ServusConnect’s Partnership with MRI Software

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ServusConnect’s Partnership with MRI Software

We’ve Got Big News!

The ServusConnect Team is excited to announce our partnership with MRI Software to integrate ServusConnect with MRI’s Residential Property Management platform.

This partnership enables MRI multifamily clients to put MRI’s service request ticketing into the palm of service professionals’ hands. The service professionals out in the field will be able to complete service requests digitally using ServusConnect’s intuitive iOS and Android mobile maintenance apps.

 

What’s the Big Deal?

Apartment management staff have a lot on their plate. Even though new technologies promise to make their jobs easier or improve the resident experience, most staff find it difficult to adopt and stick with technology systems that are not connected to a core unit-record software.

By integrating ServusConnect directly with MRI (i.e., the systems talk to each other), we’ve removed this barrier.

When the apartment staff create and assign a service request in MRI, it immediately shows up in the ServusConnect app of the assigned-to technician or vendor. When it’s completed, repair details, timestamps, and technician comments are applied back to the MRI ticket and it’s automatically closed.

This is a huge timesaver for maintenance operations staff!

Speed & Resident Satisfaction

Speaking of saving time - one of our core values is to help multifamily operators deliver exceptional maintenance experiences to their residents. Our approach is simple: reduce the bottlenecks and speed up the process. Tactically, ServusConnect Mobile Maintenance does this by:

●     Delivering service requests tickets directly to a technician or vendor’s mobile device

●     Significantly reducing printing of service request tickets

●     Saving on trips back and forth to the maintenance/leasing office to pick up new tickets

●     Making it extremely easy and quick for techs to richly document repairs

●     Automating resident follow-up and satisfaction surveys

●     Preventing Work order forms from being lost or damaged by saving them to the cloud

Simply put, if we can speed up getting a resident service request into the hands of the front-line technician or vendor who is going to do the work, odds are it will get completed quicker. In fact, our data proves this! (More on this in a future blog post...)

These timesavers, combined with giving residents a voice regarding their satisfaction with a repair, allow apartment operators to limit and isolate negative experiences before they fester into damaging negative online reviews. As a bonus, this can have a tremendously positive impact to your portfolio’s online reputation. (I’ll write about this in the coming weeks as well!)

 

The Future is Bright!

As I said at the beginning, we are excited to be part of MRI’s PartnerConnect program. MRI’s commitment to delivering open and flexible technology solutions to their clients is unmatched in the industry, and we’re honored to work with several great MRI employees to make this integration happen.

That being said, this is the tip of the iceberg! We’ve got many more great features planned in the coming weeks and months that will help further streamline apartment maintenance operations and make ServusConnect a must-have for every apartment operator!

Best,

Jamie Wohlschlegel

Founder & CEO

ServusConnect, Inc.

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ServusConnect™ Raises $350,000 to Grow Maintenance App for the Apartment Industry

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ServusConnect™ Raises $350,000 to Grow Maintenance App for the Apartment Industry

RALEIGH, NC

ServusConnect, the developer of a mobile maintenance app for the apartment industry, this week announced it has raised a $350,000 seed round of funding from tech venture fund Cofounders Capital in Cary, NC.  The company will use the funding for customer acquisition and to further develop its mobile and web-based platform.

ServusConnect is a B2B software-as-a-service platform that mobilizes maintenance operations for the multifamily apartment industry. The company likens their software as a “digital hub” for apartment maintenance operations, transforming paper-based, manual service processes still employed by much of the industry, into collaborative digital workflows accessible from any device between management, staff and vendors.

Early customer feedback indicates ServusConnect has a dramatic impact on improving efficiency of apartment maintenance teams, while providing apartment operators with actionable insights into not only how their teams and service vendors are performing, but how residents feel about where they live.

Michael Kendall, Special Projects Director of Richmond, VA-based General Services Corporation, offers major support for the startup. General Services Corporation own and manage a growing portfolio of 17,000+ apartment units across in Southeast and Western US.

ServusConnect gives us better visibility into maintenance operations than our current software, and more importantly, gives us near real-time feedback on how our residents feel about their maintenance experiences on our properties.
— Michael Kendall, Special Projects Director of General Services Corporation

Founder & CEO, Jamie Wohlschlegel, notes “the apartment industry spends $25 Billion annually on maintenance & repair operations but is massively behind in applying technology to this area. We believe there is a tremendous opportunity to bring a very useful and easy-to-implement technology to this market.”

