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4 ways to enhance communication within your building

Effective and transparent communication is an essential component in any successful relationship, and when it comes to property management, it’s no different. Having an easy way to communicate with residents ensures you are keeping them engaged and increasing the likelihood that they will renew their tenancy.

With this in mind, here’s four ways to enhance communication within your building.

1) Clubs and Forums

One of the easiest ways to ensure resident satisfaction and reduce resident turnover in your development is to provide opportunities for residents to engage by connecting them to their neighbours. Unlike traditional social media, Spike Living can only be accessed by residents, ensuring that they are talking with genuine residents in their building, without being at risk from scammers and strangers. 

Research by Apartment Life found that the more friends a resident has within their 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.

The Clubs feature in Spike Living gives residents the opportunity to meet others within their building who share similar interests. From book clubs, to gaming clubs or even cultural clubs, residents can find a sense of belonging – often leading to longer tenancies. Through Forums, residents are able to engage in community discussions, share recommendations and further promote a sense of community within the building.

 2) Events

A great way to encourage in-person communication in buildings is through organising events. Spike Living enables both staff and residents to organise their own events to encourage gatherings and social interaction between each other.

From icebreakers for university students to Christmas parties, organising events can bring residents together and further boost resident engagement, helping residents to feel truly part of the community.

Spike Living also allows events to be ticketed and chargeable, allowing staff to easily understand what events are getting the most engagement, and how many residents to expect, as well as providing an opportunity to raise additional revenue.

3) Staff Communication

According to NMHC and Kinglsey’s 2020 Apartment Resident Preferences Report, 31% of residents who do not choose to renew their tenancy are seeking better apartment management. 

Communication with residents can be enhanced through a variety of features within the Spike Living portal. From push notifications informing residents about important maintenance and safety announcements to enabling residents to directly message the concierge or reception staff, encouraging faster responses.

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,  you can simply review and respond to all queries that have come through via the portal.

4) Maintenance Communication

Having an easy way to report issues was seen as a key contributor to resident satisfaction, as referenced in almost 1 in every 5 reviews according to HomeViews 2021 Build to Rent report.

One of the most time-consuming parts of a property manager’s job is the handling of maintenance issues, with minor issues 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.

Resident portals like Spike Living speed up the communication in these instances and allow residents to quickly provide your maintenance staff with a clear picture of the task ahead, with residents even able to 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.

Summary

As competition within the rental sector increases, communication and customer service will play an ever-important role. Developments that do not offer an easy way for residents to easily communicate with staff and each other run the risk of falling behind. Spike Living makes communication within developments much easier and more efficient than ever, ultimately improving resident satisfaction and reducing turnover.

Want to learn how our award-winning Spike Living resident engagement portal can enhance communication and resident satisfaction in your property? Request a one-to-one demo below!

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Changing residents’ behaviour is the key to meeting net zero targets

Latest research has revealed that encouraging residents to make more sustainable decisions in their accommodation can help to reduce a building’s carbon emissions by up to 35%. An independent study entitled Changing Behaviours, conducted in collaboration by ASK4, Utopi and Spike Global, investigates the behaviour of residents living across a range of residential housing to determine how their energy use can affect net zero targets. The research focuses on the barriers currently preventing residents making a switch to more sustainable behaviours, the importance of education, and the role behavioural science and technology can play in reducing energy consumption.

The research reveals that 65% of millennials and 70% of Gen-Z, would be prepared to make major changes to their own lifestyles to combat climate change. The report also looks into the challenges the wider residential sector faces when it comes to energy efficacy and examines the best methods to reduce excess energy consumption. Strategies that encourage residents to conform to the wider group can be used to promote sustainable behaviour too. Delivering energy usage statistics and data directly to the end user in comparison to their neighbours’ energy consumption can result in a more considered approach to the amount of energy they use, ultimately leading to a reduction in carbon emissions.

