Great point, Brent! That's also where AFPOE can be helpful. Responses which come off like "because...
Wendy Dorchester
Hire for culture, train for skill! Love this. Jared, you have always emulated great culture in every...
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Jolene Sopalski

Jolene Sopalski

I started in the industry in 2008 as a leasing agent at a LIHTC property in Jacksonville, FL. Over the years I have held the positions of Assistant Manager, Property Manager and Executive Marketing Specialist. I'm currently an independent Marketing Consultant, Virtual Assistant and Researcher for companies with a focus on B2B.

Posted by on in Resident Retention
Recently I started reading Ryan Holiday, Growth Hacker Marketing. In the book Ryan explained about Product Market Fit and how growth hackers believe  products should be changed until they are ready to generate explosive reactions from the people who will see them. This was like a revelation to me, but not in the sense of marketing – as you would think – but in creating resident events. See, for the past few weeks I have been talking with several friends about which kind of resident events they were doing at their properties and I learned they were all doing the same thing! When I asked what made those events so special for the residents they replied that attendance was low. So, as I was sitting on the bus reading this section of Ryan’s book, a light bulb went off in my head! “Why can’t we apply what he is saying to how we are planning our resident events?” Before you start planning events, make certain you ask the residents what kind of events they would be interested in attending. Next, look over  prior resident events and attendance. See if there are common denominators among these events and the residents requests. This will give you a good base for deciding on future resident events. At many properties it is the leasing manager, activities director and sometimes the marketing director’s responsibility to create resident events. Establish a process to assist the party planner with determining the marketing plan and attendance potential for each event....

Posted by on in Apartment Marketing
In October, Starbucks released a new way to send friends and clients a cup of coffee via twitter: Tweet-A-Coffee. This new Starbucks campaign has taken off!  The campaign earned Starbucks a whopping $180,000 in sales with more than 27,000 fans using the program since October 28th, demonstrating that direct response marketing can work. How can businesses demonstrate their own success utilizing the Starbucks Tweet-A-Coffee campaign? Is it possible to jump on the Tweet-A-Coffee bandwagon in order to engage with and retain customers? What about improving sales? JcPenny has taken to this like creamer to coffee! They asked their followers to tweet them a picture of a JcPenny’s receipt and responded by Tweeting-A-Coffee to the sender! Businesses can reach out with an unexpected introduction by sending a cup of coffee to prospects! Search hashtags and keywords and then tweet a few cups of coffee! Here are a few examples for your local community: Have a new follower on Twitter, send them a cup of coffee to thank them for following! Share a cup of coffee with local students and teachers “Take a study break and have a coffee on us!” Tweet a cup of coffee to prospects moving to your area or looking for apartments “Here’s a coffee to jumpstart your apartment search this weekend!” Respond to a complaint about a competitor community, “It looks like you’re having a rough day, maybe this coffee will make it better?” Just take a look at how Monroe Street Market, an apartment community in Washington, DC, encouraged their followers to RT a recent status update...

Posted by on in Resident Retention
When you think of the word “concierge”, what comes to mind? “Pricey”? “Pampered”? Or, “preferred”? You may be wondering what in the world a concierge has to do with multifamily housing. After all, you didn’t come here for travel tips, right? Bare with me…I hope to share with you a trend I’ve noticed in our resident marketing, and I’m pretty sure it’s one you haven’t heard before! I was discussing resident retention with a friend and colleague recently and it occurred to me that marketing for retention has become so service-centered that we almost have to retrain ourselves to provide the type of service that our residents (prospects and current residents alike) feel they deserve. Let’s face it, in this fast-paced world, we as consumers want an easy, hassle-free solution to – well, everything! And our residents are no different. Enter the concierge concept. Residents today want to feel they are valued so much that we automatically offer high-end service, regardless of whether they are paying high-end rent. And why wouldn’t we? Don’t we expect the same? Is the next trend in multifamily housing going to be providing room service to your residents with a towel draped over one arm and tickets to a sold-out concert in your hand? No, I don’t think so. But allow me to draw a few parallels between our industry and the growing popularity of the concierge services. Being a good concierge requires a few skills that also define successful resident retention leaders. A concierge must...

Posted by on in Property Management
Outreach Marketing 101 Outreach marketing allows us to connect with other businesses on a more personal level. It allows us to market our community in unique ways to get people to start talking about us. Outreach marketing will not bring mass traffic to your door but will help bring awareness to your community. The key to outreach marketing is to target areas that have your demographics and to make your presentation memorable, hopefully inspiring conversation about your community when they are talking to a friend about places to live or when they research apartments online. Remember to be consistent with your outreach marketing and build a relationship with local businesses. Here are a few easy & affordable outreach marketing tips you can use for your community outreach marketing. 1) Choose a local business in the area that many people visit to be your community’s “Business of the Week/Month”. Make sure to let the owner or general manager know that you have chosen them as your business of the week or month, and ask if they have any coupons or special discounts they can give you for your residents and prospects. In exchange, feature them on all your social media sites, community blog and property website. Bring the business a present for being your local business of the week or month. Make sure you have a sign printed for them to display that can say “We are ABC Apartments Business of the ____________”. 2) Pumpkin Patches are just around the corner and...

