Shared Workspaces

Looking for a way to increase occupancy without slashing prices? Creative value-add amenities can distinguish your property from competitors. One such value-add feature is a coworking space. The demand for shared work spaces is on the rise. You can benefit from this by transforming an existing area into a coworking space for residents.  Coworking Spaces for Multifamily? Nationwide, there are more than 57.3 million freelancers. In corporate America,  55 percent of hiring managers believe telecommuting among full-time employees is becoming a staple in their business structure. That number is expected to rise. Employers responded that nearly 38 percent of their workforce will be telecommuting within the next decade. So where are all of these freelancers and remote employees getting their work done? Their homes and coffee shops, mostly. Fortunately for you, you can be both and attract the revenue for yourself. You can create a shared workspace on your property by converting an existing conference room or business office. Add some chairs and a coffee maker and you’re done! Almost .. here’s the next steps. Must-Have Coworking Space Features Coworking offices are profitable and you can benefit from their popularity and capacity to drive revenue. You will, however, need more than a coffee maker and some chairs to get the most out of the space’s earning potential. Here are five must-haves to make your space functional. High-speed connectivity is a must. You will need to decide whether wi-fi or cable connection is right for your building. Comfortable, customizable seating is just as important as connectivity. Workers must feel comfortable if you want them to return and perceive your workspace as a reason to sign or renew their lease. To increase comfort, equip your space with a combination of adjustable office chairs at desks and...

Yardi Matrix Aug01

Yardi Matrix

Affordable housing advocates hail New York state’s Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 as a life raft for renters in more than 1 million apartments in New York City alone. Other observers, however, regard it as a minefield that will eliminate incentives for building upkeep, remove housing stock from the market, and drive away landlords and investors. A key provision of the law empowers a board to tie rent increases to an inflation-indexed percentage. Owners previously could raise rents 20% when stabilized units were vacated, with deregulation allowed when rent level or resident income thresholds were reached. Another section limits rent increases to cover only $15,000 of improvements over a 15-year period, regardless of actual costs. “New York State has taken a historic step towards a fairer housing system by reforming the rent loopholes that allowed landlords and property owners to harass and displace tenants across the State. By passing this legislation, we are finally delivering equity and justice to our clients and all low-income New Yorkers,” the Legal Aid Society said in a statement. “[The law] makes it likely that no new apartment buildings will rise. It guarantees that existing ones will decay. It will make repairs and upgrades prohibitively expensive for landlords who must eke out puny profits from properties that require major reinvestment, but where they can’t charge enough rent to pay for it,” countered New York Post editorial writer Steve Cuozzo. In July, a month after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the bill into law, a coalition of trade associations and building owners filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the legislation is unconstitutional. A new Yardi Matrix bulletin weighs in on the new law. “Market players say that the values of properties with stabilized units dropped anywhere between 20-40...

A Spark of Creativity Jul31

A Spark of Creativity...

Know your way around a canvas? The upcoming National Assisted Living Week is your time to shine –and help your elderly loved ones channel their own artistic side. The annual observance takes place from September 8-14, and this year’s theme is “A Spark of Creativity.” Now in its 24th year, National Assisted Living Week is an opportunity for residents, family and staff to celebrate the individuals served in assisted living. It’s also a great excuse to explore the different elements and ideas that make up this avenue of long-term care. The National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL), who organize the week-long event, hope the artistic theme will inspire staff of all levels to host fun, unique activities that enrich the senior living experience for each resident. “‘A Spark of Creativity’ encourages everyone to get their creative juices flowing – whether it’s residents trying out new things, or caregivers exploring innovative ways to improve care and community life,” said Scott Tittle, executive director for the NCAL. More to Art Than Meets the Eye Art therapy has long been a recognized method for boosting happiness and stimulating mental ability. Many residents report better well-being after taking part in the arts – and it’s even helpful for those living with dementia or Alzheimer’s. By infusing art into the everyday experience of their communities, staff can help their residents sustain a sense of purpose and stay connected with one another. The great thing about art (and the benefits therein) is that it’s not limited to just painting a picture, which can be a dexterously demanding task for older adults. Some communities put on recreations of famous plays or movie scenes with their residents, coached by local actors. Other senior living providers bring in licensed music therapists who use...

