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Innovative partnership to create a complete BTR resident communication solution

Promising an enhanced resident experience and a smarter, more efficient building operation, the new partnership between Spike Global and Fixflo will deliver a seamless property communication and maintenance management solution for BTR residents and property managers alike.

Industry-leading resident engagement and building management software provider Spike Global and specialist repairs and maintenance management software provider, Fixflo have announced an integration partnership designed to provide a complete property communication and maintenance management solution for BTR operators and property managers.

The new partnership enables residents to manage everything within the Spike Living portal, from communicating with other residents to reporting a repair, getting notified about upcoming maintenance events, and managing deliveries and visitors. Empowered by Fixflo’s innovative and multilingual repair reporting system, residents will be prompted to give all necessary details about the maintenance issue from the first instance, enabling property managers to diagnose issues accurately without the need for back-and-forth communication with residents.

Jeremy Heath-Smith, CEO at Spike Global, highlighted the expected operational gains for building operators, another key driver behind the integration plan, “We are excited to be partnering with Fixflo, bringing together Spike’s leading resident engagement and building management software with Fixflo’s award-winning maintenance management solution. This will enable property managers to plan, schedule and carry out a repair much faster, whilst ensuring residents are kept up-to-date and informed at all times.”

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Automate your property management

The property sector has traditionally been slow to adopt technology, however, the pace of innovation has increased dramatically over the past year, largely driven by the challenges brought about by the pandemic. There will be more change in the next decade than there has been in the last 50 years, and as we enter a new era, property managers will feel the impact the most.

Working as the lynchpin between the property owner and the tenants, property managers handle all tenant-related issues, acting on behalf of the landlord, carrying out key tasks such as:

  • Communicating with tenants and owners
  • Maintenance and repairs
  • Keeping to budget

Below are a few areas we believe technology will have the most impact on property managers now and in the future. 

Real-time access to information

As with the way of the world, we’ve come to expect immediate gratification. We want answers to questions instantly, without having to wait for a response. Residents are no different. Gone are the days when they are prepared to walk downstairs to reception or pick up the phone. Mobile resident portals like Spike Living gives property managers an opportunity to promote a whole host of content that may have previously been provided on request. From frequently asked questions, appliance guides, to fire safety procedures, as well as the latest news from the wider community, having all this information readily available means that more often or not, tenants can find the information they need themselves, whenever they need it. This reduces the workload on property managers and saves them from repeatedly responding to the same questions.

Furthermore, important documents like signed contracts and policies and procedures can also be stored centrally and securely ensuring that paper-based copies do not get lost. This makes contracts and vital information easily accessible, and notifications can be sent to residents whenever there are newer versions needing to be reviewed and signed, allowing for full traceability.  

Improved communication

Property management is a people business, with property managers simultaneously having to keep tenants, owners, and contractors happy. Given that research by NMHC and Kingsley revealed that 92% of residents prefer digital communications, offering a way to connect digitally to property managers is a must. Previously, disparate communication between these different groups meant property managers would spend half their time on the phone, typing with one hand and writing an address with another. Using resident apps like Spike Living, property managers can now easily and quickly communicate directly with all parties, allowing messages to be sent instantly and recorded centrally.

Reduced administration work

The Samanage State of Workplace Survey found that workers spend an average of 520 hours a year on repetitive services and tasks that could be easily automated. Reminding residents when their rent is due, when deliveries are ready to be collected from reception or providing building updates are just some of the tasks that solutions like Spike Lettings and Spike Living can take care of.

Then there are the communal areas to think about. Most modern apartments have amenities that can be enjoyed by its residents. Onsite gyms, games rooms, and meeting rooms have become the norm. Being able to open an app and book a room turns what could be an archaic process into a seamless and easy task, encouraging residents to spend more time enjoying their buildings, and not having to worry about the stress of gaining access.

Maintenance management

One of the most time-consuming parts of a property manager’s job is the handling of maintenance issues, with minor tasks easily turning into major ones if they aren’t dealt with quickly and efficiently. Without an easy and simple way for residents to report maintenance issues, they can often go unreported. For instance, a leaking pipe that drips once per second can add up to over 13,600 litres of water a year if left unfixed, not only costing money but also potentially causing considerable damage.

