Hi Theresa, The good news is there are many ways to get into the industry! While many people do want...
Carl York
This is a great suggestion on closing and the history lesson creates interest. Writing down the pos...

Training Trivia

Incorporating social media into your marketing and resident retention efforts is good practice for all student communities.

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Posted by on in Property Management
I spent the better part of ten years as a director for a student housing property management company. I’ve often said managing a student housing community is a lot like herding cats. They live an active lifestyle and they rarely sleep! However, as challenging as the students could be, they were not the biggest management challenge. That designation was reserved for their parents. After having worked extensively in student housing, I am now in an interesting and somewhat unique situation. I have two children—my son Zach and my daughter Kalee—who will be freshmen this year at two different colleges. My son will live off-campus and my daughter will be living on-campus. I can now truly relate to how the parents I dealt with felt. I feel the anxiety of setting up housing for my kids. Obviously, like all parents, I want a safe, clean apartment where my children can study and have a positive social experience. I am afraid that I am turning into the type of parent that always caused me the most trouble in managing student housing… the dreaded helicopter parent! If you have not had the opportunity to be a parent of a new college student, let me share with you a little of what it is like. The child that you have raised and spent your time, energy and money on has grown up and is on their way to college. For many parents, like me, this will be the first time that they are separated from their child for a...

Posted by on in Resident Retention
Do you have a way to measure your residents' use of your property and your amenities?  Francis Chow, of Ellis Partners, who spoke at this year's National Apartment Association Education Conference and Exposition, showed the audience why understanding touch points with your residents can be so critical to understanding your resident's needs and how to impact their decision to renew.  His panel was speaking on the topic of using "Big Data", and he shared some great information: 3 months after move-in, engagement and loyalty drops Loyalty decreases when rents increase or even when residents anticipate a rent increase It is pretty common for residents to get "lost" during that period between 3 months, where they are active with the move-in process and move-in related maintenance requests, and the later renewal period.  Francis noted that the primary reasons for this lull is "staff engagement, resolving of issues and the ongoing 'connection with the resident' ".  So while we may be blissfully ignorant of their state of mind, thinking they are completely happy with their experience, they are actually trending downward in their connection with their community.  What I love about going the NAA Conference is that not only do I get great factual data, but it also spurs me on to analyze different elements of multifamily operations to see if there are improvements possible.  For example, if we are discussing the idea of using resident touch point data to adjust our operations to impact their experience, then there are two challenges I...

Posted by on in Apartment Leasing
iStock_000039509752_SmallOne of the joys in my life is reading the Harvard Business Review (I know, it says a lot about me needing better hobbies). I recently subscribed to a very interesting service they have, “The Daily Stat,” which sends me an interesting an often provocative statistic or piece of research each morning. The other day, I received one that declared that “customers take a dim view of a big CEO-to-worker pay gap,” concluding that “Research participants were more willing to buy towels from a company with a small gap between CEO and worker pay than from one with a large gap.” I don’t doubt that many customers would take a dim view of a high CEO-to-worker pay gap, and I don’t intend to debate the issue of pay gap itself. I do take exception to the methodology of the analysis, especially from such a prodigious institution as the Harvard Business School.  Again, quoting directly from the email: In the experiment, the large-gap company was said to pay its CEO 1,000 times more than the average worker (that’s believed to be the gap size at Walmart). Smaller-gap companies ranged from 5 to 1 to 60 to 1, but participants showed the same preference across the board. In fact, more than 30% said they would pay more for the towels when given the option of two different companies with two different compensation ratios. While it’s good that they used a size similar to what is believed to be the gap at Walmart as a reasonable test case, the reality is that...

