Tech + Growth Oct26

Tech + Growth

Arabian Centres Company Ltd (ACCL) became Saudi Arabia’s largest developer, owner and operator of retail malls by offering international-standard quality shopping and entertainment. In formulating a strategy to build on that success, ACCL’s executive team came to realize that expanding its portfolio across the Kingdom depends as much on harnessing new technology as on providing high-quality retail and leisure offerings. The task of keeping ACCL’s property management software in tune with the company’s strategy lies principally with Rashed Alothman, ACCL’s chief information officer. “A desire to take on new challenges and drive improvements and achievements for the business is my primary motivation,” Alothman said. ACCL, a subsidiary of Fawaz Al Hokair Group, has grown to encompass 19 shopping centers in 10 cities since its founding in 2001.  Its more than 1 million square meters of total gross leasable area (GLA) represent a quarter of all organized GLA in the Kingdom.  ACCL transformed the Kingdom’s retail sector with a commitment to create unparalleled destinations for shoppers, leisure seekers and retailers. ACCL has embraced an aggressive strategy designed to reinforce its position as the Kingdom’s premier mall operator. Eight developments in the pipeline will nearly double its portfolio to approximately 2 million square meters of GLA.  The growth plans are part of a larger goal.  “We seek to advance beyond developing mere functional properties.  We aspire to create living, vibrant and integrated communities and enhance the quality of life for tenants and customers alike,” Alothman said. To achieve that goal and make sure ACCL properties remain the destination of choice for 132 million annual visitors and 3,600 retail outlets, Alothman is spearheading a digital transformation program.  The initiative emphasizes expanding technology capability and utilization in such areas as business-to-business communication, social media and numerous operational procedures. ...

Growing with Matrix Oct25

Growing with Matrix

With 4,200 units of owned multifamily housing, MACC Venture Partners is on a mission to more than double in size, according to managing partners Tony and John Azar. Based in Gastonia, N.C., MACC Venture Partners is a private equity owner operator of commercial real estate engaged in active pursuit of capital preservation and appreciation. With over 4,200 owned apartment units and over 5,000 under management, the family owned and operated firm is currently pursuing an aggressive growth strategy of Class B and C properties in the Southeast U.S. To identify the best deals to augment its portfolio, MACC Venture Partners chose Yardi Matrix as its source of dependable real estate data. Matrix offered the most complete information for the most reasonable price point, and covered all the markets required, John Azar said. Yardi Matrix is the real estate data provider of choice for MACC Venture Partners because of its comprehensive market analytics, including for secondary and tertiary real estate markets. Many of the properties that MACC Venture Partners considers for acquisition are often located outside of major cities, so coverage of these markets is important for the company. “The granularity of the data was important to us and not only from a primary market perspective. We don’t operate just in major metro areas, we operate in first, second and third tier areas. Yardi Matrix has the data we need,” said Azar. Matrix was instrumental during MACC Venture Partners’ recent acquisition in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where the company purchased a 168-unit garden apartment community in partnership with Legacy Capital Partners. “(Matrix) was very relevant to this transaction because North Myrtle Beach area had less available data than Myrtle Beach. This was a situation where Yardi gave us good data not just about the...

Success Stories

Little makes us happier than hearing about a client’s success with one of our products. Unless that same client is experiencing success with three of our products! We recently had exactly that happen when we sat down to chat with Belinda Torres and Heather Palmer of Continental Realty Corporation (CRC) about their experience with RENTCafé. It turned out that CRC wasn’t just getting positive results and feedback from using RENTCafé, the company was also seeing measurable returns by extending its marketing platform with both RENTCafé CRM and RENTCafé Reach. Keep reading to see how CRC improved their online presence, lead tracking and organic traffic with a suite of integrated marketing solutions. Meet CRC CRC was founded in 1960. Headquartered in Baltimore, it’s a full-service multifamily and commercial real estate investment and management company. It uses Yardi software to manage a diversified portfolio featuring nearly 10,000 apartment homes and retail centers consisting of more than 3.5 million square feet of space. Better Websites Before adopting RENTCafé, CRC had a corporate website that hadn’t been redesigned in a decade and didn’t have individual property websites. “There wasn’t any SEO value,” said Torres, corporate marketing director at CRC. “Keywords and alt tags weren’t being utilized. There was nothing to help a prospective resident find us.” CRC used RENTCafé to create marketing websites for every multifamily property in its portfolio. CRC also uses COMMERCIALCafé to create websites for its commercial properties. “The websites that we have now are attractive. Photos and tours are what people want to see, and we’ve been able to give that to them with RENTCafé,” said Torres. The sites are mobile-friendly and allow the marketing team to upload videos and custom content for each community. Applicants can apply online and receive and submit all...

