Residents are mobile, is your building?

The Mobile Doorman Blog

  • Corporate Social Responsibility and Multifamily . . . Thoughts from Ryan Perez of CF Real Estate Services

    Corporate social responsibility . . . there’s been a great deal of buzz about this in our industry lately. What does it mean, how do companies go about achieving it, and to what degree? Definitions vary, but Multifamily’s own ManagInc describes it this way: “Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR (also known as the Triple Bottom Line of People, Planet, and Profit), is simply to focus on the needs of stakeholders who make your success possible: employees, suppliers, residents, and the communities in which you do business.”

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  • Jared Miller on Culture as the Ultimate Business Fuel

    It’s always fun when you have the opportunity to sit down with an industry business leader who has a passion for making the intangible tangible, the non-measurable measurable. Such was the case with long-time multifamily professional Jared Miller, who views a company’s culture as the real power that makes an organization’s engine run smoothly and efficiently.

    Jared is no stranger to a how culture can optimize performance during his career with companies such as Lane, RedPeak, Bainbridge and currently Homestead Development Partners – and in a variety of roles and company types, from marketing leader to operations and asset management, from fee to owned to development to being a partner in his current firm, to all of the above simultaneously. He was awarded MultiFamily Executive’s first ever “Rising Star” award in 2010, and was an NAHB “Pillars of the Industry” finalist for best marketing campaign in 2007. He gets it; he really gets it.

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  • Growing Through Innovation - A Chat with David Schwartz of Waterton

    Innovation . . . it’s become a somewhat over-used word in business. A recent Wired article even referred to it as the “buzzword of the decade,” becoming “the canned response of executives, politicians and educators to the question, ‘What do we need to be successful?’”

    Waterton is a notable exception to the buzzword mentality, however, beginning with the fact that they don’t just do apartments. Their portfolio includes nearly 18,000 units of residential real estate in major markets throughout the U.S., and 13 hotels including brands such as Aloft, Sheraton, Westin, Hyatt and Marriott.

    CEO, Chairman and Co-Founder David Schwartz has a lot to say about innovation, both within Waterton and in the multifamily industry. “Multifamily in general has been slow to embrace innovation compared to other industries. In our organization, we feel strongly about trying new things and the potential that new technologies offer by way of improving productivity, and customer service.”

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  • The Franklin Johnston Group Strives to Be The Solution

    We’ve all seen a wide gamut of attitudes in the business world when it comes to getting things done, from “it’s not my job” to “I’m on it” and everything in between. The Franklin Johnston Group strives for a very simple but powerful approach with their site teams, encouraging them to “Be the Solution” with whenever they encounter a challenge or opportunity.

    Chris Beckwith (VP of Marketing), Mary Stine (Marketing Manager) and Morgan-Taylor Miller (Digital Marketing Specialist) are the enthusiastic shepherds of “Be the Solution,” the seeds of which were born during a recent business retreat.

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  • The 'third' place, neighbors and communication . . . thoughts on creating community with Sheri Killingsworth of Lincoln Property Company

    Sheri Killingsworth, Vice President of Marketing and Communications with Lincoln, was kind enough to share her thoughts recently on how this industry giant goes about creating a sense of community with residents. A 17-year veteran of the company, Sheri began on site, working her way through the ranks into the corporate office.

    According to Sheri, to talk about anything Lincoln you have to start where they do when it comes to residents: “Where comfort meets convenience you find home.”

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  • Leaders on Creating Community . . . a conversation with Rick Graf of Pinnacle

    What does it take to create a sense of community within a multifamily operator’s sphere of influence? Do employees and residents respond, and does it positively impact the bottom line?

    Rick Graf, President and CEO of Pinnacle, was kind enough to share his thoughts on this topic recently. It was an insightful conversation, highlighting how a few basic but powerful values, well executed, can have a profound and lasting effect.

    “As a company, our culture of collaboration plays a key role in creating community,” said Graf, “allowing us to gain greater perspective and to collaborate with our employees, our residents and our suppliers.” Graf’s vision is to give constituents a voice and encourage input, because, “frankly, they often come up with ideas that are better – and that resonates with our clients.”

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  • Why We Don't Support Text Notifications

    “Do your apps send text notifications?”

