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Bill Szczytko

Bill Szczytko

This blog, as you’ll find, is about being different. Thinking different. I know some stuff. I’m a technology guy by trade, I blog of course, you’re here right now, I know social media, I know some marketing.

Posted by on in Property Management
decisions-decisions-decisions-1188729Some groups of people in this industry change jobs like I change my underwear – every few months. Their own personal job satisfaction is apparently hard to achieve or maybe it’s because they climb to the pinnacle of that position quickly and realize they don’t like the view. Some people give consulting a try which seems to be a great fallback for those individuals suited to dealing with that kind of stress. I’m not but God bless ’em. Some get scooped up in acquisitions, then are forced to stay in a place they loath, surrounded by people who are just as dismayed at their own sense of diminished self worth. Eventually they leave, after their non-compete contracts expire and go off to create the next best thing in anything other than multifamily. Then, there are those people who stay at one place for too long and render themselves obsolete. I’m not judging one way or another, these are just simple observations. My recent job change falls into one of the above named categories. Back in July, after 13 1/2 years, I left my IT job at Maryland Management to become the Director of Leasing Operations at WC Smith. I’ve thought long and hard about what would cause me to abandon what I’ve always truly loved, Information Technology, to jump into the Operations side of things. No more calls about printers. No more running updates on servers. No more cranky users who don’t realize that the computer “won’t start” because the monitor is actually off. Look, I’m no spring chicken. I...

Posted by on in Property Management
IMAG0574On the surface, Brad looks like a well meaning, great guy. Familiar. His arguments many years ago about Chaos Theory and the unpredictability of nature, were spot on, especially as it relates to dinosaurs. Seeing commercials for ILS’s wasn’t something anyone could’ve predicted. Nor would I have wanted to. Unless you need one, to most, apartments are pretty boring. I always wondered how anyone could make a commercial about apartments not sound like a commercial for life insurance. Earlier this year, we heard about how a change gonna come. What was the change a comin’? I remember the first time I saw it. I was sitting in front of my television, the screen faded, and The Good Wife went to commercial. I grabbed my iPad to waste time and then I heard his sarcastic voice from out of my sound bar. “Apartmeninternet!” There he was, Malcolm, err, Jeff, oops, I mean Brad Bellflower! That name is so catchy right? Bellflower? It just rolls off the tongue. I always felt that an F and an L next to each other can cause tongue trip ups but what do I know? I was never in their focus groups. Wait, Silicon Valley Maverick? In his 60’s? I suppose that could make sense, right? No? Maybe? Malcolm Brad is everywhere now. Televisions, office desks, trash cans, recycle yards. His “Jobs-esque” black outfit, his green beaded bracelet, those dark rimmed glasses, and the headset. Who is he talking to on that thing? Us? Them? Is he in...

Posted by on in Property Management
Sometimes, the genius of something is how simple and unique it is. Take Flappy Birds for instance. Although it wasn’t an immediate success, it sat in general ambiguity for 4 months before it exploded, it created an entire genre of game. It’s no longer available in the app stores but its legacy lives on in its many clones. It was first, it did it best, and it changed the game – pun intended. Back in the stone ages of Multifamily, about 3-4 years ago, for reviews, there was ApartmentRatings. Just ApartmentRatings. No clones. Ratings and reviews were the new buzz words. Yelp had very little relevance and Google reviews was a land of crickets. As an industry we had many intense debates about whether you should respond or even pay much attention to reviews at all. The idea finally caught on but not in the way, I think, we envisioned. Fast forward to today. Every ILS seems to offer their own set of reviews, independent of the Flappy Birds of the industry, ApartmentRatings. Every company who does reviews has a “Verified Resident” program of some sort. Did you know that one ILS won’t allow your rating to go below 3 stars? That’s pretty handy. The only thing these types of reviews seem to benefit is everyone’s SEO. Ouch. I haven’t read any new funny ApartmentRatings reviews in a while. It’s been flooded with fake and verified reviews which are hard to digest. Most reviews I’ve read on the other sites, especially...

