“Apartment hunting is a process, and the best way to help people find the apartment that meets their lifestyles and budgets is through interactive resources. Fifteen years ago, this was done traditionally by ‘apartment locators’ using on-site databases. With cutting-edge technology, we are able to deliver more detailed information than the old databases held, all with a more inviting and interactive search technology. The best part is that we are able to deliver that information 24/7 to literally all reaches of the globe.” – Pete Zimek
New technology brings new opportunities, as well as changes that will need to occur to take advantage of them. Without leveraging these opportunities, you can do your small business a disservice or even wind up losing profits by not staying on top of trends that your customers utilize. Adapting to technological trends benefit in growing small businesses, especially those in the apartment and housing industry, and helping them to maintain an edge over the competition.
One of the biggest adjustments businesses of all sizes have had to make over the past few years is discovering how they can take their industry online. Whether it’s creating a company’s first website, redesigning and updating an existing site or adding new functions like an e-commerce section or a blog, being online is vital. It gives your company market expansion by being able to reach anyone willing to purchase your services and adds value with a sense of credibility by having additional information for the customers who view the site. This will produce long-term consumers that will have a positive effect on the business’ bottom line.
Pete Zimek, owner of apartment search sites such as Swamp Rentals and 407apartments.com, is a prime example of a business owner in the housing industry, who realized he needed to change the way his business operates to remain competitive. Zimek originally started in the world of print advertising in Gainesville more than 10 years ago. At the time, the student housing market was expanding rapidly in Gainesville, which is home to the University of Florida and its more than 50,000-person student body, and the majority of his business came from apartment communities.
A few years ago, he realized that many of his clients were shifting away from print ads and moving online. Zimek quickly realized that to remain profitable, he needed to shift his focus online, as well as find a way to deliver the information his target audience was seeking. How could he entice rental communities to keep advertising with his business, and also make it easy for renters to search for apartments online?
The answer was by creating a professional e-commerce website, but it isn’t enough for business owners to set up a website and think it’s good enough as it stands. They need to constantly monitor the site and update content for the consumers. This can be done by writing up daily blog posts about your company on the website and running a background program like Google Analytics to grab information on who is viewing your website.
“The absolute key to our success has been that this process hasn’t stopped,” Zimek said. “Our company invested more in our web technology in the first half of 2012 than we did prior to our initial launch in 2010.” As you grow your website you’ll start to notice that your great website is starting to get outdated and falling behind the industry curve. Investing more will promise a first mover advantage for your company and make you the primer website for your industry.
Some small business owners may also decide to work with a full-service web development agency over a smaller company to achieve the well-maintained website that they have their eye on, too.
“My advice to other business owners would be to suck it up and pay for a top-notch web development firm. I have heard more than a handful of horror stories where friends have tried to develop web platforms with a lower tier developer. Those mom-and-pop developers might be great for a business looking for a ‘business card’ web presence, but they are simply not capable of building an online enterprise.”
Rainier Fuclan is a freelance writer for 407apartments.com, which is a website that allows you to search apartments in Orlando according to various criteria, including neighborhood and school district.