Many of the greatest innovations started as simple ideas that evolved to change the world. However, even the best ideas go nowhere without a supportive community of believers that join together to turn vision into reality. In 2011, Rently’s founders had the idea to offer renters a new way to tour a property — on their own and at their convenience. Since then, Rently’s simple idea for a “self-guided tour” evolved into the creation of a multi-faceted smart home technology platform that streamlines all phases of property management and generates significant ROI for real estate operators.
Thanks to the ongoing feedback and loyal support we receive from members of the rental housing community, our smart home solutions optimize leasing and create a premier renter experience. Every year, we host the Rently Summit event to show appreciation to our client partners who are taking steps with us to make a big impact on their leasing operations and simultaneously help us shape the future of smart home technology.
Connections & Gratitude
Merrick Lackner, Rently’s CEO, kicked off this year’s Summit with a warm welcome and thanks to the many loyal customers and sponsors in attendance. With gratitude, he noted that the success of an individual or company often results from many small, but generous, gestures of connection that make a big impact.
Merrick shared that, many years ago, he and Rently co-founder, Clark Li, criss-crossed Los Angeles looking for a property manager to give their innovation a chance. In the San Fernando Valley, they found Howard, the owner of a management firm, and he listened to their idea. Without any intention of personal gain, Howard allowed Merrick and Clark to test their self-guided touring solution on his property — and the rest is history. That successful test led to many more customers, and, eventually, connected Rently to angel investors, whose kind act of funding gave Rently a chance to grow. As a result of Howard’s small gesture and other supporters, an innovative company whose solutions are deployed all across the United States.
“Through working together we will build a better future for the next generation for the industry. We all owe our success to connecting with others. We would not have a product today if it wasn’t for the believers.” — Merrick Lackner, Rently CEO
Citing Abraham Lincoln, Merrick expressed his belief in the value of hearing diverse viewpoints as an important leadership tool and business strength.
Merrick explained that he hoped the 2023 Rently Summit would help to connect people and provide the opportunity for ongoing gestures of kindness. Towards that end, guests were invited to participate in a professional giving campaign sponsored by Loop & Tie where they could send gifts of appreciation to colleagues who had helped them in their careers. Merrick then also invited guests to join Rently in showing appreciation for the brave men and women who sacrifice for our freedoms. By participating in social media activity during the Summit, Rently and guests donated to Tunnel to Towers, a well-known charity that provides smart homes to those who have been catastrophically injured serving our country and mortgage relief to gold star families.
Indeed, Rently’s 2023 Summit kickoff established a spirit of gratitude, growth, and the opportunity to connect with new people and experience the smart home technologies that will shape the future of rental housing.
Smart Steps to a Bigger Portfolio
Following the Summit kickoff, Andre Sanchez, Rently’s COO, turned audience attention to current market dynamics. Noting that Summit participants represented “one million doors”, he reiterated Rently’s commitment to connecting with our customers to get a frontline understanding of their plans and how Rently can meet their needs.
Andre introduced a panel of premier real estate operators, including Todd Gorelick, Bridge Investment Group, Jose Ortega, Fundrise, and Theresa Steen, Cushman & Wakefield. The group discussed various factors that are impacting today’s investment climate.
Traditionally, most renters are young (between the ages of 25-45) and cannot yet afford a home, or prefer not to commit to a long-term investment. However, Andre pointed to interesting new surveys that show an emerging preference of this younger generation of renters to lease not just apartments but also houses. As a result, both single family and multifamily real estate operators are now sharing a growing market of renters.
Andre inquired whether or not this shift is causing operators to diversify their portfolios to include various types of rental properties to meet this new demand. Panelists confirmed that renter preferences are indeed “blurring the lines” between the asset types they choose to include in their portfolios.
While the appeal of a bigger portfolio (with multiple asset types) is obvious from an income perspective, each panelists presented some unique benefits and challenges:
Theresa Steen, from Cushman & Wakefield, stated that combined portfolios greatly simplify regulatory compliance issues and support centralization efforts on a regional basis. However, while combined portfolios create marketing synergies, marketing departments still often remain separate and she strongly recommended that budgets stay at the same levels.