As part of the research, Utopi compared two identical electrically heated student flats, one of which was heated between 18-22 degrees Celsius, with the other heated between 25-30 degrees. At the end of a six-month period, data revealed that the overheated flat used 1670% more electricity – equivalent to an additional £1474, or 1.65 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Ben Roberts, Co-Founder & CMO of Utopi comments: “Excess energy consumption is a longstanding source of frustration within the residential market, and in particular within the PBSA sector which is why it’s crucial to communicate residents’ own energy use in a way that is clear and easy to understand. For example, students will often open a window or turn on a fan before turning down the heating, leading to unnecessary waste. Our own research reveals a real need to balance student freedom of behaviour with the need to meet carbon emissions and energy costs targets, and it is clear that turning the heating down by just a few degrees can save hundreds of pounds and reduce our carbon footprint.”

Jonny Wootten, Marketing Director at Spike Global, comments: “Industry net zero targets are inextricably linked to residents’ own energy and water consumption. As we enter a cost of living and ecological crisis there is a real emphasis on how we begin the conversation to empower residents to take positive action and reduce their energy waste. Not everyone may fully understand all the jargon, such as what a kilowatt hour means. We use resident portals to engage and educate residents directly, in a way that’s easy to understand.”

The report found that turning the heating up by three points in an average apartment can double the amount of electricity consumed. This poses a serious challenge for the PBSA sector, which relies on the ‘all-inclusive bills’ model to attract students. While 70% of students found all-inclusive bills to be a key desirability factory in their property search, damning data shows that students use up to 35% more electricity than accommodation where utilities are billed separately.

Jess Glover, Head of Marketing at ASK4, comments: “Clearly there is an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ attitude. There is a stark need for education in the PBSA sector, and the solution begins with raising awareness of residents’ energy use via easy to access data.”

This data helps residents recognise and understand their patterns of energy and water usage, and crucially compare their results to others. As one resident cited in the research: “we can only know [how to reduce our consumption] if they make us aware of [it] and the operators don’t do that”.  The research found that this approach is most successful when data is presented in an empowering manner that is easy, attractive, timely and social. One resident added: “You need to compare with something or someone. Without comparison of how you are doing, you don’t know how to interpret your usage.”

Furthermore, there is mounting evidence to suggest that investing in developing a community not only enhances the resident experience – it can also lead to better outcomes. Research revealed that residents will behave in a way that benefits the collective if they feel attracted to where they live. If people feel like they are part of a wider community tackling climate change, they are more likely to join the movement. The use of resident portals offers an effective way to foster a sense of belonging within a building.

Jonny Wootten adds: “Resident portals can be customised to include handy tips such as location of recycling bins, alongside energy use messaging, making it easy for residents to make small sustainable changes to the way they live. Pair this with personalised messaging to motivate the end user, and timely prompts are provided when residents are most likely to be receptive, and residentially providers could make great strides to meet their own ESG targets”

                                                                   Download your free copy of the report below:
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What to look for in a Residents’ Portal?

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.

Summary

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.

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Streamline and enhance the tenant experience with Spike Lettings

The UK annual rental growth has now reached a 14-year high, with the average lettings agent processing in excess of 127 new applicants each month, according to a recent survey by PropertyMark

With such an increase in demand for rental properties, landlords and managing agents are under pressure to process each application as quickly and efficiently as possible. With the average tenant application taking up to several days to review, process and approve, often requiring a large number of manual steps, from performing credit checks, gathering various information on the prospective tenant to physically issuing paper contracts and waiting for both parties to sign, this can cause a lot of unnecessary stress and delays for prospective tenants eagerly waiting to hear if they have secured the property they want.

It doesn’t have to be this way – end-to-end tenancy management solutions like Spike Lettings can take the stress and strain out of the rental experience for both tenants and landlords or managing agents.

Spike Lettings streamlines and simplifies the initial process of moving into a rental property, empowering prospective tenants to easily find and reserve their ideal apartment straight from their phones. And because all the information about available properties is live and constantly updated, even when routed through third-party sites like Zoopla or Rightmove, tenants avoid the crushing disappointment of finding that every property they enquire about has already gone.

From a property management point of view, using Spike Lettings eliminates many of the manual processes that come about when someone phones and enquires about a rental property – instead, residents can do a lot of the work themselves online.

