TOPIC: Greystar’s Managing Director of Client Services, Michelle Betchner-Cowan, sits down with Apartment Academy to talk about how to control the chaos of property management. Don’t miss this one!
In this episode of Apartment Academy, we’re joined by Michelle Betchner-Cowan, Managing Director of National Client Services for Greystar, to discuss controlling the chaos of property management.
Michelle shares some interesting thoughts based on her experience, which includes more than eight years overseeing the Client Services Group for the leader in multifamily operations. She also explains the essentials for providing quality operations and a high-quality experience for residents.
Providing Resources for Consistency
Michelle’s department interfaces with existing clients and new clients on two tracks. The first involves pursuing new business with new and existing clients. The second aspect of client services is account management or relationship program, which leverages additional resources for clients with large portfolios or a wide geographic dispersion.
The main goal is to drive consistency within those portfolios, support the client with one point of contact, and assist with operations to drive consistency in that client’s operations.
Other than the people, what sets Greystar apart from other operators is a depth of resources that smaller companies cannot provide. For example, Greystar has an active adult management division, a student division, a construction management division, third parties, and other internal assets. And all of these different funnels or tracks of assets can provide some wonderful client data.
When you look at the different support departments that Greystar has, the company’s ability to take complex problems and break them down to find solutions for the operations team and the client is second to none.
Investing in Multifamily Property Management Technology
That said, if you’re a smaller operator with limited resources, a major difference-maker in field operations today is investing in effective technology. Understanding all the different nuances that can bolt onto a property management system can make onsite teams and operations more efficient.
For some operators, that means technology for lead management. It might mean creating the financial package or the budget packages that the operations team has to generate. If you’re running marketing campaigns, use a system that looks at your marketing data. You’ll get a better understanding of your resources and what marketing channel is working best.
Technology touches all of the audiences that Greystar interfaces with. Specific technologies and strategies Greystar deploys include:
- A standard property management system
- A proactive operations management system (Leonardo247)
- Revenue management
- SEO and SEM
- Self-guided/virtual tours
- Lighting audits
- Annual inspection reports
- Daily maintenance tasks
- Smart home technology
In general, the multifamily industry has been slow to adopt technologies. The single-family home industry is a great example — they’ve been using lockboxes and self touring for quite a while. And so when COVID hit, Greystar had to move to those self-guided tours and tours with prospects that weren’t coming in.
Also, there’s a certain subset of prospects that want to do things on their own time and by themselves. They feel more comfortable and like that autonomy.
Emerging Trends in Property Management
Using chatbots to interface with prospects seems like it’s not going away. You’re also likely to see more artificial intelligence with service requests, and residents interfacing with those types of technologies when they have questions or service requests.
You’ll probably see these tools used more on the financial side as well. The bots can look at financials and identify miscoded items and other things that will increase the efficiency of the accounting group. Greystar is expecting a pretty significant shift over the next several years toward using bots. But they expect it to happen in ways that will make the industry more efficient.
Hiring For Heart
When Greystar hires team members, the first qualification is a servant’s heart. People have to want to help, because that’s the job — helping people find a place to live. Many times people are dealing with problems, such as divorce, a new marriage, or some other unique situation. And that’s a very personal situation. Having people that can be empathetic and have a servant’s heart, people who want to really uphold a high level of customer service, is really critical.
Second, you want people who can share knowledge and accept support when products and operations evolve. And there are training opportunities with these systems. But there are also training opportunities on soft skills that are really important.
Leadership development is a big part of this. As careers advance, Greystar provides opportunities for team members to develop soft skills. They also have what we call ‘A to Z’ training for systems because the systems do change.
Because Greystar has more than 19,000 team members, we have to be able to support the teams that we have. Also, these soft skills apply to the service team too because they are in constant contact with residents.