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Brent Williams' Apartment Blog

Thoughts, comments, and ideas about the overall multifamily industry, as well as a property-specific focus on resident retention and apartment marketing.

Is It Really The Best Idea To Make That Superstar Leasing Consultant an Assistant Property Manager?

Is It Really The Best Idea To Make That Superstar Leasing Consultant an Assistant Property Manager?

The apartment industry has a very consistent career path:  Leasing Consultants get promoted to assistant property managers, who then get promoted to property managers and beyond.  Essentially, we take someone with strong sales skill sets and then push them into a role that is highly administrative.  And then we take that administrative employee and give them a management and leadership role.  But does that really make sense? 

A few weeks ago, I was fortunate to sit down with Lauren Curley of Bonaventure Realty Group, which has 26 properties across 3 states, and she shared some interesting things they are testing at four communities, with plans to expand to the rest of their portfolio in the coming months. 


Leasing Consultants Are Promoted Along a Leasing Track

In the end, we often promote leasing consultants because they are good at what they do, but that pushes them into positions that may not match their skill sets.  So Bonaventure has transitioned to a system where leasing positions have their own track.  So leasing consultants are promoted to higher level leasing positions that receive better leasing commissions, without necessarily forcing them into an administrative or management role if it doesn't fit.  Bonaventure keeps the best leasing consultants actually leasing apartments, the function that they thrive in.


Goodbye "Jack of all Trades", and Hello Focused Skill Sets

Our industry has long been proud that its onsite team members are a "jack of all trades", but there are significant drawbacks.  Our team members often feel scattered, hopping from task to task, which is exacerbated by the fact that prospects and residents can walk through the door at any time, interrupting any process.  Therefore, Bonaventure is taking a different approach.  They want their leasing consultants focused on leasing, leaving administrative functions to employees with that job type.  This allows the administrative functions to get done more efficiently, as well as making training more focused and effective.  Rather than teaching all things to all employees, each team member can be better trained on a smaller number of skills and processes.


Renewal Commissions Exceed New Lease Commissions

Bonaventure is also tackling the issue of incentives relating to new leases versus renewals.  Often, leasing consultants get a full commission for new leases, but split renewal commissions, leaving more incentive to focus on new leases and not be too concerned with a lost renewal.  But Bonaventure has changed their strategy, offering 0.5% commissions for new leases and 0.75% for renewals, creating a positive incentive to focus on our most profitable segment: existing residents.

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  • Phil

    These are some good insights. I have also found that, when you have some "jack of all trades" staff, they love to work on certain projects which can take alot of time, and that leaves the important turnover work to the others. Sometimes it's better to hire a contractor for those special jobs. Also, if really good Leasing people are not allowed to be promoted into the often much higher paid Property Manager positions, they will be very disappointed and want to go somewhwere else.

  • Sherle Brown

    I very strongly agree with what Bonaventure is doing and hope other companies in our industry will embrace these approaches.

  • I agree with Phil. If you keep overlooking a great leasing agent, they will move on.

  • Great ideas from Bonaventure. I think asking the leasing person what they want for long term career goals can be used as a path to offer opportunities to expand their skill set and boost their resume with additional experiences. If they leasing person feels appreciated, is compensated well and has support, they will go above and beyond for the team.

  • Nancy Morris

    I totally get this and have made this statement for years! Why take our strong leasing folks to promote them to something that may stifle them and then they leave your organization. A Leasing Consultant wants to be rewarded and recognized. Your leasing staff is your biggest asset!

  • Rick Ellis CPM

    Brent, you are right on. Often times "promoting" a great sales personality to an accounting, detailed-oriented role is setting them up for failure. Furthermore, that assistant manager role (or manager position, for that matter) can make the sales personality miserable and crazy. I have seen so many accomplished leasing professionals who were "demoted" to management only to quit from anxiety or worse, get terminated. Then they get a new leasing position at another company and thrive. And the idea of paying hardy renewal commissions is way overdue. Maybe we should stop hiring leasing professionals that also do renewals and start hiring Resident Relations and Lease Renewal Professionals who also lease!

  • Brent - What you describe regarding an employee being promoted on past merits has been commonly referred to as the "Peter Principle". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_principle

  • Phil

    Everything you guys are saying is relevant. Of course each situation has to be based on it's merits. I remember the "Peter Principle" from my college business course days (early 70's). Yes, promoting people to a position of failure has happened to me before. Telling a competent leasing person that not only will they not be promoted but their new boss is going to be a stranger that even I don't really know is what we have to do. Some of them will stay if they are paid enough. Most end up leaving. We have a challenging job and employee turnover is a common problem we all have to deal with.

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