At PointCentral, we’re continually developing tech solutions to help property managers overcome the challenges faced when running a short-term or long-term rental business.
We’ve caught up with Gardner Fiveash, Senior Product Manager of our Product Management team, to delve into the step-by-step process of taking PointCentral’s smart home products from initial concept to problem-solving, value-adding additions for our customers.
Could you tell us about the Product Management team and what you do?
Our goal in the Product Management team is to consistently discover and deliver solutions that solve property management problems and add value to our customers’ businesses. It’s a fun job!
How do we do this? We use our strategic perspective to determine which key problems to focus on. Once we’ve identified these problems, we can start getting creative to brainstorm solutions, typically collaborating with engineers and designers who then go on to build these solutions.
To ensure we stay on top of the latest industry insights and provide the most relevant up-to-date solutions, we meet regularly with our stakeholders. Externally, this means our property manager customers and service providers. We also meet with our own PointCentral teams including the customer success, sales, TAM, executives, and product marketing teams. This way we know we’re designing products for the current problems our customers are facing.
What does a typical day look like for a Senior Product Manager?
Every day on the Product Management team can vary wildly depending on the engineers or designers we are working with and the type of projects we are working on. I love this way of working because it keeps me on my toes and enables me to bring something new to the table every single day.
But as a general overview, the two main responsibilities our team has are product discovery and product delivery.
Product discovery includes figuring out which solutions we should build for our customers to solve a specific problem. It’s a collaborative process, and a creative one too! You never know where a good idea is going to come from so it’s important to build relationships with key stakeholders from both within our company and the field. We work with designers and engineers who bring our solution ideas to life. We also conduct interviews with our customers to ensure a solution idea actually solves the problem it was designed for.
This communication is just as important during product delivery, where we actually build out the chosen solution as a result of product delivery. We also ensure existing projects are on track by answering questions to resolve confusion with engineers and program management.
What’s your own background in the smart home tech industry?
Before joining PointCentral in 2019, I gained the skills I use in my role today when working as a Product Manager in the enterprise publishing industry. I didn’t come from a smart home technology background, but I believe this helped me bring a fresh perspective.
I had a lot of interest in the field. I’d witnessed first-hand the value of smart rentals while living in DC. The buildings lacked any form of smart home technology and it quickly became very clear to me that smart home technology was a promising industry to get involved in.
I also wanted to try out a new industry and loved the idea of working on a combination of hardware and software, so it seemed like the perfect direction to go in. And I’m so glad I took that step, because since joining I’ve been able to build up my expertise and knowledge in a number of smart home-related fields, especially Self-Guided Tours.
Smart home tech innovation has accelerated massively in the last couple of years. What has been the driving force behind these developments?
There are a number of things that I believe have contributed to the fast-paced advancement of smart home technology development. These include the increased investment from shareholders in the industry coupled with the decreased cost to manufacture hardware and how our customers’ expectations have increased in terms of convenience, security, safety, automation, and asset protection.
Trends have reshaped both short-term rentals and multifamily units in a big way and will continue to help define how guests are living and traveling. How does your team keep pace with the ever-changing needs of the industry?
It all starts by having a clear long-term product vision of how we want to enable our property management customers to be successful. That should serve as our north star, and remain mostly constant, despite all of the industry changes and trends going on.
We then strategically make our bets and try to filter out significant trends from short-term fads. We know we can’t react to every single trend in the industry, but instead, capitalize on a few key areas including properties being used as long–term and short–term rentals simultaneously, self-guided tours, and a single convenient credential that works on all access areas.
Do you see any barriers or challenges to the development of smart home tech over the next year?
It’s a super exciting time to be in smart home tech. More competitors are entering the space all the time, but I think at the end of the day our biggest challenges are making sure we stay focused on a small number of problems for our customers. This enables us to really hone in on our products and their success in solving our property management customers’ issues.