With the Build to Rent sector expected to increase fivefold over the next decade, operators will need to ensure that they have the right technology in place to meet the growing expectations and demands of residents.
With 92% of residents preferring digital communications, it has become a necessity to provide an easy way to manage their tenancy. In fact, developments that already have a residents’ portal in place typically achieve higher ratings as referenced in HomeViews’ 2022 National Build to Rent Report.
It’s not only residents that benefit – The Samanage State of Workplace Survey found that workers spend an average of 520 hours a year on repetitive services and tasks that could easily be automated. Having effective property management software in place can help alleviate redundant tasks, reduce inefficiency, and put more productive hours into your property manager’s day.
With that in mind, here are the top five features your Residents’ Portal should have:
1. Maintenance Management
One of the most time-consuming parts of a property manager’s job is the handling of maintenance issues, and without an easy and simple way for residents to report them, maintenance problems can often go unreported, with seemingly small problems at risk of turning into serious repairs.
Having a residents’ portal like Spike Living in place can speed up the reporting of issues, with residents able to quickly provide maintenance staff with a clear picture of the task ahead, and even attach photos of the issue so maintenance staff can diagnose the fault ahead of time, increasing the likelihood of fixing the issue in their first visit.
Property managers can also benefit from Spike Living’s powerful reporting module, allowing them to spot any building-wide issues to do with material defectives or poor workmanship such as faulty taps or leaking showers.
2. Bookings Tool
With onsite gyms, games rooms, dining spaces, and a host of other amenities becoming the new norm in residential developments, having an easy way for residents to book and interact with these spaces without requiring staff interaction increases the probability of them being used. Feedback gained by HomeViews for their 2021 Build to Rent report gave examples where residents were frustrated about having to email reception to book onsite amenities, which makes accessing them a lot more laborious than it needs to be.
Having the ability to access a residents’ portal via a smartphone app allows a room to be booked with a few taps, turning what could be a cumbersome process into a seamless experience. Furthermore, these spaces can also be chargeable, with payments being taken at the time of booking, helping to increase additional revenue for an operator.
Finally, on-site staff are likely already running regular social events for residents. With Spike Living, community managers can communicate and promote the details of the event, and drive all bookings via the residents’ portal, providing an easy way to understand how many residents to expect and helping to understand what events are getting the most engagement.
3. Parcel Management Solution
Although often overlooked, parcel rooms and delivery management solutions play an important role in the resident experience, with 13% of reviews specifically talking about how useful this was in the 2022 HomeViews Report.
Having an easy and efficient way to manage deliveries is becoming increasingly important as global online retail sales are expected to reach £515 trillion by 2023, with the growing volume of packages now being delivered to homes.
With Spike Living, staff scan packages as they arrive which then sends a notification to the relevant resident informing them that a package is ready to be collected. This saves staff from having to manually message residents individually.
What’s more, Spike has formed a strategic alliance with Quadient, a major global parcel locker operator and leading customer communications technology provider. By integrating Parcel Pending by Quadient lockers into the Spike Living portal, there is no need for residents to have two separate apps if their building has lockers installed. Instead, residents will receive a notification through the Spike Living portal with a unique code to gain access to their parcel, giving them peace of mind that their package is secure.
4. Streamline Resident Communication
Great communication between residents and property managers is important to making everyone feel welcome. Property managers should consider the effectiveness of sending emails and physical flyers which can be easily ignored. Instead, having a residents’ portal that allows for push notifications to be sent directly to a resident’s mobile phone is a more effective way of keeping residents updated and engaged.
Feedback gained by HomeViews for their 2021 Build to Rent report found that residents that had previous experience using resident portals instantly recognised how useful they would be in their new buildings. Residents who did not have access to a portal also believed it would help issues be resolved quicker.
The benefits aren’t just in allowing residents to have instant access to property managers, resident portals also provide property managers with an opportunity to be proactive, such as notifying residents when a lift is out-of-service, promoting onsite events, or more importantly, sending out an urgent push notification informing tenants within minutes about an immediate danger, such as a fire in their block, so they can take the necessary action like evacuating the building.
Creating ongoing, positive touchpoints with your residents helps you to build a sense of belonging, improve resident satisfaction, and increase the likelihood of renewals.
5. Community Engagement
Research by Apartment Life found that the more friends a resident has within a building, the more likely they are to renew their tenancy. Without any friends living in their community, residents only have a 29% chance of renewing. That number jumps to 38% if they have 1-3 friends, and if they have 7 or more friends, there’s a 47% likelihood that they’ll renew.
Spike Living allows residents to create their own clubs and forums, allowing residents to find like-minded people who share similar interests. We’ve seen residents start their own book clubs, and even arrange communal BBQs and beer tasting classes, to questions being asked on utilities and hairdresser recommendations to where to find the best pint.
Unlike traditional social media, Spike Living can be building-specific, enabling residents to meet like-minded people in their building, without being at risk from scammers and strangers. By utilising the ‘around me’ feature, much-needed visibility can be provided to smaller businesses, encouraging residents to explore what’s on their doorsteps. Property Managers can also partner with local shops and restaurants to offer residents exclusive discounts and incentives, all via their residents’ portal.
As the Build to Rent sector continues to grow at pace, it has become imperative that operators have the right property management solutions in place.
By providing a centralised platform to manage all residents’ needs whether that’s handling package deliveries, booking the onsite amenities, or raising maintenance issues, this ensures operators are providing a level of service that residents have become used to and now expect. With an average engagement rate of 87% across its portals, Spike Living is proven to help residents truly live their best lives.