Apartment tech company maintains its status as the industry’s top innovator with a showcase of new and improved leasing solutions
Carlsbad, Calif.—The seaside resort town, just north of San Diego, played host to the 2013 On‑Site.com User Group Retreat this past week with representatives from over 32 property management companies coming to learn about current and upcoming On-Site products and network with industry peers. Attendees responded warmly to the range of product demos, breakout sessions and evening networking events, including a four course Casa Noble tequila tasting dinner. In contrast, the weather was anything but warm, with clouds and heavy fog blanketing the coastline. However, attendees had nothing but praise for a cloud of a different sort.
CloudFile, On-Site’s new cloud storage solution, first introduced at the 2012 NMHC OpTech Conference and Exposition, took center stage with a product demo led by On-Site Director of Design Randy Jones. In addition, HNN Associates Operations Manager Aaron Stright joined Jones onstage to provide a user’s perspective on the CloudFile product. Stright was responsible for rolling CloudFile out to HNN’s entire community portfolio, comprising approximately 3,000 units. Stright continues to manage CloudFile implementation at HNN and works closely with On-Site’s product management team, providing real-world feedback that figures largely in CloudFile development.
As Jones and Stright demonstrated, CloudFile allows users to take files stored in filing cabinets and saved locally on computers and securely upload them to the cloud. Uploaded files are accessible anytime, anywhere, from any smart phone, tablet or desktop. Users from the corporate office to the leasing office can archive files safely, access them anywhere and easily share them with others.
Jones stressed that “On-Site’s customers are already living in an online leasing world, but they are surrounded by offline paperwork and processes. With CloudFile we bring those two worlds together by giving them a way to integrate pre-Internet legacy operations into the online leasing workflow.”
Stright added, “We’ve all had situations where we’re completing an audit and need to find a specific file, but it’s nowhere to be found—probably buried somewhere underneath a stack of papers. CloudFile lets my communities store files online and find them later very easily using the CloudFile search box.”
The ability to store and readily access files online is an important consideration for Stright. HNN’s deals primarily in affordable, tax credit housing. As a result the company is subject to frequent audits.
“I am very passionate about CloudFile and the tools that it has provided,” said Stright. “I cannot believe that the day has finally come that I can work online from anywhere to get done what I need to do.”
Online application: apartment mapping and responsive design
In addition to CloudFile, On-Site also showcased the apartment mapping feature of the company’s online application. Jones demonstrated how apartment mapping allows renters to shop available apartments, plotted according to their location within a Google Maps aerial view of the community. Renters can choose an apartment with a view, an apartment close to the pool, or one close to parking, etc. In short, apartment mapping allows property managers to convey both the location of an apartment, and the features tied to that apartment’s location within the community.
However, the real show stopper came when Jones showed off the responsive design built into On-Site’s online application, which allows it to dynamically and incrementally alter images and content to fit the user or prospective renter’s device. The primary advantage of responsive design, according to Jones, is that each user gets all of the functionality, prioritized and packaged specifically for their mobile device. Furthermore, the branding that companies create for users to enjoy via the desktop experience translates perfectly to the mobile experience. In the end, each user receives a perfectly tailored presentation on any device from a desktop to a smart phone and every size in between.
Jones explained that when considering On-Site’s approach to mobile, they determined that responsive design best fit the needs of property management companies and their renters. In contrast, other technology providers in the multifamily marketplace offer dedicated mobile sites with limited functionality in an “unbranded straight jacket” that is identical across every community and company using that particular vendor.
Jones made his point by asking, “How many times do we land at a website on our phones and immediately hunt for the ‘view full site’ link? We do this because the dedicated mobile site is missing the functionality we expect.”
“At On-Site we feel that in the 21st century, paying extra to make your site work on a phone,” as is often the case with companies that offer dedicated mobile sites, “is like having to pay extra for wheels on your car,” said Jones. “From websites, to online applications, to renewals and resident portals—with On-Site you get consistent branding across all devices and enhanced usability for your renters.”
Throughout the numerous breakout sessions, discussions often boiled down to one simple concept: don’t make it hard for renters to give you their money. To that end, On-Site presented a host of leasing solutions that, above all else, focused on usability. Furthermore, many remarked that they were especially impressed with the sheer volume of technological advancement on display.
“I was humbled and blown away by the amount of new products designed, tested and flipped live in less than one year,” said Carie Powell, President of Aeris Properties. “On-Site truly stands alone and I am lucky and proud to be partnered with such brilliant minds and caring people.”