From the marketing of available properties, taking initial payments and reservations, sending and signing contracts and approving references, to managing the ongoing management once tenants have moved in, the whole process can now be performed digitally, reducing costs, and creating a seamless and stress-free experience for both parties. Spike Lettings also integrates with a number of third party finance management systems to automate the raising of monthly rent invoices, eliminating the time staff need to spend performing administrative tasks and allowing them to focus on value-add activities.

Once moved in, the advantages continue with the Spike Living resident engagement portal, where tenants can view financial information such as rent or see their payment history, book amenities, interact with their neighbours and much more, all via a smartphone app.

Meanwhile, property managers can review business-boosting information from the reporting aspects of Spike Lettings, allowing them to easily access reports, such as rent achieved, voids and debtors. This can be done for individual buildings and across a whole portfolio. They can also see at a glance, on our assets dashboard, the number of properties reserved, occupied and unoccupied, showing which property types are more popular, as well as viewing the scheduled move-ins and move-outs for that week or month. Key tenant information such as gender, age and salary can be captured and used to ensure relevant services and events are provided within a development, even allowing for tenant communications to be tailored based on certain demographics.

Jeremy Heath-Smith, CEO of Spike Global, comments: “Finding and securing a rental property, especially for the many graduates who will be looking at the moment, can be a really stressful experience.”

“We believe the whole process can be made significantly less confusing and less stressful by digitalising the entire applicant journey, so that prospective tenants can view the progression of their tenancy in real-time, communicate with the lettings team, sign contracts, and make payments, all online. Spike Lettings can even guide tenants through the process by giving examples of accepted documentation and a constant update on which documents still need to be produced, avoiding frustrating hold-ups for both the managing agent and perspective tenant.”

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How PBSA operators can help international students settle into university life

Going to university for any young person is a huge step, which although comes with excitement, for many it can also be accompanied by anxiety. International students face an additional level of apprehension; moving hundreds or even thousands of miles away from their homes and loved ones, often dealing with the struggles of a second language and differences in culture, not to mention the pressures of academic success.

With over 605,100 international students residing in student accommodation across the UK (and growing), according to research by the House of Commons, providing a sense of belonging to those recently arriving in the UK to study has become imperative.

According to Student Minds’ latest report, a staggering 81% of international students reported mental wellbeing as a top concern, with 68% stating that making friends was their biggest issue at university. Loneliness has been found to be one of the leading causes of students dropping out, however, PBSA operators have the opportunity to improve resident retention by putting measures in place to mitigate the pressures faced by the international student cohort.

Additionally, acculturative stress is also a challenge that many international students have to grapple with, on top of the regular pressures of university life, all whilst dealing with culture shock and language barriers.

So how can PBSA operators help mitigate these pressures to improve the university experience of international students? 

1) Host events

PBSA operators can host events to help them settle in, from providing informative events specifically for international students to ice-breaker events in order for them to have a few familiar faces to kick off their university experience with.

By using Spike Living, operators can easily and efficiently promote their onsite events directly to their residents, even understanding in advance how many attendees to expect.

2) Create communities through clubs and forums

Allow students to find and engage with others who share similar interests within their building, such as creating a gaming, football or book club. By using our Spike Living portal, accommodation providers can ensure students are able to feel part of the community and make friends from the offset. Once students get to know each other online, they can then branch out and make plans to meet up in the real world. As Spike Living caters exclusively for building residents, it offers a safer alternative to groups on Facebook or other prominent social media, which are more easily infiltrated by spammers and strangers.

Additionally, through developing cultural societies, international students can develop a sense of a home-away-from-home, and the ability to feel close to their roots even in a different country. Celebrate cultural holidays such as Eid, Diwali, and Chinese New Year to ensure students still feel the same excitement for cultural holidays as they do back home.

3) Allow stress-free communication with the onsite team 

Moving to a different country can be a daunting experience for those who particularly struggle with confidence when speaking a different language. Having the ability to message staff directly without needing to speak face-to-face can take away the stress that can sometimes come from trying to engage in conversation. Spike Living enables these students to confidently contact reception or log a maintenance request all via a smartphone app. This reduces the likelihood of maintenance issues escalating due to a miscommunication between students and staff.

