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AIM 2023: Centralize, Automate, and Scale your Customer Journeys Using Automated Workflows

Apartment operators continue to make the case for centralized leasing – including to their investors.

Centralized leasing is not for every company – or investor. This management structure has taken the industry by storm in the past year or so, but really, it’s not new, say panelists speaking this year at AIM.

Marketing teams are being entrusted with modernizing multifamily operations, including the responsibility to drive leases, cut costs, and increase resident satisfaction is moving from operation teams to marketing teams.

Marketing teams are being given crazy large portfolios to manage. However, marketing teams are still very lean, and the increased responsibilities are not resulting in increased staffing.

Panelists Arthur Kosmider, Senior Director of Marketing & PR for Lefrak; Lynn Klug, Senior Director, Development Marketing Greystar Development Group; Joya Pavesi, Executive Vice President of Marketing & Strategy for RKW Residential, with moderator Rukevbe “Rukus” Esi, Senior Vice President, Chief Digital Officer at AvalonBay; discussed how by using the right technology and workflows, these teams can improve performance.

Since the pandemic, the apartment industry has been all about adopting new technologies. Centralization is a part of that, and there’s the workforce shortage situation that needs to be addressed; centralization can help with that.

“Centralization makes absolute sense,” Kosmider said. “While not new for our industry, it’s exciting that its application is becoming broader with people and technology roles. It’s about doing the best with the team you have and breaking down silos.

Pavesi said that as a third-party manager, some RKW clients have shown resistance to using a pod of five communities with one assistant manager supporting all five. 

“They say, ‘If you use a shared leasing staff, how do I know my assets will get the same attention as the others?’ Pavesi said. “They want to make sure the team is leasing their units out of their property.”

Additionally, she said, “Our clients notice that we’re adding more technology, adding costs, and not reducing headcount.”

Onsite staff are kind of nervous about the whole process and computers replacing person’s jobs, panelists said.

Pavesi said, “We’re foolish to think that there won’t be reduced staffing. But the crème rises to the top, and there’s the chance to make more money and work from home.”

Klug said it’s not about replacing people, “It’s about getting more out of your people.”

Kosmider cautioned supplier partners from presenting their products by saying, “‘Hey, use our technology and you can fire three of your people.’ Let’s remember, you cannot automate everything.”

More Interesting Comments:

  • Pavesi said there are ways to make the case to clients about centralization’s value, such as it leads to more tours being scheduled and that it enables them to retire our shops program because her virtual leasing assistant was getting 100 scores when they were shopped.
  • Kosmider insists that his company regularly checks its automated systems. “Are they all working?” he said rhetorically. “As operators, we tend to move on to the next thing. You need to monitor and continue to optimize your process.”
  • Progress over Perfection is Kosmider’s mantra. “Having a goal of perfection can put undue pressure on your team and your supplier partners,” he said. “Instead, try to reach scores in the high 80s, however, you choose to set up your KPIs and then keep working to tweak and improve them. It’s okay to fail.”
  • Greystar’s Lynn Klug Greystar launched its Ltd brand, meant to minimize expenses to ensure competitive rents by giving renters the technology they prefer, all automated. “It’s self-service to the max,” she said. “Research, develop, test, adjust.” 

Here is the marketing language Greystar tested:

Rent increases suck. So, we capped them.

Tired of crazy rents? Same.

Renting sucks. It doesn’t have to.

No Salesperson. No Hassle. No. Seriously.

People frustrating you? We get it. Try tech-driving renting.

Renting that is quicker than takeout.

Here is the replay:

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