Delivering on our clients expectations

I’ve had the opportunity to lead multiple product delivery teams in many different industries. Some industries offer many similarities between clients, and some have large variations amongst clients. PropTech companies tend to have a diverse set of clients, Infotycoon primarily services the Multifamily industry, but our clients could not be more different. We are lucky enough to be partners with some of the largest multifamily owners and operators in North America, we’re also fortunate to serve small independent owners and operators with only a handful of rental units in their portfolio.

I had the opportunity a few weeks back to have a discussion with some of my peers in the PropTech industry. We had a fruitful discussion mostly focused on product delivery and the rapid adoption of technology by our customers. The conversation kept coming back to how do we stay focused on our quarterly and long term goals while responding to rapidly changing demands of our clients. Our clients are very diverse, the needs of a small regional customer is vastly different than the needs of a large national customer which further complicates that matter. We all agreed that building custom solutions that are tailored for a specific customer was not the right approach, but how we decided what to deliver and how to respond varied on multiple factors, and each of us weighted the factors differently as we should have, based on what we felt was best for each of our organizations and our customers

Customer feedback drives all our decisions here at InfoTycoon. We seek customer feedback in multiple ways, positive or negative, we welcome all of it so that we can build the best solutions for our customers. One of the ways that has proven to be very beneficial for us is the creation of our “beta” team. This is a group of select customers that we have take our new enhancements or solutions for a test drive prior to a national roll-out. This group gets to see our new solutions before anyone else and they get to use them in the real-world. Our product and development teams can take all the feedback from our beta team and understand how to best position the new solutions, and also where we might still have some gaps that need to be addressed before our national roll out. This has proven to be very beneficial for us, it allows us to get real feedback and has allowed us to deliver on solutions that are in line with our long term plans while best supporting our clients.

Delivering solutions and products to our customers that helps them accelerate their business is our goal. We are here to support all of our clients through a property acquisition process, as well as provide them the tools to best operate their business. The best way we can support our clients is to make sure we are constantly seeking feedback from all of them and delivering on their asks.

Maanav Mahindru

COO

(404) 267-1506 x 708

mmahindru@infotycoon.com

No More leasing agents? Is Virtual Leasing here to stay?

A year ago, I helped a colleague build a presentation on the future of technology in multifamily. Through
research and discussion with experts, the resounding opinion was that technology will never replace
people in the multifamily industry. Then COVID-19 happened, and I wondered whether that would
change.
The multifamily industry has been working towards virtual leasing for years now. One company utilizes a
chatbot so lifelike, their prospects ask for her when they enter the leasing office. Virtual tours and online
document signing made it easier for one of my team members to move across country last year. Smart
locks allow prospects to check out models on their own schedule.
Technology has certainly brought us some great tools to weather a storm of social distancing, and
thankfully most companies still consider it a priority to staff their leasing teams. Prospects may be able
to view virtual tours and floorplans online, but many are still looking to perform their own “sniff test.”
When choosing their homes, people want to meet the staff to make sure those taking care of them
during their lease are friendly; as Jarrod Whitaker with Bozzuto recently explained to me, they also want
to know what the building smells like, and listen to make sure their neighbors aren’t blasting music at all
hours. Learning these things about the place where you are committing to live for the next year requires
a leasing agent in most cases.
Where I would expect to see more automation and virtual workflow is in short term rentals. In speaking
with Erez Cohen with Knock, he mentioned that the Airbnb model is working well for many rentals in the
New York market that offer short term leases. This model is completely online with virtually no in person
interaction. These rentals often come furnished, where all residents need to bring are their suitcases and
groceries. Reflecting on my experience of moving, I often tell myself that I will never do that again, and
better stay a while since moving is such a hassle. But without the pain of moving, residents may be more
apt to move on after a month if they’re unhappy with the rental they’ve selected. In my local market,
Central Florida, I see fewer short-term rentals, due to the tourism taxes that apply to leases under 6
months.
The data I’ve seen in Q2 from local property managers in Central Florida has been promising. One
company saw a 2% gain in leases year over year in April, despite a 50% reduction in traffic. The reduction
in traffic shows that there are less looky-loos in the market, but as conditions begin returning to normal,
I expect that number to rise. Stable occupancy and lease rates will allow them to use their new time
efficiencies to their advantage, increasing their service levels for all those residents stuck at home. For
the conventional leasing agent, schedules and remote work may become more flexible, but their
necessity will remain.
Photo of Alex Mauro Ross
Alex Mauro Ross
Director of Product

Is Your Property Prepared for the Cold?

