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.

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We consistently hear two answers to this question:

  1. “We have a website people can pull up on their phone.”

And our follow up is what can they use this website for? In some cases residents can pay rent, but even then they have to remember yet another password to log in every month. In some cases prospective residents can view the properties’ amenities and photos. But residents should be able to do so much more. For example:

  • Can the prospect sign a lease right on the phone?
  • Can a resident view her lease on her phone?
  • Can a resident snap a photo of a couch she’s selling and put up an ad to the rest of the community?
  1. “We use email.”

Email is a great tool, but doesn’t it cause more work for you the manager? For example, let’s say a resident wants to reserve the party room. He emails you, you check the schedule – it’s booked at the time he wants, you email him back, and on it goes. As a manager these exchanges hurt your productivity. If the same resident can check flight schedules and book the best one on his phone, surely he should be able to reserve an amenity space!

Now, you might say that in doing this a manager loses important contact points with residents, which are helpful to building community and rapport with residents. We argue that skipping the emails will be more beneficial. In the party room example you would have access to the schedule, and instead of handling administrative emails, you could send one simple but meaningful email asking if the resident needed anything for his upcoming booking. Now that’s service!

Enabling smartphone usage is at the core of many successful companies’ strategies. Why? According to a study by research firm Millward Brown, 81% of people prefer using a smartphone for tasks that take five minutes or less. Some companies, such as on-demand laundry service Washio and, until very recently, Uber, ONLY allow customers to interact with them via mobile apps.

We’re not saying this is going to happen overnight in residential real estate. But if you really want to win over the Moveable Middle it will help to have some good answers about mobile strategy.