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Putting the "Family" in Multifamily

I was in a bad car accident in Atlanta on Monday. A five car pile up on an exit ramp off of I75. As mine was the first car hit, I took the heaviest brunt of the damage. While the car was total loss, I somehow managed to walk away from the accident with whiplash, some nasty bruises and a few slight lacerations. I was extremely lucky.I called my family in Illinois first to let them know what happened and to get the insurance wheels moving as quickly as possible. But the first call after that was to my dear friend and business partner, Kate Good. I knew Kate could track down some multifamily Atlanta people and get help headed my way. Less than five minutes after I hung up with Kate, my phone rang and it was Tamela Coval, of Rentwiki, getting all the details of my situation, advising me on what hospital I would probably be taken to and promising me she’d meet me there.I was whisked away in an ambulance and taken to Kennestone hospital, where, true to her word, Tamela was waiting for me when I got back from x-ray. She and her children proceeded to open their home to me with my own bedroom and bathroom. They fed me, picked up my prescriptions and helped me get my flight changed to the next day. Tamela refused to allow me to call a car service and took me to the airport herself, but only after repacking my......
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Take It From Me: Don't Ever Be Afraid to Ask for the Sale

Please. Don't ever be afraid to ask for the sale.So many Leasing Professionals and salespeople don't ask for the sale because they are afraid of rejection. And I truly understand that; I do. And to show you how much I understand it, I am going to share a very personal story with all of you that taught me a wonderful lesson.Years ago, before I realized I had a bit of a 'gift' for sales (ask anyone; I'm a really good salesperson), I was dating a man whom I adored. We had been going out for about three months and ladies, I decided I was going to spring 'the L word' on him. I had been at a cookout at his home and he had walked me to my car. As we stood there, my arms around his neck, his arms around my waist, on a warm summer night, I took a deep breath and said 'it' to him. Here's how it went:Me: "I love you".Him: (silence)Me: (stressing out a little bit, wondering if I should repeat myself)Him: (slowly and with great hesitation)..."I love my Mom. And I love my dog. But, I don't love you."Me: (amazingly enough) I laughed out loud. Here it was: a moment in my life where I thought I'd found 'the guy' and I'd done the unthinkable and used 'the L word' first and he basically tells me I come after his Mom (I can accept that) and the dog (say what?). All I could do was laugh. I......
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I Won't Rent at a Place That Doesn't Have...

I don't want to call this 'the wish list'. I want to call it the "vitally important list" for properties. Yes, I know this will vary by location, but let's put together  a list of what we hear as the 'must haves' from the majority of our prospective renter clients, shall we? 

I'll start with a few things I wouldn't go without:

 

  1. Wi fi (It doesn't have to be free, but it has to be available)
  2. Double sinks in the kitchen
  3. Microwave
  4. Washer & dryer (or amazing community laundry)
  5. Pets allowed
  6. Ability to pay online AND charge my rent to my credit card 

 

 

What do you HAVE to HAVE? Or what do your renters have on their 'must list'? 

 Lisa Trosien is an award winning multifamily consultant, degreed educator and speaker with over 20 years of industry experience in positively impacting  apartment communities' bottom line . Contact her via email, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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A Different Kind of Phone Shop in Ten Quick Steps

Please, don't get me wrong - I think shopping services are great and necessary. I would never run a property without them. They do a wonderful service and give you a 'scorecard' that tells you how your team is doing at your property. But there's one thing YOU need to do every week that sadly, only typically takes about 30 seconds per property in most cases. And you don't need a shopping service to do it. It will immediately tell you how good your leasing team is on the telephone.Ask a friend, business associate, sister, brother, aunt, mother - ANYONE can do this (I'm sure your shopping service would do this for you as well if you ask them) to phone shop your sites. Give them a list of property phone numbers. Tell them  here is all they have to do:1. Get a timer that can be started and stopped to show seconds elapsed. (Your computer's analog clock option is fine.)2. Dial the number for the property, preferably the local number so you don't mess up your 'call log' for your toll free numbers. 3. Count the number of rings before the phone is answered.4. Start the timer, in seconds, when the call is picked up by the site.5. Ask one simple question: "How much are your...insert size of apartment here)?6.  Write down the answer you get. 7. IF the property simply gives you the price, say thank you, note the elapsed amount of seconds and hang up.8. If the property entices you to......
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"Springsteen" Your Leasing

 Have you ever heard Bruce Springsteen sing “Santa Claus is Coming to Town“? It’s one of my all time favorite holiday tunes. And you can’t help but have fun when you listen to it. So, what does this have to do with you?

A lot. People who have fun are much more inclined to BUY. And tell people about their experience.

Is your leasing experience fun? Or is it old school, boring, cut and dried? Does it even qualify to be called ‘an experience’? Or is it, as many places are, painful? What about your resident retention programs? Are they fun? Interesting? 

What can you do to “Springsteen” your leasing or living experience at your property?

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Lisa Trosien is an award winning, multifamily educator, marketer, speaker and consultant. She blogs here and on her site, Apartment Marketing Blog. Learn more about Lisa at her website, Apartment Expert.  

