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Multifamily Marketing With a Twist

Bringing you new twists on traditional multifamily sales and marketing strategies (with a little "digital" added in for good measure).

4 Consistent Habits That Led Me To My Multifamily Dream Job

4 Consistent Habits That Led Me To My Multifamily Dream Job

When I started in the multifamily industry nearly twenty years ago as a leasing consultant, I wanted more. Don’t get me wrong, I was excited about the opportunity before me and knew I had a lot to learn. But I was also hungry to get to the next level.


In fact, during my new hire orientation, I told the Marketing and Training Director that my goal was to get her job. Yes, it would take time for me to get myself into a role like that, but it gave me something to work towards.


It fueled me. For the next two years, I worked at my community, diligently trying to close every lease and renew every resident. I constantly listened to my recorded leasing calls, searching for ways I could improve my telephone performance. I pounded the pavement in the neighborhood, visiting local businesses, trying to build a trusted relationship with them that would lead to referrals.


I coordinated meetings with the service team and my manager, with a desire to learn more about their niches of the business. I attended every internal class my company offered and took detailed notes. I would come back to my property, and put what I learned into action.


My company moved me from site to site, challenging me to solve the most complex leasing and occupancy problems, and I seemed to be fairly good at getting community performance back on track.


And then the time came. The Marketing and Training Director role opened up. I was so excited I could hardly stand it. I raised my hand (really, I jumped up and down while shouting "Me! Me! Me!) and put my name in the hat as an interested party. Then, after I'd been vetted by HR, I bought a new suit and made a four-hour trek to the corporate office for a formal interview with the CEO. Yes, I was a leasing consultant interviewing with our CEO. I was scared, my knees were shaking and I was intimidated. But, as they say, life begins at the end of your comfort zone and I knew I had no other option than to go for it.


I thought I did well. But then the news came. They granted the position and the promotion to someone else. All of that work for NOTHING.


But it wasn’t for nothing. Because, you see, the one thing I did right (even though my ego was truly crushed), was put on my happy face, like so many other people on the front lines in this industry. I went back to my community, rolled up my sleeves, and continued to give my team and my site my all.


I knew they needed me and even though I was still feeling the sting of rejection, there was just something in my heart —maybe it was grit, maybe it was pride— telling me that now was not the time to give up or give in. I had worked way too hard to get here.


Two weeks later, I received a telephone call. The company was creating a brand new position for me. Yes, ME! Just when I thought about giving up on my goal, I met it.


I went on to be promoted several more times over the years, and eventually held that Senior Marketing Director role that I initially wanted for nearly 15 years. I’ve gotten to speak onstage at industry conferences, and have been invited to present for other fun organizations both inside and outside the real estate industry, including professional sports teams.


Now, I’m consistently mapping out my role in my dream job here at 30 Lines as the Vice President of Marketing and Training. And last year on the side, I ran for a seat on City Council and have now added the title of “Councilwoman” to my list of accomplishments. Pretty cool, huh?


I am often asked, by people both inside and outside of the industry, “How did you get here? What did you do? How did you propel yourself to that next level?”


I’ve thought about this quite a bit over the years and of course there’s the usual: having a good attitude, being a team player, mastering specific skill sets, working beyond the expectations— the list goes on and on.


But I’ve also come to realize there are a several other key initiatives I employed very early on in my career that helped me to differentiate myself from the rest of the pack. I want to share them with all of you who are working and hustling so hard, chasing that next promotion or bigger and better role that you so desire.


4 things that helped me shine…

1. Networking

Everyone you meet and connect with can potentially lead you to the next big thing. I have tried over the years to treat everyone I meet like they matter. If you really want to step up your networking game, take an interest in others. This means your prospects and residents, your co-workers, other departments within your own company, your neighbors, people you meet at social events (like the chamber, apartment association, industry conferences), friends of friends… The list goes on and on.


Meet at many people as you can, take an interest in them, pick their brain, ask them questions, get to know them (and their industry or business) and then stay in touch with them!


The number one rule is: it’s not about you. It’s about them. Yes, your overall goal with networking is to build your network— to have a posse of people who could help you at any given time, no matter the need. But guess what?


Those people aren’t going to help you unless you help them first. Learn about their business, what they’re trying to build and how you can help. Be a good resource and these folks will be more than willing to return the favor when it’s your turn to ask for help.


Which brings me to…


2. Identify The Game Changers And Follow The Leader(s)


The more you network, the more you’ll be able to identify who the game changers and movers and shakers are, both inside and outside of your company and industry. The best thing you can do is watch and learn from those who are already seeing success.


Early in my career, I worked with a leasing manager in another region who consistently had the highest closing ratios in the company. Her secret shopper scores were always perfect and she always seemed to be winning all of the awards. So guess what I did?


I called her and said “How do you do that”? (And she told me!) Most successful people want to see others succeed, too. Don’t be afraid to ask them for help or to mentor you. It’s actually one of the most flattering things you can do for someone else, and it’ll help you grow, too.