Changemaker Series Jul30

Changemaker Series

Welcome to our third segment of the Senior Housing News (SHN) series, The Changemakers, sponsored by Yardi. These interviews demonstrate how adaptability and innovation pave the way for success. Shamim Wu, COO of Eclipse Senior Living, has been trailblazing for decades. With an emphasis on creating diverse, tech-driven workplaces, she has built a company that operates 100 senior living properties—and growing. While many companies scramble to appeal to Millennials, Wu has managed to assemble “a team made up of men and women across four generations, across almost every ethnicity and race that you can think of.” The diversity of her team and the wealth of ideas and experiences that it brings are her greatest accomplishments, she says. Eclipse has also placed work-life balance as a pinnacle of company culture. Employees receive unlimited time off to accommodate what life throws at them, whether it’s time with a sick loved one, welcoming a new addition to the family, or simply spending much needed time in nature. “We don’t just encourage people to have a life outside of work, we almost demand it,” said Wu. Tech integration is also woven into the culture. Eclipse has invested heavily in enterprise technology systems that increase efficiencies, collaboration, and visibility. Without mind-numbing administrative tasks to pour over, team members are free to focus on what matters: proactively adjusting to the demands of the industry with agility, accuracy, and customer focus. Wu talked to SHN about the Eclipse approach to the changing industry: Eclipse is on the leading edge of another change in the industry, which is the multi-brand strategy. How is that working? Wu: We’ve seen best practices in brand stratification in other areas, like hospitality. You’ve got Hilton Hotels, which has a certain cachet because of the Hilton brand....

Energy Automation Jul29

Energy Automation

Dallas-based multifamily community manager Pinnacle sought to reduce utility late fees and increase vacant utility cost recoveries at 170,000 residential units that it manages. “We needed to automate the entire process—payables, receivables, consumption data analysis and reporting that drilled down to a granular level of detail,” said Nicole Ellery, the company’s ancillary performance manager. Doing all this required replacing its cumbersome manual utility consumption tracking and billing with the Yardi Energy Suite. One element of the suite, Yardi Utility Expense Management, receives, validates and completes payments for Pinnacle’s utility bills. Another part, Yardi Utility Billing, monitors and bills residents for their utility consumption, which helps the company recover vacant unit costs, monitor usage, forecast utility revenue and cut waste with consumption alerts. How has the Yardi Energy Suite worked out for Pinnacle? The bottom line, Ellery said on a utility expense management panel at the most recent Yardi Advanced Solutions Conference (YASC), is “lower late fees across the board.” That happened because the comprehensive solution for utility billing, energy management and submeter data administration helps the company “track how properties are performing with line-by-line data down to the individual meter level as opposed to only invoice data.” “When we onboard a new property, we can see red flags such as high consumption on a meter and follow up with an investigation,” Ellery said. “Our property managers and accountants can drill down to each general ledger account and invoice if anything looks off and see what’s going on. We can see gradual increases in consumption and process invoices as soon as they come in.” She added, “We have saved thousands of dollars every year by nearly eliminating late fees. The suite vastly simplified our vacant unit recovery process, so it maximizes income too. We’d be...

Win at Branding

Want to amplify your marketing returns and build a loyal customer base? Developing a strong brand identity can help you do both. Whether you’re an established midsized business or a burgeoning small company, it’s never too late to strengthen your brand identity. We attended the Canadian Federation of Apartment Associations conference with Sam Amin, marketing manager at Yardi, to learn more about creating a brand. What is a Brand Identity? Brand identity is more than your logo and color templates. Those are important, but your brand extends beyond what you can see and touch. At its foundation, a brand is a distinguishing mark, such a logo and other design choices. It tells us the source (company) behind a product (multifamily community). But as the “father of marketing” David Ogilvy explained it, the brand is “the intangible sum of a product’s attributes.”  That means that your brand is also a set of associations connected to your business based on facts, emotions, and customers’ aspirations. How to Create Your Brand There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Amin recommends choosing from several branding formulas online to help you get started. Most formulas will require you to carefully articulate who you are and identify your customers and competitors. You’ll need to determine the type of community that you want to provide for your renters, physically and socially. As you work through each piece of the formula, be specific and authentic. Select messaging that feels natural even if (and especially if) it’s an unexplored angle for real estate. Your Brand—Everywhere, All the Time For the greatest impact, keep your brand in front of audience’s eyes. Be consistent with your messaging and steady with fresh marketing efforts that convey your messaging. “Use all your marketing tools including SEO,...

