Rentping was founded in 2009 with the goal to make apartment renting easy for both property managers and residents. Since then, we’ve made mistakes, had our successes, and learned a lot along the way. This past year was a year of growth and change—and what came out of it was something pretty spectacular. Rentping is now RentVision, and this blog will share with you the “why” behind the rebrand.
Once I realized renting an apartment was hard for both property management companies and prospective residents, I knew there had to be an easier way. Leasing agents had to deal with unqualified lead, no-shows, bad showings, etc. Prospective residents were presented with unhelpful information online, and consequently, had to call and drive all over town hunting for their next place to live. This combination of frustrations created our mission: to make renting apartments easy.
Progress on our mission commenced more than a decade ago when we invented the floorplan-specific walkthrough video tour while I was working at my family’s property management company. We have continued to grow and create ever since. For example, we’ve streamlined how an apartment community website is created by designing a launch survey that only takes 20 minutes for a client to complete. We’ve delivered highly effective pay-per-click campaigns that can run on a budget as low as $100/mo. And, finally, we delivered a very efficient way to measure the return on investment (cost per lease) for all of our client’s marketing initiatives.
While we have made a lot of progress, and not all are mentioned here, there is still much to be accomplished in order to achieve our mission. We spent a large portion of 2017 and early 2018 developing our vision, and I want to share that with you. I think you will find it exciting to see what the future holds!
While Rentping commonly gets misheard as “Renting”, especially over the phone, that’s not why we ultimately rebranded. We changed our company name to RentVision because it clarifies what we do and where we are going. More specifically, we changed our name because we want to help residents have vision of what they will rent. We want to help property managers have vision of what they need to do in order to rent their units.
Our prospective resident vision is to help people rent an apartment without needing to drive anywhere. Floorplan specific websites and walkthrough video tours were our stepping stones in achieving this vision. Ultimately, if people can confidently rent an apartment, site unseen, we will know we have made renting apartments easy.
Our client vision is to deliver a predictive leasing platform that optimizes marketing and revenue management. If one can predict future leasing and then optimize demand and prices for any given week, renting apartments would be easy. We plan to work toward having two solutions that will help make our client vision a reality: RentVision Marketing (already in existence) and RentVision Revenue (elements in beta).
While we have provided digital marketing strategies for apartment communities since the beginning, we have a number of ideas that will enhance our current offerings. Specifically, we plan to do three things:
Control demand more accurately through Predictive Advertising.
Occupancy constantly changes, yet apartment marketing remains static. We solved this problem with dynamic marketing—specifically, the ability to raise and lower your pay-per-click (PPC) budgets. Unfortunately, many clients struggle to implement this at the right time because current marketing solutions don't accurately predict future supply and demand. We want to solve this for everybody. So, the first enhancement we plan to add to RentVision Marketing is Predictive Advertising.
We currently have algorithms in beta that predict upcoming demand. We plan to roll this out in the future, but we are also in the beginning stages of creating an algorithm that will tell us how much each individual keyword search costs in order to generate a single lease. In the end, we’ll be able to optimize ad spend budgets to produce the exact number of leases a community will need, in order to fill vacancy. We’ll do this by predicting upcoming vacancy, organic traffic, and PPC demand needs.
Next, we want our clients to spend their marketing dollars on the most effective PPC campaigns possible. We currently have algorithms that monitor various PPC metrics every single night to help optimize efficiency, but we can enhance these further to help produce even higher ROIs.
Lastly, our algorithms should allow us to hit monthly budgets with more precision—specifically, within about 3% of our client’s budget. Currently, Google Ads offers daily budgets, but Google allows those budgets to overspend some days and underspend other days. This, along with months that range from 28 to 31 days, constantly changing competition, as well as seasonality, impact click volume and make budget management extremely challenging, but not impossible.
Increase prospective residents’ confidence in renting apartments site-unseen.
