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A recovered drug addict is protected under the Handicap Status section of the Fair Housing Amendments Act.

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Posted by on in Apartment Leasing
Today’s post comes from Doug Davidoff, the founder and CEO of our joint venture partner, Imagine Business Development. I’ve spent the last twenty years obsessed with what happens when a prospective buyer and seller meet.  I’ve studied what works, what doesn’t and why. I’ve born firsthand witness to a literal transformation in how things work. The one constant I’ve seen over the entire time is the disconnect between sales and marketing.  Through this time, marketing viewed their job as ending too early and sales viewed their own job as starting too late. Twenty years ago, this disconnect caused some frustration and friction, but it didn’t prevent an organization from being successful. Over that time, the balance of power (for lack of a better phrase) has completely shifted from one controlled by the seller to one controlled by the customer.  In a customer controlled world, misalignment is a cause for accelerating sales costs, evaporating margins and even failure. Last week we shared insights into one of the major shifts – the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT).  In the old days, when a customer had a question, problem or need, they had no choice but to engage with a salesperson to learn, and ultimately, buy. Today that same customer who used to reach out to your salesperson now goes online.  Research from the likes of the Sales Executive Council and Forrester Research indicates by the time a customer is ready to talk to your salespeople, they’re 65 – 90% through their decision...

Posted by on in Multifamily Training and Career Development
How effective are you at communicating important deadlines? As I ask myself this question, I think back to an experience I had early in my career. It was one of my first days in a new job at an ad agency. I had just finished walking the creative team through the details of a client project and I was having a follow-up discussion with a production assistant about timelines. She asked, “When do we need to have this project finished?” and I responded, “As soon as possible.” She immediately looked up from her paper, gave me a death stare and sternly replied, “We don’t ever say that here. That phrase is off limits!” I was completely caught off guard by how abrupt and serious she was, but her response caused me to think about what ASAP really means and why it can be a four-letter word when it comes to effective communication. In the multifamily industry, it’s especially critical to be clear in communicating timelines. Failure to do so can cause major slowdowns with prospects or residents and the ability to close leases. Let’s take a look at some examples of communication points that occur during the prospect and resident lifecycles and examine why using the term as soon as possible isn’t actually effective in communicating urgency. How fast is as soon as possible? In business settings, ASAP is usually used to convey “I need this now,” or “There’s no time to wait.” But what does it really mean? When you tell someone you need something as soon as...

Posted by on in Resident Retention
b2ap3_thumbnail_Garlic-Bunches.jpg "I need to speak with Angela," exclaims Tiffany Smith. "Angela's out on the property right now, but I'm happy to help you. What may I do for you?" Carla smiles patiently. "I don't know. But the vampire situation has gotten out of control. My apartment reeks of garlic and the tin foil structures are freaking my kids out." Blank stare from Carla. "Why does your apartment smell like garlic?" Tiffany fights back her mounting waves of frustration.  -   -   -   When it comes to customer service, it is critical that each team member is ready, willing and able to assist any resident or prospect who stops by. However, when it comes to exceptional customer service, it is critical to acknowledge and support those individuals who are the residents' "Go-to' people.  We've all been there. We call the customer service number, select the proper series of numbers to get to what we believe is the correct department, relay our problem to the customer service representative, are told that's not their department but they'll be glad to transfer us to the appropriate department, which unfortunately has no notes of the explanation we just provided, and therefore we must go through it all over again. It's frustrating and it wastes a lot of time.  How great it is, though, when I call up my service provider, ask for my "Go-To Guy/Gal" and am able to give them the Cliff's Notes version of the situation, and without skipping a beat, they...