Empowered to Serve Jul26

Empowered to Serve

There are a lot of amazing people on this planet doing some fantastic work in their communities. These people are the heartbeats of nonprofits.  Each year, Yardi offices around the globe embark on a mission to support such organizations, their staff members and volunteers. Employees often nominate nonprofits that hold a special place in their heart. Yardi UK is proud to support the following nonprofits in their efforts to create a more just, peaceful, and equitable world. Follow any of the links below to show your support. MK Food Bank– Milton Keynes has experienced its share of economic success. But like all metropolitan areas, many residents struggle with poverty and occasional crisis. With the help of referral agencies, Milton Keynes Food Bank identifies families and individuals facing food insecurity. The non-profit then provides nutritious, essential food items throughout the year. MK Food Bank is fully funded by donations and operated by volunteers. MIND BLMK– Did you know that 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health issue each year? About 1 in 6 will experience a mental health issue at some point in their lives. MIND BLMK wants to ensure that no-one has to face a mental health problem alone. The non-profit offers aid through peer support groups, mentoring, counselling, and corporate programs for clients of all ages in Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes. Age UK Milton Keynes– Many seniors face isolation and a lack of support. Age UK provides an array of services for older adults in need. Through the organization, seniors can receive counselling and social activities as well as services like cleaning, technology support, and vetted trade recommendations. Keech Hospice– Keech is one of very few organizations that provide free care for adults and children facing life-limiting and terminal illnesses....

Parade of Playhouses Jul25

Parade of Playhouses

Each summer for the last 24 years, a special event benefiting a great cause sets up shop at the NorthPark Center shopping mall in Dallas. It’s the Parade of Playhouses benefitting Dallas Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), and it raises much-needed funds for this important non-profit organization. CASA supports abused and neglected children in the Dallas area in 1979. The nationwide organization helps children in need gain safe, permanent homes. Last year, 1,300 CASA volunteers helped 3,100 Dallas kids. Their efforts are made possible by year-round fundraising and donations. For the Parade of Playhouses, Dallas architects, builders, businesses and individuals donate time, design and supplies to construct tiny houses, which are unique, creative, and might make a grown-up wish they could go back in time. Each is on a 10×12 foundation footprint. Some are modern and artistic, others whimsical, all just cool. Who wouldn’t love a backyard escape with a rock-climbing wall on the outside? Or how about a replica tiny travel trailer for summer backyard campouts? Families purchase raffle tickets for $5 each and enter to win the playhouse of their choice. CASA benefits from the funds raised, and a handful of lucky donors end up with a very special addition to their backyards. “My daughter is 11, and every year she loves to look at all the playhouses to decide which raffle we’re going to enter. When we don’t win, she wants Daddy to try to build it for her,” said Michael Sheaffer, senior director of client services in Yardi’s Dallas office. This year, Yardi employees played an important role in helping the fundraiser run smoothly by donating time to volunteer at the 17-day event. A total of 30 employees from the Dallas office were able to make time to help CASA, one...

Retail Rewards Jul24

Retail Rewards

The sustainability framework that leading retail property owner, operator and developer Macerich operates under calls for eliminating energy waste and nearly eliminating emissions, water waste and landfill impact. Evidence of Macerich’s success in translating these “Innovating to Zero” principles into best practices includes a No. 1 GRESB Benchmark ranking for four years running among North American retailers and a Top 30 onsite generation designation in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership. The Santa Monica, Calif.-based S&P 500 company has generated 16 megawatts of grid relief and saved more than 300,000 KwH annually with solar panel installations and LED retrofits. It’s the only U.S. retail real estate company to earn the highest “Climate A List” ranking from CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project), the world’s most comprehensive collection of self-reported environmental data. Another accolade came in the form of a Commercial Real Estate Digital Innovation (“Digie”) Award in the Most Intelligent Building Project category that Macerich received at the Realcomm ׀ IBCon conferences in June. Macerich recently marked another notable milestone: the 10-year anniversary of a multifaceted energy management sustainability program that has reduced the company’s environmental impacts while squeezing every ounce of efficiency from its operations. The company’s plan called for using advanced energy management software to combine internet of things data with additional logic and analytics functionality. The goal was to turn disparate charts, graphs and reports into coherent, actionable intelligence for operations teams and managers across 51 million square feet of real estate in 15 U.S. states. The software central to achieving that vision, the Yardi Pulse Suite, integrated Macerich’s central energy management systems with utility billing, energy data collection and the Yardi Voyager property management and accounting system. The suite enables connection, analysis and display of building information from Macerich’s...

