During my second year at American University I was friends with a guy named Frank. Frank’s parents owned apartment buildings in the DC area, so he joined the family business. He became a successful property manager overseeing several properties.
Frank and I met for coffee after he saw on LinkedIn that I joined Brivo. He had heard about new electronic access control technologies and was curious how it could help him. After rehashing the good old days before we had wives and kids… and we were in joint amazement that we were still in one piece after some college shenanigans (we all have stories we wouldn’t tell our mothers, don’t judge), Frank gave me the overview about his property manager role. From his perspective property managers worry about three core things:
1. Keeping it easy
Managing a property is time consuming enough… managing multiple properties can take over your life. For those who are homeowners, there’s always another problem you need to resolve, a repair you have to make, or another contractor you have to trust. Many apartment dwellers make the choice to remain in an apartment because they do not want to have to deal with maintenance or contractors. They want someone to take care of it all for them. Tenants expect you to be in multiple places at once to immediately solve those issues.
For example, Each time a tenant leaves, loses a fob, etc. Frank has to go to that location to update the access privileges. Frank is constantly looking for ways to ease the pain, and make it look like he is in multiple places at once.
2. Keeping it safe
Frank told me about a situation where a tenant, let’s call her Tiffany, complained that someone had broken into her car in the parking garage. Someone had stolen a few random items, such as her backpack and the change in her cup holder.
Frank drove to the property and checked his old trusty DVR. He spent a few hours running through a day’s worth of footage and found a clip of a tenant walking in through the back door, and someone tailgated the tenant and walked in. Separate footage from another camera shows the same individual walking around the garage, and another clip of the person, a.k.a the thief, leaving the building with the backpack. Good news, the thief wasn’t a tenant. Frank wrote a letter to the apartment community reminding them not to hold doors open for unknown folks and if someone grabs the door last minute to ask them what apartment they live in or who they are there to visit. If they hesitate or make up a fake number, give Frank a call to let him know of potential monkey business.
3. Keep ‘em coming back for more
Vacancies hurt revenue. Frank’s main goal is to keep all units occupied at all times as well as attract new property owners and increase inventory. In the past the competitive Washington, DC market made it easy to have pretty much have continuous occupancy, but things are changing. Tenants, especially frugal millennials, expect more convenience and more amenities at a lower price. Building technology has virtually overhauled over the last fifteen years since Frank left American University. Frank’s properties were built decades ago and aren’t necessary green or efficient. They don’t have party rooms or shared spaces. Only one building has a gym. Frank did this in an attempt to draw in more tenants, but at this point he doubts that it’s a differentiator. In his spare time, Frank finds himself researching little ways to increase the tenant experience to get more tenants.
Frank told a few stories about strange tenants and managing ridiculous personalities as well. I tip my hat to all property managers, y’all deal with some crazy people.
Once I gained my composure, Frank asked me how Brivo could help him. So I gave Frank my expert opinion on access control systems for property management and how it could support his main goals while running less convoluted operations. For more on this, read the Five Ways to Eliminate The Biggest Challenges Property Managers Face.