Posted by on in Resident Retention
After working in some type of customer service profession for over 25 years and speaking and training thousands of people around the country on the subject for the past four years, I feel confident in saying this…. If you’re not really into helping people, or you know, “serving customers” then you need to “move on with your life’s work!” Now! There is no shame in saying that having to work with the public is not your thing. There is no problem in admitting to yourself and to others that you don’t like helping people … (although, admittedly, the people around you already know it) and deciding to get out of a customer-service related job and moving on.  The problem is when you don’t admit it-and you hang on to a customer service oriented job, when you’re clearly not cut out to do it! Let me give you an example… This weekend I needed to pick up tap shoes for my daughter who is starting a summer dance class and found a pair from a seller on Craigslist and we decided to meet at a Starbucks. Before picking up the shoes I decided to order an iced coffee … mistake number one.  The barista didn’t make any kind of eye contact as she took my order; when she was finished ringing it up she walked away from the register to resume a conversation with co-workers, without thanking acknowledging me and without giving me my receipt.  I then walked over to where I...

Posted by on in Property Management
  Over the Fourth of July holiday, families and friends come together to celebrate the nation’s founding; however, for property managers of residential apartment communities, it’s a time for vigilance against the many types of accidents and incidents that can occur when people congregate and celebrations get out of hand.   To keep Independence Day in your community fun and safe for everyone, be aware of these common dangers, and take steps to avoid them.   Fireworks accidents   It seems that the news around this time of year always includes fireworks accidents, ranging from minor to extremely serious. Last year in California, two men were trying to ignite a mortar-type firework device when it exploded in their hands, seriously injuring both men.   And in Massachusetts, a man and a teenage boy were attempting to light a commercial-grade firework when it exploded, seriously injuring the teen’s hand. Both incidents occurred at apartment communities.   Back-porch cookout disasters   An unattended grill on a balcony caused a 2014 fire at a residential community in Louisiana. The fire left residents of twelve apartments homeless. Fortunately, no one was injured, but the building’s third floor was a total loss, while the first and second floors suffered extreme water damage.   Pool hazards   A 2013 lawsuit followed the near-drowning of a 3-year-old Maryland boy who wandered into the gated pool area of the apartment community where he lived. The boy survived but suffered permanent brain damage.   An appellate court ruled in favor of...

Posted by on in Multifamily Industry News and Trends
Like most people in the multifamily industry, I am currently in that intense catch-up between last week’s National Apartment Association (NAA) Education Conference in Las Vegas, and the impending holiday weekend.  It leaves precious little time for reflection on another highly successful and informative event, but here I will share a couple of thoughts. As usual, the show was excellent: well-executed to high production values.  The sessions were well-attended and varied, and one cannot fail to be impressed with the organization’s initiatives in support of training and ongoing development of people. This year’s show was synonymous with the Apartments.com media deluge.  Anyone travelling from McCarran Airport to the Vegas strip, or from one hotel to another cannot have failed to have seen at least one advertisement featuring Brad Bellflower – the fictitious Silicon Valley technology visionary created by actor Jeff Goldblum.  My hotel was about seven minutes – or alternatively three Brad Bellflower commercials – away from the conference venue.  So I got to see most of what this campaign had to offer from the back seat of my taxi. The desire to flood the conference and the surrounding airwaves with ads is easy to understand.  NAA is the largest group of property managers of the year in multifamily, and with parent company, CoStar’s acquisition of both Apartments.com in 2014 and Apartment Finder earlier this year, this is clearly the right time to be raising profile of the Internet Listing Service (ILS) industry, as it seeks to establish a dominant presence. Among the general...

Posted by on in Property Management
As a residential property manager, you’re likely already gearing up for the 2016 budget season. As busy as property managers are with the many hats they wear — marketing and sales, screening prospective residents, assisting with all manner of residents requests, and more — most understand that putting together a solid budget is critical for financial performance all year long. A budget tells you where you are and where you’re going, and it helps you measure your progress along the way. It provides an organized and easily understood look at money coming in and going out for anyone who might need the information, including your staff, community investors, and financial professionals. It’s also an invaluable tool for you in assessing how your community is performing, identifying any fat to be trimmed, and adapting as situations change. As you prepare your 2016 budget, take a look at the tips below to help make the process as painless as possible. Review industry dataVisit the library, use an online database, or search online to review standard income, expenditures, profit margins, and other metrics for your industry. You can find lots of free information simply by searching online for various keywords, and you can also find annual reports from market research firms that give away some information for free and include others for a fee. Generate methods for increasing revenueIf your community isn’t at full occupancy, create a marketing, sales, and communications plan before working on your budget. Does your website need work? Should you...

