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ECI Group: Gaining Greater Efficiencies Through Streamlined Solutions
ECI Group is a prominent, privately owned real estate organization operating in the southeast United States. The company’s CRM was generating duplicate work orders and hurting returns—a problem ECI resolved by turning to SmartRent solutions.
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"Every time a resident picked up the phone and called in a maintenance request—even if it hadn’t been 10 minutes since their previous call—our system was generating a new ticket. We were getting 20-30 calls from one resident in the same week, and they were all for the same issue. We just could not keep up with the workload of triaging and fixing."
The Challenge: Dysfunctional CRM overloading staff with work orders
ECI Group initially selected its CRM system to support the leasing side of operations for its on-site teams, but it soon became clear that the system was failing to meet the needs of ECI’s service teams.
"Every time a resident picked up the phone and called in a maintenance request, even if it hadn’t been 10 minutes since their previous call, our system was generating a new ticket,” said Emily Mask, associate vice president of operations and revenue for the ECI Group. “We were getting 20-30 calls from one resident in the same week, and they were all for the same issue. We just could not keep up with the workload of triaging and fixing–it was insane."
Increasing demands to find the right solution partner
Consistently duplicated work orders can create chaos for even the most organized and efficient teams. The need for a change became urgent when HVAC issues emerged at one of ECI’s recent property acquisitions. An inordinate number of service calls regarding water leaks and air conditioner issues led to more than 300 service tickets being issued in a single week.
That’s not to say that there were 300 separate issues that required the attention of the maintenance team. Rather, under ECI’s previous CRM platform, each call resulted in a separate printed work order, even if the call pertained to a previously reported situation.
“One service tech would come in and pick up a ticket for Apartment 101, and 10 minutes later a second service tech would pick up a ticket for the same issue in 101.They would arrive at the same home and wonder what they were both doing there. … That was the tipping point on the service side that clearly showed us that our platform wasn’t working for us."
Emily Mask, Associate VP of Operations and Revenue ECI Group
The Solution: Implement SmartRent’s Inspection Management Solution to reduce redundancies and costs
However, a test phase with SmartRent’s Inspection Management Solution immediately opened some eyes. ECI went live with the full SmartRent platform at five properties shortly afterward, using it primarily on the service side.
"We did an implementation with SmartRent, and everyone was like, ‘Wow! It does everything from our daily checklist and pool logs, up to a property inspection,’” Mask said. “Our teams were really thrilled with the functionality and interface of the platform for the CRM."
The Result: SmartRent solution suite improves communication and collections
SmartRent’s Work Management platform was immediately put to the test when an ECI property in Georgia experienced a serious plumbing issue that required repeated water shutoffs and extensive repairs.
"The leak was under the slab in our office, so we had to move the office on the fly with no prep time or ability to get the phones or internet set up,” Mask said. “We were able to message on Work Management on the fly. That cut down on the number of calls we were receiving, because we could communicate clearly through the platform to let everyone know what was going on."
Mask said SmartRent enabled ECI to send direct messages to the residents who were impacted, as well as broadcast communications to the entire community, which drastically improved the on-site team’s ability to manage the situation.
"Our biggest win with Work Management was being able to keep in constant communication with our residents and update them throughout the process, while also reducing our workload during that plumbing emergency,” Mask said. “On our previous platforms, we wouldn’t have had any of those capabilities."
A service manager’s dream
Work Management also gave service technicians the newfound ability to manage and close out their own tickets— whereas previous platforms restricted that access to only the service manager. Not surprisingly, ECI’s service managers have universally praised the new platform.
“SmartRent’s Work Management is great, user-friendly and makes it easy to schedule and assign work orders, as well as communicate with the residents. One of my favorite things about the platform is the fact that you can upload images to better communicate with the team and residents.”
Carlos Guzman, Service Manager at ECI’s The Cliftwood Sandy Springs, Ga.
What SmartRent solutions do for ECI Group
Smartrent makes the ECI Group’s job easier by offering the following:
- Improved efficiencies: Allowed leasing teams to focus on customer service, resulting in improved collections rates and reduced payment delinquencies.
- Elimination of duplicated efforts: Got rid of redundant service tickets and provided a transparent platform for communication and status updates during emergency maintenance situations.
- Enhanced contactless service: Protected service teams during COVID-19 crisis by establishing a contact-free method to communicate with residents and gather vital information prior to entering homes.
- Reduced delinquency rates: ECI Group reported that communities using SmartRent solutions have the lowest delinquency rates in the company.
- Flexible workspaces: Creation of separate workspaces for maintenance teams, including preventive maintenance.
- Mobile maintenance: SmartRent’s user-friendly interface (available on both iOS and Android, for mobile and tablet devices) allows maintenance teams to accomplish more on the go.
- Advanced reporting: ECI Group can use Work Management’s filters to easily export data into third-party tools for deeper analysis.
ECI Group properties that employ SmartRent’s Audit Management have reported better success of delinquent account collections and the lowest delinquency rates in the company. While a recent National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) tracker showed an average collection rate of 84%, ECI is at almost 92% overall.
“I think part of it is that our leasing teams are no longer forced to work with service orders and can focus their time on receivables and customer service,” Mask said. “Our office teams are inundated right now with collecting rent and learning virtual leasing. Our service teams at the sites that have Work Management are completely handling service issues, so our office teams have one less thing on their plates.
“Our properties [using SmartRent solutions] are handling [work orders] easier because the resident can see the status of their service request and communicate directly within the app. Our service teams are ecstatic because the service requests are going directly to their phones and we’re able to reduce the communication that [would normally] take place in person.”
ECI Group plans to roll out the SmartRent solutions suite at the rest of its properties in the near future.
“Our properties [using SmartRent solutions] are handling this easier because the resident can see the status of their service request and communicate directly within the app. Our service teams are ecstatic because the service requests are going directly to their phones and we’re able to reduce the communication that [would normally] take place in person.”
Emily Mask, Associate VP of Operations and Revenue ECI Group