Milbrook Properties has been operating residential and commercial properties on the east coast for nearly 100 years. With a team spread across six states that serves both residential and commercial tenants, the Milbrook team is focused on maintaining great properties and providing a great experience to their clients. We spoke with Jeff Katz, VP of Field Operations, about his experience implementing Synco’s real-time messaging platform with his team.
Q: Why is communicating quickly and efficiently so important for property management and Milbrook’s team, specifically?
A: Having strong connections between administrative staff who are in the office and on-site field personnel who are at our properties every day is critical. When someone on-site sees something as an emergency, our office team absolutely needs to respond to that immediately and get moving to solve it.
In property management, you can’t wait. Our residents and commercial tenants are our clients and we try to treat each one as if they’re the only customer we have. Being able to communicate in real time back to them and get that response back is really important. We pride ourselves on telling all of our residents and tenants: call us first. If there’s a repair to be made, we will respond to that in a timely manner, and show our clients that it’s not just a business – we understand that this is your home or your office space and we will treat you properly and get back to you quickly.
Q: Describe the communication challenges your team was facing every day.
A: Our main challenge was getting a timely response from our field personnel and everything that comes along with that: being able to share information (especially photos) and get information in real time without having to send additional personnel to a site, and being able to react to situations, especially emergencies, quickly.
Before Synco, we were using email, texting, and many of our field personnel were using WhatsApp as well. It was hard to figure out where information was located – where was that photo? Did I lose that photo? Who sent that photo over which channel? Trying to take videos or photos off of an app and upload them onto email – so much got lost in translation, and we were spending more time searching and re-uploading than actually solving problems.
Q: What features drew you to Synco’s real-time messaging platform?
A: First, it was the real-time communication aspect. Secondly, it’s that Synco is an application that is seamless across different devices – desktop and mobile. Not having to drag and drop and move things around across platforms is amazing. And no matter what device someone is working on, we are able to share information together in one place. The ability to be online on your desktop and participate in the exact same conversation on your phone is priceless because everyone’s in a different place, whether it’s my team that’s at their desks or everyone else in the field that’s on their phone.
The other feature that Synco really has done well is the ease of use. Synco is as easy as texting, which is important especially for our field staff. We need a platform that is super easy for people to use. We get faster responses using Synco because it’s as simple as texting. Synco also has some of the features of email as well – Synco has combined texting with email and that’s been great for our team.
Q: Your team are super-users of Synco’s Message Translation feature. Why is real-time message translation so valuable?
A: 90% of our field staff speaks Spanish, and they’re more comfortable communicating in Spanish. Prior to Synco, we were going to Google Translate to try to figure out what someone was saying, or I was waiting for an internal staff member who speaks Spanish to tell me what the employee said. It was inefficient.
With Synco, translation is automatic and we can have a real-time conversation with me speaking in English, and an employee responding in Spanish, and we’re both translating it so we can keep the conversation flowing.
Not only are we saving time, but we’re also seeing that since employees can now communicate in the language they’re comfortable in, they’re giving more detail and the full picture of a situation because they feel more free to explain what’s going on in their native language. That makes for better team communication and faster problem solving.
Q: How has implementing Synco impacted Milbrook’s team so far?
A: We’ve seen probably a 50% decrease in email volume, and that just makes it a lot easier to look at our email inboxes and figure out what’s important, quickly. We know that real-time conversations are happening on Synco, and it’s much easier to get a group involved in a conversation on Synco without having to forward emails to people and wait for a response.
Additionally, for me personally, the visibility that I’ve gotten with Synco is great. It’s been really, really, helpful to be a part of a Synco group and be able to see conversations at the property level. My staff knows that I’m a part of a group, and I will respond if I need to, but it’s allowed me to really know what’s going on minute-by-minute in each building.
I also absolutely see with Synco that since the group conversations are real-time, more people are participating and putting their two cents in, which I welcome. With the formality of email, sometimes people wouldn’t know if they should respond. And I like it too, because I’m able to speak with employees I wouldn’t normally talk to, and they can see that I am involved and am there to help as well. We’ve been able to build connections with Synco, and that’s so valuable to the work we do and serving our clients.