Posted by on in Property Management
How’s your move-in experience? If it consists of getting a signature, handing over the keys, and waiting for the checks to arrive, it may leave something to be desired. If your community isn’t putting its best foot forward with new residents, it’s time to give your move-in experience new momentum. You never get a second chance to make a first impression, so make yours count with this three-month plan for resident move-ins. Move-in dayLittle things can set your community apart when new residents move in. Most people are accustomed to no fanfare whatsoever, so making a great impression takes surprisingly little effort. A personalized welcome sign in the lobby gets the day started right. If you place fresh flowers, a gift basket, or a sandwich plate in the apartment, residents will never forget. More importantly, they’ll tell their friends how great it was moving into your community. Of course, all residents should receive a welcome packet with a map of the community and the area, community guidelines, a list of local landmarks and points of interest — and some branded items like pens, refrigerator magnets, and water bottles with the community’s logo. As your new residents are unloading the truck, a great touch is for several members of the maintenance crew to stop by to check on them and offer assistance with heavy items. Again, these small touches take little effort on your part but leave a lasting, positive impression. Move-in weekDuring the first week, preferably within a few days of...

Posted by on in Apartment Maintenance
Warmer days and a lot of sunshine means it’s almost time to get your community’s pool open, so residents can start enjoying it. Before you do that, though, make sure the pool is really ready to accommodate swimmers. A pool opening can be fun and successful, if you do some prep work beforehand. Otherwise, you run the risk of opening the pool to residents too early, and that can put them at risk for illness or injury. The best way to avoid that is to make sure everything about the pool is in good working condition before it’s officially opened. Before Opening DayThe filter should be checked and maintenance performed on it. Any grates and screens that protect the filter and the other inner workings of the pool should be solid and shouldn’t have any sharp edges or other problems that could harm residents. The water should be treated and tested until it’s clear and safe. Additionally, the area around the pool also matters. The concrete apron that runs around the outside of the pool should be safe and clean, and the fence should be in good repair, as well. Any steps or ladders into and out of the pool need to work well, be solid and not be slippery. Celebrate the Pool OpeningOnce everything has been prepped for opening day, it’s time to celebrate the actual opening of the pool. You can even have a small party, so residents can swim, have something to eat and enjoy the first official...

Posted by on in Apartment Leasing
Turnover is an inherent challenge for every multifamily leasing team. The nature of the labor pool, the dynamics of the leasing associate position and other factors mean that turnover rates are almost always going to be at least 25-30% regardless of what you do. In addition to recruiting, on-boarding and other “blocking and tackling” HR practices that every company should be focusing on, there are two areas operators should pay keen attention to so they can minimize the disruptions that come with this level of turnover:  Build structures and systems that enable new leasing associates to come up to speed and be fully productive as fast as possible. Identify key turnover leverage points that can have the biggest impact on results. While the industry is well aware of the turnover phenomena and continually works to address the issue, I find that most operators view turnover through the single lens of the total workforce. We’ve found that forward-thinking operators view turnover through at least two lenses as it applies to their leasing team; total turnover rate and turnover rate of first year associates. Taking such an approach to turnover can have significant impact on your efforts. Consider this (and to keep the math simple), let’s say you have 100 leasing associates, half of whom have been with you less than year. And, let’s say you’re doing a good job of employee retention so turnover is at 30%. This means that you need to replace 30 leasing associates every year. However, it’s...