Tech Transforms Oct12

Tech Transforms

“Information technology is the core of your business and every business,” states Brian Turpin, vice president of information technology for Greenwin, one of Canada’s largest privately owned residential property management companies. Headquartered in Toronto, Greenwin has a combined staff of over 500 employees. The company professionally owns and/or manages more than 1,000,000 square feet of commercial space and 15,000 residential units throughout central Canada. Greenwin is currently using integrated software solutions for accounting, construction management, budgeting and forecasting, procurement, inventory control, and maintenance management — operating on a single platform. Turpin’s role over the past four and a half years has been to work with Yardi, Greenwin’s software vendor, to meet the company’s evolving needs as it seeks to do more digitally. Part of this rewarding relationship includes beta testing Yardi’s latest innovative products. Currently, Greenwin is testing VENDORCafé, the one-stop-shop for vendor management. Changing the Way People Work Turpin describes the way he looks at new technology as “digital transformation” and is always asking himself and his team, “what challenge does this product solve for us?” Usually, the answer to that question includes the ability to untether Greenwin’s staff with the option to use mobile devices and leave their laptops behind.  Turpin further elaborated on this line of questioning, “How can we do what we’re doing every day better, and where can technology take us? Are we at risk for falling behind, and do we need to automate more manual tasks and digitize our paper-based resources to create greater efficiencies?” For help with answering these questions and more, Turpin reaches out to Yardi. “Why not be the first to ask for something that maybe no one else is asking for yet? Yardi will endeavor to make it happen — and that close collaboration...

Intuitive Integration Oct11

Intuitive Integration...

With 30 senior living communities across six states, Merrill Gardens provides a lifestyle approach to senior housing that’s unique to each locale they inhabit. By designing each community with characteristics unique the area in which they reside, Merrill Gardens creates a comfortable and welcoming environment for residents so they can relax and feel at home. “We take great pride in the fact that we spend a lot of time making sure that our communities, especially the senior side have a place to live that is like a home,” says David Wiedeman, Business Systems Analyst for Merrill Gardens. “It’s a place you want to be. With activities integrated into the community, our residents aren’t living on an isolated island but are going to events and participating in clubs and other activities. This keeps everyone active and connected.” Making the switch to an integrated platform allows Merrill Gardens to avoid missed billing opportunities and increase revenue. Previious a CFO for a property management company, David was once a third party consultant for Yardi. When Merrill Gardens began implementing the Yardi platform, David and his team worked side-by-side with Yardi to ensure the switchover went smoothly. “If you have the vision of what you want, Yardi can build it,” says David.  “Yardi has a good knack of hiring people who are really good in their fields, they are specialized but can also be creative and help us meet our needs across different channels, including the residential and senior sides of our portfolio.” As part of his role as Business Systems Analyst, David spearheads software infrastructure and administration for Merrill Gardens, overseeing all Yardi modules as well as software implementations throughout the company. A big supporter of the single stack solution, David feels Yardi provides an unmatchable combination...

Apartment Idol

For musicians Jay Filson of Nasvhille and Jeremy Gentry of Chicago, a year of free rent in a brand-new apartment building is a golden ticket while they work toward establishing fledgling music careers. And for Chicago-based Magellan Development Group, a Yardi client, hosting the two musicians as “Artists in Residence” at its new properties is an amenity so unique that it has garnered significant press attention. Filson and Gentry are the inaugural winners of a creative lease-up competition held by Magellan as it marketed The Sobro in Nashville, and Exhibit on Superior in Chicago. The goal was to find Artists in Residence who would perform at the communities and provide music lessons to residents in exchange for a year of free rent. The Contest Each Artist in Residence winner competed against dozens of other musicians who submitted videos about why they were the most deserving and talented applicants. A live final performance, a la American Idol, concluded the competition. “Our Magellan principals envision this musician/artist in residence as teaching, playing, connecting with our residents in a variety of ways. They believe that music brings people together,” said Sherri Cuda, Director of Leasing for Magellan. Both Filson and Gentry are newly out of college and each was struggling to figure out what next steps their pursuit of a music career would take when they heard about the “Sobro Star” and “Exhibit A-Lister” competitions. Gentry, who works at one of Chicago’s dueling piano bars in the evenings, was thinking of moving back in with his parents. Filson had been working in marketing but knew that music was really the passion he wanted to pursue. “This is the kind of opportunity that does not come up, ever,” Gentry said. “I’m hoping that before next year I can make some original music. That’s my goal, to release an EP or a short album of original music before my time is done here.” Filson has a similar plan. He was working at his alma mater, Indian Wesleyan University, when the opportunity to compete for free rent in “Music City USA” came his way. “I tried not to get my hopes up too high but it just seemed like such a perfect opportunity,” he said. “And then it worked out, so I packed up all my stuff and moved to Nashville.” Since arriving, he’s been working on establishing a broad base of contacts and exploring the local music scene. “People here really do care about music in a really exceptional way. So it’s fun to be able to play for people and residents here that really love music and are open to hearing new artists,” Filson said. Benefits all Residents As part of the terms of the contest, each Artist in Residence puts in 30 hours a month of musical contributions toward their community. “We get a great deal out of it, but the residents get in house entertainment on a regular basis,” said Filson, who often mixes his own original work with mash-ups from popular artists like Eminem. “I’ve been playing by the pool, playing any events we have, and playing events at other Magellan buildings,” said Gentry, who is trained as a pianist but also plays guitar and drums. To augment his preparation for work at the piano bar, Gentry asks his neighbors for their song requests when he plays at the pool. He also has a list of residents who are interested in lessons and plan to start teaching soon. Expanding Possibilities Cuda says that Magellan plans to continue to roll out the contest in other future lease-ups, with the option to expand the scope. The talent portion of the event garnered significant publicity and attention in both markets. Local public relations agencies helped market it via social media and local news outlets. “In future projects, we intend to tailor the program. We may include culinary, wellness, fitness, or other areas. We...

