So How Do We Make Touchscreens Different?

Applying The Lessons We've Learned

By John Hall - March 28, 2019


Now that we have convinced you that touchscreens are very different than community webpages, let’s take a look at how we have incorporated those differences into Pynwheel leasing touchscreen applications.

1- Number of Pages
Your website is likely to have a number of pages, with navigation that lets users explore a number of different avenues. Pynwheel touchscreens keep pages to a minimum, so that your prospects are always one step away from the information that is truly important to them during this stage of the leasing process. Of course, you can always build additional pages into your application - whether they be links to applications, websites, static information pages, or slideshows - but the focus will remain on what gets leases signed.

2- Buttons
When you are surfing the web with a mouse, you don’t need a lot of space to land your cursor on, and you can place clickable items in a row, with no space in between. When you are using touchscreens, there is always the danger of “fat fingering” a button that is too small, or too close to other buttons. Good touchscreen design calls for adequate button size, as well as adequate negative space to prevent clicks on the wrong items.

Here’s another thing we learned about our buttons: If you want people to be curious about a button, animate it! Pynwheel had added animation to our navigation buttons, which draws people into your touchscreen application, without bogging your cool design with unnecessary verbiage.

3- Responsiveness
Remember when we told you that users place higher demands for responsiveness on touchscreens? Our newest software, Pynwheel 4.0, was designed in large part to be robust and responsive. In computer terms, to be robust means to be free from errors and delays. All of our designs were also created with that quality in mind. Allowing design changes without programming changes ensures that buttons always work. Quickly and correctly.

4- “Cookies”
Websites utilize cookies to remember user activity, so that when you return, you can resume that activity or remember things that you liked. Obviously, a touchscreen is going to be shared by multiple users, so cookies are not a good idea . However, touchscreens allow users to select their own cookies, in the form of favorites, from your floorplans, amenities, gallery images and other items. Then, each user can send themselves their favorites, in the form of a self-curated e-brochure. Cool!

[One more thing we have learned: We do not ask users to enter their e-mail until after they have chosen their favorites, because they are more likely to want to see their e-brochure after they have already built it.]

5- Multi-touch
You want your prospects to use your touchscreen, and one of the ways you do that is to make your touchscreen fun to use! Multi-touch allows us to build galleries and community maps that are fun to move around in. Multiple pop-ups can be re-sized, re-arranged, and re-configured to your heart’s delight. Then, with the push of a button, they can be reorganized and the process can begin anew.

Touchscreens and Websites Are A Different Experience

Here Are A Few Reasons Why

By John Hall - March 21, 2019

People ask us all the time: How are touchscreen applications different from websites?

Here are some of the things that we have learned!

Website and touchscreen users are in a different place, literally and figuratively.
Website users are not at your community, and can be at any stage of an apartment search, although they are most likely to be in the early prospecting stage. They want information, and a lot of it! Your location, your community’s appearance, how your residents rate you, how they will interact with you...basically anything they can find. Websites are used to market your property

Touchscreens are used to market your units, and your prospective resident’s new home. Your touchscreen users are standing in your lobby! They don’t need directions to your community. They don’t need to know what the exterior looks like (although, some professional shots at different times of day never hurt!) And, they are interacting with you around their interaction with your touchscreen, so their reaction to your touchscreen becomes part of their experience with you! 

Websites are designed for general use. Touchscreens for specific use.
Your prospects will likely want to gather different information over a period of time as they make their decisions. As they gather information about other aspects of their move, they will refer back to your website for your corresponding information. Websites are perfect, and vital, for that function. 

Comparatively, the time a prospect spends with your touchscreen is likely to be short. But, it is also going to occur during one of the most crucial times in the entire leasing process. The moments that a prospect walks into your leasing center mark an important transition. They are going from having done all of their own work, to letting you sell your community to them. Your leasing touchscreen can make that transition seamless, and eliminate the need for you to play catch-up. Plus, providing access to cutting edge technology sends a powerful message that you aim high to meet the needs of your residents.

People expect different performance from websites and on-site technology.
Your prospects use the internet for everything, and they are used to whatever delays and interruptions that go along with inconsistent service options and wireless capabilities. 

However, when people use touch technology, they expect accuracy and responsiveness. Touchscreens are not the same as their wireless devices. They are a reflection of how tech-forward you are. (Think of the touchscreens that have become a part of your everyday routine. How often do you see a button on a supermarket self check-out freeze? And how angry do you get if it happens?!)

The internet is old hat. Touchscreens, not so much.
Everyone - especially your target market - knows how to get around the internet these days. When somebody ends up on your website, it is usually as the result of a targeted search. In other words, they are there because they want to be there, at least until they get what they need.

A large-format leasing application is a different animal. When a prospect walks into your office, they don’t expect to end up face to face with a huge screen that responds to their touch. They don’t necessarily know how they are going to interact with images and markers, and the experience is akin to exploring any new technology for the first time. 

Different inputs create different experiences.
One big difference they will find when they do interact with a touch screen has to do with something called multi-touch. Unlike the point-and-click nature of a mouse, touchscreens allow for users to manipulate what is on the screen in an entirely new way. (Provided that their application is programmed that way!)

So, how does all of this impact your actual touchscreen application. We will look at the application of these concepts in our next post!

How do these differences appear on our touchscreens? Go to PART 2 to find out. 

Pynwheel 101

Best Practices For Making Leasing Easier

By John Hall - February 13, 2019

Are you getting the most out of your Pynwheel touchscreen?
About to go live, and want to come out of the gate fast?
Or, do you just want a feel for how Pynwheel would look in your office?

