Connectivity Becomes Essential Lifeline as Millions Now Working and Learning from Home
By Dean Compoginis, VP of Business Development at Nomadix
The world is in the midst of an epic shift in the way we live and work. As Multi Dwelling Units (MDUs) work to differentiate themselves from others in a competitive market, the level and quality of services have become a critical factor in capturing and retaining residents. Take Wi-Fi, for instance. Once upon a time, residents worked directly with an ISP, which eventually evolved to MDUs coordinating with an ISP. But it’s clear, based on resident feedback, that it is yet again time for a change—a shift to managed Wi-Fi solutions, a move that will benefit residents and MDUs alike.
A 2020 survey, the largest of its kind, by the National Multi-Family Housing Council (NMHC) found that high-speed internet is important or very important to 91.7% of apartment dwellers. Further, pre-installed Wi-Fi is important to 74.8% of respondents. At the time of the study, 41.5% of residents in MDUs were telecommuting, a number that is sure to go up as we move on from COVID-19 (NMHC).
Nomadix cloud-managed Wi-Fi offers a solution that seamlessly delivers the technology MDUs need to provide a superior broadband experience—a true portal-free, home Wi-Fi experience. Nomadix managed Wi-Fi greatly simplifies onboarding and management of new users and devices, both for residents and community managers. The result: real Opex and Capex efficiencies that increase the capital value of the asset.
The Problems Cloud-Managed Wi-Fi Solves for MDUs
When MDUs implement Nomadix cloud-managed Wi-Fi, service reaches the next, highly marketable level. The platform removes onboarding friction, allowing the leasing agent to enable Wi-Fi the day of move-in. Property managers can handle all provisioning (on-site and on-demand) via an intuitive web-accessible management portal; however, they also have access to a channel of partners that manage the system.
With a property-wide system, MDUs can implement sustainability and cost-saving measures. As Zach Aarons, a co-founder of real estate technology venture capital fund MetaProp notes, “Smart apartment technology—especially when it comes to locks, in-building messaging, and energy efficiency—has attracted greater interest from landlords, developers, and tech firms” (Curbed) . As IoT For All notes, MDUs account for 40% of the national consumption of energy due to heating and cooling. Smart technology, enabled by managed Wi-Fi, can begin to curb this usage. Other recent smart technologies gaining popularity are smart lockers for package deliveries, leak sensors for individual water heaters, and online thermostats (the average savings can be ~20-30% per month).
The Problems Cloud-Managed Wi-Fi Solves for Residents
Forbes reports that “the number of renters earning at least $75,000 rose by 311,000 households in 2017-2018,” while Harvard’s Joint Center on Housing Studies reports that 19% of Americans making six figures rented, an all-time high. High-earning renters opt for the most spacious, well-placed apartments and focus on the quality of the services more than price point. To capture and retain high-earning renters, MDUs must have a superior Wi-Fi offering.
Implementing cloud-managed Wi-Fi gives residents instant access on the first day of their term with an easy-to-manage interface that allows them to manage their bandwidth plan. A resident portal seamlessly connects IoT, gaming systems, and streaming devices, the use of which is increasing exponentially. Residents benefit from one network available anywhere on the property for a seamless Wi-Fi experience, both indoors and out.
As much as MDUs reap the benefits of Smart Apartment technologies, so, too, do residents. Cloud-managed Wi-Fi allows MDUs and/or residents to enable Smart Apartment options, including security, energy management, lighting, shades, smart showers, media, and so forth. According to PropModo, 86% of millennials are willing to pay an additional 20% in rent for smart technologies, at least partially because as “more sustainably-minded consumers the potential energy savings are a major draw because they deliver lower monthly bills and a smaller carbon footprint.”
The Real Value
The value of managed Wi-Fi crosses several areas of MDU operations. Cloud-managed Wi-Fi generates a new revenue stream that feeds bottom line profits, while also increasing the long-term value of the asset.
Higher quality Wi-Fi service, as well as the resulting Smart Apartment features like mobile door locks and smart thermometers increase tenant retention and reduce resident churn rates. Further, there is a demonstrable and rapid return on Smart technologies. “What we’re seeing—and what surprised us—is that access management is the No. 1 area where clients are seeing a quick return on investment. A majority are seeing the return in under three years,” says Felicite Moorman, CEO of StratIS, a Philadelphia-based smart apartment provider (Multi-Family Executive).
Then there are the building efficiencies that decrease operating costs. Leap sensor controls that monitor HVAC motors and blowers for vibration, temperature, and electrical current draw to predict system failure, as well as leak sensors in the building boiler room and on all individual water heaters alert managers to problems immediately while also reducing costs in the long run. Case in point, an Avalon Communities property installed Nest thermostats and saw a 17% percent savings in cooling. The control group without them saw a 14% increase in costs (PropModo).
A managed Wi-Fi upgrade is now more fundamental to residents’ lifestyles—both work and play, then ever. For many, a greater reliance on delivered goods and the discovery of new home workout and entertainment options will become long-term habits. Further, more companies will move to work-from-home scenarios to decrease operating costs. Distance working will become the new norm for many. These shifts aren’t just coming quickly; they have already happened amid the isolation of COVID-19. For MDUs, now is the time to become creative in financing a managed Wi-Fi solution in order to stay competitive. Look toward budget reorganization, knowing that the returns will, in some cases, be instantaneous. Further, some potential government programs offer funding for energy improvements. It is a revenue-generating investment that will upgrade your operating model immediately and increase asset value.