Budgeting for Artificial Intelligence in 2020

Budget season is here! Here’s how to align your team around an Artificial Intelligence (AI) investment.
April 10, 2020

2019 may not be over, but it’s high time for multifamily marketers to begin planning 2020 budgets. According to multifamily finance experts, it’s important for marketing and operational teams to create a budget. It helps you to set a vision for new technology, like AI, and allows you to identify:

  • Performance targets
  • A baseline for property management reviews
  • Income and expense projections based on changing market drivers and assumptions
  • Capital improvements planning and projections
  • Problems that need to be solved

Plus, having a well-designed budget can help you gain buy-in from the onsite property management teams and other stakeholders on the new AI strategies you want to launch.

Before you start crunching numbers and heading to your CFO’s office—it’s important to have a game plan that includes lots of research. Determine what AI solutions your properties would benefit from the most, and what should be added or deleted. After all, a lot has already happened in 2019 and trends continue to evolve within an ever-changing market. Use this guide to help you start the process of getting your team on board to fit AI into your 2020 budget.

Step 1: SWOT Analysis

SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Completing a SWOT analysis is a useful planning technique. It can help you to decide what new AI strategies to pursue based on the things that you have control over and can change.

Here are two SWOT analysis matrix examples used to analyze multifamily marketing effectiveness and employee performance—two areas of focus that every multifamily marketing and operational team should have on their radar. How does your property’s SWOT analysis compare to these examples?

Multifamily SWOT Analysis Examples

Once you’ve been able to analyze your current situation, it’s much easier to decide what AI solutions should be budgeted for in 2020. Does your SWOT analysis reveal any weak areas that AI can help with? If it does, the next step is to start researching vendors and taking quota of your available budget to target the areas that you’ve identified.

Step 2: Align Your Team

AI is a technology relatively new to the multifamily industry. When aligning your team around making an AI investment, it will be important to show them that you have done the vetting and research necessary to make an informed decision. When researching vendors, you should feel confident that they will:

  • Be great partners from start to finish
  • Have stellar customer service
  • Are experts in the field with proven results
  • Offer the right AI solutions that address your challenges
  • Provide you with statistics and facts to help you prove a business case

The products offered by AI vendors should streamline your leasing process, not overcomplicate it. Show your team the specific AI solutions available that can alleviate any “Weaknesses” identified in your SWOT analysis, such as:

Weakness: Missing leasing opportunities due to missed calls
Use an AI-powered virtual leasing assistant to answer the phone when your leasing team is unavailable and after-hours.

Weakness: Trouble identifying your best ad sources
Use AI lead scoring to track the origin of each call and analyze the caller’s leasing intent. You can use the results to allocate your ad spend toward the sources that generate the most prospects.

Weakness: Onsite team not closing due to inadequate sales experience
Evaluate leasing agent’s call recordings to discover strengths and areas of opportunity. Use an AI platform that scores all calls, uses industry best practices, and can provide results quickly.

When discussing with your team, talk about the opportunities that AI can bring your properties. In doing so, it will help you gain buy-in from all departments. In addition to discussing opportunities, emphasize the importance of keeping up with your competition. Provide examples of competitors already using AI solutions to your team. Start a discussion about how putting off an AI investment now, could mean bigger losses later and put you behind the competition.

Step 3: Plan Your Investment

Next, it’s time to crunch the numbers. Evaluate what you should keep, and how you can trim the fat in order to add the new.

It may make sense in your organization for an AI investment to be split between multiple departments, such as marketing, training and/or operations. This can help to make the investment more feasible if budget is a constraint (or Threat, as we learned from doing a SWOT analysis). After all, many AI solutions can benefit more than just one department, so identifying who can benefit most from the technology can be helpful.

Also, take a look at your previous year’s budget. You can decide if any expenses can be trimmed or reallocated. Talk to your team about how you can rearrange the budget by drawing from expenses from other projects toward AI. As mentioned previously, trends continue to evolve within an ever-changing market, so allocating toward new trends is an important practice.

2020 is likely to bring many more changes to the multifamily industry. Make budget season easy and plan ahead for your AI investment now.

Learn more about the full suite of AI solutions from LeaseHawk at leasehawk.ai.

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