David Gardner, general manager of Cofounders Capital agrees:

 “The ServusConnect team has identified an exciting opportunity in commercial property management, specifically multifamily housing. Based on size of the market and lack of technology, the potential for growth is considerable.”

About ServusConnect

ServusConnect is a purpose-built, software-as-a-service platform for the multifamily apartment industry that brings apartment maintenance online. Their innovative platform extends the reach of existing maintenance-ticketing systems, allowing apartment operators to interact digitally with field staff and external vendors via ServusConnect mobile and web apps. This, combined with their unique Resident notification and survey capabilities, and intuitive reporting, make ServusConnect a must-have for every multifamily operator. For more on the ServusConnect, visit www.servusconnect.com.

About Cofounder’s Capital

Cofounders Capital is an early-stage seed fund focused on software ventures in the Triangle. Cofounders Capital is managed by serially successful entrepreneur, David Gardner with a team of over seventy advisers and volunteer mentors who are all investors in the fund, eager to support entrepreneurship in the Triangle and to help portfolio companies and entrepreneurs succeed.

Contact Information

Jamie Wohlschlegel, CEO, info@servusconnect.com

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4 Reasons to Apply Technology to Apartment Maintenance

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4 Reasons to Apply Technology to Apartment Maintenance

If you are in the apartment business, you know this drill:

A resident drops by the office, calls in, or logs into their resident portal to report a maintenance issue. A staff member promptly logs the issue into their property management software, creating a work order for the maintenance staff or trusted vendor tasked with performing the repair. The next step?

Print; 2 copies

For the vast majority of apartment maintenance operations, technology stops at the printer. The rest of the process is pretty much without it.

And why not? This practice is tried and true, it's been done this way for years and everyone involved understands it. Besides, the apartment industry hasn’t necessarily been on the cutting edge of technology and neither has the vendor community.

Times are Changing

But the apartment industry's hand is being forced because resident’s expectations concerning technology is shifting – they expect more of it! In it’s 2016 Survey or Operating Income & Expenses in Rental Apartment Communities, the National Apartment Association had this to say:

…increasing demands for more technological features within apartment communities will pose recurring challenges to apartment companies nationwide.
— National Apartment Association

Where to Start?

An easy, and impactful place to start is your maintenance operations. By mobilizing maintenance – essentially digitally routing work orders to a technician or vendor smartphone via an app – apartment operators can benefit in a number of ways. Here are 4 of those ways:

1. Efficiency: The first reason to go mobile is that it provides greater efficiency by eliminating wasted time getting the work order to the right person in order to perform the service. Real time push notifications alert maintenance techs and vendors, allowing them to start mentally preparing for the work ahead of time.

A SERVUS push notification alert on Maintenance Technician's smartphone

A SERVUS push notification alert on Maintenance Technician's smartphone

Users of these systems experience a general 20% improvement in service cycles (the elapsed time from when a resident calls-in, to when their service is completed). In today’s on-demand society, getting work done faster significantly increases the chance of customer satisfaction.

 

2. Positively Communicate & Engage with Residents: most apartment operators strive to, but fall short of following-up with every resident upon completion of service. What if this follow-up happened automatically? A well-rounded mobile maintenance system can.

Text notifications in SERVUS can be automated & customized to alert and survey Residents upon completion of maintenance requests.

Mobile maintenance systems can send automated text messages to residents when their service request has been marked “complete” by the technician or vendor. And text is the perfect technology to reach residents because they are almost always read.

80% of Americans text regularly and 90% of text messages are read within the first three minutes
— Nexmo

3. Online Reputation Management: By implementing a mobile maintenance system, apartment operators can actually generate organic positive reviews. These systems can instantly survey the resident via text to see how they feel about the service provided. Residents who have good experiences are asked to share them at ApartmentRatings.com, Google, Facebook or elsewhere.

67% of consumers will read 6 reviews or less before they form an opinion about a given business.
— Shopify

Response rates can also be boosted through incentives like gift cards or drawings. Negative experiences are kept in the private confines of the text message so issues can be addressed prior to leaking out in an online review. The best part? This process is completely hands-off for the apartment management staff so they can focus on leasing and other resident service efforts.

 

4. Optics: The last reason to implement a mobile maintenance system is the optics/reporting. Maintenance operations is an area of significant operational and capital spend for apartment operators.

But outside of insights gained via the balance sheet, very little real or near-time data has traditionally been available to help apartment operators evaluate how their maintenance teams are performing, how efficient their vendors are, and maybe most importantly, how residents feel about where they live.  

By digitizing work orders, transaction data is captured: time stamps, photos, comments, resident responses, etc. This data is extremely valuable in helping apartment operators keep maintenance operating efficiently and effectively.

Technicians can be evaluated objectively based on their performance.

 

At SERVUS, we are committed to helping apartment operators experience these benefits through our mobile maintenance platform. The SERVUS platform can plug into any manual maintenance operation and work in conjunction with existing work order systems to instantly mobilize operations.

Interested? We'd love to show you - use the button below to schedule a demo.

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Customer Service Fail or Excellent Customer Experience?

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Customer Service Fail or Excellent Customer Experience?

Are the people interfacing with your residents each day creating customer delight or failing miserably?  Are there missed opportunities to create excellent customer experiences at your property?

Recently, we were eyewitness to a Customer Service Fail - which could have been easily avoided.

The SERVUS Team was on-boarding a new multi-family apartment community, which involved training the customer service team members (leasing agents, maintenance call center reps, etc), on how best to use the SERVUS software application to modernize their work order and transition workflows.  It is a larger community with almost 1000 units, and routinely logs 500 resident service calls each month.

Hence, this customer service team has 500 chances every single month to allow residents to have an excellent customer experience.  Or…500 chances to fail.

In this instance, the dedicated customer service rep (CSR) manning the maintenance office was relatively new – both to this job and to the multi-family industry. A long-time resident came to the service office to request a low cost maintenance item and offered to perform the replacement themselves.

What happened next was tough to watch. A recent policy change required a work order to be opened and a maintenance technician scheduled to perform this easy task. The resident started to express frustration about the policy change.  He then went on to cite a recent experience with a service request for a plumbing issue that had horrible response time and was poorly handled by the onsite maintenance team - which is likely why he wanted to perform the maintenance himself.

Here is where the opportunity lies to either create delight or fail miserably.  Unfortunately, in this case, the CSR dropped the ball.  This resident’s frustration was made worse by the CSR’s failure to turn a negative customer experience into a positive one.  The unhappy resident went away with no resolution and proceeded to rate the property management team very poorly on internal follow-up surveys.

Customer Service Chalkboard

But, is this really the CSR's fault? Or, does the responsibility lie with the management team? The employees who are routinely interacting with your residents should have conflict resolution training or at a minimum, read about how to handle residents that are upset.

How could this have gone differently? In short, here are some basics that would have significantly helped the situation above:

  1. The CSR should have listened while the resident vented.  Listening and staying calm shows the resident that they are being respected.
  2. The CSR should have apologized for past failures allowed the resident to know they are being heard.
  3. In addition, any onsite manager needs to go out of their way to address and resolve the current issue.

If these three steps are taken, and followed through, a potential risk can be turned into resident delight. In turn, this creates an opportunity to leave positive reviews on social media sites that turns into owner delight!

We would love to hear from you (other multi-family professionals) – on tips or best practices that have worked well at your company.  Do you provide training to new employees in this area?  Are they mentored in some way?  Any other suggestions for dealing with unhappy residents?  Add your comments on the blog, on our Facebook page or send us an email.

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SERVUS Spotlight

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SERVUS Spotlight

Meet Chris Barrett, owner of Capital City Heating and Cooling

Finding Your Business Path

Chris Barrett, owner of Capital City Heating and Cooling in Richmond, VA has been pleasantly surprised this year by exceeding even his own modest expectations. After his time in the Marine Corp, Barrett established his career in the heating and cooling industry and stayed for over 15 years. A self-starter, he worked as a mechanic and fast tracked his career; getting his journeyman’s license after only 2 years and his masters license after 3 years.

After several years as a mechanic, Barrett started the move into management – moving from Service Manager to General Manager in one company. Building on his prior success Barrett was offered a leadership role in a maintenance company that was struggling, and after only one year, turned that company into a general contracting company and “righted the ship”.

