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UKAA Webinar: How data driven technology & AI enable remote working to meet resident & investor expectations during & after Covid 19

Tuesday 16th June 2020

Andrew Craft, UK business development director for BuildingLink moderated a discussion between Justin Dodd, UK BuildingLink implementation specialist, Lesley Roberts, partner and executive director of Allsop and Dougie Orton Wade, general manager of Duet in Manchester, Allsop.

It was demonstrated how Allsop Lettings and Management use an array of BuildingLink’s functionality to cope with all of the fast changing conditions that the Covid 19 crisis has produced in managing the needs of residents while extrapolating analyses of resident behavior for reporting to BTR investors during the lock down.

Amongst the items on display and discussion was:

  • Functionality – key functions to achieve a smooth operation on site.
  • Parcel collections – streamline the chaos of parcels with clear communication and security, using unique AI driven functionality.
  • Communication – tailoring to your audience and relaxing language (being more ‘real’)
  • Data capture – use analytics to your advantage and be able to plan your operation to the day/time of the week based on resident habits.
  • App functionality for management and residents
  • Maintenance Requests – allows you to respond in a timely manner to every request which is one of the main drivers for customer satisfaction in BTR. Alexa skills enable voice activated communication with database.
  • Using smart tech to adhere to social distancing requirements– Residents can book shared amenity spaces through their app and managers can set up time blocks and limits on the number of concurrent reservations. This will help with smart opening.

Webinar Review:

Experts from a Proptech company and a leading BTR operator joined together in a UKAA webinar, hosted by Allsop and BuildingLink, to discuss how mobile apps, AI and data driven responses to residents’ concerns and behaviours during the Covid 19 make for a better run building.

Lesley Roberts, Partner at Allsop’s Build to Rent division initiated the discussions by introducing Andrew Craft, UK business director at BuildingLink, who kicked off the webinar by raising a myth that proptech somehow takes the humanity out of management/resident relations. Asserting that digital platforms like BuildingLink actually facilitate more- not less- interaction between managers and residents, Dougie Orton Wade, development manager at Trilogy (Winner of the top Build To Rent Residential Development in the UK 2019) and Duet  talked extensively about how he has used BuildingLink to meet both residents and investors expectations since the lockdown began. “It’s real life and speaking to people in real terms. It’s very much about community, it’s very much about people. We’ve had to adapt quickly and BuildingLink has helped us make that adaptation. Once the communal areas were closed down we relied upon this platform- especially the app- to stay in touch with people in a meaningful way.”

Sharing some slides and data analytics generated in BuildingLInk (no identifying data obviously!) Dougie went on to show how he is able to make determinations about how residents behave under certain circumstances: graphs, trends and screenshots illustrated how residents’ requests followed patterns depending on (among other things) the day of the week, and how he and his team used the communications functionality in BuildingLink to respond to those requests in real time. He enlarged upon some of these capabilities as they relate to a huge increase in package tracking and delivery, drilling into the data to discern the origin of many of the packages, which helps with the ability to return those boxes when or if they need to be. As the influx of deliveries increased exponentially with the popularity of those services, few people had anticipated that returning a large percentage of those items would take up so much time and energy on the part of their front desk staff. Collecting the return addresses confers a greater ability to meet enhanced resident expenses, yet the functionality of BuildingLink’s platform achieves that end with no extra work on the part of front desk staff.

Other notable features explored were Imagr, Buildinglink’s signature AI powered module on the mobile GEO app which records inbound packages in a fraction of the time that inputting  manually takes on a desktop app. Dougie confirmed that the percentage of packages recorded on smart phones was 85.7 % which is a game changing metric.

Communications between residents are also at an all-time high because of the lockdown, building a sense of community that BTR schemes depend upon to make them successful. Dougie pointed to the use of survey modules and the resident bulletin boards, both of which have had major work outs during recent weeks and with very satisfying results. “Our ability to survey residents’ requests and responses has been indispensable and we can be pro active in taking it upon ourselves to be real and personable with residents, for example posting the binge worthy series on Netflix on the bulletin board.”

As the lockdown dragged on, it also became clear that the shared spaces featured as part and parcel of life in a BTR scheme could no longer be shared in an ad hoc way. Social distancing rules could be announced, communicated in targeted email or phone blasts easily enough in the BuildingLink platform but it soon became clear that designating these spaces as reservable amenities was going to be necessary, and more over monitoring those reservations to make sure everybody had their time and space was all done using BuildingLink. Justin Dodd, the support/tech advisor who configured the Allsop buildings and who also participated in the webinar showed how BuildingLink’s reservations module is customised to fit tricky situations involving large numbers of residents needing to use spaces that can no longer be shared on a first come first serve basis. “We’ve been doing this for so long in amenity rich multi-family schemes it was a no brainer to dive deep into the settings on the platform and organise things so that not only were residents able to book time in the laundry room or the business centre but management were able to keep very detailed track of how and when those amenities were being used. If you don’t know this stuff you’re not getting a full picture of what’s going on in your building.”

Watch webinar: