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Opportunities for Corporate Social Responsibility in Multifamily

The multifamily industry has made some meaningful progress when it comes to practicing corporate social responsibility (CSR). But there are still many areas for improvement. That was the consensus of a session examining the state of CSR in the apartment industry at the recent Apartment Internet Marketing (AIM) Conference in Huntington Beach, Calif. The session began with a look at what CSR really is. To be sure, practicing genuine CSR means much more than a company making periodic donations to local charities, although such donations are certainly laudable. Instead, an apartment company engages in true CSR when it has in place an ongoing, all-encompassing effort to care for, connect with and positively impact employees, residents and surrounding neighborhoods. The result of such a program should be more engaged workers, happier residents and increased profitability. A number of studies have demonstrated the importance of having a strong CSR program in place. According to the 2015 Cone Communications Millennial CSR Study, 91 percent of millennials would switch brands to one that is associated with a good cause, given similar price and quality. Additionally, 63 percent of millennial women and 45 percent of millennial men say their decisions about job offers are impacted by the employer's CSR work, according to the Six-Month Research Update to the 2014 Millennial Impact Report, a study conducted by Achieve. So where are multifamily companies currently succeeding when it comes to CSR? "In terms of providing opportunities for career advancement, professional growth and time off we’re doing a pretty g......
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What Can You Do When the Customer is NOT Right, But Thinks S/he Is??

What Can You Do When the Customer is NOT Right, But Thinks S/he Is??
As you know by now, I travel a lot for a living-which means that I spend a lot of time in airports-which means that I am around a lot of people who have a REALLY difficult time following directions, and yes, a lot of customers who are very, very wrong! On a recent trip I remember someone in boarding group 5 for an airline trying to board with the “Elite, Premier, Ruby, Platinum, Really Big Deal Folks” you know the ultra special peeps…and couldn’t understand why she couldn’t board in that group. If you know air travel, you know that a Group 5 boarding group is probably the last group before the plane departs (believe me, I know, I’ve been in that group many times), so someone who is in the last group trying to board with the VIP group causes frustration for the crew and passengers. There was another time when a passenger kept trying to jam an (obviously too large) bag into the overhead bin, even after the flight attendants made numerous announcements regarding this. The passengers behind him were getting irritated because he kept trying to do something he couldn’t (and it didn’t fit!) and it delayed them getting to their seats. Finally the flight attendant grabbed the bag (nicely) and brought it out of the plane to have it put with the rest of the checked baggage. In all of these situations the customer was wrong. You have two problems when a customer is wrong. The first is the obvious-they do......
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Multifamily Leaders on Creating Community -- A Conversation with Rick Graf of Pinnacle

What does it take to create a sense of community within a multifamily operator’s sphere of influence? Do employees and residents respond, and does it positively impact the bottom line? Rick Graf, President and CEO of Pinnacle, was kind enough to share his thoughts on this topic recently. It was an insightful conversation, highlighting how a few basic but powerful values, well executed, can have a profound and lasting effect. “As a company, our culture of collaboration plays a key role in creating community,” said Graf, “allowing us to gain greater perspective and to collaborate with our employees, our residents and our suppliers.” Graf’s vision is to give constituents a voice and encourage input, because, “frankly, they often come up with ideas that are better -- and that resonates with our clients.” How does this culture translate to a feeling of community with residents? According to Graf, Pinnacle utilizes the same approach at the site level. “Take community events, for example. We may come up with something we think is a great idea, but it may not be what the residents really want to do.” Pinnacle employs CARES teams (usually two people who are residents of the community, in cooperation with the Apartment Life organization); these teams are someone the residents know as “one of them,” and work collaboratively with residents and the management team to collaborate on a variety of topics community relations topics. “This has been a true differentiator for us, and we see it in our improved retention rates and satisfaction sc......
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Showing Tenants Some Love - The Rise of Tenant Rewards & Perks Programs

