April 01, 2021

Jordan Bentley: Make Ready Made Visible

Imagine a window into what's working and what isn't, for every make ready underway. On Voices, Pacific Living Properties Business Operations Analyst Jordan Bentley explains the power of transparent software.

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Jordan Bentley is a Business Operations Analyst for Pacific Living Properties. He joined the multifamily industry after working for four years as a database engineer and business intelligence analyst in the software and retail industry. At Pacific Living, he helps teams use digital tools and data to make the best property decisions possible.

Audio Transcript

Jordan Bentley 0:00
So every Thursday morning, every single person in organization can now see exactly what's happening, which is really remarkable. And so instead of having one person trying to struggle to manage a bunch of different things, we now have the software manage it for us. And then we're spending more time on the why, and the different questions of like, hey, why are we seeing this information? What does that actually mean? And how do we solve it?

Glennis Markison 0:29
Hi, I'm Glennis Markison from HappyCo. Welcome to Voices, where we feature fresh perspectives in multifamily. The industry is now facing a fundamental shift in workplace dynamics, resident experience and business operations. In Season Two of Voices will feature multifamily leaders who are actively embracing change. Our guest today is Jordan Bentley, business analyst for Pacific Living Properties. Jordan joined the multifamily industry after working for four years as a database engineer and business intelligence analyst and the software and retail industry. At Pacific living, he helps teams use digital tools and data to make the best property decisions possible. Today on Voices, our very last episode of season two, Jordan will discuss how he's helped teams leverage digital inspections, dashboards and more to improve churn and other critical property concerns. Thanks for joining us, Jordan.

Jordan Bentley 1:25
Awesome. Thank you so much for having me.

Glennis Markison 1:28
I'm excited to get started just hearing a bit about how you got into multifamily, kind of what most excited you about the first role that you chose?

Jordan Bentley 1:36
Yeah, of course. So, as you kind of mentioned in that great intro, I came from the software and retail industry, working very heavily with data, unfortunately, when you're kind of in the tech industry, your skills and time transfer. And when I was kind of branching now I'm looking at what I wanted to do over my career, the multifamily industry really fascinated me, specifically working with a smaller company. And that's where I actually got to be in touch with my my boss, Joe Macquarie, who is like, you just came from Amazon, he just came to work in a multifamily business just like I that he was okay. You know, the place that we're currently working is looking to grow and scale. And there's a lot of challenges you face in the multifamily industry, as it's trying to grow with the, with the world and how tech is growing. And so he's like, do you want to be a part of that? And as you know, that sounds fantastic. I can't wait for a new experience like that. That's what brought me over.

Glennis Markison 2:29
Well, it's so encouraging. I'm curious. And once you started to at Pacific, I mean, I hear it was almost an entirely run through paper. So can you describe some of the challenges there with tracking processes with efficiency?

Jordan Bentley 2:42
Yeah, yeah. So when I was first brought on board, he told me, hey, we have so much paper processes here. And he's very used to working with high tech industry where you have so much that's tracked through software. So when I was kind of brought on board, I was noticing that, hey, like things like a move in inspection. We don't really have great visibility and a pictures. We don't have great visibility into tracking that things are even being done. Which makes it really hard to do Reports and Analytics and say, hey, are we are we doing okay, our numbers looking? Okay. So that was a huge challenge to overcome. Fortunately, they were already on board with trying to bring out HappyCo on. And so we'd had you guys for a couple months. So that process was slowly fading. But we'd still had some technical troubles, trying to make sure like, hey, but get everything over to HappyCo. Let's make sure we have things and inspections have pictures that we can actually track.

Glennis Markison 3:39
Yeah, no, that's super helpful to hear. And just diving into those costs a little bit more like was a I remember you were saying something earlier, when we when we first talked about speaking about one person handling a data, a database or sort of a spreadsheet of, of everything. Can you talk about some of those costs, and just just the quality of data at a certain point, when you were still in that sort of paper manual transition mode? Yeah, yeah. So

Jordan Bentley 4:01
you know, we're in this transition mode, we had one individual who is managing a ginormous spreadsheet. And then when I would go into her office, she had all these sticky notes of different like work orders or different things that needs to be fixed. I like property, from phone calls she was having with property managers who were telling her, she was trying to input that information in a spreadsheet. And then she was breaking out parts of the spreadsheet to be emailed to different regional or executive team. And you know, everyone's trying to do the best they can. But when you're doing something like this, it becomes very hard to make sure that the information you're getting is accurate, I think back to that kindergarten game of telephone, where you hear one thing, and then you kind of pass it along. And as it gets passed along for so many people, you start to lose some value there and the information becomes a little muddle. And that was that was a huge issue. And I immediately noticed that right off the bat.

