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Under New (Reputation) Management

  Apartment communities change owners and management companies frequently. Among the list of challenges we often face in a management change, the online reputation that is inherited can be one of the most difficult. Historically, review sites have not accounted for a change in management in the overall score of the property. This can be costly as many people will focus on the score or star ratings rather than spending time reading the actual reviews and discovering that there has been a management change. There are several ways to overcome this both online and off.    The short term solutions are fairly straightforward. Notify prospective residents on your website, social media, signage, brochures and email blasts that a new company has taken over management and is making a commitment to a better reputation. Just be transparent and be sure to do what you say you are going to do. If there are capital improvements coming, be sure to mention them and provide a realistic timeframe.    The long term solutions are a bit more complicated since you actually have to get positive reviews. Directly soliciting positive reviews all at once is not recommended. Instead, you have to create a culture that promotes feedback from your current residents. Here are ways to do that:   1. Leave a card for your residents after service has been completed in their unit that invites them to share their experience with you and create an incentive for them to return it. If you get a glowing review......
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How a Basketball Player Reminded Me Why I Love My Job

I love a good sports movie.  I like to see the underdog rise to the top and as the music begins to crescendo, we see the team shoot the winning basket, score the final touchdown, kick the goal to take the championship as fans rise in sheer joy at the remarkable story they have witnessed.  The best stories include struggle and determination.  A Mother, Coach or Father sacrificing to see the person they love and believe in make it to the top.  When Kevin Durant, star player with the Oklahoma City Thunder, delivered his acceptance speech when receiving the honor of NBA MVP, he described the challenges of his life and all that lead him to this day. The speech could be a script for a movie that I would pay money to see.By the time he got to the 22nd minute of his speech, I was on my third tissue? The best message was yet to come...Kevin thanked his Mother and described one of his best memories as a child.  His Mother was a young single women raising two young boys.  She gave up her meals to make certain her children were fed. She worked to keep them off the street and instill a strong sense of family.  And, when they sat in the living room of their first apartment, empty because they had no furniture, that apartment made this young family feel as though they "made it".I clipped this portion of the speech to share with you:I want to......
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#1 Need for a Pet Park? Cleaning up #2!

As I'm working on my new property, Vargos on the Lake, I'm scouring the internet for things that will make the property stand out.  One of my projects on the site is the Vargos Pet Park.  This project is close to my heart because of my very own fur baby, Mrs. Harry Winston... In fact, pet parks are vital to apartment communities today, since they are among the top four amenities people check when doing a search for an apartment on an internet listing service such as apartmentguide.com.  It is important to have a great pet park - more than 63% of renters today have pets.    I'll share more about the ways I'm making the Vargos Pet Park special in a later post, but I wanted to share some pet park amenities that I've found (many thanks to my Facebook friends!).   Warning: this post is picture heavy.  And funny enough, what started my search for fun pet park ideas was looking for a new and updated doggie bag/disposal station. So these will be pictures of places to put your puppy's... poo.  Except for this first one - here's a picture I love of me and my Winnie.  So here's the standard disposal station - bag dispenser at the top, trash receptacle at the bottom.  This is easy and very practical, and something like this should be in place at your property's pet park. Since you won't be able to get your hands on any Vapoorizer, and poo power may not be heading to your......
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Ace Your Next Interview

Knowing how to handle yourself during an interview won't get you your next job on its own, but it can definitely help.  What you say and how you present yourself are vital during the process... Here are some things to keep in mind as you interview to give yourself the best chance at landing the job.Use The Company’s Own WordsYou always need to research the company you're interviewing with, and before your interview, become familiar with the company’s website and literature. As you're researching, pay attention to words that keep popping up.  Those are the key words to hit upon during your interview - they're what are important to the organization.Using the company's key words, like collaboration, teamwork, leadership, or growth, can send the message that you have what the company is looking for.Instead of "I don't know," say “That’s a Good Question.”If the interviewer asks a question that surprises you, saying, "That's a good question," can give you a few moments to come up with an answer.  In the meantime, it compliments the interviewer in a subtle way.Avoid saying, “I don't know,” whenever possible (but of course, don't lie about your experience or training!).Share why you want the jobOf course, interviewers want to know what you will bring to their company in the way of skills and experience, but they also want to know a job prospect’s motivations for applying for their open position.Share your career goals and how you see this position fits into your future plans, how it fits with your values, and what you would like ......
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Getting to know you...

Seen at the Hotel Derek in Houston… a creative (and easy!) way to connect and spark conversations with guests! Each member of the front desk staff at the hotel has their own card in a frame that they place on the counter in front of them when they begin their shift.  As guests approach the front desk, they are able to read the fun (location specific) “questionnaire” that the staff member filled out, personalizing the hotel experience for the guests who now know a bit more about the staff at the hotel that are there to take care of them.




