This article was originally posted on Forbes.com
When it comes to running a multifamily property, you’ve got to juggle a lot of moving parts. So when it comes to taking advantage of the “new way of doing things,” you’ve got to be committed to “firing” the status quo. That can be scary, risky and difficult. Doing nothing often seems like the safer bet. That’s why many multifamily operators stay with legacy processes in their maintenance operations rather than shifting to new technologies.
It can be grueling to get your entire staff on board with using new technology. But if you’re letting good enough be OK without investigating what technology can do for you and your organization, you’re making a choice to do nothing, at your own peril. It doesn’t have to be difficult to “change with the times.”
Why Upgrading Your Tech Is Worth It
Multifamily operations come with a recurring cost. The average resident leaves within two years. That means every couple of years, the property loses money as it takes days or even weeks for the apartment to be inspected, have renovations or repairs done, and to find a new resident.
In a large operation, you may not notice all those little spots that are bleeding money. But over the course of a year, you could be looking at millions of dollars of lost revenue. Using a technology that automates, tracks, and speeds up the process can recover those millions and boost your bottom line.
The right software can also help you speed up the processes of hiring new people, onboarding them, and training them so they are able to engage at full capacity more quickly than conventional methods.
Technology Is Intimidating, But It Doesn’t Have To Be
Many of the multifamily operators I’ve met are resistant to upgrading their front-line maintenance software simply because the idea of new technology itself is overwhelming. Start talking to them about software, and their initial reaction is fear. “It sounds too complex,” they say. “My people will never learn it.”
But it doesn’t have to be difficult to transition your property and your people over to new technology. Here are six ways you can gently onboard new technology to achieve your business outcomes while getting buy-in from staff and without risking your operation.
Six Easy Ways To Introduce New Technology To A Resistant Audience
1. Define ownership. Ensure there is a driving force within your organization to see that you are getting the most out of your tech investment. It doesn’t need to take a lot of time or effort. Weekly “stand-up” sessions with key users can provide insight into issues staff members are facing and facilitate a dialogue that will ensure issues are resolved. The staff will appreciate having feedback in a process they will ultimately have to perform.
2. Start small. Revamping your entire operation at once would be a real headache, even for the most tech savvy staff. Instead, start introducing new technology in a phased approach. Pick the biggest headache and tackle that first by transitioning the process from manual to digital, then by taking advantage of what software can do as those needs are discovered. Your team will learn that just because a problem exists with the current process, doesn’t mean that it has to.
3. Invest in simple technology. Anyone can use a smartphone these days. There are front line property management systems out there that work via smartphone and are just as easy to use as sending a text message. If you have people on your team who are anxious about using technology, starting them off with something they’re already used to is a big leg up.
4. Look for tech-savvy new hires. Now that you know your operation is modernizing with new software, it will pay to assess the technical abilities of new potential employees before they’re hired. There’s no need to pay for a fancy aptitude test, necessarily. Simply ask if they have a smartphone that they use regularly to take care of things like banking and scheduling. How they answer will give you a lot of insight into their comfort level with technology.
5. Remember, anyone can learn! Sometimes employers are so focused on finding someone with all the skills they need that they overlook the fact that anyone can learn. We’ve all used Youtube tutorials to teach us something new and expand our thoughts on how to do things. Organizational software will almost always come with a training program and customer support to help you and your people master the new system. Those that provide quick access to help for the users will reign supreme.
6. Get employee buy-in. When explaining to your staff why going with new technology is so important, focus on its benefits to the employee and how it will make them more effective, not to the company as a whole. Saying that something will improve the company’s bottom line isn’t motivating to people whose salaries are not directly connected to that bottom line.
Changing With The Times Is Always A Win
When nothing is “broken,” it’s tempting to take the easy road and keep doing what you’ve been doing. But changing, evolving and growing is part of any successful business. Don’t let fear of technology stand in the way of your business’s long-term growth. Embrace it!