4) Introduce students to the local area

Much like local students moving to a new city, international students have often reported feeling ‘lost’ in their first year due to not knowing their new area. To make the experience less stressful, and to help them settle into their new home quicker, the ‘Around Me’ feature in the Spike Living portal allows students to easily see how to get to their campuses, local GPs, university facilities, and other points of interest around them.

Operators can even team up with local businesses to offer special discounts to their residents on anything from hairdressers, and coffee shops, to local bars and restaurants, all of which can be promoted to residents and driven through the Spike Living portal. This can help international students feel special and part of a community.

Summary

With the number of international students expected to continue to grow over the coming years, PBSA operators must find new ways to engage and help them feel at home. Spike Living can help turn what can be a stressful experience, into an experience they can enjoy.

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Spike Global forms strategic alliance with Quadient to streamline package delivery as e-commerce grows 

Industry-leading property management and resident engagement software provider, Spike Global, is pleased to announce it has formed a strategic alliance with Quadient, a major global parcel locker operator and leading customer communications technology provider, to streamline the delivery of packages via its award-winning Spike Living portal.

With global online retail sales expected to reach £515 trillion by 2023*, and an increasing volume of packages now being delivered to homes, this forward-thinking alliance has been formed to simplify and enhance delivery to residents.

Parcel Pending by Quadient lockers provide a secure, contact-free way for residents to collect their packages. Whether they are working from home, commuting, or running errands, parcel lockers make packages available 24/7 so they can be collected at a time that suits the resident.

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 app with a unique code to gain access to their parcel, giving them peace of mind that their package is secure.

Not only do parcel lockers offer convenience for residents, but they also provide benefits for property managers – not least through relieving them of the burden of dealing with the fall-out from lost, stolen or damaged parcels. Deliveries are made directly to the parcel locker by a shipping carrier agent, eliminating the need for intervention by a staff member – saving time and cutting operational costs. As the recent rise in the volume of packages being delivered to homes shows no signs of slowing down, mailrooms are at risk of being overwhelmed. Having lockers in place can reduce the need for large mailrooms, with the space being put to better use.

Jeremy Heath-Smith, CEO of Spike Global, comments: “The alliance with Quadient will help streamline the delivery of packages for residents across the country. With the backdrop of growth in the e-commerce industry, we are thrilled to be working with Quadient to offer this service to our clients.”

Ian Caminsky, SVP & MD Parcel Locker Solutions, Quadient, adds: “People grew accustomed to ordering items to their homes during the pandemic, and it’s proving a permanent shift for many of us. The strategic alliance streamlines the process for residents with a unified solution, simplifying and enhancing package delivery. This minimises the amount of digital clutter to give the best possible experience to residents picking up their parcels.”

The Spike Living portal is perfectly tailored to each individual building and its facilities, providing residents with one simple, intuitive portal that allows them to communicate with the management and with each other – making life easier in a multitude of ways. From booking laundry services, reporting a maintenance issue, the portal makes routine communication quick and easy. Not just for the practical things in life – Spike Living can also help new residents to meet each other, make friends, find activities and get to know their local area by receiving targeted offers and discounts from nearby businesses. With the additional option of integrating parcel lockers, it is now more useful than ever.

 

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How to digitalise and improve your resident experience 

Property managers spend their days constantly prioritising, and then re-prioritising their ‘to do’ list, with tasks ranging from planning new resident arrivals, dealing with maintenance and safety issues, organising onsite events, to performing a variety of administrative tasks, such as handling parcels and managing visitors. All of which contributes to the overall resident experience.

The changing expectations of residents  

Although digitalising your resident experience can often be overlooked, it can help increase the value of the development.  

  • 92% of residents prefer digital communications a massive 81% of millennials find having to make phone calls very stressful.
  • 90% of millennials would consider paying higher rent for better amenities or better property technology. 
  • 81% of residents say that it is either important or very important for them to be able to access their resident portal from a mobile device.  
  • 64% of residents signed their current lease online in some way, and given the choice, 58% of residents would rather pay rent using a resident portal mobile app than a property website via laptop/desktop. 