Chic. Cozy. Smart. Jul23

Chic. Cozy. Smart.

Sidewalk Labs, the urban innovation organization of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, has plans for a new neighbourhood in Toronto. The 800-acre site, Quayside, will be the first of its kind. The Neighbourhood Hip innovation and practicality combine on the streets of Quayside. “Torontonians want more affordable housing, faster ways to get around the city, safer streets for pedestrians and cyclists, [and] a cleaner and healthier environment,” said Jesse Shapins, Sidewalk Labs’s director of public realm. “That’s what we are aiming to do by creating this new neighbourhood.” To fulfill this vision, the site will be composed of mixed-use developments and 12 mass timber buildings up to 30 stories tall. “If the primary load-bearing structure is made of either solid or engineered wood, it’s a mass-timber building,” says Tsay Jacobs director of the Building Technology Lab at Perkins+Will and a member of the International Code Council’s Ad Hoc Committee on Tall Wood Buildings. The recently reimagined building method is a risk, but it bears great promise. Mass Timber + Modular Construction Due to innovations in building technologies, the unique construction style is strong enough to support tall structures with timber frames. It is also non-combustible, a necessity for many existing building codes. Canadian builders lead the industry in mass timber construction. The new Toronto neighbourhood has several experts on hand. In addition to durability and safety, mass timber construction can also be more sustainable. Sidewalk Labs estimates that construction carbon emissions will be 75 to 85 percent less than conventional construction. How? A combination of mass timber construction with modular technologies will allow for a significant portion of the building to take place off site. Modular construction cuts back on street closures, traffic congestion, scaffolding construction, site congestion, and a host of other disruptions and safety hazards. “We can build and manufactured building and have it stacked in a matter of months and have almost none of that disruption,” says Karim Khalifa, Director of Building Innovation with Sidewalk Labs. “By manufacturing, we should be more efficient and be able to drop down the cost to build these buildings.” Modular building also cuts back on the cost of renovations in the future. Modular spaces can be more easily customized as the needs of the resident or tenant change. “I can take a wall panel, make it become unclipped, and a new wall panel will be clipped in. The turnover time now will only be weeks,” says Khalifa. Buildings that permit greater customization may minimize cost construction and urban sprawl. As young families grow into larger families, for example, they may be able to grow in place. Quayside neighbourhoods become fluid, shifting with the needs of the community. “The landlord has the flexibility of taking that unit that might be one bedroom and combining them into family units to keep people on site,” says Leslie Gash, VP Development at Waterfront. Getting Around Getting around will also be more efficient. Quayside plans to connect to light rail for quick transit throughout the metropolitan area. A flexible streetscape is also in the works. Though the plans are not complete, the streetscape will meet Vision Zero guidelines and be suitable for autonomous vehicles. To boost pedestrian transit and cut traffic, covered walkways called “stoas” will help protect walkers from the elements. A floating walkway will connect Quayside with Promontory Park, an anticipated new greenspace. Pedestrians can also access the new Silo Park, which will be the star of the Parliament Slip inlet attraction. Efficiency has been worked into the power infrastructure as well. Grid energy for the buildings will be supported by photovoltaic panels, battery storage, geothermal wells, and sewer heat recovery. The ambitious combination of alternative energies aims to break tradition with neighbourhoods that are dependent upon city utilities. The housing plan breaks barriers, too. Toronto has faced an affordability crisis for years. At least 50 percent of residences will be priced at 40 percent below market rate....