Posted by on in Property Management
thebigdataproblem Soooooo, you ever hear the one about the software tester who walked into a bar? She ordered a beer. She ordered 10 beers. She ordered 2.15 million beers. She ordered -1 beers. She ordered a nothing. She ordered a cat. She tried to leave without paying. I’m sorry if you don’t get that one but it’s a nerd classic. Here’s another one. Any program that actually runs right, is now obsolete. Or, my personal favorite: A user will find any interface design intuitive…with enough practice. I kid software. I have a sense of humor about it because generally I have a sense of humor about almost everything. Nothing good comes from getting mad at the software you use. It’s only doing what a human told it to. Perhaps knowing it’s only following commands will now only leave you more exasperated when it doesn’t perform as you think it should. Wait, that’s the important caveat. “perform as you think it should”. Remember that, as we’ll get back to it later. There’s one thing in this industry that even the REIT’s, the small Mom and Pop shops, the Middle Sized, the ones whose units counts change when the CEO sneezes, have in common – renting apartments. The compelling part is how differently we accomplish this task. Same goes for our software. There are at least 6 different major Property Management System flavors you can choose from. They all do things differently. They all were created in different decades with different technology. They are...

Posted by on in Property Management
multifamily-pricing-is-brokenPersonally, if I’m ready to buy something, I need to know two basic things. First, what’s my excitement level for it and secondly, how much is it? That makes sense right? Overextending oneself is something one does right out of college when you think you have the world at your feet and assume that money grows on trees and so you run up your credit cards because you’re young and dumb. Not that I would know anything about that. Most people, though, are much smarter, whose thoughts are driven by the need to have what they want, balanced by how much they can afford. Fundamentally, at the end of the day, it’s really all about affordability – and at its heart – price. I stumbled across funny reviews for a really huge television on Amazon a few weeks back. I admit I was intrigued by the size of this thing. 85 inches of pure 4K High Definition goodness. Whoa. Then, I saw the price tag and had sticker shock and collapsed in a heap of I’ll Never Own a TV As Awesome As That. The price – unaffordable – way out of my league – was ridiculous but thank you to Amazon for publishing the price and letting me know that I am not as financially sound as maybe I’d like. Some Multifamily companies or dare I say it, ILS’s, would have advertised the television this way: It’s annoying enough that sometimes I can only view a price when I add...

Posted by on in Property Management
backlinksThis is from a post on Apartminty in their ongoing “Quick Marketing Wins” series. The opinions expressed in here are mine. At first they called it the Now Generation, but I guess that had too many letters in it, so they officially named it the Y Generation but Google prefers you to call them the C Generation. Whew. Either way you look at it, these Millennial‘s want things NOW and are used to getting it that way. I speak as if this Generation is outside of my own. Err, let’s change the subject. If you’re under 35, you’re used to YouTube, getting things now, fast computers, and small devices you can hold. This generation makes up the majority of our new renters. This is who we need to cater to. Of course, you aren’t going to cater to them by the older, more traditional methods such as Any Apartment Magazine. It takes much bolder, more technologically driven initiatives. In the world of Information NOW, how can you make sure you’re showing up where people are searching for you? By utilizing free tools. Remember, in this day of Marketing 5.0, the biggest new development is the proliferation of better marketing tools that aren’t just for Coca-Cola’s big budgets. In fact, I’ve found many in this industry that can help you rent apartments. In keeping with the Quick Marketing Wins series, I’ve got 3 big ones here for you, to help you grab that Millennial’s attention for even the briefest of seconds: Craigslist / Ebay Classifieds / Oodle Honestly, I never say no to...

Posted by on in Apartment Marketing
Over the years, I’ve always felt that industry marketers have always been on the lookout for the shiny new penny. They lift rocks, scrape off the moss, roll it around in their hand, stare at it and hope it’s the next thing that will bring the new residents in. If you think I’m just being curmudgeonly by saying these things, think about the new concepts that have been discussed over the years: Should you go all in on the ILS’s? What about SEO? Are there any more acronyms we can make up? How do you utilize email drip campaigns? Is posting to Social Media the answer? Will I rent more apartments by using Facebook? What about reviews? Do they matter? Will Mr. Craiglist change his service again? Can we stop using it and survive? Should I use a posting tool? How can I get my agents to answer the phone? … and on and on and on. The fact is these are merely more tools in the marketing tool belt. Some are way more useful than others, while some have very little usefulness at all. The conversations in this space over the years have been amazing, educational and fun but there’s a sad truth to face. They’ve stopped. I tweeted the other day to everyone, just on that off chance that people were around – maybe to say hi or discuss their shiny new penny. Hello Twitter peeps. What’s new? — BSitko (@BSitko) October 8, 2014 Silence. This post isn’t about my...

