Change is inevitable. New advancements are entering the market for every industry. This was clearer than ever at the 2017 Multifamily Leadership Summit keynote session, Disruption Is Knocking: Reshaping the Future of Multifamily presented by Mike Mueller, LeaseHawk CEO. The session revolves around the idea that it is vital for businesses to anticipate what is happening next and how to confront the numerous disruptors flowing into the multifamily industry.
Mueller is no stranger to results or technology innovation. More than 20 years ago he created one of the first apartment Internet Listing Services (ILS), AllApartments.com. Now, he is able to use his past endeavors to help the industry understand where the markets are moving today and determine future trends. He says, “Disruption in the apartment industry happens often times when you least expect it.”
Football—although totally unrelated to apartment leasing—makes an easy analogy to the disruption that can occur in our industry. For any team, it's the players that make it great. Being able to identify the players and to be alert of their next move is what will allow you to win the game. For disrupters, it is crucial to identify the players and anticipate their next move within our industry.
Mueller reflects about the time when people were afraid to use credit cards to purchase items online. Fast forward to now, most people don’t second-guess storing credit card numbers within online accounts or transfer funds with digital banking. Convenience for consumers is key. It plays a large part in unlocking tech innovations and dissolving the fears people once had. For instance, some people allow Amazon, a major player when it comes to multifamily disruption, direct access into their home to deliver packages. It may sound unusual right now, but it could be a popular package delivery method in the future.
The next player, Facebook, partnered with Apartmentlist and Zumper last year. Users on Facebook are not only able to filter and search for apartments, but they can also utilize virtual reality experience using Oculus technology. Through these virtual reality experiences, Oculus will incorporate 360-degree tours for potential prospects.
The motive behind this tech for Amazon and Facebook is to gain more direct access to their customers (i.e. your renters). Mueller predicts these disrupters will have an increased interest in the data found in your Property Management System (PMS), such as RealPage and Yardi, so they can manage the “back-end to all the interconnected devices in the apartment unit.” For instance, by incorporating an Amazon Echo within every unit the renter can conveniently request maintenance as well as order goods and services with a simple voice command. That request could sound something similar to this: "Alexa, request maintenance for my broken dishwasher and add paper plates to my cart."
Another form of possible disruption to our industry is through short-term rentals. According to the 2017 Renter Preferences Survey conducted by the National Multifamily Housing Council and Kingsley Associates, “49% of renters under the age of 25 are interested in generating income through short-term rentals.” Today, people desire to travel and not feel confined. Mueller envisions Amazon will partner with Airbnb or create their own version thereof. He predicts users of the platform to list their apartment for others to browse and book as a short-term rental. The residents will then earn credits from each booking to make purchases on Amazon.
To make a profit from these disruptors, Mueller advises, "Instead of fighting them, you should invite them into your company." Challenge the key players within your own company to better understand what these disruptors could want from you. Try out the gadgets for yourself before you buy-in for your properties and understand how it can impact your renters' wants and needs. Mueller emphasizes to think differently and to, “Take yourself out of the comfort zone and look for other places for your inspiration.”
Watch Mueller's live presentation at the 2017 Multifamily Leadership Summit in its entirety. It includes show notes and time stamps, so you can learn about additional disrupters and their potential impact on the multifamily industry, courtesy of Multifamily Leadership.
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