Similarly, Jose Ortega, Fundrise, explained that differences in operational processes and investment strategies sometimes present challenges. However, synergies between “scattered” single family and multifamily property management exist. He explained that Fundrise draws on leasing talent from both asset types and has found that the different experiences mix well.
The panel also considered how the emerging preferences of tech-savvy renters for on demand experiences (such as self-guided touring and instant applications), is tracking positively with the growing demand for automated leasing technology. Andre invited guests to share the extent to which technology investments are factoring into their decisions about portfolio expansion.
Todd Gorelick, Bridge Investment Group, agreed that technology issues are a major consideration to cross-portfolio investments. For instance, integrating systems between single family and multifamily properties requires hiring additional expertise to harmonize mixed tech stacks. Whether integrating email systems or work order systems, Gorelick warned that deciding on a common platform is important — operators must adopt one, or the other, or create a new one.
To capture the current inclinations of the operators in the room, Andre took a real-time poll to see who is considering cross-over portfolio investments that include both single family and multifamily properties. The answer was quite revealing, with more than 60% of attendees confirming that their portfolios currently include both single family and multifamily assets.
Based on the seasoned opinions of the panelists and the real-time feedback from the audience, it’s clear that operators are keen to capture investment gains from larger, mixed portfolios.
Smart Steps to a New, Modern Rental Experience
Property management is evolving, and Rently has evolved with it.
At this year’s Summit, we were proud to show our customers how Rently continues to embrace the spirit of innovation. We have grown our solutions portfolio with exciting new software services, sleek and powerful smart home devices, and many helpful product enhancements.
Their presentation illustrated how Rently continues to pursue its mission to provide the highest-quality smart home solutions for leasing automation and resident living. Rently has a solution for every step of the renter journey — from tours to tenancy and everything in between.
To date, Rently has completed 20 million self-guided tours, welcomed 10 million annual ILS visitors, and deployed more than hundreds of thousands smart home devices.
Our “all-in-one” solution is constantly evolving to maximize ROI. Rently’s self-guided touring solution increases property tours by 25% and increases leasing speed by 75%. For added gains, transforming a rental property with smart home devices elevates rents by $67/unit/month, on average.
In addition, Rently’s smart home solution lowers annual utility costs by up to 30%, reduces damage expenses by up to 70%, and lowers insurance premiums by up to 20%.
Even with all the operational and ROI benefits mentioned above, perhaps the most appealing aspect to Rently’s solution for property managers is the Rently Manager Portal — which offers one screen with one login.
Summit guests were polled about their existing platform login experience. Most responded that they currently navigate between 5-10 logins! Using Rently, this number is streamlined to one.
This unified lead management system is a valuable tool for managers to collect the data they need to optimize their daily operations.
Rently’s World Class Smart Home Devices
The second day began with Clark Li, Rently’s CTO, presenting Rently’s vision for creating innovative smart home devices.
According to Clark, Rently’s product philosophy is about enriching lives, anticipating needs, and fostering connections with our customers. He stressed that engagement and collaboration with customers is mission-critical. Rently’s product teams continually iterate our products to meet evolving needs, putting customers at the core of our product development. Security and privacy are paramount considerations.
Rently’s world-class engineers have designed new smart locks with enhanced security and battery life. In addition, our popular Access Panel 3 now boasts shared amenity reservation features, and a version with intercom is in the works.
When it comes to other property management hardware devices, HVAC performance was also of great interest to Summit guests.
Rently appreciates that an HVAC system is one of the costliest investments that property managers make. Therefore, we have enhanced our HVAC dashboard to provide valuable HVAC metrics, including performance alerts, filter change alerts and other helpful analytics.
Smart Steps to Improve Self-Guided Tours
Self-guided tours (SGT) are Rently’s flagship product and we are always exploring ways to enhance this increasingly popular offering.
Jared East, Rently’s Head of Product, introduced Rently’s powerful new self-guided touring innovation for multifamily properties — “Wayfinding” navigation.
Wayfinding quickly guides renters across properties, from parking, to units, and to community amenities. Helping renters confidently navigate properties avoids frustrations, reduces calls to leasing offices, and makes a great impression on tech-savvy renters
Rently’s Wayfinding navigation allows units to be activated for self-guided tours in 30 seconds and increases closing ratios by up to 7%.