Mobile apps speed up the communication in these instances and allow residents to quickly provide your maintenance staff with better details about the task ahead. By using Spike Living, all enquiries and defect tickets can be logged centrally, as well as being tracked and shared between teams, keeping the resident informed at all times.

The same can apply when wanting to communicate directly with residents. Mobile apps enable the in-house team to be proactive and provide real-time alerts, notifying residents when a lift is out-of-service, allowing them to plan around it.

Better Resident insights

Do you know what your residents really want from their buildings? What do they care about? What amenities are being used the most?

With resident apps, you can understand and gain insight into these types of questions. You can learn what amenities and services residents are interacting with, what queries are being asked, and what content they are most interested in. This enables property managers to provide residents with what they truly want, taking the guesswork out of managing properties.

Summary

Technology is giving property managers the opportunity to work more efficiently, and with the use of resident apps streamlining manual processes, this allows property managers to focus on the most important part of the business: their residents.

Learn how Spike is working with a growing number of customers to drive resident engagement and satisfaction by downloading our brochure below.

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Portico enhances workforce wellbeing with award-winning Spike Global partnership

Professional services company Portico has seen a significant increase in employee satisfaction and engagement in the past eight months since implementing award-winning software to support remote and furloughed staff. With plans still on hold for a mass return to the workplace for many companies, technology is bringing employees together, keeping them connected and allowing a more flexible working landscape.

Aimed at the business, residential and property sectors, Portico manages, mobilises and enhances guest services across the UK & Ireland. Partnering with Spike Global, Portico has created Heartbeat, an employee engagement app, which recently won a 2021 Employee Experience Award, celebrating the organisations, people, and initiatives that serve to improve the working environment. The app was commended for its positive impact on staff wellbeing and culture.

Spike Workplace was the software chosen to create Heartbeat, a staff portal tailored to Portico’s specific needs and objectives, and designed to connect its employees located throughout the UK and Ireland. The app not only streamlines working practices, but also promotes a connected staff culture, particularly during the pandemic while 70 per cent of its 800 employees were on furlough.

Prior to the pandemic, Portico would regularly engage and connect with staff at social events, during company forums, via team meetings and team talks, and using email to share information, updates and news. Within days of the lockdown many had no way to connect with their colleagues without access to their work platforms.

As the lockdowns continued, temporary measures were implemented to drive engagement, however the company believed a longer-term solution was needed to build on the new remote community culture whilst also delivering additional value to staff and the business. Portico’s strategic aim was to enhance its community ethos with the ability for people to talk to one another and form meaningful connections despite many being unable to access their regular email platform.

Portico worked closely with Spike’s dedicated team to create a white-labelled application, which offers an array of functions such as promoting social groups and company forums, sharing information about company events, and providing key announcements and news.

Since implementing the app, 75 per cent of staff are now using the platform, with 50 per cent connecting at least once a day. Portico’s recent Pandemic survey showed that 98 per cent of staff said Portico employed effective communications systems for keeping staff connected and informed, while 95 per cent said that Portico’s communication channels and tools are engaging.

Amanda Kay, Director, Business Development at Portico, said: “We take a people-first approach to business, and engagement in our brand and our values are fundamental to our success. In our experience, having an engaged workforce positively impacts teamwork, pride and personal ownership. We worked with Spike Global to ensure our teams felt connected to Portico on a personal level, to create meaningful relationships with their colleagues and to live our values every day. Since the launch we have had excellent feedback from our staff members and real engagement in the forums and social groups, which we have created on the platform.”

Jeremy Heath-Smith, CEO at Spike Global, said: “Meaningful technology that keeps people connected has come into its own during the pandemic. With many employees working remotely or furloughed, we work with companies to ensure they are at the forefront of communications with their staff and that employee wellbeing is prioritised. We are immensely proud of the app we have delivered with Portico, and its success at the recent Employee Engagement Awards is testament to this.”

Learn more about Spike Workplace by downloading our brochure below.

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5 ways property owners and landlords can boost their bottom line by improving tenant retention

Ask any landlord or property owner what the most stressful part of their rental business is, and their likely response will be tenant turnover. Ensuring resident satisfaction can seem like a daunting task, but with digital technologies such as resident portals and mobile apps, they can have a positive impact on your bottom line.

