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How-To Guide: Texting With Residents and Prospects

Renters-TextingTexting With Residents and Prospective Renters Over 81% of American adults use their phone to send SMS (Short Message Service) text messages, making it the #1 mobile phone activity. So, why aren’t apartment professionals tapping into this highly-used activity for business? Many property managers and owners assume that renters don’t want to be texted (it’s an intrusion) or the technology simply isn’t available. Well, I'm here to tell you those two thoughts are flat out false. Here are 5 how-to tips that every apartment leasing professional can use to start texting prospects and residents. Tip #1 Use Awesome Texting Tools Having a tool that is uniquely designed to communicate with prospects and residents via text message is important. Luckily, there are many real estate CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software platforms that were developed with this in mind. When choosing a CRM, be sure to ask if it can: Capture a communication log of all inbound and outbound text messages, as well as emails and phone calls. Receive real-time alerts on both desktop and mobile for fast responses to inbound prospect or resident communications. Can be intuitively learned by leasing staff without causing tension in day-to-day processes. Easily integrates with your existing PMS (Property Management System). Tip #2 Only Text Those Who Want To Be Texted Text is the fastest growing medium over direct mail, email, voicemail and live calls. But, there are still the few that prefer more traditional forms of communication. Sometimes it’s easy to spot traditionalists, like when a landline is shared ......
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How and Why You Should Respond to Negative and Positive Online Reviews

How and Why You Should Respond to Negative and Positive Online Reviews
Because teams tend to focus on damage control when it comes to negative reviews, responding to positive reviews are often sidelined.  After all, responding to positive feedback is often sidelined as many times the focus is on damage control for negative reviews. How many times has an ecstatic review gone viral? Whether renters are reading a positive or a negative review, responses surely have an impact. 52.3% of prospects feel communities have great customer service and 50.6% of prospects feel communities really care about their residents, according to our 2017 Online Renter Study. Although the reviewer may not return back to read a community’s response, the benefits to responding to reviews is twofold. A thoughtful, engaged and authentic response will attract new renters as well as boost retention rates which can have a profound effect on the community’s bottom line. Follow these 4 simple steps to craft a well-rounded response STEP 1 – Examine ·        Read the review in its entirety and alert team members of any possible areas of improvement or areas of success. STEP 2 – Acknowledge ·        Pinpoint areas in the review to acknowledge. Address the issues specifically and avoid any canned responses. STEP 3 – Market ·        Look for marketing opportunities to reiterate in the review response. Remember people will be reading your responses for year years to come – don’t miss out on a chance to promote your community. STEP 4 – Respond ·        Respond to the review authentically and honestly. Leaving your name and contact information in the response.  ......
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Top 5 Amenities Renters REALLY Want (and 5 they don't)

Top 5 Amenities Renters REALLY Want (and 5 they don't)
Everyone in the industry these days is talking about amenities. What renters want, what they don't, and what they will want in the future. The problem is, most developers aren't listening to the actual renters. Over my career, I have spoken with 100's if not 1000's of renters, listening to their wants and needs for a place to call home. Contrary to popular belief, not every renter is a millennial who wants a smoothie bar in their bathroom. The vast majority of renters have simple needs in a building or community when it comes to amenities. Real Closet Space When I say "real," I think we all know what we are talking about. Not the closets with one bar that can fit a shirt and jeans. We're talking about walk-in closets or ones with built-in storage. Renters these days are older or moving from established households and have more clothing. Many developers are "afraid" to take a portion of a bedroom to enlarge a closet, but I can tell you from first-hand experience, I think most of us would like larger closets and a smaller bedroom. More Storage This is a must-have for most renters these days. Unlike prior years, when renters were younger with very few things, today's renters are older and have amassed a lot of items. It's important to give residents enough space to make a difference, especially when units are small. I've never seen a renter say "I'm going to give up all my possessions so I can live in......
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Managing Racial Allegations in Online Reviews

The discourse about racism has penetrated almost every industry, and the apartment industry is no exception. Starbucks, H&M, and Roseanne Barr are among the more visible brands/personalities embroiled in these controversies in recent months. You don’t want your company or property to face the same challenges and their consequences. Today, residents will vent their concerns online, accusing the onsite staff or management company of engaging in discriminatory behavior. A typical complaint may include feeling belittled or demeaned by a team member because of race.Following are the common racial allegations and how to deal with them. Racial profiling Residents criticize one or more staff members of racially profiling them. Often a resident of color shares feeling marginalized due to the tone, attitude, and/or body language of a staff member. There may be a more explicit charge of name calling or using racial slurs. Sometimes, residents express delays in service requests as a factor of their race. Discriminatory enforcement of community policy Residents of color, sometimes, allege that onsite staff arbitrarily enforce community policies based on race. They express that staff imposes restrictions on them and not on “white” residents. For example, smoking on premises is disregarded for certain residents while residents of color receive a violation letter. In reviews, residents have accused a manager of simply showing more courtesy and friendliness to certain people and not others – who happen to be people of color. Neighbors are racist Another type of racist allegation is when residents accuse their fellow neighbors of being ra......
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How Real Estate Can Be Socially Responsible


Partners Joe Killinger and George Pino were recently guests of the "Lifetime Cash Flow Through Real Estate Investing with Rod Khleif" podcast. We've broken up the podcast into segments for convenience.

First topic of conversation is how #realestate brokerage can also be socially responsible.

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Customer Service Tip: Take Care of You!