Coworking Marketing

As the coworking and shared space industry continues to grow and evolve, it’s becoming much more evident that profitability is not only viable, there are ways to maximize and continue to grow your profits as an operator. Let’s dive into the best coworking marketing strategy for maximum growth. Host Events You’ve likely heard about the potential for fantastic events at coworking spaces. One of the major keys to building your brand is to hold events that are open to the local community. It’s free advertising! People who would otherwise have never stepped foot in your space get firsthand access to all the benefits your space provides. Even if they are not coworking candidates, word of mouth is one of your biggest assets. The more people know about your location, have been inside and can speak to its benefits, the better for you of course. Here are some ideas for events that you could organize within your space: Community panel discussions ‘Breakfast and Learn’ / happy hours Singles’ meetup events Yoga classes Also, keep in mind, if your space does not have 24/7 access, a great way to increase revenue is to host private events after hours. Whether it’s birthday parties, receptions, sporting event watch parties, or just about anything else that you have the room for and would take place past typical working hours. Last year’s Global Coworking Survey revealed that 21% of operators found organizing events to be a top challenge for them, and 50% said attracting new members was a top challenge. These events, whether during or after hours, will solve for a large part of both of those obstacles. Want to learn more about coworking marketing strategies? Check out the rest of this post on the Yardi Kube...

The data advantage Jul19

The data advantage

Editor’s note: reprinted with permission from Firestarters – Provada Edition. How to handle and collect available data is becoming a key competitive advantage in real estate, says Richard Gerritsen, regional director for Yardi in Europe. The quality of said data is essential.  The real estate industry currently faces a watershed moment. “We are in the middle of an explosion of the volume of available data. Tenant apps and all other proptech solutions are worth nothing without the data. The upside is that it is easy to get the data, but at the same time collecting it is also the most difficult – and boring – part,” Gerritsen recently told me. As the real estate industry becomes increasingly digitalised, the quality of data will become ever more important, says Gerritsen. “You could argue that data is the most crucial part of the business. We are living in the data era and it is such a big part of the real estate industry. Any proptech solution tries to add value based on the data already available. Without good-quality data, the value of a proptech solution is limited in a best-case scenario. If you can’t guarantee that the data is good, you can lay dozens of apps over it, but it won’t be a sustainable solution. Those who say it is too much of an effort to bring it together will not succeed.” Gerritsen provides the following example to illustrate the importance of getting the details right. “If I log into a tenant app and discover that the lease information is not correct, that I have logged into unit 24 instead of 23, or that the app doesn’t know me at all, that is really bad. In the past 20 years, those types of errors were commonplace,...

IoT in Multifamily Jul18

IoT in Multifamily

During the Canadian Federation of Apartment Associations (CFAA) annual conference, attendees walked away with a powerful call to action: understand the role of the Internet of Things (IoT) in your business before implementing. Fulfilling this objective can lead to success for multifamily firms of all sizes. What is the Internet of Things? The IoT embodies a multitude of devices that are connected to the internet. These devices range from smartphones to home automation and even wearable fitness monitors. Such devices can be controlled remotely and interact with other devices. In many cases, devices connected to the internet also gather and store user data to contribute to machine learning. Masa Hoshino, product manager at Yardi, explained that three components drive change in the IoT on the consumer level: hardware, software and culture. Hardware, like a smart refrigerator, may use wireless connectivity to automatically set the time on the clock. Software, such as apps installed on that fridge, is designed to solve a problem and provide a better user interface such as peeking in when grocery shopping. Lastly, the convenience of internet connectivity has made it a necessity for consumers. Connectivity increases the perceived value and functionality of hardware and software—and a home. How Does the IoT Impact Real Estate? In real estate, consumer culture and corporate benefits demand the integration of the IoT in our properties. Smart homes offer convenience, entertainment, and the potential for lower utility bills. While a home with multiple smart features is desirable for modern renters, multiple apps to control those features is very undesirable. True efficiency entails a single, reliable app that connects residents to their smart homes and property management through a secure user portal. For property stakeholders, the IoT can also be used to promote greater efficiency and...

