Interview: Matthew Sallee, Multi-family VP Talks About Motili’s Unique New Asset Management Technology.

This in-depth interview is part of an interview series with internal Motili thought leaders and subject matter experts. In this interview we will cover:

  • Motili Asset Management product overview.
  • How this new product applies to multi-family property portfolios.
  • Benefits to owners and operators.
  • Benefits to HVAC contractors.
  • Asset Management Case Study.
  • Getting started.

We are joined today by Matthew Sallee, vice president of multi-family at Motili. Matt is going to talk to us a little bit about an exciting new multi-family Asset Management product that Motili is launching Q1 of 2019.

Give us a little bit of background on what it is, who it’s for, and the benefits the product provides.

I think that the most interesting thing about Asset Management is the enterprise value that is delivered from HVAC savings to multifamily owners and operators.

Owners and operators often have a multitude of communities, with a wide variety of mechanical asset types across the country and often in very diverse places. It can become a very cumbersome task to understand “What am I spending where?” and “Why am I spending that money?”

When you think about that complexity, multiplied by a large number of communities, asset data becomes a very useful tool.

We facilitate better decision-making through data on reactive repair items, but more importantly robust long-term multi-year capital plans, is what Asset Management does.

We’re able to give a true forecast a few years out and look at not just one or two buildings , but across the nationwide portfolio, helping a multi-family conglomerate find tens of millions of dollars through savings and optimization. It often makes more sense to spread your investment over a multi-year period.

It’s a complex equation, but without the data you just can’t do it. We know how to quickly capture accurate data, analyze it, and help visualize and explain it, so our customers can manage that equation.

Motili offered an asset tracking product that was offered in the past. Is this asset tagging 2.0? Is this a derivative of that?

Great question, we started down the asset tagging path almost two years ago with a few clients and what we found is that it was missing a few key elements that were needed to get the value that I just described. Asset Management now lives inside of every work order that we create, in every job that we do.

Can you tell us a little bit about the actual process? Let’s say a property is interested in doing an Asset Management project, what are the steps there?

It’s easy to get started, as easy as doing a site inspection.

We send out a technician or send a property the instructions to do it themselves if they have the resources. It’s a few photos inside our app. Based on a limited sample of data we can start to derive what a plan would look like, and give some visibility into a projected operational plan and capital plan over a multi-year period. This process typically takes around 20 minutes per building. It’s cost effective, accurate, and fast.

For customers who have recently acquired a building or have a building that they know they’re going to put some capital into over the next few years, we consider this to be an investment-grade project. Investment-grade project data gives the customer more robust detail about what’s going on in the building, community or portfolio and exactly what needs to happen moving forward.

It sounds like there are some benefits to property managers and probably even all the way up to the executive or the portfolio management level. Are there any benefits for contractors?

Once onboarded our contractors understand the the systems and nuances with working with property managers and owners and operators.

We go through that process together and it becomes a symbiotic relationship. We’re able to create off-peak season work for contractors that they normally wouldn’t have. It’s very stable, sustainable work that continues to come in. As long as a contractor is doing a good job the work continues to grow.

We love our contractors, we rely on our contractors and they’re our best partners in the markets that we serve and the buildings that we maintain.

Is this project going to utilize existing Motili contractors, are you onboarding new contractors, and does the contractor have to qualify in any way to participate?

We serve a wide variety of building types here at Motili today, everything from a non-occupied foreclosed house, all the way up to a high-rise commercial building and all the multifamily shapes and sizes in between. Due to the diverse nature of our customers, we utilize a wide variety of contractor types.

There’s a large number of our contractors in the multifamily space that will continue to do work there and I think that there are some areas where, as we grow, we’re going to need more qualified contractors.

We’re actively recruiting contractors we feel we can train to the standards that we expect for our customers.

There are other companies in the space of property management and asset management. How does what Motili is launching compare to what is available right now?

A lot of the technologies I’ve seen in the property management space are trying to solve the day to day operational issues of leasing managers and service managers at the building level and then giving some visibility back to the regional and corporate procurement folks in terms of speeding up work orders, and being more effective and making purchasing decisions.

