Veritas Investments manages a variety of mixed-use retail and multifamily rental properties in the San Francisco Bay area. Its real estate portfolio includes everything from historic buildings in San Francisco’s most iconic districts to new constructions in up-and-coming neighborhoods. In San Francisco and other high-cost markets, vacancy loss caused by inefficiency adds up quickly.
That means ensuring each property stays occupied and renters remain satisfied. “The average monthly apartment rental in San Francisco is approximately $2,500 to $3,000,” says Matt Leedham, Technical Consultant at Veritas. “That means every unoccupied unit comes with significant costs to the company. Any time there are delays, whether it’s a few days or a week between turn hand-offs, it’s lost revenue.”
The turn management process – a.k.a the many steps that happen when a property moves from one renter to another – had to run smoothly. With more than 7,000 rental units on their plate, this was no easy task. The Veritas team tried using spreadsheets to track and manage each department’s many responsibilities. However, information was scattered across the different documents, making errors more likely and the whole process too clunky. Handoffs happened via email, which were easy to miss and could easily lead to delays.
Plus, nothing about the process was customizable. With a turn management workflow that involved asset managers, onsite building managers, repair services, and more, the team needed something that they could tailor to different groups.
Veritas quickly realized they had to find an adaptable solution that put all of the relevant information in one place, and that allowed them to automate repeated workflows. They also knew it had to be intuitive or their employees wouldn’t want to use it. “Users have very high expectations today,” says Matt. “They’re used to being able to quickly and easily consume data and use apps on their smartphones and tablets.”
First, Veritas tried repurposing its accounting program to track and manage workflows, but it didn’t meet their requirements. So, they turned to Skuid to create an efficient, intuitive, and customizable solution that would let them manage their various processes and workflows from a single platform.
Here’s what they came up with.
A solution with DRIVE
Using Skuid, Veritas built a custom application called DRIVE to better serve their operational and stakeholder needs. The platform provided a single source of truth for all information regarding the company’s many operational tasks. Rather than living in multiple spreadsheets, this data is now available directly in the DRIVE app. And instead of email handoffs, automated workflows move tasks from one user to another – no manual entry required.
Skuid’s low-code, no-code capabilities proved especially valuable. The Veritas team was impressed with how much they could do despite not having a lot of in-house development resources. “We have a small team, and our main developer is located in France. Even with the distance and time zone differences, we’re able to build, revise and update web pages in real-time, through our Zoom meetings. It’s amazing,” says Matt. “We quickly realized the value Skuid delivered towards accomplishing our goals, without requiring a huge development team and highly skilled coders.”
Currently, DRIVE serves about 250 employees and includes features for repairs and maintenance, investments, leasing, construction, property onboarding, website management, risk management, and of course, turn management. The app’s intuitive user experience makes it easy for all of these groups to coordinate during these crucial hand-off periods.
“We’ve created a Turn Management app to help us extract more value from every unit,” says Matt. “The app provides our management teams with a single dashboard for all things pertaining to turn workflows and processes. This includes information on unit renovations to achieve the best rental value.”
DRIVE’s suite of third-party integrations makes the solution even more powerful. The platform includes integrations around business intelligence, property accounting, listing information, and syndication, property inspection, and data feed services.
The end result? A robust solution that Veritas is using to make the most out of each property.
DRIVE-ing operational efficiencies
With DRIVE, the Veritas team saw quick improvements in efficiency, particularly around delay reduction. The San Francisco real estate market is so valuable that even a small lag can lead to big losses. And because managing rental units from purchase to lease involves so many different stakeholders, a delay in any step of the process leads to further issues down the line.
This was where the Veritas team was hoping to see the greatest positive impact of the DRIVE app, and they weren’t disappointed. For one, departments no longer had to fill out spreadsheets, reducing the risk of human error and saving time and hassle. For another, the platform’s automation capabilities make workflows simpler to set up and deploy. Stakeholders are automatically pinged when it’s time for them to manage their part of the workflow – no more missed emails. In fact, the Veritas team has seen a significant reduction in hand-off time frames since launching DRIVE.
Having a centralized tool for workflow management has also come with other benefits. The DRIVE platform contains valuable data that Veritas is now using to inform strategy and decision-making. For example, the app’s data around task time frames and schedules is allowing them to better predict how long various projects will take. In addition, the team can also track budgets against actual costs with greater accuracy. If a project is at risk of going over budget, they can quickly course-correct.
During the complex handoff process and beyond, DRIVE helps everyone keep track of their specific jobs. All users can see their tasks through a dashboard view appropriate to their role. The platform provides performance metrics to the executive team as well. With this level of transparency, every stage of the workflow is easy to follow and everyone remains accountable for their part in it.
Prepared for the future
Because the DRIVE platform is so customizable and adaptable, Veritas is able to quickly respond to feature requests and continuously improve the user experience. In fact, many of DRIVE’s new capabilities and updates are actually built on the fly.
“Our users love it because they can come up with ideas to increase their productivity and have greater visibility into their processes,” says Matt. “They can make a request in the morning, and we might have the new function or feature to them within hours, if not minutes. It gives them a feeling of involvement and a strong sense of ownership in the application building process.”
This kind of speed is key in the rapidly-changing world of real estate. Veritas actually saw this first hand during the pandemic, when San Francisco experienced a mass exodus of renters. The strong market that didn’t require many rent concessions suddenly shifted to a much softer one. Real estate management companies had to respond quickly. Luckily, Veritas was ready and able to be nimble. The team updated its apps to reflect evolving market needs, helping them stay successful throughout the crisis.
The market is now in a recovery phase with renters coming back to the Bay. But Veritas can still quickly and effectively update the DRIVE platform to respond to any market challenge. This capability will see the company through future volatility and be key to its continued success and growth.
Want to learn more about how companies like Veritas improve operational efficiencies? Check out our other customer stories here.