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Property Management: Betting on Service

The multifamily industry is the new El Dorado for investors. Everybody wants a piece of the action. Because there is more money than action available, there are new multifamily developments popping everywhere. On a 5 mile stretch between my work and my doctor's office, 3 new properties are being built as we speak, on top of the 4 or 5 existing. Last I've heard, Silicone Valley is not relocating to Gwinnett County, Georgia. This is all about developers selling the dream to their investors. Fast forward 2-3 years from today, we are going to have a hefty surplus of apartments and an acute workforce shortage. That's when the multifamily industry will meet the real Hunger Games.There is a way to survive it: focus on service.

Hiring and retaining the best talent. When it comes to hiring, nothing can replace the human interaction. If you think a software is going to do a better job than a human can, remind me how using the latest miracle talent management program improved your employee retention rate. Having somebody with service background in your talent acquisition department will give you the upper hand over competition. Pay top dollar for the right candidate. Scenario: You want to hire a great service tech, but he is asking for $1.50/hour more than you can offer. This is roughly $3,000 a year. If this guy can save you a resident a month by providing exceptional service(average cost to bring a new resident in to replace a resident that is moving out is about $3,000), he will make up for the pay difference and save you $33,000 in a year. Imagine if he can save two or three residents a month: you just hit gold. Once you hire the right person, don't forget about the human approach. People have families and commitments they have to honor in their personal lives. Try to be as accomodating as you can. It will go a long way, trust me. If you made a good hire, offer him/her the tools he/she needs to be successful and stay out of their way. “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” - Steve Jobs 

Make service a priority. Allocate the proper resources to your service department: tools, uniforms and training. Your service team members are touching your residents lives every single day and while doing that they are your company image. They better be on the top of their game. In today's world, the feedback is almost instantaneous. You can leave a resident's home after completing a service request and get your work rated minutes later. Online, for the whole world to see. If the service quality is not satisfactory, your company will spend a lot of money to do damage control via their online reputation department.

Over staff your assets. By doing that, you can improve the service response time, increase resident satisfaction, minimize the overtime hours required to keep up with the workload in the busy season and reduce employee burnout. Also, there are plenty of projects that an extra employee can do outside the busy season.

Create a positive culture. Culture is what your employees are experiencing in their workplace on the daily basis, by interacting with their peers and management. If they feel great about coming to work every day, they may tell their friends and maybe their friend would consider joining your company as well. A genuinely supportive environment goes a long way.

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  • Jules Carney

    Among table stakes for the industry is service. If you want to stabilize and grow your reputation, satisfaction, experience.. the overall quality of service is a linchpin to all..

  • I work for a company right now that does NOT practice the "Create a positive culture" part of this blog. I feel literally sick to my stomach to come into work everyday. I have sent emails to upper management regarding by current boss but still have gotten no response back as to what is going to be done. I found this blog very inspiring and I am going to look for a new place to work that practices everything in this blog.