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You Are Being Watched!

Cameras are in use on every street corner, in most businesses, in theaters, maybe even in our churches. I hope not in hotel rooms. Privacy is no longer a privilege when we have baby and nanny cams, shoplifting cams, dressing room cams; restaurant cams; red light cams, the list is endless.  There are both positives and negatives to this lack of privacy.  Recently I read that a couple had cameras in the their apartment which they could could check from their IPhones.  Sadly, a resident watched a pest control person come in, sit down, play with his IPhone, then get up and walk out.  The pest control was not done, but when the manager checked the invoice, the property was charged for spraying.  On a different property a resident checked his camera and found two strangers having sex in his bedroom.  That shocking scene resulted in a move out.  Another resident , different property, recorded an employee taking a bottle of fine whiskey from the kitchen.   There are a couple of points here. 1. Live your life, run your business, do your job as though someone is watching you.    2.  Warn your employees and vendors that they most likely are being observed while on and in your property.   It is sad that our world has come to this, and it will become even more invasive.  Watch the Tom Hanks movie, The Circle.  Next week a new television series is starting featuring how to get the entire world involved,......
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When a Crisis Arises; what to and NOT to say!

Yesterday at one of my client’s properties a person was shot and killed by a resident.  The perpetrator was carrying a knife while trying to break into an occupied apartment. The press and the anxious residents had lots of questions.  Having had professional training on dealing with a crisis situation, I contacted the client immediately.  This advice is important to all of us, whether a death, a fire, or an accident.

Refer the press to your corporate office.  Hopefully, someone with authority from corporate arrived the minute they were advised.  

The worst thing to say is “no comment.”  It sounds evasive, abrupt and cold.  Rather say something like this “We are very concerned and are still gathering information and facts. Thank you for respecting the privacy of all concerned.”  Don’t be prodded into sharing anything else!  Not only does it spread gossip, but it could also have legal ramifications. Remain professional and calm.  The corporate office/owner should prepare a mass email or flyers for the resident’s doors using the same calming language.  The more professionally you handle a crisis, the sooner the situation will calm down.


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Quick Tip Regarding Criminal Background Checks

After speaking with a few clients in the past couple of weeks about this topic, I find many reporting that the vendors they use for background checks simply aren't up to par.  I know it takes time, but it has been a month and the vendors getting geared up is very critical.  

I have a tip that may make your lives much easier.  Make sure that criteria questions begin with credit.  There is a pretty good chance that poor or no credit may eliminate the applicant far before it gets to the criminal issue. 

This advice is not intended to keep a group of people from renting...it is to prevent our having to deal with criminal background if they cannot pay the rent anyway.

And as always, I cannot give legal advice and this is not intended as such.

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Being Politically Correct is a Smart Marketing Move

One of yesterday's blogs gave me an idea.  Target Stores being in trouble today because of a T shirt furthered my idea and purpose in today's topic.  It is so easy when trying to be creative to step on toes.  Examples; Washington Redskins asked to stop using 'redskins' as it isn't complimentary to Native Americans.  Target's T-shirt is part of their fun wedding attire...it says in big letters across the front TROPHY as in trophy wife.  Women all over America are upset; one today said "it makes women feel like they are an 'object"  The confederate flag has been deemed inappropriate to many Americans.  This takes me back in time.  About 20 years ago, in order to be politically correct and gender appropriate, these recommendations were made.  We might say; Not postman, but letter carrier Not waitress, but food server Not stewardess, but flight attendant Not policeman, but police officer In the apartment industry we have tried very hard to use more appropriate terms, such as: Not maintenance man, but service or maintenance technician/tech Not leasing agent, but leasing consultant or associate or something even more polished Not complex or project, but community or property Not apartment manager, but resident manager or business manager Not unit, but apartment home Doesn't this make a more user friendly statement "A resident living in an apartment community in their apartment home" than a tenant going to their unit in the complex?  We have been practicing this for many years! And rather than imply that the......
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What Does it Take to be Fully Awake

My 32 year old grandson quit his job recently.  Right in the middle of the workday, his boss “hurt his feelings and embarrassed him” so he removed his Chef’s apron and walked out. Now he is without work, and has been for several weeks.  I asked him if he learned anything and he said “Yeah, I need to think before I act.”  He is now suffering the consequences of his reaction, his behavior without thought.  Actually he is feeling the pain produced by a decision without concern about his future (to say nothing of his rent!) One of my coaching clients has been in trouble many times because of her mouth…speaking out of turn; saying inappropriate things at the wrong time has cost her a  job more than once.  We came up with the simplest solution.  When she feels the urge to speak up, she pops herself with the rubber band we placed on her wrist.  It is a reminder to listen and think, and often stops her from speaking and causing painful consequences. What do we gain from pain?  For sure a life lesson, but how many times will we do it before we wake up, become fully conscious.  How many times do we repeat behaviors that have previously caused us pain?  I bet most you have heard this cliché; if a snake bites you once, shame on the snake.  If it bites you again, shame on you.  How many times do we have to stick a screwdriver into the electrical o......
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The Conversation Connection…Get More Phone Arrivals, Lease More Apartments, Retain Your Residents

