All posts by Dakota Sproule

Adam Skolnik, the executive director for the the Maryland Multi-Housing Association, had an idea. His membership, comprised of apartment communities and those that serve them, needed qualified maintenance technicians. And people throughout the Baltimore area needed jobs that paid living wages.

Adam decided that MMHA should create a Service Training Academy where unemployed, unskilled workers could receive three months of intense instruction including an apprenticeship. Students would learn skills like electrical, plumbing, HVAC, appliance repairs and carpentry. At the end of the program, Adam’s staff would work tirelessly to place successful graduates into full time roles within his members’ companies.

Problem solved, right?

Well… Adam came up with this idea 10 years ago.

Trapped in the same endless cycle of administrative to-dos and lengthy, manual processes, the MMHA team felt like they had no time or resources to spare for the things like the Service Training Academy, something they considered truly important, something that could literally change lives and make a difference in their community.

They couldn’t successfully launch a program without the necessary resources, and as a result, the Service Training Academy program was inevitably placed on the backburner.

This same dilemma lasted for 10 years . . .  until they made the switch to novi AMS.

Overwhelmed by the Basics

Before transitioning to novi, the MMHA team was left feeling abandoned and overwhelmed by the basics. They had just converted from one AMS to another, and they couldn’t find a solution that met their needs. Onboarding was difficult to say the least, and basic data entry was taking way longer than it should have.

The bookkeeper was spending a minimum of 25 hours each week on the books – consistently having to double-check that everything was as it should be. As a small staff association, the bookkeeper also held membership management responsibilities, which were often neglected due to bookkeeping hurdles.

Despite the many issues the MMHA team was having, they felt like their AMS didn’t truly have their backs. Adam explains that they were often told to submit a support ticket for the AMS to look into, but receiving a response took ages and usually involved inadequate workarounds.

With no time to spare, MMHA was unable to allocate the resources needed to launch and maintain the Service Training Academy.

“We would have needed to hire another person to get this program off the ground, easily a $62,500 expense each year, if we would have opened the program earlier.” – Adam Skolnik, MMHA Executive Director

After 10 long years of seemingly endless hurdles, MMHA knew they had to make a change.

From Impossible Dream to Successful Program with novi AMS

MMHA made the move to novi AMS in 2016, trading in data entry headaches and time-consuming manual processes for a stress-free system and a support team that cares about its users. The Association was now able to automate multiple tasks and avoid workarounds that were previously weighing down staff and limiting their ability to take on new projects.

“What took hours before now takes just minutes with novi, because it just works.” – Adam Skolnik

The Service Training Academy was finally able to have its day in the sun. No longer forced to spend enormous amounts of time and effort on manual data entry, MMHA regained a whopping 40 hours of staff time each week! Because of this, the Association was able to reallocate its newly found time to the Academy, saving them the expense of adding a new staff member.

“With novi’s streamlined and straight-forward processes, we were able to reallocate staff time and dedicate resources to valuable programs like the Service Training Academy. Novi has quite literally made this program possible.” – Adam Skolnik

Changed Lives

In just eight months, the Service Training Academy has graduated 28 individuals who were previously without work. MMHA provides the two-month long vocational program and all necessary tools at no cost to the students. The Association also places students in paid apprenticeships, prior to finding permanent jobs in the rental housing industry.

“My life has been changed since taking this class.”  – Lynn Allen, MMHA Service Training Academy graduate

“Within a short span of two months, I’ve learned so much. I’ve been putting it to work at my job. Right now they want to give me my own office, so I’m excited about that! It’s a wonderful, wonderful program for anybody that wants to excel in using their hands, so I appreciate, appreciate, appreciate this program. It means a lot to me.”

To date, all 28 Service Training Academy graduates have found full-time, permanent work with apartment communities throughout Maryland, making between $15.00 to $17.00 an hour with benefits.

“Without novi AMS, the Service Training program would still be just an idea.” – Adam Skolnik

Explore the ways novi AMS can help you amplify your
mission and create change in your community.

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About MMHA

The Maryland Multi-Housing Association (MMHA) is a private, non-profit association dedicated to promoting the needs of the rental housing industry. MMHA, an association of apartment communities, owners, managers, developers and suppliers, supports the apartment industry and those who serve it by tackling government affairs and regulations, providing workshops and educational classes, and hosting trade shows and fundraisers.

Mission

To serve the multi-family housing industry and contribute to the Maryland community through education, government affairs and advocacy services.

Russ Webb felt like he was treading water in an endless sea of data management. His team was spending hours and even days calculating just one number – the almighty apartment unit count.

