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As the new year approaches, it's a perfect time for those in the multifamily industry to reflect and reset. Three of the hottest discussion topics in 2023 revolved around an unpredictable economy, the potential impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on multifamily, and what role technology can play in a centralized leasing experience.

The past year was about the importance of adaptability and innovation in managing communities for residents and staff.

For 2024, the industry will be focused on embracing technology while understanding the human element at the core of the multifamily living experience. With that in mind, we propose the following new year’s resolutions to help you excel in three essential areas: taking better care of residents, business, and your staff.

Take Better Care of Residents

The foundation of a thriving community is the satisfaction and well-being of its residents. In the upcoming year, property owners and operators need to become further attuned to residents' (and prospects’) needs, employing technology as a facilitator of both convenience and support.

Chatbots and self-service portals: The adoption of chatbots and self-service portals delivers constant availability and responsiveness regardless of whether or not a staff member is on-site to answer questions. These tools cater to the modern resident's desire for instant, around-the-clock assistance, providing answers to common queries and facilitating essential transactions, such as applications, payments, maintenance requests, amenity reservations, and community updates.

Flexible rent payment tools: Recognizing the diverse financial situations of residents is crucial. Implementing flexible rent payment solutions acknowledges this diversity and offers residents much-needed leeway in managing their finances. This flexibility, typically in the form of varied payment schedules, can help residents manage through life’s unexpected happenings without putting their home at risk while also helping them avoid the use of high-interest credit cards.

Security deposit alternatives: Traditional security deposits can be a significant financial burden for residents. By introducing alternatives, such as insurance-based models, properties can alleviate this burden while still protecting their assets. This approach is not only financially considerate but also likely to attract a broader demographic of potential residents.

Take Better Care of Business

Managing a multifamily property is a multifaceted business that demands efficiency, foresight, and innovation. The second resolution focuses on optimizing business operations through the appropriate use of technology.

Fraud reduction tools: Implementing advanced tools to detect and prevent fraud is essential in protecting revenue and maintaining the integrity of operations. These tools can provide a variety of business benefits, including sophisticated background checks as well as validation of identification, bank accounts, and income. Best-in-class offerings leverage data from institutional systems of record (DMV, banks, payroll systems, credit bureaus, etc.) to effectively root out bad actors.

Enhanced data access: Data is a pivotal asset in the multifamily industry. Utilizing advanced data analytics tools can provide deeper insights into market trends, resident behavior, and operational inefficiencies in need of attention. This increased access to data enables more informed decision-making and can drive strategic improvements across all aspects of the business. Most important, in a world of ever-growing data volumes, finding the right data at the right time is of paramount importance. If you can find the signal in the noise, then you can act accordingly.

Ancillary income opportunities: Exploring and maximizing ancillary income streams is a savvy business strategy. This can involve leveraging existing resources and activities. Opportunities typically exist in areas where prospects and residents make use of services facilitated by the property that are not paid to the property. You should ask your providers what opportunities may exist for you.

Take Better Care of Staff

The well-being of staff has a direct impact on the success of any multifamily business. As property managers have continued to struggle with burnout, retention difficulties can arise, leading to a whole host of other problems that can severely limit the growth of your organization. The third resolution for 2024 aims at empowering staff and addressing their mental health needs with the right technology and initiatives.

Automation of mundane tasks: Employing AI and other solutions to automate routine tasks can significantly ease the workload on staff. This automation not only decreases time spent on tedious, manual tasks, but also allows staff to focus on more meaningful and impactful work, typically providing better service to prospects and residents and working to drive a sense of community.

Centralization and strength-based roles: Centralizing operations and aligning staff roles with their strengths can lead to more effective and satisfied teams. This approach not only helps your organization accomplish more with less, but also fosters a more engaged and competent workforce. In the current labor-constrained market, tuning roles to strengths should also help combat attrition, a long-term problem for multifamily operators.

Mental health and stress management: Recognizing the stressful nature of on-site work, especially in a post-pandemic world, is crucial. Providing support for mental health, including access to wellness resources and an encouraging work environment, is essential for the welfare of the staff. This support can manifest as regular mental health workshops, access to counseling services, or simply creating an open, safe company culture.

These three proposed resolutions for 2024 revolve around a holistic approach to multifamily property management, emphasizing the significance of technology in enhancing the resident experience, of optimizing business operations, and in supporting staff well-being. By embracing these resolutions, multifamily organizations can not only thrive in the evolving landscape, but also set a benchmark for excellence in the industry.