As the data shows, residents desire a digital experience which is no surprise given the demographics of occupiers. A recent report released by The British Property Federation, Dataloft, London First and The UK Apartment Association has revealed that the most common age band for residents in both BTR and the PRS is 25 to 34 years old (both making up over 40% of all residents).

Digitalise your tenant onboarding

With 91% of all residents likely to use a mobile device the next time they are looking for somewhere to live according to research by Revel, it’s imperative that property managers ensure prospective residents can easily find and browse their property portfolio online. 

By digitalising the applicant journey, prospective residents can view the progression of their tenancy in real-time, communicate with the lettings team, sign contracts, and even make payments, all online. Being able to see where they are in the process can also help to manage expectations of how far along the journey they are. With every tenant following the same automated onboarding process, end-to-end tenancy management software like  Spike Lettings can also provide examples of accepted documentation and a clear indication of which documents still need to be produced by the applicant, saving hundreds of admin hours having to chase for the right documents and speeding up the onboarding process. As well as having the potential to handle all reservations inhouse rather than relying on an outsourced lettings agent.

Make reporting issues and booking amenities easy  

One of the most time-consuming parts of a property manager’s job is the handling of maintenance issues, with minor issues 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. Resident Portals like Spike Living speed up the communication in these instances and allow residents to quickly provide your maintenance staff with a clear picture of the task ahead, with residents even able to 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.  

Similarly, with onsite gyms, games rooms, dinning 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. Being able to open an app and book a room turns what could be an archaic process into a seamless experience, encouraging residents to spend more time enjoying the spaces, and not having to worry about the stress of gaining access. 

How to Get Started on Your Digital Journey?

As the data shows, digitalising the resident journey and experience is no longer a ‘nice to have’ and more of a ‘must have’ for those developments wanting to attract and more importantly retain its residents. In an age where self-service and digital interactions are being the new norm, property managers need to ensure they adapt with the times.   

Spike’s tenancy management solution, Spike Lettings and award-winning resident engagement portal,  Spike Living, is proven to not only enhance resident experience but also streamline and improve the operational efficiency for property managers.  

Want to learn how our solutions could work for you? Request a one-to-one demo below!

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Grosvenor Systems forms strategic alliance with Spike Global to create complete end-to-end property management solution

Grosvenor Systems and Spike Global have today announced a new strategic alliance, enabling build-to-rent operators to benefit from a complete end-to-end property management and accounting solution.

Propman, Grosvenor Systems’ leading financial reporting and property management product, will be combined with Spike’s tenancy management solution, Spike Lettings, and award-winning resident engagement portal, Spike Living, to create an enhanced, simplified experience for tenants.

Grosvenor Systems’ market-leading product paired with Spike’s solutions will allow the entire tenant management process to be digitalised, helping to reduce costs and streamline communications between management teams and tenants. The online offering will modernise all stages of the tenant experience – from the marketing of properties, taking initial payments and reservations, sending and the signing of contracts, approving references to managing the ongoing management and accounting requirements of tenants once moved in.

Contracts and vital documentation will also be stored digitally, increasing security and making key information easily accessible. Notifications can be sent to tenants via push notifications whenever documents need to be reviewed or signed, allowing for full traceability.

Property Managers will also benefit from comprehensive tenancy management reporting, with automated monthly rent invoices eliminating time spent performing administrative tasks, giving staff more time to focus on value-add activities.

Additionally, the Spike Living portal, which has an intuitive smartphone app, lets tenants view financial information such as service charges or payment history directly. The portal will also allow tenants to view and register for onsite events, reserve amenities, interact with other tenants via clubs and forums, and learn about local retailers they could support.

Sarah Taylor, Managing Director, Grosvenor Systems, comments: “Building on our great relationship with Spike Global, we are excited to offer the first complete end-to-end service in the BTR marketplace, which puts the customer experience at the heart of property management. We’re looking forward to continuing to evolve and innovate our offering for customers.” 

