Industry Insider

Avoid Landing Page Sabotage

In last week’s post, we answered your basic questions about landing pages: What is a landing page? Why is it powerful? What should it include? But landing pages are tricky tools. What they should exclude is just as important as what they should include.

When landing pages include undesirable features, your conversion rate suffers. That means that you sabotage your return on investment, paying more for less. The pointers below will help you craft a landing page that fulfills its potential.

What should my landing page exclude?

Landing pages aren’t like other pages on your website. More information and options is not better! The features below decrease the likelihood of conversion. Exclude them from your landing pages.

Navigation links

The menu on your website or any other navigation links should be hidden from view. Remember, prospects reach your landing page through an ad with a specific purpose. Presenting other options will be confusing at best. At worst, the links will navigate them away from your offer.

Multiple calls-to-action (CTA)

If a prospect clicked your ad for a studio apartment deal, there should be a single CTA for studio apartments. Other CTAs or even social media links are a distraction, resulting in a lower conversion rate.

Presenting multiple CTAs on a landing page activates Hick’s law.  Increasing the number of options increases the time needed to make a decision. That extra effort and time decreases the likelihood of a successful conversion.

If you’d like to offer multiple deals, create multiple landing pages for each one. There is no such thing as too many landing pages! Each page offers a tailored user experience.

Long-winded copy

When it comes to copy, or text, stick to details about the benefits of your offer. Prospects have short attention spans. Only include the most necessary information.

When possible, use images instead of text to keep your wordcount low. For example, use images of your property’s amenities rather than listing them.

Jargon, clichés, and complex language

The purpose of your landing page copy isn’t to show how much you know or paint a flowery picture. It’s to show what you can offer and provide a means to connect people to that offer. Keep your language simple and straightforward. Jargon and complex language are both intimidating. The average American reads at an 8th grade level. Use that approximation as your guide to reader-friendly copy.

Understanding the dos and don’ts of a landing page leads to higher conversion rates and a faster return on investment!

Charged Up

ENERGY STAR® certifications have gone mobile. Originally geared toward properties and consumer products, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) efficiency program now includes a scoring system for electric vehicle (EV) charging stations.

In December 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized its inaugural ENERGY STAR specification for electric vehicle chargers. An ENERGY STAR-certified charging station is defined as using 40% less energy than an uncertified one. As EV technology increases its foothold in the marketplace, its capabilities and ENERGY STAR endorsement offer substantial cost, convenience and sustainability benefits.

Moving toward EV-compatibility

EV sales are expected to top 1 million by 2020, up from about 200,000 in 2017. Some observers predict EVs will be the dominant mode of propulsion for cars by 2030, making charging an increasingly significant value consideration for multifamily and commercial property owners.

Driving EVs and using ENERGY STAR-certified chargers can produce:

  • Savings—EVs cost about half as much to drive per mile than standard gasoline-powered vehicles, according to this calculator. Property owners hosting charging stations for tenants and customers can control costs by anticipating the need for new EV equipment, upgrading electrical service to accommodate it, taking operations and maintenance costs into account, and researching incentives that make installations easier and less expensive
  • Efficiency—EVs convert about 59–62% of the electrical energy from the grid to power at the wheels, whereas conventional gasoline vehicles convert about 17%–21% of the energy stored in gasoline to power at the wheels
  • Convenience—Most EV charging happens at home or work, giving property managers who offer this capability a competitive advantage. But what if those places aren’t available? Locate the nearest public charger location in the U.S. here
  • Smart technology—Some ENERGY STAR-certified EV charger models use Wi-Fi technology for remote power monitoring and control of the charging state of the connected vehicle. These “smart-grid ready” products can also help households and property managers take advantage of special energy bill savings programs offered by some local electric utilities

With EVs becoming increasingly viable, many residential managers are striving to make EV charging stations an amenity for attracting sustainability-minded residents, right up there with the community pool or onsite gym. A survey conducted by Shelton Group in the fall of 2017 for the National Apartment Assn. found that EV charging stations are moderately to extremely appealing to 53% of renters considering an apartment community. And, DOE says, “Workplace charging can help attract and retain a cutting-edge workforce and demonstrate leadership in adopting advanced technologies.”

Resources catching up

The EV charging infrastructure hasn’t always kept pace with EV demand. “Typically, EV charging locations correspond to popular places such as city centers, shopping areas, train stations, and university campuses. These highly visible, highly active places tend to be host to relatively short parking times and high rotation rates, so they only meet the daily charging needs of a few users,” researcher and educator Carolyn Fortuna observed on the clean technology website CleanTechnica in May 2018.

