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More on that Strange Creature, Homo Millennius

Millennials I’m an avid reader of The Economist, and I recently read an interesting article on how marketers are trying to address the Millennial generation. As readers of past blogs may recall, I’m a confirmed cynic that the generation represents a fundamentally different species (metaphorically); so, I was immediately drawn in by the observation in the article that the reason so many companies struggle to understand the differences between Millennials and other generations “may be because such differences are overblown.”   Ipsos-MORI is quoted as saying that Millennials are “the most carelessly described group we have ever looked at.” The article quotes a MillerCoors failure to sell to Millennials by creating TwoHats, a light-flavored fruity brew they said would appeal to Millennials taste and budget with the tagline, “Good, cheap beer. Wait, what?”  The article does say that Millennials do respond to three big themes: transparency, experience over possessions and flexibility. They cite examples such as:  Everlane, an online clothing manufacturer offering “radical transparency” by disclosing both the conditions under which each garment is made and the profit being earned  A large company, ConAgra, has succeeded in growing sales by eliminating all artificial ingredients from its snack and ready meals  Airbnb is the classic example of enabling more experiences through both reducing the price of stays and selling experience-oriented programs  AllyBank has offered flexibility with checking accounts that have no minimum balances and no fees  Carmakers are experimenting with subscription services, rather than ownership—another example of increasing flexibility even in a durable goods category To test the validity of these thoughts, I turned once again to......
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7 Essential Text Messaging Stats Every Property Manager Should Know

  7 Essential Text Messaging Stats Every Property Manager Should Know SMS marketing is quickly becoming a necessary part of business for every vertical - including property management. In recent years, text messaging has proven itself to be a superior communication platform. Texting has become the preferred method of communication between friends and colleagues because it's quick, easy and multi-functional. Because of this, property managers are finding creative ways to use this technology as a reliable resident communications tool - it's the ideal way to let residents know that there's work being done in their community, that the water is going to be out for a few hours, or even letting them know about emergency scenarios if necessary.  If you haven’t yet, you should be looking into ways to utilize a text strategy within your resident communities. In today’s world, few approaches compare. Check out the seven mind-blowing statistics surrounding text messaging, and consider the many ways an intuitive text message platform can help strengthen your community: 95 to 98% of texts are read immediately: These texts are read within one minute of receipt, influencing the recipient (resident) almost immediately. This makes text messaging one of the fastest and most convertible forms of communication available. (Source: MobileMarketing.com) The average response time for a text message is just 90 seconds: Compare that to the average response time for an email, which is 90 minutes (Source: CTIA.org) 86% of consumers send and receive texts every week: Today’s modern consumers are mobile-centric, so it isn’t a surprise how often the......
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Protecting yourself against serial skippers

Many apartment communities face the challenge of residents who skip out on leases before they’re fulfilled. And every resident who skips out on a lease leaves an unexpected vacancy in his or her wake. Residents skip out on leases for many different reasons. Sometimes they’re the victims of an unfortunate circumstance (e.g., an unexpected job loss), but for some renters, it’s intentional — and they’ve made a habit of doing it wherever they go. Residents who consistently leave behind unfulfilled lease terms to bolt for the next community are known as “serial skippers.” Serial skippers are obviously bad for a multifamily community. They not only harm communities financially, but also require operators to spend money to turn unexpectedly vacant units. But fortunately, rental screening technology has come a long way over the years, and there are effective ways to identify whether a prospective resident is likely to be a serial skipper.  The best way to protect against serial skippers is to reject their lease applications from the start. But that’s easier said than done, because it can take months before rental collections are reported to the credit bureaus. To catch them before they strike again, operators need to know the limitations of certain screening methods and the opportunities available through newer screening methods. Limitations of credit reports and scoresChecking credit reports and scores is a routine part of any community’s resident screening process. Generally speaking, credit reports and scores provide a very good indication of how consistently an applicant pays his or her bills. But......
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All I Really Need to Know for Sales Success I Learned in Grade School! Part 2 of 3

