Rently CEO Merrick Lackner: The future of renting and property management

Zeb Lowe: How do you feel about the manner companies in this industry are approaching technology in today’s market?

Merrick Lackner: It’s no secret that companies are looking to reduce operating expenses, and automation plays an integral role in accomplishing that. The danger of automation-first thinking is it often comes at the cost of the relationship with the customer. Relationships are the foundation and driving force of our industry. The key to success is understanding exactly how to strike that balance between automation and the human touch. Our products foster harmony between technology and the human experience. 

Our new Intercom Access Panel is a perfect example. While traditional access technology utilizes a one time code for entry, our new panel can facilitate entry with a video call. So, a resident can guide a delivery person, guest, or friend as they are making their way to the front door. It also means a leasing agent can connect via video with a prospective renter before they enter and communicate with them as they tour the property in real time. It provides more options, and a better experience, for residents, prospective renters, and managers. This is a game changer. Not just because of its capabilities, but because we have a platform that provides a seamless experience for all parties involved.

ZL: In what ways are you using technology to innovate while enhancing your customer/user experience?

ML: Our approach to innovation is driven by this question, “How can we use technology to enhance our user’s experience?” How can we make leasing staff more efficient and effective? How can we make it easier for renters to find and tour properties? 

With us, that approach plays out from beginning to end. We have a Verified Renter service that fully validates a renter before they even begin their tour. It checks the ID, credit card, credit score, and other factors to match renters to properties that they are a good fit for. Using our system, renters can easily find the right rental property and then be guided to the property with our Wayfinding tech. Upon arrival they will be greeted by our access panel I mentioned earlier. It’s a seamless experience from end to end, guided by the philosophy that technology is meant to enhance the human experience, not replace it.

ZL: Will you share your approach to thinking through, and problem solving, a “complete” and “connected” journey/experience on behalf of your customer? What problems were you seeking to solve?

ML: Our goal is to enhance every part of the leasing process for both renters and operators. We know that a fragmented experience leads to less conversion. One of the biggest pain points we hear from both audiences is having to jump between multiple systems to find a property, tour, apply, and utilize amenities once a lease is signed. Something so small as a prospect re-typing information can lead to a 35% conversion loss. 

We brought all of the processes together into a single system. Renters can find a property to tour on our website, register, get matched to properties they’ll likely qualify for, take a self-guided tour, apply, and control their smart home amenities once they move in.  Managers only need to utilize one system to view and manage leads, applicants, and smart home residents and devices. 

ZL: What does the future look like for you? What improvements, or growth areas, are you excited about?

ML: Since we are both a software and hardware company we are constantly looking for ways to improve and innovate. When it comes to the intersection of automation technology and human connectedness, it is important to reflect on process and communication in real life. Usually, key interactions occur at a critical moment where much needed information is communicated. For example, if you’re about to rent a jet ski, the five minute interaction with the trainer is key before you head out on the ocean. 

Maintaining key communication points with human involvement while allowing automation for the vast majority of processes is the problem we are solving. For example, if you’re leading someone to your front door, intercom video functionality facilities those key few visual moments. Likewise with our verified renter, leasing and automation tools. We do the heavy lifting while allowing for human interaction at key moments. Because leasing and occupancy inherently requires human judgements at points in the process, Rently strives for a simplistic and elegant fusion of connection and automation. 

In the coming years, our software will become increasingly modular so clients can mix and match the elements of the product suite to create the perfect solution for their respective company culture and DNA. For example, not all managers use the same elements when processing rental applications. Rently’s move to modular will allow managers to pick the elements of rental application that fit their company policy. Likewise for verified renter and hardware components. 

We are excited about our future because there are still so many opportunities to enhance resident experience while offering added services that help real estate operators add value to their resident experience. I know I said that we feel like we’ve really changed the game in our industry by creating this beginning-to-end solution, but truly feel like we are only scratching the surface of our capabilities and our offerings to the industry.

To learn more about Rently, visit use.rently.com.

Merrick Lackner is a smart technology entrepreneur and enthusiast, with more than two decades of experience innovating products for the real estate industry. Merrick founded Rently, together with his business partner, Clark Li, in order to transform rental housing properties with smart home technologies and optimize the leasing experience. Under Merrick and Clark’s leadership, Rently has grown into a robust global company. Merrick is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and has studied international trade in China. 

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