Glennis Markison 4:55
Yeah, and I mentioned to the time it took for one person to handle all that. I mean, that was that like, if even affecting how much you could anticipate getting done for a unit turn, you probably had to rely on one person that was that game of telephone might have expanded the clock a bit.

Jordan Bentley 5:10
Oh, yeah, definitely. So you think about the one person, I believe that was her full time position was trying to manage all this and make sure the data was there. And we did have a property management software. Right. So while we had a lot of paper processes, we did have some, we, you have a property management software to handle your accounting and different aspects of your business. But information wasn't always making it correctly in there. So as you kind of mentioned with something like turn times, or work order times, sometimes you'd pull a report and you would have a negative turn time, or a negative days to complete on a work order. You're like, Wow, man, our team is so good. They can complete this that fast like they're going back.

Glennis Markison 5:48
Negative. That's the standard that is the new industry standard for anyone listening.

Jordan Bentley 5:53
Yeah, exactly. Which is just crazy. And so you're sitting there, and you know, and that's part of the problem is because you have no cross references, you don't have the data accuracy that you really need. Right. And that's why moving to a digital first kind of world is so important. It really helps you understand, while your business is actually performing without those crazy outliers that we're kind of seeing from our data being trying to, you know, that telephone game of importing it into our software.

Glennis Markison 6:17
Yeah, I mean, so I'm interested in the play by play of that transition from paper and manual to you mentioned, you're using HappyCo for inspections. How did that transition happen as far as what people wanted in templates, what you wanted on the back end? Can you kind of talk about just what what all those dreams were when you could finally realize them?

Jordan Bentley 6:36
Yeah, yeah. Again, I got to give a huge shout out to my executive team, they have a really good kind of idea on world where the world is going. So when I was brought out, I made it made those steps, right. But they weren't 100% sure, on a couple different things. So things like databases, and actually consolidating information. And that's where I kind of came out on back. And so they would work heavily on the front end. So we can talk about like a template inspection. So for example, like our make ready templates cover everything from the typical kitchen appliances, to did you change the locks on the doors? How's the bedroom looking? Does it smell okay? Right, everything is in that make ready template so that they can go check all the boxes or different work orders? Because that that makes it to our software, or property management software. Or I can just pull that down. And we can actually then be able to track each of those individual aspects.

Glennis Markison 7:28
Yeah, no, that's remarkable. I mean, as far as the efficiency you were starting to see, can you talk about just in the early days of that, when people were latching on, like what you saw possible with how much time things were taking what people knew at the same time?

Jordan Bentley 7:42
Yeah, it kind of goes from all of a sudden, you want a report that can tell you something about like work orders? And how long is that taking to that report comes out every Thursday. So every Thursday morning, every single person in organization can now see exactly what's happening, which is really remarkable. And so instead of having one person trying to struggle to manage a bunch of different things, we now have the software manage it for us. And then we're spending more time on the why, and the different questions of like, Hey, why are we seeing this information? What does that actually mean? And how do we solve it?

Glennis Markison 8:15
Right? And so can we talk about some of these why's with turn? I mean, everyone listening is like, this is the process? Everyone wants to refine? What were some of those ways you started finding out? And kind of how with the different pieces of the software working together?

Jordan Bentley 8:29
Yeah, so the Why is branch all over. So a lot of that comes down to a like, we first ask the question, you know, is there a huge amount of workers? Do we not do a great job on preventative work orders? You know, what's actually going on at this asset, this property? Or, you know, maybe are we stretched too thin? Is it you know, we have one maintenance tech, and those guys work freaking hard. And he has covering so much space? Do we have a you have an issue of No, we need more help there? Is it a budget issue, you have all these different kinds of constraints that are coming into play ends up being really on the regionals? And the executives be able to kind of come together and work with HR and different teams to figure out how do we solve those. But again, it comes down to before, it was hard to see those kind of winds, and now we can see them.

