AppFolio’s AI Leasing Assistant Lisa Wins Employee of the Year Award

AppFolio, a leading maker of property management software, has introduced its first AI leasing assistant — named Lisa. Her sole reason for being: to promptly respond to inquiries from potential renters via text messages and email. She gives a thoughtful, conversational experience at any time of day, answering questions, scheduling showings, and even navigating through the lease application process. For the property manager, this clears more time for improving efficiency and accuracy.

AppFolio senior director and industry principal Stacy Holden and her team have been tirelessly working on Lisa’s evolution. The goal is to give over the tasks that ordinarily keep property managers mired in minutiae. Lisa handles  the initial onboarding and answers commonly asked questions from potential tenants: “What type of dogs do you allow? Do you have a park for kids?” All of this information is carefully and thoughtfully collected within the AppFolio Property Manager database. Meanwhile, property managers can now be free to step back and own the Big Picture.

“I equate it to ‘automating the obvious’,” Stacy says.

Because Lisa is constantly gathering important information, customers are finding that she is helping to double and even triple lead traffic. One big reason why: not everyone has to enter a guest card anymore — the relevant information has already been collected.

Data, of course, is everything. And it brings a beneficial ripple effect.

“We need good data in order to make good decisions,” Stacy says. “Unlike people, artificial intelligence and machine learning do not get overwhelmed by the amount of data coming in. A complete and accurate data set teaches us how to do things better, to make more strategic decisions.”

So how is Lisa doing?

“One customer told us that Lisa helped their business so much that they actually gave her an Employee of the Year Award,” Stacy says. “A trophy and everything! That’s what technology like Lisa is built to do: to enable property managers to get out from behind the computer and make a personal connection.”

It’s easy to understand the enthusiasm when you see it from a customer’s perspective. AppFolio research found that responding to a question from a potential renter within a minute and a half can convert that lead into a showing 80% better than the average response time without Lisa of 30 minutes.

“Think about it,” Stacy says, “being able to respond to a question within 90 seconds is exceedingly difficult. Why not let Lisa do that for you?”

You can also consider Lisas usefulness from a talent retention perspective — a recent poll found that 67% of office workers were willing to take a pay cut in order to have software and technology that is twice as good as what they are currently using.

“Good technology is expected now,” Stacy says. “If you are wanting to attract and retain the talent that most businesses want today, you have to have these things in place.”

Because the digital age has made real estate a 24/7 business, and the pandemic has ushered in the work-from-home revolution, there has never been a more dire need for AI leasing technology.

“We all know that over the last 12-18 months, property managers had to focus on so many things,” Stacy says. “New regulations, for instance, and having a personal connection with residents who are now living and working in their homes 24 hours a day. Technology like this just enables them to spend time on what’s really important.”

Information given to Lisa is thoughtfully collected and stored within the AppFolio database.

Lisa goes hand-in-hand with another AppFolio product focused on making the property manager’s job easier on the back end: Smart Bill Entry. Vendors simply send their invoices to a dedicated email address. The software reads the invoices and automatically populates the data — even going as far as coding the invoice to a default general ledger (GL) code. The technology allows users to bulk upload invoices and review automatically pre-filled details like amount, property, and vendor, and view the attached PDF on the bill page for easier digital transcription.

It’s a detailed example of machine learning: the more invoices processed, the more Smart Bill Entry learns. For the property manager, that means a lot less data entry and approval chasing. It’s a win-win for vendors as well, who may get paid faster — the time between submitting the invoice and payday is now drastically reduced.

Stacy’s team found that training with Lisa and Smart Bill Entry actually minimizes the onboarding time. She says, “We’ve conducted a survey, and about 83% of the respondents said that their onboarding was reduced to less than 30 days.”

Drilling down further, customers are actually seeing the streamlining of what they are tasked to do every day: a significantly reduced workload within three months (in the 80th percentile). In six months, that reduced workload was measured at about 92%.

Still afraid something might fall through the cracks if you leave it all to technology? AppFolio also offers a safety net with customizable workflows, which give team members a step-by-step guide to complete any process from start to finish. If any step is missed in the leasing process, managers can identify bottlenecks and , and see exactly where additional training may be needed.

Despite all this good news, not all property managers have yet to climb aboard the proptech revolution. Are they right to be reluctant?

“Not at all,” Stacy says. “Just think of it as enabling you to do what matters.”

Change is hard, but Stacy says that technology like this can actually ease up the constant stress and never-ending detail that needs endless attention.  “I’ve been able to see employees be more impassioned about what they do, because now they get to do the fun stuff. There is that part of the job that people really enjoy: this is why I go to work. It could be delighting a resident, or being able to thoughtfully close a leasing deal with a family and just know that those people had a great experience. So seeing that delight in the employees, spending more time on what they actually like to do, that’s the fun part for me. I don’t think I expected to see as much joy as I actually do.”

It’s actually astoundingly simple — the more the technology learns, the better it gets. And property managers benefit from speed, consistency and quality.

“It’s taking your business to the next level and enabling you to invest differently, reallocate resources, and attract the right talent,” she says. “This technology is here — and you have the ability to use it. It’s empowering your teams to focus on what matters. Imagine spending 90% of your day doing what you love.”


Learn more about our content partner, AppFolio, by clicking here. You can also contact Stacy at [email protected]

Learn more about AppFolio at our RETCON Multifamily Summit, July 14-15, 2021 — a fully digital event! Click here.

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