3 Steps to Get Onsite Management Familiar with Multifamily Utility Billing

Are your onsite property managers in the loop with your corporate utility billing strategy? Here’s why this matters, and how you can catch them up if needed.

Your onsite management team is crucial to your multifamily property operations. Whether they work from or live and work from your properties, they serve as a valuable liaison between your firm and the tenants living in your multifamily complexes.

This tenant rapport can be a double-edged sword, especially when it comes to new submetering or utility billing programs. If your onsite management team isn’t up to speed on your utility billing process, you risk your company’s reputation.

Why Onsite Property Managers Need to Know About Your Utility Billing Policy

The business case for a utility billing system is clear. A utility billing program is a great way to maintain and improve the value of your multifamily property investment. It helps your firm boost NOI and multifamily cap rate by better recovering costs each month, saving your company thousands in previously unrecovered utility costs.

While utility billing makes business sense to your firm and your investors, there can be some friction when it comes to implementation. Tenants receiving a new utility bill without prior communication and explanation can lead to confusion and even anger. Your onsite property managers are your firm’s first line of defense.

But if they aren’t familiar with your new utility billing system, a few problems can arise:

  • Miscommunication with tenants: Without a clear understanding of utility billing and the reasons behind the initiative, property managers may provide inaccurate information to residents about the changes. This can lead to confusion, frustration and further complaints from tenants.
  • Lack of adherence to the new utility billing structure: An informed onsite manager can help tenants get signed up in their billing portal faster and act as a resource when questions arise. If they are not up to speed, tenants will likely dispute more bills and take longer to pay, negatively impacting your firm’s recovery rates.
  • Conflicting interests: Onsite property managers who live on the property know and live with the other tenants. When those tenants have questions or bring disputes to them, they are more likely to side with tenants – especially if your onsite manager feels out of the loop when it comes to the new utility billing policy. If there is any tenant dissatisfaction, an uninformed onsite manager can easily add fuel to the fire, increasing that dissatisfaction rather than addressing it.

Even if you recently onboarded a utility billing provider, these issues will still cause your tenants to view your firm in a negative light. And worst-case scenario, they could cause your tenants to find other living arrangements, increasing your vacancies and further damaging your reputation.

The good news is these issues can be avoided if your onsite property managers are up to speed on utility billing and in lock-step with your new initiatives. Here’s how you can get them there.

3 Steps to Get Onsite Management Familiar with Multifamily Utility Billing

#1: Train Them on the Basics of Utility Billing

Your onsite property managers should have a working knowledge of the utility billing system your firm chooses, whether it’s submetering or RUBS. They should know how the system works and the reasons your property has elected to start utility billing.

#2: Include Them Early in the Process

It’s important to include your onsite managers as early as you can in your process. While they may not have a deciding voice as you build out your utility billing strategy, they can provide your team with valuable insights about the properties to help you make better decisions.

On top of that, including them gives them a sense of ownership in the process. That ownership and training will empower them to proactively address any tenant concerns that may arise.

#3: Give Them Talking Points to Address Tenant Concerns

When tenants complain, property managers need to know how to respond properly. Without that guidance, they may pass along inaccurate information or cast your firm in a bad light.

When new utility billing systems roll out, it’s normal for tenants to be confused about the new bills. However, when armed with the right talking points, a knowledge of the utility billing system and why it was implemented, your onsite property managers can quickly resolve issues before they become larger problems for your firm.

Conclusion: Ensure Your Utility Billing Program Is Successful

Including your onsite property managers as your firm explores utility billing is key to ensuring the future success of the program. When they are included early and properly trained on the utility billing system, they can be an advocate for your new utility billing initiative. They will also be more empowered to help residents get set up and address issues before they become bigger problems.

If you have questions about utility billing, our experts are always on hand to help. Get in touch with Synergy.