Last modified on October 24th, 2022
By Brittany Benz
Between rising inflation and shifting resident and employee expectations, you’re facing some tough challenges. To overcome them, you need better tools to help your team get work done faster and better serve your customers. Your day-to-day challenges are what we focus our product innovation on.
Every year, we host an annual conference for our customers for three days of learning, networking, and connecting. This year, we announced more new products and improvements than ever — designed to help our customers grow their businesses, increase productivity, and improve the experience for their residents, owners, and investors.
In a conversation with Daniel Waas, Vice President of Product Marketing at AppFolio, we explore some of the major trends we’re seeing and how AppFolio’s latest innovations help fulfill the industry’s changing needs.
Tell us why AppFolio’s newest innovations were developed. What major trends have driven their creation?
Earlier this year, we surveyed property management businesses to find out the top challenges they were facing and to see how they’ve changed year-over-year. Based on our findings, we discovered the top three challenges were operational efficiency, maximizing revenue and profits, and staffing. And that’s not surprising given the trends we’re seeing in the market, including slowing rent growth and the growing risk of a recession. When we compared data from the previous year, staffing, the dominant topic in 2021, dropped to third place, but it remains a critical component.
These research trends, along with hundreds of customer conversations, shape our thinking around innovation. The way we’re translating them into how we can help our customers achieve better outcomes is threefold. First, we want to increase productivity by continuing to automate an increasing number of repetitive tasks so property management teams can focus on their customers.
Second, we want to help businesses grow their top and bottom line. The increase in productivity from automation helps organizations grow their doors without having to grow their headcount at the same rate. It also gives teams the time back to focus on their customers and to create a better resident and owner experience, all of which translates into more satisfied customers, better reviews, and additional growth.
Lastly, we’re looking at staffing challenges and seeing the impact they have on property management teams. According to Gartner, 65% of employees are rethinking where work should fit within their lives. Team members are stressed, burnt out, and in some cases, leaving property management behind and finding a career in a different industry. So we’re looking to find ways to give teams time back so they have more time for a healthy dose of human connection — making their jobs a lot easier and a little more meaningful.
Explain the latest capabilities in AppFolio Property Manager. What value or benefits do they provide to customers? How do they help solve some of the industry challenges or needs you just described?
I’m proud to say we released numerous innovations at Customer Conference. I’ll give you a breakdown of three that I think will have a big impact on the way our customers overcome the challenges I mentioned.
Property management businesses expect technology to enable them to work on what matters. In our product vision, we refer to this as “Creating a world where managing communities feels magical and effortless, freeing teams to thrive.” This really comes to life in Bank Feed, a new capability. As I mentioned previously, tedious, manual tasks are really holding businesses back. So this innovation will help to automate more of the accounting workflow. Bank Feed is a smart accounting tool that automatically imports bank transactions and simplifies reconciliations so businesses can keep cleaner books with less effort. The transactions from accounts our customers have linked to AppFolio through our Plaid integration are automatically imported every night, and AI-powered suggestions help them easily match them to transactions. It’s another example of removing the need for manual data entry and reducing errors.
The second innovation I’ll touch on that also helps support more meaningful work is Report Builder. Report Builder enables customers to flexibly build reports that deliver real-time insight into business performance. In other words, decision-makers will be able to get quick answers to the critical questions that inform business strategy. Users can now combine and customize reports to meet specific requirements, save new reports for future reference, and easily share reports, all while maintaining drill-down capabilities.
In addition to these two innovations, we also launched FolioGuard Security Deposit Alternative, powered by Obligo. This capability basically simplifies financial interactions between the property manager and their renters by eliminating the need for cash security deposits while still holding renters accountable for damages. In the end, it delivers a clear-cut and productive stakeholder experience for residents, team members, and owners while increasing employee productivity and improving resident and owner retention.
In addition to these innovations, we also added new partners to our integration marketplace, AppFolio Stack™, which launched in June. Tell us more about these new partners and how the integrations will help our customers.
Integrations have been huge for us this year — and our latest integrations continue to advance what we set out to do with the launch of AppFolio Stack™. For those who haven’t heard of AppFolio Stack™, it’s our new integration marketplace that gives you the power to customize your key workflows to match how your business operates, all within our easy-to-use platform.
Some of the latest integration partners we’ve added to our marketplace include LeadSimple and zInspector, Homebase, Opiniion, PetScreening™, and ShowMojo, with 30 Lines coming soon.
Homebase provides multifamily access control, property-wide Wi-Fi, and integration with smart apartment technology for a seamless resident experience. Opiniion streamlines the process in which property managers collect, analyze, publicize, and act on resident feedback. PetScreening™ helps users manage residents’ pets and assistance animals digitally while maximizing opportunities for pet-related revenue. And ShowMojo automates the entire leasing process, from answering calls and emails from interested parties to scheduling showings and gathering feedback from those viewing the property. All four of these integration partners will really empower our customers to deliver that frictionless experience residents expect and want today and allow them to respond faster.
Our other partner, LeadSimple, syncs resident, owner, and property data within AppFolio to trigger a wide range of customizable workflows, set up drip campaigns, and nurture prospects. And zInspector is a collaborative field-to-office property inspection solution to document and effortlessly share property inspections and tasks. Both of these integrations will really drive operational efficiency for our customers and unlock new business insights. Lastly, 30 Lines will help with CRM as it provides online marketing and social media strategy, online reputation monitoring, search engine optimization, and mobile marketing solutions.
What’s next for AppFolio?
At AppFolio, we’re fully dedicated to rapidly developing innovations to meet the changing needs of our customers and anticipate the needs of the industry. We have plans to continue to expand our platform into new markets and will be adding more partners to our integration marketplace, so stay tuned!
If you’d like to learn more about how you can unlock efficiencies and provide a better customer experience, take a look at this article.