Here are 5 ways in which resident portals can lead to an increase in tenant retention. 

Why is tenant retention important?

Low retention is a problem because gaining new tenants is not a cheap process, and any month without rent is not just a loss of income but a potential expense. Tenant quality also plays an important factor, as poor-quality tenants often result in costs not recoverable from the security deposit alone. When acquiring new tenants, there are a whole host of factors that quickly increases the costs:

  • Advertising – Listing and promoting your property online using sites like Zoopla or Rightmove requires you to pay a fee, and the more properties you have to list, the more that fee will be.
  • Letting agent fees – If you employ a lettings agent, the letting fee can range from several hundred pounds to the first month’s rent.
  • Vacancy time – In reality, you are unlikely to find a tenant that is move-in ready, so on average a property could be vacant for around 22 to 33 days, or even longer. That means one to several months of no rent coming in.
  • Turnover costs – Average turnover costs within the industry come in around £1,200. However, depending on a wide variety of factors specific to the property, this number could be significantly higher.

Prioritise communication

According to NMHC and Kinglsey’s 2020 Apartment Resident Preferences Report, 31% of residents who do not choose to renew their lease are seeking better apartment management. By prioritising communication, you are showing your tenants that their comfort and their issues are important to you. If tenants are always having to chase you down to get an answer to their question or a solution to their problem, the likelihood of them staying around for very long is reduced.

By offering residents a mobile portal, you are providing them with a central place to communicate with you. Rather than being constantly bombarded with phone calls or emails, day and night, you can simply review and respond to all queries that have come through via the portal.

Furthermore, with resident portals like Spike Living, you can also promote a whole host of content, from frequently asked questions, appliance guides, to fire safety procedures, as well as the latest news from the wider community. Having this information online means that more often or not, tenants can find the information they need themselves, without having to disturb you.

Finally, small personal touches go a long way in showing your tenants you value them. For example, by capturing their date of birth, or original move-in date, you can then provide personalised acknowledgments of things like birthdays and moving-in anniversaries, which is an easy way to help your tenants feel cared for.

Efficient maintenance and repairs

Maintenance, repair, and appliance replacement costs are among the main concerns when it comes to increasing margins. Repair costs during a bad month can easily outweigh profits. Having quality tenants who take pride in their space will certainly help keep maintenance and repair costs low, but they can be even lower.

One of the advantages of solutions like Spike Living is that it allows tenants to report issues when they arise and ensures you can respond in a timely manner before they potentially escalate to a much bigger problem. Without an easy way to get in touch, your tenants may leave an issue unreported. For instance, a rattling boiler left unchecked could ultimately mean being replaced much earlier than needed. Mobile apps speed up the communication in these instances and provide your maintenance staff with more information about the task ahead. Spike Living captures all enquiries and defect tickets centrally, so they can be tracked and shared between teams, keeping the resident informed at all times.

Using a centralised communication tool, you can also be proactive when it comes to informing residents about issues within the building. For instance, if you know that the lift is going to be serviced at a particular time, you can let the tenants know in advance, so they won’t be surprised when they see the lift is out of action.

Pre-qualify and screen all tenants

If landlords do not start with a qualified and quality tenant, retention rates will be the least of their worries. Tenant screening is the most important part of the rental process and has a measurable impact on the potential turnover rate. Early detection of tenants who could cause damage to the property, break their lease, or pay rent late will help property owners and landlords to begin the lease with the best possible option.

Spike Lettings provides complete end-to-end tenant management, starting from initial enquiry, through the reservation stage, all the way to moving in. Tenants can view the progression of their tenancy, communicate with your team, sign contacts, and even make payments, all within Spike. We recently partnered with Flatfair to make the tenant onboarding process much slicker, meaning upfront deposits are no longer needed. Tenants can simply pay a one-off membership fee equal to one week’s rent (+VAT) at the start of their tenancy, authorise their debit card and settle bills at the end – similar to hotel’s check-in and out.

Offer online services

Another way to avoid unexpected vacancies is to have a modern approach to tenants accessing the services they want. According to research by NMHC and Kingsley, 58% of renters would rather pay rent using a resident portal mobile app than a property website via laptop/desktop.

