By John Hall - January 17, 2019
When writing about resident retention last week, I kept coming back to something that I have heard from apartment professionals for a long time. Almost everyone I have met in multifamily will tell you that renewals are preferable to new leases. They save you a lot of money, require less work, and create a stronger sense of continuity.
[Here is another study demonstrating the value of renewals.]
However, just as there is agreement on the importance of renewals, there is an almost universal frustration with the ability to dedicate the time and resources necessary to improve retention rates. Empty units generate no income, so leasing staffs are encouraged to focus the bulk of their time on filling them.
And this leads to a nasty cycle. While there are things that you could do to improve retention rates, you have to spend most of your time getting all of your units filled, which gives you less time to improve resident satisfaction, which leads to more available units, and on, and on. Arrgh!!!
Now, imagine a world where the cycle works the other way. With leasing being just one manageable portion of your overall workload, you are able to put more time and energy into improving resident satisfaction. Then, all sorts of cool things start to happen:
OK, Shanrgi-La might not be in the cards, but it is possible to turn the cycle around. Happier residents, an unfrazzled leasing staff, and an improved bottom line are well within your reach.
Simple. Make resident satisfaction your priority.
Don’t just talk about it. Do it!
Operational changes need to occur that guarantee a heightened focus on resident satisfaction. Incentives for resident satisfaction should be in line with those for new leases. Leasing practices can be streamlined and modernized to free up time. Schedules can be created that dedicate time to current residents. Duties can be changed so that leasing and resident satisfaction become seperate jobs. Turnaround for resident requests can be actively reduced, through service guarantees.
However you decide to go about it, a change in priorities will be accompanied by some other changes:
1) Your focus shifts to the future
When a resident moves in, they immediately become a prospect again, potentially filling a unit that is due to be open a year away. Your already know your future prospects!
2) Your residents become your best lead generators
Happy residents refer friends, and residents who live with friends are happier residents. There is some good synergy that occurs when most of your residents are also friends.
3) You begin to create a true community
When your time and energy is focused on creating great living conditions for current residents, a truer sense of community is a result.
There is no better incentive to renew than that!
By John Hall - January 11, 2019
By Jennifer Cyphers - December 20, 2018
As we close out 2018, I look back on the year with gratitude and appreciation. 2018 was a particularly good year for Pynwheel. We accomplished a lot, with our vision set on 2020 (double entendre intended). The Pynwheel team makes me proud every day. Here are the highlights:
1) We rebuilt our entire application!
In June, we celebrated the release of our new software - Pynwheel 4.0. This new version of the application is truly amazing. It is slick and easy. It is also very simple to set up, update, and integrate anything. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you should.
2) We introduced FREE interactive map WebPages, iPad app, and iPhone app
As a token of appreciation for our customers, we decided to do an early rollout of our bundled product, slated for 2019. All Pynwheel orders now come with all of the following:
3) We reached our goal of 100% customer satisfaction
I am so proud of this one. We have a strong commitment to offering great customer service and in the past couple of years have really focused on providing a consistent experience for our customers, with quick response times and resolutions. This year we tested ourselves by gathering feedback from our customers, and I was thrilled that we receive such positive feedback.
4) We installed touchscreens in 40 new communities
We have installed hundreds of touchscreens, modernizing the on-site tour one community at a time. This year, Pynwheel was brought into many situations where it served a particular importance:
5) We partnered with CleanDrink
In recent years we have run a holiday drive to “Pay it Forward.” This year Alex had the opportunity to join the board of a new organization called CleanDrink. He had a life-changing experience traveling to Nepal with CleanDrink to deliver clean water systems to remote villages in Nepal. We are thrilled and humbled to support this organization to help provide for the most basic needs of people who are out of reach of most humanitarian aid organizations.
6) We re-entered the world of education
I had the opportunity this year to get out of my office and get back up on stage once again to present about the technofile Gens Y and Z. (I used to travel around the country giving presentations about technology in the industry, but it had been a long time.) It was fun to get back out there to share some of the research that informs product development at Pynwheel. We also introduced the blog “Multifamily Insights” to share some of our research and experience with our customers and the multifamily industry at large.
I am humbled by what a great year it has been, and feel like we’re entering 2019 on a tech wave. I have met a lot of other tech providers and tech-forward management companies this year. I am continually inspired by all of the ideas that are transforming multifamily and we’re grateful to be a part of bringing the industry into the future.
By John Hall - December 12, 2018
TransitScreen took a simple idea, and turned it into an incredibly useful application that you can offer as an exclusive benefit to your residents.
Why do we think TransitScreen is perfect for the multifamily industry?
1) It saves your residents time and money.
When there are myriad ways to get from Point A to Point B, the biggest factor that keeps the typical rider from finding the best option is time. There simply is not time to look up everything when you want to get somewhere.
2) Did we say everything?
TransitScreen provides schedules and local availability for bike share, all public transportation, Uber, ZIP share, Car2Go, even electric scooter rentals.They put it all on one screen, so that your residents know the time and expense involved with every option.
3) It even includes your own transportation options.
If you offer shuttle service or other transportation options to residents, TransitScreen can display those as well - right alongside the other public offerings. You can also showcase nearby destinations, encouraging your residents to visit businesses and attractions that you choose.
4) There’s something for drivers too.
