• Dennis Cogbill

What Hampers Innovation in Multifamily?

This is a very exciting time to be in the multifamily industry.

Across the industry, operators and supplier partners are implementing any number of innovations that improve the resident experience and increase net operating income. Smart-home solutions, short-term rentals, self-guided tours, hotel-like resident services and cutting-edge fitness amenities are just some of the examples of how many apartment communities are marching boldly into the future.

One could argue that the entrepreneurial spirit is more alive in multifamily than it’s ever been.

And yet there still are some factors and forces at work in our industry that inhibit innovation and make operators reluctant to embrace cutting-edge advancements. To me, the most obvious three of these factors are:

1) Government policy. Local, state and federal laws can – however unintentionally – stifle innovation.

Consider rent control, for example. When jurisdictions put a cap on rent, that limits the financial incentive to reinvest in and modernize portfolios.

Along the same lines, some operators may be skittish about incorporating short-term rentals because regulations in their markets may subject them to expensive hospitality taxes for doing so.

It’s critical that apartment owners and operators speak up when laws and policies work against their interests and hamper their ability to innovate at their properties.

2) The lack of integration among technological solutions. It has to be easier to integrate individual multifamily technologies into property management systems – or any other solution for that matter. When owners and operators can’t easily assemble a group of solutions that are able to seamlessly work with each other, it really hampers the evolution of our industry.

Moving forward, apartment technology providers need to place a real emphasis on developing solutions that play nice with other tools.

3) Company cultures. Yes, multifamily has a real entrepreneurial and forward-thinking component to it these days. But a lot of operators remain skeptical of new ways of doing things.

Make a point of fighting against that tendency. Attend industry conferences and events to learn about innovations and the significant benefits they can have for a community. Pick the brains of your colleagues to hear about their successes and challenges with implementing new technologies.

Create a company culture in which team members are empowered to explore new procedures and solutions and to offer constructive feedback when established processes aren’t working or have grown outdated. Tell your team they don’t have to put up with the status quo if the status quo isn’t working, and innovation will follow.

If you’re passionate about driving innovation in the apartment industry – and experiencing the operational and financial benefits innovations can offer – you should consider attending the upcoming Multifamily Innovation Conference – Atlanta (MICA) (February 5 and 6).

MICA will bring together tech investors, apartment owners and operational strategists to explore and underwrite innovations that will enhance the resident experience and open new revenue streams in the process.

Its cutting-edge educational sessions will explore multifamily entrepreneurship, internal innovation, important demographic trends and innovative communities and neighborhoods.

Please join us on February 5 - 6 for MICA 2020. Register now to be a part of this important industry event.