Unplugged Thoughts of a PropTech CEO With Zlatko Bogoevski
Onsite staff challenges are nothing new in the multifamily industry. You don’t need to look any further than NMHC statistics pegging the onsite staffing turnover rate at over 50%. It can be extremely difficult to operate efficiently while constantly hiring and training new employees. Make no mistake; your renters can feel the difference.
As if this was not bad enough, we now see historically high labor shortages, especially in low-skill positions paying less than $20 per hour.
Let’s look at the factors that are causing this situation and how to best mitigate it.
There is a general labor shortage in the US, and while this is a complicated issue, it comes down to a couple of big things happening concurrently. Due to Covid, immigration in the US was virtually stopped for two years. We have a large number of people retiring without a replacement. In 2021 we saw the “big quit” with over 20% of all employees quitting their jobs to presumably find better jobs.
Property management is very competitive in the US, and we are seeing fees generally going down due to this fact. You have probably seen a lot of consolidation in the last 12 months to mitigate this pressure. This also means that with budgets the way they are now, there isn’t a lot of room for increasing salaries for employees.
Leasing jobs are generally difficult and usually exclude people who want to work remotely. This is especially tricky in expensive urban centers that have to hire talent residing within a commuting distance. Therefore many see these jobs as a stepping stone to better positions in other industries and not a stepping stone to a career in property management.
With the current economic and political climate, I don’t see this problem going away any time soon. It’s time for property managers to embrace automation whenever possible or they risk alienating prospective and current renters due to poor service. Luckily there have been huge advances in technology that now allow property managers to easily automate repetitive tasks that were traditionally handed off to humans in the leasing office. This, in turn, elevates the value of the staff and the ability of PMCs to offer more competitive pay and even the option for flex schedules and remote work. Waiting to return “back to normal” is no longer an acceptable option.