Consider doing the same type of thing at your property  - either having leasing consultants display these on their desks, including this in newsletters to your residents (especially for non-leasing agent employees), or, even easier, placing this on the apartment community website to introduce the staff who will be caring for new residents' apartment homes.  You may also be able to use this idea as a resident spotlight/getting to know your neighbor feature (being sure that you keep residents’ privacy in mind).
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Home. It's our business.


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Getting Instagram photos off your phone and into your office!

With the rise in popularity of Instagram, some innovative companies have developed very creative ways to get pictures off of Instagram and into your (and your potential residents’) hands…  From photo books (great to highlight community activities, showing off the fun environment you create) to individual prints and posters (to help show off local sights and what’s happening in the neighborhood) – plus some other creative formats – there are plenty of ways to display your community’s Instagram photos.       Photobook from Keepsy Printstagr.am appears to be the most comprehensive website as far as the products they offer.  Photo books and prints are their mainstay, but they also offer a 365-day tear-away calendar (each day is one of your photos!), greeting card sets, stickers, buttons, and t-shirts.    PostalPix  is an app-based way to print four-inch squares from your Instagram library for only 30 cents each. Other sizes are also available, including two-, five-, and eight-inch-square prints. Available for both iPhone and Android, this app is a great place to start for basic Instagram prints.   Print your own at home or at your local print shop with Prinkl, which allows you to create a .pdf collage of your photos that is printable from anywhere.   Keepsy and Blurb both also offer photo books, while Keepsy also will print a traditional 12- or 18-month calendar with your photos. Boo Boxes by Hatchcraft     For a high-end, custom look in displaying your photos, try a gallery-style canvas or a handcrafted bamboo frame. Canv......
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Flat Rate Pricing Contributes to LOST Leases

Many communities tried "one price fits all" pricing methods during the recession in an effort to fill up fast.  While this may have resulted in a nice bump in occupancy, the leasing team was left with all the “less desirable” apartments to lease making their challenges even tougher. The long term problem is that now they have a community where people think that most pay the same amount in rent. The price was typically based on the lowest rent we could offer even though more than half the apartments had higher value. Price the apartment based on the attributes which make the apartment unique.
Why should a person rent the subject apartment over another? The answer to that question will help you see the individual opportunity for this apartment price. Once you move to this type of price structure it is easier to sell a new price on an apartment.  The reason is pretty simple, it limits that number of apartments that will meet the customer’s needs.  If you have 10 one bedrooms available and they are all $899 then the customer has 10 to choose from making the decision harder not to mention you will lose your sense of urgency. 

 

It makes more sense to qualify the customer based on price they can afford and them limit their choice based on this need.  Ideally, you want the customer to consider 2 apartments vs 10 apartments.

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The Unexpected Email I Received From A Panhanlder Today

When I lived in Chicago I was never comfortable with people on the street asking me for money. I was worried that I was contributing to a bad habit that may have put them on the street or that their story was a fraud.  When I was walking the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, I was told that a certain panhandler sitting near The Cheesecake Factory made over $70,000.  While I tried not to pass judgment, I never understood why someone who was that good at asking a stranger for money did not get up and get a job.  After all, successful sales people have to ask people they do not know for money all the time! There were times when I thought the "loose change seekers" were better at it than I was.  I have also seen many panhandlers to demonstrate marketing savvy.  They know people will read their sign so they put something worth reading.  Personally, I respect the signs that make me laugh.  Here are some of my favorites:   Today, my view of a panhandler changed when one of them emailed me.  For the first time in many years I have a morning routine that includes driving the same route each morning.  At one high profile corner there have been two panhandlers who are friendly and creative with their signs.  One morning I whipped through the light and saw the sign out of the corner of my eye.  The gentleman was asking for money for his BMW fund.  I found this to be an example of......
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What Ashton Kutcher and I Have in Common


This is a pretty bold title for a blog! Let's start by saying I love this guy. In my life I have had a few celeb crushes starting with Rob Lowe starring in St. Elmo's Fire and About Last Night.  The day after I saw Legends of the Fall I had to leave work at 10:30 am because I could not concentrate on writing a marketing plan and had Brad Pitt on the brain. Then came my encounter with John Stamos.....well that is another blog on my personal page.  And finally Ashton. I saw him in Just Married and loved his expressions.  I was hooked.     Of all my celeb crushes, I have never felt like I was on their level until I heard Ashton accept his Teen Choice Award.  He proudly took this opportunity to reach out to the young audience with a message about life.  I was personally touched when he shared the same thoughts that I frequently talk about in my programs.  Not only did he connect with screaming 16 year old's, he connected with me too.   The first point of his speech is that he name is really Chris and he lived an important like before he took his middle name to become and actor.  Surprisingly, he learned about opportunity before he got his role on That 70's Show.  Ashton feels that opportunity looks a lot like work.  He had jobs where he mopped floors and washed dishes and he never felt that he had......
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