Showing Tenants Some Love - The Rise of Tenant Rewards & Perks Programs
In recognition of Valentine’s Day tomorrow, we thought it would be fitting to discuss a clever new way for landlords and property managers to show their tenants some love.   A relatively new trend in the rental industry is the introduction of tenant reward and perk programs, whereby accommodation providers offer discounts, incentives, and prizes to their tenants.   Tenant satisfaction and retention are two central aspects of maintaining a successful rental housing business, which makes these reward programs an excellent way to help keep tenants happy. Tenant retention is a particularly tricky issue in student housing, as the average turnover rate is about 50% per year, according to Centurion Apartments.So what are some examples of these tenant reward programs?   While there are certainly no shortages of tenant reward programs that have popped up over the last few years, the following are a few of our favorites.  Killam Perks – Killam Properties operates several student housing locations across Canada which offer a program known as Killam Perks. Tenants receive a perks card which grants them access to discounts and special deals from a huge list of retailers.Our favorite offer at the moment? Save the tax at a fast-growing fresh food chain, Freshii.  MoolaPerks – One way or another, tenants have to pay rent; so why not get rewarded for doing it? RentMoola’s MoolaPerks program does just that. This third-party rent payment company allows their users the ability to be rewarded with a slew of discounts, freebies and perks from a plethora of retailers.Our favorite offer at the moment? A free $3......
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LTV: Lifetime Value of a Resident

LTV: Lifetime Value of a Resident
Each additional month a Resident stays adds to their LTV. The lifetime value of a Resident is the profit that you’ll make for the period of time they’re renting from you. Keeping Residents longer boosts your profits. If your rental price is $500 a month and the average tenant ‘lifetime’ is 20 months, that’s a lifetime value of $10,000. What if they stayed an additional 6 months? That’s an additional $3,000 generated from each tenant. Keeping residents in your unit means you won’t have to market vacancies, and on top of that, you don’t open yourself to the risk of renting to a non-paying or problem tenant.   "To reach your tenant retention goal, your residents need to be satisfied with their current living situation." Knowing the LTV helps you decide where you can best spend your money to influence tenant retention. We mentioned previously that the average retained resident is worth almost $900 each year to the property, in addition to rent payments. Assume 1 year’s rent is $6,000. If you know that a tenant’s LTV is $6,900 (1 year in rent plus the $900), you’ll be much less hesitant to make a repair in the unit costing $500 because you’re still making $6,400. Measuring tenant lifetime value and using it as a metric will highlight the importance of customer service.  Long-term tenant satisfaction is more valuable than maximizing short-term value, especially in the case of keeping great residents. Before imposing a steep rent increase, knowing the risk you open yourself up to will help yo......
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The Secret to Happiness

The Secret to Happiness

If there’s one thing Americans are good at it’s the pursuit of happiness.  The only problem is that happiness is an elusive goal. Until recently, at least. In the last year, Harvard researcher, Robert J. Waldinger  has published and publicized the findings of the longest study of human development ever completed. What the researchers from Harvard medical school discovered was that the secret to happiness is found in developing and maintaining close, intimate relationships.  Researchers studied a group of men for 75 years and discovered that no matter what their economic, educational or social status, the common denominator for greater health and happiness was the quality of relationship.  

Why would I share that in a blog for the multifamily housing industry?  For lots of reasons.  First, because regardless of your stance on new year resolutions, it can’t hurt to spend some time considering if our pursuit of the good life is actually aimed in the right direction. But also because we have the unique privilege (if we choose to accept it) of creating space for community.  Apartment communities are ripe for helping people connect—thereby increasing their health and happiness.  

Fostering a sense of community is a common tagline for us, but I think we do a poor job of informing our residents and others of the benefits of connecting. What if we could really claim that living in our community could add years to life and increase happiness!  It’s a no-brainer.  Here’s to a new year of connectedness.  

 

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25 Ways to Thank Your Residents this Holiday Season

b2ap3_thumbnail_pexels-photo-38941.jpg'Tis the season of gratitude and giving!  What better time to thank your residents by smoothing out some of the stress of the season. When planning your resident activities and outreach this season, try to anticipate their needs during this hurried time of year.  Below is a quick list of ideas: For the Kids: Have an afternoon of crafting so kids can create holiday gifts and cards for their family. Host a holiday sing-along for kids.  Non-denominational songs include: Frosty the Snowman, Jingle Bells, Let It Snow/Winter Wonderland, It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, Sleigh Ride, and Deck the Halls. Stress Relief: Schedule yoga or meditation classes for your residents. Hire a masseuse to do chair massages in the clubhouse. Food: Organize a "Leftover Potluck Dinner" after the holiday.  It'll allow people to empty their fridge while enjoying a better assortment of food. Assemble your favorite holiday recipes in a cookbook to be distributed. Organize a cookie swap party. Gift Wrapping: Set up a gift wrapping station for residents. Convert your conference room or part of your clubhouse to "Gift Wrap Central" complete with signs that say "No Peaking."  This will allow parents some gift wrapping privacy. Many charities offer gift wrapping as a fundraiser each year.  Offer them space at your property and serve hot apple cider while residents wait for their packages to be lovingly wrapped. Parking Anticipate that residents may need more visitor parking during the holidays.  Mark additional spaces for holiday visitor parking through the......
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I Miss Apartment Living: 5 Things Would Be Homeowners Need to Know

