Property managers have a love-hate relationship with technology. On the one hand, technology has the ability to increase efficiency and workloads, while on the other integration, functionality and training have been pain points from property managers. In fact, a recent survey from Common Areas showed that many property managers view technology as more of a curse than a benefit. Still, technology does provide a lot of benefits, particularly in decreasing operating expenses and thereby increasing profitability—a big win for any property manager.
“Technology, tools and platforms that improve efficiency and allow property management firms to do more with less not only improves their margins, but also helps them provide a higher level of service to their clients,” Casey Rue, CEO of Common Areas, tells GlobeSt.com. Almost equally as important, particularly when working with property owners that own portfolios of properties across the country, technology provides a level of standardization and clarity in processes and reporting. That creates tremendous efficiency, consistency and peace of mind for property owners.”
As a result, property managers are most apt to adopt technology programs focusing on finances and operations reporting. While there are options, property managers are looking for technology tools that are adaptable and easily integrated into the business. “Today you see increasing focus on providing solutions that are integrable, configurable and collaborative that previously were disparate functions,” says Rue. “These collaborative network/platform solutions will allow significantly greater levels of sharing of data and information and enhanced means for all internal and external team members to communicate with each other in real time, on any type of device.”
While property managers have found challenges with technology, property owners are requiring it. Having technology tools can be important to pursuing and eventually winning new clients. “More often than not in any business, whoever can provide the best product or service at the most competitive price will win and retain market-share,” says Rue. “Generally speaking, the most important and often most tangible outcomes for property owners are net operating income and long-term stability of their assets. For property managers, it’s about reducing internal operating expenses and increasing capacity to improve what already are very thin margins.”
Gradually, technology tools are getting easier to use, and Rue says that with time more efficient and user-friendly technologies will penetrate the market. “I also think it is very likely that some of the most innovative solutions will come from within the industry from real estate professionals who have experienced the pain points,” says Rue. “Incredible progress can be made by pairing experienced RE professionals who have a solution in mind with equally as talented and creative tech people who can bring the solution to life.”
Technology is improving, but Rue says that pain points will never disappear completely, and that will only push technology to continue to improve. “The irony, however, is that pain points will always exist. But pain points exist to make us all better—more efficient and productive in our work in the commercial real estate industry,” he says. “It brings new meaning to the phrase no pain, no gain. In the end, it’s all about leveraging the mindset that technology is a tool that can improve the way you work, and it can have great short and long term impact on NOI, profitability and margins—the bottom line issues that matter to almost everyone.”