Posted by on in Property Management
NAA Exposition 2014 This industry is the best one ever, filled with great people who love to share with others the great things they are doing. If you stepped outside of this industry and talked to others, those other industries would probably all say the same things about themselves. Heh. Still, we know that we’re the cool kids who steal the other industries’ lunch money. Plus, we’re much better looking as a group. All the types of people in this industry ARE awesome. There’s the leasing agent who answers the phone, grills prospects on their needs, and generally looks amazing while collecting commissions. Leasing managers of all types are awesome too. Renting, delegating, being in charge of resident complaints, and sitting behind desks or iPads. Their responsibilities are many and they always look so good doing it. Their suits are crisp and pressed and their perfume smells great. Don’t forget incredibly smart. It’s a women dominated world. Maintenance people do things I don’t even understand. While watching maintenance mania at NAA, I sat in stunned silence at what they were doing. The majority of the things looked complicated. They were experts with switching out ball cocks and flicking switches and wiring harnesses. They hustled, broke a sweat, installed ice makers, and ran around with their arms in the air. At first I was in awe of it, then got confused, then fell asleep. The awesome-ness factor in my mind is due to the mystery of it all. My wife calls me the unhandy man of the...

Posted by on in Property Management
Property Management Insiders Logo(June 27, 2014) – In a recent move that caught the entire multifamily industry by surprise, an anonymous donor (The Donor) from a popular multifamily industry blog, acquired the Owl from the “BSitko foundation for the technologically challenged”. The owl supplants the original non-descript logo for the website with a fancier design, inspired by the acquisition. Make it rain. “I’m still counting all the funds. I do know that $2.3 million in Monopoly money will keep us playing for years to come.” ~ Bill Szczytko “It proves the point that we will really buy anything.” said an anonymous source. “We needed a spokescreature and this owl had just the look we were going for. We do give a hoot about spreading information.” In an interview right after the acquisition, Bill Szczytko, BSitko’s founder and proprietor of the foundation, admitted that his team struggled with the right image but after finding a kit at Michael’s, they managed to nail the perfect look that ultimately whipped the Donor into a frenzy. The Donor paid a staggering sum of money in the amount of $2.3 million dollars in Monopoly money for rights to the spokescreature. “It just goes to show that if you build it, they will come,” said Szczytko, “I created a blog post back in November that became an overnight sensation. The demand for this owl was overwhelming. I was fighting off offers but after looking at what The Donor brought to the table, it just made the most sense to team...

Posted by on in Property Management
Certainly would be difficult to hold in your hand but here's the first telephone. Without business networking, the telephone as we know it might never have existed. Forced to setup his seemingly unimpressive telephone prototype in the top floor of Machinery Hall at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876, Alexander Graham Bell was desperate. The hot summer sun had been assaulting guests through the glass roof all day and the judges, who had been forced to walk around in their formal suits, had reached their breaking point. They agreed to break early and judge just one more exhibit. With this being his last day, Bell had probably run out of time. Frantically, he made his way downstairs to where the judges and other exhibit presenters had gathered. It was then that Bell heard a familiar voice from the group of judges. It was the voice of Pedro II of Brazil, a huge fan of technology, who had been the judges’ special guest all day. Before this moment, Bell was just another face in the crowd: “How do you do, Mr. Bell?” It was a relationship Bell had formed back in Boston several months earlier and after some pleasantries, Pedro asked the judges, “We’d love to see this telephone exhibit as our final stop, wouldn’t we gentlemen?” They walked upstairs, Bell won gold, and the rest they say is history. Hi. If we haven’t already met, I’m Bill Szczytko. My first dealings in this incredible industry was back at the AIM Conference in 2010. Before that moment, I was a lowly computer guy who...