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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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Yes, Your Social Media Presence Really Matters To Residents!

In January, we quizzed the multifamily industry asking them what they thought drove residents to renew their leases.  We showed them a list of 27 factors (developed by SatisFacts Research) that might impact a residents decision to renew, and social media came in at number 26!  It turns out that we are very, very wrong.  (View the research report here for free) The reality is that residents truly do care about their community’s social media presence, and it can help in their decision to renew their lease!  SatisFacts Research investigated what factors drove the renewal process of actual residents, and found social media was the 3rd highest factor correlated to renewals.  So why do multifamily professionals rate social media so low when the residents themselves rate it much, much higher?  My guess is that when a community struggles to get engagement from residents, they believe that must mean that social media just isn’t important.  So let me share some potential culprits to why so many communities are struggling with attaining that engagement, and please feel free to add additional suspects in the comments below! Many Communities Have Given Up I can’t count the number of dead community social media accounts I have seen, and when all is said and done, it is a testament to the fact that social media is tough!  Cultivating an audience, finding a message that resonates with that audience, and then succeeding when the algorithm is stacked against you can be a very big challenge.  And for an apart......
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The Downside To Raising Rents

The Los Angeles rents are likely to rise an additional 2.9% in 2018, what this means to you as a landlord is higher rental income of course, but it could also mean additional vacancies or evictions as the rental rates are pushing the renters beyond appropriate rent to income ratios. Many of the renters are choosing to relocate to an area that has better rent for them but that sometimes means driving further which as we all know in L.A. can add a good amount of additional drive time, others may try to scrape the money together every month so they don’t have to move but that’s usually a short term prospect. As a landlord you will want to consider your current residents and face the facts that if they move the cost to replace them can be significant, down time for the unit (lost revenue), the expense to turn the unit and of course advertising and in some cases you will have to pay commissions to a realtor or property management company. It can sometimes behoove a landlord to meet the resident halfway on the increase, maybe setup a plan to gradually increase their rent instead of all at once or maybe consider not doing the full percentage increase but something that is comfortable for you both (keep in mind the higher rent will  exponentially  increase the value of your asset) and will allow them to stay in their unit. If a resident tries to make ends meet but can’t and y......
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The Best Outreach Marketing Tool: Your Service Team

You are spending money advertising your community online, to businesses in your area, for campaigns designed to reach out to the right demographics.  Your company has a Reputation Management Department specialized in damage control, as most of the potential renters are checking online reviews before considering to become your residents- I called that reactive marketing. What if I told you that you are underutilizing the best marketing tool that is already at your disposal: your service team. Consider this:  Your current residents are the best vehicle for spreading the word about how great is to live at your community to their friends, family and co-workers. Most of them only walk into your office only three times: when touring the community, signing the lease and turning in keys at the move out. The only associates they may be in contact with for the length of their stay are your service team members.  Besides residents families and close friends, chances are that nobody else except your service team has the privilege to enter their homes.  Focus on making your service team visits count: professional appearance and efficient service goes a long way.  As a consequence, you will end up with: a happy resident, hopefully followed by a great online review and a recommendation for your community and less work for your Reputation Management Department. This way, you are turning your resident into a promoter. Not only that they are doing free advertising for you, but they may end up renewing their lease, therefore......
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Optimizing Communication between Onsite Teams and Residents

Optimizing Communication between Onsite Teams and Residents
Communicating with residents just isn’t the same as it was ten, or even five, years ago. More than ever, residents aren’t really coming into the leasing office to talk with the onsite staff. This can be attributed to evolving technology and a generational preference for digital-based communication.  It’s no secret that millennial and incoming Generation Z residents and their affinity for smartphones and social media have created a shift in apartment leasing and marketing. So how can we open up the dialogue between our onsite teams and residents when residents are spending more time than ever on their phones? Here are a few different methods that can optimize communication between onsite teams and residents: Text MessagesCommunicating via text message is a form of interaction that has become so deeply engrained within our society, it’s starting to replace phone, email and even in-person conversations altogether. Text messages can even replace email blasts. While many residents still communicate via email, a text message goes immediately to their phones where they will easily be able to see it.  Social Media PlatformsA lot of people get their news from social media platforms today, notably Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. These platforms are a great way to engage your residents online – where they spend most of their time. Social media sites can promote a property's news and information as well as deepen the sense of community that your residents feel with your staff and with each other.Here at ROSS, our leasing teams will hold resident appreciat......
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Don’t Let a Dead Roach Join Your Leasing Team

Have you ever walked into a "Ready Unit" and seen a dead roach sitting in the middle of the floor? I have!  Imagine if you were a prospective resident and you walked into a beautiful apartment home, only to find a roach on the kitchen counter. Would you remember the beautiful apartment, or would you remember the roach?  As a Consultant, I have frequently walked into apartment homes that were spotless - other than the one dead roach. The apartments had been made ready. The pest control vendor had already treated the apartment homes, and the apartments had been thoroughly cleaned.   But wait! If everything had been cleaned and treated, why the dead bugs? If you have a moment, stop reading and look under your kitchen or bathroom sink. In many cases, you will see that there are gaps around the pipes.  While extermination programs can be effective at killing roaches and other pests, they are not at all effective at preventing roaches and other pests from entering an apartment. Typically, when one apartment is sprayed, the insects travel through the cracks and holes in the walls to the nearest apartment. Before or after a resident moves into the newly made ready apartment, the insects travel back through the same holes and cracks to again infest the apartment.  The best way to prevent future infestations is to caulk all the holes and cracks during the make ready process. By caulking the holes and cracks, roaches can't flee to a neighboring apartment......
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Wow Words: Use Descriptive Language to Spice up Your Marketing Verbiage

Keep Calm and Use Wow Words 2nd Edition Dear Awesome Apartment Marketers, Back in 2011, I wrote a blog about using unique and descriptive words to help your apartment communities stand out from the competition. In the post, I added a list of what I now refer to as “wow words” that I utilize almost daily when writing ad copy, creating content, dreaming up romance paragraphs, and coming up with a unique list of amenities and features to describe our apartment homes and communities. In addition to descriptive phrases, I’ve included a list of headings/taglines and transitional phrases to amp up your verbiage. Of course, since that blog seven years ago (where did the time go?) there are no apartment “guide books” to be found and Air Tran is no longer in existence… And just like me, my list of “wow words” has gone through a transformation also. I’m continually on the watch for unique verbiage to use in marketing and am always adding new ways to say something. I get tremendous inspiration from the real estate industry, specifically new home subdivisions, looking at listings on Zillow, watching HGTV, and gleaning ideas from the hotel industry. The list of wow words has been added to so often that it can no longer be included in the blog post (like it was in the first edition) because it is so lengthy! Multifamily Insiders has a great resource called the File Bank. If you haven’t perused it yet, you are missing out! But, Keep Calm...the new list of Wow Words can be found t......
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