At the Summit, Becca Nevarez, Sr. Director, Marketing and Ricky De La Torre, Manager Multifamily Client Success also presented many effective tips to enhance the self-guided touring experience for both renters and managers.
Managers were encouraged to maximize every self-guided tour touchpoint, including property marketing (enabling Rently’s integration with Apartments.com), pre/post tour correspondence, onsite signage and collateral, videos, and personal touches, such as leaving customized gifts and neighborhood information at the tour site.
Most importantly, Rently encouraged property managers to make clear to their onsite leasing teams that self-guided tours are meant to be a helpful tool for them to use, not a way to replace them.
Smart Steps to Combat Rental Fraud
When it comes to any kind of smart device these days, security is top-of-mind for users. At Rently, we take security very seriously.
During a presentation entitled, “GOTCHA! — Preventing Rental Scams”, Sahil Farooqi, Director of Business Operations, and Prak Swamy, Product Marketing Manager, showed Summit guests the tremendous strides that Rently has made to make self-guided tours safe.
According to Rently’s 2022-2023 data, the most common forms of rental scams are squatting, social engineering, and vandalism. However, thanks to Rently’s enhanced security features, we have seen an almost 30% decrease in all types of scams in the past year.
As part of its recent security enhancements, the Rently Manager Portal now includes lead ID, income, and credit card verification updates, customizable pre-tour screening questions, an onsite pre-tour scam quiz, and updated statistics about local rental scam occurrences.
Rently is setting the standard for excellence in touring security and early risk identification by using dynamic machine learning technology and AI.
Rental Screening Security
According to a survey by CheckPoint ID, rental application fraud has increased 67% between 2019-2022.
During a presentation entitled, “Verified! — Screening for Qualified Renters”, Anthony Williams, Senior Screening Sales Engineer, and David Gonzalez, Product Manager, Rental Screening, introduced Rently’s robust screening solution for the single family property market.
Rently’s “3-in-1” Tenant Screening combines identity, income, and credit verifications into one easy, automated process.
Rently’s screening provides property managers with the fastest and most accurate renter information verification. The screening offers managers peace of mind that their rental decisions are made using accurate data.
Rently’s screening includes TransUnion’s ResidentScore 4.0 which is a risk model designed specifically for the rental industry. It better predicts the likelihood of bad outcomes (i.e. evictions, skips etc.) compared to Vantage and/or FICO.
For renters, the automated Rently screening saves time because the information can be used across properties with the same management company, and Rently uses tour registration data to pre-fill applications by up to 30%.
Rently’s Screening is also available as a “shareable” product.
Smart Steps to Successful Deployments
A successful smart home deployment requires a thoughtful installation process and ongoing customer support.
Installation Best Practices
Darin Hess, Director of Implementations, oversees smart home installations for Rently. At the Summit, he walked customers through the following best practices to ensure a successful start:
– Involve all users early to inspire staff with a sense of ownership
– Identify secure and centralized storage for smart home devices
– Assign a smart home champion to ensures effective coordination
– Notify residents early and provide them with a Smart Home Guide
– Generate community enthusiasm (newsletter, social media)
– Use easy-to-understand training tools, i.e. videos and product guides
– Visit Help Center Resources
– Identify ongoing support resources and get to know your CSM
In sum, his advice to customers was to stay proactive and patient throughout the installation process.
Full-Spectrum Customer Support
Jameson Braddock, Senior Director of Technical and Renter Support, is responsible for ensuring that Rently maintains world-class customer support. With more than 50,000 customer interactions every month, Rently is focused on making each customer experience a positive one, while continually improving our internal processes.
Rently defines customer satisfaction as a speedy response followed by a speedy resolution. Towards this end, Jameson champions an approach that relies on teamwork, authenticity and the “1% Rule” taken from the book, “Atomic Habits” that encourages employees to get 1% better each day.
Jameson’s teams include world-class Renter Support (B2C), Tech Support(B2B), and Enterprise Support, all of whom are aided by Quality Assurance teams and Client Advocates. These teams use cutting-edge support tools, including AI chatbots, a 24/7 online Help Center, and a Salesforce (cloud-based) Knowledge Base Center.
Rently’s customer response times have improved to just over a minute with ticket resolutions in 48 hours or less. These improvements have resulted in a 4.5 out of 5 CSAT (customer satisfaction) score.
