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Western National Group Mobile App Case Study

About Western National Group

Western National Group is a full-service multifamily firm focused on creating lasting value in the communities they serve. With 60 years of business under their belt, they take pride in their teamwork and respect for all of their associates and residents. Western National Group distinguishes themselves from other real estate investment companies through their engagement in every segment of the multifamily real estate market including a unique portfolio of talent in acquisition, development, construction, and property management. 

  • Portfolio: Multifamily
  • Units: 21,900
  • Zego Products: ZegoTM Mobile Doorman
  • Accounting Software: Yardi
  • Location: 150 properties across California and Nevada

The challenge

Western National Group was on a mission to improve the resident experience across their portfolio. They wanted to refine and structure a resident engagement program that would improve communication and the on-site event experience to help residents feel more connected to their communities. Simultaneously, a few of the higher-end properties in their portfolio were looking into technology to help facilitate their resident engagement initiatives, specifically a resident mobile app. “We wanted to make the resident feel like they had a constant way to access whatever it was that they needed, whether it was the amenities or the staff. And on our side, we wanted a way to engage with residents through event-specific or retention oriented activities,” recounts Laura Bartz, Director of Marketing at WNG.

Then in March of 2020 the pandemic triggered shut downs and stay-at-home orders, emphasizing Western National’s need for a solution to help them stay engaged with their residents. “When COVID hit it became a higher priority. Ironically, we were still talking about resident engagement but the conversation became how do we entertain people at home, keep them engaged, and really become a resource and a part of the community for them? And then on top of all that was the just basic need to communicate with our residents.

The approach & outcomes

While Western National had tools in place to help them reach their residents, they weren’t cohesive or as broad-reaching as they needed them to be to support their communities. They wanted to streamline the communication process and make it less cumbersome for their staff to reach residents – especially at a time when things were changing so fast. 

Another requirement was that the solution needed to support them beyond the COVID pandemic so that they had the confidence to implement it quickly and at a large scale across their 150 properties. Due to the urgency and speed at which Western National Group needed to move, finding a partner that was invested in the success of the implementation and the rollout was paramount. 

With the goal of engaging with their residents and streamlining communication across their portfolio, Western National partnered with Zego Mobile Doorman. Western National rolled out the custom-branded Zego Mobile Doorman mobile app at all 150 of their properties. Their decision to go with Zego Mobile Doorman centered around their alignment on 4 pillars of a best-in-class resident experience management solution: 

1. Communicate with groups and individual residents

2. Allow residents to self-serve

3. Help residents build relationships and a sense of community

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

Western National Group_Messaging

1. Communicate with Groups and Individuals

One of the pain points Western National was looking to solve was communicating effectively with their residents in a way that was easy and consistent for their teams. Prior to implementing the app, they had various tools and systems available to their on-site teams to reach residents but the tools differed from property to property. 

Having one tool to communicate with individual residents or groups of residents eased the process for on-site teams and reduced frustration for residents. “One of the biggest benefits and most appealing parts of Zego Mobile Doorman was the cohesion it provided for communication between our staff and residents.” Laura goes on to say “There are a lot of ways to communicate and we were doing that with many various tools. But this felt like a one-stop-shop which I think everyone, no matter what, appreciates.”

  • "The Zego Mobile Doorman team was very responsive. If we needed something they’d jump on a call right away. And it's comforting to know that there is support there, especially when we rolled it out to 150 properties."

    Laura Bartz
    Director of Marketing at Western National Group

2. Allow residents to self serve

At the onset of COVID, providing residents with a tool to reserve amenities became a crucial need for Western National to follow social distancing guidelines and keep residents & associates healthy and safe. At the same time, it was important to Laura that they find a solution that would not only help them through the pandemic but would also carry them into the future. “For me, I liked that I knew this solution would be future-proof. Thinking ahead, way past COVID, having a tool that we could grow and scale with made a lot of sense to me.” 

Zego Mobile Doorman’s self-serve features beyond amenity reservations such as package deliveries, authorizing entrants, and pet registration empower residents to manage their apartment living on their own time, from the comfort of their home. Laura notes this as a big plus for residents who want to avoid a game of phone tag, “Being able to avoid a phone call to someone and having to leave a message is important. They can go into the app, do what they gotta do, even follow-up with ease – that’s very appealing from a feature perspective.

3. Help residents build relationships and a sense of community

With features like the Bulletin Board that allows residents to share messages with their community whether it be an item for sale or looking for a 4th player for golf on Sunday, the Zego Mobile Doorman app has been built to help residents connect to each other and their community. 

But beyond the features of the app, Laura especially appreciates the custom branding that is possible, “I love that it can be customized to our brand or the communities brand, I think that’s really important that you can have your own app.” Being able to provide a community-branded app that residents can go-to for all of their apartment-related needs had a big appeal for Laura as a way to differentiate her properties, “You can go to the app for everything rather than just a website because everyone has a website. There is a lot of value to the consumer to show them you’ve thought about them, their experience, and their needs.” 

Making it easy for residents to interact with each other and manage their tasks from a mobile app built for the property gives her residents a deeper sense of community which ultimately manifests itself in retention. “Resident engagement has many different meanings. You have events for residents to have fun, but there’s also communication and keeping them engaged with you. You can also say it’s an amenity because you’re giving them all these tools. And it helps with retention.”

McComber Creek, Monte Verde and The Reserve are examples of Western National Group communities that have customized the app to their communities' brand.

Western National Group_McComber Creek Community App Western National Group_Monte Verde Community App Western National Group_The Reserve_Community App

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

Being able to provide a single app for residents to manage all of their day-to-day activities was a top priority to Laura. “That one-stop-shop that makes life easier for everyone on our side and on the residents' side definitely has a lot of value.” While the COVID-19 pandemic may have been that catalyst that accelerated Western National’s need to improve communication, they approached the solution with their future needs in mind. Finding a single, comprehensive solution that addressed the full breadth of their needs is what ultimately drove them to Zego Mobile Doorman.

  • "I love that it can be customized to our brand or the communities brand, I think that’s really important that you can have your own app. There is a lot of value to the consumer to show them you've thought about them, their experience, their needs."

    Laura Bartz
    Director of Marketing at Western National Group

Conclusion

With the goal of streamlining communication and improving engagement with residents, Laura and her team at Western National Group are pleased with the impact Zego Mobile Doorman has had. One of their keys to success was a thoughtful and strategic rollout with the help of the Zego Mobile Doorman team, “Any kind of system that we introduce, no matter how useful we think it is, is still a lot for the team to absorb. Their whole jobs have changed. So we’ve been very strategic about how we implement it. We try to get a really good idea of what the user experience is like for both on-site teams and residents to understand how we can use it best.

In addition to a phased roll-out approach, Laura and the Western National team have leaned heavily on the Zego Mobile Doorman team to support the implementation. Finding a provider that was invested in their success and that was accessible proved critical to their launch. “The Zego Mobile Doorman team was very responsive. If we needed something they’d jump on a call right away and they were really good about interacting with all of us. If an IT member or Training member asked a question there was never any hesitation. And that was comforting to know that there is support there, especially when we rolled it out to 150 properties,” recounts Laura. 

Best practice recommendations for building a modern resident experience

A thorough, integrated approach to resident and staff engagement enabled Western National Group to simplify communication for staff and residents and improve the entire 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

Tour the App

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 resident mobile app, Zego Mobile Doorman.

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