“Humanity is acquiring all the right technology for all the wrong reasons.” ~ R. Buckminster Fuller
Our payroll person often tells the story about how, back in the day, she used to enter employees’ time in the computer system using punch cards. 30 years later that story, of course, is hilarious. Punch cards? Oh man.
Now? Properties enter their information into our intranet portal. Much fancier, less holes. Despite 30 years of progress there’s one thing that hasn’t changed. Filling out a time sheet. For you to get paid, you have to tell your employer how many hours you’ve worked. Technology isn’t reinventing the time sheet, it’s just making it easier. Our payroll lady appreciates it but at the end of the day she is still tasked with making sure everyone gets paid.
The multifamily basics still remain.
The evolution of multifamily technology is astounding. We now have systems to record and playback phone calls, fancy analytics with cool graphs, Craigslist posting tools, social media, web apps, mobile apps, damnyouautocorrect, portal sites, online applications, leasing using your iPad, ILS’s, websites, check scanning, document management systems, smartphones, and angry birds. As new things come out, it’s easy to want to rush out and find where you can make it fit. It’s important though that you take a breather and think about how these new technologies influence the basics:
- Drive and convert leads.
- Give good customer and maintenance service.
- Keep your residents renewing.
Technology is tools. It’s not really renting you more apartments, it’s just trying to make it easier for you to do so. My philosophy when it comes to trying new technology is simple:
How will a new technology improve the basics in a fairly measurable way?
Let’s be honest here. Do you think an iPad Leasing tool will rent you more apartments? Probably not. Are prospects demanding it? Pretty sure they aren’t. Do you think most residents care one iota whether or not your Facebook page was updated this week? I’m sure they aren’t losing sleep. Why is it so easy to get caught up in this smoke and mirrors marketing and technology game? Are iPad’s cool? Sure. But cool is irrelevant. Cool is expensive. Cool wears off and then the bills come.
If the cool factor shouldn’t be driving the bus, what should cause multifamily companies to shift?
Prospects and residents should cause your technology shift, not you.
You can’t talk about marketing and technology in separate sentences anymore. As technology shifts customer habits, your marketing needs to adapt to stay relevant. Here are some changes that new tech has brought to our customers:
- Prospects find you in multiple and varying ways than ever before.
- Prospects are no longer showing up on your doorstep with no clue about your offerings.
- Residents demand better service and will complain loudly through channels that didn’t exist 5 years ago.
Not only do you have to figure out how your organization should use technology, you also need to understand how your customers are using it too. As customer’s expectations of the experience rise, you need to shift your culture to meet it. Think about portal sites for a moment. They aren’t a cheap or NOI increasing expense. Monthly costs can be in the hundreds per property. If your residents didn’t expect to be able to pay online, how many companies would have one at all?
We’re in an age where the flow of technology adoption has reversed.
It used to be that corporations drove technology adoption. Now it’s the consumers who are adopting technology at a faster rate. iPhones, iPads, Android devices – the pressure is on to evolve based on the habits of consumers and their expectations. This is a time like no other.
Don’t do tech for tech’s sake. Use it to improve the basics.
It’s too easy to think I’m just telling you to stay conservative in your technology approach. New features, new services, new smartphones, new iPads, new social media sites, new tools – after a while it’s a cluttered landscape. Don’t turn your back on what made your business so successful in the first place. Meet your customer’s technology expectations but don’t do it because you think it’s cool.
Don’t forget the important things. Crush your residents with over the top customer service, service their maintenance needs promptly, and give them a great well maintained product. At its basic level, there’s not much that’s high tech in that.
Today is my wife’s birthday. It’s almost anticlimactic considering she’s been telling me all about it for weeks. She wasn’t nagging on about it because she thought I’d forget but because to her it’s like Christmas morning.
For those that read this blog, I’m pretty sure you can deduce that I don’t get excited about my own birthday. It’s another day and another year older. Would seem funny that I’d be married to someone who thinks just the opposite. There’s a reason she does and that is what I wanted to share with all of you.
My wife’s attitude about her birthday is the right one.
Years ago she used to volunteer at a summer camp for kids with cancer. In the summer before her 19th birthday there was one young adult in attendance that everyone loved. He had the ability to take over a room with his energy and lust for life. His performance as a “member” of Boyz II Men during the camp concert was second to none. That summer his leukemia had come back.
A few months after camp had ended that year, she found out that he didn’t have long to live. His lifelong struggle ended just a few days before my wife’s birthday. He was 19. She spent her birthday that year at his funeral, grieving with the parents and other counselors. She swore she would never take her birthday for granted again.
Every year she celebrates life, not just hers but everyone she knows. It’s her day to stop, smell the flowers and reflect. Reflect on people she once knew who aren’t with us anymore and who left too soon.
Birthdays mean something different to everyone.
Every year as the end of October arrives, I know I can look forward to my wife’s daily reminders, planning and energy about her big day. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Today I’m going to help her celebrate life, not just hers but our kids and friends and people from a long time ago. We’re going to surround ourselves with people we love. We’ll smile and laugh and be thankful. Thankful for life.
Today I’ll be celebrating you dear wife. I’m so thankful.
What will you do on your birthday this year?
The words can’t and no rarely come out of my mouth. That’s my choice. I can’t help it. I’m a doer, a linchpin, a change agent. Are you like that? Are you the first person to raise your hand when volunteers are needed? Do you pass idle time by trying to find ways to self improve or do you twiddle your thumbs and waste time on Facebook? What do you choose?
We’re forced to make them countless times every day. Lots are minor ones that your brain hardly pays attention to. Some have more meaning. For instance, I chose to take a little time off from blogging. I’d rather post nothing than half thought out trash. That was my choice. Where I’m sitting right while typing this was a choice. Putting my kids to bed at 8 instead of 7:30 was my choice. The house I live in. The car I drive. Where I work. I can choose to be a grump tomorrow or I can choose to be the best damn employee ever. Given the number of choices we make in a day, I find it hilarious that people blame others for their own failings. Sure you can’t do anything about Joe Bag O’Donuts ramming into your car. But before you bash the drivers skull in, think about this: You decided to take that road today rather than your normal route. Plus it didn’t help that you got a late start to your day; you overslept. But seriously go ahead, blame the moron who rammed your car. Sure he shares some of the blame but so do you.
All decisions have led here.
If you’re sitting and reading this but feeling sorry for yourself over life’s little incidents, I’m going to make those feelings worse by reiterating that the choices you’ve made have led you here. It’s easy to blame others. “She wasn’t listening.” or “He didn’t tell me about that.” In the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Nathan Fast from the University of Southern California said “When people blame others for their mistakes, they learn less and perform worse,” Wow that’s counterproductive isn’t it?
I believe that people who have the “blame others mentality” like to flock around people who do the same. It’s pretty contagious behavior and if you believe the experts; it will kill your self-worth. So choose to change it. Rome wasn’t built in a day. If you’re stuck in this trap, it will take some time to dig yourself out. Start slowly. We all make mistakes. Maybe you should have zigged instead of zagged. Maybe you should have gotten the sugar free donut instead of the chocolate frosting. With so many damn choices to make in one day, it’s hard to always get it right. Do the best you can but stop blaming others.
I choose to be a change agent. I choose to learn as much as I can everyday. I choose to leave my comfort zone but know if I do and things don’t work out, that I’ll live to breathe another day. I choose to not blame others for my inability to make perfect decisions. What will you choose?
Thanks for the image Flickr!
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