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People change when the pain of changing is less than the pain of not changing... True or false?

leaky bucketThis statement was made on a call I was on and at first I agreed. Something did not ring right though... Here are my thoughts and I would love to hear yours. No doubt this economy is impacting all of us in some way and it is safe to say that many are now looking at change as a necessary evil. It is human nature to be content with status quo in most cases. So here is the question that came to mind; have we changed over the last 200 hundred years because we had to or because we felt we could make things better? I strongly believe that most changes have come from the possibility of a better way to do things and not from the pain that could be caused by not changing.   In fact most inventions may have been looked at unnecessary by many and are now "indispensable". Do you believe that Thomas Edison thought that electricity was a need or did he see opportunity for a better and more comfortable life? I know my great grandmother did not let electricity be connected to her home until 1974 because she was just fine that way it was... What does that have to do with you?... Everything! Today's challenges are tomorrow's opportunities. By embracing change as a new and better way to do things you will gain a source of excitement rather than a feeling of beating beaten up. The key word that I see tied to cha......
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Brent Williams
I think that is completely true for the majority of people, Frederic. But that can be a great thing for the minority out there th... Read More
Saturday, 13 February 2010 23:19
Frederic Guitton
@Brent, your point is absolutely right on. I do believe that some simply don't look for ways to do things better out of laziness. ... Read More
Sunday, 14 February 2010 21:18
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Hold the Hold and Just Talk To ME!

 Mental Exhaustion.  That's what I get when I try to call my local doctor these days.  Now, I love my doctor because she doesn't think I'm weird and doesn't make sweeping statements like, "You're going to die if you get Pneumonia,"  but getting just a tiny bit of information out of the clinic is a process that sucks.  First I call, and I tell them what's wrong and ask if I need an appointment for that.  They tell me that they don't know, but that they will have an RN call me back and let me know.  The RN calls back, under an UNKNOWN number (Who doesn't check the # on their caller ID these days?  I hate telemarketers, so I don't answer that nonsense!), leaves me a message with no information except her name, which she rushes through so that I can't actually hear what it was, and tells me to call her back.  I call the number she leaves, no more than 5 minutes after missing the call, and end up at a call center where they don't know me from Adam, they don't know who I'm looking for, and they don't know what my original call was about, and the hold, transfer, hold transfer, hold process takes about 25 minutes of my life that I'll never get back.  What I'm sure they did know was how annoyed I was with the whole insane process of trying to get to talk to someone who can tell me whether or......
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Virtual Tours: Stand out from the competition

Online advertising in the MFH industry is truly competitive. There are many ways to advertise a vacant unit--Craigslist, Rent.com, Rentwiki.com, etc. Take a look at the apartment section on Craigslist, and you'll realize how many people are posting ads. Whether it's a mom and pop building or a large property management company building, your ad needs to be truthful, compelling, and effective.As technology advances at its rapid pace, there are more ways to attract users to your property to tour units. Photo galleries are so 2008! With the explosion of youtube, most people (especially the 18-30 group) would rather see video than photos. These video/virtual tours truly make the viewer or user see the property in real-time as opposed to staged photos. Here are some tips for making a great virtual tour video: Have two types of virtual tours: building and unit specificLength of video: No more than 5 minutes for building and no more than 2 minutes for unit specific--remember, videos should be short, sweet, and to the pointStart from outside to inside: Neighborhood/surroundings-->building amenities-->unit featuresInexpensive, but effective: I hired my cousin to do the filming as he just graduated Cal State Northridge and was a film/TV major. You don't need to spend a lot of money for a professional crew. In this economy, there are plenty of talented graduates who could use some money and experience on their resumes.Background music and voice-over: Music should reflect the tone of the property and be instrumental. We bought rights to an mp3 song......
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Episode 35 - Managing your social media expectations

