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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Posted by on in Apartment Leasing
I was at Starbucks recently and I ordered a tall vanilla iced coffee with no milk. The reason I ordered that drink was that it was a hot day and a cold drink sounded good, and I saw the drink listed on the menu. The fact that the drink was on the menu told me that I could order it … simple enough right? Then I heard someone order a drink that I couldn’t even begin to repeat here, because there were so many moving parts to it. But it was something like an upside down caramel latte with two pumps of chocolate syrup, whip and peppermint crumbles or something like that. I didn’t see that drink on the menu … and it looked pretty darn good! Much better than mine did, anyway. What does this mean for you? If you sell (or lease apartments) you need to know that today’s rental customer is a lot like the customer at Starbucks I talked about earlier-they expect to have choices and the ability to customize their apartment, or at least the experience of looking for an apartment, to be able to fit their needs. For many years we have taught in the multifamily industry that there is only one way to show an apartment and you better show it that was all the time to everyone who walks in. What that meant though is that someone with only 10 minutes to see an apartment might have spent all of those 10 minutes...

Posted by on in Apartment Leasing
3 Pricing Must-Haves for Softening MarketsWhen is the best time to think about how to price your assets in a softening market? Before the market softens. Having a strategy in place before things go south is crucial so no one is tempted to make emotion-driven decisions when the heat is on. What you do in a soft market sets the bar for what you will do in a larger downturn. If drastic decreases or discounts show up at the first sign of nervousness, what will we do when we really are in a position of negative growth? Here’s 3 big tips for pricing in a soft market: 1. Have a Plan in Place As the market softens, vacancy will become an even greater focus. Do you currently have a strategy in place for handling longstanding vacant units? (Hint: Merely slapping discounts on these doesn’t count.) Take some time to consider your hold time strategy as well. While most companies have their standard company hold time policy, allowing for a bit of flexibility when the majority of exposure is vacant can help even out this availability.  Overall pricing strategy will likely need to shift as well. Donald recently gave a presentation at Optimize about the different pricing archetypes. Depending on the strategy, Pricers ranged from the aggressive “rent grower” to the more conservative “occupancy defender”. While the industry has been enjoying a period of rent growth opportunities, the more optimal strategy for a softening market may look more like an “occupancy defender.” It is crucial that Senior Management, Revenue...

Posted by on in Apartment Leasing
Sales-coaching.jpg Too many multifamily operators have a culture of supervision and compliance rather than one of coaching. There is certainly a time and a place for compliance; however developing adults’ skills requires a supportive environment, where leasing associates are allowed to experience failure and be coached towards success. Here are five easy tips to start creating a coaching culture: 1. Explain ‘the Why.’  Take time to pause and explain the big picture to team members. Sometimes we assume that our associates understand why we’re doing something; but remember that we are usually aware of information (via email, conference calls, etc.) that they may not be aware of. Take time to talk with the team and explain the big picture and how their role fits in. They will learn more about the company and gain a greater appreciation for the task at hand. 2. Create Achievable Goals.  Leasing teams enjoy goals. They are, after all, salespeople and are motivated to meet their target. However, all too often we set goals that are unachievable and thus do nothing more than de-motivate the entire team. It is important to set goals that are achievable, and don’t forget to revisit the goals regularly to review progress. 3. Ask About Performance.  Taking the time to ask a leasing associate about their last phone call(s) or tour(s) seems like an obvious thing to do for leaders; but in reality, we often find it much easier to jump in with suggestions such as “I heard you say X...

Posted by on in Apartment Leasing
6 Tips for Handling RenewalsWhen we think about renewals, it’s probably tempting for most of us in the multifamily apartment industry to immediately think about the renewal ‘process.’ As we know, that process is triggered by an offer sent to a resident because their current lease is ending. That is the time when an associate at the community starts to engage with the resident to begin the conversation (or perhaps negotiation) that typically occurs when it’s time to renew a lease. The discussion continues, often over multiple conversations, until they renew or decide to move-out.  However, if you consider the resident’s perspective, the reality about renewals is that ‘process’ starts long before the pricing tool calculates the renewal rate and the offer is sent. In fact, the ‘process’ starts the moment the (then) prospective resident makes contact with us for the very first time as they begin to shop for their new apartment home. They consider their experience with us as a continuous series of events; they don’t differentiate by our lease, move-in, renew and/or move out processes…. it’s all one living experience to them. And how we make them feel as we interact with them and help make their living experience the best it can be (each and every day) is what they remember. Unfortunately, it’s probably easier to provide examples of how it sounds when we don’t think about this renewal process from our first interaction with the resident. That’s when we contact the resident to have their renewal conversation and they say something like “from the...

Posted by on in Apartment Leasing
imageTraining for new leasing staff usually includes the introduction of a leasing script.  A role playing scenario is offered and the squirming begins.  An individual with sales skills or a dynamic personality quickly explains a script isn’t necessary.  Truthfully, practice improves performance.  Practicing presenting features describing benefits and overcoming objections will improve leasing skills. Using a script is not intended to limit the leasing conversation or to intimidate the team.  Using the motion picture industry as a theme can reinforce professionals using scripts.  The importance of written guide, and even the results. Consider a comparison to the motion picture industry. When developing a film project, the writer, director and producer agree on a script. The scene is being filmed, an actor chooses to “go off script.” What’s next? Take Two. The management of the film expects to see the script performed. When experienced leasing staff participates in refresher or advanced leasing skills training, the leasing script is quickly ignored since experienced leaders, “don’t need a script.”  Team members with years of experience often appear offended when trainers discuss a leasing script. They know how to handle a leasing call. They’ve been leasing for weeks/months/years. They have a great closing ratio. They get plenty of appointments. When leasing calls are reviewed, the observations are often disappointing. Didn’t take control of the call. Responded to the “how much is the rent” question too quickly. Didn’t set an appointment, just encouraged the prospect to stop by sometime. There are points to emphasize with a...

