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Multifamily Cares

The latest multifamily research and data regarding the impact of corporate social responsibility on employee retention, resident retention, online reputation, and the greater good.

It's 5 o'clock. Do You Know Where Your Culture Is?

    Do you remember those motivational posters that had a majestic image and an empowering quote or word below it? So many offices across the nation sported variations of these posters (and maybe still do) as a way to drive a strong corporate culture. We had an entire arsenal of cultural accouterments: Vision. Mission. Values. On a tri-fold laminated card? Yes please. With a matching inspirational daily calendar? Absolutely.  Somewhere along the way, we started defining company culture by its accessories rather than its substance. We showcase culture by the perks and benefits our organization offers, rather than by behaviors exhibited.  In recent months, I've been exploring the connection and implications of employee turnover and resident turnover. The ManagInc Q1 2018 Financial Impact Report shows that the lower the employee turnover in the multifamily housing industry, the lower the resident turnover, resulting in increased NOI. This monetary connection has me looking to successful organizations who proudly display the importance of their teams. Case in point, I've embraced what Sir Richard Branson, of the many Virgin companies, says, "The way you treat your employees is the way they will treat your customers."  Which leads to the question of, "How do we treat our employees?"  Which then leads to the question of culture. What are the norms and expectations of inter-company interactions? If it takes the Accounting Department 3 days to return a frantic Property Manager's call, can we honestly expect that Property Manager to return their resident's call within the mandated......
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Think You Are Managing Your Reputation? Think Again.

                  As an industry, multifamily has done a remarkable job in embracing and managing their reputation related to online resident reviews. In fact, according to the soon-to-be-released 2018 Multifamily CSR Benchmark Study, nearly 87% of property management companies have a policy on responding to online resident reviews. For the past several years, industry conferences have had panels and workshops teaching strategies and best practices on how to respond to these reviews professionally and in a way that enhances the company's reputation and attracts prospective renters.  In the background, however, a critical component of your reputation has slowly been exposed. The curtain has been pulled back, and all of your inner workings have been revealed.  Your residents aren't the only ones who have been talking about you. Your employees have been talking, too. Not only do they have a lot to say, but there is a large audience who is enjoying the show and making decisions about whether they want to audition or exit, stage left.  Allow Me Introduce You to the World of Company Reviews. As with any industry, the online job search websites have evolved and expanded in their capabilities and focus. Our industry has used these websites to post jobs and find new employees. We have counted on our managers and HR team to write interesting and attractive job descriptions to appeal to the right skill sets and value systems that would fit into our culture. Alas, those days are gone.......
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The Importance of Putting Your Customers Second

 You’ve heard it. I’ve heard it. It seems to be the motto of all service industries: “The customer is always right.” What if I told you that this directive was given to his employees by Harry Gordon Selfridge. Of Selfridge Department Store. In London, England. In 1909. I don’t know about you, but I’d say it’s time to reboot our approach. And I don’t mind stealing concepts from England again. In fact, IMHO, Sir Richard Branson has delivered the best motto for service industries for our time: “The way you treat your employees is the way they’ll treat your customers.” Consider this: resident turnover has consistently fluctuated between 51% and 59% for over a decade, according to NAA’s Annual Income and Expense Report. As a result, many property management companies have developed finely tuned resident retention programs that may include service guarantees, additional amenities, unique resident events, and more. Property management companies have been showing their residents the love! ... by expecting their employees to go above and beyond: Response times to calls and emails, service with a smile, online reputation management, mental gymnastics to reinvent the pool party, and on and on.  The result? Resident turnover remains between 51% and 59%. My friends, we are living the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Focus on resident retention has not moved the needle the way we expected it to. Yes, there are success stories out there, but not consistently and not in great volume. It’s time t......
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Winter is Coming - Why you and your maintenance team should chat

b2ap3_thumbnail_5345634279_3052f2ee79_b.jpg  "Winter is coming!" No, not THAT winter. Actual winter, which involves actual snow (not John Snow), and more cold-weather related service requests.  When you consider service requests, there's an interesting void that exists in our industry. While these requests are a daily occurrence, they are one of the least likely aspects of the job a leasing agent will receive training on. Typically, one learns how to take a service request by listening to other team members take a service request. The result is often a vague work order that will ultimately require more than one trip to the unit and the maintenance shop. This reduces the number of service requests that are resolved in one day. Which increases both resident and maintenance team frustration.  The answer? 1. As a team, use your work order system to identify the 10 most common service requests received in the fall/winter months.  2. Maintenance team members, walk the office team members through any potential trouble shooting tips they can share with residents for those top 10. If the office team can provide an easy self-help solution, that's one less trip for a maintenance tech! For example, if a garbage disposal is not working, walk the resident through the process of hitting the reset button. 3. For each of the top 10 service requests, ask the maintenance team to identify 5 critical questions they would like the office team to ask when that service request is reported. Using the garbage disposal example, one question m......
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Don't Be Afraid When Residents Throw Shade

Don't Be Afraid When Residents Throw Shade
It’s the Number One question I answer when I’m at industry events: “How do you hide the negative reviews on ApartmentRatings.com?” The answer I give is often met with skepticism. “You don’t hide them. You embrace them.” Ratings and reviews have been around long enough to have some research surrounding them, and what is becoming clearer and clearer is that shoppers – no matter what the product or service – don’t trust reviews that are purely positive. A study conducted by Revoo found that 95% of consumers suspected fraud or censorship when they didn't see any bad scores on a rating and review site. If it’s too good to be true…  ... then it probably is. Life is not a fairy tale, and we’ve all had our lack of ‘happily ever after’s’ from a purchase. That being the case, most people are actually looking for negative reviews when they are researching a purchase. In fact, shoppers spend 5 times as much time on negative reviews as positive ones. Why? They are looking for the deal breakers. Each of us has some things that are non-negotiables, and everyone’s preferences are different. What may be an absolute ‘No!’ for one person might be a resounding ‘Yes!’ for someone else. A Matter of Time When I was looking for an alarm clock to replace the broken one in my daughters’ room, I decided to find one with an iPod docking station so they could listen to their own music when going to sleep. On Amazon, there are approximately one zillion......
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Quit Trying to Wow Me. Just Help a Girl Out

