Multifamily Provider Profile: Amenify

By John Hall - August 16, 2018

This is a great time to be in multifamily housing. Not only is the market strong, but there are many new products and services out there that are moving the industry forward. The crew at Pynwheel is always excited to find out about other companies with really great ideas, and we have met a bunch in the last few years. Today, we would like to tell you about one of these companies - Amenify.


So why do we think Amenify is so cool? Here are some of the things we like the most:


1) It gives communities with limited opportunities for capital improvements a competitive edge.

If your community is short on amenities and trying to compete in a strong market, it’s a great way to enhance your appeal. Amenify provides dog walkers, fitness instructors, cleaning teams, massage therapists - even ridesharing. While you may not have the space to add a game room or a pool, you can add concierge-type service amenities that appeal even more strongly to your residents.


2) It’s a simple way for apartment operators to greatly expand their amenity offerings.

While a community could go out and create their own relationships to offer various resident services, the process of doing so represents a significant drain on resources. Amenify is able to jump through multiple hoops on an apartment operator's behalf, from identifying providers, to pre-screening and insuring them, to achieving the best incentives by leveraging multiple relationships. Onsite managers are too busy for this - thankfully, Amenify does the work.


3) It allows communities to build their brand through the Amenify platform.

Communities brand their Amenify offerings as their own, avoiding the pitfalls of a direct-to-consumer model. Residents access services through a mobile application, and have access to price incentives and conveniences that are a unique offering of their community.  For example - want to make an impact on dog owners? Maybe pay for some of their dog walks!


4) It is attractive to service providers.

Most service providers are motivated by the desire to focus on their actual services, while focusing as little time and energy as possible on cultivating new customers. Amenify offers service providers a large pool of potential customers, as well as the convenience of having a pool of customers in close proximity to each other. As a result, providers pass on significant savings, without negatively impacting their own bottom line.


5) Market research is built in.

Consumer trends are ever-changing. Because Amenify is constantly acquiring feedback from consumers through their usage patterns, they are able to identify amenities and services that are in demand, and allow communities to rapidly add those services to their offerings. For example, on-site activities - such as cooking classes or wine-and-painting sessions - are offerings that have been identified and added due to their current popularity.


6) It offers a great alternative to old-school concessions.

Gift cards and cash concessions have become an ineffective way to attract new residents. Imagine being able to offer services - like monthly apartment cleaning, or personal training sessions, or six months of dog-walking - to potential residents, based on preferences expressed in the leasing process. Amenify makes it easy to offer these gifts, and to track their redemption.
7) It solves a pain point.

Ultimately, the best ideas come from reimagining and improving upon current practices, and applying technology to transform business.  We love companies - like Amenify - that bring this kind of thinking to the multifamily industry, and we like to share their stories with you!

Note: Pynwheel’s Multifamily Blog strives to provide industry intelligence that is useful and interesting to apartment industry professionals. We did not receive any consideration - monetary or otherwise - from Amenify in exchange for this profile. If you know of a multifamily provider that you would like to see profiled, let us know!


Gallery: Apartments Around The World

Some of our favorites

By John Hall - August 8, 2018

We are crazy about apartment buildings, and about design. So, it has been a perfect fit for us to feature outstanding apartment design in our Apartments Around The World social media entries.

We have featured design that we think is innovative, beautiful, or just plain unusual! We especially enjoy design that focuses on beautiful solutions to the functional challenges of creating homes in tight urban spaces. All of the projects below take different approaches to creating unique, private dwellings for large numbers of people.

Here are some of our favorites:

City Life - Milan - Zaha Hadid and Daniel Libeskind 

The Interlace - Singapore - Ole Scheeren
More (Highly recommended article. The Interlace design is both beautiful and functional, with a unique solution to a problem that all urban designers face.)

25 Verde - Turin - Luciano Pia

Marina City - Chicago - Bertrand Goldberg

Cubic Houses - Rotterdam - Piet Blom

Eight Spruce Street - New York - Frank Gehry

VM Houses - Copenhagen - Bjarke Ingels
More and More
If these two look interesting to you, check out the Bjarke Ingels profile on the NetFlix program Abstract: The Art of Design (S1: Ep4). It is well worth your time.

