After reading Michael Beckerman’s blog post titled “The Biggest Impediment to Growth in CREtech”, I further concluded that Nine Four Ventures’ partnership with the Laramar Group is on the right path to tackle the biggest impediment to growth in CREtech: adoption. We work with the Laramar Group to filter and introduce new technologies across their 150+ building portfolio. However, we can’t just start throwing a plethora of new technologies at Laramar and hope to they implement these technologies across their portfolio. We need a process and a system for implementing technology.
Beckerman hits the nail on the head when he says, “Clients have a lot on their plate, and tech adoption requires even more bandwidth to align the right people at the right time – everyone from data scientists to IT directors and chief technology officers join the decision-making process.” It’s hard to corral all the right people to jump on a demo, let alone make a decision concerning piloting a technology. To assist in this process, we formed a pilot committee, which consists of members of the Laramar team with different backgrounds (property managers, construction, accounting, marketing, IT, etc.). This committee views demos, decides which technologies they want to pilot, and which properties should be selected for each pilot. One of our tasks at Nine Four is to introduce the committee to new technologies, provide them with the technologies they are currently seeking, and be the conduit between the Laramar Group and the technology companies to help both parties receive the most out of the pilot.
Beckerman writes, “rollouts and onboarding processes are just as critical – if you don’t succeed there, customer churn can increase substantially.” I can’t agree more. Before piloting a technology, a step by step integration/rollout plan is required from the technology companies. This way, Laramar can see what is needed from them to keep the ball rolling and they can make sure that all relevant stakeholders see the pilot coming down the pipeline, before it becomes a mad scramble. For instance, if construction has two weeks to prepare for an installation, they can schedule site walks with multiple vendors for two weeks in advance. If construction is told they need to schedule site walks for tomorrow, well, good luck getting all those vendors on site tomorrow or by the end of the week. #delayed
Further, the pilot committee promotes discussion and assists in the “buy-in” of technology between departments. It’s hard to think of a single technology in PropTech that does not cross between two departments. Each member of the pilot committee provides a unique perspective on a technology, as someone with a marketing background might see some positives that someone from IT does not see. However, that same person from IT might see a hurdle that will take resources to overcome that someone from marketing might not see. When we have these diverse perspectives from the early stages of integration, we can discuss these opportunities/obstacles with the technology companies and how to appropriately plan for them.
Beckerman continues, “Professional in these roles [Client Success team] not only onboard those adopting new tech, but provide the education and ongoing support needed during the transition period.” The users of new technologies may be excited to try a new process, but they may also be weary as the new technology may change their current workflow. It is critical for technology companies to check in a consistent basis to understand how the user is utilizing the new technology. Sometimes, the user just needs a quick refresher on a couple key processes.
Laramar is currently piloting Aptly, a multifamily CRM for resident communication and leasing, at a property in Denver. Aptly has been great to work with, as their team has consistently communicated with the Laramar team on their experience and utilization of Aptly. Through the first two weeks, Aptly held group training, one-on-one training, and even re-training sessions when needed to help the users maximize their experience with the software. Additionally, I believe the feedback from the Laramar team has given Aptly some ideas on how to further refine and improve their product, so that the entire multifamily industry can receive the most out of their product. We believe that this feedback loop is crucial and helps everyone receive the most out of the pilot. The technology company receives valuable feedback from people in the field, they are able to test their product in a “real-world” setting, and they also gain exposure to a potentially large customer. Laramar can create a technology stack that exceeds today’s and tomorrow’s customers needs and they are able to test and rollout technology platforms that may increase operational efficiencies and increase customer service.
Adoption is the largest hurdle for technology companies to overcome in the real estate industry. Technology companies need to have a step by step plan for integration and be willing to provide ample user support for their product. We believe our pilot committee process will help ease the adoption of technology by bringing together the relevant stakeholders early in the process. These stakeholders will be able to ask questions, inform their teams of pending pilots, and help set up pilots to be in the best position for success from day one. We also want to provide technology companies with the feedback that will help refine and improve their product, and hopefully set them up for future sales growth.
If you would like to participate in the Pilot Program, please apply here.