By Emily Hossellman, VP of Marketing at Genea
This is a guest post by Building Engines’ Partner, Genea. As part of the Partnership Program, Building Engines co-hosted a webinar with Genea on tenant billback. You can find the recording of the webinar here. To learn more about why Building Engines is partnering with Genea, visit here.
Last week I had the great pleasure of co-hosting a webinar with the Building Engines team on the challenges of tenant billback and how Genea works with property teams across the country to automate those processes. We were blown away by the interest we received in the topic, so I’ll recap some of the keys points here for those weren’t able to listen in.
Why Tenant Billback is So Painful
Far too much of property management is still done manually. It lives in the countless Excel spreadsheets, clipboards, and forms that populate a property team’s day. And tenant billback processes are some of the biggest offenders. That’s because:
- It’s manual – Property teams are manually bridging the gap between different systems to follow a process all the way through.
- It’s time-consuming – Stopping other projects to perform these manual tasks sucks time from already resource-constrained teams.
- It’s fragmented – Teams are dealing with disparate BMS, work order, and accounting systems – many times, systems that don’t talk to each other. And if you’re looking at a portfolio, you often have to contend with a wide variety of BMS setups, mechanicals systems, submeters, etc. You may be able to standardize software in a portfolio, but it’s impossible to standardize building hardware, so you’re inherently dealing with fragmentation.
- It’s complex – There are regulations to consider (that vary by geography), detailed tenant concessions, and an array of other nuances that someone needs to remember and account for at every stage of the process.
This creates a huge problem for property teams that are trying to execute on billable events accurately every single month, for every single tenant.
Designing the Right Solution
To address this challenge, the Genea team has focused on building software that is designed to do a few things:
- Automate error-prone, painful, time-consuming manual processes
- Be hardware agnostic, so it works with whatever the current setup at the building is
- Not add to the operating budget
Then we back all this up with amazing customer support so we’re expanding the capabilities of the property team instead of just heaping more tools and responsibilities onto their plate.
The way most buildings handle overtime HVAC requests is as a manual process facilitated by a work order system, such as Building Engines. While work order systems are great for a lot of the things that come up in a building, they aren’t built to handle the nuances of overtime air requests, which are time-sensitive, involve connecting to building systems, and require complex billing structures.
Our software is designed to automate the entire process. Tenants submit a request at any time through the app on their phones, our software talks to the BMS to fulfill the request and determines how much to bill the tenant for the request based on their lease.
The automation of this painful process drives value for the building in multiple ways: by increasing revenue, saving energy, saving time for the property team, and increasing tenant satisfaction. Our customers love that quantifiable impact, and it leads to some really great case studies (check out the recording for those!)
Submeter billing is another manual process our customers were really struggling with, so they asked for our help in solving it. Most buildings are still dealing with a majority of manual meters at their properties, potentially with a slow shift towards networked meters. These meters are usually managed using clipboards and spreadsheets, which can result in costly errors (and even lawsuits) for the property, since up to 90% of spreadsheets have errors in them.
We designed a solution that works with both manual and networked meters, allowing portfolios to automate the invoice creation for all their meters without costly hardware replacement. Our solution allows engineers to collect manual meter reads using an app, monitors networked meters, creates an audit trail, and generates invoices that can be imported into the property’s accounting system.
It’s a solution that saves time, reduces risk, and makes tenants happy, without requiring a major overhaul or investment.
We’ve found that by focusing on the processes that are most painful to property teams and working with the systems that are already in place at a property, we can make a real difference to the property team without requiring a massive investment.
Genea is thrilled to be part of the Building Engines Partner Program and have the opportunity to work with Building Engines to bring a cohesive solution to property teams working to solve a variety of operational challenges every day. We look forward to continuing to serve the industry together as we both grow!