Building a Flexible Brand Jul17

Building a Flexible Brand

New Yardi UK roundtable discussion: With more property companies launching flexible workspace brands, Property Week and Yardi gathered a panel of industry experts to identify the secrets of success in a highly competitive market. Justin Harley (JH) – regional director, coworking, Yardi Maria Cheung (MC) – director and head of interior design, Squire & Partners Giles Fuchs (GF) – chief executive, Office Space in Town Alessa McNally (AM) – head of member’s experience, The Office Group John Williams (JW) – head of marketing, The Instant Group Simon Creasey (SC) – (moderator) contributing editor/features, Property Week What are the key components needed to create a successful flexible workspace brand? GF: Location, design, building layout, staff, culture, ethos, IT, consistency of customer service. You can go on forever making a list, but all of those things need to be a part of it. AM: Location is absolutely key. It’s definitely at the top of the list of things we look for when opening up a space. Also member experience. We are here to create a memorable experience for our members. JW: I agree, it’s all about the member experience. The conventional real estate market is still referring to the ‘occupier’ or the ‘tenant’. They’re thinking about looking after an asset and not providing an experience, which is what flexible workspace providers do so well. Once people experience the flexible workspace market I think it’s a shock when they go back to conventional office space because the level of service just isn’t there. What makes a great location for a flexible workspace centre? GF: We previously had a company that covered the whole of the UK and when we opened a property outside London one of my metrics was it had to be five minutes -walk from a Marks & Spencer. In London, our MO is that the location has to be within a four-minute walk – five minutes is probably okay – of a tube or rail hub. JW: I said two years ago that we were going to start to see the rise of second cities and coworking and flexible space becoming a story in the regions and I’m glad to say I was right. Demand for flexible workspace in cities like Bristol, Birmingham and Manchester is increasing by 25% to 30% every single year at the moment. Those secondary cities in the UK are really flying and we’re also seeing that in Europe and in the States. How important is design and fit-out to a flexible workspace brand? MC: It’s become massively important. It should have always been massively important, but the standards have been raised and everyone is really enjoying and realising the benefit of great design in the workspace. It’s no longer about sitting at a fixed desk. We are working in different ways. People want to be able to sit, to stand, to walk around and look at things. Design can enhance and allow different ways of working through the use of things like natural light, biophilia, control of the environment and even acoustics. JH: One of my favourite spaces in London is [flexible workspace provider] Uncommon. They have a lot of biophilia, but it’s the scent in their buildings that’s really beautiful. Smell is one of the most important senses. JW: I think there is a perception of how coworking and flexible space should look; it’s a bit like coworking design bingo. There should be exposed brickwork, free beer, lots of dogs and avocados on tap, but that’s not the case. There is a real individuality of different approaches and different spaces being provided. In the flexible workspace and coworking sector the word ‘community’ pops up time and time again. How important is it to create a sense of community in your flexible workspace? MC: When we created The Ministry [The Ministry of Sound’s private members club and coworking space] we worked closely with them...

Yardi Client Profile Jul17

Yardi Client Profile

Established in 2015, Shannon Commercial Properties (SCP) is a subsidiary of Shannon Group plc and provides commercial property solutions to commercial, industrial and aviation markets. The company owns and manages seven business and technology parks and has over 1.8 million square feet of office and industrial space, as well as approximately 1,600 acres of development land in over 40 locations across counties Clare, Limerick, Tipperary, Kerry and Offaly in Ireland. “We are focused on expanding our property portfolio in the Mid West region with the provision of further third generation office and industrial facilities, primarily located in Shannon Free Zone West, beside Shannon Airport,” said Jennifer Kearns, finance manager for Shannon Commercial Properties. SCP adopted Yardi Voyager to improve business processes and to gain better control and visibility of operations in one system. The move from disparate systems enabled SCP to handle all aspects of portfolio management including lease management, reporting, budgeting, maintenance, and financials from a single database. Prior to adopting Yardi solutions, SCP was operating across six different management systems. Initially, a new structure was proposed which detailed a four-system approach: property management, financial management, debt management and document management. However, after further examination and detailed discussions with Yardi about the company’s key needs, it became apparent that SCP could streamline onto just one system, Yardi Voyager. “Streamlining onto a single system has allowed us operate with a more reliable set of data. Multiple systems had resulted in unreliable data, which had increased the potential for inaccurate reporting. Combined with the powerful reporting functionality with Voyager, SCP is far better positioned to make strategic decisions than previously,” said David Neylon, capital sales executive for SCP. Gaining control over workflows was a key driver in SCP’s move to Yardi Voyager. Voyager enables SCP...