Posted by on in Apartment Leasing
star_20170501-165830_1.jpgNot all prospects are created equal.  We often look at our prospect pool in a simple yes/no perspective - can they qualify or not?  If they can, we tend to see them as one giant group, but in reality, some residents are just "better" than others!  For example, will that resident stay only one year and leave, or will they stay 5 years?  Will that resident refer friends to the community?  Will that resident always pay on time?  Will that resident be generally well-behaved with no noise complaints?  So if we accept the general idea that not all qualified residents are created equal, then we can create a plan to increase the chances that the best prospects turn into our residents!  A lot of people are wary of doing this because of Fair Housing rules, and that is completely legitimate, but today, I am going to discuss the use of our screening process to help with this process.  Considering that our screening should already be Fair Housing compliant, so there should be no concerns on that front*. In the past I have suggested that we actively target prospects based on certain attributes.  For example, if we found that teachers were more likely to stay two times as long as a normal resident, then we might think of ways to target teachers.  Today, however, I am going to focus on the idea of incentivizing quality prospects who are already in communication with our property.  The idea of lease incentives may turn some...

Posted by on in Apartment Leasing
National Annual Effective Rent Growth Just as I sent out an executive newsletter highlighting the rapid decline in new rent growth, out comes successive reports from Axiometrics that YOY rent growth was flat from December to January and actually rose for the first time in many months from January to February. So what’s a consultant supposed to do whenever facts conspire against his best efforts to predict the world? I’m not sure, but here’s what I’m doing: 1. 'Fessing up to clearly missing what was going to happen in January and February 2. Digging a little more deeply into the numbers to see what sense can be made of this There are definitely some “tailwinds” that help explain this surprise. Top on the list is job growth. Last month’s growth of 235,000 was much more than predicted and came on the heels of 227,00 net new jobs in January. Interest rates, though likely to rise, are still historically low, and the Trump administration seems to be giving confidence to Wall Street…at least for now. At the same time, I’m not quite ready to say I was abjectly wrong, though I hope I will end up saying that in a few months ...

Posted by on in Apartment Leasing

   55% of Residents Confirmed Reading Positive Online Reviews Led to Contacting a Community; Only 46% of Property Managers Manage Online Reviews Daily   According to a national study, 43% of residents stated a community rated at a 3.0 on a 5.0 scale was too low to be considered a desirable place to live, with the majority of residents focused on a community’s curb appeal, unit condition and rent price when writing an online review. More break-down on how reviews are impacting renter-decisions and the factors that are considered when residents go to write reviews: Over 90% of residents will read at least one review before touring an apartment. Apartment condition, property curb appeal, and cost were the top three factors residents considered when writing an online review of their apartment community. 55% of residents will either visit a property or contact the community for additional information after reading a positive review. While 95% of property management companies found value in investing resources into managing online reviews, only 46% dedicated time daily to managing their online reviews.    ...

Posted by on in Apartment Leasing
If you have been in the multifamily housing industry for even a short time you’ve probably noticed that everything often looks and sounds alike between communities. I mean, how many communities have a pool? Fitness center? Covered parking? My guess is many. The apartments even look alike don’t they? Most companies use some type of neutral color palette to appeal to a wide demographic. Many developers use the same floor plans across their communities. And the experience … in many ways, the customer experience is very similar too. Someone walks in, s/he is greeted by an associate (probably wearing a shirt/blouse in a “property management blue” color). The prospect has a seat, is offered water and is asked a series of questions at the desk. Everyone then takes a walk to the apartment and around the community-more small talk ensues and it ends back at the office with an invitation (hopefully) to lease an apartment. In today’s highly competitive apartment market what is your competitive advantage? What sets you apart from the 10 other competitors your prospects are also “checking out?” What makes you memorable? Different? How will you be remembered? You’ve probably heard of the “Three P’s”-which is a quick way to analyze performance on the three main areas that affect community performance, “Product, Price and People.” So, if something is not going well at a community the three questions someone might ask are: “How does our product compare with our competitors and with what our customers want?” “Is our pricing...

Posted by on in Apartment Leasing
Go to a public park and watch how strangers interact with dogs in the park.  An owner of a cute dog will have a steady stream of people stopping over and asking if they can pet the dog, which is no surprise, as dogs have a way to draw people in, comfort them, and impart some of their eternal happiness onto everyone around them.  So it occurred to me, why not have an office dog at an apartment community, especially at one that hopes to focus on being "pet friendly"?  I tried to imagine myself as a prospect, and I'm sitting in a seat across from the leasing consultant, when suddenly I look down and there is a snout of a Golden Retriever, Cubbie, laying its head on my lap, his eyes looking up at me in an appeal to be petted.  I reach down and start petting him, letting out an unconscious exhale as I release the stress of trying to find my new home.   When it is time to take a tour, Cubbie joins us, walking to the model and following me from room to room as I check out my potential new digs.  He's become my temporary best friend, and makes my trip more memorable than any of the other cookie cutter apartments I see that day.  To top off the tour, the leasing consultant gives me a treat to give to Cubbie.  Our bond is now complete, and I'm ready to sign the lease. Granted, leasing is...