I recently had the privilege to speak at a conference about the future of property maintenance. Part of my message was focused on why we need to adopt new technologies. Since we at Facilgo study this topic frequently, I’d like to share some personal stories that shaped my perspective as to why adopting new technologies is important.
The Power of Timely Information in the hands of the Right People
Almost 20 years ago, I was riding on a ferry between two islands in Indonesia. It was the typhoon season, and while there were some winds, the ferry ride was uneventful. Two days later, I read the news and was shocked at what I saw. The very same boat which I had ridden had capsized the next day. As the ferry took on water, a British passenger on the boat texted her boyfriend, who was in a pub in London. The boyfriend immediately contacted the Royal Navy, who in turn contacted the Indonesian Navy. The Indonesian Navy dispatched a search and rescue ship and saved all of the ferry passengers.
If you are unfamiliar with sinking ferries during the typhoon season in Indonesia in 2001, I can assure you that this outcome was quite rare. This was an incredibly amazing occurrence, and it made me start to understand the power of getting the right information to the right people at the right time. While property maintenance may not see such dramatic effects, obtaining timely information can make processes increasingly more effective and efficient.
Your Residents’ Expectations are changing with the introduction of New Technologies
My father owns an inexpensive flip phone, which as many of you may recall, holds a charge for several days. Yet, when he is not actively making a phone call, he chooses to power down the phone to preserve the battery charge. From his perspective, the value of having a charged phone whenever he needs it is quite high. Moreover, he’s quite used to the concept that if people are unable to reach him, they’ll call back later. He also has not set up the voicemail on his cellphone either, so you can’t leave a message. For the rest of us, my father’s lack of connectivity is both confusing and annoying.
Several months ago, my dad was changing doctors, and the new doctor’s office was trying to contact him to obtain insurance information. They called his home number, but the voicemail was full. Then, they called is cellphone, but it was turned off and his voicemail was not set up. Shortly thereafter, I received a call from an exasperated doctor’s office administrator. She had already made 2 phone calls and was not able to get ahold of my dad. She wanted me to get a message to my father, but I explained to her that I could only do what she had already done. I live an hour away, and explained that she just needed to try again, since he was often at home. Apparently, on her third call to my dad, she was able to reach him and obtain the required information.
The doctor’s office administrator and my dad had widely different expectations. My dad’s expectations were similar to those living prior to the widespread usage of voice mail, while the doctor’s office administrator was living more in the present. After I got off the phone with the administrator, I felt her pain, and it made me think about how residents may feel any time their property managers interact with them involving paper!
What do Your Residents think when you hand them a Piece of Paper?
If you hand a paper move-in inspection form to a new Millennial resident, does it leave them with the type of impression you desire? Are they left with the expectation that you will respond quickly to their needs, that it will be convenient to work with your community, or that you will continue to evolve to meet their ever-changing needs? For me personally, paper inspection forms leave me with the impression that the property has not invested in technology that is going to make my living experience as convenient as the other aspects of my life.
My life is filled with conveniences such as printing a gift card five minutes before my daughter leaves for a birthday party, getting a ride to the airport whenever the need arises, or being able to see on my phone where my kids are in mall so I can easily find them. These are all activities that make elements of life highly efficient and convenient, because they provide products, services and information to the right people at the right time. They share information in a way that paper cannot.
What happens if you don’t adopt new technology?
There are countless stories of companies that went out of business due to their failure to adapt to new technologies. Today, we see a major shift in how and what products and services people purchase, which is creating a major shift in traditional brick and mortar businesses. Several retail stores recently declared bankruptcy including Sears (founded 1893), Borders Books (founded 1971), and Toys R Us, (founded 1957). What consumers want and how they want to buy it were the overarching reasons for their demise. The ability to purchase products online without having the added cost of a retail outlet within the price greatly impacted both Sears and Toys R Us. Their focus on old technology products (paper books, CDs and DVDs) was what led to the downfall of Borders.
If companies are unable to adapt to the new demands enabled by changing technologies, their customers will not just be unhappy, but may respond in a way that may cause them to go out of business.
We have all seen the impact of what technological innovation can do for everyone. They make a positive difference in our daily lives. On the other hand, if we do not embrace the values of new technologies, we will not only miss out on the chance to become more efficient, but our residents’ will become frustrated losing confidence in our company’s ability and willingness to adapt to change. Resident frustration can only lead down a dark path.
If you are still using paper processes, take a look at all the innovative solutions available in the market. Some of them, like FacilGo®, are easy to adopt, can be transformative for your business, and help you become an innovative leader.