Customer Service Tip: Take Care of You!
I admit it…I let my emotions get to me at work one day. I was alone in the office all day, and quite frankly, I was “done!” Have you ever been there? When you cannot handle one more phone call, or request, or someone asking “When is Amazon getting here???” and on and on and on. Well, I was having one of those days when the phone rang. That would have been enough to set me off because, as I mentioned, I was “done!” Did I mention I was “done????” Well, the customer on the end of the line was not happy with something; and while I don’t remember what it was that made me so mad, I do know that I took off my headset and threw it at my desk. As it left my hand I knew it wasn’t going to be good and I immediately regretted the decision! After the headset hit the desk and I saw a couple pieces of plastic go flying in the air, I KNEW it was a bad decision. Why am I telling you this story? I wanted you to know that if you have bad days, if you have days (weeks, months, years) when you’re over dealing with customers, that I totally get it and understand! Customer service is hard work. It’s not easy dealing with people day in and day out. It isn’t. Because people are messy, complicated, confusing, frustrating and unpredictable.  And yet, while we know that it’s understandable when we don’t give great customer ser......
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Don't Let the Sign Police Outsmart You- Know Your Sign Code!

We all know that sign code enforcers love to catch us trying to advertise our properties! When I leased for CLASS in the late 90's, most of our clients were under the belief that they really couldn't do much advertising with temporary signage and balloons. It was our job to educate the client and ourselves on the code and rethink how we work around what is permitted/not permitted.  Over the years sign code has closed some of the loopholes we found, but there are still some there if you are savvy enough to find them. We recommend becoming familiar with your sign code and keeping a copy saved to your desktop. Code enforcers take advantage of the fact that most properties are unaware of what their sign code says. Back in the day, we used to put a banner on our rental car and tie balloons to the antenna to attract drive by traffic. We've used bubble machines in Orlando, FL (strictest sign code EVER), purchased the largest American flags allowed by code (they could be seen from the interstate!), and lined the wrought iron fence with red, white, and blue buntings. There is a way around pretty much any code, if you just look hard enough. I challenge each of you to peruse your local sign code and come up with a few ways to advertise your community using temporary signage, balloons, sign spinners, etc. It is as easy as 1-2-3! 1. To find your code, visit Municode.com and click on the red library tab at......
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7 Powerful Questions to Boost Resident Retention

Let’s face it: resident renewals are much less expensive than attracting new residents. So why don’t we spend as much time chasing the satisfaction of our current residents as we do pursuing new ones? My mantra for property managers is: Focus on transforming your properties to better serve the residents you already have. Optimize your properties with your current residents in mind and you’ll see a much higher return on your invested resources -- including a boost in your NOI.   Softer rents demand better performance We’re in the middle of a long- running positive rent growth cycle that’s now starting to see a decline. Sure, some rents are continuing to grow, but for the first time in several years we’re beginning to witness rent softness and even negative growth in some cities and submarkets. To put it bluntly, this is a pivotal time for property management firms. Underperforming properties are likely costing you more than you realize, and you’re at risk of losing even more if your current residents don’t renew their leases.   Improve operations to increase satisfaction It’s essential that everyone on your team -- from VPs to vendors -- work together to improve your properties through the lens of your residents. Any attempt at increasing NOI absolutely must be a team effort if it’s going to be successful. In my experience, one of the best ways to foster collaboration is to proactively measure performance. So here are 7 questions I suggest every manager ask themselves as they consider making cha......
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The One Customer Service Question You Need to Ask Yourself!

The One Customer Service Question You Need to Ask Yourself!
As a corporate speaker and strategist one of my most requested topics to speak on is customer service. I imagine you are not surprised by this … I’m not. After all-all businesses require customers to succeed and customers expect some level of customer service every time they choose to do business with someone. Therefore we can all agree that customer service is crucial-that customer service is important, right? I think we can also agree that most companies have some sort of customer service mantra that they proclaim to the world. Macy’s: “Macy’s, Inc. clearly recognizes that the customer is paramount and that all its actions and omnichannel strategies must be directed toward providing a personalized merchandise offering and shopping experience…” State Farm Insurance: “Like a Good Neighbor, State Farm is There Nationwide Insurance: “Nationwide is on your side.” (Is it just me or do you hear Peyton Manning humming the Nationwide theme right now?) So, here is my question. If everyone can agree that customer service is important, why do we keep having bad customer service experiences?  Remember this epic rant of a Starbucks barista caught on video? In case you were not sure of what happened-from what I understand (and I might be wrong) the barista accused the customer of trying to steal an edible straw worth about 99 cents. (And yes, the barista no longer works there. Some reports say she was fired, the barista herself says she quit, I’ll leave it to you to decide what is true.) So, I’ll repeat my question again-why do we keep ha......
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We Were Right Along – It is the Sense of Community That Drives Much of the Renewal Decision

SatisFacts Research explored why residents renew their lease, and their findings showcased one extremely strong trend:  Residents care enormously about their connection to their neighbors.  What might be the most surprising aspect, however, is that our group of multifamily professionals seemed to underestimate related parts of the equation. In SatisFacts’ investigation, they listed a total of 27 factors from which residents could rate their renewal decision.  I have always been in the camp that believed a “sense of community” was a top factor in a resident’s decision to stay at their community, and sure enough, it was the 2nd highest rated factor.  And when we quizzed multifamily professionals, they almost had it pegged perfectly, listing it as the top factor in resident retention.  But what really blew me away was the clear theme shown at the top of the list – 4 out of the top 6 factors impacting the renewal decision all had to do with a resident’s connection with the community and neighbors!  (You can download the full results of this study, which also covers leasing preferences, by clicking here.)   Social activities (shout out to our resource for event ideas, ResidentEvents.com) was one of the big surprises, along with social media presence, which I discussed in my last blog.  Communities often put on some sort of community events through the year, but when asked how much they felt it impacted their residents’ decision to renew their lease, that factor was all the way down at 23rd on the list!  I......
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