it’s readily accessible,” Jered says. It seems like a basic concept, but excellent customer service means giving people what they want when they want it, and then knowing when to leave them alone. “Zego Mobile Doorman allows us to do that. It allows us to keep folks updated. It allows us to check all those boxes and not just be one more thing that a resident has to deal with. It’s not a task.” It’s a chore to sift through emails, but when residents receive a notification through the app, they know it’s something important that matters to them. “It’s very direct, and it’s succinct.”

  • “As we rolled Zego Mobile Doorman out, that was probably one of the greatest strengths that we found early on, is the ability to tailor the experience to the residents at that particular asset.”

    Jered Lerum
    Director of Business Development at Edison47

Best practice recommendations for building a modern resident experience

With results such as 80% of their units adopting the app, and 40,000+ messages sent by residents through the app in 2020, the Edison47 team was able to enrich every touchpoint throughout the resident lifecycle. They are able to meet residents where they are, and communicate on their terms. Angela Bare, Senior Property Manager at Paceline (an Edison47 community) said that “over 90% of resident communication is through the app rather than a phone call or email.” With streamlined communications and an app that fits the needs of residents, site teams, and owners, Edison47 is able to set itself apart by offering a superior resident experience.

Zego offers five recommendations for building a modern resident experience:

1. Meet residents where they are

2. Communicate with groups and individuals

3. Allow residents to self serve

4. Help residents build relationships and a sense of community

5. Provide one comprehensive app across the full resident living experience

Check out Zego Mobile Doorman

To learn more about how we can help you implement these best practices schedule time with a Zego team member for a quick demo of our platform.

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