Survey Results: How Are Property Managers Using Technology?

by

Market Analyst

Last week, Software Advice set out to learn about the state of technology among property managers and how they are using property management systems. Thanks to the 70 of you who responded to our survey, we gathered interesting information on social media use, business growth, lead tracking, and other areas.

We invite you to download the full results of our survey (PDF) to review these trends and stats and blog about them on your own web site.

We've covered a handful of the more interesting results here.

Technology Characteristics of a Growing Business

Nearly half of the companies we surveyed grew their business last year, either by revenue or by number of units. Below is a chart detailing the rate of technology adoption by those companies:

Companies who used property management specific software managed an average of 102 units per employee. Those that using generic software or spreadsheets only managed an average of 61 units per employee.We acknowledge there are other factors to consider here. But we're firmly in the camp that an integrated software suite frees up property management employees to do more tasks. It just makes sense:

  • Less time spent moving between programs
  • Less time spent learning multiple systems
  • Quicker and more efficient data management
  • Many automated tasks

We'd love to hear from those of you whose experience has differed from this.

Companies are Struggling to Track Online Leads

The property management industry has a strong presence online, from Multifamily Insiders to Let's Talk Property Management to PropertyManager.com. Much of the discussion on those web sites is centered around online marketing and lead generation.

That's why it was surprising to see 36% of property managers don't even use computers to track online leads. Instead they rely on a tenant to mention it on an application.

In addition, 19% of our respondents don't track leads generated online, which was perhaps the most shocking statistic.

As we noted above, those companies that are effectively tracking online leads are growing their business.

Social Media Use Widespread But Is It Effective?

Despite the evangelization of social media over the last few years, our survey showed no sizable growth in business between companies who are using social media and those who are not.

This begs the question: What strength does social media have in the business of property management? Facebook and Twitter are fantastic for networking – but does that generate leads and provide a return on investment?

We'd be curious to hear from those of you who have defined ROI metrics for social media.

Thoughts from the respondents

In the final question on the survey, we asked respondents for their thoughts on the state of technology in property management. Here are some of their comments:

"I feel web based software is coming of age. The biggest obstacle most face is ownership rights of their data."

"Property management has been late to adopt technology. in the last couple of years we have seen many more offerings in the property management space and I think that there is still a long way to go compared to many other industries."

"We need more integration with leads and leases. We need the search, show, follow up, lease process that can be seen on a computer report."

"I view technology as vital to our future growth – remote connectivity to a server based hub structure, text pull and push campaigns, mobile phones and PDAs all play apart. Web based technology too – Google Analytics, our website, online services."

Thank you again to those that participated in our survey. You can download the full results of the survey here (PDF).

For more information about property management software, visit our specialized guide here.

 
  • http://www.RealtyResourceKC.com Kim Tucker

    It is not only property management, but all facets of real estate from the buying to selling to renting and managing that is turning to technology.

    When I started in real estate 10 years ago, there were lots of phone calls, drive bys, actually going to look at a property. But now you can do almost the entire transaction online, other than having a live person go inspect the property for hidden issues & an appraiser doing an appraisal, a property can be bought and sold almost virtually online using technology.

  • http://www.RentWiki.com/blog Tamela Coval

    Chris, thanks for posting the survey and results. I am interested in the geographic areas of property managers who responded to the survey. Will you share?

    Responding to your summary question, “What strength does social media have in the business of property management?” Answer is…it provides marketing and influential MoJo in the community where your residents live, shop, dine and recreate. Does it get any better than that?

    Everyone one of us understands the need to relate activity to revenue. ROI, ROI, ROI. ROI should probably be a required brand we all need to tattoo on our bodies.

    Case studies, whitepapers and simple metrics gathered from real live onsite activities by third party technology solutions (LevelOne, CallSource, Crossfire) show time and again that simply engaging the apartment shoppers and residents that Community Managers are currently exposed to will lead to higher closing ratios and reduce resident turnover. Heck…THAT would certainly impact ROI.

    Social Networking provides a clear channel for owner/operators to become vocal members of neighborhoods. Holy cannoli…a wiki or a blog or a tweet or a facebook page EMPOWERS us enabling us to post REALTIME comments, answer and ask questions. In short, Social Networking allows apartment operators to do some fancy Ninja-ing in bonding with their residents and future residents.

    Imagine that…bonding with your clients. Reminds me of a statement on an article I read a few days ago; in typical budgets and business financial statements…

    Do we have a line item or formula that calculates the ROI of a phone? I’m thinking NOT.

    Tamela
    http://Twitter.com/TamelaCoval
    Tamela

  • http://www.SoftwareAdvice.com Chris Thorman

    @ Tamela

    I agree that social media has value for property managers. I think that it’s difficult to track or measure that value though.

    Unfortunately we did not ask what area our respondents were in. Geography definitely has a big influence on increasing/decreasing business. Those property managers in areas with high home foreclosures are probably doing better than most.

    I’ll take a look to see if our survey software tracked anything about a respondent’s location.

    Thanks for reading.

  • Boyd Keith Adams

    Love the data/metrics…but don’t let the analysis fool you into thinking that a competent leasing professional will not outwork any software or possible social media lead generation…and i might add…close the deal. Referrals still rock.

    Boyd Keith Adams

  • http://www.SoftwareAdvice.com Chris Thorman

    @ Boyd

    Good point.

  • http://letstalkpm.com Dee

    Hi Chris

    Thanks for conducting this survey and sharing your results! You pose some great questions as you shared these results.

    My thoughts are posted here:

    http://letstalkpropertymanagement.com/perspectives/2009/12/17/analysis-of-property-managers-use-of-technology.html

  • http://www.managerlabs.com Linda Day Harrison

    Chris,

    Thanks for your efforts in polling our industry. The main issue here is the fact that PM/FM cover a huge spectrum of categories. I have heard people refer to those caring for single family homes to those managing millions of sf of retail, office or other commercial facilities. That range is so incredibly diverse. I would like to know the area of expertise metric here. In other words, if someone sells residential homes and cares for those vacant homes while they are being disposed of, that is one small segment of our overall industry. That to me is the most important aspect of the survey. Once you understand the industry type you can then identify the trends or changing habits of the segments.

    I really appreciate what you are doing and wish you much success with your endeavor.

    Thanks,
    Linda@ManagerLabs.com
    LinkedIn – PFMI Group
    Click here to Join: http://www.linkedin.com/groupRegistration?gid=1858850

  • http://www.diyresolutions.com Rob Crichlow

    I really appreciated this survey. This kind of data is rare and is very useful to people to understand where technology is going. My reflections are in our property management blog.

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