Moreover, noted another CleanTechnica contributor, hosting EV charging facilities poses unique challenges for multifamily housing property managers, foremost of which is potentially limited electrical wiring and transmission capability. Multiple plug-in vehicles create “a significant high-density draw on the grid that can easily overwhelm the electrical system of a multifamily housing complex,” assuming the building owner has agreed to invest in EV charging equipment in the first place.

Government entities, including the EPA with its ENERGY STAR certification, and private interests are making investments to overcome these shortcomings and make EV technology more accessible. DOE’s Workplace Charging website and Clean Cities’ Workplace Charging Toolkit, for example, offer resources for helping employers and communities implement EV charging programs.

While states such as Indiana and Minnesota add registration fees for battery electric vehicles, the federal government and some states offer tax credits for purchasing certain types of EV. EV drivers in Hawaii and Maryland may use high occupancy lanes regardless of the number of passengers and are exempt from parking fees. See other examples of EV regulations and incentives.

Filling an early niche

EVs were a hit with the automobile-buying public after debuting back in ’89. That’s 1889, more than 60 years after the first crude versions went into production. By 1900, 38% of U.S. cars were powered by electricity (with 40% powered by steam and 22% by gasoline), vs about 1% today.

EVs faded by the mid-1930s with the development of better roads the discovery of cheap Texas crude oil. They came back in vogue in the 1970s and even went extraterrestrial when U.S. astronauts rode electricity-powered Lunar Rovers on the moon. Interest waned again amid EV performance limitations before state and federal development incentives in the early 1990s inspired automobile producers to take another look.

Finding a mass market

In 1997 Toyota introduced Prius as the first mass-produced hybrid. Subsequent government and private investments created 18,000 residential, commercial and public chargers by 2013. The price of batteries, EVs’ most expensive components, dropped by 50% within four years in the early 2010s. By 2017, according to University of Michigan researchers, 16,000 US public charging stations and about 43,000 individual charging connectors or plugs were in use. DOE counts about 855,000 plug-in passenger vehicles on the road today in the U.S., with consumers having 23 plug-in electric vehicles and 36 hybrid models to choose from.

ENERGY STAR-certified charging stations combine with ENERGY STAR benchmarking to offer potentially huge benefits for consumers, the environment, and multifamily and commercial property operators. According to DOE, “If the U.S. transitioned all the light-duty vehicles to hybrids or plug-in electric vehicles, we could reduce our dependence on foreign oil by 30-60%, while lowering the carbon pollution from the transportation sector by as much as 20%.”

Learn more energy management solutions

 

Storage Switch Up

The Ang brothers, David and Mark.

Second Closet, a start-up based in Toronto, is revolutionizing the storage industry. The company was created on an operating model where users only pay for what they store, not a fixed storage locker price. With prices starting as low as $3/month, customers can have a virtual second closet to store seasonal, personal and unused items. The company picks up items for storage and delivers them back when clients need them again.

With the rising population and demand for space in Toronto, people are struggling to find extra storage. These services are transforming the storage industry and addressing prominent issues of the moving pains associated with city living.

This year, Second Closet raised $2 million from investment company MIG Group, helping to fully launch the business and make the entire storage process convenient and efficient.We spoke to founder and CEO, Mark Ang for more details. He cofounded the company with his brother, David.

Why is now the time for your company to exist?

Ang: There’s going to be 10B people in the world by 2050. They aren’t going to be flooding the suburbs, they’ll gravitate to urban areas provided there’s housing available. At the same time, we’re not seeing condominium developments slow down. For cities like Toronto, it’s easy to look at a city like New York to get a glimpse of what life could and likely will be like when things get more densely populated. Since housing prices outpace personal income, condo developers are simply building smaller units so that they still achieve the optimal price per square foot but the nominal price of the unit as a whole is within financial reach. That basically creates a whole lot of shoe boxes in big urban cities. I think we’re position well to help people live in cities with growing real-estate prices and shrinking spaces.

 

What surprised you most about starting Second Closet?

Ang: The most surprising thing about starting Second Closet has been seeing the breadth of use cases we’ve been able to help our clients with. When we launched, we thought we’d store 100% seasonal items and act as a literal second closet. And while that’s a big part of the business, it’s been equal parts interesting and rewarding to see clients use us as a solution to store their stuff between condo closing dates, while they go on vacation, etc.


What has your journey been like to get where you are?

