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6 Keys to Winning in the Multifamily Housing Marketplace

Multifamily housing projects present a unique opportunity for installing security contractors to solve numerous access control challenges for end customers.

Multifamily housing is a robust and growing market for installing security contractors to approach in terms of access control. However, the uniqueness of such facilities raises a few considerations that are atypical to other markets.

Not just limited to housing multiple families, many properties fall into mixed-use categories by accommodating multiple types of industry, such as light commercial, retail and hospitality. And not all residential spaces are strictly residential because of common areas such as pools, fitness centers, lounges and community gardens.

So, the overriding question to ponder is what issues are building owners experiencing that installing security contractors can help solve? Let’s delve into six key areas.

Return on investment — Several of the concerns will tie back to financial goals for both the property developer and the property manager. Bottom line: they need affordability while also providing safe, unique and attractive spaces.

And that means both parties are seeking to minimize the cost required on a project in a way that doesn’t sacrifice quality nor keep them from being competitive in the market for quality tenants. This brings us to the model of finding access control products that provide a return on investment (ROI) based on their standard practices.

Considerations about ROI typically include upfront cost during construction or renovation. However, more developers and property managers are now paying special attention to the ongoing cost of maintaining and managing their access solutions as part of their decision-making process.

Simplify door security solutions — One priority is finding ways to minimize touchpoints. Today these often come in terms of data entry into different systems for credentialing. It isn’t uncommon for building management in these environments to suffer from needing to update different systems for commercial locks, residential locks, and gate systems.

The simple fix is to move to one system. The ongoing management systems available today can integrate all types of locks in a building (or even across multiple buildings), and they can be implemented in a way that utilizes a cloud environment so that facility managers don’t always need to be onsite to manage access control.

For dense urban areas, this is increasingly valuable as management companies with multiple buildings can manage access control from a single location, further reducing the cost on workforce overhead.

Check your credentials — A hidden cost for many buildings is the ongoing cost of managing physical brass keys. The management of the keys — both for staff and during resident move in and out — can become cumbersome and add significantly to operational costs. Further, lost or stolen keys create significant security risk and labor implications to re-key up to a building full of keyed locks.

Solutions to this include the use of mobile credentials or the use of physical credentials that are digitally managed. In both scenarios you can provide someone with credential-based access permissions during a lease signing that may only be active at a certain date. For example, on their move-in date, thus streamlining the process and removing an additional administration activity.

Interoperability — There are several physical control platforms such as Z-Wave that integrate with other systems within a building. Providing a lock with these capabilities allow building owners to connect with thermostats and lighting, among other Internet of Things (IoT) offerings. This is a great selling point for potential renters, but it also provides the building management with additional control over vacancy management.

Easily ensuring that a manager can reduce a vacant unit’s energy consumption works as part of a building’s larger ecosystem and provides additional ROI.

Wired vs. wireless — It can be very costly, time consuming and physically prohibitive in many instances to run hard wires to every door in a building. This applies to both new construction and retrofit. Fortunately, there are many solutions available that are either wirelessly connected — or even offline using a technology called data-on-card — where it becomes very cost-effective and time-effective to deploy.

Further, these solutions can be a blend in today’s security environment. Some doors can work with PoE connections, but it is unlikely that every opening needs that connection. So considering all options in the network environment is critical to cost savings.

Collaboration is paramount — One of the cornerstones of this business is that being collaborative from the very start is critical to success. Listen to what the customers wants in each scenario and build a system for them. Offer solutions, and explain the benefits.

From an aesthetic perspective, building owners and managers will want attractive and secure buildings. Make sure you are offering suited hardware and suited credential technology. Ask about the mixed-use areas, and ensure that the different uses can be implemented into one security system so they are lowering those administrative touchpoints.

A quick example: We recently collaborated with an off-campus housing project where the property experienced high turnover of both residents and staff. This required a higher level of security and auditability than the property could accomplish with traditional brass keys.

They needed to know who went where, and when they did it, in case of emergencies. And they needed to ensure residents could get into their units without delay, even if they lost their credential which is common in this environment.

By simply listening to those pain points we were able to provide a solution that would meet the customer needs. The result is a reduction in operational costs, a safer facility through new credentials, and a streamlined system thanks to new technologies.


Bryan Lieberman is Director of Business Development, Multifamily Solutions, for ASSA ABLOY Door Security Solutions.

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