    This is a question we are often asked. The answer is simple.

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  • Property Managers Have Names, Why Don't Their Email Addresses?

    Jessica. Gabrielle. Anthony. Claudia. Gina. These are some of the property managers with whom we work. They’re all amazing people who put everything into making sure their properties run smoothly and offer a fantastic environment for residents.

    These property managers and many, many more also have something else in common: their email addresses give no indication of their name.

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  • The Joy of Pets: Their Owners Are Big Business

    It’s no secret that here at Mobile Doorman – our pets are part of the team. They provide unconditional love at all times (really nice in the “I’m-not-feeling-the-love-today” world of sales), comedic relief, and even the occasional inspiration – like this blog, for example.

    Did you know that we spent nearly $63 billion on our pets in 2016? Dogs edge out cats in number of households, while cats take the top spot for overall number of pets (we didn’t include the real number one, freshwater fish – I mean, seriously?).

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  • Mobile Doorman Now A RealPage Certified AppPartner

    Mobile Doorman has integrated with RealPage and is excited to be part of the AppPartner program. At properties that use both RealPage / OneSite software and an app from Mobile Doorman, information will flow back and forth between the backend database and the resident app.

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  • Work Order Ratings Made Easy

    Far too long ago one of our clients said, “You know what would be awesome? Work order ratings like you have for Lyft and Uber drivers.” What a great idea! It took us a little while but now David (and everyone else), they are here!

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  • Mobile Doorman Now Integrated with MRI

    Mobile Doorman has integrated with MRI and is excited to be part of the Partner Connect program. At properties that use both MRI and an app from Mobile Doorman, information will flow back and forth between the backend database and the resident app.

    Specifically, user data will update nightly so move-ins and move-outs are accounted for automatically. Work orders submitted via the app will also flow into MRI in real time so that staff members can continue to use MRI as they always have. When work orders are opened and closed in MRI residents are notified automatically via their property’s app.

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  • Residents Who Play Together Stay Together

    With turnover rates as high as 60% in some parts of the country, finding ways to increase retention is top of mind with operators seeking to improve NOI. All the usual suspects contribute: curb appeal, friendly staff, great maintenance, cool amenities and ease of everything.

    It’s certainly not a new concept that creating a sense of community with your residents also has a direct impact on retention and tenure. A great deal of thought and effort go into planning those wine tastings, holiday parties, game nights and “what’s up” communications. But all the planning in the world is a big bust if three people show up – ugh!

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  • Laramar Crushes Holiday Package Rush with Mobile Doorman

    Four Laramar properties began working with us in late 2016, just ahead of the holiday package delivery craze. Using our Property Staff by Mobile Doorman iPad app, staff members logged a total of 4,054 packages in the two weeks leading up to Christmas Day. At Left Bank, a downtown Chicago high-rise property, an average of 117 packages per day were delivered.

    The results? Left Bank reported the average time it took a resident to pick up a package was much lower than before and that the sign out process was “a piece of cake.” Another property, Dock Street Flats in Minneapolis, remarked that we made the package rush smooth and easy and that our flexible reminders helped for people who were out of town.

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  • How We Integrate with Your Yardi

    We integrate with Yardi. Here’s how we do it.

    Once a day around 10pm Central time we pull in the resident list from your property to ensure we account for upcoming move-ins and just occurred move-outs. We will pull in anyone whose status in Yardi is Future, Current, or Notice AND who has a move-in date for their account. We pull in residents exactly as they are entered in Yardi, so if Liz’s first name is Elizabeth in Yardi, she is Elizabeth to us. If her last name has a hyphen in Yardi, her last name will have a hyphen in our system.

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  • The Dishwasher Fell Out: Exploring Data To Improve Efficiency At Your Building

    Q: How many residents does it take to change a lightbulb?

    A: We don’t know, but we can tell you that 12% of all work orders submitted were to do this.

    We recently analyzed a sample of more than 1,250 maintenance requests from properties we work with to see what we could learn. For example, which appliance prompted the most work orders? (See the infographic below for the answer). Our initial analysis was quite simple; we know the data could be broken down in myriad ways (such as by property type or problem type, seasonally, regionally, etc.).