First off I would like to give a hat tip to Brent Williams, the chief at MultifamilyInsiders.com, for spurring this conversation and inspiring this post. We had an interesting conversation going on from one of my previous posts, and it came around to "managing one's expectations with social media." I've said all along that social media is a part to building your online brand. With building any brand we all know it takes time, and building an online brand can seem like you're doing it all over again. The good news is that if you already have a brand then it's not a complete rebuild, but it's taking a different view point for how your brand is going to present itself online. This doesn't happen overnight, and the "build it and they will come" concept just doesn't work. No longer can you just build a website and hope people find you. You need to continually build your presence online, you need a strategy, and you needed to start yesterday. For those of you that have started, GREAT! For those of you thinking about starting, it's time to get a move on.In my comments to Brent from that post I shared what I've helped J.C. Hart do over the last 2 years to build a better online brand. That's right 2 years. Here's what I shared:This is a challenge and a hurdle so many struggle with. The main issue really isn't where the resources are coming from, but how people are stuck......
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Daisy Nguyen
Mark: Love the list. I agree with all of the items, but ESPECIALLY #5 & #10!-Daisy
Monday, 18 January 2010 22:56
Mark Juleen
Thanks Daisy. Apparently I don't know how to number, but typos are allowed in social media imo. Someone, if not many need to just... Read More
Monday, 18 January 2010 23:25
Daisy Nguyen
Mark: I didn't even see that you had two #3's until you pointed it out. And YES, typo's are allowed!
Monday, 18 January 2010 23:49
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Can We Talk? A Low-Cost Way To Call You From Your Website

Web surfers like to “click” their mouse almost as much as they like to “click” their television’s remote control.  But, sometimes even web surfers want to talk to a real person.  The problem is what to do if you prefer to shop for an apartment over the internet?  The answer is simple – “click” and call directly from an apartment property website to speak to a real person (or your answering service, if that is the case). How to accomplish this feat has been simplified with the advent of Google Voice, Google’s recent free service offering that has many telecoms shaking in their boots.  Given GV’s potential, is it any wonder that Apple, tethered to AT&T, has been stalling and blocking the Google Voice App for the iPhone, leading to an investigation by the FCC? Currently, Google Voice is a FREE beta service requiring an invite.  However, the wait for a GV invite has recently become as short as a few weeks.  There are two choices for GV users: access the limited services using your existing phone number, or access the full services by selecting a new Google Voice-provided phone number. Here is a way to incorporate Google Voice into your website so that apartment shoppers can “click” and call you to talk to a real person:   1.      Request an invite to the Google Voice beta service.  Go to: https://services.google.com/fb/forms/googlevoiceinvite/ and fill in the form to request an invitation to use Google Voice.  While you are waiting for your ......
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Inexpensive, High-Tech Customer Service Monitoring

Large apartment property organizations have IT departments that small apartment owners can only dream of.  Recently, I wrote about 10 steps to slow down the apartment turnover “revolving door” through exceptional customer service.  Improving customer service requires being aware of customer service issues. If you use an office answering service that can email voice messages in the MP3 format and have an iPhone, Blackberry or Android cell phone, here’s a way that property management can directly track customer service requests, as they are called in.  Using this system, I can view a text transcript of each customer service call, within about 10 minutes of the call being made.  Then, I can discuss selected customer service calls with the maintenance staff before they begin their work day’s tasks or throughout the day.  Not only does this allow me to keep mental track of anomalous service issues, but it also affords me the opportunity to discuss dealing with specific customer service issues in a quick training mode.  You can set up your own customer service monitoring system with these tools:   1.      Customer service phone number.  We use a dedicated phone number for customer service requests to distinguish text transcription for maintenance from the office calls. 2.      YouMail.com.  YouMail provides a service that allows you to forward outside voice messages in an MP3 format to the YouMail system, which YouMail converts into a text transcript.  There is a free version, but it only provides a few transcriptions per month at a lower quality. ......
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Brent Williams
Wow, what a great solution, Rick! Thanks for posting the "how to" guide here for everybody!
Wednesday, 13 January 2010 07:45
Rick Hevier
@Brent: YouMail is also useful for "ditching" those annoying telemarketing phone calls, using their "ditch call" feature. My "dit... Read More
Wednesday, 13 January 2010 18:53
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Are your Property Management Operations Coordinated?