Jeremy Heath-Smith, CEO of Spike Global, comments: “We are excited to be working with Grosvenor Systems. By combining our leading resident engagement and tenancy management software solutions with Propman, this complete solution will enable property managers to onboard tenants much faster and more efficiently, whilst providing a central place for tenants to manage their everyday needs.”

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6 ways to improve resident experience

Resident experience refers to a resident’s living experience in a building. It doesn’t solely rely on trendy amenities, great designs, or flashy decor. Instead, the resident experience encompasses a holistic approach to residents’ wellbeing and fosters a sense of community within their living space. Delivering a great resident experience is an integral component of any successful development.

Resident experience impacts retention rates

It’s far more cost-effective to retain happy residents. Average turnover costs for an apartment within the industry is around £1,200, however, this number can often be significantly higher, depending on a wide variety of factors specific to the property.

Although turnover to some degree is inevitable, in many instances, developments lose residents because the living experience falls short of their expectations.

The good news is that nearly 60% of all resident turnover is preventable, according to a report by Zillow Renters, with the most significant contributors being staff performance and dissatisfaction with the building. Whilst some turnover cannot be avoided, such as a resident needing to relocate for a new job, there are still many improvements you can make to keep residents staying year after year.

Here are six ways to improve the resident experience.

Enhance communication and responsiveness

Great communication between residents and property managers is important to making everyone feel welcome. Property managers need to be seen as being proactive and keeping residents informed about all the goings on in the development, from maintenance works, onsite events being held, and general resident feedback. No resident wants to get to the lift with an armful of shopping bags, only to discover it’s out of action.

Property managers should also consider the effectiveness of sending emails and physical flyers which can be easily ignored. Instead, having a resident portal that allows for push notifications to be sent directly to a resident’s mobile phone is likely to be a more effective way of keeping residents updated and engaged.

With 31% of residents choosing not to renew their tenancy due to seeking better apartment management according to research by NMHC and Kingsley, this seems the logical place to start.

Make operations more efficient

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. Furthermore, there were also frustrations voiced about having to email reception to book onsite amenities, which makes accessing them a lot more laborious than it needs to be.

Residents want to do things 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 reading the latest fire safety policy – without having to rely on anyone else.

Although often overlooked, parcel rooms and delivery solutions also 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 increasing volume of packages now being delivered to homes.

One of Spike’s clients reduced parcel processing time by 75% when switching to Spike Living. Staff are able to scan packages as they arrive which then automatically sends a notification to the relevant resident informing them that a package is ready to be collected, saving staff from having to manually message them individually. This has led to a saving of more than 9 hours per week at each development, freeing up the on-site team to focus on other value-add activities. 

Streamline maintenance requests

Without an easy and simple way for residents to report issues, maintenance problems can often go unreported, with seemingly small problems at risk of turning into serious repairs.

Resident experience is greatly improved when residents can contact the management team quickly, while your team attends to maintenance requests in a timely manner.

Many residents reference resident apps and how useful they were for reporting issues and having them swiftly resolved in the 2022 HomeViews Report.

Having a residents’ app in place can speed up the reporting of issues, with residents able to quickly provide maintenance staff with better details about the task ahead. Enquiries and defect tickets can be logged centrally, as well as being tracked and shared between teams, keeping the resident informed at all times.

Connect your residents to the surrounding area

Residents aren’t just moving into your building — they’re also moving into the surrounding neighbourhood. Some residents might be moving across the country while others just across town. Therefore, many may not be familiar with the surrounding area. Connecting them with local shops and services, or details that can bring convenience to their lives is a great way of ensuring they feel engaged from the offset. Even if they are already familiar, receiving a special discount because they are a member of your community makes them feel special.

Many of Spike’s clients team up with local businesses to offer exclusive discounts to their residents on anything from cleaning services, and dog walkers, to local bars and restaurants. All of which can be promoted and driven through Spike Living.

Allow a building to be community-led

Research by Apartment Life found that the more friends a resident have within their 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. Facilitating safe and easy communication among members of the community allows people to get to know each other more easily.

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 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.