Posted by on in Social Media and Technology
Do you feel prepared to handle any online reputations mishaps?  The top 10 review sites grew over 158% within the past year.  That means there is a lot of new conversation happening about your brand and your customer experience.  Your residents and prospects trust those conversations.  92% of consumers trust online reviews posted by other consumers.75% of consumers mistrust advertising.    We spend a lot of time talking about how reputation management begins with a company’s culture, customer experience, and employee empowerment.  Because of that, just the idea of managing your reputation can sound a bit intimidating.  Let’s take a step back and focus on simple tasks you can do weekly to prepare you for any mishaps that might happen. Listen.Google is your BFF.  Consistently do searches for your name, services, address, etc to stay ahead of any problems.  Also look at image results.  You would be surprised what you can find there.  If you want to make life easier, set up a Google alert and other free social media monitoring tools to do the searching for you. Ask for reviews.Honest reviews, not glowing reviews, help establish you as real and credible.  Ask for honest reviews and feedback from your advocates and happy residents.  Make it a point to ask at least two residents a week. Respond.Consistently respond to reviews in a timely manner, the bad and the good.  If you make this part of your daily habits, it is much easier to manage.  When you respond, also think about any...

Posted by on in Resident Retention
It may seem cliche, but the old adage rings true: honesty is everything — especially in business.   Consumers are more constantly plugged in, and are quicker to voice their displeasure with shady corporate business behavior than ever before. According to recent consumer trends, big corporate companies have received plenty of backlash for attempting to pull the wool over their consumers’ eyes.   While your apartment community certainly isn’t a Fortune 500 company, it still must realize that honesty is indeed everything. Customer service and open thinking are of the utmost importance, and being distant and removed from customer interaction is unacceptable.   Instead, trends indicate that consumers are more likely to trust “human brands” — honest, open and unique brands that aren’t afraid to break through the rigid traditional corporate culture and interact with the consumer on a meaningful level. While the emerging consumer trend “human brands” may seem more applicable to major corporations, it can absolutely be applied to your community. Here are a few ways to become more open and honest with your consumers, and hopefully increase leads and retention in the process:   Get some face time: It may seem obvious, but the most impactful way to seem more human is to get out and interact with residents face-to-face. Scheduling resident and community events is an invaluable way to connect with residents on a personal level, but it’s not the only way. Instead, simply encourage your staff to address resident complaints head on and exhibit excellent customer service.    ...

Posted by on in Social Media and Technology
Text messaging has revolutionized the way that consumers are communicating and connecting not only with each other, but with brands as well. According to Frost & Sullivan, text message open rates have reached 98%, which means you can’t afford to not utilize this medium for communication. If your community is currently utilizing a text messaging platform, highlighted below are some “out of the box” ideas to apply texting to your current marketing initiatives. And if your community isn’t, perhaps these additional resident engagement ideas will help to highlight the additional benefits of two-way communication with your residents in the way they prefer.   Resident Engagement: Newsletter sign-ups. If your community sends out a newsletter, utilizing a texting platform allows users to text in to sign up or opt-in. This approach is also great because traditional print pieces, such as flyers, can be used to promote subscription, making it easier for people to sign up from their phones right there on the spot. Request work orders. Allow residents to request work orders via text instead of calling them in or stopping by the office. Calling in a work order can be more time consuming than it needs to be, especially if the office is busy. Having the ability to shoot a quick text to the community with a request would be convenient for both parties. The property receives the feedback through email, making it simple to catalogue and respond to. Coupon distribution/specials. Create membership levels within your community where people get specials or announcements via...

