Blog April 16, 2021

How to implement smart home tech in your multifamily community

By MRI

This is an excerpt from “How your multifamily community can implement the smart home benefits renters crave,” originally posted by Zego. Zego, an MRI Software partner, is a property technology company that frees management companies and community associations to go above and beyond for residents. Zego Smart, which integrates with MRI, is a unified platform of multifamily smart home solutions that elevate the resident experience.

Smart home features have gradually gained interest from renters. During the past year, in the midst of a pandemic, the benefits of smart apartments have become even more apparent. Communities with smart locks can easily accommodate the onslaught of grocery deliveries and Amazon packages. Residents using smart thermostats and smart lights can minimize energy consumption to keep utility bills in check. The list goes on.

If you’re considering adding smart home technology to your multifamily community, then you’ll need not only to understand best practices and benefits of this tech, but you’ll also need to communicate these benefits with your residents effectively.

Will renters even pay for smart home capabilities?

When it comes to implementing smart home technology, the cost is not only outweighed by the benefits, but data also indicates that residents are willing to shoulder the cost. Even just a basic package provides enough smart home benefits that, depending on the market, renters are willing to pay for. Zego conducted a market research study on this topic in 2019 and found that renters are willing to pay anywhere from $25 – $45 per month for smart apartment packages. But how do you get your residents to understand those benefits in the first place?

How to talk to residents about the benefits of smart home technology

Modernizing an existing community is an exciting project, but before diving head-first into the upgrades you seek, it’s important to establish a thorough communication plan that will guide the way you share the good news with your residents. Your plan should outline how you communicate the logistics, the installation timing, and talk tracks you want to convey.

While this will minimize the number of questions your on-site staff will receive, be prepared for mixed reactions and questions from your residents. Many will be excited and want to be the first in line for a smart unit, but others might not understand the full extent of smart home benefits.

Before you start spreading the word, on-site team members should have talk tracks prepared about smart devices. The most important points to emphasize will be the benefits of the new amenity and timing of the implementation process.

Assuring residents with the right implementation strategy

For some renters, the benefits of smart home technology might not feel “worth it” if the installation process is too complex. Here are the different methods you can use to install smart apartment devices and how they may impact your residents.

Install devices on the turn – Installing smart home devices can be done in the time between one resident moving out and another resident moving it. This provides minimal disruption to residents. However, from a management perspective, this approach can be difficult as it can drag out the time it takes for you to gain the operational benefits.

Property-wide installation – Installing smart home devices across your property all at once gives you the fastest ROI (if you’re charging residents) and you recognize the operational benefits right away. When choosing this path, make sure you clearly communicate the details to residents, such as what to expect and when. This also presents a great chance to get them excited about their new amenities.

Assuring residents’ privacy throughout

There are a lot of misconceptions about smart apartments and privacy, which may lead some residents to worry about security vulnerabilities. In reality, implementing a smart apartment solution should create little to no security or privacy risks.

Here’s the reality behind questions you might be asked about smart apartment safety.

Can my devices be hacked? – If you provide residents with a commercial-grade hub that runs on ZWave, it’s extremely difficult for anyone to hack your devices.

Will my community managers use this to spy on me? – A base smart apartment package, which includes a hub, locks, and thermostat, doesn’t enable community managers to gain any vulnerable information about a resident. Those devices don’t enable community managers to access resident-installed voice assistants through their platform.

Are you selling my data? – As a management company, you must commit to the ethical use of data. Though it’s not a universal practice among providers, some smart device companies do sell resident data for marketing purposes. If you’re concerned your residents will be sensitive to this, make sure you clarify a vendor’s privacy policy before you begin working with them.

Additional smart home benefits for multifamily communities

The goal as a property manager is to attract new residents and ensure they’re happy living in your community. Smart devices can help accomplish both of those goals, but getting the systems set up community-wide involves several steps.

For more guidance about implementing smart home technology for apartments, be sure to download our free guide: “How to Implement Smart Apartment Technology in your Multifamily Community.

Not sure if smart tech is worth the investment for your property or portfolio? Use our Smart ROI Calculator to learn how long it will take to see a return on your investment in smart apartment technology.

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