Smart Growth Jul26

Smart Growth

New hire onboarding is a necessary process for all growing multifamily organizations. It is also a major pain point. Dominium, a Minneapolis-based leading apartment development and management company, set goals to double in size by 2025. To reach its goals, the company needs an innovative and efficient training solution. Maya Kasangaki, Senior Service Desk Technician and Yardi Trainer, explains how Yardi eLearning has prepared her organization for growth. Onboarding Dilemmas Dominium faced challenges that are familiar to other property management firms: high turnover and costly, inefficient training processes. The organization hosted monthly weeklong trainings for new community managers at the corporate office.  In addition to regular conference calls, these nearly six-hour training sessions consumed the majority of Kasangaki’s time. Once complete, she lacked a consistent way to track students’ understanding and content retention. “If we have training with 12 people on the call, it’s hard to make sure that everyone is absorbing the information. They aren’t as comfortable bringing up questions or starting a discussion in the midst of a training,” she observes. High turnover exacerbated the already frustrating situation. “Because of the staff turnover in property management, we would train someone but they didn’t have basic knowledge of the industry. The information we provided  was maybe going over their head. Then we would hire someone to replace them and we would have to begin this process all over again,” says Kasangaki. Dominium sought a training solution that would simplify and expedite new hire onboarding. Online Solutions for Onboarding and Growth In 2016, Dominium implemented Yardi eLearning. The company customized the curricula to include soft skills courses, videos, webinars, and more. Kasangaki appreciates the ability to deliver content in different formats, allowing learners to receive the information in a way that appeals to their...

Creative Funding Jul24

Creative Funding

Desperate times call for creative solutions. The city of Allentown, Pennsylvania faced a multimillion-dollar deficit, high crimes rates, and a dwindling population. A unique approach to capital investment saved the city, producing what the mayor calls “Allentown 4.0.” William Billowitch, Controller, City Center Investment Corporation, sits down with Yardi to explore the organization’s singular approach to development. Built from Necessity The city of Allentown, the third largest city in Pennsylvania, descended into a rut during the recession. Its blighted neighborhoods became a hotbed for crime. While neighboring cities gradually pulled out of their recession lows, Allentown continued to descend. In the effort to save the town, local leaders and visionaries from the public and private sector worked together to draft a revitalization plan for the urban core. With that plan in mind, real estate development firm City Center Investment Corporation created City Center Lehigh Valley. The mixed-use complex is helping to transform downtown Allentown into one of America’s most vibrant urban communities. It is a regional center of excellence for business, culture and metropolitan living. “Our objective is to stimulate downtown, the economy. We use pretty much almost all Pennsylvania labor, all Pennsylvania products, to build,” says Billowitch. With Allentown’s new arena, PPL Center, at its core, City Center includes more than 1 million square feet. The campus includes three Class A office towers, the Renaissance Allentown Hotel, STRATA East and West residential buildings, The Shops at City Center, upscale restaurant space and a co-working space called Velocity. The seven-story office building, One City Center, was the first installment of a 10-year master planned project. In addition to office space, it is home to a sports performance and fitness center. One City Center is currently fully leased. “Since then, we’ve opened a building every...

Western Focused Jul19

Western Focused

Casey Lynch and Mike Brown were graduate school classmates at UCLA when they started their real estate investment and development company, LocalConstruct, with limited funds and bona fide sweat equity. “We bought a $55,000 condominium in Fontana, Calif. that we painted and renovated ourselves. We were at Home Depot, buying our own supplies,” recalled Lynch. Flash forward nearly a decade, and LocalConstruct has become a thriving small firm with multifamily and mixed-use projects in California, Colorado, Idaho and Montana.  The Los Angeles-based company, a Yardi client, has developed 2,000 apartment units to date. Lynch and Brown have a specific vision for urban infill development. Seeking out markets with plentiful jobs but limited work-proximate housing, they have hit a sweet spot where limited supply meets unprecedented demand. We talked with Lynch about LocalConstruct’s market choices and formula for success.   You started your company in 2008, when real estate was in a desperate place. Why? Lynch: We saw a great opportunity to start an entrepreneurial enterprise, given the volatility in the market at the time. We raised a small fund to go out and buy single family homes and convert them into real properties in Los Angeles. You always hear developers who have been in the business 30 to 40 years talk about their first deal and working their way up the ladder. For us and our story, that would be true.   Things have changed tremendously since then. What happened to LocalConstruct in the last nine years? Lynch: We went from one unit projects to 2 to 4 to 8 to 20 to 100 to 300. We have a presence in four states in the West and we are focused on infill housing strategies, primarily rental housing, and we are focused on emerging markets...

Tradition Meets Tech Jul14

Tradition Meets Tech

With 8 communities in Illinois, Ohio and Michigan and 3 more in development, Randall Residence prides itself on a history of providing quality care dating back to 1975. Though the company has been around longer than the personal computer, they aren’t stuck in the past. In fact, by embracing the data management capabilities of Yardi to improve staff efficiency and more effectively manage operations throughout their portfolio, Randall Residence is using the best of modern technology to continue their track record of excellence. For Noel Salgado, a key element of the company’s success lies in its ability to harness the power of information. As CFO for Randall Residence, Salgado watched as the company transitioned from a small, regional company to a senior living provider with properties spanning three states. As the company evolved, its needs also changed, including demand for a comprehensive and integrated software system capable of incorporating accounting and care management. “As CFO I want to make sure I can see all the effects that are occurring in real time instead of having to wait a month before knowing whether anything needs to be adjusted,” says Salgado. From Basic to Comprehensive When Salgado first arrived at Randall Residence, the company was in the early stages of Voyager 6 integration. Although Salgado was aware of the software’s capabilities, he admits that at first Randall Residence was “using it in a very minimal way.” “We weren’t utilizing all the Yardi Voyager capabilities at first,” he says. “For the longest time, we used only a minimal portion of the software, before realizing the value of what we could do.” For Salgado, the realization hit when the company transitioned to Voyager 7S and began to add modules and expand utilization. “Moving from Voyager 6 to Voyager...