Posted by on in Social Media and Technology
Instagram may be one of the new kids on the block when it comes to social media, but it has quickly grown in popularity. As of today, there are 200 million monthly active users on Instagram, and an average of 60 million photos are shared each day. That’s a lot of photos competing for your renters’ attention! Looking for ideas to reach more renters and increase engagement on Instagram? Here's a three minute guide. Use HashtagsUsing hashtags can be a great way to get more people to see your photos. Do you manage an apartment community in the Windy City? Use the hashtag #Chicago to show up in city searches. Or, include popular hashtags in your posts if it fits the photo you’re posting. For example, post a photo of your community before it was renovated and include the hashtag #tbt (throwback Thursday) so your photo appears when people search for that hashtag.  Here’s a list of the top 5 Instagram hashtags, according to Webstagram: #love #instagood #me #tbt #follow Check out the full list here. Hold a ContestIncrease engagement among your residents by holding an Instagram contest. For example, invite residents to upload photos of their pets using a branded hashtag like #PetsofRiverPlaza. The winner gets a gift card to a local restaurant or store. And don’t forget to repost the winning photo to your own account. Mix it UpIf you only post photos of your property, folks will quickly lose interest and may even stop following you. Instead, post...

Posted by on in Apartment Leasing
Stuff I wish I could tell my Supervisor but never will! (NOTE:  Take this article in the tone it is written.  I am trying to present a fun and insightful perspective from the "sales personality's" point of view.  Be aware that YOUR top leasing pros have a good dose of this mindset.  Even if they are too discreet to share these feelings with you, this fictional letter does realistically reveal the essence of their unique and complex personality! – Rick Ellis, CAM, CPM.)           Dear Boss, I love my job but something is very wrong.  I am becoming increasingly frustrated and angry so I must send you this email.  Yet, I know you will probably never see it.  I just don’t have the nerve to click and unload this much on you!  Please understand that I do like and appreciate you as my supervisor and leader so I am concerned these thoughts might hurt your feelings.  I am also concerned my rather frank words will get me fired.  So I will put my feelings in this email and simply not click send.  They say that is good therapy so maybe I will feel better just for typing my thoughts! I just got off the phone from another painful conversation with corporate.  Our regional marketing director chewed me out again about my “lousy traffic log”.  Hey, I know I shouldn’t record all the phone traffic as “word of mouth” or “drive by” but I just get so excited during my telephone...

Posted by on in Property Management
As many of our readers report an influx of new tenants moving in this summer, we thought it would be a good idea to post some important safety tips for you to share with your new renters:  1.)  Keep your personal items secret It’s never a good idea to let passersby know what kind of expensive toys are kept inside your home. That’s why you shouldn’t just discard the box that a new TV box or laptop came in on the curb where everyone can see it. Cut up your boxes and/or hide them in opaque trash bags.   2.)  Don’t advertise when you’re on vacation If you are traveling this summer, make sure to stop your mail and newspaper deliveries during the time you are away so they don’t pile up. This could alert thieves to the fact that you are away and entice them to break in.   3.)  Make sure the outside of your property is well lit Don’t forget to replace exterior light bulbs (multifamily unit residients should report to landlord/property managers in a timely manner) and report street light outages to the city ASAP (include the phone number or website to do so in your area)   4.)  Lock up your belongings The sun doesn’t set until after 8pm for most of the summer, so if you leave valuable items unsecured all around your yard for any length of time, the wrong person just might notice. And they could even help themselves. Make sure bicycles,...

Posted by on in Apartment Marketing
Google has released yet another new update that may be affecting your real estate and apartment listings. Google's Pigeon Update is designed to help ensure more accurate local search results. According to Google, these changes are meant to help improve the user experience by providing more useful and relevant local search results. You may have noticed an issue with local maps showing, which is one of the major issues since the update. Local search results rankings have been impacted, which could either positively or negatively increase the web site referrals and leads for your business. Yelp and other local directory sites, on the other hand, are getting better visibility now in Google search results with some verticals. Distance and location ranking parameters have been improved, as well as Google search results with a stronger connection to standard web ranking signals. Some of these ranking signals include Knowledge Graph, spelling corrections, synonyms and the like. As of now, the update has only rolled out to US English results with plans of reaching other countries and languages soon. There is no news yet as to what percent of queries have been and will be impacted. For now we’re in a waiting game to see how Pigeon will continue to evolve and affect local search results, and how we can best adapt to these changes. ...