In 2020, several exciting technological advances were introduced to the real estate industry. We expected change to happen quickly, but not overnight. However, for many business operators, COVID-19 hastened the move to automation, paperless solutions and artificial intelligence. And now, cutting-edge tech that was put in place at the start of the pandemic is becoming the standard in property management.
With better days ahead, let’s take a look at the ways property managers can use artificial intelligence and automation to streamline their business and accelerate growth. This is the future of multifamily housing.
Chatbot use surges nationwide
Anant Yardi, founder and president of Yardi, is no stranger to innovation. “The pandemic has accelerated the transition to digital media and its use,” said Mr. Yardi at NAA’s APTvirtual conference in 2020. “Artificial intelligence is such an important topic. These are the technologies that are bringing tech to the market for the benefit of the industry.”
Indeed, chatbots have entered the industry full force, bridging the gap between instant customer service and the realities of the job. You can’t always be online and available to respond to renter questions, but your chatbot is always there to fill in for you. Its 24-hour availability lets leasing agents focus on high-value tasks. Meanwhile, the bot can take care of quick or repetitive inquiries.
Reading between the lines
Chatbot interactions are natural, intelligent and accurate. For example, Chat IQ can tell that “wut r ur bussines hours” is actually the question “What are your business hours?” It uses natural language processing to understand typos and improper grammar.
Once the bot knows what the prospect wants, it will guide them through the leasing journey, readily providing information on pricing, availability, tour scheduling, pet policies and more. The more the bot gets used, the more it learns and the better its answers will be.
Paperless property management is just the beginning
If you weren’t convinced that SaaS software is a necessity, COVID-19 may have changed your mind. Cloud-based platforms modernize your business in countless ways, helping you:
- Collect rent and process maintenance requests from anywhere
- Assist with remote work and social distancing requirements
- Meet the demands of renters by providing secure, digital access to files and data
- Say goodbye to the paper checks, paper invoices and long turnaround times you get with conventional invoice processing
- Grow your business with optional add-on services that match your unique needs
Automate AP & AR with smarter tech
Let’s look at the latest ways you can automate AP and AR to free up your team for more important tasks.
It’s now possible to take all the “grunt work” involved with invoice processing out of your hands entirely. Smart solutions allow vendors to submit invoices to a trusted business. They are processed and scanned on your behalf, and all data is entered for your review and approval.
Many property management businesses take invoice processing a step further by automating their entire bill pay process. With the right AP service, you can automate payments to your vendors, owners and tenants via outsourced check printing or ACH. You don’t have to lift a finger, and your bills get paid!
That covers AP, but what about AR?
If they haven’t already pivoted to portals that offer residents to pay rent online, multifamily housing managers may want to process bulk batches of money orders, as well as personal, corporate, bill pay and cashier’s checks, by outsourcing check processing and scanning. Payments will transfer the next day to your preferred financial institution. In other words, you don’t have to lift a finger, and you get paid!
(Don’t be surprised if these full-service solutions eliminate nearly all of your paperwork.)
How we can help: Yardi has three solutions here. Eliminate time-consuming invoice scanning and manual data entry with PayScan Full Service. We can also bulk process rent checks and money orders for you with CHECKscan Full Service. These two add-ons are available with Yardi Breeze Premier. Last, automate every aspect of AP with Yardi Bill Pay. Questions about any of these services? Ask us anything.
Utilities are no longer money down the drain
There are two high-tech energy-saving solutions that property managers can use to save a lot of money. Savings can be passed along to residents as well (something you can use in your property marketing.
Utility management can take up a lot of precious time. Automate utility billing so you can spend less time sorting and tracking bills and invoices. The right software will:
- Monitor consumption
- Identify anomalies potentially caused by leaks or other issues
- Notify responsible parties as necessary
- Detect invoice errors
- Recover overage charges
Pro tip: If you really want to get creative, here are 51 ways to save water and energy at your properties.
It takes time to process utility invoices, but you can get that time back by outsourcing utility invoice processing. Reduce costs with a service that offers utility invoice tracking, exception auditing and lightning-fast processing. Plus, the right service grants you access to utility data for reporting and benchmarking.
How we can help: There are two solutions on the table for Yardi Breeze Premier clients. Yardi Utility Billing and Yardi Utility Invoice Processing help property management businesses increase ROI while reducing the amount of time your team spends managing bills and invoices. Our utility experts will even help you analyze and resolve any issues that come up. Reach out to us to learn more.
The path forward
Does all this mean artificial intelligence and automation is taking over every aspect of property management? We don’t think so.
Mr. Yardi illustrates this concept with a good example. He said, “During the unit turn, there is typically an inspection. A technician has to make a determination to replace appliances or repair. Some of the decisions will be facilitated by AI. We don’t think we’ll be at a point where the AI engine will make a clear decision, but it’ll make a recommendation for the inspector.”
In other words, you’re always going to be the one in charge, not the computer.
Artificial intelligence is here, and it’s here to stay. But it remains just one tool in a vast technological toolkit. This kit includes paperless, cloud-based software and other smart functionality to help reduce costs and streamline everything you do.
Some content in this article originally appeared in this blog post on the future of leads and leasing.