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Turn of Phrase: 5 New Takes on Multifamily Lingo

Turn of Phrase: 5 New Takes on Multifamily Lingo
Every morning as I was growing up, my dad would put a single word on the refrigerator.  It was the family word of the day.  Before bedtime we had to give an example of how the word influenced our day.  Some words were easy such as “friend” and “smile”; over time they became more mature like “altruistic” and “fortitude”.  Early on I learned that words held the power to affect my actions and decisions.  I adopted the practice when I became a parent and now my daughter is in an eternal love affair with words. Interactions with residents and prospects are predominantly verbal and the words we use can help or hurt our efforts to lease and renew.  It may seem improbable that a single word could do all that but we know when it comes to multifamily, nothing is improbable.  Here are five words I believe we can work into daily conversations to win over prospects and residents. 1. Home – As an industry, we’ve moved away from sterile words such as “unit”.  Early on in my career, I was taught to use the term “apartment home” because it sounded warmer and gentler to the ears.  But what if we can soften things up even more and instill a little pride in ownership to boot?  Next tour, try your best not to use the word “apartment”, instead stick to saying “home” – a simple switch that relays a sense of comfort and dignity.  “Well John, I think I have the perfect home just for you.” “Hi Mary, ......
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Bust a Move: 5 Marketing Strategies to Try Now

Bust a Move: 5 Marketing Strategies to Try Now
So there’s this guy who stands at the corner of a very busy intersection in my neighborhood on the weekends.  He’s not your average sign spinner – this dude is beyond awesome.  He has been known to literally cause traffic disruptions because drivers can’t take their eyes off of him.  He spins, kicks, flips, robots and boogies like no other.  Funny thing though, I have no idea who or what he’s advertising.  Although entertaining and mesmerizing, many would consider him an epic marketing fail. Unfortunately some apartment communities can relate; the bells and whistles, the stuff you read in a brochure or see on a website, all add up to the sign spinner in our world.   Our sign spinners are successful at grabbing attention but not so successful at closing the deal.  Why the disconnect?  Traditionally, our marketing strategies have been product centric.  Successful strategies today are focused on the consumer. Consumers.  It’s all about them and what they need.  People don’t buy products.  They buy satisfaction of unmet needs.  And for consumers, needs are non-negotiable.   I once read an article that illustrated this point flawlessly.  In the article, a man was attempting to sell a used jeep equipped with a snow plow.  His ad contained photos and all of the pertinent information along with the subject line “Jeep with Snow Plow: Great Condition”.  The man ran the ad for 2 weeks with zero response.  Making only one change, he revised the subject line: “Be Your Own Boss: Start Your Snow Removal Business To......
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Forget Your Rep, Worry About Mine!

Forget Your Rep, Worry About Mine!
Here’s a hard truth; residents could care less about the jobs that we do.  Residents have no clue what a day in the life of a multifamily professional entails.  I should know – I used to be one of them.  As a resident, I thought management teams had the easiest jobs in the world.  Planning parties, answering the phone, maybe showing an apartment here and there, how hard could that be?  You can only imagine how quickly and dramatically that theory was eviscerated the day I began working onsite. Management teams are a special breed.  At its core, teams do their very best to make sure residents are happy where they live.  Aside from putting in long hours, dealing with a multitude of different resident personalities and watching the bottom line to ensure owners are profiting from their investments, teams also have to contend with not-so-nice things being said about their performance in online forums. Reputation management has become prominent and prevalent in recent years.  Back in the day when I was leasing, very rarely would a prospect mention that our online reviews were the reason we were chosen over a competitor.  Nowadays, it’s commonplace for a prospect to outright take a community out of contention or sign on the dotted line squarely based on what they read online. Just as a community’s reputation is vital to its success, a resident’s own reputation can determine where they call the next year “home”.  Our SatisFacts Insite Q1 2016 analysis, released just 3 days ago, sug......
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Residents: 5 Truths About the Most Underrated, Most Underutilized Marketers on the Planet

