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It's R-U-D-E to Pay Rent Late

Why do Residents consider it rude for a Manager to ask a Resident whose account is delinquent when to expect the rent to be paid? Do Residents think that paying rent is an option under the Lease Agreement? For the past several months, I think I may be laboring under the assumption that Management has no right to even ask or remind a Resident that rent has become past due. Chronic late payers need to be corrected in their thinking that paying rent late does not matter to the “Big Bad Management Company” who has all the money in the world. Even if they do have all the money in the world, that isn’t the point. Delinquent payers CAN cause a Management Company to delay payments to vendors, put off capital improvement projects, even scrap a plan to replace outdated appliances for the quarter when collecting rent is THE paramount goal for the onsite Office team. Recently, spurred by this topic, I suggested some “creative” ways for Residents to scrape up the money to make it through another month. While directing concerned residents to the obvious sources: United Way agencies, township offices, Trustee Offices, churches, and other local charitable organizations, I was also wondering if there are other ways worthy of consideration.  How about: 1.       Payday Loans (One manager I know has used this successfully at his property. I don’t know how that ultimately helps a resident in the long run, but it can keep a roof over one’s head for a month or ......
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The Americans with Disabilities Act for Landlords And Property Managers

The Americans with Disabilities Act, commonly known as “ADA” is a federal civil-rights law protecting the rights of people with disabilities. The ADA places guidelines for access to: Employment State and local government programs, services and buildings Access to places of public accommodation such as businesses, transportation, and non-profit service providers Telecommunications George Bush signs the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990; standing left to right Reverend Harold Wilkie, Sandra Parrino of the National Council on Disability; seated left to right, Evan Kemp, Chairman of the Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission, George Bush, Justin Dart, Chairman of the ‘s Committee on the Employment of People with Disabilities. Washington DC, USA, 26 July 1990. (Photo by Fotosearch/Getty Images). The scope of the law is fairly broad and addresses many of the obstacles affecting the participation of people with disabilities within society. Many of the ADA’s civil rights protections parallel the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the protections it established for racial, religious minorities and women. Occasionally, management companies may be faced with a lawsuit for non-compliance with ADA laws.  These compliance problems are usually preventable as many times they result from violations which stem from the lack of proper guidelines, policies, procedures, and/or practices regarding accessibility. Implementing current policies can go a long way toward avoiding the expense associated with ADA lawsuits. As owners, landlords, managers, and tenants can be jointly and severally liable in the event of non-compliance. Making it important to ensure you have safe practices in place to address......
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Top 6 Resident Complaints That Will Damage Your Reputation

Author John Green’s book title “The Fault in our Stars” seems fitting to describe the significance of star ratings for prospects scouting the Internet to search for apartments. We know that residents are flocking online to voice their disappointments or favorable experiences at their apartment homes. Research proves that these online conversations affect prospect traffic to your doorstep.   A nationwide survey by J Turner Research involving more than 25,000 residents indicates that 62 percent refer to online ratings and reviews at the beginning of their apartment search. According to a 2016 study, the two most influential aspects of reviews in a prospect’s decision making are star ratings and the relevancy of reviews to their likes and dislikes – relevancy refers to content of the reviews. The number of reviews is a close third.   Are you monitoring the content of your online reviews? Do you know the top complaints echoed by residents on online review sites and ILSs?  In analyzing hundreds of online reviews, below are some key pain points that annoy residents the most.   1.  Racial discrimination – The rhetoric of racial discrimination can damage a business severely. Residents feel victimized due to “perceived” racial discrimination by a specific staff member. Residents also notice how staff members deal with a diverse resident body. If the interaction is not respectful by their standards, the resident may misconstrue it as an act of racial discrimination.   2. Eviction letters/notices - Residents view eviction letters as humiliating and threatening. Sticking eviction letters on thei......
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The One Amenity That Never Goes Out of Style