Posted by on in Property Management
Are donations really required? Seeking donations from vendors have become the standard for many of us on the property management side. Is it really the answer to our lack of budget for resident retention programs or corporate meetings? Many on-site teams are instructed to request donations from our vendors for resident retention programs and even office supplies! At what point does it become the responsibility of the vendors to fund our retention programs? Vendors are the bread and butter of our industry, without them we could not perform to our fullest ability. They are not meant to subsidize our onsite teams and corporate offices with donations. Yet there is a fear among vendors that if they do not grant a donation request they will lose our business. In a recent survey, 94% of property managers said they would not stop using a supplier if they didn’t donate. However, 81% of vendors feel they would lose business if they do not contribute and 50% stated they actually had lost business when they did not contribute. Although only a small group of property management companies make donation requests mandatory, suppliers feel threatened with loss of business if they do not contribute. In a relationship where both parties should be partners in success, asking for donations can sour that relationship - whether the implication to lost business is real or just feared. What’s in it for the vendors? In the same survey, 76% vendors feel they have been taken advantage of by a property...

Posted by on in Property Management
This is going to be a touchy subject for many, but one that I realize we do not talk about enough in our industry. Today I experienced for the first time in this industry, racism towards me in front of a room full of people. I did not know how to handle it and it took all the strength I had to not cry or go off on the resident. No one ever trained me to know what to do when a resident is racist towards you!  I was trained on what to do when a co-worker or a vendor is rude or racist. What was even more embarrassing was the fact that I was the only one of my race in the room and the others were either speechless or giggling about what was being said. So what do we do when this happens to us? Do we ignore it or address the issue right away? Would it even matter to the resident? I chose to calmly ask the resident to please leave my office.  I was told that I was denying them their right of freedom of speech. They did have the right of freedom of speech but not in front potential residents. This only added fuel to the fire and after several minutes of telling them to leave, they finally did. I turn around to see the astonished looks on my leasing specialist’s and the applicant faces.  I noticed that two prospects were giggling about the whole thing....

Posted by on in Property Management
Are we as an industry automatically prejudice against those on Section 8? I recently participated in a Facebook discussion about how we stereotype those who receive section 8 or any type of government housing assistance. I will admit, I have been guilty of this and have to constantly remind myself that because of where I work and the person that I strive to be, that I cannot think like this.  It is very hard.  I had found myself resenting the fact that all or partial of their rent is paid while my partner and I work our butts off to support our family and are barely making it. There have been times that I let that resentment affect how I view these residents. However, no one wants to be resented no matter what their status in life is. As professionals who are working with section 8 vouchers it is not our place to judge the person who is applying for our community solely based on the fact that they are receiving state assistance. Trust me, it is hard to do when you have the young parent in your office with 6 kids and can barely write a complete sentence. However, we do not know the type of life they have had, our position is to give them a decent home. That is the bottom line. Do you offer incentives to your residents to improve themselves so that one day they may be independent of section 8?  Would you even want...

Posted by on in Property Management
My apartment community where I live inspired me to write this quick blog.   See, I started seeing these signs up around the community about a Treasure Hunt and did not really pay much attention until I came home on Friday and saw a red flyer on my table about a pool party.   The flyer had a pirate girl on it that said “Come Walk the Plank at ABC Pool Party. R.S.V.P on Facebook” okay that is new and I’m thinking finally my apartment community is coming to terms with social media and engaging residents.   When I went to the mailbox, I saw a treasure hunt sign that said “join the Treasure Hunt on Facebook by Liking us.”   I realized then that the pool party and the treasure hunt were the same.   So naturally I came home hopped on my laptop and searched for ABC apartments on Facebook. I could only find the places check-in.   There was no company page to be found so then I thought well maybe it’s on the flyer or the signs?   Nope, not a single flyer or sign has a link for the facebook page or a QR codes so we can find the facebook page. Maybe the real treasure hunt is finding the facebook page?   The idea of the treasure hunt is excellent. The only problem is the management team failed to direct the residents as to where one can find the facebook page.   We have...

Posted by on in Property Management
Recently NBC launched a new show called “The Voice” and it inspired me on so many levels. From the shows concept, marketing with the use of Social Media, to the coaches them selves.  While watching this fantastic show, I could not help but see how I could use this as a learning tool.  I also saw so many ways that the Multifamily Industry is similar to The Voice.  The makers of the show and NBC seriously had the formula down pat on the marketing side and knew how to keep your attention.  How does this work for our industry? ‘The Blind Audition’ - This is my favorite part—before they ever get to your community or even call, prospects judging you from your advertising.  One of the things about the Voice that really impressed me was how they used Twitter, FaceBook, Blogging, YouTube and ITunes to market their show and artists. Each media was different so it kept you going from one media to another, to read/see more about the show.  They kept it fresh and exciting all at the same time. Do you stick to what everyone else is doing or do you jump out of the box and become different?  It is very important that the way you advertise, immediately sets you apart from your competition. Can your community advertising pass the Blind Audition? ‘The Battle Round’ - Congratulations you have passed the Blind Audition now instead of 32 properties you are up against 8 other properties. How you answer the...

Posted by on in Property Management
Why are we afraid to collect rent from our Residents? By Jolene Sopalski Delinquency is such a dirty word in our industry that sometimes I feel like my mom should have washed my mouth out with soup for saying Delinquency! How did we come to feel that Delinquency is such a dirty word for us?  It’s a word that keeps Owners, Management Companies, Managers, and Assistant Managers awake at night for fear of it. Here's how I think it happened!! We started freaking out when occupancy started falling and the bottom fell out of the economy!!  We didn't want to offend our residents for fear of losing them, so we just ignored the late rent! And our residents learned to pay their rent later and later!! We as property management, owners, and managers set up a cycle that is unacceptable!!  In some weird wacked out way over the past two or three years we have given the residents the power over us for fear that if occupancy drops we will be in financial ruin, fear of a Fair Housing Lawsuit or our jobs will be threatened (I see this more often than not in this industry but that is a whole other issue in itself!). It’s time to take a stand and regain control of our community. In reality we ~the management team ~ are sort of like parents and our residents are like our children, who we guide and discipline. Seriously, think about it and you will totally get...