Barrett says, he “always knew that business ownership was something [he] wanted and planned on.” However, after being diagnosed with cancer in 2011, those plans had to take a backseat. As a survivor, Barrett was poised and ready to tackle small business ownership and in January 2016, Capital City Heating and Cooling was founded.

Benefits of Small Business Ownership

Barrett’s path to becoming a small business owner is a slightly unconventional but highly successful one.  Barrett comments, “People tend to start their own company, especially in this industry, at a younger age.  I’ve done it almost backward.”  But, the experience he gained working in management for 12 years, allowed Barrett to learn how to run a successful business.  Barrett continues, “I learned how to do both the mechanic job as well as management jobs.  That’s what gets some companies in trouble – when an owner is young and doesn’t know or fully comprehend the business end of things.”

The “backward” path to business ownership has allowed Barrett to hone his skill set and really understand what it takes to create and run a successful company.

Since Capital City Heating and Cooling is still a new company, Barrett is able to “be involved in every aspect of the business.”  This allows him to differentiate himself from the competition.  He has also brought trusted co-workers alongside him this year.  Half of his employees worked with him in his previous management jobs, so transitioning was easier.

Having been involved in the local Richmond community has helped drive Barrett’s success.  He started a local wrestling club that grew so much, they eventually were able to be housed in their own building.  “People know me in this community, in addition to the wrestling club, I coached little league for several years,” adds Barrett.
Being known in the community helps current and potential customers know that Capital City Heating and Cooling is a company to be trusted.  “I’ve always been in the Richmond area and customers have known me in this industry.”

Creating Excellent Customer Service

Providing exceptional customer service is an important feature for the success of any small business and Capital City Heating and Cooling is no exception.  “I make sure that I take the time to explain the issues.  I want to be very clear about the situation and pricing so there are no surprises to my customer.”  Barrett continues, “It is also critical to me that we respond as promptly and efficiently as possible; trying to resolve issues on the same day or a 24-hour period at the most.”

Of course, customers are always pleased with “fair pricing and quality work,” a hallmark for Capital City Heating and Cooling.  Because of this crucial focus, the company has not yet had to do any advertising.  “All of our business has been referrals and word of mouth,” muses Barrett.

“I’ve been shocked at the fact we have surpassed our projected goals by 1.5 times in our first six months,” says Barrett.  His reputation and dedication to customer service obviously make a huge difference.

Using Technology as a Small Business Owner

Barrett shares, “I planned and projected, but I didn’t anticipate for business to pick up the way it did this summer.  It’s a great problem to have.”

With Capital City Heating and Cooling’s speedy success, Barrett wouldn’t be able to keep up without the use of technology and software tools. His team uses dispatch software on their mobile devices to manage service requests and automate invoicing for customers. Barrett comments, “My customers love the paperless invoices – how they are automatically emailed and I can take credit card payments in the field.  At the end of the day, I just review calls and sync the software.  It has helped tremendously with paperwork and invoicing, allowing me to focus on my customers.”

Barrett also started using SERVUS after being introduced to it by one of his regular customers, Dodson Property Management, a residential property management company in the Richmond area. Dodson started using SERVUS to help their employees funnel vendor communication out of emails, text messages, and voicemails and into one easy-to-use software.

“I like being able to deal with all the work orders and service requests within the app – it speeds everything up because it is less time consuming”, Barrett adds.

Capital City Heating and Cooling has even been so busy with work this year, that they haven’t had a chance to get their website up.  That is next on Barrett’s list once the fall season comes around and he isn’t as busy.  For now, you can reach Capital City Heating and Cooling at (804) 608-8007 and follow them on Facebook.

To learn how Barrett and other leading business owners/managers use SERVUS to deliver exceptional service to their customers, please visit our site or schedule a live demo here.  Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Email is not your friend...

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Email is not your friend...

Tired of searching your email inbox for work order status updates?

mail_pile.jpeg

Maintenance and fast turnaround of your property’s rental units are essential for keeping your tenants & owners happy, but how much of the day can you afford to spend making sure that work is completed, looking for invoices, or researching disputed charges?

A report by McKinsey estimates the average employee spends 28% of the work week just reading and responding to email. 

How much time would you save if all the coordination and follow-up communication associated with work orders and turns on your property's rental units was in one place? In that same report, McKinsey found that companies who use non-email driven social apps to communicate and collaborate, were able to

reduce the time that employees spent searching for information by as much as 35%.