For the Georgia Apartment Association (and we’re guessing your organization too), member data drives key functions of the association such as dues, membership goals and key reporting on industry statistics.

With no true integration between technologies and a massive database of 40,000 members, Russ, GAA’s Association Executive, and his team were forced to manually enter a lot of their data.

“We were a world class organization using a third world system to manage our data.”
–  Russ Webb, Association Executive at GAA

Furthermore, staff morale was low because they were spending all of their time on nonsense tasks and data management when they should have been focused on the mission of the organization. Members were equally frustrated because they couldn’t figure out how to navigate the website or access the database – resulting in an overwhelming amount of calls to the GAA office for assistance.

GAA was desperate to find an AMS that understood their needs. That’s where novi AMS came in.

Enter novi AMS’ Custom Fields

What makes trade associations like Russ’ different from a society is that their members are companies. GAA tried many different software programs, but they couldn’t find a system that was set-up to handle their company-based membership – that is until novi came along.

In the apartment space, the “unit count” is how they define everything.  It’s how they run their dues, it’s how they run their reports, and it’s how they segment their data. Not only did GAA need to track this data, they needed it to make sense in their management structure, where apartments have units and management companies run apartments.

The challenge is that with 400,000 apartment units to track, it would take GAA’s staff hours and hours every time they needed to calculate these reports. GAA and novi worked together to develop a new spin on the old concept of a custom field.

Instead of calculating their unit counts by hand, Russ’ staff now have access to a button that does their work for them.

Now, it’s the simple click of a mouse.

“That one little tiny thing, that one custom field has allowed my team to be able to take all of the time that was spent calculating that number and spend that time focusing on the mission of the organization. That one little thing, that’s my custom field.”

W H A T ‘ S  Y O U R  C U S T O M  F I E L D ?

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About GAA

The Georgia Apartment Association is the third largest of its kind in the United States with seven affiliated associations across the state of Georgia. GAA does the three main things an association is supposed to do: advocate, educate and communicate – but they do it at an insane scale. The organization manages advocacy at the state level in 159 counties and their municipalities, hosts 8-10 education classes every single month, and they even held the largest food drive in North America last year.

Mission

To unify the multi-family housing industry and give a voice to apartment communities, owners, managers, suppliers and professionals throughout the state of Georgia.

For Josh Gold, seeing novi AMS for the first time was like being hit by a tidal wave. Josh, the Florida Apartment Association’s Executive VP, was suddenly faced with problems he hadn’t even realized he had. His association’s current software was outdated and far too robust for their needs, with complicated features and minimal automation.

Like any other team, FAA’s staff had varied levels of technological comfort. They needed an AMS that was easy to use and free from workarounds.

“Ultimately, we were struggling to stay engaged with members the way we should because our AMS was not functioning properly from poor data and reporting. If it was functioning, we never knew how to use it properly because it was complicated.” – Josh Gold, FAA Executive VP

The bad news – FAA was stuck in an expensive multi-year deal with their current AMS. Not wanting to overextend their budget by paying for two systems, FAA knew that they wanted to make a move, but they didn’t quite know how.

That’s where novi came in.

Discovering the ‘Right System’

Four years ago, Josh had the opportunity to chat with Pete Zimek at a meeting for the American Society of Association Executives. Pete, an FAA member and founder/CEO of Florida-based iLS network, was in the beginning stages of launching his own AMS – novi.

At the event, Pete and Josh discussed the overall concept and philosophy of novi, including its unique two-way sync with QuickBooks Online. Ease of use was a top priority to Pete, and Josh knew that if Pete could pull off creating the right system the right way then there would be no need for “workarounds” – a forbidden word in the novi world.

Fast forward two years, novi AMS was now a reality. A still keenly interested Josh received a novi demo from a fellow account executive. He was so impressed that he immediately called his staff in to take a look.

“The novi platform is a clean, simple solution that gets the job done. It’s not complicated with a bunch of features I don’t need or (bogged down) with workarounds for processes that don’t work.” – Josh Gold

An Opportunity for Change

Knowing that there was opportunity for change, FAA and novi worked together to come up with solutions that would monetize their website, including a supplier directory with enhanced listings, website ads and sponsorships.

FAA’s new novi site came equipped with a supplier directory, which members could pay to be featured in with an enhanced listing. An overwhelming number of suppliers took advantage of this opportunity, which was a huge change for FAA – one that ultimately paid for the Association’s novi subscription.

“We sold 80 featured member directory listings at $250 each. Within three months we had a revenue line of $20,000 that we didn’t even budget for from a supplier directory that organically promotes itself.”

In year two, FAA no longer felt the need to promote the enhanced listing option. Members were happy to pay for it because of the value it provided.