Glennis Markison 9:14
Yeah, and I understand to use a lot with insights to be tracking things in a way that you categorize. Can you talk about some of that just and even these things that you're categorizing where you can decide, wow, like, this actually might be a garbage disposal issue that's super persistent on a property. I mean, that's so interesting, you can get that specific.

Jordan Bentley 9:31
Yeah, that's it's so funny that you bring up the garbage disposal. We actually have culture meetings on my my company is really important for our executives and for the whole team to come together. And so during one of these culture meetings there across the whole organization, so you're going to be in there with anyone from our maintenance tech to the property manager to you know, someone like me who's just in front of a computer all day a business analyst. And in one of those meetings, I was actually sitting at a table with a mean in tech? And we're kind of talking about, you know, you know, what are some of the troubles that we face on a day to day kind of operation. And he was actually bringing up that garbage disposal was one of the biggest issues he was having his property. I thought that was so funny because I, I can't remember the last time I garbage disposal broke, maybe I'm really lucky. But I can't remember a lot of other things. So it's funny, because when he brings up that story, I was able to go straight back to insight, which is where you can pull down all this data from these incredible inspections and reports that we do. And I was able to actually go in categorize our different categories that we have on our make readies on our move out inspections. And I was able to break it down into a nice pie chart. And I was actually able to notice that this specific property that he was talking about, like, oh, wow, responses really are like, there was a lot of garbage disposals that were protective. Hey, they needed to work above those so crazy. And all of a sudden, now on our main dashboard, we have a different breakout of all the different categories.

Glennis Markison 10:57
Wow, no, that's so helpful. And I understand to remember something you mentioned about compliance issues that when people thought, Oh, I don't know if I want to move to software, like I'm comfortable with paper and comfortable with forms. I know there was something you mentioned about a person who suddenly said in an email chain, like maybe this was a good thing to have, in this instance, could you reveal for listeners what that might have been?

Jordan Bentley 11:20
Yeah, you know, part of moving to a software is people get really complacent in their ways, which is great. Now, sometimes it's hard to kind of change your process. But there's a lot of benefit to move into a software. And sometimes you actually need to see that yourself. So we actually had an example down in California, where, unfortunately, we had a dispute with the tenant over a security deposit at the end of the lease. And that actually went to court. And when I went to court, we had happycow inspection. And we have the pre movement inspection that showed pictures of the whole, like the whole unit, you know, and so everything was in tip top shape right before they moved in, that was fine by that resident, which immediately wanted the court case, it was kind of crazy in that, but that kind of incident that happens. Sparks real value and and people really see it and then instead of just being a new process, it's like, oh, man, I have to have that.

Glennis Markison 12:17
Wow, yeah. And I really want to touch into culture now culture around the data that you're using culture that you've built up and your maintenance team at Pacific living. Can you talk like circling back a bit? You talked about these Whys of what you can find out? That's road blocking, turn road blocking, even something like all this preventative maintenance with garbage disposals? How are you phrasing conscientiously? Like what you're finding, because it is hard, I'm sure to hear a number about how long turn is taking and then take it in it kind of disheartened way instead of wanting to feel empowered to improve the process. So can you talk a little bit about what you've done at Pacific living to phrase your findings? thoughtfully?

Jordan Bentley 12:54
Yeah. So that's you just, you completely nailed it. Sometimes in the final word, data can be seen in a very negative form. Because sometimes a number might not be looking great might be like, Oh, man, now here at Pacific living, we were trying to hit a 72 hour completion time on workhorse, which can be really, really tough like that. That's hard to do. And so when you see your numbers, and they're not quite hitting that, it can be very disheartening. And so I always try to tell the teams I tell my regional they told me, I tell property managers, I'm like, Hey, no, it's all about the why. everyone just wants to know, hey, what is happening? Why is this happening? And how can we fix it? And we want to do this together, you know, you're not on your own. You're not on an island. Again, this is just so that we were all on the same page that we we can move forward together trying to make the best possible product or make the best possible decision. But the situation that's happening? Yeah, I

Glennis Markison 13:49
mean, I think that's really wonderful. And I understand there are other ways, especially with a new hire at Pacific that you've, you've done a lot to create a positive tight knit culture. Can you talk about some of those specifics, as someone listening can say, Okay, if I tried a new software, and there was a little pushback, we could prove things with reports. What What else does it take to make people feel good as they're working on software or not? In maintenance?