When rent is easy to pay, tenants are more likely to pay it. If they have to jump through hoops to pay their rent, the chances of it being late increases. With solutions like Spike Lettings, you can also send out reminders to tenants a day or two before their rent is due and can even automate confirmations to let them know that their rent has been paid. This will also make your life easier, especially if you manage multiple properties. Instead of waiting around for payments to come in or having to chase down tenants across multiple properties, you can easily view the status of each property, what rent has been paid, and what has yet to come in, all via a single dashboard.

If you have onsite facilities like a communal gym or meeting rooms, resident portals can provide tenants with the ability to book themselves. This encourages them to enjoy the facilities, without needing to phone or email anyone every time they want to gain access. Staff can also set limits on the number of people who can use a facility at any given time, ensuring amenities are COVID-secure, and users are adhering to social distancing guidelines.

Community engagement

Research by Apartment Life found that the more friends a resident has within their building, the more likely they are to renew their lease. For instance, if they have 1-3 friends, then there is a 38% they’re renew, and if they have 7 or more friends, the chances jump to 47%. With features like clubs and forums, Spike Living allows an easy way for tenants to find others in their building who share similar interests, such as a book or wine clubs, as well as enabling residents to organise their own events to get to know each other.  

Thinking about the even bigger picture, you can also connect residents with local shops and services, bringing convenience to their lives. Many of Spike’s customers team up with local businesses to offer special discounts to their residents on anything from cleaning services, dog walkers, to local restaurants.

It’s also proven that residents who are engaged with their local community are often happier than those who are not, and tend to post positive reviews about where they live on websites like HomeViews. These reviews can help attract new prospects and keep occupancy rates high and having residents as champions is an effective tactic if you want to increase interest in your property, whilst reducing your marketing spend.

Summary

To boost tenant retention landlords must be proactive. This means not waiting until a tenant is unhappy or threatening to leave before taking care of their issues. It also means being accessible, consistent, and flexible. With technology solutions like Spike Living and Spike Lettings, landlords and property owners can ensure tenants remain informed and engaged at all times, and ultimately a happy tenant is much likely to remain a long-term tenant, making it better for your bottom line.

Learn how Spike is working with a growing number of customers to drive resident engagement and satisfaction by downloading our brochure below.

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Fire safety – are your residents in the know?

Recent research by Building Engines revealed that 75% of real estate professionals feel confident that building occupants consistently receive important information from them, but only 25% of occupants agree. Introducing a resident portal can help to bridge this gap, allowing residents to engage more widely with their local community, book amenities, and even interact with other residents outside of social events, thanks to the likes of online clubs and forums. However, resident portals can also play a much more important and crucial role – ensuring your residents are kept up to date with the latest safety information.

As a landlord or property manager, it is part of your responsibilities to follow fire safety requirements for the safety of your tenants and property. You are also required to show evidence that you have done everything within your power (that can reasonably be expected) to protect your property and tenants. This includes things like fitting the correct alarms and making sure the furniture you provide is safe, but also informing residents of what to do in an emergency, including providing evacuation plans.

resident-fire-safetyMore often or not, this information will have been shared as part of a new resident welcome pack during moving in day, alongside a stack of other paperwork needing to be read, signed and filed. How do you ensure residents have read and fully understood everything, or have filed it somewhere that can be easily accessible if required? And what happens when you want to issue a newer version – do you print and mail out updated copies, or do you send out an email with the latest version attached, hoping it manages to somehow dodge the dreaded junk folder?

Using a resident mobile app, such as Spike Living, this key information can be stored centrally and shared easily with every resident at a push of a button, notifying them that there is an updated version to be read and reviewed. You can also empower your residents to report any potential issues they spot by allowing them to log issues through the built-in ticketing system, ensuring all enquiries are tracked, and dealt with swiftly, keeping the resident updated.

Recently, one of Spike’s customers had a major incident within one of its buildings, and along with other traditional methods of notifying residents, they were also able to send out an urgent push notification informing residents within minutes about an immediate danger, so they could take the necessary action and evacuate the building. They were then able to provide regular updates about the incident afterwards and respond to any queries and concerns that had been raised.

Technology has made communication between property managers and residents much easier, breaking down traditional barriers that had previously existed, allowing residents to become more engaged and informed when it comes to fire safety.  

