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Product Design | 2022

My Role

Sr. Product Designer

Platform

VTS Web app

Timeline

May 2022 - Present 

Company

VTS

 

The Problem

About VTS
VTS is a Commercial Real Estate software for leasing and asset management. Our main users are Landlords, Tenants, Asset managers, and Landlords and Tenant brokers. Using data insights VTS helps s users make strategic decisions and execute them across the asset lifecycle.

About This Initiative
Landlord brokers are one of the primary user roles at VTS, but they are currently underserved. Therefore, as a part of the product strategy and planning exercise, the Design and Product teams decided to run a study to identify gaps and opportunities that could enhance the Landlord broker's experience with the platform.

Who is a Landlord Broker

Landlords often hire a 3rd party broker or an internal leasing team to represent them. Landlord brokers are responsible for managing and developing the Landlord relationships with global real state occupiers (tenants.)

Why do they matter?

The senior broker role is currently undervalued in our products.

Research

Goals

  1. Explore the Landlord broker's needs, activities, and pain points with VTS products.

  2. Identify what is blocking brokers from doing their job in VTS.

Interview Approach
45-min online in-depth interview sessions via Zoom

Discovery Questions
We asked about the customer roles and their activities in the leasing process. 

VTS Usage
We asked clients about their key actions and pain points in VTS.

 User Profiles

We interviewed 11 Landlord Rep power users, including External and Internal brokers, ranging from Junior to Senior level. The interviews covered Washington, New York, and London, Boston markets.  

 

Jobs To Be Done and User Flow

We mapped user flow and captured steps, Jobs-to-be-done, and outcomes to better understand user behavior and gaps in the platform.

 

Key Findings

VTS Usage

What do Brokers use VTS for today:

Progress Tracking & Reporting

Participants stated that their main task on VTS is to update traack deals and create reports for their landlord as this is the expectation of their client.

 “I want to put as much information as I can on VTS, so when we give a leasing update to our clients, it looks like there are a lot of activities.” 

 "95% of what we use is for Leasing activity. Who are we touring with, whom do we have a proposal with, who do we have leasing with, etc." 

Marketing

Participants also mentioned they use VTS to ensure their [space] availabilities are accurate on VTS Marketplace and accessible to tenant brokers and prospective tenants. 

The connection between [VTS] Marketplace and Deals is convenient for knowing my [space] availabilities.”

"We use VTS for leasing report and marketing track. We don’t use VTS analytics very much. "

Observations

We heard similar things from most users. Here are some of the themes:

Lack of awareness about some features
 

“I didn't know I could do LOI  [Letter of Intent] in VTS. Show me how to do it”

“I only use VTS if my client asks me to. Otherwise I use spreadsheet to walk owners through updates and details."

"Some deals are difficult to enter terms in VTS. I’m not sure how to truly and accurately in VTS. It happens when you are extending the lease."

Brokers model the majority of their proposals outside of VTS

"We do basic terms in VTS. The proposals are mainly the basic economic terms and when you go to the leasing negotiation, that’s when the owner asks the analyst to punch numbers. They have their Performa for the numbers they need to hit."

"We use VTS for deal tracking for most of our buildings, but it depends on the owner if we model deals and log proposals in the app."

VTS usage for proposals is Landlord driven

"Once I get the proposal, I log them in VTS if the LL wants me to."

"Owners use different tools to redline and communicate proposals. I model my deals in VTS only if my clients asks me, because it takes time"

UX and UI issues

"The biggest pain for me when I met during the deals is calculating the Commission because I have to do that separately because there’s nothing to calculate that for me."

" VTS can improve in outlining the terms. Each broker uses a custom proposal and it’s the outline of what you currently have in VTS. Lease term, landlord, base rent, this and that."

"Adding Broker language would make it easier for us to use the proposal feature."

 

Design Recommendations

What we

1. Awareness & Branding

Brokers view VTS as a Landlord product and are unaware of the value and experience targeted for them.

Impact

Landlord brokers use  VTS when required by their Landlord

Recommendation

  • Broker Insights Dashboard (Broker value proposition & Identity)

  • Reinforce and Rebrand  VTS through Marketing campaigns

2. Proposal Flow

Most of the time, Junior Landlord Reps need a much simpler way to model proposals.

Impact

Landlord brokers use  VTS when required by their Landlord

Recommendation

  •  Create Easy Proposal form for both internal and external users

  • Continued focus on robust Financial Modeling and filling gaps in key terms and calculations.

3. Communication

VTS is used as a Leasing Activity Tracking tool for most brokers. Proposal conversations and negotiating around deal modeling is happening outside of VTS.

Impact

Brokers end up using different tools to communicate with different landlords leaving them with duplicative work.

Recommendation

  •  Improve the Leasing Activity Report experience and turn it into a valuable source of truth for both the LL and the LL rep.

  • Boost the LLR’s confidence when communicating with LL through
    - Customizable the report format 
    - Surfacing market and portfolio insight without leaving VTS

4. User Experience Barriers

Landlord brokers are on-the-go users always networking, touring, and meeting potential clients. 

We need to meet them where they are and provide them with an easy and simple mobile solution.

Impact

Stale, untimely and inaccurate/incomplete data, low Data Contribution Score, low engagement and usage for VTS Lease, Lean back on manual processes.

Recommendation

  • An integrated platform experience connecting the web and mobile app solutions for Tours, connecting the data between Lease and Market products. 

Iterate

What we

 

Next Steps

After