In the property and hospitality line, there is a constant rush to have the latest and trendiest amenities, from urban staples such as swimming pools, fitness centers, and business lounges – to more recent, trendy options such as creator studios, infrared saunas, and salt rooms. Yet amid all these investments into amenity space, another crucial yet often overlooked amenity is neglected – the service that occurs within these spaces. While creating space is all about size, square footage, and built-up area, service is what takes an environment from simply being “space” to being a “place”. “What’s the difference?” you may ask. Space is simply an area that may be available for use but may be unoccupied. A place is where people go to with a clear intent and purpose in mind – an area used and designated for specific experiences – just like how many cozy coffee shops have turned retail space into a “Third Place” for many people in between work and home. Service is what takes an environment from simply being “space” to being a “place”. Service is what makes the difference between a common noun and a proper noun – a subtle nuance, yes, but isn’t nuance what makes all the difference in tipping a brand’s scale? My partner Amy Blitz and I have worked on numerous amenity consulting projects and one of the first questions we are usually asked is about what kinds of new amenities renters, residents, and guests are looking for. Without hesitation, the first answer on our lips is usually – service. We believe t......
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Six Suggestions For Resident Retention

time-to-renewMany property management reports focus on occupancy. Every week, how many move ins will you have? What do you have as preleases? The number of lease renewals is also important. Renewal is a Satisfaction Indicator Securing the move in is only the first step toward building a relationship with a new resident. As time goes by, one of the true indicators of property success is the number of residents that renew their leases. Residents demonstrate their satisfaction at a property when they make the decision to continue living in their apartment home.  Residents who are frustrated with poor maintenance, lack of follow up, poor communication and yes sometimes rent increases, may never call the leasing office to ask questions or voice concerns, they simply turn in a move out notice and move away. Renewals Reduce Turnover, Reduce Expenses Reducing turnover has the potential to save a property thousands of dollars in expenses. In addition to the rent loss from a vacant apartment and advertising costs, consider the time for the maintenance team to complete the turnover process  preparing the apartment for the new move in. The combination of labor, supplies and lost rent can quickly total $1000 or more for each move out. Imagine if each month you were able to convert one move out notice to a lease renewal. This could save $12,000 in maintenance expenses! The decision to renew or move is strongly influenced by the performance of the leasing and maintenance staff, not the potential increase in ......
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Get Ready Multifamily, It's Time for Generation Z

Yes, it’s true. . . just when we were getting the hang of Millennials, Generation Z is upon us. To me, one of the most fascinating aspects of the multifamily industry is the broad range of our clientele across the generations. Where else do you serve such a diverse group of target customers with something so personal and primal as the very home and community in which they live? With each new generation we face the challenge of blending what is important to the current generations we serve while simultaneously renewing our physical product and supporting services to attract and appeal to the new generation coming of age. Recently, I’ve spent some time researching the various statistics and opinions of what makes Generation Z unique and how that is expected to influence their behavior as consumers in the future. To that end, I offer the following few simple thoughts and takeaways of what it means for our industry to begin preparing now for what is to come. There are varying statistical references as to the precise makeup and definition of Generation Z. For the most part, it is agreed Gen Z consists of all those born in 1995 and thereafter. According to Forbes in 2015, this generation made up 25% of the U.S. population. They contribute an estimated excess of $44 billion to the economy and are further expected to grow to a full third of the U. S. population by 2020. This makes them a larger generation than both the Millennials and the Baby Boomers before them. As the first of Gen......
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Is Your Multifamily Brand Delivering on the Customer Experience?

What do the world’s most successful modern product and service brands have in common?  What’s the first thing that comes to mind? Is it advanced technology? A superior or entirely unique product offering? Maybe a new and innovative approach to world peace? Or, is it something more fundamental. . . something more inherently tied to the human factor. . . . perhaps, just perhaps. . . could it be a focus on the customer experience? “We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.” ~ Jeff Bezos If you’ve even remotely followed customer service trends over the past several years, you’ve undoubtedly noticed the growing dominance of the term “customer experience” in business publications, blog posts, and trend analyses. While “customer service” is primarily centered on a single or small series of transactions and customer touchpoints, the “customer experience” encompasses the entire past, present, and future customer interaction from both the physical and the psychological perspectives. In other words, it’s not just about the quality of the products and services consumed along the way, but equally about the customer’s lasting emotional impression from the culmination of the entire relationship and how that impression impacts brand promotion and future business. The major brands have not just driven their own success, they have effectively reshaped the face of business and elevated consumer expectations for all businesses to a whole new level. They have done so not just through pioneerin......
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Is it time for a new way to say, "My pleasure!"?