Affordable Housing Jul12

Affordable Housing

In the face of crippling budget cuts, housing authorities rely on innovation, resourcefulness, and advanced software to stimulate growth. Carlos Pizarro serves as Vice President of Housing at Housing Authority of the City of Lakeland, Florida. His decade of experience in the private sector made him an unlikely candidate for the position. That experience, however, is the key to the housing authority’s success. “Public housing and section 8 must change,” reflects Pizarro.  “It needs the private sector and the public sector to work together to create something new. I don’t see the government able to support Section 8 and public housing forever. There has to be an effort between everybody.” Such industry changes are felt across the nation. Fort Smith Housing Authority in Arkansas has managed to ride the waves of these changes under the guidance of Rachel Brown, Section 8 Director. “You can’t depend on public housing funding anymore,” Brown says. “Public housing is going away. A lot of us are focused on converting public housing into RAD.” Fort Smith Housing Authority demolished 170 of its public housing units. The 288 remaining units were converted to Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) units. RAD, per the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, “allows public housing agencies to leverage public and private debt and equity in order to reinvest in the public housing stock.” The program is an effort to address a $25.6 billion dollar-backlog of public housing capital improvements. Blending funding options within a portfolio, and even within a single project, is one way that housing authorities stay afloat. Discovering untraditional sources of income is another. Innovative Incomes Both the City of Lakeland and Fort Smith housing authorities have created construction and development branches. “We got into developing properties, which is new for a housing...

Kindness Rules Jul11

Kindness Rules

To mark two decades in the senior care industry, Benchmark Senior Living recently embarked on a seven state mission to spread kindness and neighborly love in towns and neighborhoods where the company’s 54 senior living communities are located. For the month of June, residents living near a Benchmark community discovered care packages on their doorstep along with small helpful acts like a newspaper moved closer to their front porch, all with a note commemorating Benchmark’s “Radiant Acts of Kindness.” Employees committed to 1,000 such acts throughout the month. “This is Benchmark’s 20th anniversary year, and we want to give back to the communities and families that have supported our company’s growth since 1997,” Tom Grape, the company’s founder, and CEO said in a statement. “So, every one of our 54 senior living communities across seven Northeast states — and our home office in Waltham, Mass., — has committed to performing at least 20 Radiant Acts of Kindness during June in their local neighborhoods and towns.” Located in Waltham, Mass., Benchmark Senior Living operates 54 senior living communities throughout the Northeast. They offer services ranging from independent living to skilled nursing and memory care. For the last nine years, Benchmark has been recognized by The Boston Globe as one of the “Top 100 Places to Work,” and many of Benchmark’s executive directors and staff embraced the June initiative. Every one of Benchmark’s communities committed to the 1000 Acts, with many taking a creative approach that went beyond gift baskets to include washing cars, providing free tennis balls to neighborhood dogs to handing out random gift certificates. “We can’t wait to share these compassionate acts with West Chester and surrounding areas,” commented Doug Buttner, executive director, Wellington at Hershey’s Mill. “Our employees already have surprises prepared...

Going Digital Jun14

Going Digital

By adopting an electronic health record platform with a centralized database, senior living provider Northbridge Companies lives up to its commitment of providing best quality of care to its residents. When Northbridge companies made the choice to transition from paper documentation to electronic health records, the company’s primary objective involved eliminating redundant tasks and improving staff productivity. As someone on the front lines during the company’s switch to Yardi EHR, Marcia Suddy saw firsthand how swiftly technology can improve the workplace. “One of the biggest changes with electronic records versus paper is that you can lay your hands on information very quickly,” she says. “That reduces the length of time needed to resolve issues and helps us provide the best quality of care to our residents.” Live Well, Love Life Founded in 2006, privately owned senior living provider with 15 communities servicing residents across New England, Northbridge Companies has made providing quality senior care a priority for over a decade. Northbridge Community provides its 850 residents with an environment designed to “encourage freedom, offer lifestyle choices, and provide the necessary services to live life to the fullest.” When Suddy began her nursing studies, she quickly realized she felt a connection to seniors. “While I was earning my administrator’s license and BC certification, I absolutely fell in love with senior care,” she says. “I don’t foresee ever doing anything else.” As Regional Director of Care Services for Northbridge, Suddy feels great satisfaction working for a company she describes as being “passionate about senior care.” “It’s such a relief to work for an organization that truly lives up to the values they advocate,” she says. “It’s not just the president of the company, but the associates, the investors, the families. Everyone is committed to providing the...