Residents that take their own cars can access real-time traffic information. If a resident is deciding between grabbing a bike, jumping on a train, or driving themselves, TransitScreen makes it easy to compare the time involved with each. It will even offer new alternatives that the commuter might not have considered.
5) It lets you offer sustainability as an amenity.
Your prospective residents are increasingly conscious of making choices with a smaller carbon footprint. TransitScreen makes it easy to balance that desire with the practical need to meet a schedule.
6) Your residents take it with them.
TransitScreen recently introduced CityMotion, which allows users to access the application from anywhere. An amenity that goes everywhere they go!
7) But it still comes from you.
Access to CityMotion is limited to users who have been granted access by TransitScreen clients. So, even when they are using the application to get from work to a restaurant, they know it is an amenity that you provided. In fact, their application is still branded with your community logo, and captures the messaging functionality of their core product.
8) Yeah, we said messaging.
Transit Screen lets you send messages to your residents, and CityMotion lets you send them right to their mobile devices. It will even send a notification whenever you post a new message!
9) It has great design.
TransitScreen provides a wealth of information, but makes it easy to read and use. It also looks really cool!
10) It works great with Pynwheel.
We can set up your Pynwheel application to offer access to TransitScreen with a single touch. (Integration is free for Pynwheel/TransitScreen customers!) Because Pynwheel is designed to be a leasing tool, and TransitScreen is designed for use by your residents, they work well together to maximize the functionality of your touchscreen.
Check out their website for more about this cool technology provider.
By John Hall - December 11, 2018
Pynwheel has partnered with Clean Drink Adventures to provide clean water to a village in Nepal! For every touchscreen order placed until the end of the year, we will donate a clean water system.
Pynwheel's COO, Alex Cyphers, was a participant on a Clean Drink Adventuress trip to Nepal in October. We asked him to tell us all about the organization, and his trip.
How did you hear about Clean Drink Adventures (CDA)?
Christophe Noel, the founder of CDA, was a college friend who I hadn’t seen for 24 years. We had reconnected on Facebook a while back, and I read about his idea.
What is that idea?
It's pretty simple: CDA is a non-profit that provides clean water systems to remote villages in Nepal.
What made you decide to get involved?
I had been searching to do more impactful things with my life, especially given current conditions in the world. My kids are a little older and don’t require as much of my time.
When I learned about CDA, Chris had asked friends to join him in Nepal on motorcycles to help reach remote areas. I don’t ride one, so I mentioned that if there was ever a 4x4 option available, I would love to join. If I’m being honest, I probably didn’t think it all the way through! He called me the next day to tell me they were adding a 4x4, so I no longer had an excuse not to go. Still, I was really nervous to make such a big commitment.
Describe your daily accommodations.
We stayed in a hotel in Katmandu. Otherwise, we mostly camped. A team of Sherpas set up our tents and did the cooking, so, for camping, it was quite luxurious. It was little hard for me to accept at first, since I am used to doing things on my own, but once I got to know the crew and how much loved their jobs, it became a great thing. The income the Sherpas made from our trip amounts to a few months wages for them, so it was a win-win situation.
I can’t say it enough: the Nepalese people are among the most kind and genuine I have ever met in my life.
Besides your family, what did you miss the most?
A big cup of coffee!! I loved the tea they served, and we did have small amounts of espresso occasionally. But I really did miss my regular mug of light roast coffee.
Katmandu, the Terai region, Muktunath, and many small villages.
What surprised you most about Nepal?
I was really fascinated by the religious tolerance and love. When you see a Hindu shrine, you likely to see a Buddhist Temple close by. There is a mutual respect for all religions that I had not experienced before.
Also, life in Nepal can be a daily struggle, but the people I met seemed seemed to be much happier than we are.
What do you think you will remember the most?
First and foremost, the KIDS! They were so funny and so cute. I am 6’5”, and many of them had never seen anyone like me. They were often a little scared, but would then end up touching me and climbing all over me. It was not unusual to have a little kid walk by and touch me, and then run away.
Second, the roads. The road to Muktinath was absolutely nuts. Nothing like what we are used to here.
Third, hearing the roar of a Bengal tiger while out walking. A crazy and slightly terrifying experience!
How many systems did you install, and how many will that impact?
Our group installed five. We left our partner in Nepal with seven more, which he is already working on implementing. Each system can provide water for up to 500 people, so if all twelve are used successfully, that’s over 5,000! We already have three more trips planned, so you can imagine the impact that will have.
Do you feel like the trip changed you?
It did. The main thing I came away with was realizing how much we take for granted on a daily basis. Everytime I drink water out of a tap, or go grocery shopping, I am grateful. It also reaffirmed that happiness is not purchased. If people who have next nothing can be kind, generous, and grateful, I certainly should be able to live that way.
What is the most valuable thing you took away from your trip?
I made friendships that I expect to have for the rest of my life.
This was a massive adventure. Did you get your fill for now, or did it make you want to do more?
I certainly have my fill for now Luckily, I am on the Board of Directors for CDA, so I can stay involved and have an impact without traveling all the way to Nepal. CDA will continue to deliver clean drinking water, while offering other people the opportunity to have experiences like the one I had. It’s off to a great start and I think will have an impact for years to come.
Right now I am really enjoying being with my family, but I am pretty sure that I will get the itch to go back. It’s an amazing place.