Habitat 67 - Montreal - Moshe Safdie

Those are some iconic examples of how some of the greatest architects of our time have addressed higher density living. They remind us of our mission to focus on design as a means of creating powerful solutions.

What do you think? Is there design that has inspired you?


Your Brochures Are Better With An “E”

By John Hall - July 31, 2018

For decades, apartment managers have relied upon glossy brochures to sell their communities to prospective renters. The coupling of community photography and informative text has always looked and carried the best on professionally produced paper marketing materials. With the internet, those brochures have migrated to online presentations, but printed materials are still are a necessary element of the in-person leasing process.

Or are they?


At Pynwheel, we think of virtual e-brochures as scissors - they beat the old-school paper brochure every time!


Why? Here are some of the reasons:


1) They are thorough. You never know what a prospective resident is looking for. (And often, neither do they!) Their focus could on common spaces, fitness areas, and shared amenities. Maybe they care more about the surrounding area of where they will live. Or, maybe, they are most concerned about the details of the actual apartment they will live in. Printed brochures have to include as much information as possible within an extremely finite space, but they cannot possibly include all of the salient benefits of your community.


2) But they are also succinct. Too much information is almost as ineffective as no information at all. In this day and age, there is so much information out there. People need to be able access what they are looking for quickly and easily, without having to wade through the stuff they don’t really care about.


3) They are curatable. Potential residents design brochures to their own specifications, choosing from the wealth of information that is out there and narrowing down to the items that will lead them to lease.


4) They are stunning. Photography is the best weapon you have in creating a positive impression of your community. You want that photography to be as vivid, and large, as possible. Paper brochure printing has built-in limitations when it comes to showcasing bold imagery, while digital formats allow for all striking clarity and visual effects.

5) They are portable. People - especially millennials - rely on their smartphones for everything these days. You want potential residents to be able to share your information with those that they intend to live with, as well as those who influence their decision. In other words, you want to get your brochure on to their cell phones.

6) They are interactive. Today’s technology is designed to let buyer’s interact with marketing materials. If something is of particular interest to them, they want to be able to find out more, in a manner that is as easy and engaging as possible.


7) They are current. Potential residents only want to know about the apartments that meet their needs, and that are available when they want to rent. (Whether that be today, or some time in the near future.) E-brochures provide information about the specific units that meet an individual’s requirements, and that are available when they need them.


In other words, technology is making the once-unbeatable print brochure obsolete. As information delivery changes, old methodologies lose their effectiveness.


This is why we love the combination of huge displays in the leasing office, and customizable e-brochures for on-the-go smartphone use. The combination allows you to paint a picture of your community that is both thorough and succinct, by allowing prospective residents to curate and save eBrochures to their own portable devices. They offer stunning photography on large, high-resolution displays, without the limitations of paper printing. Interactive interfaces invite potential residents in, and direct them to your community’s best attributes. Availability is always current, creating a leasing process that is less stressful - and much more successful.


Of course, there are other ways to accomplish this. But the key is to make your on-site marketing digital and accessible.


Are you getting the most out of your community brochures? Maybe the best way to do so is to replace them with something better.


Who’s Afraid of Generation Y?

Seven things to think about when you think about millennials

By John Hall - July 24, 2018

Let’s talk about millennials.


If you work in the multifamily industry, you have probably been talking about the importance of marketing to millennials for a long time. In fact, you are probably sick of hearing about it.


But here’s the thing: Millennials have been your biggest target market for a quite a while already. Depending on which (of the many) date ranges for millennials that you subscribe to, the oldest millennials are now as old as 32. They have been renting from you for well over a decade!


In other words, millennials are adults now, and there is a wealth of information about their consumer habits and preferences that is based upon actual behavior.


So, let’s take a look at some of the things we have learned about them.


1) For a number reasons, they prefer renting to owning. Clearly, there are many millennials that simply cannot afford to buy a house. However, apartments represent a lot more than just a fall-back from home ownership.


2) One reason that renting appeals to so many of them? It fits their lifestyle! This article (very much worth a read, by the way) offers six defining characteristics of what millennials want from their rental housing: technology, community, authenticity, work and play, health, and experience. Communities that can recognize the opportunities to meet these needs will reap the benefits.


3) They want to be able to function without cars. Making your communities more walkable, bikable, or even “bus-able” will result in your ability to earn higher rents. Millennials that do own cars still avail themselves of these alternative options much more than other generations.