Residents: 5 Truths About the Most Underrated, Most Underutilized Marketers on the Planet
Remember when prospects battled like shoppers on Black Friday - scratching and clawing for a handful of underpriced, supersized vacant apartments?  If you answered yes, chances are those days are long gone.  Marketing is essential to leasing and retention; without it communities become ghost towns and owners disappointed in the teams hired to manage their assets. Beyond the banners, balloons, and latest gimmick of the moment, marketing is most effective when the message is conveyed by those who believe in the product itself.  So, if the goal is to market a lifestyle, as opposed to an empty box, who better to spread the word than residents at your community?  Here are 5 truths that point to why residents can be a powerful marketing ally. 1. They have an extensive network – the wider the net, the better.  Family, friends, co-workers, friends of family members, friends of co-workers, the cashier in the checkout line, their children’s teachers …you get where I’m going with this.  As discovered in our “Today’s Online Renter Study”, 74.4% of apartment hunters trust the opinions of people they know.  You never know where the next lead will come from and residents could be a powerful and FREE marketing channel. 2. They love to brag – and will do so to a worldwide audience.  In the same study, 61.0% of residents said they would be willing to post a positive review if asked by their management company.  Talk about low hanging fruit!  Especially considering that 67.7% of apartment hunters trust online re......
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5 Must-Ask Questions Not Found on Your Guestcard

5 Must-Ask Questions Not Found on Your Guestcard
Ah, guestcards.  For all the good they do – documenting contact information, ensuring consistency for fair housing, keeping track of follow up attempts – they don’t provide much in the way of helping to establish an emotional connection with a prospect.  In an earlier post, I mentioned there is a two-part strategy to securing more leases.  Part 1 – the prospect has to like you.  Part 2 – the prospect has to like what they see.  No one is going to give money to someONE they don’t like…for someTHING they don’t like. The questions asked should be well thought out and delivered with genuine interest.  Here are 5 questions beyond the standard guestcard to help ease the way to leasing success: 1. So, are we your first stop? This question gets right to the point and provides a bit of insight regarding the prospect’s experience with the touring process.  If the prospect has visited other communities, then you know s/he understands the drill.  That means you’ll have to switch it up – think about showing the apartment home FIRST, then the other features of the community.  If an experienced prospect is given a generic, cookie cutter tour, they might lose interest.  Been there, done that…this place is nothing special.  Notice the question is different than asking “what other communities have you visited?”; a loaded question which could conjure up a positive memory of a competitor. 2. What do you like most about apartment living? Good one – let’s say the prospect goes on and on about worry-free......
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5 Four Letter Words For An Awesome 2016

5 Four Letter Words For An Awesome 2016
I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions.  Somewhere around March those resolutions have been kicked to the curb and barely thought about for the remaining 9 months.  So, this year, I’ve elected to forego them and create a plan I can actually stick to. Here’s my list of 5 four letter words, no, not those four letter words.  While not necessarily work-related, these words are simple reminders of what I can do to be better me and have an awesome 2016. 1. HELP – “How can I help you?”  “What can I do to help?” “Hey, can you help me?”  This action word is so powerful as it’s both an offer and a request.  I will make myself more available to others, lend my talents and gifts wherever needed and be more open to ask for assistance – the latter of which has been most difficult for me. 2. CALL – In an earlier blog post, I mentioned a friend who consistently called others for nothing more than just to say hello.  Emails and social media posts are great but nothing is better than hearing a warm voice and sharing a laugh or two.  I will personally connect and laugh more in 2016. 3. HOLD – Becoming a better version of myself this year begins with imagining what that actually looks like.  Hoping to create a positive outcome for the year, I am creating a vision board to bring about clarity and maintain my focus when things start to go off track.  I will silence t......
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When Models Attack! 5 Tips to Avoid Move-In "Meh"

When Models Attack! 5 Tips to Avoid Move-In "Meh"
It’s no secret that advertisers use all sorts of airbrushing techniques to erase a model’s imperfections.  Who would possibly want to buy a product represented by an imperfect spokesperson?  Would that dress or those accessories be less desirable when photographed on someone with a fuller, dare I say normal, physique?  Recently, models and celebrities have rallied against dramatic retouching – some have even demanded magazines and advertisers stop the practice altogether.  Misrepresentation can severely damage ones brand.  Bottom line, no one benefits from the bait and switch.  Prospects turned residents have complained for years that apartment communities have misrepresented their product in much of the same way.  Relying on model apartments to demonstrate a level of comfort and oftentimes quality are the breeding grounds for mistrust between resident and management.  They can also result in disappointed residents at move-in and negative online reviews.  “They showed me a model and told me that the apartment that I was getting would be exactly the same. Believing them I put down my deposit.   The day before I was supposed to move in I was finally able to see the apartment.  It was horrible-completely different layout, the balcony was dirty, the laundry room shelving was falling apart and the kitchen cabinets were scratched and looked old.  Luxury no way.” “Everything in the model home is PERFECT however, the actual homes are just rough.  They have been used so long that they are falling apart. As I mentioned before my kitchen is awful.  Also my shower makes this ......
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5 Things Taking a Vacation Taught Me About My Job