Communication Counts Jun12

Communication Counts

When it comes to the senior living industry, one word reigns supreme: community. Whether it’s memory care, assisted living or simply providing the opportunity to live independently, all manner of senior living options pivot on the notion that residents and their families are keen to sustain connections and keep life in the golden years meaningful and nurturing. One key aspect integral to the creation of a senior community is communication, between staff, caregivers, residents and their families. “Communication is one of the biggest challenges we face as an industry,” says Dennis McCarthy, CIO at Superior Residences. “In the senior housing market, you are not just serving the resident, you’re serving the family that cares about them as well, so it’s important to ensure everyone stays connected.” Care, Comfort and Accountability Florida-based Superior Residences exemplifies the multifaceted nature of the senior living industry, with services ranging from independent living to assisted living and memory care. Superior Residences even provides a Day Stay Program designed to give at home caregivers a break by providing resident care for shorter periods of time from a few hours to the whole day. The company’s mission statement, “building trust so that residents, families and our team have peace” demonstrates Superior Residences commitment to creating an atmosphere of care and comfort based on a set of core values including “integrity, service, efficiency and fun.” As one of the company’s founders, McCarthy understands the essential role accountability plays in fulfilling those core values, an accountability made all the easier by the company’s use of Yardi Voyager for Senior Housing. “Billing needs to be as accurate as possible so that you can explain to resident why they are being charged and what services they are being billed for,” he explains. “When you have...

Lee-Ann St. Jacques Jun07

Lee-Ann St. Jacques

In the northern half of Ontario, Canada, daily life maintains a bridge to an earlier time. Economic drivers include gold mining, and until recently, a paper mill. Winters are long and sometimes unusually frigid. One local politician says the area, an eight hour drive from Toronto,  is “truly one of the last frontiers left in the country.” But despite those links to the past, the region has modern problems. Poverty, addiction, domestic violence and elder care are issues here on the last frontier just like anywhere else. Thankfully, there are leaders like Lee-Ann St. Jacques to help address them. St. Jacques was recently honored as the Influential Women of Northern Ontario’s Executive of the Year. A passionate advocate for supportive housing services, she serves as Area Manager of the Cochrane District Social Services Administration (a Yardi client), which delivers social services to a far-flung region encompassing 145,618 square kilometers – and around 83,000 residents. “Housing is a critical part of our region’s future and yet it remains one of the most underfunded elements. Lee-Ann has not let that deter her from leading one of the most significant housing outcomes of our generation,” wrote Peter Politis, Mayor of Cochrane, one of the larger towns in the district. Politis and other area officials expressed profuse support for St. Jacques’ nomination for the executive honor. “One primary passion for Lee-Ann is that of ensuring adequate and affordable housing for the growing needs of seniors living in our community,” wrote Michael Shea, Mayor of Iroquois Falls, the town where St. Jacques lives and works. In addition to her day job, she has also served as the director of the Iroquois Falls Chamber of Commerce and worked toward establishing a community senior center and garden. “For me it is all about the people I serve. It is seeing the impact on their lives, that is my motivation. Everyone needs a safe place to call home; to live in dignity and to achieve a healthy quality of life,” St. Jacques said. She fell into public housing somewhat accidentally as a career path, but has now been with the CDSSAB for 28 years. In that time, St. Jacques has worked on numerous development projects to augment the area’s housing stock and consolidate local delivery of social services. Housing for victims of domestic violence and two-bedroom affordable and accessible units for seniors have been among the projects. The most recent work involved a public-private partnership to construct 32 units of supportive housing for seniors. With the final closure of the Resolute Paper Mill in Iroquois Falls in 2015, a significant portion of the town’s population relocated to find other jobs. The ripple effect impacted many. NE Ontario Communities are struggling with youth out-migrating to secure employment and seniors leaving to reside in supportive and assisted living facilities. “We are ahead of the curve when it comes to senior supportive and affordable housing, but we are not at the crest of Baby Boomers yet. This is a pilot project for us as we know based on our demographics and community consultations there is going to be an increasing demand over the next 10-20 years,” she said. Mayor Politis noted: “Our mothers and fathers, who have built their homes and lives here, can now remain in their roots, with dignity and family nearby. I can’t think of a better gift from one person to many others.” Within her organization, St. Jacques has impacted future-focused change, including the implementation of the Yardi Voyager platform. With such a far flung region to oversee, she noted that Yardi’s cloud based technology has been a huge help to the CDSSA. “Because of the size of our district, to be able to go to another community and have access to the database, or to be able to work from home, that’s fantastic,” she said. While St. Jacques is recognized regionally for her work, she...

Stephanie Williams May08

Stephanie Williams

Bozzuto Management Company President Stephanie L. Williams was recently recognized by the Washington Business Journal as one of the top 25 minority business leaders in Washington, D.C. One of the co-founders and co-champions of the Bozzuto Diversity and Inclusion program, which strives to cultivate diversity at every level of the company, Williams has strongly held views on how those in the multifamily industry can make their corporate cultures more innovative and strengthen relationships with residents. What do you believe was the greatest factor in your success? Williams: I’ve been at Bozzuto since 2004. I came in as a development associate, having been brought on board as a result of relationships I started in graduate school. I learned early on that building relationships was a key to getting opportunities and to being successful. Once I joined Bozzuto I continued building relationships, demonstrating knowledge of the business and my interest in the industry. And that was evidence I was committed to the company and wanted to grow within the company. I was pretty vocal about saying I wanted to become a leader and also in saying, ‘Help me understand how to do that.’ I supplemented that with relationships outside the company, which allowed me to bring business into the company, whether it was a company we could partner with or build for. I’ve always been a big believer in mentors both inside and outside the company. They have helped me strategically navigate through my career, urging me to take risks and sometimes to show patience. And then just not being afraid to take risks. That separates the good from the great. There were times when I made a decision that wasn’t the right one. But showing the initiative and the willingness to think outside the box...

