If Apple ran your apartment… 6 things they’d do differently.
If Apple got into the apartment industry, I can almost guarantee that it would become the most valuable real estate company in just a few short years. But why? We’ll get to that shortly. First, let’s review a few facts about Apple.
Apple is undoubtedly one of the most well-known and beloved companies in the world. It’s so loved because its products reflect an insane obsession with user experience. And despite a product catalog including everything from software to hardware to streaming services to marketplaces (e.g. App store), all its products feel like one unified experience. Apple customers camp out for days before new product launches for the privilege of buying these new products. Apple’s customer service is legendary – you can enter your phone number and they call you back within 5 minutes.
Apple is able to charge a huge premium for its products and services because its customers value a simple, seamless experience.
All of these things have made Apple the world’s largest consumer technology company with revenues of $250 Billion in 2020. In August 2018, Apple became the first company ever to reach a market capitalization of $1 trillion and two years later, became the first publicly traded U.S. company to surpass $2 trillion. In January 2021, Apple became the world’s most valuable company in almost all aspects.
Most apartment communities have a 50% annual turnover. To Apple, this would be completely unacceptable. Apple’s core philosophy is that user experience drives retention and you simplify user experience by creating an ecosystem of interconnected products. So in the apartment industry, the majority of Apple’s efforts in building the most valuable real estate company would be focused on using Resident Experience to drive retention.
If Apple ran your apartment building, here are 6 things they’d do differently:
1. Resident Experience Would be an Obsession, Not a Buzzword
- Most properties say resident experience is important but turn around and force residents to download a million apps from a million companies. Residents at Apple Apartments would download just one app and have one Apple ID they can use to login to it and everything else. What Apple has learned is that people are willing to pay for simplicity.
- The move-in process for most apartments is just that, a process. You get an email from leasing reminding you to pay your 1st month’s rent, submit proof of renter’s insurance, set up electricity, pick up your key, and then a walkthrough. But if you’ve ever unboxed an Apple product, you know just how important every detail is for Apple – simply unboxing an Apple product is an experience itself. So move-In for residents at Apple Apartments would be an experience in itself.
- Most apartments do resident events. Residents at Apple Apartments would indulge in resident experiences. Instead of a breakfast grab and go, residents at Apple Apartments would experience a murder mystery dinner. Instead of an ice cream social, residents at Apple Apartments would learn ice creaming making from a master ice cream maker.
2. World-Class Customer Support with World-Class Support Tools for Staff
Most apartments have concierge available by phone and email but very few apartments have a ticketing system to help staff quickly respond to issues or analytics to help improve customer service over time. What you see is site teams responding to the same issues over and over again. Worst, ask a regional manager what the average resolution time is for resident questions and they will scratch their head. Staff at Apple Apartments would have best in class ticketing systems, Service Level Agreements dictating standards for responses to resident issues, and self-service tools that allow residents to help themselves.
3. Secret Shopping Would be 1000 Times More Intense
Most apartment owners do secret shopping to ensure site teams are providing a great experience to residents. But this is typically very surface-level – e.g. walking the grounds or calling the front desk. Secret Shopping for Apple Apartments would mean going through EVERY SINGLE part of your resident experience and seeing things from the resident’s perspective – from applying to move-in to reserving amenities to attending resident events to sending questions to the concierge.
Apple values the experience of its users so much so that EVERY single app released in the app store is tested by Apple’s app store team. Developers have to provide a login to any app they release or every update they make and Apple’s team tests every single feature. We have gotten our resident apps rejected by Apple because we had one pixel off. That is how intense secret shopping would be for Apple. Apartments owners who do this would immediately catch all the issues with their resident experience – from resident’s being provided with 40 page badly formatted move-in guides no one reads to resident events that are lacking imagination to issues with forcing residents to download a million apps.
4. Marketing will focus on emotions, lifestyle, and branding
- Look on most apartment websites and you see a list of amenities – fitness center, pool, yoga room, golf simulator etc. When a prospect is reviewing apartment websites, they all blend together. Apple’s marketing is never about features – when the iPod came out, Apple didn’t say “100 gigabytes of storage”, it said “1000 Songs in Your Pocket.” Apple Apartments marketing would focus completely on lifestyle and benefits – rather than listing “Fitness Center” – Apple’s marketing would say ‘Workout without leaving the building.”
- Rather than property specific marketing, Apple would focus on portfolio marketing. This means each community would be named “Apple X” – e.g. “Apple RiverPark”, “Apple Bell Air”, “Apple West LA”. Portfolio branding would help Apple quickly create a strong brand identity, making it more likely that residents stay within the Apple Apartment family no matter what new cities or countries they move to.
5. Employee Experience Will Match Resident Experience
Apple employees take tremendous pride in working for Apple not only because of the Apple name but because Apple really does provide exceptional professional development opportunities. From the design of the Apple campus to being given the same opportunity to think differently and challenge the status quo as Apple gives its own customers, Contrast this with most property management companies where site teams are overstretched and have very little autonomy to make decisions.
6. iLifestyle Services Ecosystem to Increase Ancillary Revenue and Drive Retention
Most apartments outsource a huge chunk of their resident experience to vendors. But Apple has always designed, developed and built almost all its hardware, software, and services in-house. Doing this helps them create a deeper level of integration between all it’s products – creating a seamless user experience. It’s why Most Apple customers own or use 3 or more Apple products or services. This is known as the Apple Ecosystem. Similarly, residents at Apple Apartments will not only live at Apple Apartments but will enjoy many other complementary and lifestyle services provided by Apple – e.g. Apple Renter’s Insurance, Apple Resident App, Apple Dry Cleaning, Apple House Cleaning, Apple Utilities, Apple Rent Rewards etc. Not only would these integrated services create a better resident experience, they also help Apple generate more revenue per resident and increase retention.
Just as Apple customers get “trapped” in Apple’s tech ecosystem (iPhone, iCloud, Mac etc.), residents would get trapped in Apple Apartments “lifestyle” ecosystem where they never want to leave because everything is so integrated and it would be a hassle to decouple everything. This is ultimately how Apple would break the cycle of 50% resident turnover common to the apartment industry.
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