Motili brings that same efficiency improvement at the building level and regional level down to mechanical construction where we’re making those optimizations after the work order has been entered. We take that work order and we drive efficiencies in getting the equipment there on time, stocking it in one of our 600 distribution points, making sure that we’ve got a qualified contractor ready to pick up that piece of equipment and get it installed quickly.

We make sure that when a resident has a problem in any apartment in the US that we already know what equipment is there and we can provide next day service for that repair or replacement. That really is where our technology comes in, and stands apart from the more traditional work order entry property management systems.

Some of the pain points that are frequently mentioned by property managers, especially at the property level, are issues like communication and spending a lot of time dealing with contractors. Does Motili address these, and if so, how?

We hear this all the time. Finding, retaining, and managing HVAC contractors is an ongoing challenge for property managers. We maintain that network on behalf of our customers and make it readily available as it’s needed and it doesn’t cost anything to set up with us.

There’s no recurring fee – just use us as you need us. What our customers find is that it really is a value add, because when they’ve got five systems that fail, we’re there and we’re able to get those back up and running very very quickly and very cost effectively without having to go through five different contractors and 10 different phone calls.

We are the customer’s one point of contact for all HVAC needs. We handle the equipment, the permits, the contractor, the clean up, the disposal, scheduling, everything.

Resident satisfaction is a central piece, especially at the property level. How does Motili impact resident satisfaction?

What we’re seeing is the data is creating less reactivity in heating and cooling and it’s really allowing our clients to become more proactive because they have visibility into what they can do in advance of a resident saying “my system is broken”.

Being proactive and avoiding service calls keeps satisfaction high in our customers’ communities, we have a case study on this.

Once a property manager get a service call from a resident, you’ve already got a resident dissatisfied by virtue of “my system isn’t working”, they are uncomfortable and that’s bad. What we’re doing is getting ahead of that service call and working with our clients to be proactive, so that we’re not waiting for a technician to tell us that the system needs to be replaced.

If we know that a system needs to be replaced, let’s replace it when it’s most cost effective, when you can get a good contractor, and an attractive price. Get it done in advance of the resident having to call and say, “Hey, my AC isn’t working; when are you going to come and fix it?” and it’s 100+ degrees outside.

We’re working with our customers to make sure that they don’t even have to pick up the phone to say, “My system’s down”.

You’ve mentioned that you’ve already done a couple of case study projects. Is this asset management product live now, or when does it launch?

We are doing pilots with existing customers and a lot of that right now is a manual process by our internal teams.

As this product launches, we’ll be able to offer it to a much larger pool of potential clients, because we will take a lot of the human element out of the equation and put in place an automated system that will make things streamlined for our customers and their residents.

We’re weaving together all the pieces into one cohesive platform so that we can we can offer it to a much larger client base than we could previously support.

Are there existing projects where you’ve seen good results?

We were managing two buildings for a particular customer in the DC area over the last several years, and in the first building we did a proactive repair and replacement on their systems going into summer.

The second community didn’t have money budgeted for this last year, so we didn’t do any of the proactive replacements at that community.

Those two communities went through a very hot summer in DC and we saw approximately a 30%-40% reduction in service calls on the community where we did an asset tagging project.

Multifamily owners and operators are worried about resident satisfaction, in a very competitive market. Anytime you’re able to eliminate a service call I think that’s a benefit, so a 30% reduction in service calls is huge.

There are few categories where you can impact service calls this dramatically.

For that customer it stood out too, it was a big deal for them to eliminate the number of reactive service calls from the residents. I guess it was sort of an “Aha!” moment for them.

What are the next steps to get started, for those interested in trying this at their community?

Go to our Asset Management page, and fill out a demo request form. After we receive an inquiry, it’s usually a 15-minute phone call to determine how we can work together.

We then dispatch a contractor to do a site inspection and give you an idea of what pricing would look like.

If there are multifamily owners or operators who have a capital project or a capital plan and would like a second opinion on what a system replacement price might look like, we would be happy to write a proposal.

I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results. We tend to be dramatically lower than the local contractors and I think that we offer a lot of value. So I’d invite folks to reach out to us on LinkedIn or on the website, and let’s talk.


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