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If You Don't Have a Pool or a Sign, You Might as Well Stop Advertising

A quick review of 500 properties, all in the same city, from a major ILS showed:

 

  • An astonishing (or maybe not so astonishing) 297 properties had either their pool or their sign as their main photo.
  • A few actually had blurry photos for their main identifier photo. (Blurry.)
  • One property had a closeup of their parking lot. (Yes, you read that right, their parking lot.)
  • Several had model photos. (Some nice, some dated and unremarkable.)
  • Many had their leasing office entryway. (Yeah, that'll make 'em lease.)
  • There's clearly a push to post photos of properties at night. (So much of a push that it's no longer unique.)
  • Water views are popular, too. (Lots of those out there.)
  • Some still had 'no photo' available placeholders. (How sad is that?)
How are you grabbing the attention of the renter with YOUR ad? Find something unique (like Princeton Propeties has done) and work it. Distinguish yourself.
Stand out. Be different.
 
Apartment properties are as diverse and unique as the people who live and work there. It's time you transferred that uniqueness to your ads.
 
Show me what you got!
 
 

 

 

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Let's All Bash The ILS's, Shall We?

The Internet Listing Services (ILS’s) haven’t had it all that good lately. They’ve been getting some pretty close scrutiny on the Multifamily Insiders website, as well as some discussion at national conferences including NMHC Tech and the Multifamily Brainstorming Conference.Just to make sure we have full disclosure here, I have worked for many of the ILS’s, either as a paid speaker or a paid consultant. Am I currently under contract with any of them? No.In the interest of fairness, I want to add a few points to the ILS debate. These points are all based upon my opinion after having numerous discussions with the ILS community over the years.1. Ratings: All of the ILS’s are very much aware that renters want ratings. However, they (the ILS’s) have received significant pushback from their advertisers (NOT their renter/users) on the whole idea of ratings. The majority of their advertisers have been vocal in saying that they do not want ratings on the ILS sites. Rock, meet hard place for the ILS’s. Years ago, some of the ILS’s used to advertise onApartment Ratings. Why? The site receives a tremendous amount of renter traffic, exceeding some of the smaller ILS’s on some occasions. Their advertising on this site was dropped however, again due to pressure from advertisers.2. It appears, to me at least, that the majority of the ILS’s are continually striving to keep changing, upgrading and improving not only their product, but the end user experience. Apartment Guide was the first ILS to come out with an iPhone application. Apartment Finderlaunched their Community......
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What's In a Name? Nothing if You Use It SEVENTEEN TIMES

Dear Abby:I've been looking for an apartment over the last few weeks and I've noticed some strange behavior on the part of the salespeople who are trying to get me to lease apartments. I believe they are called "Leasing Agents" or something like that. It's sort of annoying and I want to know what you think.I went to a lovely apartment community to see about renting a two bedroom. The Leasing Agent was very nice, but after she filled out this card about me, she started doing the strangest thing. She kept using my name, over and over and over again. I thought maybe she was just forgetful or something but then when I went to the next place, the Leasing Agent there did it too! And at the next place and the next. They were doing it on the phone all the time as well. It was really starting to bug me. So, I actually started counting how many times they used my name.One place used my name eight times on the phone. Eight times! After they got my name, they said, "Well, Annie, what is important to you in your new apartment?" Then they said, "We have one that will suit your needs, Annie", and "When can you come out to see us, Annie?". It was really over the top. At one place I visited, they used my name 17 times. I'm not kidding. 17 times.By the 17th time that woman used my name, I was ready to run......
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Still Selling "Free Rent"?

Drive any city these days in search of an apartment home and you'll see the banners: "FREE RENT!"  or "ONE MONTH FREE" or even "2 MONTHS FREE RENT!" So I ask you, what value does 'free' have? I say it's got little to virtually no value when used as a concession in our industry. Let me try to prove my point:  As I drive down 'apartment row' I see the signs. But one property has a sign that's different. Instead of saying simply 'One Month Free Rent', it says '$1,000 FREE RENT WITH NEW LEASE". Which banner is going to catch my eye? Which property will potentially get my business? Now, this isn't a discussion on 'free rent'. The purpose of this blog entry is to make sure you stop using the word 'free' altogether, because 'free' doesn't have a dollar value. "Free" application fee? Ask ten properties what their application fee is and you'll probably get ten different answers. "Free" administrative fee? Ask ten properties and you'll probably get ten different answers there, too. If you're going to give something away, make sure you are providing your potential customers with the value of your giveaway. Stop saying 'free' and give the value. Instead of saying you'll waive an application fee, say "We can waive your application fee; you'll save $50 with that offer today." Always give a dollar value when you are offering something for 'free'.   You'll have better results - I'm sure of it. Lisa Trosien is an award winning multifamily educator, speaker and strategist.......
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Dear New Leasing Professional...

Congratulations on your new career in a wonderful industry! Before you embark on your first day at work, I want to cover a couple of things that you might not learn about in training with your company.1. Never begin your leasing job without taking a class in Fair Housing. If your company won't train you in Fair Housing, spend the money out of your own pocket and take an online Fair Housing course. You're doing yourself a huge disservice if you start leasing (even answering the phone) without such an important class.2. No matter what anyone at your company says, people who come into look at your apartment are NOT "pieces of traffic". They are customers, deserving of being called just that; a customer. You might also hear the term 'prospective resident' and that's okay, too. But they are NOT 'pieces of traffic'. Don't pick up that habit.3. Don't use industry buzzwords like "pro-in" with a customer to describe what their pro-rated rent would be upon move in. Most customers have no idea what a 'pro-in' is. Simply describe it as 'pro-rated rent' based upon the number of days they will have the apartment that month. That simplifies it and puts it into a language we all can understand.4. Don't pre-judge anyone based upon the way they look, talk or dress. I remember visiting a lovely community in Naperville, Illinois where my family and I were seriously considering living. Upon entering the leasing trailer (it was a brand new community), the......
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