Have a single multi-purpose portal

To keep residents happy, one multi-purpose management app is a necessity. Besides being inefficient and time-consuming, single-purpose apps also have negative effects on residents’ phones. Devices with multiple apps lack performance and drain batteries faster. And who really wants to remember which app you clicked on to do one of ten different things?

Spike’s resident engagement portal, Spike Living, allows residents to virtually manage every aspect of their lives from a single app. From being notified when a package is ready to be collected from reception, reporting maintenance issues, unlocking their front door, booking a slot at the gym, hiring a private meeting room, interacting with other residents via forums and clubs, or learning about the local retailers in which they can support, Spike Living allows residents to build budding friendships with neighbours and get the most out of their buildings.

Summary

With so many different accommodation options now available, many operators and developers have looked to ‘outdo’ one another by providing buildings with increasingly luxurious amenities. Whilst those amenities will undoubtedly make residents sit up and take notice, they become somewhat meaningless if the resident experience isn’t up to scratch.

In such a crowded market, the only way to ensure you remain at the forefront is by providing residents with an easy way to access and enjoy what’s on offer within the development and the surrounding area, something that Spike Living is proven to do.

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How PBSA operators can help residents engage with their local community

Helping students connect to their local community and engage with their surroundings should be a major focus for PBSA operators, as students increasingly want more than just a place to stay from their accommodation.

As part of ASK4’s recent research report, The Students of 2022, prospective students across Europe were surveyed about their attitudes towards various aspects of student living including independence, discovery, and immersion. What was clear from the research is that students overwhelmingly have a desire to explore their local environments and immerse themselves in their surroundings. For example, 95% of those surveyed said that they are excited to explore a new city when they move away to study and 92% said they are excited to go out to bars and social events. Students do not view these factors as simply added bonuses of studying at university either, as 75% said that exploring a new town and city is an important part of the university experience. For PBSA operators, this presents an excellent opportunity to cater for this key part of the university journey and facilitate the connections to the city or town their residents are living in.

ASK4 and Spike’s unique offering helps to meet many of the needs and expectations that students have around student living and socialising, streamlining the process for PBSA operators and providing useful data and analytics to improve the service to their residents.

When students first move into their new accommodation, it is likely that they will be unfamiliar with the surrounding area and may not have made friends or met many people. Through Spike Global’s resident engagement portal, Spike Living, residents are able to connect with each other instantly, and the ‘what’s around me’ feature can highlight local shops and services, as well as providing access to a whole host of other details to help reduce anxiety around moving to a new location on their own at what can be a very turbulent time in their lives. As the portal caters exclusively for building residents, it offers a safer alternative to groups on Facebook or other prominent social media, which are more easily infiltrated by spammers and strangers, helping students to make truly local new friends. Both ASK4 and Spike aim to help clients ensure their residents feel engaged from the offset and feel a real sense of community and belonging. 

Many accommodation providers who provide the Spike Living portal to their residents also team up with local businesses to offer special d/spike-studentiscounts to their residents on anything from hairdressers, and coffee shops, to local bars and restaurants, all of which can be promoted to residents and driven through the Spike Living smartphone app. According to the 2020 Knight Frank / UCAS Student Accommodation Survey, 29% of students said they would pay a rental premium for having access to discounts for shops/amenities in the local area, therefore providing additional value for residents.

This not only helps to introduce residents to their surroundings in a convenient way but also connects local businesses to the accommodation itself to further integrate the building as part of the community. 

Spike Living can also be used to link up with external partners to provide additional services, from bedding packs and weekly cleans to pizza delivery and beauty services, which could result in additional revenue streams in the form of commission. Providing an easy way for students to interact and helping them to engage with their surroundings is now a necessity. Almost half of the university student population (46%) admit to experiencing loneliness during their time at university, and the desire from the student cohort to make new friends and collaborate cannot be overlooked. With an average engagement rate of 87% across its portals, Spike Living is proven to help residents truly live their best student lives and take from the university experience everything they want to.

DO YOU REALLY NEED A RESIDENTS’ APP?

Watch our on-demand webinar with ASK4 to learn the ways in which residents’ apps can not only help foster communities in accommodation but also help PBSA owners and operators achieve all important ESG targets.