10 Jun

You’ve heard of Planes, Trains and Buses and formerly Dysfunctional DMVs?

Okay people, it is not Greyhound this time, but the bankrupted Amtrak and the very dysfunctional DMV in Las Vegas, Nevada (you had to be there). Our industry has been passed up again! I just heard from a fellow Buzz connection, that Amtrak is now offering free wifi on its trains. While at the same time, I have also learned that the State of Nevada-Las Vegas DMV is following the post office’s APM machine, since 2005 and has kiosk automation that collects money and processes basic services! Although the comments on some of the blogs about Amtrak today, were quite entertaining, the subject reminded me of our recent post, “If a bus, a hamburger and plane can do it, why can’t we?”

Nevada DMV Kiosk, circa 2005.

Nevada DMV Kiosk, circa 2005.

You may recall that McDonalds offers free wifi at all of its restaurants. I am not talking about slow, bogged down lame wifi here folks. I am talking about super fast and awesome wifi. The workers are clueless that it exists, most of the time, but boy is it fast. I love it. Surf the web and drink coffee and eat yogurt. Yummy.

So when I saw the Buzz this morning that Amtrak now has wifi, I just shook my head. Here we are, property and facility managers with captive audiences all over our properties, owners who want full buildings and no FREE or public wifi or even the thought of automating anything at all! I think it is absolutely unbelievable. How did this happen? How did the world just pass us by? Why and how can the most dysfunctional and blatantly known, perpetually bankrupt Amtrak and the classic DMV offer something as simple as wifi and a kiosk/machine, similar to an ATM, inside a building or facility that we completely manage, repair, clean or worse yet, own. Yet, we still do not have wifi or even the thought of the dream machine like -an APPM (Automated Property Management Machine) for our industry?

I look back over the 30 some years in this industry and shake my head every single day. I talk to property managers, facility managers, service businesses too, that tell me they have no website, no domain name, no awareness of what is happening all around them. What is Twitter is not even remotely in the cards. Now even Facebook has passed all of us up. Yes, Facebook. The app that your great grandmother uses! The buildings are in a time warp or something and the managers got swooped up too! We are all just stumbling and mumbling while this goes on.

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Facebook at 500 million users!!

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Everything is a swipe, a click, a snap or whatever, but we still have 3 part Peachtree NCR forms on our desk and are filling out paper lease forms and logs on clipboards. It is so funny, but it is not really. It is rather pathetic and mindblowing. There must be something scary to us or we have a fear of technology. I am not exactly sure which. The IT departments at our companies might as well be frozen in giant ice cubes since 2000 (yes, 2000!!) when they started to think that a property or facility manager might be able to use a single computer in an office of 5 people. Oh and they gave us 1 single email address called abccompany1@abccompnay.com. They did stop technology once they rolled out the LANS, only at the corporate office. Each of our desktop machines were not even connected due to the cost of a modem phone line in 2000. I guess that was good enough for us and all we could handle.

Now grant it, there are many that have embraced it, exploited and used it up like it was air, but those are the few and far between. All of those people are at Realcomm right now in Las Vegas, Nevada. They are having a blast and they are mingling and talking to Jim Young about where we are today. (According to Jim that is probably 5% of us are using webbased systems) and Jim is just so worked up right now with all of the enthusiasm you cannot imagine the frenzy and energy at that place. I bet Las Vegas is wondering what on earth came to town!!

I am eager to hear feedback from him and I will do my best to track him down or Jean Claude Goldenstein, the founder of http://www.creopoint.com or others that will be sure to attend. Once I do, I will give you the report and a take away. Many of the people from all of the major software accounting houses are there, along with the technology SaaS people, like Dale Vanderlaan of Realogic and his team. We will find out what and how things went down and share it right here for all of us to learn.

But the icing on the cake of all of this. And this is a true story, for real, totally accurate. I got 3 very fuzzy pictures today. So fuzzy, I do not believe they are real. I actually asked my friend Stan if these were real. He said yes, these are real. Here are 3 pictures of the first that I have ever seen, APPM units. APPM=Automated Property Management Machines. No joke. Read the fuzzy words on the screen. It brings a tear to me eye, it is so awesome. I am hoping that Stan will give me more information on these fuzzy pictures. He had better not be kidding. If it is true and these are real machines (outside of the U.S., of course!) You will all be the very, very first to hear of this. Stay tuned.

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APMM = Automated Property Management Machine

25 Jun

Ringing Phone is Your Wake Up Call

How healthy is your Organization’s Core? Every time you hear a ringing phone, think about it.  I would bet that if you attended any Realcomm event over the past 3 years, you know exactly what I am talking about. If you did not attend, you MUST attend next year. Get out the coffee can and start saving your money. If your company cannot afford it, pay your own way. Visit www.realcomm.com for more information.

The well being of your corporate infrastructure depends on it! To survive your organizations core must now run 24/7/365. There is no more 9 to 5. It is obsolete terminology.  There is no time for processes to cease or take a break. Today is a 24/7/365 world and the pace is getting faster and more efficient. Is your infrastructure gaining speed or losing speed? Are you hearing ringing around your offices? If so, you need to focus and reduce those ringing phones.

Think about investing small sums by trading the wasted labor expense it takes for a permanent solution that can be used over and over again. Consider the growth opportunities if you can do more with less.  This is not about eliminating people at all. It is about retraining people and realigning people. Grow the business itself, not for the sake of growing the labor pool, as many of us have done in the past.

Our industry is jam packed with business intelligence and we need to discover and unearth it. Our industry holds the key to a massive opportunity for somebody, and that somebody should be you!  The data we all share and the information we all have is vital and it is being unearthed.

Everyone is now relating to one another 24/7/365 via the internet.  People no longer want to wait for your office to open at 9:00 a.m. That is almost silly to even think of today.  What is your own reaction to waiting or being told “No”? Ask yourself that question every time your phone rings. A ringing phone should truly be the bell that goes off in your head. If there is a will, there is the internet.  If you need something you go online and just get it.

You must invest in your Organizational Core. Automate tasks, digitalize Documents, minimize paper, embrace technology, and embrace the change. The challenge for us as an industry is three fold:  ego, money and awareness.  Ego for those that believe their way is better; money for those who have the money now and do not want to lose it (ie, large software companies that will soon be obsolete); awareness for those that do not know about the movement.

There are a few organizations pioneering industry wide standards that you need to be aware of:

Open Standards Consortium for Real Estate – (OSCRE) – http://www.oscre.org   “Deliver global standards for exchanging electronic real property information and drive their adoption”

Multifamily Information and Transactions Standard – (MITS) – http://www.mitsproject.com/ “MITS is an industry-wide effort by the apartment sector to develop common data standards and extensible mark-up language (XML) protocol to facilitate data and systems integration.

Realcomm – http://www.realcomm.com,  Jim Young, Founder. The intersection of Commercial Real Estate Corporate Real Estate, & Technology.

Each of these organizations are progressive, consciously and consistently providing the cutting edge to our industry. Your Organizational Core is depending on you.  Keep your core healthy and consider any and all the baby steps that are available to embrace the new ways.  Almost all of our mundane and redundant efforts can be automated. Going forward make a pact with yourself to think about your Organization’s Core and whether or not your decisions and actions are working towards a healthy core. Test yourself and watch what is physically going on around you and every time you hear that ringing phone, think of it as your wake up call.