Continuing on from Part 1 of 3,   Lessons I learned from my 1st-8th grade teachers set me up for sales success, albeit indirectly, sometimes hilariously (and embarrassingly....)!  4th grade: Miss Rock. Lesson:  Sometimes people lie. This is possibly one of the most difficult lessons I learned in grade school, but one of the most important.  My family did not have extra money. So when my mom bought me nice new markers, this was a wonderful and extravagant gift for me.  I made the mistake of showing them off to a few classmates in art class.  Basically, I was bragging. Later in class, I went up to the teacher's desk to turn in my project.  On the way back to my desk, I heard some snickering and giggling. Once I returned, I noticed my markers were gone.  A girl I was not friends with held up my markers and told the class to "check out her new markers".  Outraged, I told her to give them back to me.  She refused and I became increasingly agitated.  The teacher came over to see what was going on with us. After I explained what happened, the teacher asked the other girl who the markers belonged to and she said they were hers.  All the kids just nodded in agreement.  No one backed up my story.  I had no recourse, so the teacher allowed the other girl to keep my markers. I was devastated and scared to tell my mom. I spoke with Miss Rock......
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Money Worth Spending- Promotional Items Done Right

Money Worth Spending- Promotional Items Done Right
As far as partnerships go, the one that I have forged with a great promotional company has been one of my favorites.  Stephen McFadden and I collaborated for the first time many years ago, and that is when he taught me how much more there is to promotional items than what had always been done.  At that time, we started venturing into promo that was strategic and smart.  When promotional items were created and customized to a specific event or specific outreach, they had way more value to them. For example, when we were working on some student properties, instead of handing out generic stuff- the everyday koozie- we started creating ‘eye blacks’ that were branded for football games, and after a while, everyone knew we were the ones that gave out that material.  Next thing you knew, people were running around tail-gating with our eye blacks on.  The examples from there grew, and then Stephen started really thinking about how promo items can be a bigger value to ROI. There was an interesting pattern that he spotted.  Companies wanted to get his ideas on items that would showcase their brand and produce a converted lead, but they were not willing to invest the money.  Companies will spend $100ks of dollars on new branding and marketing/advertising material and then wind up getting super generic promotional items.  This creates the Brand Gap – How are future residents supposed to know you have a waterfall pool and $10,000 chandelier based on the $.50 stadi......
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What Causes HVAC Systems to Fail and How to Prevent It

What Causes HVAC Systems to Fail and How to Prevent It
Preventative maintenance goes a long way in keeping HVAC systems operating as they should be, but breakdowns can still occur. These complex systems are made of many components. Without being familiar with how HVAC units and their many parts work, diagnosing issues can be difficult. Especially when you’re managing large multifamily properties, it’s helpful to know about some of the most common causes of HVAC problems, as it can save you, your team, and your residents from a lot of frustration.   Swollen Capacitors  Air conditioners cannot run on their own when their capacitors stop working. The job of a capacitor is to start the motor and to help keep it running. It does this by sending jolts of the energy it stores to the fan. Without the jolts, the fan simply can’t get going. There are a few ways to tell if a capacitor has gone bad. A visual inspection is often the easiest, as a swollen capacitor is a problematic capacitor.   What causes capacitors to swell? Gas is created when the conductive electrolyte within the capacitor decomposes, which happens with time or damage. Capacitors have a lifespan that can vary but is definite. The HVAC systems that house them can outlive them, meaning there naturally comes a time when a capacitor must be replaced. Swelling is a sign that the time has come, as any swollen capacitor has reached its end. You can tell that a capacitor is swollen when its shape has become altered, usually resembling a can of soda ......
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Is Your Apartment Marketing Boring? Try Theming...

Is Your Apartment Marketing Boring? Try Theming...
One quick way to elevate your marketing is through theming... And the fastest, easiest themes to come up with are seasons and holidays. For example, we're in the month of October, which means the start of Fall, pumpkins and Halloween.  An easy way to adapt this in your marketing is to change out any website images with fall like photos. If you're running ads on Craigslist, Facebook or Google Display Network - you can tie in the October month by adding an orange border around your ad photos. This will make them stand out. Here's an example: Additionally, think about making your prospecting emails more fun with Halloween references. Create a haunted apartment at the community for residents. Create a haunted walking tour for prospects that come onsite for a tour. When you start theming your marketing becomes more fun, fresh, and relevant. In many cases you'll be piggybacking on the millions of TV and digital ad dollars being spent by big box stores promoting their own themed/seasonal goods - that's a good thing as you're entering the thoughts/conversation already happening in your prospects mind. Other themes you can use: Winter holidays such as Christmas, Hanukkah, etc. New Year Valentine's Day Start of Summer 4th of July Labor Day Need more ideas? Here's a full calendar of unusual happenings that your marketing could take advantage of. (Note - this website is very old, but still useful)...
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Apartment Marketing 101 - Professional Photography