NewRiver REIT Mar27

NewRiver REIT

The British retail investment market joins the rest of the United Kingdom’s business community in facing a host of unknowns in 2017.  Chief among them is the timing and impact of the UK’s exit from the European Union following the outcome of the referendum in June 2016. Yardi caught up with one its partners, NewRiver REIT, a specialist retail and leisure investor, asset manager and developer whose convenience-led positioning means it is uniquely placed to navigate these uncertain times. NewRiver’s £1.3 billion portfolio includes 33 community shopping centres, 22 retail parks, 16 high street assets and 350 pubs. The portfolio provides consumers up and down the UK with its daily essentials – those items essential to daily life, the things consumers require, opposed to what they simply desire. Fundamental to the success of the business over the past seven and half years has been how NewRiver has engaged with and satisfied all the stakeholders within its chain, from store customers, retailers, peers, advisors and local authorities all the way to its institutional investors and shareholders. “At the heart of the retail sector is the customer and our business begins with building and retaining consumer loyalty,” says Emma Mackenzie, a Director at NewRiver who manages assets in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the north-east of England. “At the local level, we make sure our shopping centres satisfy the needs of the towns they serve. Its about providing a variety of products and services at a price the customer can afford. Furthermore, we work hard to ensure the environment is fit for purpose – and that includes such basic factors as the centre being clean and accessible as well as bright and attractive and providing somewhere to sit down or get a cup of tea.” Brexit has triggered...

Pivotal Point Mar22

Pivotal Point

Each year, more than 4,000 households rely on the services of Everett Housing Authority (EHA) of Snohomish County, Wa. The new Pivotal Point community reflects the importance of new beginnings for residents as well as for the space that they occupy. Old Site, New Purpose The site of Pivotal Point is the former Oswald US Army Reserve Center. It closed as part of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) operation. Rather than sitting vacant, construction on Pivotal Point gave the space a new purpose. Fulfilling that new purpose, though, took longer than many anticipated. Financing and permits required the approval of numerous governmental organizations and stakeholders. Ashley Lommers-Johnson, Executive Director at Everett Housing Authority, recalls the challenges. “When you deal with multiple federal agencies, local agencies, the military–it’s just a lot of hands involved in getting all of the funding lined up. That was a significant achievement, getting the funding,” he smiles. In 2014, the property finally reached completion. Pivotal Point now serves as long-term housing for participants in the Domestic Violence Services (DVS) of Snohomish County program. All signs of its military past have been replaced with fresh, modern, and welcoming residential features, in a sense “a conversion from swords into ploughshares,” according to Mr. Lommers-Johnson. A private entryway and a cozy front porch adorn each of the 20 units at Pivotal Point. Shared stairs leading to the second-floor units open to reveal a courtyard speckled with greenery. In the center of the courtyard stands a protected playground. Parents can watch their children play from the covered benches nearby. Back on the main level, residents share a laundry facility. The adjacent meeting rooms are used for private and community gatherings. The project and its design have received national praise. Pivotal Point won the National...

Less Juggling Mar09

Less Juggling

The story of Janice Hill reflects the dilemma of many managers in the affordable housing sector: she wades through an endless stream of work while juggling several responsibilities at once. All this is done while dealing with, what seems to be, fewer hours in every day. “My title this week is business analyst,” chuckles Hill. She follows with a telling sigh. Also like many others in the industry, she loves her job. Hill has worked with New Directions for 18 years. She takes pride in helping people secure housing, giving them a stable foundation upon which they can build their dreams. But the demand for affordable housing continues to grow. Staffing and other resources can’t keep up. That’s why she and the small, dedicated staff at New Directions Housing Corporation are exploring how to help more people using fewer resources. The organization turned to Yardi for help. In 2000, New Directions implemented Yardi Advantage before upgrading to Yardi Voyager® property management platform in 2002. The web-based platform facilitates operations management, leasing execution, and easy analytics. The team recently updated to Voyager 7S with enhanced functionalities. Voyager 7S runs on any device using any browser. It also hosts user-friendly mobile apps and add-on products that allow New Directions to improve efficiencies and deliver competitive services to residents. Hill explains, “We chose Yardi Voyager because it was Windows-based and it had everything we needed it to do: management, maintenance, affordable, payroll. Everything was in one place. We got rid of a database and [two competitors] for the financials. Voyager got rid of all of these different programs that we were using to run New Directions. Voyager simplified it.” Voyager has helped New Directions do more with less. Streamlined and automated workflows promote efficiency, accuracy, and transparency...

