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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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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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Chatbots & Multifamily

Chatbots seem to be popping up everywhere nowadays. And not just Alexa, but those helpful "people" who IM you on every site to help with customer service.

These are certainly not new. Back in the Stone Age when I was in college and iPods were gaining popularity, Joe Millionaire was winning over our hearts, and we were constantly perfecting our away messages on AIM, there was a chatbot called Smarterchild that we all talked to. Of course, we would just curse at it and laugh hysterically at it's "offended" response. College was a wild time.

But now chatbots are getting smarter, or at least more responsive. And people are happily using them. We're heading for Westworld-level customer service robots, people! Don't say I didn't warn you. "These violent delights have free-return-policy ends." Or something. I don't know, I'm still a few episodes behind.

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Top 5 Social Media Tools for Apartment Marketing

Top 5 Social Media Tools for Apartment Marketing
Social Media is now an integral part of any apartment community or portfolios marketing. However, many don't have the right tools to handle the daily struggle of creating and managing their social media presence and campaigns. That is why we here at BreadBox brought together our top 5 favorite Social Media tools to make the process easier and ultimately, create a better social media experience for your apartment marketing. Buffer | buffer.comBuffer is a stripped down, yet intuitive social media posting tool. It makes it very easy to schedule posts, analyze performance, and manage all your accounts in one place. It works with all major services (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google, etc.), and has a "queue" system to post based on a predetermined schedule. It's a great platform to manage all the Social Media posts for your apartment community or portfolio. PRO TIP: Get the Chrome buffer extension. It allows you to share web pages or images directly from your browser without even opening the app.  Pablo | pablo.buffer.comThis little-known service from Buffer, allows you to create social media posts with minimal design knowledge. Just choose an image, add some text, add your logo and download your finished post. You can even upload your own image to use, scale it to fit any service (Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook) and comes with some pre-made templates. Your team can create compelling posts in minutes. Oh, and it's FREE!  Feedly | feedly.comFeedly is the gold star of "content aggregators". It allows you to pull in news stories from your ......
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SEO & Apartment Marketing: The Next Step

SEO & Apartment Marketing: The Next Step
A very long time ago (circa 2008) the leasing world was a simpler place. Place an ad on Craigslist or in a newspaper, and sit back and watch the renter leads flow in. The most complicated it ever got was when you wanted to add a template to Craigslist. Those were what I would call "the good old days."  Flash forward ten years and the leasing world could not be more complicated. From ILS sites, listing syndication systems, Social Media, Blogs, Google Adwords, Remarketing and more, there are numerous marketing channels to choose from. However, there is one area that could be the most important, but seldom gets the attention it deserves, Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Curiously most apartment communities either don't think SEO can have a significant impact, or are dissuaded by trying to compete with the "big boys." Whatever the reason, SEO needs to be the next step in your apartment communities marketing efforts.  What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?  Search Engine Optimization is the process of building a strong search engine presence to ensure visitors can more easily find your website amongst all your competitors online. The primary aim is to improve your websites page ranking so that renters will see your website when they type specific keywords or phrases into search engines like Google.  In simplest terms, it's getting your website to the top of search engine results for searches that your renters conduct (i.e., apartments in Charlotte, rentals in San Antonio, etc.) Why is Search Engine......
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Property Managers, Should You Get Off Facebook?

Poor Facebook. It's been getting a bad rap nowadays, what with the news that 87 million users had their private information stolen by the political research firm Cambridge Analytica.

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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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Examining the Next Decade’s Renter

Examining the Next Decade’s Renter
Last year alone, Americans spent a staggering $485 billion on rent, a record high. Factors such as the youngest generation of renters carrying heavy student debt and increased construction can be pointed to as obvious markers for the sharp increase, but the growing rent purse also suggests that a shift in the renter demo is currently taking place. Below, we discuss the evolving American rental demographic to inform how apartment communities across the country can prepare themselves for the continued uptick in numbers over the next decade.   The Rise of the Renter More Americans are flocking to rentals than we’ve seen in decades. With the housing crisis still in the not-so-distant rearview mirrors of millions of Americans, more U.S. households are headed by renters than at any point since 1965, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau housing data. While recent trend pieces point to historical data suggesting an upcoming stagnation in the apartment market, with nearly 39 million Americans (1 out of every 8) calling apartments home, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to refute the demand for apartments.   A Stagnant Income While more Americans are flocking to rentals than ever before, the median income of an apartment household has fallen by $3,000 since 1985. Couple this with an overall stagnation in income for many households, and you have a mixture worth keeping an eye on. After adjusting for inflation, wages are just 10% higher in 2017 than they were in 1973, amounting to real annual wage gro......
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MTEC Wrap-up: 5 Key Takeaways

MTEC-Conference.pngI just got back from the 2018 edition of MTEC, the Multifamily Technology Entrepreneur’s Conference, and I must say I was unusually impressed with the quality of the content. Here are a few of my key takeaways: 1. The MFH tech ecosystem is getting stronger. MTEC set record attendance with more than 160 attendees. Given the somewhat lagging nature of tech in MFH, this bodes well for the future. There was a wide range of tech companies from both an “area of focus” and a “maturity of business” perspective. One of the highlights each year is the “Shark Tank”-style presentation of new businesses. In past years, I confess to feeling that some (even half) of the presenters simply did not have a compelling enough business proposition to be worth my time listening. This year, there were 10 presenters and each held my attention as I could see a need for all of them. 2. Data, data, data!Two of the three “medalists” (as voted by the three-judge panel) were heavy data plays, and several of the other presenters were data-driven as well. More importantly, they’re not merely sharing data but are also making judgments about what they think will happen and what they think multi-family operators ought to do. More and more, there are true predictive analytics capabilities that can be bought rather than spending “sweat and treasure” to build that capability in-house. I still have questions about data sourcing, data cleansing and the quality of the models presented, but those are execution issues. The strategy is clearly......
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5 Steps to Solving the Social Media Conundrum

5 Steps to Solving the Social Media Conundrum
In 2017, our Online Renter Study determined that social media was not a key influencer with renters.  During the search for a new home, only 14.1% of renters said they used a community’s social media page as a source for information.  And when asked if the community’s social media presence factored into the overall decision to lease, the consensus was “no”; placing social media at #46 out of 48 in terms of importance.  So, if social media holds little value for prospects, does the same hold true for existing residents?  Our Annual Satisfaction Survey helps connect the dots even further.  We know, based on 1.6 million survey responses, the #1 driver for resident satisfaction is perception of value.  Bottom line, residents want to know they are getting their money’s worth where they live.  But what drives value?  What are the things teams should focus on to convince residents to accept a rent increase and stay another year? Perception of value is tricky because value itself is subjective.  Consumers in general would gladly pay more for certain purchases because in their eyes, it’s worth it.  Whether that is a certain brand of coffee or the top of the line SUV, price is only an issue in the absence of value. Every 6 months we examine the correlation between the survey questions of our Annual Satisfaction Survey and perception of value. After our most recent analysis, we were surprised at the results.  The #2 driver for perception of value was social media.  What stunned us ......
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