“I tell people our novi system is free. We don’t pay for novi, it pays us!” – Josh Gold

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About FAA

An umbrella organization with 10 affiliate, local associations in the multifamily housing space, the Florida Apartment Association (FAA) is not your typical trade association. With more than 600,000 units, FAA represents the majority of apartment homes in Florida. FAA advocates on behalf of its members, giving a voice to the industry and those who serve it.

Mission

To represent and advocate the interests of the Florida multifamily rental housing agency through political advocacy, educational events and career development.

In a small staff association, time is a rare, highly sought after form of currency – every minute counts. This never rang truer than for the Apartment Association of New Mexico, a small staff association with large staff expectations.

AANM found themselves consistently short on time and resources. Their association management software, a tool that was supposed to help them, was causing more harm than good. Their current platform promised them the moon but consistently fell short on delivery.

Everything changed when a fellow association executive introduced them to novi AMS. AANM knew it was time for a change, and with novi the whole universe was within reach.

Consumed By Data Entry

Before making the switch to novi, AANM was forced to pick and choose which projects they could tackle. Most of their time was spent on manual data entry – a necessary evil that pushed other impactful projects and goals onto the backburner.

The dues rules setup for their organization didn’t work, requiring a manual check of every invoice – often times taking more than a week to complete.

AANM’s staff struggled to get events live on their website in a timely fashion, which led to undue stress, limited educational outreach and unsuccessful events.

Automating Tasks With Novi Led to a Shift In Focus

Despite initial hesitations and distasteful memories of their past software systems, AANM made the switch to novi AMS nearly two years ago.

Novi’s automated dues processing, email integration and data entry processes freed up 30 hours of staff time per week, and cut membership database maintenance time in half. With this change, AANM was able to reallocate resources and shift their focus from the “how” to the “why.” The effects of switching their attention to the members was two-fold: their passion was reignited, and they quickly saw a spike in membership, with an astounding 30% increase in members.

 

 

“Administrative tasks are necessary, but they shouldn’t take priority over our main goals of managing the association. Our members’ expectations are high, so streamlining day-to-day tasks was essential. Freeing up our time allowed us to concentrate our efforts on member benefits and association growth.” – Kelle Senye’, AANM Executive Director

Novi Understands

Novi’s seamless integration with MailChimp keeps AANM’s mailing lists up-to-date and dynamic. They no longer need to manually update the list in both their AMS and in MailChimp, because once it’s updated in novi it automatically syncs with MailChimp. With the saved time, staff is able to create more segmented emails, expanding their reach to every corner of New Mexico.

“Reaching out to different audiences and keeping separate databases current was basically an impossible challenge until novi AMS created a direct integration with our email marketing service. We are able to develop groups based on a variety of demographics, allowing us to message the right people at the right time.” – Kelle Senye’

Before novi, the events section of the AANM website was neglected. This led to late signups and uncertainty as to whether an event/class would be successful. Now, events are up early and they’re full of details – which has led to an increase in early signups and full classes. AANM can now easily determine which events are most popular, giving them the ability to add additional dates as needed.

When it comes to dues processing, novi understands complicated relationships. The first time AANM ran invoicing with novi, they searched their most difficult invoices looking intently for the ‘gotcha’. There were no ‘gotchas’ to be found, and with the smooth transition, AANM got a week of much needed time back to focus on creating change throughout their community.

With their gained time, AANM was also able to focus on engaging the members with new, valuable content. The organic growth and content sharing heavily contributed to the bump in membership since migrating to novi.

“Our move to novi AMS has amplified the change that our association is positioned to create.” – Kelle Senye’

Don’t let administrative tasks keep you from your mission.

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About AANM

The Apartment Association of New Mexico (AANM) is a private, non-profit trade organization dedicated to providing a common foundation for rental housing industry professionals and the various businesses that service the industry. Founded in 1979, AANM has more than 800 primary and associate members, representing over 55,000 rental units throughout the state. AANM promotes professionalism, education, career development and pro-active legislative efforts to benefit owners, investors, residents and other association members.

Mission

To empower, promote, preserve, and advance the rental housing industry in New Mexico through innovative education, advocacy, legislation and communication.

The last thing any association executive wants is for their board to draw attention to their messy accounting and inadequate technology platform, especially in strategic planning.

However, for Chip Tatum there was nothing more important than addressing these issues – no matter how embarrassing the circumstances. Chip, the Apartment Association of Greater Orlando’s CEO, had been fighting an uphill battle for too long. The Association’s AMS didn’t work well with QuickBooks, and as a result, their accounting was a disaster.