Save My Spot

Fairness and transparency are essential to every decision a public housing agency makes to determine which households receive housing assistance. Waiting lists, though often loathed by potential residents, are an important piece of keeping that process transparent. PHAs follow complicated rules set by the department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to maintain waiting lists, which includes information like household income, veteran status, age, disabilities, and more. Depending on regional circumstances, it could be years before an applicant will be considered for housing assistance. PHAs typically open waiting lists to applicants for relatively short windows, since they could quickly become unmanageable if left open in perpetuity. To make waiting lists more manageable, PHAs periodically correspond with households to confirm their interest in remaining on the waiting lists for public housing or voucher assistance. Without routine maintenance, waiting lists would be perpetually clogged with households that have had a change in status, which may affect their eligibility, or are no longer interested in that particular waiting list. As important as waiting list maintenance is, it is also costly. PHAs have historically spent significant time and money on staffing, forms, and postage to keep waiting lists updated. Yardi PHA clients can now take advantage of a cost-cutting solution. It’s called Save My Spot, and it is a new standard feature of RENTCafé PHA. Yardi is the only PHA software provider offering a modernized waitlist management solution, bringing relief to a longstanding industry issue. A RENTCafé PHA Primer RENTCafé PHA gives public housing and voucher applicants, residents and participants, and landlords online access to communicate with their local PHA, without having to visit the agency’s office. Households can sign up for a waiting list, submit applications, complete eligibility forms, upload documentation and more, all from a personal...

Timbercreek Communities Feb09

Timbercreek Communities

When David Melo, president of Timbercreek Communities, joined the company, his first call was to Yardi. Melo knew that the company needed a stronger, savvier technology provider to manage its complex accounting needs, and also enable the company to add vital solutions for ancillary services. Yardi Voyager delivered the tools that Timbercreek needed to succeed. Watch the video: Beyond superior accounting and reporting capabilities, moving from manual to automated processes within Voyager has provided Timbercreek with cost control and greater end-to-end operational efficiency. As an early adopter of Yardi PAYscan in Canada, Timbercreek has quickly realized the benefits of automating accounts payable. “Moving from a manual process to one that is automated with a workflow not only increases accuracy and processing speed, but also improves cost control,” said Melo. He added that the PAYscan mobile app is a great tool for staff who travel frequently, as it allows them to approve invoices from airports or anywhere else they happen to be. Timbercreek is also rolling out RENTCafé resident portal and Yardi Maintenance, including the mobile app, across its portfolio. They expect significant time savings and improved responsiveness thanks to seamless Voyager integration. Melo commented, “We were manually receiving emails from our website for maintenance requests, which required someone attending to the email inbox and forwarding the messages to the right people. Now residents can simply log in to the resident portal, enter their service request and start the workflow.” Consolidating operations portfolio-wide on the Voyager platform has also improved communication within the company. As part of its inherently collaborative culture, Timbercreek has found great success with appointing “Yardi Champions” across its business. Melo commented, “We’ve empowered a small group of Timbercreek employees to be Yardi Champions. These individuals lead the charge and take ownership of each solution piece of our Voyager platform. This is an exciting new approach, and we’re already seeing great results from our 400 onsite employees. Yardi has absolutely helped empower our...

Upgrade Like a Rock Star Feb08

Upgrade Like a Rock Star

Our “Upgrade Like a Rock Star” series provides insider tips for a seamless transition to Yardi Voyager® 7S.  In this segment, Senior Business Analyst Melanie Moyers shares how Fairfield Residential made the conversion across 50,000 units of multifamily and affordable properties. First, Fairfield Residential shifted from self-hosted to hosted on Voyager 6. Yardi Subject Matter Experts assisted Moyers and her team through an extensive series of test scripts. The joint effort made the transition effortless. Moyers says, “We really didn’t have anything come up during testing whatsoever just going to hosted so that was very quick!” After the two-month transition from self-hosted to hosted, the company began the conversion to Voyager 7S property management platform. Testing and Training Moyers explains the process: “For 7S, we did a more extensive testing. We made sure we had two users from every single permission group. We have a lot of user groups and permissions do change, like little hidden permissions in 7S, so it was very helpful to do that.” She continues, “It was extensive on the testing part but we tried to limit it as far as what people actually tested so they were only doing things that they really know about. In IT, we took the bulk of running through a huge script to make sure everything was covered.” Originally, the three-person IT team planned for three months of testing. They decided to request the support of three additional application support technicians. Then they extended the testing phase to four months in order to accommodate changing permissions. “We went ahead and added an extra month just so we would do a second round of testing with all those same people. We got a clean script from every single one of them,” says Moyers. Fairfield Residential’s education department for property management facilitated training for onsite personnel. The group assessed software changes that would affect most of the group, then educated the staff via webinar. Perhaps more importantly, the training department garnered excitement for the new software. “The training was more about building excitement for them, to not be scared that something new was coming out,” says Moyers. Moyers led training for the corporate staff. She broke the general sessions into hour-long increments then hosted additional 30-minute sessions for accountants and those with changing roles. After four months of testing, the team was ready to go live. The IT department braced itself for a flood of help desk request. The group was pleasantly surprised. “We anticipated that there was going to be a big uptick of help desk requests. There wasn’t actually that much but we had the whole team geared up for it, so we were pulling all those tickets right away. But later in analyzing the data we actually only had about three weeks of increase and then it completely went back to normal,” recalls Moyers. Challenges One of the only problems that Moyers encountered came with users’ perception of speed. Voyager 7S added a load bar, a visual that alarmed some employees. “I think because people saw the load bar, people were like, ‘Oh, it’s slower. It’s slower!’” laughs Moyers.  “We had our old Voyager 6 environment available still. We would actually get on a GoToMeeting and show them it was faster in the new environment. That helped a lot because it was just a mental thing to them and there were a few hanging onto that.” Favorite New Features Among the upgraded features, five have received notable praise from the Fairfield Residential staff. The new menu search tops the list of favorites. It allows users to enter a query directly on the main dashboard. AJAX auto-fill search makes exploring 7S resources faster and easier. Users enter a word, phrase, or partial word in the Search box.  Voyager 7S quickly retrieves matching menu items. There is no need for exact client IDs or even complete phrases. Improved lease proposal...

