Guest (Jack Weissman)
Great advice Shelby! I feel like the level of professionalism in our industry has improved over the...
Making it easy for the resident to submit a service request is important, too. If the problem is sma...

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In Property Management, the only true "Close" is asking for the deposit.

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Posted by on in Property Management
  So many of you in the multifamily housing industry want to “do it right” whatever “right” may mean.  I know this because I am privileged to teach you about fair housing and you ask good questions and struggle with some of the issues that you face as landlords.  One of those challenges is to “do it right” when it comes to reasonable accommodations for those residents who may struggle with emotional (behavioral) or mental (cognitive) disabilities.  You may worry about the older resident who since day one living with you has not been able to find her way from the parking lot to her apartment; you may be dealing with frustrated neighbors who ask you to please, please stop their neighbor disturbing them all through the night.  And you may worry (and rightly so!) about how you handle these situations from a fair housing standpoint.       When faced with these types of issues, you may be inclined to reach into the resident’s file and pull out that Emergency Contact form and call the designated contact (often a family member).  But what if that family member says “She is your problem, not mine?”.  What if this is really not an emergency (as important as the issue may be) and your resident is angry that you violated his privacy – “How dare you call my daughter and tell her this”?  And what if it would be really helpful to consult with an outsider – a health care provider, an advocate...

Posted by on in Apartment Marketing
This year’s SMX East conference did not disappoint. If you weren’t able to make it, there’s no reason to panic—we have you covered. We’ve gathered our biggest takeaways that will help you with your search marketing efforts. Google has over 200 variables in its algorithm while Bing has 500 to 1,000, and one of the more important variables that can make or break your search success is load time. This variable is becoming especially important for mobile devices. Google is obsessed with page speed and search marketers should put this at the top of the priority list when optimizing. This shouldn’t be news to anyone who’s been practicing SEO for a while, but this variable is often overlooked, especially from a mobile perspective. Speaking of mobile devices, adding your phone number in your meta descriptions now renders on Google as an action. Start throwing your phone number in, and with a simple tap of the finger potential customers will have you on the line. Another variable that Google emphasizes is secure sites. Google has been testing them from March to July this year and it’s already a factor in tie-breaker situations. In 2010, Gmail went to https; Twitter did the same in 2012, followed by Facebook in 2013. Only 10% of active URLs on the web are secure and 30% of those only have one page on their site that is using HTTPS while the rest are HTTP. In Google’s opinion, this is insanely low. Make this change to your site—to your whole site—and you will start benefiting immediately from...

Posted by on in Social Media and Technology
b2ap3_thumbnail_Capture.JPGWhen it comes to online reviews, the majority of multifamiily property managers say they respond.  This is according to a recent 4 Walls survey of almost 300 multifamily property managers across the country. Seventy-eight percent of survey responders say they write replies to reviews on many popular review sites.  And, of those, 67 percent said they reply to all reviews. Only 3 percent said they respond to positive reviews only, and about 15 percents said they respond to negative reviews only. The reviwe sites that respondents most frequently reply to are Apartmentratings.com, Yelp.com and Google+ Local. Other popular industry review sites that are most used are Apartmentguide.com, Apartments.com, Rent.com and RentersVoice.com. Another study suggests that responding to reviews is important - potential renters tend to check review sites before renting, and they have a more favorable impression of property managers who respond to reviews. Do you respond to reviews? All? Some?...

Posted by on in Apartment Maintenance
Residents are expected to pay 100% of their rent, yet at times do not have 100% access to everything they pay for.  Consider this scenario: Toni has discovered that her dishwasher is broken.  She immediately contacts the office to alert them of the trouble.  Later that evening, Toni returns home from work, to find her dishwasher has not been repaired.  With a full load of dishes and an inoperable dishwasher, Toni is forced to hand wash them.  She’s hand washing the dishes while standing next to a dishwasher that she pays for, but is unable to use. The surveys we conduct for completed service requests are not a reflection of how well or poorly the maintenance team performs.  Our Insite® Work Order survey is not a maintenance survey – it’s a teamwork survey.  The results point to one important question: When something goes wrong in a resident’s apartment home, how well does the team work together to get the issue resolved?  These key in the survey speak directly to teamwork. The office response to the request for service The overall speed of the service request Was the maintenance team courteous and professional Did the maintenance staff clean up before they left your home Quality of the work done Was the request completed on the first visit Were you notified of a delay Did you receive a follow up call after the work was completed Do problems still exist Both the office and maintenance teams share the burden when it comes to...

Posted by on in Apartment Leasing
Multi-family operators often ask themselves this question.  Is it more important to pay attention to the sales process in an effort to get prospective residents in the door and then focus on delivering the service elements they were promised during the sales process?  Or, should the support teams focus on equipping associates with the processes and behaviors to deliver an exceptional customer experience with the belief that those behaviors will also impact interactions during the sales process?  In reality, there is not one simple answer to this question, because sales and service are not as different as we often think.  In fact, they are flip sides of the same coin.   Sales processes have often been separated from service behaviors for training purposes, and are sometimes considered as two different and distinct programs.  In addition, the metrics, behaviors and incentives attributed to each of these programs tend to be at odds with one another and cause conflicts for the associates.  Associates are offered incentives to 'close' leases and pay attention to prospective residents who come in the door but are not measured or compensated in the same way for providing stellar service to current residents.  When this happens it is a problem...customers sense this disconnect.  In reality, a customer doesn't differentiate the 'sales' experience from the 'service' experience, so why should we?  The customer considers their entire experience as they interact with an organization, and creating the best possible experience for the customer means associates must provide a predictable and consistent...