Seasonal property inspections are not only a best practice for maintaining the safety of your residents, but they help you maintain the value of your property. So, before you get bundled up and settled in for the Winter, now is a great time to get your multifamily property ready for the cold weather.
With Thanksgiving around the corner, large areas of the US are already experiencing record temperature drops. Speaking about Winter Storm Caleb, the National Weather Service stated, “This is an air mass that’s more typical for the middle of January than mid-November. It is pretty much about the coldest we can be this time of year [and] it could break records all over the region.” And these bitterly cold temperatures are predicted to continue from the Texas Coast to coastal South Carolina.

Don’t Give Them the Slip

The National Floor Safety Institute reports that slips and falls account for over 1 million emergency room visits per year, with most falls happening in the winter months. Don’t think that a southern address will keep the frost away. In 2018, for the first time in 28 years, it snowed in north Florida. Waiting until bad weather to arrive before could leave you…out in the cold.
Make sure you have plenty of ice melt and tools on hand, as well as secure vendor contracts for snow clearing equipment/personnel in advance of a storm forecast. Even if you’ve hired professionals, always make sure your onsite team has the necessary materials and proper training before it’s snow time.
Your property inspection should include your landscape irrigation system. Any damage should be repaired to prevent leaks. If necessary, have your outdoor sprinkler systems turned off when frigid conditions are in the forecast. Wet sidewalks can turn in hazardous quickly.

It’s What’s on the Outside that Counts

Quality inspections of building exteriors should be routine, with a special focus on the roof, walls, and door and window frames. Damaged windows should be repaired to keep the weather out, heat in, and your costs down.
Multifamily Housing Executive suggests having additional insulation installed in all common areas, especially around windows and doors. Heat-shrinking plastic wrap may not have the most attractive look, but it can be very useful for reducing heat loss through windows. For club rooms, leasing offices and business centers, consider insulated shades and thermal drapes for an elegant option. Install weather stripping and a door sweep on exterior doors for a cheap and easy guard against the elements.
It’s always a great idea to keep gutters clear of any built-up leaves and debris so they drain properly throughout the year but fall and winter months are especially important. Neglected or clogged gutters could lead to leaks or a dangerous accumulation of snow and ice causing more damage to your property and jeopardizing the safety of your residents.
Inspect trees and branches near your property and remove any damaged or weak branches that may not survive the high winds, icy freezes, or snow accumulation of a winter storm.

Stay Warm but Not Too Hot

Inspect all furnaces and boilers to ensure everything is in good working condition, so your staff and your residences don’t experience a system failure when it’s most dangerous and most costly. Clean units and replace damaged or worn parts and install new filters. When possible, keep a supply of commonly used replacement parts and filters on standby.
Likewise, if you have any wood-burning fireplaces on the property, it’s best to have them inspected and cleaned by a professional. When inspecting fireplaces, make sure flue dampers are operating correctly, the chimneys are clear of any obstructions and debris, and there’s no damage where the chimney adjoins with the roof.
As the temperatures start to dip, it’s is a good time for your management team to communicate space-heater safety to all residents. According to National Fire Protection Agency’s latest U.S. Home Fires Involving Heating Equipment report, which was released today, heating equipment is the second-leading cause of U.S. home fires and the third-leading cause of home fire deaths. The US Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that each year, an average of 430 Americans die from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide-related deaths are highest during colder months and are likely due to increased use of gas-powered furnaces and alternative heating, cooking, and power sources used dangerously indoors during power outages.

Don’t Forget about Turkey

There’s something about the cold weather that makes people think about eating turkey. Perhaps it’s the heavenly aroma or the promise of delicious leftover sandwiches, but whatever the reason, there’s no denying the popularity of the bird, as the US consumes over 70 million turkeys between Thanksgiving and Christmas. And for the past few years, deep-fried turkey has become an increasingly popular tradition. But unlike its roasted brethren, the deep-fried turkey can be risky and costly. According to Apartments.com, the single biggest contributor to Thanksgiving fires is the turkey fryer. Frying, in general, is the cooking method that causes the most cooking fires, but turkey fryers are particularly prone to setting things ablaze because they use large quantities of oil at high temperatures. Combine the flammable materials and general lack of experience and you can understand how each year, over $15 million in property damage are caused by deep-fried turkey accidents.

While inspecting your property exteriors and interiors, keep an eye out for grills and fryers on patios and balconies. Inspect all fire extinguishers and make sure all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working condition.

Just like your own doctor’s checkup, Property Inspections are vital to a healthy asset. They not only keep your residents safe and happy, but they also save you money. And good record keeping of your inspections can save you from costly legal messes. At Infotycoon, our award-winning software helps streamline the property inspections process. Our intuitive platform helps you track, document and store your inspections securely without drowning in a sea of paperwork.