Confidence is a byproduct of predictability. Confidently renting an apartment site unseen requires one to accurately predict their future renting experience. This can only be accomplished with helpful, complete, and trustworthy information. Walkthrough video tours have increased the confidence in people’s ability to rent an apartment site unseen, but more content will make it even better. We continue to experiment with virtual reality, to meet this need.
Ideally, a prospective resident could feel like they are receiving a full apartment community and unit tour from anywhere in the world. Unfortunately, these solutions are costly to produce and/or not widely adopted by the general population. We see innovation occurring in this area and believe some radical changes could be available within five years.
Create a low-budget media solution for smaller properties.
We have a difficult time delivering a cost-effective solution for smaller properties that are not within driving distance from our headquarters in Lincoln, Nebraska. As a result, we witness several properties 50 units or less that are unable to utilize our media services. Therefore, renting remains hard for these management companies and prospective residents.
Our media development team is actively experimenting with technology solutions that these clients can utilize to produce high quality visual content. Specifically, we want to help people shoot photos and walkthrough video tours similar to what we currently provide. The quality won’t be to the degree of what our in-house media team can produce, but this solution will be significantly better than no solution. We hope to have this solution in beta soon.
One of the reasons that renting apartments has been difficult is because many marketing solutions are not based on sound data, which we want to solve. Many communities fail to take advantage of raising rental rates, and in turn, fail to increase their revenue. Other communities charge rent that is above market value resulting in high vacancy and frustrated onsite teams.
We have also observed other revenue management issues. Some current revenue management solutions available in the industry have an algorithmic foundation based on the hospitality industry, rather than the multifamily industry, which leads to these problems:
There are drastic daily price changes that hurt marketing efforts and are quite frustrating for property managers, leasing agents, and prospective residents. For example, on Monday, you may view a unit online that costs $700/mo, but then, on Tuesday it has already jumped to $775/mo. This doesn’t build brand loyalty or make someone want to call your apartment community their home.
There are large price ranges (month-to-month lease price vs. 18-month lease price) displayed on a website. Nobody knows if they can afford the 1 bedroom apartment that is marketed for $700-$1800/month.
Current residents are often treated unfairly. They can be given a higher renewal price than what a brand new resident is offered. Imagine going to Starbucks and having to pay more for your cup of coffee than the listed price because you are a “regular”. It’s essentially having a loyalty rewards program that punishes your best customers.
These programs often eat up staff time of reviewing and approving price changes each day. If you don’t agree with the system it escalates to a “pricing advisor” or your regional manager, or both. A pricing system should have accurate data that doesn’t require a human review every day.
We have kept it fairly quiet, but we have been beta testing RentVision Revenue for about three years now. We have thousands of walkthrough video tours online, given millions of virtual tours, and recorded thousands of leases. This marketing data enables us to predict, with confidence, which apartments are going to rent and which ones are not. Because of this unique marketing data set, we can also predict whether a price should increase or decrease with incredible accuracy. It is incredibly accurate. So accurate, in fact, that reviewing prices isn’t needed.
RentVision Revenue will only change a unit price once a week and in much smaller increments than standard revenue management systems. Further, price ranges that are marketed online only entice residents that are looking for a 12-month lease. Simultaneously, we will be able to provide other lease terms and prices, but market it in such a way that doesn’t ruin online engagement for our clients’ main audience.
We also recently drew up the first beta algorithm to optimize lease terms that will minimize turnover times at all units. We don’t want to have complicated tables that leasing agents have to communicate to prospective residents, which only adds friction to the leasing experience. How do you optimize lease terms without complicated options for prospective residents? We have a unique solution that we are excited to bring public in the near future.
So, in summary, RentVision plans to create two products with unique solutions:
- Create Predictive Advertising that is highly dynamic for your precise needs
- Help prospective residents confidently rent apartments without driving anywhere
- Deliver a lower cost media solution for small communities
- Deliver the right rental and renewal prices to optimize revenue
- Optimize lease terms to shorten turnover time
- Consider people by treating them fairly, creating efficiencies, and eliminating unnecessary marketing and leasing friction.
We look forward to achieving our vision and hope you join us along the way. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions, as we’d love to chat.