For years now, multifamily buildings have been shifting their focus from just leasing space to creating a sense of community among their residents. While it is easy to say that community is important, creating it requires critical thinking and hard work. There are so many things that go into a resident’s perception of community. Creating a sense of community may rely on how people interact with each other, but for communities that belong to specific properties, this sense is also supported by the way that people interact with the property itself. Each interaction with the property needs to be a seamless experience. A sense of community can only be achieved once the consumer’s most important needs have been met. If a resident doesn’t feel connected to a building, they will likely not make the effort needed to connect with the community within it.
So it isn’t just about the community of a building but the community experience. By making a property user friendly, customizable, and responsive, managers are able to create the conditions in which a community can blossom. This means thinking critically about every touchpoint a building has with its residents, from parking, to access control, to the technology they use inside their units. All of this technology should work together to provide an effortless, seemless experience that goes from “look to live.” Creating an environment that enhances the community in a building is a bit like branding. You have to consider every interaction a customer has with a product and make sure they all convey the same messaging. In this case, the messaging needs to be one of safety, ease, and empowerment.
One of the most important parts of any relationship, is the first impression, which includes a prospect’s initial contact with a property. Technology can help even non-residents feel empowered by facilitating flexible arrangements like self-guided tours. By allowing self-guided tours, a prospect is able to understand that a building is forward-thinking enough to invest in the convenience of its residents and empathetic enough to allow potential renters to research at their own pace, on their own time. Moreover, self-guided tours are contactless, which is another way to show residents you are working to keep them safe. By making the very first experience a prospect has with the building one of ease, safety, and enjoyment, they are all the more likely to apply and sign a lease.
Similarly, upon arrival to a building, people are judging their interaction with it. Creating an easy and intuitive parking procedure is the first step in creating the perception of a true community-focused building. Technology can help achieve this and make the process one that is easy to replicate every time that person comes and goes from the building. SmartRent, a smart home automation tech company, has expanded its smart apartment offerings to include almost every facet of communal space, including a parking management solution.
Parking management has been a long time pain point for communities. Adding a parking management tool like Alloy Parking provides a better experience, but it also makes the property manager’s job easier and gives them more time to focus on other important matters, like resident experience and building community. Rather than dealing with logistics, like building access, visitor management, or repair calls, the property team can spend time engaging with residents and curating experiences. Alloy Parking also keeps track of all assigned and unassigned parking spaces, allowing properties to monetize unused spaces by providing data for their entire parking inventory. This software ensures that residents will always have access to their assigned spaces and works to eliminate unauthorized parking.
Using automated technology to provide a seamless experience empowers residents and builds a sense of community. Residents come to know and love the ease at which living in an automated building provides. For residents that come to rely on them on a daily basis, features like access control and smart device control for their home can easily go from a nice-to-have to a can’t-live-without. Over time, these features help properties garner a reputation as a place where people don’t want to leave. Renewed leases and higher retention rates are the result of convenience becoming a necessity.
According to the 2020 NMHC/Kingsley Apartment Resident Preferences Report, which surveyed over 250,000 multifamily renters in the U.S., the top six most important features of an apartment include affordability, quality of management, convenient in-unit amenities, connectivity, secure package delivery, and mobile access to a resident portal. While convenient in-unit amenities is a broad feature, it includes things like in-unit washers and dryers as well as automated features like smart thermostats. Similarly, connectivity could mean WiFi or reliable cell phone service, but it also encompasses smart home automations and the ability to program things like lighting and temperature, which also helps tenants save money—relating back to affordability. Lastly, quality of management can be judged in many ways, but by allowing property managers to focus on resident’s needs, technology can play a big role in assisting managers to provide seamless, safe, enjoyable experiences for residents and prospects.
We all have a sense that community is valuable. Connecting with our neighbors can change the way we think about the place we live. Facilitating these connections is a job that is likely always best done by a human. Creating the bonds that people have with each other and their living space is a manual process, but much of the other day-to-day tasks asked of building management can be automated. In the end, it is technology that empowers the people that create these connected communities.