Ang: The journey is never easy – otherwise more people would do it. We started the business to add value to our clients, and we’re relentlessly working towards making that better every single day. What I’ll say is that there’s a tremendous amount of work that goes on in the background to ensure that the packaged service is as seamless as intended!

What advice do you have to other young, aspiring entrepreneurs that want to start their own business?

Ang: Make sure you’re in it for the right reasons and are prepared to run the marathon. Seeking wealth accumulation is fine – it drives personal and economic development in the process – but that just means that you’ll need to brace yourself for the lows. In my view, if you’re optimizing for wealth accumulation it’s often sought through the path of least resistance. For me, I started Second Closet out of a personal need and a desire to help other people in similar situations. Having a personal “why” is more compelling than to just make money.

California Benchmarking

A California energy benchmarking law going into effect next June requires multifamily property owners to complete a potentially daunting array of information gathering and reporting requirements. Yardi’s energy management software and experts stand ready to make the process easy and painless.

Under the mandate, known as AB 802, owners of multifamily buildings with more than 17 units, or gross floor area of 50,000 square feet, must report information on energy use from all energy meters using ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager®. Reports to the California Energy Commission for 2018 are due to the California Energy Commission on June 1, 2019, and annually thereafter. Similar requirements for commercial buildings went to effect in June 2018.  Actions the commission recommends to meet the June 1 deadline begin by Feb. 1, 2019.

Each building’s energy efficiency will be disclosed on a yet-to-be-established state website. “Publicly disclosing the performance of buildings will allow building owners and tenants to make better informed purchasing and leasing decisions, and the general public to better understand the buildings in which they live and work,” according to the California Energy Commission.

Yardi is an ENERGY STAR Partner and is helping California users of the Yardi Pulse Suite get ready for AB 802. All owners of more than 330 California properties that rely on Yardi for ENERGY STAR benchmarking have retained the company in preparing for AB 802.

Yardi Utility Expense Management, an element of the Yardi Pulse Suite, centralizes utility cost and consumption data and sends it directly into ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. Portfolio Manager is an online tool for tracking energy and water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. It also allows comparisons of a building’s energy performance against similar-type buildings.

Elements of AB 802 compliance include setting up multiple measurement criteria for mixed-use properties, gathering and submitting data to satisfy multiple regulations and utility providers, and accommodating a mix of vendors and regulations that require each property to be set up differently than others in a portfolio. The Yardi Energy team can perform all of these complex undertakings for Yardi Utility Expense Management clients.

“Yardi’s team of specialists delivers the benchmarking service and keeps track of constantly changing regulations that impact their portfolios,” said Randy Moss, an ENERGY STAR expert on the Yardi Energy team. “We can complete compliance reporting with minimal intrusion into the client’s daily operations.”

Learn how Yardi Utility Expense Management can help you identify conservation opportunities and measure results.

On Dec. 11, the California Energy Commission is sponsoring a webinar about AB 802’s requirements and lessons learned from the commercial buildings element of the law. Register today.

Powerful, Practical Giving

move for food nonprofit

Looking for a way to get more involved with the local community? Move for Hunger is a nonprofit that connects you, your residents, and your local food bank.move for food nonprofit

Move for Hunger partners with the American Moving and Storage Association to get nonperishable food into the hands of those in need. Before relocating, residents coordinate with their moving company to deliver unwanted goods to local food banks.

To date, the organization has transported more than 11,479, 245 pounds of food to food banks. The donations created 9,566,038 meals for people facing food insecurity. You and your residents can get in on the giving!

Arranging a Move for Hunger Donation

Setting up a Move for Hunger donation is incredibly simple. First, residents must find a participating professional mover. There are more than 1,000 to choose from across the United States. (And since residents are relocating, anyway, this step is super practical.) The residents and the mover will set up their moving date. While the residents are packing their belongings, they set aside the nonperishable items that they’d like to donate. On the day of the move, the mover will transport the nonperishable food to the nearest local food bank.

Benefits for Residents

Residents are looking for a way to quickly and easily clean out their unit. Move for Hunger helps them do just that.
• All the food that they can’t eat before the move is relocated, rather than tossed in the trash. Donating the unwanted food requires no additional legwork for residents.
• The food pick-up may potentially minimize the cost of the move! By donating items in the fridge, pantry, and cabinets there will be fewer boxes to move while residents are being charged.

Benefits for You!