Pynwheel touchscreens are powerful sales and leasing tools, and, as with any tools, it is smart to get some pointers on how best to use them.

Here are some of the best practices that we have seen.

1) Put Pynwheel to work
In other words, USE IT!
It’s really that simple. If you put your touchscreen where it won’t be seen, and you don’t make it a part of your routine, it won’t do a lot for you. But, if you make it a regular part of the sales process, you won’t want to live without it.

2) Eliminate the wait
Walk-in visitors matter, and, even though you can’t be expected to get to all of them every time, their time spent waiting can still set you back. Pynwheel applications are designed to be intuitive to first-time users. What was once lost time spent waiting now becomes time spent initiating the sales process for themselves.

3) Ditch that desk
Workspaces are changing with the times, and a lot of businesses are looking at alternatives to the old model of one-desk-per-person. In a sales environment, there is another advantage to getting out from behind that desk. Simply put, standing at a touchscreen with your prospects puts you on equal footing, and turns the process into a collaborative affair.

4) Let somebody else drive
You are no doubt used to having control of the community tour, but Pynwheel works best when you give prospects the opportunity to take the wheel. A smooth user experience makes it fun for them to navigate the benefits you offer, and you get to watch as they reveal what units and amenities appeal to them.

5) But, be ready to help navigate
Like we said, Pynwheel is simple enough for a first-timer to get around, but there are going to be prospects that aren’t as amenable to technology. If your prospects recoil when you invite them to engage with the touchscreen, go ahead and touch away for them. Just make sure to keep them involved. Ask what selections they would like, and stay alert for signs that they are ready to jump in.

6) Get on script
Similarly, even though you want to give up control, there is no reason you can’t help give directions. Have enough familiarity with your application to point prospects toward your best photographs, amenities, and popular local businesses. (Here’s a good trick: When demonstrating how the touch functionality works, you could just “happen to open” a couple of your best photos, or the pop-up for that restaurant near you that everyone is going crazy for. Make sure you play it off like it was unintentional!)

7) Play the game
Touchscreens are fun. That is part of what makes them effective. To that end, encourage prospects to open multiple images, re-size, and just make a mess. Then, have them touch the REORGANIZE button and start all over again. Even if it seems like they might just be goofing around, they are staying engaged with the process, which is a good thing!

8) Play favorites
While a prospect is manipulating the various images and floor plans on the screen, they will no doubt comment on the ones that they like. Make sure you take the gamification process one step further, and tell them to click on the heart icon when that happens. After doing so, they will be able to see all of the items they liked on one page (and they can mess around with them there all over again!). Better yet, they will want to send themselves their favorites as an e-brochure, and you will have a customized map to closing the deal.

How do you Pynwheel? Do you have any best practices that you would like to share?


Transportation And Your Community

Are You Up To Speed?

By John Hall - February 5, 2019

More and more, the changing world of transportation impacts the way that multifamily does business. Technology, and the "shared" economy, are driving resident choice in a profound way.

It is important to understand the current transportation landscape. Are you up to speed on all of the changes and choices out there? Here are some great articles we have read to get you caught up.


  • Apartment residents are increasingly moving away from car ownership, and they make community choices with that in mind. NAAHQ
  • Access to transportation options translates to premium home prices. Still, the demand is not being fully met. Curbed
  • The desire for alternatives to cars is not entirely altruistic. In many cases, it is a response to ever-worsening traffic. Many drivers would love not to have to drive, but they feel their options are still limited. Seattle Times
  • Uber and Lyft have had a massive effect on urban transportation, but they actually increase the amount of miles being driven. Curbed
  • So what will lead to a decrease in miles driven? Dock-less bike share appears poised to do so. Slate
  • However, bike share is not without its headaches, most notably with regards to how cities accommodate and regulate it. Curbed
  • Of course, a lot of people still own their own bicycles. Check out how one community in Sweden was specifically designed to meet their needs! Fast Company
  • How about scooter rentals? They have taken off, but many cities are struggling with how to manage them. South Florida Sun Sentinal
  • Also, scooters might be more of a nuisance, or a hazard, than they are worth. Forbes
  • Still, there are cities that are welcoming to them. Electric bikes too! azcentral
  • What about walking? Does anyone walk anymore? Well, yes. (At least outside of LA. ) In fact, "walkability" is still really important to your marketing efforts. MYMOVE
  • Mixed-use is growing in desirability. "New Urbanism first spreads slowly into a region. But once it is there, people quickly understand its benefits. Each code, development, or policy is easier than the last." Ped Shed
  • And don't assume that this trend is only for the young. Seniors want alternatives to driving, and also enjoy walking for its health benefits. Still, most senior development is being done in the suburbs, where cars are almost a necessity. Strongtowns
  • What will the future bring? For one thing, transportation efficiency will be vastly improved by technology. Forbes
  • Commutes might actually improve. Mashable
  • And, would you believe that the future of urban transportation might be...the bus?! Wall Street Journal


Photo by Brandi Ibrao on Unsplash


Beating Resident Churn

Get Ahead Of The Vicious Cycle

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:

  • Resident renewals increase, decreasing the time you spend on new leases
  • Current residents refer their friends, increasing the pool for units that are open
  • Current residents spread the word, through internet reviews, and word of mouth, and the prospect pool gets larger
  • Improvements you make for current residents become benefits for prospects
  • In the long run, your community is nicer, complaints decrease, and prospects are lined up to fill openings. Everyone is happy forever! The End!

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!