Multifamily budget season. Ah yes, that rather special time of year when ledgers, numbers, spreadsheets, timelines and dollar bill signs swirl around in your head as thoughts of planning and anticipating what lies ahead for the coming year of 2022 illuminates in your mind … “what will our residents want?” “What will our future residents want?” “Will there be upcoming maintenance projects?” “Is our community safe?” “Should we invest in new technologies, such as virtual leasing?”
There are many aspects to consider today that will impact the coming year. The multifamily industry is no stranger to uncertainties as budgeting and forecasting are hinged on unknown variables. Based on what we learned during 2020, it’s more important than ever for you and your team to ensure your budget is flexible for our unpredictable world.
“[Budget season] is very time consuming and you have to be prepared,” explains Chelsea Martin, community manager, Arc Light Co. “I’m going off things from last year and also reaching out to currently contracted vendors to see if there’s any increases for 2022.”
Adaptability and adjustability are the themes of focus for the 2021-22 budget season. The various events of 2020 threw unpredictable curveballs into the multifamily residential industry and now the industry is attempting to navigate forward successfully. While budgets need to reflect your community’s priorities, to current and future residents, employees, stakeholders and others involved in the financial success of your community, budgets must allow for adjustments to be made when necessary.
“I have been basing my budget off my averages from January to current, and then doing a slight increase just so I can be a little flexible if needed,” Martin says.
Here are some possible adjustments to consider along with tips and suggestions to help you adapt your budget for 2022:
Technology is always changing and evolving, so your budget needs to be flexible to change and evolve along with it. This is especially true when it comes to virtual tools, such as giving potential future residents the option for a virtual tour of your property and their potential apartment home.
To grab the attention of potential residents, consider using digital advertising. Because more people are working from home or remotely now, your community may be getting less walking-in/drive-by traffic. Create advertising campaigns that target online audiences highlighting your apartment homes’ private balconies and/or office space as welcoming spaces to work from home.
Your maintenance team plays a critical role in resident happiness and retention. Quick turn around times, effective communication and dependability are key. Virtual tools can limit in-person communication with residents and quicken the process of residents getting their maintenance requests completed. Consider using a virtual communication tool to help residents easily submit routine maintenance requests.
Stay Top-of-Mind by Investing in Security
Becoming and staying relevant with current and future residents in the highly competitive multifamily residential market requires certain investments. These can include amping up your Wi-Fi throughout your community; adding more common areas for your residents to work from home; and updating workout equipment in your community’s gym. However, all these investments are unable to be enjoyed unless security and safety are of greatest priority.
“Instead of having a physical guard or patrol, we can remotely monitor any and all areas of a property,” informs Alex Godwin-Austen, Stealth Monitoring account executive. “Examples include garages, mail/package areas, bike rooms and amenities which are all effected by COVID. Also, if amenities are being outfitted to attract tenants with cool new tech and big TVs, those are all things that are vulnerable to theft and can be monitored all night, instead of by a patrol that comes three to four times a night.”
Martin notes that they increased their security hours, producing positive outcomes.
“During the winter, we do have quite a few break-ins and since we increased our Stealth Monitoring hours, there has been less issues at my property.”
Godwin-Austen offers two areas of your community that must have heighten security with remote monitoring – parking lot and mail/package areas.
“Many people are able to keep working from home despite cities opening up,” he explains, “so more cars are sitting idle and vulnerable to break-ins. Also, more people are ordering online so there are way more packages to be stolen and more people are unemployed, so their checks are being mailed … and stolen.”
Think Outside of the Box with AI
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is perhaps most recent newcomer to the industry that can offer unique experiences to your current and future residents as well as your employees. With AI, constant reliable communication is possible. Virtual tours can be scheduled, and guest cards collected. This alone can save your leasing team countless hours from asking and answering repetitive questions, freeing their time to focus on other, more important tasks.
Boost your community’s level of cleanliness to show you care about and ensure the wellness of residents, employees and visitors. Budget for items such as disinfectant, disposal services, cleaners, sanitizers, etc. If you have an on-site cleaning staff, offer free training on how to properly clean community areas.
During your budget season, when all else fails … don’t improvise, call Stealth!
When asked Martin’s favorite thing about working with Stealth, she laughingly exclaimed “Alex!”
“If there’s anything that happens outside of our monitoring hours, I reach out to him [referring to Alex]. He is so prompt and provides footage within like 12 hours if that. He responds to me with footage covering an incident, which really, really helps a lot. If I didn’t have him, I would feel more discouraged, but he’s great and always on top of it.”
The great news for Martin is she has no increases for 2022 and overall, she’s very happy with Stealth.
to speak with a Stealth Account Executive in your area to learn how Stealth can help your community achieve your security budgeting goals.