By promoting Move for Hunger, you’re doing multiple good things at once.
• You are pitching in to help community members in need.
• You’re showing residents that the relationship does not end simply because they’ve chosen to relocate. You’re leaving a positive impression by looking out for them all the way through move-out.
• You decrease the amount of food items left in the unit, resulting in units that are easier to turn and less conflict with former tenants after move-out.
• There will also be less stuff stacked around the community trash receptor after move-outs.

Get started today to spread the spirit of giving! Share this video on your social media platforms.

 

 

Building AI

How can artificial intelligence (AI) benefit building operators? Matt Eggers, a Yardi consultant (and former vice president of Yardi Energy) and Yardi vice president Akshai Rao offered insights during a recent webinar hosted by Paul Rosta, executive editor of Commercial Property Executive.

“Software is eating the world” and reshaping how people work and live; the various aspects of operating a building are no exception, Eggers noted. Many webinar participants and CPE readers say they plan to increase technology expenditures next year, but by 25% or less, which means building owners have to be smart about their investments. That’s where AI—the ability of machines and computers to perform cognitive functions normally associated with humans—comes in.



Optimizing building performance

AI “learns as it goes,” detecting patterns in conditions affecting energy consumption without being requested, then prescribing recommendations. Outside of buildings, AI’s well-documented feats include beating chess grandmasters, winning at “Jeopardy!” and creating an image of a human face from scratch by learning from thousands of other photos.

The expansion of digital data availability (“AI’s food and oxygen,” as Eggers described it), computing power and software enhancements, and cheap storage have made AI viable for the corporate world. And businesses have reacted in force: About 80% of webinar participants said they’re using AI or plan to within three years.

Examples of how AI systems make a building more efficient include optimizing the setpoint (the target temperature) every 30 seconds to ensure comfort without using more energy than necessary; and learning from their past performance to react to changes in occupancy, weather and other factors.

AI systems’ ability to perform continuous and small adjustments into HVAC settings translates into better performance through lower utility and equipment maintenance costs; increased tenant comfort that reduces service calls and increases retention; regulatory compliance; and investor satisfaction through higher sustainability rankings.

Eggers and Rao, industry experts who frequently share their expertise in real estate industry publications and events, cited case studies of SL Green Corp. and LBA Realty, real estate operators that used energy optimization software to reduce HVAC spend, improve ENERGY STAR® scores and achieve millions of kilowatt-hours of energy savings.

Complementing, not replacing, humans

Eggers and Rao dispelled some misconceptions about AI. For example, things that are not AI, but frequently mistaken for it, include dashboards, internet of things sensors, real-time data analysis and other tools that only collect data but can’t take action on their own and learn from the past.

Refuting the perception that AI systems are difficult and costly, Eggers said, “For modern buildings, these are low-cost solutions that pay back quickly and don’t need to be complicated.” In fact, he said, they’re easier to implement and maintain than control systems that require complex programming and are hard to update or transfer to new employees. And AI systems can be implemented incrementally to produce small initial savings that build the foundation for a fully automated portfolio.

Perhaps the biggest misconception is that AI replaces humans and assumes control, when in fact, “AI systems work best when coupled with smart, expert humans. AI technologies can make you even more effective than you are today,” Eggers said. By making decisions based on thresholds set by human operators. AI provides an “army of virtual robots and analysts” that help workers do their jobs, relieve manual tasks, allow more time to strategize, lead teams and catch up on to-do lists. By continuously making tiny adjustments, AI saves energy and money while creating more comfort than either AI or humans working alone can do.

What’s more, Rao added, AI systems can be shut off as necessary, enabling operators to “tune the AI system and direct the virtual ‘robots’ in ever-finer details.”

Building of the future

The future of AI best-use cases combines a single-platform, cloud-based system that manages portfolios of buildings, large or small, and solves problems by making changes according to the human operator’s thresholds—along with an energy strategy that suits the organization. The fact that maintenance, repair and operating (MRO) supply and utility costs account for about 60% of a building’s controllable expenses makes commercial and residential properties prime candidates for improvement.

Industry trends are following the numbers. The last several years brought massive innovation and investment in reducing MRO spend through automated invoice processing, procurement, vendor management and payments. Rao believes the industry is poised to further accelerate progress in managing and reducing energy spend in the next 5-7 years. Utility data extraction, benchmarking and trends coupled with real-time demand tracking, alerts and scheduling to catch and correct spikes and outliers more quickly will be a good low-investment strategy. Those that want higher-investment, higher-return options will look for solutions that extend into AI innovation to proactively detect system faults and optimize a building’s energy usage through automated heating and cooling.

