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Data-driven decision making is vital to the future of property management

Property Managers can harness data to boost the level of proactive management across their developments and improve customer satisfaction, explains James Parke, FirstPort’s Head of Performance and Insights.

The role of data in property management

As the UK’s leading property management company, FirstPort is looking at how data analytics can continue to bolster the service it delivers to thousands of customers and how this can be adopted across the wider industry to support clients.

James’ team’s key focus is to use technology to simplify complex data. This, he believes, is the first step to being able to get the most out of the data. He hopes that optimising the data available will inform decision-making and enable all colleagues across the business to easily see what preventative work needs to be done across each development.

Leveraging data capabilities in property management

This includes leveraging technology such as Power BI and taking data that sits across multiple siloed systems to make it easier to visualise for all colleagues.

The data team pull information in real time and structure the data. James wants all colleagues to be able to access data and use this information to improve operational efficiency and, ultimately, customer satisfaction.

James explained:

“If data is too complex it becomes unusable to the vast majority of people. We want people to see data as an enabler to improve our performance, and the only way to do this in my experience is to make it accessible and easy to interpret for all.” 

Implementing data-driven strategies in property management

In a data-driven world, customers want and expect property management companies to be using data to manage their home and to stay ahead of the curve. This can and should be a collaborative effort, with FirstPort also implementing data to understand changing customer preferences, track feedback and address any maintenance concern promptly.

James explained:

“When we have customers paying for a service and wanting more structure and visibility around properties that we manage on their behalf, we must be able to meet their demands and one way we can do this is through leveraging data capabilities.

“This will ultimately improve resident satisfaction and retention and we can resolve problems for customers in a much timelier manner, while empowering our Property Managers at the same time.

We have a massive opportunity right now to streamline our processes and deliver a better and enhanced first-time outcome for our customers and for the business.

Successful implementation of data-driven decision making

Earlier this year, FirstPort launched a pilot study to find out how data can enable Property Managers to proactively check and manage maintenance issues better than ever before. 

FirstPort’s data team tracked maintenance request types and frequencies across 25 developments and provided this information to Property Managers who were then able to predictively replace aging electrical components and assets from communal lighting to electrical gates and security systems. 

The study contributed to a 60% reduction in reactive outages across multiple developments. 

James explained:

“Proactive maintenance is a fundamental part of being a Property Manager and whilst we do this well already at FirstPort, we are always looking at how this can be improved further. 

“The results from the pilot study speak for themselves, and it certainly is something we’d like to standardise across the business so we can provide that same level of visibility for all developments in the future. 

“Property Managers and our internal support teams will be able to easily see the important data they need to make quick, informed decisions around their properties in order to reduce reactive outages. For example, capturing assets and their condition, and identifying trends and themes from customer queries and complaints to help inform processes and system changes and deliver a first-time resolution for our customers.” 

The future of property management

This level of standardised practice across the business will be crucial for FirstPort moving forward as it adapts to trends and innovations in data-driven technology. 

James explains:

“Data is extremely important to the future of property management as we see more regulatory requirements coming down the tracks.

“I think there will be lots of talk in this industry to standardise the way that data and information is recorded. And that will probably come in the way of regulatory reform.

I hope that in the future there is standardised practice in place for managing agents and I anticipate that FirstPort will be the pioneer of that, and the rest of the industry will follow suit.

In particular, FirstPort is looking at how it can structure and record data for each building. James said:

“We hope there will be the adoption of the standardised recording function across each building.

“This includes the adoption of a Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN) across the industry. It will simplify everything, especially when it comes to health and safety elements where we will need to record and demonstrate our responsibilities as a professional management company.” 

Implementing data-driven decision-making means that FirstPort can best utilise its site staff where there is the greatest need, and it will make day-to-day jobs quicker and more efficient, so colleagues have more time available to visit sites, interact with customers and be present.

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