Meet Melise Balastrieri

How do you get more renters to your websites? Just ask Melise Balastrieri, vice president of marketing for MG Properties Group. Using the RENTCafé Suite, Melise and her team manage the marketing for more than 20,000 apartment homes across five states. First, Melise uses RENTCafé to create engaging property marketing websites. Then she drives more prospects to those websites using the expert SEO services of  RENTCafé Reach. Once leads become prospects or residents, she relies on RENTCafé CRM to keep them engaged. Keep reading to see how Melise makes it all work together. What is MG Properties Group’s mission? Melise: Our mission is enriching lives through better communities. And we believe that we do that with every single interaction that we have, whether it’s with a team member, our residents or our investors. What is one of your business objective in your role as vice president of marketing? Melise: A business objective that’s important to me is maximizing our use of technology in a way that affects our bottom line. That includes using it to get more leads that turn into leases. Because it’s not important just to have a lot of leads; you have to have leads that convert. How do you make SEO work for you? Melise: We use RENTCafé Reach services to manage our SEO. We establish our goals based on the type of community we have, and our SEO specialist optimizes to make sure we’re attracting the leads most likely to convert. After all, we don’t just want a high quantity of leads; we’re more interested in high quality leads. RENTCafé Reach provides clear and consistent SEO reporting. We can see things like website sessions, views and bounce rates to determine if we want to make adjustments. It’s been working really nicely for us. After three years of strong consecutive growth, our organic sessions were up another 21% last year. How do you improve lead capture? Melise: To capture online renters that visit our property marketing websites, we use some features in RENTCafé that I think are very impactful. For instance, we encourage prospects to text us and schedule their own tours. We also use nudge marketing. These tools help us get in front of leads and give them options to contact us in ways that work for them. Our most recent data shows that, overall, our leads convert at 11%. But our self-scheduled appointment leads convert at 14% and our nudge marketing leads convert at 27%. These features are proving quite effective. How do you follow up with leads? Melise: At MG Properties Group, we automate follow-ups as much as we possibly can. Leasing teams are so busy onsite that follow-ups can get forgotten. Using follow-up tools in RENTCafé CRM, we know our prospects are being contacted. We’ll use automated appointment reminders and drip emails to make sure we’re staying in touch with prospects. We invite them to call, tour and ask questions. We also use automated emails to stay in touch with our residents and secure renewals. We check in throughout their lease. As the end of their lease term nears, we express appreciation for their residency and remind them that we would love it if they continued living with us. Why do you use Yardi? Melise: What I really like about having Yardi as our property management technology provider is that most of the services we need are available in one solution. So we can deal with one company. That helps us simplify things as an organization. What marketing trends are you most excited about? Melise: I’m most excited about artificial intelligence. I think it’s super exciting and am anxious to see what it’s going to do for our industry. For example, Alexa and other digital assistants, what are they going to do for us? Will they be able to host tours, collect rent and submit service requests for our renters? (Editor’s...

AI for Real Estate Jul15

AI for Real Estate

When you think of artificial intelligence (AI) in real estate, do you imagine a young Haley Joel Osment conducting unit tours? Maybe Data from Star Trek taking your job? Fortunately, the integration of AI into real estate is subtler. The day-to-day applications of AI are a great investment for your organization when you’re working with the right provider and services. During the 2019 CFAA Conference, Dharmendra Sawh, industry principal, sales for Yardi Elevate at Yardi Canada spoke on the selection and integration of AI for real estate professionals. Below are a few takeaways. What is AI in the Context of Real Estate? AI includes machine learning and problem solving. In layman’s terms, this means that your software can gather data, process the information, and then use it to make observations and predictions. With the use of algorithms and statistical models, the software can use patterns and inference to perform tasks without receiving guidance from the user. In real estate, Sawh explained, AI assists with countless day-to-day functionalities. It can collect data to show utility consumption by season, building, unit and tenant history. It can observe trends and identify oddities that may indicate a problem, such as a leak in a unit or ineffective SEM keywords. Apps that facilitate online leasing and marketing can increase response rates and improve property listing results. This information helps real estate professionals manage costs. The possible applications for AI in real estate are endless! When is AI Right for You? With its vast array of potential, it is important for real estate professionals to discern which AI applications are beneficial for them. Sawh suggested that AI is best applied in two circumstances: when there is a need for strong and unbiased data and when you want to create smoother...