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  • The Best Airbnb Amenity Ever

    After a week of staying at Airbnbs in Tokyo, it’s clear what is the biggest benefit a host can offer: a mobile wifi dongle. Hosts (and traditional hotels) around the world would do well to have them. I would probably even pay more to stay at a place that had one (just not more than my international roaming fee).

    Obviously everyone consumes data everywhere. Phone companies charge a lot of money for not much data when traveling overseas. In Japan having access to data is particularly important due to the number of, dare we say, necessary interactions one needs to have with the internet: menu translations, streets with no discernable signs or even names, train schedules of titanic proportions. I don’t how much data I consumed before sending photos of the multiple sake tastings we did and I don’t want to. (I also don’t know how any foreign tourist navigated Japan before the internet.)

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  • Mobile Doorman And Yardi Are Now Integrated!

    Property managers asked for it, and now we’ve done it: we integrated with Yardi!

    What this means is that information about maintenance requests and resident data flows automatically between the two companies’ systems. What this really means is that properties can get a customized app from Mobile Doorman and it will not add any administrative work to a manager’s day; in fact, it should make it easier. All the relevant information that needs to will go from the app into Voyager (and vice versa).

    Please contact info@mobiledoorman.com with any questions.

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  • In Today’s Mobile World, Chicago Is Unnecessarily 9-To-5

    At the beginning of the month, I received a flyer from the Wicker Park Athletic Club (WPAC) near my apartment offering a 12-day free trial. I had been thinking about trying this gym for a while, and this was the perfect push. Enthused, I went online to look at the class schedule. Like my current gym, there were plenty of options at 6am and even more at 9am. To my disappointment, however, I saw that on weekdays this particular gym offered no classes with start times between 7 and 8:45am. I wondered if this was an anomaly or part of a broader trend.

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  • Assets By Any Other Name

    Real estate has a customer service problem, this is not news. Many properties will do almost anything to increase their chances of an improved rating or positive comment on social media. But maybe real estate’s customer service problem has deeper roots in the culture that surrounds the industry. Maybe the poor customer service is a by-product of how the industry talks about itself and the language it uses in conducting everyday business.

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  • The Bugs That Bind

    Bugs in our software stress me out more than spotting a cockroach in my apartment.

    Why? Because a bug is a problem with an app one of our customers is using, which means the customer is not getting the optimum level of service from us. Whereas new features and partnerships may take longer than we want, they do not change the current experience by our users - they will only improve a future experience.

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  • Think Hard Before Building Your Own App

    As consumers’ usage of mobile devices continues to increase, more and more properties are considering adding an app to their service. Some owners and managers have decided to build their own apps. This is a complex endeavor that requires substantial time and capital investments. Real estate executives should consider the following when deciding if they should build their own app or choose a third-party vendor:

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  • Why Mobile Strategy Matters For Multifamily

    What are you doing right now to allow residents and prospective residents to use their mobile phones as much as possible in an easy and meaningful way? This is the only question you need to consider when trying to understand how to make your property mobile.

    We consistently hear two answers to this question:

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  • Why Do I Still Need A Wallet?

    We recently read that consumers in Canada are not adopting mobile payments as quickly as in the US or other places. This surprised us, particularly as we have been using Apple Pay at the register for lunch each day and have been extremely satisfied with the experience. The article explains that one of the reasons our northern cousins haven’t latched onto paying with their phones is, “credit cards are easy to use.”

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  • 3 Ways To Make The Playoffs More Mobile

    It’s spring again and that means one thing: playoff season. Starting in mid-April the Mobile Doormen’s sports consumption increases by an unhealthy factor. The NBA (Bob’s preference) and NHL (Graham’s preference) postseasons mean that multiple games are on each night and extra screens are a necessity. Mobile devices do a nice job of enabling gluttonous consumption of hoops and pucks (not to mention soccer, baseball, and the rest), but we’ve come to realize they could do even better. Here’s how.

    1) Split screen / multiple windows on mobile devices

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  • The Renewal Incentives We Want

    Our friends at Multifamily Insiders recently wrote about a very unique and personalized renewal incentive. One property manager offered a tenant a Lego Star Wars set to re-up his/her lease. It is unknown if the offer worked but we love that it was even tried.