Transactions were often duplicated or found in the wrong account, costing AAGO’s staff hundreds of hours a year in cleanup work. Worse yet, these accounting issues were affecting the members. AAGO’s member invoices were often sent late and applied incorrectly, so members would frequently receive the unwelcome surprise of outdated, past due invoices. Due to inaccurate and late billing, the Association’s accounts receivable ballooned and cash flow lagged.

As AAGO grew so did its accounting problems, causing Chip to spend hours of his valuable time reviewing and correcting errors in the financial reporting. With annual audits taking a week on average, the team was feeling defeated and overwhelmed.

“It’s very intimidating not having 100% confidence in your financials. We finally got to a peak frustration point, and we knew we had to make a change.” – Chip Tatum, AAGO CEO

Enter novi AMS’ Two-Way 24/7 QuickBooks Sync

Fed up with workarounds and wasted time, AAGO partnered with novi AMS to develop an AMS unlike any other – one built by associations for associations. Considering their current and past challenges, AAGO knew there had to be a simpler, cleaner way to record and process transactions.

Before switching to novi AMS, AAGO was using a one-way, error-prone QuickBooks data dump, and it simply wasn’t working like they needed it to. To eliminate this issue, novi AMS constructed a two-way continuous sync with QuickBooks Online, an error-free accounting tool that seamlessly syncs records in the background around the clock.

“We knew right away this was going to be a lifesaver.” – Chip Tatum

“The QuickBooks Online sync is wonderful; we can update any record or post any transaction in novi AMS and it immediately appears in QuickBooks Online. The fact that novi AMS’ interface matches QuickBooks Online’s interface makes the experience really intuitive.”

Even the Most Skeptical Bookkeeper Trusts novi AMS

Despite initial hesitations, AAGO’s bookkeeping manager, Dominica Hurst, soon fell in love with novi AMS’ two-way sync.

“After we moved to novi AMS, for the first two months, I double checked every transaction and sync. Because I was so scarred by our old AMS duplicating transactions, messing up classifications and having sync problems, I felt compelled to double check everything. But I soon realized novi AMS’ sync was awesome.” – Dominica Hurst, AAGO Bookkeeping Manager

The dreaded audit process soon became a breeze. The AAGO team knew they had made it when their auditors were impressed by the quick turnaround. Before switching to novi, audits would take a week to complete. Now they’re done in a day, making the records more accurate and the overall process 80% faster.

Creating Change and Amplifying the Mission

The amount of time saved by switching to novi AMS has been instrumental in AAGO’s ability to fulfill its mission and create change. “Every minute you spend on the back of the house stuff is less time you can spend with your members.”

“Having novi AMS is like suddenly having an extra staff member.”
– Chip Tatum

Beyond accounting improvements, novi AMS has had major impacts on all areas of the Association’s reach. AAGO’s VP of Member Relations is now spending far less time on manual membership registrations and renewals, allowing her to spend more time with the members.

Before switching to novi, only about 60 of AAGO’s member representatives would renew their memberships or pay for events online. Now, over 1,000 members administer their own accounts, relieving this responsibility from AAGO’s staff.

AAGO’s Programs Manager no longer has to dedicate hours of her time manually entering event registrations and invoices, because members can now easily register themselves and their teams.

“Novi has really been a game changer for us. It freed up so much administrative time across my staff that it has really enabled us to focus on our mission and create change.” – Chip Tatum

Dramatic Improvements in A/R and Cash Flow

With members managing their accounts and paying online, AAGO’s A/R experienced a significant decrease and cash flow vastly improved. AAGO no longer has to spend time tracking down past invoices, which was an unexpected but welcome novi AMS benefit.

“Novi has some really cool features that help us manage our A/R. For example, if one of our members’ accounts is significantly past due, novi can automatically prevent them from registering for upcoming events until their past due balance is paid.” – Chip Tatum

A Team that Responds to Customer Feedback

“Having used many other systems in the past, I can tell you that it’s almost unheard of for a software company to make its developers available to talk to customers and consider their feedback. But novi consistently does that. They truly respond to their customers and make improvements based on their requests.” – Chip Tatum

Let novi AMS help you take the first step to amplifying your organization’s mission.

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About AAGO

Apartment Association of Greater Orlando Logo

The Apartment Association of Greater Orlando (AAGO) is a private, non-profit association dedicated to promoting the needs of the rental housing industry. AAGO, an association of apartment communities, owners, managers, developers and suppliers, supports the apartment industry and those who serve it by tackling government affairs and regulations, providing workshops and seminars, and hosting trade shows and fundraisers.

AAGO’s Mission

To serve as a source of advocacy, education and networking opportunities for the apartment industry in central Florida.