Do your research. This is an industry where you need to know as much as possible about the local conditions before you know what you can expect over the next months and years. You need to know who needs space, why they need it, what their budget and needs are, and how you can position yourself to appeal to them. That’s not as easy as it sounds. The right software can help you record data about applicants and residents. That supports your market research and contributes to your business’s growth.Do make concrete goals. It’s common to wind up carrying out day to day operations without having a plan for the long term. That might get you through each week, but without a plan your business will slowly lose direction and could even fall apart. A goal provides you with focus and specific outcomes that you need to target. For example, you could set a target occupancy rate that you want to reach by a certain time, or a goal involving making inroads in a new target demographic through better marketing. Your software should help you track these goals and show you your progress.
Do pay attention to hiring talented staff who can help you with the software. In today’s data-driven business environment, you cannot get away with not having at least one dedicated software and IT hire, and you will likely need more. If the whole staff is struggling to learn the software at once with no help from someone with a technical mindset, then the transition to the software will go poorly. You could waste a lot of time and money that way.
Do jump into mobile technology if you can. That lets people connect to the software, as well as to information, without needing to be seated at a computer. There is a lot you can do even if your software of choice has no mobile connectivity. For example, representatives can carry around tablets and show off floor plans or check availability on the fly. Again, the world is becoming increasingly dominated by technology, so you need to keep up with the times and take advantage of the new tools that are out there. Even something as simple as bringing up a map of the area that shows nearby grocery stores and other amenities can be a big benefit.
Don’t try to force software that doesn’t fit. Your CMS system should be as close to customized to your needs as possible. Don’t try to take a generic software system and “make it work” just to save some money. It won’t be worth it when the software is unable to handle the needs of your business. It will be missing functionality that you need, or it won’t have enough capacity, or some other problem will arise. In the end, you might have to switch software again to something more appropriate, so there won’t be a savings at all.
Don’t settle for redundancy. If you have to keep entering the same data over and over again, or there is some other kind of repetition that the software forces you to do, then you don’t have the right fit. If there is one thing computers are really good at, it is repetitive actions that would take a human a long time. So the computer should be taking all of the annoyance out of your operations. If the software is causing more work than it is saving, it might be time to move on.
Don’t bail out too early, though. Every transition will be hard. It takes time to adjust to the new software and take advantage of all of its functions. Give it a good faith effort and leave enough time to fully integrate it into your workflow. If you give up early, then you might be losing out on the right software for no good reason. It is a good idea to ensure that the vendor will provide some training to help ease this transition period and ensure you can get the most out of your software as soon as possible.
It does take a lot of time to find a software that helps you. But you need to have established a lean, efficient, and powerful process before you even get to that point. Software will not turn a poorly organized company into a good one. Good principles of management and business will make you better off with or without community management software, but that software is a complement to planning and organization, not a substitute.