5 Things Taking a Vacation Taught Me About My Job
In the past, vacations and I had never seen eye to eye.  Who has the time?  Who has the money?  Who has the energy?  If you’ve ever taken a vacation only to return with the feeling of “I need a vacation after that vacation”, you know what I mean.  With all things considered, planning for a vacation was akin to project management.  Logistics such as where to go, where to stay, what to do while you’re there and how much to spend had to be coordinated in a way that ensured the vacation would not only go smoothly but, with a little luck, provide that much needed break from everyday life.  There are some of us to whom taking a vacation is a given.  I’ve worked with people who used up every single hour of their allotted time.  Not me – I was always the one with leftover days – usually more than what I could carry over.  About six years ago, recognizing that maybe this wasn’t such a good thing, I decided to finally do what everyone else did so easily – I went on vacation.  With my feet in the sand and a drink in my hand, I discovered the pure joy that was a vacation.  For one week, seven fleeting days, there was no job to think about, no projects to manage and no people to supervise.  It was awesome.  It was also anxiety inducing; I found myself wondering what was going on back at work without me there to keep the......
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5 Steps to Managing Your Personal Reputation

5 Steps to Managing Your Personal Reputation
I’m a Fixer.  That’s what I do.  I help organizations uncover what their employees and customers are feeling and I show them how easily things can be turned around, if needed.  In this day and age of social media, people who are unsatisfied have the ability to vent their frustrations to a global audience.  And they can do so anonymously.  No longer are conversations about poor service, indifference and disappointment only shared in person, these stories are now being told worldwide, and to anyone willing to listen. Reputation management is mostly regarded as a business practice.  A simple online search of the term yields millions of articles and infographics offering tips on what can be done to repair the damage; there are even services for hire that will monitor, and in some claims, suppress negative information.  But what about managing your personal reputation?  Whether verbal or in thought, does the mere mention of your name create a positive or negative reaction? “You know Mary?  I agree she is pretty awesome. “ “You know Mary?  Isn’t she horrible about returning phone calls?” In the movie, “What’s Love Got To Do With It”, the only thing Tina Turner wanted to keep after her divorce to Ike Turner was her name.  Not the money, the houses or other material possessions…just her name.  She believed her name was all she’d ever need to regain the other things she was giving up.  Her name was synonymous with labels such as superstar, consummate professional and incredible talent, among others.  So ......
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The Roach in the Room

The Roach in the Room
It’s the stuff leasing nightmares are made of.  You go through the qualifying process with your prospect and all goes smoothly.  Date needed…check.  Within budget…check. Their needs and your availability are in sync so the only thing left to do is tour the community.  The tour goes according to plan – they love the amenities and the location of the apartment home.  You open the front door and it’s love at first sight.  The prospect makes a few comments about the crown molding, the plush carpet and the like new appliances.  At this point, the tour could not be going any better.  And then it happens.  You turn on the light in the bathroom, confident the prospect will flip over the soaking tub and rainfall shower head - only to have your leasing hopes dashed by a roach.  Yep, a roach…dead, face up, legs splayed, in the middle of the bathroom floor.  The best leasers are masters at turning any negative into a positive.  But this is almost too much to overcome.  To a misinformed prospect, a single roach signifies filth, possible infestation and others lurking in the shadows.  Do you make a joke (“Well look here, someone has already moved in”) or ignore it hoping the prospect will too?   Bottom line, the roach, even a dead one, requires a response-immediately.  A thoughtful, concise, professional response which addresses the issue head on so you can move on with the tour.  “I’m so sorry Mary, but as you can see, we are not the type of man......
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