Jordan Bentley 14:10
Yeah. So, we actually brought on a new training director named Yolanda and she's fantastic. She was brought on by our CEO, Jeff Miller, who has worked with her, I believe in the past. And she does a great job of bringing people together through these culture meetings, through sending out very inspirational emails and funny pictures and having these different meetings that, you know, every month we can come together and we can praise people, right? Or we can go over things that, hey, like, we're not seeing this happen in software, this talk about this, and we can actually help train and do different things. And it's been incredible because having someone in that kind of role that's helping promote a positive culture is really important, especially in this kind of line of work where, unfortunately, most property managers, they might need to have a very small team at a location or they might even be by themselves. We can kind of feel like they're out on an island. So having that Unity and trying to build up that culture is incredibly important. And again, I got to give all the credit to our executive staff, especially Yolanda for coming in. And that's not an easy job to pull off.

Glennis Markison 15:10
Yeah. And I understand too, is that you mentioned to me about a superstar report that just maybe, examples you've seen, or even how you've seen that person who's featured kind of different skip in their step after they were honored like that.

Jordan Bentley 15:25
Yeah, yeah, exactly. So, you know, when she was brought are brought on, she actually asked me, she was like, hey, like, it'd be so cool. She, she used the phrase superstars a lot. And then she asked me for a particular report, this report was over, actually was over like delinquency, however, we use the same kind of template for a couple different things now, like work orders, etc. And so I kind of took that I ran with that I was like, you know, I can actually make a report called a superstar report and throw up you know, a bunch of stars and actually use a little bit of my design skills to make something look like it belongs to a superstar. And then your names appear up in the stars, and it looks really cool. And we can, you know, produce that we produce every single month to know our people, and then they get really excited because you're you're now praising people on the data. So it actually has real value, instead of just being a floating number out there somewhere.

Glennis Markison 16:18
Yeah, I think it's so wonderful. I mean, you're using it to solve problems, but then you're also making it the people who do solve those problems feel really validated, you know, which I think is turnover such a thing in multifamily and other industries, and there's so much stress happening now that, you know, that must really bring like a lightness to the work, I'm sure.

Jordan Bentley 16:33
Yeah, definitely. Definitely. And I think it's a it's a process, right? It's trying to constantly build up that culture is not something that happens overnight. But it's something you constantly work on, because you are working together and trying to build that up is super important.

Glennis Markison 16:47
Yeah. And I'm curious, speaking in kind of a positive culture in a sort of stressful time, I mean, has working from home has it done anything for your perception of the multifamily industry that maybe without that sort of time to think, at your desk every day, you might you might not have realized how this remote work has just changed your view on the industry? If it has, if any?

Jordan Bentley 17:08
Yeah, you know, my previous careers, my, my previous jobs have all been great. However, you know, during this kind of time was March 19 2021. So we're still in the middle of the COVID crisis. It's been really inspiring to work in an industry, where you are not where you are a necessity, not like a luxury good. Meaning that your apartment, your building your asset that people are living in, they need you, right, they count on you to show up every day, even though that you're in a crisis. And that is really inspiring to see like our main team this year, property managers that show up to work every day, trying to do the best that they can for the for our residents. And it's, it's really incredible to be a part of something like that.

Glennis Markison 17:55
Yeah. Thank you so, so much for sharing that story. And just for joining us on voices to talk about the way that numbers No, they don't have to be scary, they can be really empowering and maybe lead to a superstar report. So I really, really appreciate your being on today.

Jordan Bentley 18:08
No, no problem. Thank you so much for having me.

Glennis Markison 18:10
And thanks so much for listening, everybody. This was actually the last episode of season two. So, we're about to start season three, get ready for a whole new theme about problem solvers.

And if you'd like to hear more from Voices or learn how to share your voice, head to voices dot happy dot co, you can find voices on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast player. Voices is produced by HappyCo, the leading real time property operations platform for multifamily and student housing. We're on a mission to elevate property management to community management, prioritizing staff and resident well being that starts by listening to you the voices of multifamily. I'm Glennis Markison. Thanks for listening. Also, feel free to take a minute and rate or review this podcast that will help us share the voices of multifamily.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Our Host

Glennis Markison

Glennis is a writer and producer from San Francisco. Taking the city’s trains and buses with riders of all ages and backgrounds inspired Glennis to go into journalism and share people’s stories for a living. As HappyCo's Senior Content Producer, she’s excited to highlight diverse voices and share stories from within the Multifamily industry.