“A cohesive energy strategy can increase rents, lower costs and increase asset value—and no other initiative in the industry can make all three happen,” Rao said. “We envision buildings operating at a fraction of their current energy, with large buildings sometimes exporting energy to the grid.

“Buildings powered by technology, including AI, have the potential to meaningfully reduce emissions as well as increase investor returns. And the technology driving these opportunities are largely available today.”

Learn how Yardi Pulse can help you gain better control over energy expenses. Missed the webinar? Watch on demand now.

Accounting, Simplified

Yardi Voyager Residential consolidates property management and financial accounting into a single platform. The fully-integrated suite of multifamily and marketing products makes it easier to manage the entire real estate cycle.

Is Voyager Residential Right for My Organization?

That depends on several factors.

Are you a large organization looking for scalable solutions? Voyager grows and diversifies with you. Users gain access to real-time performance analytics across their entire portfolio, regardless of size. Organizations with smaller portfolios, such as family holdings, may benefit from Yardi Breeze.

Do you seek a compliant, accurate and efficient way to manage your portfolio? Voyager financial management features meet all applicable accounting standards and regulatory requirements. Property management features streamline workflows for leasing, move-ins, move-outs, work orders, purchase orders, and everything in between.

Would you prefer to leave software management to the tech pros while you run your business? Yardi’s award-winning cloud services manage data storage and updates on your behalf. You can focus on growing your business while Yardi handles the minutia of the software.

Does a comprehensive suite of software seem more appealing than a piecemeal combination of products? Yardi Voyager Residential integrates with the Yardi Multifamily and Marketing Suites as well as Yardi Elevate. You benefit from a unified entity for marketing, customer relationship management,   procurement, facilities management, energy management, and business intelligence.

Do you value flexibility? With Voyager, you aren’t stuck to your desk. Voyager comes mobile-ready and browser agnostic, keeping your team members connected whether they are in the office or in the field.

Raising the Bar

Yardi is an established company with a proven track record. For more than 30 years, Yardi has supported client success with quality real estate management solutions.

Though established, Yardi continues to evolve. Ongoing improvements ensure that client feedback is respected and reflected in the development process.

Learn more about Yardi Voyager Residential at an upcoming webinar.

 

5 Tips For The Best HOA Financial Management Ever

The range of fiduciary experience between volunteers and elected HOA board members is drastic. It helps to implement the same annual process with Quickbooks, TurboTax, and so on.  If you use a community management company or in-house accounting subcommittee, finances are a new territory for you. If you use these services, it’s still important to understand HOA financial management. It is even more important to learn how to improve it. What information should you track? How should you track it? Can you make sense of the numbers?     Read the article……………..

Healing After Hurricane Florence

Yardi assists with Hurricane Florence recovery

In September 2018, Hurricane Florence left disaster in its wake. Low-lying towns along the South Carolina and North Carolina coasts received the worst of the damages. In the months to come, the storm would unite the region in one of its darkest hours.

Yardi assists with Hurricane Florence recoveryHurricane Florence dumped 30-36 inches of rain on the region in two days. The rainfall caused catastrophic flooding. Cape Fear River, which runs nearly 200 miles from the Atlantic to Wilsonville, crested 62 feet. Nearby rivers and creeks also flooded, submerging homes, destroying businesses and washing out two interstates. About 350, 000 people were without power in North Carolina.

At least 43 people lost their lives in storm-related events.

Following the bleak aftermath came a surge of hope. Assistance poured in from throughout the nation, with the strongest concentration of aid coming from neighboring states. Food, clothing, and supplies began to make their way to those in need.

On the ground, Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina (FBCENC) and its 100 partner agencies were among the first to channel the aid and help communities recover. Volunteer Services Coordinator Michael McKay said, “You see an outpouring of love at this time, during a disaster. It’s amazing that we see so many people here to help out.”

FBCENC set up more than 85 contact points in the hardest hit areas. “We’re going to be here for you,” said Michael Cotten, Branch Director at FBCENC. “The Food Bank is a first responder and we’re going to be here in the long term.”

Yardi corporate contributed funds to FBCENC to support relief programs.

“While the efforts are far from over, we have been able to provide more than 5.5 million pounds of food and supplies to our neighbors over the past two months because of Yardi’s support,” said Amy Beros, Vice President of Development at FBCENC. “Today, we are setting up a modular pantry in Jones County because our partner agencies there are still working to rebuild.”

“This has been our biggest relief effort to date for the Food Bank. Thank you for making it possible to be with our communities for as long as they need us,” said Beros.

Learn more about FBCENC recovery efforts in Rockingham, NC.