Imagine one place for you, your on-site maintenance team and your outside vendors (service providers) to send & receive work orders, service requests/recommendations, status updates on unit turns & notifications of completed jobs.

This place already exists. We call it SERVUS.

SERVUS simplifies the Service & Vendor Management part of your job so you can get back to your tenants & owners.

The chat feature within SERVUS captures and organizes your communication with vendors regarding each work order.  SERVUS chat makes it easy to collaborate back & forth on projects. SERVUS saves all the communication and invoices related to each job so recalling information is a snap!

Marcus Wohlsen, in an article for Wired, indicates that when employees use a social (collaboration) app specifically for work:

“We’re more likely to see the messages that we want to see, and we’re more likely to respond, all in less time than it takes to sift through the email muddle.”

Free up time in your work day and clear out your overloaded email inbox by scheduling a demo with SERVUS today.

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SERVUS Team Excited to have VergeHQ Pitch Reviewed on Forbes.com

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SERVUS Team Excited to have VergeHQ Pitch Reviewed on Forbes.com

In October 2015, our CEO, Jamie Wohlschlegel, had the opportunity to pitch SERVUS at a VergeHQ event. The pitch was recently reviewed by VergeHQ CEO Matt Hunckler and picked up by Forbes.com.  

http://www.forbes.com/sites/matthunckler/2016/07/20/how-service-on-demand-startup-connects-property-managers-and-service-pros/

As is the case with early stage technology startups, we are constantly learning and updating our software to align with the needs of our market. In the 10+ months since the pitch, we have made many enhancements to the software and our target market.  Here are some updates:

After beta-user learnings through the end of 2015, we decided to focus marketing efforts on the multi-family market in two main areas – maintenance work orders & service requests handled by onsite staff and outside vendor service management.

Even today, 90% of all multi-family communities still employ paper-based work orders to distribute jobs to external vendors and on-site staff.  SERVUS provides the flexibility to integrate with in-house Property Management Software (Yardi, RealPage, MRI, RentManager, appfolio, etc.) to automate manual work orders, speeding up service cycles by 30% while providing much needed documentation that is rarely captured today.

This has allowed us to further focus SERVUS to address specific challenges to multi-family operators. One of these challenges is maintaining positive online reputation ratings. Roughly 75% of all bad online reviews at sites like Yelp, Google+, and ApartmentRatings.com, etc. are the result of poor maintenance experiences.

SERVUS is taking an innovative approach to address this challenge through an automated Resident notification and response service. Residents with positive service experiences are encouraged to rate / post a review, while poor experiences are immediately referred to the property management team so issues can be addressed before boiling over onto online forums.

One of the important things that differentiates SERVUS from its competition is that it is just as beneficial to the vendor as it is to the property manager.  Most other software is written specifically for one segment of the market over the other, and is too complicated for both segments to use collectively. It’s our priority to provide a mutually beneficial service coordination software that is easy for everyone to use.

To learn more about all that SERVUS offers, email us at info@servusconnect.com or call 844-473-7887.

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Take Control of your Turns

Take Control of your Turns

Ahhh… summertime is upon us .   Swimming in the pool,  beach trips, cookouts with friends, for many this marks a time to slow down and relax.

However, in the World of Property Management,  Summer invokes a different feeling.. A pit in the stomach sensation known as “TURN” season.  I’ve heard  community managers along with leasing & maintenance teams, describe turns as a “hectic - just trying to survive time.”

It’s no surprise.   Many communities “turn over” 50% of residents during this season (even more in Student Housing).  The coordination required  to clean out one unit and prepare it  for the next resident can seem like an impossible task of endless moving parts.

Do you control your turns or do your turns control you? 

Contacting, Booking & Updating your vendors can seem like a full time job.  The work it takes to prep  a unit isn’t going away, but you can improve the way you track the activity in the make-ready process.

Benefits  of Using SERVUS:   

  • More Organized
  • More Informed
  • Able to Update Vendors immediately with schedule changes
  • Units ready faster
  • Instant notification with pictures when job is complete

SERVUS is a mobile, low-cost communication platform designed to collect all the flow of information that happens around getting maintenance done on your sites.   No more digging through your email inbox or chasing down vendors by phone.  Everything is in one place and in real time, so you have an immediate snapshot of how your turn season is going.

Relax..

Servus has your turns covered.