The Unfair Advantage Property Managers Use To Crush Their Competition
How will you run your business in the next five years? That’s the question that SiteCompli is helping property management companies across New York City and the country reframe.
Property management is governed by the principle that the one constant is constant change. Best practices, legislation, technology and challenges are always evolving, but there is universal agreement on one thing: those who don’t adapt to these changes will not be able to keep up. As the generation of property managers that grew up with technology rises in the corporate ranks, it’s clear that they not only are comfortable using technology to run a more efficient business but also that they thrive when using that technology and applying it to their toughest business challenges.
New York City proptech pioneer SiteCompli has been embracing the needs of the modern property manager for the last decade — facilitating the reporting and management of city violation data and, in the process, becoming the default standard — across more than 1.8 billion square feet of commercial office space and 1.1 million residential apartments in the city.
Now it has unleashed their most powerful set of technology yet, what CEO Seth Dotterer called “the automation revolution.” While many property managers recognize that SiteCompli provides incredible value through aggregating city data and alerting on violations, over the past decade, it has been the analytics, insights and guidance on creating a more sophisticated organization that has set the company apart.
“Our clients look to us not just for city agency data but for the analytics, benchmarking and recommendations that make a real difference in a property manager’s life,” Dotterer said. “Whether that’s best practices on resolving violations, workflow templates, our RealFocus conference or our superb content on blogs, webinars, emails subscriptions, this is the fuel that makes businesses run better buildings and teams and, ultimately, makes them more competitive in this market.”
But over the last year or so, SiteCompli has provided additional value to its customers: a suite of tools that brings automation, document storage, inspections and more to a mobile workforce.
“SiteCompli customers have always come to us for answers to the complexities of dealing with regulatory compliance,” Dotterer continued. “Now they’re coming to us for solutions on how to modernize their businesses.”
Every manager — whether an owner/manager or third-party — has a plan to improve the net operating income (NOI) at the properties they manage. Sometimes that means capital improvements. More often, it entails improving the way the property is managed on a daily basis. Every day at every property, there’s a standard operating procedure that the management team wants to run a certain way. When the right things happen, the value of the property increases — if not, not so much.
“Ask any property owner, ‘Wouldn’t you love it if the day-to-day work at your buildings — turns, inspections, service requests — was done exactly the way you would do it, every time?’ I believe that every single property management exec would answer this question with an unequivocal ‘yes!’,” Dotterer observed. “Automation technology — ‘smart’ processes and automatic assignments, follow-ups and tracking — for property management promises precisely this: every staff member on the team knows exactly what needs to get done at each property and how to do it the right way.”
Called “InCheck,” the suite of services began as a way to automatically trigger the knowledge SiteCompli was putting in email alerts to customers along with a violation with what to do next. InCheck can trigger and assign inspections, filings and followups automatically, based on specific compliance events that always require a set of next steps.
“Customers had their own way of dealing with a Housing Preservation & Development (HPD) complaint within a certain portfolio of buildings. InCheck allowed them to take that process and make it a workflow. That way, if someone was on vacation or new to the team, the process was right there for pickup when any HPD complaint came in, every time,” Dotterer said.
Soon after enacting these workflows, SiteCompli customers started using the reports built into InCheck to measure the efficacy of not just their overall business, but to compare team performance at different portions of their portfolio.
The workflows and automation didn’t stop there. SiteCompli knew that this way of automating standard operating procedures was applicable beyond compliance because there’s so much more that building management teams do each day besides comply with local laws. SiteCompli customers are using InCheck for everything from preparing a unit for a tenant move-in to making sure their teams complete annual fire and life safety inspections.
“I believe that automation should revolutionize the time it takes to get things done at your properties, whether that’s a routine local law inspection, yearly fire safety protocols or tracking an accident,” Dotterer said. “But it doesn’t have to be the hardest thing you ever do.”
“Automation Should Revolutionize The Time It Takes To Get Things Done” —Seth Dotterer
Following are some advice and best practices for companies looking to modernize from the SiteCompli team:
Don’t Try Everything at Once
Often, an eager management team will try to implement multiple wholesale technology solutions simultaneously. Almost always, they fall short of the intended goals. Drastic change can be hard on staff, tenants and the management team — too much change too fast leaves opportunities for failure. Instead, focus on which part of your business needs incremental improvement. How can technology help you get to those improvements? What key performance indicators will tell you whether you have made an improvement?
Attach Automation to Existing Functions
This is where SiteCompli has had great success. Take an event or situation you deal with frequently, where you know the process for how you’d like it to be handled every time — such as getting a violation or receiving a tenant request — and use it to test automation functionality in the field. The recently-enacted Local Law 55 is a great example. SiteCompli clients had already drawn up plans for inspecting each unit, and they began using InCheck automation to trigger the unit inspections, one building team, at a time at first. In this way, they could test the functionality and process and work out any hiccups.
However you implement technology, it’s critical that metrics play a big part beyond your roll-out to ongoing, everyday management.
For example, once a team is using technology to assign tasks and processes, it’s an easy path to reporting on where things might be falling short. That could result in wasted hours, wasted resources or wasted goodwill with your tenants. Seeing what’s on task to be done, what’s overdue, which teams are crushing it and what teams or people need some guidance is incredibly valuable to getting to that NOI for each building.
“Many of our third-party managers use our reports not just to manage internally but as a great sales tool for their business,” Dotterer said. “When approaching owners for new business, they have a documented answer for what they do for their fee. Using InCheck reporting, the manager can show them exactly how their high-performing team works, and how long tasks and projects will take.”
Property Managers of the Future
Proptech promises to revolutionize the business of everyone in real estate, whether it’s how they measure their business, the equipment they work with day-to-day or what tenants expect from their building. SiteCompli believes the future is already here when it comes to automating routine work and follow-ups at properties and measuring a team’s performance.
“The companies that embrace automation as simply a faster and more efficient way to implement the wonderful standard operating procedures they’ve developed over the years have a clear advantage,” Dotterer said. “SiteCompli’s automation revolution looks to transform the world of property management, resulting in better-run buildings, better-performing property teams and happier tenants.”