Pegasus Residential, a top 50 multifamily operator headquartered near Atlanta, manages more than 34,000 units in 34 markets located throughout the southeast and Texas. With safety of employees and residents paramount in the new COVID-19 reality, social distancing and remote work have become part of everyday life for the firm.
Even as so much has changed since the beginning of the crisis, with Knock deployed to nearly all of their communities, the firm has been able to maintain business continuity, and has actually seen year-over-year improvement in leases signed during this crisis.
We talked with the Pegasus marketing team – Bevan White, vice president, Devin Harvey, director, and Bonnie Spinks, director – about how they are working with Knock during the COVID-19 outbreak to not only maintain business continuity, but also deliver leasing results. Here’s what they had to say.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
When you realized that COVID-19 was going to be a crisis, how did you react?
Bevan: We had our annual leadership conference about 3 weeks ago in South Florida, and as people were getting home, we realized that this is going to be huge. Knock was the first thing that came into my head when we realized how big this was going to be. I said, ‘Knock is going to be our savior if-and-when we have to be quarantined at home.’
How has Knock helped most during the last couple of weeks?
Bevan: More than anything, it’s been the reassurance that we’re going to be able to help our prospects no matter what – whether it’s remote or on-site. A lot of things for us didn’t have to change because of Knock.
Devin: We were lucky, and already had our online resources set up with Knock. We know where a lot of our traffic is coming from.
Are there any particular tools that have been able to help you the most over the last few weeks?
Devin: For me, it’s a mixture of things. It is your communication. It’s the transparency into where leases are coming from, the ability for our teams to work from home, and the ability to work from mobile devices. They are all an integral part of our business.
Bonnie: We changed the message on the chatbot, to allow prospects to connect with a person live. That’s a critical tool right now. It’s also all the new ways we can use the product now. It’s like you have taken the Knock we have been using since 2018 and magnified it. It seems like it’s the year 2050 now! You’ve gotten really granular on each of the features that we use and integrated new ones.
When it comes to your critical business metrics, how have they been impacted so far?
Bevan: We were looking at phone and email traffic converting to walk-in traffic. And, that’s changed. We’re looking at leases all-up, because people are converting without coming in.
Bonnie: We just did a survey of year-over-year, week-over-week leases before and after COVID became a pandemic. We’re doing better.
Everyone is hyper focused on every prospect. Everyone is doing what they already have been doing, and they’re doing it so well because everyone is in survival mode. We’re focused on leasing. People are still leasing, and leases are our number one focus right now.
That’s awesome to hear. How has Knock helped you with that?
Bonnie: Knock’s COVID trainings have been amazing. It was actually really interesting, because we realized you had actually already built solutions for all this stuff for hurricane season. The trainer, Lauren, related her experience with Hurricane Harvey, and knowing that she used Knock features to do similar things — that really put our teams at ease.
But probably one of the biggest things, we think, is how flexible you all have been to adapt your platform to whatever is happening right now. The email you sent out with all the new features you’re reprioritizing to help out – I think you have all been great about that. And we have been taking advantage of every single one of those tools.
What about multifamily ownership groups, what they are looking for now?
Bevan: We know we’re going to have a decent amount of delinquency, and ownership groups are going to want to know how we’re reducing costs. And, we’re ready for that conversation.
My number one thing I look at is Knock’s Ad Spend report for our cost-per-lease. If I’m looking at cost-per-lease of $200 or $250 – that is ok. If I’m seeing $1,000 cost-per-lease, I have to nix that source quickly. It’s my favorite report.
Even as you’re thinking about cutting costs, it sounds like you have continued to roll out properties with Knock over the last couple of weeks – can you tell us a little about that?
Bevan: We had nine properties that weren’t on Knock, and in talking with our customer success managers, they said you could get them up and running in 48 hours to help us be ready. Two days later the properties were live and ready to go. Knock did training for the teams, and got them rolled out. It’s been easy.
So is it fair to say you’ve been happy with Knock’s partnership during COVID?
Bonnie: Absolutely. You have a sense of urgency that matches ours, and that’s been very helpful.
Devin: I think in looking for someone to do business with, we want someone that is more than a vendor – that are partners. And we’ve found it with Knock.