Rently’s technical support extends beyond managers and residents to include installers. Our Installer Workflow provides technicians with step-by-step instructions and tools to accelerate installations, expedite device testing, and immediately notify property managers of successful smart home activations.
From start to finish and beyond, Rently is pleased to offer our customers the installation expertise and ongoing support to successfully upgrade their properties with smart home technology.
Every Smart Step Requires Smart Data
A very special part of the Rently Summit is our Partner panel where we invite other pioneering proptech companies onstage to discuss their unique perspectives on industry developments.
This year, Rently was honored to be joined by Jason Korstad, Honeywell/Residio, Ben Nowacky, HappyCo, and Michelle Norris, Aerwave.
Our partners were presented with questions about current market demand, integration challenges, centralization, and AI.
A common theme emerged related to all of these topics — data is king!
Jason Korstad, Residio, reflected that his company has been using AI-generated data, for a long time, to set heat/cool temperature settings in their smart thermostats. However, they look to companies like Rently to act as software middlemen for real-time updates about how their equipment is running and identify problems as they occur.
Ben Nowacky, HappyCo, explained that many of their customers find that their PMS does not provide the right kind of data to make good operational decisions. He stated that companies often seek integrations in order to better understand their own data. HappyCo helps asset owners and operation teams collect and own data related to maintenance work so they don’t have to integrate to understand it. HappyCo sees a growing trend to centralization, which increases the need for control over data.
Michelle Norris, Aerwave, added that data is helping property managers identify resident lifestyle needs so they can adjust their amenities. For example, with the growing popularity of remote work, gym space might be better converted to Wi-Fi enabled conference rooms. Data can show managers when changes make sense from an NOI perspective, adding that connectivity helps property managers overcome marketing challenges presented by older properties
Panelists agreed that whether adding smart thermostats, streamlining maintenance projects or adding bandwidth, data is driving today’s property management decisions. Importantly, data helps to control costs in vacant units and keep ROI on track!
Shared Steps Into the Future
Rently Stories Evolve from Challenges to Success
In addition to all of the dynamic customer exchanges that took place throughout the Summit, Rently concluded the Summit program with a special “My Rently Story” panel of customer testimonials.
Kendall Marolda, Director of Single Family Sales, introduced this session by noting that Rently has been “built by our customers, and their experience is our experience”. She kindly asked panelists to provide Rently with candid insights about Rently’s value to their business and possible areas of improvement and future support.
Yakov Belousov, Chief Operating Officer, Pegasus Residential/Operations, expressed gratitude for Rently’s help alleviating serious staffing issues during the Covid pandemic. Self-guided tours were a critical tool when operators could not rely on onsite leasing teams for in-person showings. Even now, his leasing staff is grateful to have the SGT option, as it allows them to take weekends off, improving their quality of life and increasing their job satisfaction. This reduces turnover at a time when finding staff has been a challenge.
Justin Burleigh, Chief Product Officer, Progress Residential, provided insights into his company’s current market challenges — occupancy rates and demand are low; advertising is expensive, and there is 30% less inventory available for acquisitions. Therefore, his focus is on optimizing “funnel mechanics” and reducing friction at each step to lead conversion. Justin cited Rently’s agility to adapt and openness to feedback as important to their partnership. He expressed a desire to see creative thinking about how to leverage platform data and scale data for growth.
Kyle Talmage, Vice President of Single Family Rentals, Westdale Asset Management, admitted that his company had been forced into leasing automations because of the pandemic, but now feels a greater comfort level, especially given Rently’s evolving smart home offerings and willingness to grow together. He looks forward to more progress in implementing Rently with his PMS system to enhance his marketing efforts.
Rently Summit Concludes with Optimism
The Summit closed as it opened — with remarks from Rently’s ever–optimistic CEO.
Merrick summarized the themes of this year’s Summit as “Connectivity, Positive Intent, Giving, and Gratitude”.
He noted the mission-critical value of data in all business operations and reminded the audience that Rently’s ongoing fraud prevention efforts are making a big impact on people’s lives by protecting them from loss.
Merrick bid guests farewell with the reminder that the Summit is about building connections that last a lifetime, and he wished everyone well until our next meeting.
Rental Properties are Evolving into Smart Homes.
Join the Smart Home Future with Rently.
Thank you to the Rently Events Team!