Energy Education Jul14

Energy Education

Yardi didn’t have to venture far recently to share sustainability expertise with an audience eager for innovative energy efficiency ideas. The company provided top-level sponsorship plus an exhibit and speaker for the California Higher Education Sustainability Conference (CHESC), a forum for research and case studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, just a few miles from its headquarters. The four-day gathering included more than 700 California higher education professionals including sustainability coordinators, construction, energy and environmental managers, engineers and facilities directors along with faculty and students. Experts from Yardi shared how the Yardi Pulse Suite, an integrated set of software solutions, supports sustainability efforts by helping reduce energy costs and consumption across all property types. They provided examples of the company’s success in helping property owners benchmark to ENERGY STAR® and make energy efficiency investments, and shared how Yardi promotes energy efficiency and sustainability through webinars, articles in trade publications, educational sessions at industry conferences and other activities. CHESC attendees learned that Yardi further displayed its sustainability sensibilities by achieving ENERGY STAR certification for its headquarters in 2018 and installing a real-time online dashboard that shows consumption data for each building at the corporate campus. In April 2019, the company’s initiatives earned designation as an ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year. “It is our hope that tools like ours will continue to help property owners and managers be more successful with energy initiatives and comply with new mandates like the California 2030 Green Building Goals,” Lexi Beausoleil, marketing campaigns specialist for Yardi energy solutions, told the conference, adding that technology can be a powerful tool for engaging people to “see the impact of their behaviors and empower them to make better choices.” Other presenters at the conference’s opening session included Dominique Hargreaves, deputy...

Workplace Accolade Jul12

Workplace Accolade

Yardi client Brightview Senior Living was named a “Best Place to Work” by the Great Place to Work Institute. It is one of only 40 aging services workplaces in the nation to receive the honor.  Each year, Great Place to Work reviews applications and surveys to determine which thriving employers also have satisfied and enthusiastic employees. The goal of its evaluations and certifications is to help employers create outstanding, competitive workplaces that shine in business metrics like growth, profitability, and retention. Great Place to Work is also responsible for the annual Fortune “100 Best Companies to Work For®” list. To determine a “Best Place to Work” certification, Great Place to Work reviewed the surveys of more than 1,000 Brightview Senior Living employees. Each survey addressed 60 elements of team members’ experiences on the job. Those elements explored how employees feel about their work, their views on their workplace, employer’s involvement in the community, and the support and encouragement provider by the employer. Rankings are directly influenced by employees’ survey responses. Additional factors include metrics on cultural programs available to employees, workplace practices to attract and maintain talent, and programming that supports employees’ work-life balance. “We applaud Brightview Senior Living for seeking certification and releasing its employees’ feedback,” said Dr. Jacquelyn Kung, CEO, Great Place to Work’s senior care division. “These ratings measure its capacity to earn its own employees’ trust and create a great workplace for high performance.” Check out the feature story on the Brightview blog. Brightview Senior Living constructions, owns and manages a portfolio of 35 senior living communities that offer independent living, assisted living and dementia care. Properties span the East Coast as far south as Virginia. Learn more at...

AptCon Recap Jul11

AptCon Recap

Are you practicing the most efficient and effective management strategies? Implementing technology at every point in the leads-to-leases process can help you optimize your approach. During the 2019 SVN Rock Advisors Apartment Conference (AptCon) in downtown Toronto, Peter Altobelli, vice president and general manager, sales at Yardi Canada, presented on the impact of new technology on property management strategies. In the session, “Operations and Management: Maximizing Value Through Professional Management,” Altobelli collaborated with fellow industry experts Lucy Gouveia, marketing and leasing director at Greenwin, Zola Mehlmakulu, operations manager at Skycord, and Trish MacPherson, executive vice president, operations at CAPREIT. The panel discussed the inextricable tie between successful modern management and technology. Marketing and Lease-Up Strategies Intelligent software can make the marketing and lease-up processes more efficient and effective. The panel recommended the following strategies: Create, launch and maintain a corporate website, regardless if you are in the construction phase. Include floor plans, photos and videos. Websites promote your brand and attract prospects who are interested in becoming a part of your community. For new builds, begin the lease-up at least two months into construction. This schedule provides time to craft your renter experience within your marketing and customer relationship management (CRM) software. Paying special attention to your renter experience provides you with a way to build trust, reliability, and customer satisfaction with prospects. “Yardi in Canada is known for our ERP and accounting software solutions,” began Altobelli. “In conjunction with that, we’re offering a fully integrated marketing and CRM solution in a single database that connects to all Yardi products. With lease-up underway, the advantages of a fully integrated system become apparent. Once the applicant becomes a resident, their information is fed seamlessly into the property management and accounting system. Having integrated software saves...