When I was actively marketing one of my companies that dealt with resident portals, I often was faced with one major dilemma:  Who is the best person to talk to?  My service dealt with resident retention, technology, and training, so often nobody was quite sure who was making the decision on my service.  Was it the IT department?  Was it the marketing director (I say "marketing" director because "resident retention" director is an MIA position)?  Was it someone on the training side of things?    As things progress into 2010 and beyond, it's become abundantly clear that this problem is only going to get worse, and that better coordination between business units will have to a top priority.  Here are a few examples (there are countless others!):   The IT Department and the Marketing Department:  This is the most obvious and needed element to cross-pollination within property management companies.  Although print advertising will never die (in my opinion), more and more marketing and resident retention efforts are going to be performed online.  Your IT department is going to have to become more savvy with marketing, and your marketing directors and on-site teams are going to have to increase their proficiency online.  But it goes beyond just operations - Imagine the brainstorming benefits of bringing these two teams together for planning out new features and programs on your existing website and abroad (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, etc)!   Marketing Department and Legal:  If you thought Fair Housing was scary before, add in soc......
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Daisy Nguyen
I agree that once a company is large enough to have "people," they need to foster an environment of "cross pollination."I used to ... Read More
Monday, 04 January 2010 02:02
Brent Williams
Thanks for the comment, Daisy, and I like the planned approach! Committees always have the potential for moving things along more... Read More
Monday, 04 January 2010 02:17
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Top 10 Opportunities that Social Networking Offers

The Internet connects us like no other medium, and social networking sites are a great way to stay in touch and turn connections into business. Here are the top ten opportunities that social networking offers and why you should stay connected in 2010: 1.     Spread a consistent message/image to a large audience about your brand, identity, and products/services 2.     Meet people in your industry, find employees and employers, ask for referrals, and get/give advice 3.     Put a "face" on your business and show your corporate personality 4.     Help build your website's search engine ranking by cross-linking on all sites and optimizing media assets (the more quality links to your site, the better!) 5.     Compliment your existing online and offline presence (Do not replace them) 6.     Provide helpful, relevant information that is useful to the masses 7.       Turn your new and existing customers into repeat customers and fans 8.       Target specific demographics/industries/companies by using proper and consistent keywords/phrases for your audience 9.       Promote your events, promotion and specials to a wider audience 10.   Elevate your customer service to a new, transparent level Here are ForRent.com's Top 10 favorite social networking sites in 2009: 1.     Facebook 2.     MySpace 3.     Twitter 4.     YouTube 5.     LinkedIn 6.     Yahoo! Answers 7.     Flickr 8.     del.icio.us 9.     Digg 10.  Stumbleupon...
Recent Comments
Daisy Nguyen
Erica: Great piece. Wondering - do you guys still use MySpace much? In my region, most of the industry has gotten away from MySpac... Read More
Monday, 28 December 2009 09:16
Erica Campbell Byrum
Daisy- Thanks! We actually still use MySpace everyday believe it or not. We continue to friend, post blogs, post to the bulletin a... Read More
Monday, 28 December 2009 19:18
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Episode 29 - Apartment Marketing Gone Digital Podcast

Did you know that Mike Whaling, Eric Brown, Duncan Alney, myself, and an occasional guest do a weekly podcast show? Check it out over on the right hand side of my blog or subscribe to it on iTunes.

 [video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7eP4DqwR4o 425x250]

As seen @ Tidbits from The Apartment Nerd

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Mike Whaling
Thanks for the plug, Mark! This week's episode was a great conversation ... I'm looking forward to having some other guests join o... Read More
Thursday, 17 December 2009 21:52
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Augmented Reality Offers a New Point of View for Apartment Seekers


Augmented reality has made its way into the multi-housing industry. What is augmented reality, you ask? Combine the GPS and camera functions on your cell phone, feed in basic data about the landmarks in your area, and you will have pieced together the main tools needed to create augmented reality. If that still doesn't draw a good visual, just think about the yellow "first down" line in football. It is digitally imposed over the field to give you a better perspective of where first down is.

Augmented reality lets consumers view real-time digital information on top of reality through the camera of their cell phone. Layar, the world's first augmented reality application, is now available to potential renters. Using this innovative app, apartment seekers can view apartments for rent featured on ForRent.com through the camera of their iPhone® 3GS or Google Android mobile phone within a 10-mile radius of where they are standing.

Once the apartment seeker selects the property of their choice, phone and email contact information appears at the bottom of the screen. The Layar application makes it easy for potential renters to find their next apartment. This is beneficial to property managers because it gives real-time information and makes it easier for potential renters to find their listings. Simply point; then click.
The augmented reality application could change the mobile apartment searching process. Need more details? CNN created a great story about this new application here.

Download the Layar app directly from your iPhone 3GS or Google Android phone. To learn more about the ForRent.com augmented reality application, click here.

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