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 Miscellaneous
I got up early last week and went for a trail run in one of the canyons above Draper, Utah, a suburb of Salt Lake where I live.  As the sun came up over the mountains and began to light up the valley, the natural beauty was incredible and forced me into a moment of reflection. Why are we in business and why do I sit at my desk day after day helping the multifamily industry? Do I do anything to make the relationship between resident and property manager easier? Is my job really just a culmination of pay-periods until I quit or get fired? Wow, I sure hope not. So how I can find value in what I do on a daily basis? Or am I just another consumer riding the “earn-and-spend” train until death? It turns out that many people ask this exact question. And it wasn’t long ago that the term “Corporate Social Responsibility” was coined. CSR is defined as: “A company’s sense of responsibility towards the community and environment (both socially and ecologically) in which it operates.” Essentially, a company is doing positive things for society and the environment while making money. It is about illustrating and advancing goodwill through our professional lives, a company's polices and practices, which in turn enhance relationships with employees and customers. CSR has a permanent role in over 70% of corporate agendas because it is focused on social concerns that directly impact the business and provide demonstrable financial benefit to the company. The above...

Posted by on in Apartment Leasing
Time and money are everything to a property manager. So when there’s a chance to save it, or make it,  you take it. Especially when it comes to time consuming tasks like pricing and sending renewal offers, follow-up and tracking down a resident to determine if he or she will give notice, go to MTM or is actually going to sign a lease renewal at the last minute!. But with a good template and automation system, there are plenty of tips and tricks you can use to make the lives of your property teams easier while making more money. Phase 1: Templates With templates you no longer need to scramble when you remember something like “today is the day I need to send offers!” By creating standard templates you can strategically price, send offers and remind residents to renew, you’re good to go whenever the day arrives. All that might be required is a quick review of the template and if it still fits your needs. Then you can plug in dates and times for when a message needs to go out, weeks or months in advance. Templates can also save a lot of time through email automation. It’s a huge relief, especially when it comes to the monthly renewal process. Let’s face it; property managers and leasing teams can spend a significant amount of time and energy chasing after and talking to residents about renewing, but everyone seems to want to wait until the last minute before they actually sign their lease....

Posted by on in Apartment Marketing
It’s so important that without a mobile-friendly site, your Google search rankings could take a hit. Oh, and if you don’t have a mobile site, be ready to watch about 30 - 40% of your traffic go to a competitor who does. In fact, more than half of the traffic to Zillow’s and Trulia’s networks come from mobile devices! So what makes a mobile site “friendly”? Responsive design - Offer a seamless, custom experience that adapts to the device the consumer is using. The key is to make it easy for them to get the information they want and take the next step (like contacting you)...and having to “pinch and zoom” or fill out lots of forms won’t cut it. Google found that 61% of users who didn’t find what they were looking for right away on a mobile site quickly moved on to another site. Click-to-call options - One smart way to make the next step easier to take is adding a click-to-call button on your search results and mobile site. Google says 70% of mobile searchers have used the option. (You can make phone numbers “clickable” on your mobile site by adding code like "[a href="tel:+18005559999"] Call us 1-800-555-9999 [/a]". Just make sure to use angled brackets in place of the brackets I used here.) Tap-to-text buttons - This text contact option may be even more convenient for some prospects (even current residents) who can’t talk at the moment...or don’t want to. Admit it, calling a business is rarely...

Posted by on in Apartment Marketing
This may or may not come as a surprise to everyone, but we are in the year 2015. According to what we learned from Marty McFly we should have hoover boards zipping around later this year! Okay,  I know we can't really use a fictional movie as an example of where technology has progressed, but we can see that we have made incredible advancements in technology in my lifetime. However, somehow in the multi billion multifamily industry we seem to fall behind on the latest tech. With so many technological advancements we should be taking advantage of these tools to improve the way we are communicating and interacting with our prospects and residents. It can be hard to make the jump to something new that we are not used to, but can be a huge benefit to you- the user- and the end user. I can specifically recall, for example, the learning curve that I had when I switched from a simple mobile device that just texted and called to a smartphone. However, after a few days of using it I felt that I had become very effective in using the device. I now am not sure what I would do without it when it comes to helping my customers and my coworkers. So the main question is what can we do to leverage technology to better communicate with residents and prospects? I believe that the number one item is that you should be using a system that can create and send messages to these people....

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 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 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...