I didn’t just try to learn how these successful people were selling, though. I observed their body language. How they dressed. How they spoke to others. How they tackled problems or disagreements. How they presented information to customers. How they handled themselves when things went wrong.


I knew they had to be doing something right, and so I worked hard to study them and then used what I learned to become more self-aware, so that I, too, could see that same level of success. Be your own person. Create your own personal brand and craft your own style, but when you see a successful leader who exhibits qualities you admire, follow them! They most likely will lead you down the path to leadership, too.


In addition, I worked to align myself with experts outside of my company. It seemed there was always new technology or a new product hitting the marketplace and, at times, it was hard to decipher what was what and to make sense of it all.


Once I was able to identify who the game changers and experts were, I started following them. I didn’t literally follow them around (okay, maybe if we were at a conference together I would follow them from room to room to listen to them speak and to get their latest insights), but I signed up for their blog posts, their videos. I read the updates they posted on LinkedIn and Facebook. I combed through the data they always seemed to be sharing. And I engaged with them whenever I could.


I built a relationship with these folks (who are scattered all over the country, by the way) and to this day I still call on them to help me when I get stuck. They always have a fresh perspective for me and offer up solutions I haven’t yet thought of.


I actually attended a conference (circa 2008-2009), where a well-known industry speaker talked about this thing called Facebook and how it’s going to be a great platform for apartment communities to utilize. Nobody in my company was talking about this. It wasn’t even on their radar. I came home that weekend and created a personal Facebook account, and added my properties to the platform shortly thereafter. (And almost all of us are utilizing this platform now, in big ways).  


There are so many people out there who are embracing technology and who have such great vision for what can be in this industry (and beyond). Find them and talk to them. I’ve found that most of the time, they’ve already combed through the really tough stuff and learned the ins and outs of new technology, and will happily pass their findings on to you (in a much less complex way).


So get outside of your usual leasing and marketing circle (no matter how busy you are) and start paying attention to those game changers.


(Big shout out to my original #AptChat family, who I wouldn’t have met otherwise: Mike Whaling, Mike Brewer, Heather Blume, Brent Williams, Kim Grisvard, Stephanie Oehler...)


3. Ask The Right Questions

I cannot stress enough how important this is. Even if you’re completely lost on a product, strategy or the like, ask the right questions. Dig in. If you aren’t sure what questions to ask, follow rule #1. (Rely on your network to help you craft those because I guarantee you someone out there knows more than you do and will know how to help you).


For example, if you need a new website for your community and you’re interviewing potential web developers and putting out a request for bids, you’ll want to ask each developer how they’ll showcase pricing and availability on your website.


“Will you link out to a third party website to show the prospect real-time pricing and availability?”


If the answer from the web developer is yes, they will link out to a third party (or use something called an iframe), then you will not have full tracking and analytics


You would have lost being able to track your customer and their behavior on your website from start to finish, and now can only track it from the start (when they enter your website) until the time they click on pricing or availability— nothing after that.


Can you imagine if you only tracked telephone calls but not tours and rentals? What if you could see the activity of every prospect who called, but nothing after that (like the tour or the rental or the move-in or the renewal)?


See why I want you to ask a lot of questions? And the right questions? Smart questions?


Even if your company isn’t educating you on these things, you’ve got a responsibility to educate yourself. Seek out the information you need. Knowledge really is power. Until you fully understand how all of the pieces of your marketing work, you won’t be the best marketer you can be. Or the best leasing consultant you can be.

Don’t settle. Don’t stop investigating because “that’s the way we’ve always done it.” If you don’t understand, keep asking questions and keep pushing until you do. It will make you stand out and shine in the end. Promise!


4. Get Outside Of Multifamily


Find and follow marketing, sales, operations and technology resources that are outside of the multifamily industry.


Our industry has some amazing innovators. But that doesn’t mean we can’t consistently be inspired by other innovative industries. If you want to become a game changer yourself, you’ve got to start getting yourself exposed to other ways of doing things.


I dedicate time every day for research of products or services I’m not familiar with, and for blogs, articles, videos and other resources that get me thinking about new ways to do business. The idea here is to start spending some of your time being a visionary, even if it’s a quick 10 to 15 minutes a day where you can focus on ideas that could get you (and your business) to the next level. If you spend just 10 minutes a day, every day on self-improvement, you will have added more than 60 hours of personal development to your repertoire by the end of the year.


Here are few ideas for getting started:

  • Listen to sales/marketing/training podcasts and videos on your way to work or while you’re working out. Many of them are only 2 to 5 minutes long, and will seriously pump you up for your workday!

  • Subscribe to Think With Google. You’ll receive tips, tricks, case studies and stats that can be directly applied to our industry.

  • Make a list of vendors and service providers you work with, and subscribe to their blog and email list. They often send updates, and many of them include tips for using their products or services better. They’re like free tutorials, and I guarantee that you’ll learn something you didn’t already know.

I'd love to hear your success story or help you determine how you can get your goals to the finish line. Reach out any time!


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