Learn why Spike is trusted by leading property managers by downloading our brochure below.

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Meeting expectations – how the pandemic pushed many property managers online

Spike Global’s, CEO, Jeremy Heath-Smith, features in May’s Showhouse magazine where he talks about how the pandemic has pushed many property managers online, and why house-hunters are increasingly interested in what their community is like, who their neighbours are, what support and services are immediately available to them and, by moving into a new home, how their lifestyle can be enriched. 

Read the full article here.

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Building community engagement – why a resident portal has become a necessity

Fuelled by the rise of social media, where users can create meaningful interactions with members of their local community, connecting with neighbours online has quickly become the new norm. With face-to-face contact limited over the last year, this has accelerated the trend towards increased digital engagement. Developers have found a need to instil a sense of community through resident portals and mobile apps, providing much needed social interaction for residents, as well as access to services.  

It’s proven that residents who are engaged with their local community are often happier than those who are not, and tend to post beaming reviews about where they live on websites like HomeViews. These reviews can help attract new prospects and keep occupancy rates high. And since influencer marketing is becoming increasingly important, having residents as champions is an effective tactic if you want to increase interest in your property, whilst reducing your marketing spend.

Having helpful and friendly on-site staff can play a role in keeping residents happy and engaged, but how do you ensure your staff are interacting with every resident? That’s where online portals and apps can help – enabling your team to offer that ‘personal’ experience to all residents equally.

We outline the reasons why resident portals have become a necessity for driving engagement, rather than just a luxury.

Enhance your events

Holding regular social events is crucial in allowing friendships between neighbours to blossom. Research by Apartment Life found that the more friends a resident have within their building, the more likely they are to renew their lease. 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.

More often or not, your on-site staff already recognise the importance for residents to connect, and likely already offer regular social events. With a resident app, community managers can communicate the details of the event, and via a bookings tool built into the portal, gain an accurate idea of how many residents to expect.

Resident portals also offer ways for residents to interact with each other outside of social events, thanks to features like clubs and forums. Residents can post their own event announcements with neighbours – we’ve seen residents start their own book clubs, and even arrange communal BBQs and cooking classes. Considering Spike connects more than 200,000 residents with their local communities, it’s highly likely your residents would appreciate their own community mobile app if you were to offer it.

Enable your residents to self-serve 

Gone are the days where residents have the time (or desire) to pop downstairs to speak to concierge or phone a specific number at a certain time to get the information they need. They want things done when it suits them, without having to involve anyone else. A mobile portal enables residents to complete important life admin, like paying rent, booking the gym or swimming pool, reading the latest community announcements – without having to rely on anyone else.

To some, the notion of self-service increasing resident engagement may seem counterintuitive. However, on-demand services deliver better efficiency for both residents and on-site staff while at the same time providing a more personalised experience.

Improve communication between residents and on-site staff

Without a mobile app, when residents want to report an issue with their property or building, they will either need to wait until the next time they pass concierge or send a dreaded email that seems to always go unanswered. This might not be an issue if they are reporting a minor issue such as a light being out, but if there’s a water leak, you want to be alerted straight away. Mobile apps speed up the communication in these instances and provide your maintenance staff with better details about the task ahead. By using Spike Living, all enquiries and defect tickets can be logged centrally, as well as being tracked and shared between teams, keeping the resident informed at all times.

The same can apply when wanting to communicate directly with residents. Mobile apps enable the in-house team to provide real-time alerts, notifying residents when a lift is out-of-service, or a package needing to be collected from reception. Or more importantly, sending out an urgent push notification informing residents within minutes about an immediate danger, such as a fire in their block, so they can take the necessary action such as evacuating the building. 

Connecting residents with their local communities

When a resident moves into your building, they may be unfamiliar with the surrounding area. Connecting them with shops and services, or details that can bring convenience to their lives is a great way of ensuring residents feel engaged from the offset. Many customers team up with local businesses to offer special discounts to their residents on anything from cleaning services, dog walkers, to local restaurants. If you are already doing this, great, it’s something else that can be housed in your resident engagement portal, so it’s easily accessible to all.

Learn how Spike is working with a growing number of customers to drive resident engagement and satisfaction by downloading our brochure below.