Quit Trying to Wow Me. Just Help a Girl Out
"Hi. I called about 30 minutes ago asking for a new set of sheets for my room, and I wanted to check on the status?" I say into the phone at 11:55 p.m. as my kids are piled in bed with their dad, their own bed damp due to a leaky diaper.  "We're SO sorry for the delay! I'll put the request in again. As a way to apologize for the inconvenience, we'd like to offer you dinner on us at the hotel restaurant." "Thanks, but we're leaving in the morning. Can I just come to the front desk and pick up the sheets myself?" "Oh, no, no, don't worry about that. We don't want to inconvenience you! We'll get them up to you as soon as we can!" Another 20 minutes and I finally get some sheets. And 10 minutes after that I was gently trying to redistribute my family members to their appropriate beds without a major meltdown.  Look, I get it that we've all had it drilled into our heads that 'Exceeding Customer Expectations," "Going the Extra Mile," and "Knocking Their Socks Off," is how we're going to earn our customers' loyalty, but sometimes it's a lot more basic than that. Sometimes a girl just need some dry sheets. Right now. Dinner, a hotel credit, free laundry service is nice. It looks fabulous on paper. But the memory that will linger is the amount of time I paced the floor in the middle of the night, checking out......
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Forget Bruno Mars, You Can Count on ME!

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. My neighbor is certifiable with this obsessive paranoia about vampire-infestation. 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 a......
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The D.I.R.T. on How We're Setting Up Maintenance Teams to Fail

b2ap3_thumbnail_The-DIRT-on-Maintenance-Requests.jpgIt's no secret our maintenance teams are one of the key reasons residents renew their lease. Repairs (especially those that were not completed) are one of the most common topics on ratings and review sites. We can tell our maintenance teams to work smarter and faster until we're blue in the face, but that's not going to change things. Before real improvement can take place, we have to stop setting up our maintenance teams to fail! Wait! We're What? Maintenance teams rely on the information that is provided in the work order system. The majority of those maintenance requests are input by front office staff. However, very few property management companies include "Maintenance Request 101" in their onboarding process. The result? Office staff learns how to take a maintenance request by listening to their co-workers (who also have received no specific training) take maintenance requests. Obviously, most communities are managing alright, but more often than we'd like to believe, these are the types of notes maintenance teams are reading. "Blinds broken." Which means.... ? Do they need a new slat, a new pull string, and entirely new set of blinds? Vague, general service requests often result in incomplete work, callbacks, or time-wasting trips back and forth to the maintenance shop, which gives residents the impression that the maintenance techs are not the rock stars we know they are! It's time we all learn how to get the D.I.R.T.  D - Details Your maintenance team is a great source for what details are......
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Resident Retention Begins with Employee Engagement

b2ap3_thumbnail_The-half-and-halfspecial.png  We've been receiving quite a few requests for data recently: how to overcome the most common renewal objections, what incentives are the best for securing renewals, what are the best-attended resident events, how to generate the best online reviews from your best residents.  Resident retention. There are tips and tricks and strategies galore that can be shared. The correlations are clear. However... all the data in the world on resident retention will do you no good if your team members are not engaged. I read a great article recently on Connecting Customer Loyalty with Employee Loyalty that does a great job of defining the difference between a satisfied employee and an engaged employee. The bottom line is that an engaged employee is going to be the one who impacts resident retention. Why?  A satisfied employee will do everything expected of him. He'll cheerfully answer the questions and run the reports and check the boxes. And at the end of his shift, he'll head home, content with a day's work and a day's wage. He'll wave politely at Mrs. Anderson who is hurrying up the sidewalk to try and catch someone in the office before it closes. When Mrs. Anderson calls after him, he might cheerfully tell her to please call courtesy patrol if it's an emergency, or he might not hear her. It's 6:01 p.m., after all. An engaged employee will not only do everything that's expected of him, but he'll go a step further, when he can, to ensure the......
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Resident Retention: Pardon That Turkey

b2ap3_thumbnail_Turkey.jpgWe've all been guilty of it: "One-two-three-not-it!" the office team groupthinks as THAT resident comes in for the 5th time this week. Who will be the poor sucker who gets stuck this time? I'm not going to pretend that we're gonna absolutely love every person who moves into our community, but we've got to remember that each person is a customer, which makes them a VIP. And we need to treat them as such. Reality Check: Now more than ever residents are looking for a "sense of community." But according to our most recent study conducted with Ball State university this summer, "sense of community" begins with the resident's connection with the community staff, not with the other residents! So, with that reality in mind and with Thanksgiving in sight, it is entirely appropriate to discuss how to deal with those Turkeys (the people, not the birds). 1. Give a warm welcome and a fond farewell. This come straight out of the Ritz-Carlton handbook, folks. Think about when you arrive at a friend's house for dinner and how good it makes you feel when you walk in the door and your host/hostess lights up and seems thrilled to see you. While we don't need to greet each resident with a hug, we can make them feel important by being happy to see them. Often times, this one action (showing genuine warmth) can take the wind out of a complainer's sails. They may be more reluctant to demand attention on their p......
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