Kaiserman Company Feb07

Kaiserman Company

Arriving at the Rittenhouse Claridge in Center City Philadelphia on a cold winter’s night in January, the first thing you might notice is a charming string of white holiday lights over the lobby door. Stepping out of the cab into sub-freezing temperatures with wind chill, ducking inside the warm and welcoming lobby felt like stepping into the apartment of a dear friend. We were visiting Philadelphia to see first-hand how Yardi client the Kaiserman Company uses Yardi’s Procure to Pay platform to optimize its procurement process, streamlining ordering and delivery and making invoice approvals easier than ever before. Procure to Pay has helped Kaiserman save $60,000 annually, reduce paper use by 50 percent, and redirect staff time to other important tasks. The company uses the Yardi Voyager platform for its multifamily and commercial portfolios, and after implementing two years ago, has found the cloud-hosted solution to be invaluable. “We love it. I have been in the industry for awhile, used many different platforms, and Yardi is by far my favorite. Our leasing teams, our management teams and even our corporate office have access to Yardi. It just makes doing everyday tasks simpler,” said property manager Eric Schulz. The Rittenhouse Claridge One of just two apartment buildings located right on Philadelphia’s iconic Rittenhouse Square, the Rittenhouse Claridge was built in the 1950s by its current owner/operators, the Kaiserman Company. Over the last several years, an effort to restore the property to its midcentury roots has been underway, with charming results. On the building’s second floor, a sprawling common area with comfortable seating, fireplaces, reading nooks, game tables, a kitchen and private meeting spaces overlooks the Square. In one corner is the spacious gym, where a line of treadmills looks directly over the park. The vibe...

McCormack Baron Feb07

McCormack Baron

A leading property management company requires a software company that is able to accommodate the management of its developments. McCormack Baron turned to Yardi property management solutions to facilitate growth and improve efficiencies across its diverse portfolio.   Yardi Voyager Project Manager Karen Pruiett has been with McCormack Baron for nearly 30 years. She ushered her company through its first Yardi Voyager® implementation in 2004. Since then, she has seen McCormack Baron flourish and adopt new Yardi software to meet its needs. “We chose Yardi Voyager because of its excellent accounting background and the property management capabilities in the software,” says Pruiett. “We looked at different companies and you guys have the best accounting background. Also, the number of property types that you all support is amazing. That was a necessity for us.” Yardi Voyager is a web-based platform that enables clients with larger portfolios to smoothly manage operations. It is ideal for clients like McCormack Baron that manage a spectrum of properties. With Voyager, McCormack Baron executes leases, runs analytics, and issues innovative resident, tenant, and investor services. The software automates workflows and permits controlled transparency that enables the firm to collaborate with greater accuracy and efficiency. “Voyager has definitely improved our efficiencies,” Pruiett says. Yardi PAYscan Pruiett recalls notable savings with Yardi PAYscan™, a Voyager ancillary product that automates invoice processing. “PAYscan has totally saved our lives. We were doing a lot of manual invoice processing. Now that we can scan our invoices into PAYscan, it’s absolutely wonderful to have the image attached to the invoice, especially for auditing purposes.” Before PAYscan, the accounting team had to dig through file cabinets to find invoices during audits. Now, auditors receive limited access to PAYscan and they are able to pull images of invoices...

East End Revitalized Jan17

East End Revitalized

Yardi client Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Association (RRHA) recently broke ground on the expansive Churchill North/East End Revitalization project. East End Revitalization will include the demolition of the 504-unit Creighton Court public housing community. It will be replaced with a mixed-income community of nearly 1,000 energy efficient homes and apartments. Residents can choose between more than 40 townhomes, 240 market rate rentals, and public housing. The new neighborhood will include more than 500 public housing units to replace those demolished at Creighton Court. All units will be converted to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Rental Assistance Demonstration program. The vacant Armstrong High School, the site of the project groundbreaking, is also being demolished. Upon completion, the 21-acre site will receive infrastructure redevelopment in preparation for housing. Construction may take a decade or longer to complete but the momentum and enthusiasm are growing. Mayor Jones says, “From this building will rise a phoenix of new possibility and transformation of persons who will be able to have better lives and better environments to live in.” Tammy Grubb, Housing Choice Voucher Program Supervisor with RRHA shares the Mayor’s enthusiasm. “We’re revitalizing the entire corridor,” she says. “We’re looking forward to a beautiful transformation. We’re so excited about the new housing. For Grubb, the housing is more than a shelter. She sees the new homes as stepping-stones towards a brighter future. “It’s like our mission at Richmond Redevelopment, to assist in finding housing, to encourage our clients who use housing as a stepping stone to build themselves up and take advantage of the programs that they need to step up and become more self-sufficient.” “We are also excited for the new opportunities that residents will have, personally and professionally,” says Grubb. The highly anticipated...