How CAPREIT is Improving Productivity and Reporting in Multifamily
CAPREIT, a Maryland-based apartment owner and operator looks to improve productivity and reporting with a comprehensive RealPage software stack.
It’s taken a bit of time, but the very first client of RealPage Contact Center has come on board for a comprehensive “stack” of RealPage software, looking to improve productivity top to bottom and give managers more insight into the company’s 12,000-unit portfolio through improved reporting.
The decision followed a competitive review in which Maryland-based CAPREIT considered not only another single-vendor solution, but also the possibility of a multi-vendor, best-of-breed suite.
COO Miguel Gutierrez says that after joining CAPREIT, he quickly realized that the company was being held back by its software. Across the company, managers were spending more time assembling and reconciling data than analyzing it. And at the properties, employees hired for their superior marketing or people skills were too busy with paperwork to put them to full use.
“Probably the first thing I noticed was that financial data was completely separate from operational data, and this limited our associates in their ability to identify opportunities for fine-tuning,” says Gutierrez. “To improve performance, you have to be able to produce reports that merge data about what’s happening at the properties with the numbers they’re producing.” This led Gutierrez to believe there would be a big payoff to having the accounting and property management software provided by a single company and tightly integrated.
In the broader picture, the current software seemed to be slowing down staff from top to bottom in their daily tasks. As part of his mission to improve productivity, Gutierrez says he visited staff in all sorts of positions throughout the company to learn their pain points, and kept hearing the same thing: “They found it excessively hard to do their tasks at CAPREIT compared to where they worked before,” he says. “A common theme was that the software was disjointed and user-unfriendly.”
And Gutierrez had another concern: “The software provider we were using didn’t seem to have much ongoing product development, and they were nowhere to be seen at OPTECH and other important industry venues,” he explains. “We wondered how strong their commitment was to the business, and we wanted a partner that was dedicated, innovative and in it for the long run.”
Gutierrez identified specific areas in which CAPREIT was in danger of falling behind, including such things as front-to-back online leasing and business intelligence tools with associated dashboard widgets to give managers quick insights into performance.
Weighing the options
Gutierrez says the company considered a variety of options for upgrading its software. They could completely replace the current software, or round out its capabilities with third-party solutions. They could assemble and integrate a best-of-breed suite. Or, they could go with a comprehensive “stack” from a single vendor. In the end, they chose a RealPage stack, retaining only the payables solution from their prior system.
An important criterion in the selection was the vendor’s ability to shoulder most of the burden of implementation. “We don’t have the resources to handle this magnitude of implementation, and we couldn’t risk having our people pulled off their core duties to be deeply involved with it,” says Gutierrez. “RealPage promised their team would do as much of the heavy lifting as possible, and thus far they’ve been good to their word.” CAPREIT is also implementing RealPage’s Learning Management System to facilitate training.
As of the writing of this article, CAPREIT was mid-way through a very aggressive implementation schedule. Gutierrez says the company is in the tricky phase of having to use two systems at the same time, but is already seeing glimmerings of the good things to come. For example, the manager responsible for processing SODAs (security deposit reconciliations and reimbursements) can accomplish the task in under a minute, where it took her over two hours before. And Gutierrez himself is already playing with the new BI and reporting tools that promise to put unprecedented analytical power in the hands of the company’s decision makers.
CAPREIT is growing. In addition to increasing its own holdings, the company’s excellent management record has convinced other property owners and partners to hire the company as a fee manager – to the extent that today, fee management represents 30% of CAPREIT’s business. The growth and increased responsibility have come with an obligation to stay on the cutting edge of efficiency in operations and management through smart software.
“This investment in software is going to allow us to drive greater performance and accountability both at the properties and the home office,” says Gutierrez. “What we’re putting in place right now is quite extensive, but we’re already looking at adding more – such as the lead-to-lease marketing solution.”
“When you’re competing for fee management business, it pays to invest in the best technology in the interest of your clients,” Gutierrez concludes. “But since we also own our own properties, we have a very personal interest in great software as well.”