Posted by on in Apartment Marketing
Just five years ago, we were all talking about concessions and the need for property managers and owners to make them. From discounts on rent and waiving deposits, to freebies and even more creative incentives, there was a real need to be more competitive when it came to getting the interest of tenants. The vacancy rates were high and there was a real need to incent tenants to consider one property over another. The tables have turned, however, and this simply isn’t the case today. With occupancy rates in the 90th percentile in most major markets, we’ve seen incentives such as these all but disappear. Yet, according to a recent survey conducted by Apartments.com, tenants can be swayed to consider a move to a new property for the right incentive. And, in fact, only 6% of respondents said there was nothing that could be done to convince them to leave their current property. What this says is that incentives has a real place in the marketing plan of any multifamily property. As such, it’s necessary to understand what will excite tenants enough to influence their decision in favor of your property. According to this same survey, there were three things that motivate: A big discount More space A free month’s rent Taking #1 and #3 together, this means that financial incentives are perceived with highest value. Yet, it’s not all about money. Respondents also noted a number of factors that significantly impact their rental decisions. These include: 57% = Safe...

Posted by on in Apartment Marketing
Prospective renters rank ratings and reviews as more important than referrals from friends and family. Nearly 70 percent of prospective renters say they research ratings and reviews before making a rental decision. And a clear majority of prospective renters distrust anonymous ratings and reviews over those that have been third-party verified. That’s what our recent study, which involved nearly 30,000 respondents, found. I know – you can hardly go to an industry event or pick up an industry publication without hearing or reading something about reputation management. But the industry hasn’t ever had definitive research like this on the importance of ratings and reviews on leasing decisions. And the facts we found in the study conducted in conjunction with Kingsley Associates provide pretty compelling evidence that ratings and reviews matter to prospective renters. The budget-season question now is: what should apartment companies do about it? Based on the results of the survey, we have a few important suggestions.  Monitor. First and foremost, apartment companies must monitor ratings and reviews posted on every site available on the web. This isn’t new advice. Some of the most innovative apartment companies have been doing this for years. The fact that 86.2 percent of the renters in our study said they’d be more likely to consider a community with mostly positive reviews validates this activity. Respond. Monitoring without taking action is no longer an option. In fact, 69.5 percent of the survey respondents said they expect apartment communities to respond to ratings and reviews posted...

Posted by on in Property Management
As a property manager the most important aspect of your job it to protect your tenants and property, one method is to hire a private security agency.  It is important that detailed research be completed before selecting an agency.One consideration is to hire a small as opposed to a larger established agency.  Consider this, some small agencies source their guards from employment pools thus have no personal information about this person, and may not have the same resources as larger agencies, thus the guards might not be as well trained or have the equipment that larger agencies are able to provide. Small or large, getting references is always a good idea; ask established property managers in your area what agency they use, or if they can make a recommendation.  Don't know a PM?  Check with BBB, law enforcement, or local chamber of commerce.  Now that you have a short list, research the licensing requirement of your state as each state has their own.  In Florida., for example, the guard is required to have a valid "D" license, if he/she is to carry a firearm, a "G" license is required.  The agency must have a "B" license or a "AB" if it is a private investigation and security agency.  The manager of the agency must have a "M" or a "MB" license.  Now that that you know what license to look for, make sure the agency has a valid business license in your state and county ( if applicable).  While you are...

Posted by on in Apartment Marketing
Do you have a blog for your apartment community? That’s great! A blog can be a great way to connect with current and prospective renters and boost your online presence. Now that your blog is set up, your next challenge is producing a steady stream of blog posts that will appeal to your audience. Sound a bit overwhelming? It doesn’t have to be. Here are four places you can turn to get inspiration for your next blog post. Frequently Asked Questions Take a minute to think about the questions you've recently gotten from current and prospective residents, whether through email, phone or in person. Most likely, you’ll notice some themes. For example, maybe a lot of prospective renters are asking what parks are close to your community. Or maybe your current residents frequently ask how to use the equipment in your fitness center. Consider building blog posts from these answers, since there's obviously an interest in this information.  Your StaffMaybe one of your leasing consultants mentioned that she’s volunteering for a big charity fundraiser next month. Ask if she’s got time to do a quick write-up of the event. Or perhaps you heard someone on your maintenance staff raving about a book he just read. Ask him to write up a quick book review. Your ResidentsNext time Susie is 5E comes in to rave about the new Indian restaurant down the street, ask if she’d be willing to write a quick review for your blog. Or, consider doing a Q&A with a resident on...

Posted by on in Multifamily Industry News and Trends
To find out what types of wickedly fun times renters are anticipating for Halloween, Apartments.com conducted a national survey of more than 1,200 renters. Findings reveal half of renters are planning to stay home this year, while the other half are either going out or hosting a spooktacular party. Halloween fun is no longer just for homeowners, as many renters also dress up in costumes and welcome trick-or-treaters. Nearly half of renters surveyed plan to decorate their apartments for Halloween. In some large apartment communities, kids and adults won’t even need to leave their buildings to have a festive and ghoulish holiday experience. This Halloween, 44% of renters believe they’ll get at least 10 trick-or-treaters, an increase from the 31% who said 10 or more trick-or-treaters came to their doors last year. Additional findings, include: Most renters are giving out candy! 41% are planning to hand out candy in person this year, and 13% will leave treats in a bowl outside their door. Meanwhile, 35% of renters aren’t giving out candy because they don’t think they’ll get any trick-or-treaters, while only 11% are meanies (they’re not giving out treats just because they don’t feel like it). Chocolate reigns supreme! Of the renters who are planning to hand out candy, 73% are giving out chocolate. Renters could choose more than one type of candy, and 33% said they will give out non-chocolate candy while 27% will provide healthy snacks. Only 3% of renters are planning to send their trick-or-treaters away with money....