I Miss Apartment Living: 5 Things Would Be Homeowners Need to Know
This month marks my second year as a home owner and I truly miss apartment living.  Buyer’s remorse? More like the apartment blues.  Don't get me wrong, I love my home but I jumped into things with all of the wide eyed exuberance of a first time buyer.  I had big plans for my new home; remodeling, painting, hardwood floors – the works.  Now that all of the work has been done and the newness is wearing off, the reality of what it means to own a home is overwhelming at times. Articles abound describing the pros and cons of renting versus buying and while arguments can be made on both sides, highlighting the cons of home ownership could sway residents into staying a bit longer at your community.  Beyond the move-out calculator, here are 5 things to impart upon residents who are considering the switch. 1. Maintenance – kind of a no brainer.  Maintenance is usually our go to defense when residents talk about home buying.  But let’s go a bit further.  Do residents have a full understanding of what entails a professional service call?  Plumbers, electricians and the like incorporate additional fees such as trip charges and diagnostic testing on top of labor and material costs.  Some companies often do not have the proper licenses and insurance coverage – things apartment residents may not know to ask. ACTION ITEM: Create an itemized list of costs associated with common household repairs.  2. Neighbors – where to begin.  If there is one sticking po......
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The Apple Store Just Checked Me Out

The Apple Store Just Checked Me Out
I had to go to the Apple Store to get my phone fixed, and I walked up to the person to sign me into the Genius Bar, or whatever they call it.  As he was filling out my information, I noticed him go through some interesting fields on his tablet with pictures of clothing.  Turns out, he was logging what I was dressing so they could quickly pick me out in the store to find me! Sure enough, a few minutes later a woman approaches me:  "Mr. Williams?"  What an interesting experience!  They used technology to make sure they could personalize my experience, which actually made more of an impact than I would have expected.  When I think about the experience of them walking directly up to me, addressing me by my name, compared to someone just loudly shouting, "Mr. Williams?" to a large group of people, I can see how much more professional the former seemed.  I felt like I had more of a relationship and rapport with each person, rather than feeling just one of several dozen in the store.  I remember back when I worked on-site, and maybe it was exacerbated by the fact that I often worked only on the weekends, but there were many residents whom I didn't know their names.  I would do my best, but sometimes I would only seem them once a quarter, or maybe even once a year.  And it was even worse when  I wasn't their primary leasing consultant.  Obviously some......
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Do Your Social Amenities Have Social Validation?

Do Your Social Amenities Have Social Validation?
Today I'm going to write a blog without offering a solution, which I'm sure will annoy some of you, but hopefully we can get some brave people to chime in within the comments!  And what I want to discuss is the human element to our amenities.  Here's what I mean by that:  Take an outdoor space, as beautiful as can be, and in one scenario, fill that space up with a group of fun, lively people having a good time.  In another scenario, remove all the people so it completely empty.  Do both of those scenarios using the same amenity have the same impact? For those of you who follow my updates, you know that I like to take my laptop and work at Starbucks, as my work can be anywhere that has Wi-Fi.  Near where I live was a wonderful coffee shop with fast Wi-Fi, good coffee, and a great ambiance.  It had a great mix of comfortable chairs and desks for those who were more work-oriented.  BUT, it lacked one thing:  people!  So while I absolutely loved almost everything about it, it just seemed dead and stale.  When you have a social-based location without people, it lacks a sort of social validation, and it is hard to get momentum, because nobody wants to be the first to stick around.  I remember throwing parties in my younger years, and you always needed a certain number of people already present to validate that the party was worth as proof for the......
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