28 Sep

If I Get Hit By A Bus…..

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Peoria Charter Service Bus

If I said it one time,  I said it a thousand times a day to my staff while in my days of onsite property management.

If I get hit by a bus…..

Everyday in my training to those on my team, I would repeat certain sayings that I felt were important to ingrain and teach those that I cared about or those that I felt had what it would take to become a good property manager or overall employee. One of my classics was …If I get his by a bus, the next guy will be able to…….

Well the other day I did get hit by a bus (sic) and it did not hurt, it was actually pleasant! The bus that hit me was not moving but parked in a rest area taking a break. I noticed a huge mural painted on the side that stated ‘surf and ride’, but I knew there were no “waves or surf” around there, so I was my normal, curious self and I interviewed the bus driver to find out what this message was about. What I learned was so very interesting. The twist is that the bus has free wifi for its passengers. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words so please view the bus photo in this article, which is a Peoria Charter Bus that travels between Champaign and Chicago, Illinois.

What a fabulous idea! A bus moving down the highway with wifi. How cool is that? I loved it. Of course it got me thinking about how neat it is when a business owner makes a decision to do something unexpected and innovative. The owner of this bus company believes that by providing wifi on his bus he betters his chances of getting you to ride his bus. This is not profound, it is simply good business.

Based on that concept, then why do we as property and facility managers not realize that by providing services, like wifi, or customer service online 24/7 or automated messages, or client document portals, that can really help grow our business? Why are we not running to get the services or subscriptions for our buildings and facilities? Is it us or is it the building owner? Who is really, driving the bus, to embracing technology in our world?

I find it amazing not to find automation or connectivity in every building or facility I visit. When I travel, I look for places with wifi. Why? Because quite frankly, I cannot work or play without it. Yes, I can use my smartphone as a hotspot now for my laptop, but there are times I need to have wifi. Where I work can change in a moment. I need to work where wifi exists, yet I trudge around looking for the service. IMHO nobody has grabbed this space yet (besides Starbucks, Panera, McDonalds) other than fast food, bookstores, airports, libraries, hotels, and (what is left?)….. No office buildings, retail stores, apartment communities, condominium buildings, medical buildings, and industrial complexes, have really embraced this yet. They are just not feeling the love for these services.

In our industry we have to realize that if a bus can roll down the highway at 65 miles per hour and offer FREE wifi service, should we as building managers embrace this for our clients and visitors too? It seems like a basic utility today, yet there are common areas throughout buildings all over America with no wifi, no online customer service, no 24/7 portals of information! It is the same old thing. Call the office between 9am – 5pm, or we will snail mail it to you or if you are lucky we can send it to you via email.

That spells o-p-p-o-r-t-u-n-i-t-y in my book! Maybe your property can make a statement or get exposure by offering FREE wifi or online everything, 24/7. Maybe your company can make a statement and offer automated services of the basic paper you are pushing now. These efforts can be turned into exposure or marketing events for your property in the marketplace. They say being 1st is so very important. Why not make your property or company step up and take that step?

Alright, so you do not want to be first. That is totally understood. But guess what? You are NOT first in the world, just first in one small aspect of one single industry. Banking has totally embraced ATM, digital reports, cell phone apps, paperless checks, debit cards, and a host of other customer service tools. The airlines are online for everything. You can see your loved one’s flight online and watch the plane in the air, 24/7/365. Almost every single retailer or product you purchase has online services. You are not 1st in the world, just in our small part of one industry.

Try it by taking a baby step. Take one horribly painful task that is repetitive and paper intensive and think of how you can do it without paper or online or via a software as a service application (SaaS). Think of a communication step that you can use with automation. Once you start the conversation in your building or at your company, it will start to gain momentum. I can promise you that once you and your staff get a taste of efficiency or streamline a process, they will never look back. The only complaint you will get is, ‘Why did we not start this sooner?’

If you want to discuss solutions and ideas or a vision to take for your property or company, email or call me and I will be happy to listen and then may be able to make suggestions for solutions that are at your fingertips NOW! Call 312.725.0060 or email Linda@ManagerLabs.com.

29 Apr

SaaS: A New Acronym for the PM(Property Management) Industry

Well the property and facility management industry is inundated with acronyms: PM, FM, ROI, NOI, MLS, IREM, CCIM, BOMA, TI, LO, LOI, you get the drift. But now the industry is being exposed to terminology and acronyms that the tech world and many others, hopes will change the industry forever. The term is SaaS, or Software As A Service. In other words, an automation that is online and can be called a tool or portal. With SaaS, everyone is delivered the same software via a browser that you use for FREE or with a subscription, just like any other subscription service.

The point of SaaS is to actually provide service that enables you to automate or streamline the current process or method you are using today in your offices and improve service delivery and/or reduce your labor and overhead. For example, we all have heard of Lock Box, Multiple Listing Services (MLS), and Online Banking. Now the next generation of online technology has started with a multitude of products and tools that are above and beyond those traditional shared software, now online, products. The products vary from website portals that deliver template formats for property websites to payment processing and bill paying. Everything consumers have been enjoying at home for years! In addition, all of the Cloud products, such as document storage, email and online productivity applications are basically SaaS services as well. With the Property Management industry fraught with overhead and a multitude of remote sites, SaaS and Cloud should be on any companies radar as an alternative.

It is very exciting to find blogs, such as Software Advice where you can read about the Property and Facility Management industry and its migration to this evolution by our industry with technology. It is about time we get our act together and reduce our redundancy, provide 24/7/365 service to our customers, create standards, eliminate the pain of training, pool our resources, create economies of scale, and improve our accuracy. The author of the blog, Chris Thorman is a member of several groups I belong to on LinkedIn and I offered to share his basic and easy to understand article at his Software Advice blog for software advice to the Property Management Industry.

Consider joining our family of LinkedIn groups:

PFMI (Property and Facility Management Innovators)

–Vendor Bidding Lab (beta) subgroup of PFMI

–PFMC(Property Facility Management Companies) subgroup of PFMI

Rooftop Gardening

Certified Property Managers (CPM Group)
Need to be listed in IREM Membership Roster.

Join me at Maven Research too: https://www.mavenresearch.com/join/4G4Y4QmB