Theresa McCutcheon
What do I need to do to get into Property Management. Everyone asks for experience. Do I need to tak...
I also saw some people get their pictures taken with him. I would've liked to have met him. Maybe ne...

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
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...

Posted by on in Apartment Leasing
Many people know of Benjamin Franklin as one of our founding fathers and great inventors (lightning rod, bifocals, and so much more). His legacy of scientific and political achievement is pretty amazing and definitely worth a “Google”. Mr. Franklins influence is even felt in sales forces far and wide because a cool fun fact is that Benjamin Franklin was also known to his inner circle for making most all of his decisions by taking a piece of paper and drawing a line down the center listing the “pros and cons”. He would write all the reasons in favor of making a decision on one side of the paper, and all the reasons opposed to the decision on the other side. He would then study the lists, and make his decision accordingly. So, in honor of our founding fathers on this Fourth of July Holiday, I offer for your toolbox the “Ben Franklin Close”. When a prospect is having difficulty making up his mind to lease today at your community because of a myriad of different factors or choices, you can say, “I see you are putting a lot into this decision, let's use the Ben Franklin method. It's super simple. Ben Franklin used to do this and he did become one of the wealthiest men in America. This is how it works; we take a piece of paper and draw a line down the center. Now, let's write down all the reasons in favor of choosing our apartment community on the...

Posted by on in Apartment Marketing
The most relevant shopper you have is the one on your website. But getting that shopper to take action is tricky—they’re as pressed for time as you are, searching off and on as they grab spare moments of time (over the weekend, at night, during work, etc.). Here are four things that may help increase your chances of online conversion with today’s impatient consumers: An online presence (especially one optimized for mobile viewing) - It’s a little obvious, but has to be said. SEO & SEM strategies - Dominate your ideal customer’s search results (like “apartment in [area]” or “apartment near [area]”). Easier ways to ask questions, encouraging actual contact from apartment hunters. The ability to be always-on, ready to respond and help when the consumer reaches out. The third and fourth items are important because even if you come up first in a search and the consumer clicks the link to your site, you don’t necessarily win. Sure, the value of a click is worth something (branding and recognition). If only you were paid by clicks and website visitors!   You know where I’m going with this don’t you?  Your website isn’t the only one those visitors will visit. They have a finite amount of time to spend driving around, and they’re making the first cut online.  Can your website help your property stand out amongst all the others in the area? It can...to some extent. But probably only 3% of your unique visitors will actually pick up the phone...

Posted by on in Apartment Marketing
I wrote an article two years ago regarding social media and multifamily marketing. We know that in terms of social media, two years can be a lifetime, so I thought I’d take a look at what I was doing in 2013 and offer some new thoughts on the subject today in 2015.   What should our goal be? Back then, I wrote that our goal isn’t going to be about generating rents. We should focus on engaging our current residents and creating a sense of community. Retention and referrals are our main goal with social media and I still stand by that statement. However, studying the analytics, I have noticed that we are generating more and more traffic to our website from our social sites.   How can you save time? I previously discussed social media platforms and content-providing partners as a great way of saving time. We utilize content-providing partners for our assets with higher budgets and they do an amazing job. However, the majority of our properties’ social media presence is done in house. Not much has changed in these two years, except that I manage three times more communities and still devote the same amount of time to social media. I (still) use Hootsuite as a way of centralizing our social media posting and I currently post to more than 70 individual Facebook pages, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google +. Being methodical and planning ahead saves so much time, I can't stress it enough. Throughout the course of the month,...

Posted by on in Apartment Marketing
boring-apartment-marketing-content Click-bait media site Upworthy was founded in March of 2012. By November of 2013, the site had 18 million users per month. Political news and analysis site Vox.com was founded in April 2014. By September of that year, the site was already averaging around 11 million unique users per month. Stories like that have become the stuff of legend with online marketers. Talk of virality and growth hacking dominate discussions of online marketing to the degree that everyone, even people in industries will virality may not make as much sense, want to be the next Upworthy. Virality doesn't always make sense. It's notable that both Upworthy and Vox.com are media companies. They produce and distribute written content and their business model depends on generating pageviews and building a consistent readership. They rely on advertising for their money and advertisers won't pony up unless they can deliver a big audience. So for these companies, you want virality because virality equals readers which equals advertising revenue. (It also means that you can get advertisers competing for space on your site, which means larger amounts of advertising revenue.) What should non-media companies aspire to online? Obviously you want to get traffic to your site. When we say "don't aim for virality" we're not saying "ignore traffic." Rather, we're saying approach your traffic strategy intelligently. Viral traffic is notoriously fickle and seldom converts into something more than a visitor--which if all you need is web visitors is fine, but if you're a non-media business...

Posted by on in Apartment Marketing
If you were to consider adding another benefit or amenity to your existing property, what would it be? Some might say a pool, an exercise room, or covered parking. But, what about added security? Would you believe, way back in 2009, an Apartments.com survey revealed that tenants were willing to pay more in rent for added security benefits? And, we find in the past 6 years that little has changed, with ‘safety and security’ ranking high on the list of things the average tenant wants in a property. And, while we’re in no position to make guarantees, you’ll find that simple additions make a big difference – in the level of security and the marketability to tenants. Some examples include: Lighting – Making sure the property is well lit is a great (and easy) place to start. There should be no dark corners or unlit paths. Parking lots, unit porches, and common areas should all have ample lighting. Signage – There should be clear signage throughout the property to identify walking paths, to post rules and guidelines of usage of pool or common areas, and to give notification to tenants of potentially hazardous or dangerous conditions (e.g., weather-related issues, potholes, etc.). Unit security systems – Here is where the financial investment gets steeper, but can potentially provide significant ROI.  This investment is likely to deter break-ins and unit damage, decreasing associated costs and increasing peace of mind. Emergency phone centers – Have you walked through a college campus recently or a...

Posted by on in Property Management
Are you a property manager because you want to be or have you fallen into the role simply because you’ve made a multifamily property investment? If you find yourself part of the latter group and are contemplating a change, or you are considering an investment and want to know all your options, this article is designed to provide some insight into a major benefit of hiring the right PM company: cost savings. While employing the services of a PM company is an added and regular expense, it’s actually also proven time and again to be an investment with a notable return on investment (ROI). It often saves investors considerable amounts of money, in addition to helping secure ongoing income. A few of the ways property management companies are able to achieve this include: Reduced vacancy rates - Recent studies show that professional property managers, on average, are able to maintain lower vacancy rates than the national average. In fact, the vacancy rate with a professional is 5.5% while the U.S. Census Bureau average is closer to 9%. The contributing factors are many, but not surprising. Professionals are often able to leverage more powerful and plentiful marketing and advertising resources, getting the word out there more quickly. They are also have fairly rapid turnover practices that enable them to move-in new tenants rather quickly after a move-out. Economies of scale - Marketing is just one area or resource professional property managers are able to leverage using economies of scale, or the cost advantages larger...