    Nevertheless, this got us thinking about whether this might be the start of a trend in real estate. Generally speaking, rewards programs for tenants are not as well developed as they are for consumers in other sectors such as credit cards, airline travel, etc. So while you can turn your miles on United into anything from cash to toys to a charitable gift, all you get for your monthly check to Property Management Ltd is another invoice 30 days later. There is a ton of opportunity, from simple rewards to more tailored promotions like the Lego example, for property managers to explore.

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  • Time to File Away Paper Once And For All

    But paper is also a drain on resources and the environment. For people and companies looking to go green, reducing paper is a great place to start reducing their carbon footprint.

    Yet at properties all over we still see paper being used in a number of places and situations where simple technology can be used instead.

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  • On Customer Service

    Our musings on this blog frequently focus on how technology can help humans, and as a result it could appear to a reader that we have overlooked the most important helper to humans: humans.

    Our belief is that providing great service to customers should go without saying, but sometimes you have experiences that inspire you to have a good think about current practices and possible improvements. Our inspiration comes not from any related business but from our favorite lunch spot (notice a theme on this blog?).

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  • Supermarket Sheep

    There is a Treasure Island grocery store across the street from Mobile Doorman world headquarters. The Mobile Doormen frequently goes to this supermarket to buy lunch. Recently, the store launched a mobile app through which discounts and other promotions could be obtained and customer loyalty could be gained. While we don’t use the app much, we applaud their efforts. We know innovation in grocery retail is difficult, especially given the razor thin margins that cloak the sector.

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  • A Game-changing Commode for Multifamily Abodes

    People don’t like talking about toilets, so we’re going to. In particular, we’re going to talk about the Japanese Shower Toilet. Concretely, we’re going to advocate the adoption of the Japanese Shower Toilet in the US. Currently, this variety of commode is only widely seen in its native country.

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  • Happy Wifi, Happy Life

    The virtual message boards at the student properties we work with are filled with posts about a wide range of subjects. There is one topic, however, that jumps out to anyone scanning through the messages at any given property: the wi-fi. The message usually, but not always, conveys a slight variation of the general question: “Why is the wi-fi in here so bad?”

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  • Real Estate’s IBM Moment

    “You become tech support if maintenance can’t fix it, then what?”

    The conversation at Bisnow’s BMAC in Washington, DC was about the integration of more technology such as Internet of Things, smart homes, and the like into multifamily. The comment/question above was by Michael Pestronk of Post Brothers, who was describing why technology isn’t being adopted faster.

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  • To Key or Not To Key

    Keys have existed in their current form for hundreds if not thousands of years. In the span of just a few hours on November 4th, however, two companies announced major innovations they hope will eliminate keys altogether. The innovations differ significantly in both technology and target: one is mobile-focused and has an obvious home in tourism and multifamily housing; the other is electronic and aimed at single-family households. Nevertheless, after centuries of technological hegemony, it seems unlikely that two new concepts can survive and thrive at the same time.

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  • The Importance of the Virtual Bulletin Board

    “Buildings need a better sense of community.”

    This is a problem we have heard over and over from residents and managers alike. In our multi-family and condo resident survey, for example, 80% of respondents said the current sense of community in their building was “average” or worse. Property managers at luxury buildings around the country have told us on a number of occasions that fostering a better community is one of their biggest challenges.

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  • Apps Are Not a Fad

    Flurry, which once proclaimed mobile apps to be a fad, says, “The browser has become a single application swimming in a sea of apps.” Not only is the browser just another fish in the app ocean, so, too, now is the text message. And it appears that email may be the next batch of chum.

    The Mobile Web Browser Is Dead, Long Live The App

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  • Microunits, Macropportunity

    Axiometrics wrote an interesting post today about “microunits” in US urban cores. The main point is that the number of small apartment units being built in city centers all over the country is on the rise. These units are targeted at people who with active lifestyles who use their residence to sleep and not much else.

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  • Convenience Matters

    In the third entry of Webster’s dictionary under the word “convenience,” the following definition is provided: something (such as a device) that makes you more comfortable or allows you to do things more easily.

    Until recently, that device was a computer. Increasingly, however, that device is a smartphone. And more specifically, that device is an app on a smartphone.

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