Apartment Marketing 101 - Professional Photography
There's a case to be made that photos are the most important part of apartment marketing. While some would argue differently, there is no denying the impact that quality photos (or lack thereof) have on potential renters and their decisions to visit your community. For that reason alone, it's imperative that you have quality photos of your community. While some ILS's now offer professional photos with their listings, most of those images are watermarked, limiting their use in other areas. Not to mention, that in most cases, you do not have a say in who will be photographing your community or building, much less the final images. With that in mind, I always advise my clients to hire a professional photographer. Here are several tips on hiring the right photographer and getting the best photos of your community: FINDING A PHOTOGRAPHER Google Search - Most people start with a Google Search to find anything these days, and the same is true for finding a photographer. One thing to consider is searching for your specific city for photographers, not national firms. Also highly suggest using sites like Yelp, and Google Reviews to get more information on the reputation and reliability of the photographer. Competitors - This may sound counterintuitive, but asking competitors (who have great photos), who they used, is a perfectly acceptable course of action. In some cases, you can even find the photographers information on their website. Company or Individual - There are a large number of companies as well......
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How Not to Be a Bad Property Management Company

How Not to Be a Bad Property Management Company
There’s nothing special about bad property management companies. They ought to be literally a dime a dozen, because they usually end up costing owners far more than they can bring in or help keep. Bad property management companies provide much opportunity for great property management companies. They can snatch business away from the bad ones easily, as well as gain big through referrals. But, how can you know if your company is good or bad? Here are a few things that make it good: Care About the Residents Caring about the residents should be the number one rule. They are the ultimate source of profit after all. Ironically, the trouble starts when you think of residents more as numbers than people. A cold-hearted push to reduce costs and maximize revenue at the expense of your residents’ happiness will only undermine your goal. Think of your residents as a community and communities as families; serve them well and the benefit will be great. Care About the Property Generally speaking, the better the condition of the property, the happier the residents, the lower the repair costs, and the greater the potential to attract great residents who are willing to pay decent rent rates. To be a great property management company, go the extra mile in upkeep and maintenance. Get creative. Do what you can to make the property you manage a wonderful place to be.  Care About the Owner Besides taking good care of their property and its residents, how can property managers show the......
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Allowing Short-term Rentals in Multi-family Buildings: The Benefits and the Risks Based on Real-world Data.

Pillow Case Study - Allowing Short Term Rentals in Multifamily Buildings-1Just yesterday, Pillow Homes released a white paper I authored, “Allowing Short-term Rentals in Multi-family Buildings: The Benefits and the Risks Based on Real-world Data.” Though in full disclosure I was compensated for my work, I am particularly proud of this piece of analysis as it’s the first time I’m aware of any comprehensive case study of what really happens when buildings actively allow residents to sublet their homes out for short-term rentals (STRs). The paper was made possible by data collected on the Pillow Homes platform and the courtesy of two management teams of Denver multi-family communities allowing me to interview them to bring their experiences into the analysis along with the “hard” numbers. The study was made all the more interesting as one of the communities was a stabilized property and the other is going through lease-up, thus giving different perspectives from different operating imperatives.   The findings were fascinating, and I hope will contribute positively to the ongoing debate over the pros and cons of allowing STR rentals. Key highlights of the study include: The communities experienced participation rates from 19% to 32% of their residents Those residents participating saw net average income of $835 and $1,075 per month which helped them offset the growing cost of rent in an urban environment The communities received a monthly revenue share of $112 and $144 per participating resident which went right to the bottom line Through Craigslist advertising promoting the communities’ STR-friendly policies, they received a combined 16 incremental leases (the stab......
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