From the Winter 2019 Issue
Future-Focused in the Digital Age
Technology to Manage Business and Life
Anyone involved in the Ontario condominium industry knows that change happens. We are asking executives of ACMO 2000 companies to provide their thoughts to engage an executive-level discussion of why management companies must be future-focused in the digital age, which means staying current with technology, offering well-trained managers in order to compete at a high level, and at the same time achieve efficiencies for their boards.
If you are a director, owner, government partner or a professional in the industry, this discussion will be important for you.
Technology significantly impacts the client experience across virtually all industries, and property management is no exception. We live in a world where new devices are coming to market daily, and businesses are developing solutions to problems their customers didn’t know they needed – or even existed. Similarly, our boards are expecting their property management company to provide digital solutions and products to make their lives easier. Customers have been trained to expect a seamless user experience. When boards hire a property management company, they desire more than simply having a knowledgeable site manager. They require high-tech software platforms that allow managers, boards and residents to effortlessly access information, communicate and pay invoices on smartphones and computers.
Even beyond management tools, our clients look to us to be experts in green technology. It is vital to have energy management experts on staff to facilitate sourcing state of the art systems to reduce their energy consumption and offer reporting and benchmarking services.
While technology supports our relationships with boards, it is also the key to hiring and retaining quality property managers. By using digital processes to centralize administrative tasks, we can free our managers of hours of more routine administrative work to allow them to focus on the actual job of management. The manager’s focus should be on managing the property, servicing the residents, guiding contractors and supporting the board. Companies who offer this are not only more efficient but are attractive to managers and assist in recruiting younger property managers who we know value work/life balance. As we see a decrease in professional condominium managers, remaining technologically savvy will attract the top talent.
Being future-focused in the digital age not only means investing in technology but investing in the training and development of associates to adequately utilize the technology and in turn, train clients how to use these resources. This includes investing the time to train associates, but may also include investing in changes to your corporate culture to promote new processes to those who may be more resistant to change. Training is the crucial component to developing in the industry, and successful property management companies will support the growth and evolution of associates alongside the industry.
With new technology undoubtedly comes additional responsibility. Data breaches seem commonplace nowadays as even global companies fall victim to breaches. Property management companies have always held sensitive data such as payment details and contact information, but now that information is held digitally, we must take every measure to protect our customer’s data. Companies with IT and cybersecurity expertise, who can respond quickly to IT issues and know the most current security measures will have a leg up on competing companies.
A technological transformation does not have an end date. To remain competitive in the digital age, we must be continually updating and improving our systems and processes. The property management companies that welcome change, adopt new technology, and constantly look ahead to challenges and opportunities on the horizon, will maintain their competitiveness in the industry.
MARK D. HOPKINS, President of FirstService Residential, Ontario, leads the team of more than 1,000 associates. This team proudly provides service to over 350 communities and over 45,000 units across the province. In 2017, Mark was appointed to the inaugural Board of Directors of the Community Associations Institute (CAI) Canada Chapter, currently holds the position of President-Elect and is slated to be the President of CAI Canada in 2020. fsresidential.com