You have learned a lot about the bells and whistles…every kind of technology, website, tweeting and texting and SEOs and streaming video and so much more.  You can market the heck out of your property.  Nearly all the seminars and webinars offered are about getting more traffic and retaining residents; all teaching the great technology available. And you attend them all! So why are you not getting telephone arrivals, increasing leases and getting more renewals? You have educated yourself; have the tools and technology at hand, so why isn’t it creating more income; what is missing?  Perhaps it’s a little common sense, a better development of people skills and learning the art of conversation. We can drive traffic to the door by the hundreds, but what counts, where the rubber meets the road, is what happens when they call and come through the door.  That’s where so many of our team members drop the ball. Recently while reviewing mystery shopping reports, I found it disheartening to listen to telephone calls, and to read reports of visits to the properties.  First, on the phone we sound like robots.  Direct questions got direct answers. Customer - “How much are your two bedrooms?” The answer? “They range from $800 to $1,000.” Customer “Do you have anything available?” “Not right now.”  Or “Yes but it’s on the 3rd floor.”  Customer – “Oh, okay, thank you.”  Reply “No problem.” There are all kinds of mistakes there.  Some of you think that is normal and ‘what’s wrong with that?’  Hopefully most of you are......
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Say Something Nice!

Most of us know that flattery is a powerful tool.  We know that complimenting someone makes them feel good about themselves and more positively about the person paying the favorable comments, even if they think it might be insincere. Now, research shows that compliments can even improve memory, morale and job performance! Japanese researchers who conducted a study found that when people were given a task to learn involving motor skills, praise for their performance afterwards resulted in their remembering the task better than participating groups who received no praise. While this experiment looked at one very limited area – a learned physical task – it’s interesting that flattery has a side effect in improving recall totally independent of motivation factors. Educators, trainers, coaches, even bosses may be able to use compliments and praise to make their lessons more memorable and more readily implemented. And, at the same time, they could be viewed more positively by their students and may be increasing motivation, as well. What can we, in property management, use every day from this research, this lesson? What if our leasing team members closed their presentation with “You are making a smart and great decision”? Or when the rent check is hand delivered “Thank you for paying your rent on time…we really appreciate you”? Or when spending time with your employees “You are really picking this up fast” or “You are doing a great job on this task”? And while training a group “Each of you are paying attention, taking notes and showing that you are sinc......
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You Have Power!

Have you ever felt powerless?  It shows up when you find life uncontrollable.  More often it shows up when you expected a certain outcome to an event, a relationship, a job; anything that doesn’t turn out as you wanted.  So we forget that we have power, or we have given up on it.   Trust me, it is still within you. To me, what is important is about power is how you use it!  For example we all have power over someone else…often over many others.  You have the power to make someone feel as tall and solid as a mountain; and you have the power to make someone feel insignificant, as tiny and unimportant as a tiny ant. What is important is that you stay aware and channel your power for good; use it to make everyone you encounter be happier, smarter, braver, grander!  Use your power to do a great job at your job; your career.  Use it to give yourself a raise…by being the best, to make smart decisions.  Use it to influence others in a positive way, to make a difference in their lives and in the success of your company, to insure that your customers get what they really want and need.  Use it to raise children to love themselves. You HAVE power…it is up to you how you use it.  From this day forward just think of yourself as Superman or Wonder Woman…I want to watch you leap over a tall building, I want to watch......
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Do You Know How to Shake Hands? The Right Way?

We are continually told to be friendly, greet warmly, even to rise when a prospective renter walks in the door.  However I often hear that is isn't comfortable for many of the on site professionals to offer a handshake.  I hear how it is a fair housing issue to shake hands with one and not another, and that it is embarrassing if you offer your hand and they don't.  Human touch is so important, and it is missing from many peoples lives.  Add the fact that the Traditionalist and Boomer generations were taught that shaking hands was the courteous thing to do,  then perhaps you will see the value.  So, the issues:  Offer your hand to everyone...if they decline that's okay...just smile and use your extended hand to offer them a seat.  Not a Fair Housing issue if your tried.  Don't let the 10% who don't shake hands keep you from offering it to the 90% who would find it professional and courteous.   The real issue is that we don't know HOW to shake hands...men  offer the tips of their fingers to women, like they would wound us with a hand shake...women do the same thing with other women...the wet wash cloth, dead fish, warm lettuce end of finger thing.  The objective is not to squeeze and pump!  Look at your hand...see the little web between your thumb and pointer finger?  Just reach in deep and put your webs together.  Take a gentle yet firm grasp, one or two up and......
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Stop Nickel-ing and Dime-ing

  American and other airlines have announced additional charges to passengers AGAIN!  Not only charges to check bags, pay for food on board,  now it is $8. for a blanket and pillow.  Next it will bring your own roll of toilet paper or pay per sheet.  My husband and I both travel a lot and discussed how smart it would be to just raise the ticket price $8 and not aggravate the snot out of travelers!!!The first thing I thought of when I heard the announcement is this; "How Petty!" We in the apartment industry do the same thing.  $25 for covered parking, $20 for a view, $15 for a fireplace, $50 for mirrored wall...it goes on and on.  Perhaps next is $5 for a toilet.  Before you start beating up on me, I know that additional income is very important today however I advocate doing this a different way.  Why not quote the price of the apartment with all the bells and whistles included and ask "does this work for you?" If the response is along the lines of 'too expensive' then offer to show them the same floor plan without the view, or fireplace or garage, or mirrors.  We add to the misery at renewal time...more rent for less than 12 month lease, passing on an increase that brings them above what new renters are paying.  Additional fees in small amounts do nothing but tick of the consumer.  When you are 100% at optimum rents, fire away!  But today, not......
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