I was out to dinner the other night in Uptown Charlotte and saw the typical 21st century young, urban couple. They were dressed stylishly, moved with grace, were good-looking, and barely talked or looked at each other the entire time I saw them at the restaurant. Were they:
A. In a fight?
B. Shy mutes?
C. Engrossed with their mobile phones?
Of course, and sadly, the most probable answer in today's world is C. I have a difficult time with this! I want to say, “Buddy, wake up! You're with a good looking woman; I can not believe I have to tell you to look up and talk to her, instead of texting your friend, Chuck! What's wrong with you? ”
So, being a grown man, I had to decide whether to cry about this new phenomenon or accept it. After some internal wrangling, I'm happy to report that my righteous indignation has passed and I've accepted this digitally-inspired apathy towards fellow humans as the “new normal”. So what does this consumer love affair with mobile phones mean to property managers?
It means we better get in the game in the mobile realm. Regular websites have worked really well for a while, but change has come again. New renters are going to want to use their smart phones to search for rentals near them (aided by GPS), fill out rental applications, pay application fees, and put down deposits. They want the whole rental process available from their mobile phones.
What specifically does this mean? It means we better have mobile websites that allow them to do this; the mobile websites need to include only succinct information potential renters would want when on the go. It also means we need a mobile application (a custom company “app”) that customers can put on their devices so we own some real estate on their phones. Trends show that home internet connections are on the way of landline phones; the new battleground is the mobile phone. We need to be on as many as possible.
A mobile website is critical when consumers search for property management companies from their smart phones. Will yours come up? If it does, can consumers easily find rental homes, contact you (even text you!), And do everything you want them to do (like they can when you see them in your office or when they are in front of their home computer? )
An app is critical to sealing the relationship with customers. How can they remember you when they are on their mobile phones? Your app (with your company logo) sitting with the rest of the apps they use everyday is a good start. This is a good way to build mindshare and also to make it easy for your customers to contact you and refer you to their friends. Not an apps believer? Apps are set to be a $ 36B business by 2015- a lot of people use them and will be using them!
Change is hard, but the mobile revolution is not going away. If making a property management company last long term is the goal, mobile websites and apps are now “must-haves”!