Is it time for a new way to say, "My pleasure!"?
A few years ago I wrote a blog post entitled “My Pleasure-What Chick Fil-A Teaches us About the Power of Elevated Language” that was one of my most popular posts on www.MultifamilyInsiders.com. Here is a snippet of what I wrote about Chick Fil-A in that blog post, “…Besides the food, I love the level of service that they provide, which is unlike most other fast food restaurants. Let me give you an example: at my local restaurant in Huntington Beach, California associates frequently check on all the diners and ask how things are going and if we’d like them to “refresh” our beverage. Notice, they don’t ask if you want a “refill?”  If you say “thank you” they will always respond with “my pleasure!” Not, “no problem.” Not even, “you’re welcome.” Always, “my pleasure…” In the years that have passed since I wrote this post I’ve noticed many more people saying, “My pleasure!” It seems that everywhere I go the baristas, the sales people, the customer service people, the wait staff etc. are all saying, “My pleasure.” Now, while I love the higher level of service that this denotes, I wonder now if it’s time to at least find other phrases to use, since now, instead of sounding different and unique, it may sound “canned.” (Especially from people who may have been trained to say it, but don’t really sound like they mean it!) Here are some suggestions… Of course! Here is why I love this phrase: it shows the customer that your being helpful, friendly, going the extra mile (or whatever it was you did to have the customer......
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The Importance of Putting Your Customers Second

 You’ve heard it. I’ve heard it. It seems to be the motto of all service industries: “The customer is always right.” What if I told you that this directive was given to his employees by Harry Gordon Selfridge. Of Selfridge Department Store. In London, England. In 1909. I don’t know about you, but I’d say it’s time to reboot our approach. And I don’t mind stealing concepts from England again. In fact, IMHO, Sir Richard Branson has delivered the best motto for service industries for our time: “The way you treat your employees is the way they’ll treat your customers.” Consider this: resident turnover has consistently fluctuated between 51% and 59% for over a decade, according to NAA’s Annual Income and Expense Report. As a result, many property management companies have developed finely tuned resident retention programs that may include service guarantees, additional amenities, unique resident events, and more. Property management companies have been showing their residents the love! ... by expecting their employees to go above and beyond: Response times to calls and emails, service with a smile, online reputation management, mental gymnastics to reinvent the pool party, and on and on.  The result? Resident turnover remains between 51% and 59%. My friends, we are living the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Focus on resident retention has not moved the needle the way we expected it to. Yes, there are success stories out there, but not consistently and not in great volume. It’s time t......
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Could A Thank You Every Day, Keep The Move Outs Away?

How often are residents thanked for the choice to live at our community?  Demonstrating resident appreciation in the smallest ways, can have surprising and rewarding returns. Most choices for housing involve long-term commitments, buying a house or a condo, requires a mortgage. Individuals who rent can make a change in an instant.  Granted breaking a lease has financial consequences. However, an unsatisfied resident has the ability to make a change with little notice and limited financial implications. Acknowledge Resident Loyalty Taking the time to acknowledge the length of time a resident has lived at a property demonstrates an awareness about the resident household.  When we thank them for their continued loyalty, it can reinforce that commitment. Over the top efforts demonstrating customer service secure publicity and industry comparisons, but simple acts of appreciation, offered with sincerity hold more value than crazy promotions. Creating Resident Appreciation Generally speaking, the staff at a property doesn’t have much contact with a resident after move in.  It’s usually limited to lease renewal, late rent notices and requests for maintenance. Taking the time to ensure every contact ends on a positive note will build a stronger relationship with a resident. Offering the comment, “Thank you for choosing our property for your home,” can go a long way in building this relationship. 80/20 Rule The on site team at an apartment community often has anecdotal stories about demanding residents.  For most communities, the 80/20 rule typifies our residents.  Twenty percent of the residents use 80% of the staff......
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