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Venterra Realty Management Upgrades Tech With Impressive Results
Venterra Realty Management, which provides homes for over 44,000 people throughout 19 cities in the southeastern United States, prides itself on leaning into the technology space and delivering a highly rated customer experience. The Houston-based company sought an innovation-minded partner to elevate its smart home tech and found one in SmartRent, whose suite of solutions helped Venterra differentiate itself from competitors.
Properties in 19 cities
Residents in 22,000 units
Monthly increase in rent
Hear how Venterra achieved success with SmartRent
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“What we like about SmartRent is that they are continuously investing in their own product, as well as integrating with others. Those new things that they are continuing to invest in ensure us that they will always be on the leading edge of technology for our residents.”
The Challenge: Finding the right technology solutions to stand out in local markets
Venterra Realty Management provides housing to over 44,000 people (and 15,000 pets) in 19 U.S. cities. The company takes pride in improving the lives of its residents by delivering the best customer experience possible, and this is reflected by the fact more than 95% of Venterra communities are "Top Rated" by ApartmentRatings.com.
So when Venterra began looking into smart home technology for its residents, finding the right partner was crucial.
“Our founders [John Foresi and Andrew Stewart] have always had a lean into the technology space,” said Stephanie Gonzalez, Vice President of Customer Innovation for Venterra. “They were immersed in software development themselves prior to being in the real estate industry. As a result, they have always had a technology-first kind of mindset.”
A disappointing first attempt
Venterra’s first technology provider proved unreliable and unable to provide the system integrations Venterra needed.
“We were using a provider prior to SmartRent, and we had the painful experience of our residents not being able to either use the technology, or they just hit pain points,” Gonzalez recalled. “That became frustrating not only for them but also a burden to our teams when residents would have complaints and we were not able to answer those needs for them.”
The Solution: The Venterra-SmartRent difference
Venterra was intent on finding just the right solution to improve its technology stack, and Gonzalez’s team undertook a thorough search to find that solution.
The smart home interface they sought was primarily intended to enhance resident experience. But the company also wanted to ensure that the technology helped employees have a positive experience on the job. Venterra also wanted to launch a tech initiative that would differentiate it from its competition.
“We considered every option and alternative out there,” Gonzalez said. “Obviously, SmartRent came in at a pretty good price point for us, but what we were impressed with was the actual SmartRent user interface.”
“Obviously, SmartRent came in at a pretty good price point for us, but what we were impressed with was the actual SmartRent user interface.”
Stephanie Gonzalez, VP of Customer Innovation Venterra Realty
SmartRent’s integration capabilities were another selling point. Venterra needed its new smart home solution to seamlessly integrate with the company’s own proprietary PMS software,
“(SmartRent) is such a sophisticated partner to work with, and they met us on all of our requirements,” Gonzalez said. “Specifically, they are pretty creative, and were able to build a custom integration with us. We have our own proprietary property-management system, and so that was important to us.
“They also provided several complementary products that were pretty much ready-to-use or in development. They had Self-Guided Tours ready to go, for example, and we were actively looking for that precise solution for our technology stack.”
The ongoing pursuit of innovation
Gonzalez recounts how impressed Venterra was with not only SmartRent’s interface, but also with SmartRent as a company that invests and re-invests in innovation. As a bonus, she noted that the SmartRent company culture meshed well with Venterra’s.
“When we look for any partner we want one that, you know, aligns with our values first and foremost,” Gonzalez said. “But we also look for somebody that is continuously investing in their own product, being a builder of proprietary software ourselves. We appreciate that in a provider and look for somebody who can handle the custom integration requirements that we need, as well. What we liked about SmartRent is that they are continuously investing in their own product, as well as integrating with others. Those new things that they are continuing to invest in ensure us that they will always be on the leading edge of technology for our residents.
“When you are partnered with somebody who makes a good product, and the interface is extremely easy and it works, that means everything. Then, along with the simplicity and efficiencies of everything being connected, it becomes a huge benefit.”
The Results: Venterra discovers improvements in operational efficiency and resident satisfaction
Venterra was impressed with how their site teams were able to improve operational efficiency while offering their residents a better modern living experience.
Improved efficiency for Venterra maintenance teams
Though a few team members were slow to embrace SmartRent’s Work Management solution, the team as a whole adapted well and immediately began reaping the benefits of increased efficiency.
“It's worked great because we don't have to keep making trips to the office to check keys out, then back in,” said Trey Terrazas, Maintenance Manager at The Phoenix in downtown Fort Worth. “We can just go to a unit right away to tackle a situation. We see work orders pop up on our phones in our app, and it works out great. We're just not wasting time having to go look for keys.”
“It's worked great because we don't have to keep making trips to the office to check keys out, then back in. We can just go to a unit right away to tackle a situation. We see work orders pop up on our phones in our app, and it works out great. We're just not wasting time having to go look for keys.”
Trey Terrazas, Maint. Manager, The Phoenix Venterra Realty
Embracing smart productivity
Terrazas estimated that implementing Work Management saved at least 15 minutes per job per team member since physical keys and printed work orders were no longer needed.
”It helps to know the residents like that efficiency, plus they’ll get an automated email,” Terrazas said. “We complete a service request, and they get an email right away, and that's the proof that we were in there. Saves time on all the paperwork. It's a team group effort now to speed up the process.”
Better resident experience, and improved leasing capabilities
SmartRent’s suite of solutions also made the leasing office more efficient—even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I would definitely say adding the Smart Apartment solution helped us,” said Kaelea Christopher, Community Manager at Venue at Hometown apartments in North Richland Hills, Texas. “It helped us not only get new residents, but also more prospects, including during COVID, because (using Self-Guided Tours) they were able to tour without having to have somebody right there.”
Venterra Regional Better Living Manager Samantha Hawxhurst spoke to the user-friendliness, convenience and versatility of the SmartRent Resident App, which puts features such as home access and climate control on residents’ smart phones.
“I just think the app in itself is just amazing, that you have everything right there at your fingertips,” Hawxhurst said. “I just think the resident app is super user-friendly and simple—very easy to navigate through and it's just incredibly convenient.”
What SmartRent solutions do for Venterra Realty Management
SmartRent’s solutions make the Venterra Realty team’s job easier and help provide their residents with a better living experience by offering the following:
- Self-Guided Tours (SGT): Automatic, reliable digital ID verification to verify prospects’ identity before they tour.
- Access Control: Improved accountability by providing a record of who has accessed the building or unit and when—valuable information in the event of an incident or emergency.
- Smart Apartments: Increased security for residents by restricting access to their homes, while allowing them to assign access codes to guests and service providers.
Moving forward: Continuing to offer the best technology experience possible
Venterra’s upgrade to SmartRent technology not only addressed the needs and expectations of residents, it made life easier for staff as well.
“I can more or less guide prospects into the technology experience,” said Kevin Robinson, a Better Living consultant at Venterra’s Estancia at Morningstar property in The Colony, Texas. “Once they realize that, ‘Hey, this is going to make my life easier,’ that's when I can easily sell them on it. We're all about the experience that we give people and how we make them feel. A large part of your success right now is greatly determined by how you make people feel.”
“Once [prospects] realize that, ‘Hey, this is going to make my life easier,’ that's when I can easily sell them on it. We're all about the experience that we give people and how we make them feel. A large part of your success right now is greatly determined by how you make people feel.”
Kevin Robinson, Better Living Consultant Venterra Realty