4) They are obsessed with their pets. Obsessed! Get this: Three fourths of Americans in their thirties own a dog, and over half own cats! And they are willing to spend a big chunk of their earnings on their pets. Offering pet-friendly accommodations and amenities has become essential in today’s marketplace.


5) While they love their smartphones, they really don’t like their phones. What?! Most millennials use their phones for everything but phone calls. If you want to reach them, they prefer a text. If they seek information, they will find it online before they will even think of calling someone for help. Your community needs to have marketing in place that meets this requirement!


6) Similarly, they value sleek design and simplicity in their online interactions. Intuitive, easy, and straightforward are the keywords here. If they can’t find what they are looking for without having to ask, they will go somewhere else. Applications that do not adhere to these principles are essentially useless in today’s marketplace.


7) You can’t “speak their language”, because they don’t really have a language. Attempts to pigeonhole specific interests and tastes of such a large group is foolhardy, and always ends up seeming insincere. With every passing year, there are more hobbies, interests, and entertainments available to people than ever before, and technology provides endless ways to approach them. Also, once a catchphrase or meme becomes common currency, it is probably already out of fashion.


If the first six items on this list seem to run contrary to the seventh, just think of the difference between trends and fads. It is one thing to say that millennials prefer texting to phone calls. It is quite another to say that they prefer emojis and hashtags to photos and conversations. What appeals to them in their personal relationships is probably not what they want or expect from their transactional relationships.


So, don’t pander! Remember, millennials are adults now, and would like to be treated as such.


Questions? Comments? We would love to hear about your experiences in the current apartment rental market.


Meet Parkmerced!

A Community With A Great Story

By John Hall - July 16, 2018

We are so excited that Parkmerced, San Francisco’s unique “city within a city” and largest multifamily community, with 3231 units (and growing!), has installed a Pynwheel system to assist with their on-site leasing.  Pynwheel is a perfect addition to their leasing center, helping the leasing staff and prospective residents to narrow down all of their amazing options on a large interactive touchscreen.


Ashley Olson, the Marketing Manager for Maximus Real Estate Partners, who manages Parkmerced, described to me the history and vision of this unique community.  


Parkmerced’s story starts in the early 1940s, when construction started on residences that were designed to provide middle income housing to returning servicemen. Initially, the community was to be comprised of garden-style apartments, with an emphasis on being car-friendly. The housing shortage of the 1950s led to the construction of a series of high-rise apartment towers and more population density. As time went on, Parkmerced’s buildings were showing their age, and decisions had to be made about the future of the area.


Fast forward to 2006, when the new owners of Parkmerced set out to revitalise the entire community. Over $100 million was invested in improvements and repairs. They looked for input from community groups, government agencies, elected officials, and anyone else that could contribute to their ultimate goal. Then, they worked with designers to create a master plan - The Parkmerced Vision.


The plan was anything but simple. It called for an increase in quality housing units of over three times the current levels. That’s close to ten-thousand homes - in a city that needs every single one. It called for the creation of a transportation network that would allow for comfortable life without the need of a car. It called for the flexibility to adapt to changes in technology that will keep the community modern, sustainable, and desirable to future home-seekers.


The Parkmerced master plan was approved by the city of San Francisco in 2011, and now, it is clear to see that everything is happening! Construction is underway on multiple residential buildings, all designed by different architects to create diversity and a local feel.


Take a look at some of what San Franciscans will enjoy when living at Parkmerced:

  • A setting that is surrounded by gorgeous city views, parks, Lake Merced, a TPC golf course (hosting the 2020 PGA Championship), and the Pacific Ocean.
  • An environment that offers robust alternatives to car-ownership - with ride-share and car-share stations, shuttles to shopping and recreational destinations, and a major city bus line that will make multiple stops within the community.
  • Shops, services, and even a full-service grocery store located right where they live. There are even plans to build an elementary school!
  • Parks, sports fields, and other outdoor amenities throughout the entire community.

The Parkmerced leasing center is now showcasing their community’s unique offerings on the newest Pynwheel platform, Pynwheel 4.0. It provides the perfect digital bridge for modern home shoppers to get their bearings and narrow down their options. If you’re in the area, stop by and check it out!


Pynwheel salutes Parkmerced for their vision of enlightened community transformation!