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Money on the Table, Finding the Hidden Opportunities. Part 3.

Lately I have been hearing questions about whether to raise prices or not to raise rates. There are many strategies to increase revenue and some that are right there glaring at you, but seem to be hidden. Let's uncover some of the hidden opportunities.

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Bye Bye, Peloton. So What's the Next Hot Amenity for Multifamily?

OK, I'll admit it.

I totally want a Peloton bike. Yes, even though I'm a runner, not a biker. (I know they also have treadmills, but for some reason those aren't calling my name. Also, is "biker" a thing? Or is that a motorcyclist? Are stationary bike users called cyclists? Is there anything I can't overthink?) Even though they're pretty pricey, especially when you add in the monthly subscription costs. Even though the rightfully mocked ads would make me feel guilty putting one in my drafty basement. They just seem...cool. Like, this piece of gym equipment will be the thing that finally makes me look forward to working out, learn to love kale and develop a sunny world view. (Just kidding. Those things will never happen.)

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The One Amenity That Never Goes Out of Style

In the property and hospitality line, there is a constant rush to have the latest and trendiest amenities, from urban staples such as swimming pools, fitness centers, and business lounges – to more recent, trendy options such as creator studios, infrared saunas, and salt rooms. Yet amid all these investments into amenity space, another crucial yet often overlooked amenity is neglected – the service that occurs within these spaces. While creating space is all about size, square footage, and built-up area, service is what takes an environment from simply being “space” to being a “place”. “What’s the difference?” you may ask. Space is simply an area that may be available for use but may be unoccupied. A place is where people go to with a clear intent and purpose in mind – an area used and designated for specific experiences – just like how many cozy coffee shops have turned retail space into a “Third Place” for many people in between work and home. Service is what takes an environment from simply being “space” to being a “place”. Service is what makes the difference between a common noun and a proper noun – a subtle nuance, yes, but isn’t nuance what makes all the difference in tipping a brand’s scale? My partner Amy Blitz and I have worked on numerous amenity consulting projects and one of the first questions we are usually asked is about what kinds of new amenities renters, residents, and guests are looking for. Without hesitation, the first answer on our lips is usually – service. We believe t......
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Is Your Pool and Fitness Center Giving You a False Sense of Optimism?

a1sx2_Pool Amenity_pool-amenity.jpgI don't know if there is any truth to it, but I've heard it said that pretty girls are a dime a dozen in Los Angeles.  While a pretty girl might stand out and get plenty of attention in her home town, she suddenly doesn't seem so unique when surrounded by so many other attractive people all swarming to the city to get into show business.  In other words, a positive trait is sometimes only positive relative to the other things around it.  Getting back to the apartment industry, I sometimes wonder if we fall into the same trap when it comes to our pool and fitness center.  For instance, when we look at our pool all by itself, without considering our comps, it might seem absolutely luxurious and an amenity that really drives prospect interest.  But what happens when everyone has a beautiful pool? We finished our first ever survey examining amenities in our industry, and their impact on driving prospect excitement (download here).  We asked, "What 3 amenities are your prospects most excited about?"  Here were the top three answers: Pool                                                                                                        63% Fitness Center / Gym                                                                                  62% Outdoor Grill, Picnic Area, or Social Space                                                     15% So in other words,......
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DEAR GABBY: Top 7 Pool Faux Pas

DEAR GABBY: Top 7 Pool Faux Pas
Dear Gabby, Pool season is my favorite time of the year to relax and catch some sun. But lately, others at the pool are ruining it for the rest of us with uninvited guests, blaring music and obnoxious activity. Have you had any experience with this? #ConcernedPoolGoer     Dear #ConcernedPoolGoer, Pools rock and even as summer winds down, the pool is a community hot spot but it can go wrong so quickly…public displays of affection, a little too much skin for that suit (or not enough suit for that skin), pool toys…the list goes on. But here are the worst pool faux pas. If you encounter these, feel free to pull your hair out.   1. Non-resident guests Pretty simple really. A guest here, a guest there, fine. I get it; we all have friends we’d like to invite over from time to time. But if the head count starts looking like a softball roster, you’re outta here. Also, please stop making me get up to let you in since you conveniently “left your card at home”.   2. Pool Toy People Acceptable: floaties (for children of course)….and really, that’s about it. Unacceptable: everything else. Keep the extended loungers, footballs, and for heavens sake, the “noodles” at the comforts of your own pool (or at least a private one).     3. Cannonballs!!!! CANNONBALLLLLLL! **SPLASH** Book soaked, cell phone ambushed, and mood, salty. Just don’t.   4. PDA Hey there cassanova. We see you’ve been practicing those sweet moves you learned from your friend that’s......
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Yes, Words Matter!

There are still some industry buzz words, or jargon, that sound like finger nails on a chalk board. These words have such old-school, negative connotations that it’s amazing they are still around. But, they are and it’s good to know these words. This way you can become a change agent in assisting to elevate our industry in the minds of our owners, clients and residents.  I’ll start with with some words that really must go. And provide replacement options. Also included are descriptor words that all mean something slightly different and are currently in use by a variety of companies.  So you’ll have some options.   Remove these words from your vocabulary and replace with: 1.‘Landlord’ must go!  It’s out of date and has a very negative connotation left over from years past.  Ugh! Replace with:  ‘Property Owner’. This is an accurate description of the individual or company. 2.‘Complex’ must go!  Complex has a variety of definitions and often associated with abnormal pathological disorders. So an ‘Apartment Complex’ doesn’t sound very inviting.   Replace with:  ‘Apartment Community’. It really is a community of residents.  3.‘Project’ must go! Apartment Project surely has the reminiscence of a not-so-nice part of town from days gone by.  As in ‘the projects’.  Replace with:  ‘Apartment Community’.  4.‘Tenants’ must go!  We still reference office building lessors as ‘tenants’. It sounds so sterile and that’s sure not the feeling we want to create at our communities. Replace with:  ‘Residents’. It’s residents who reside at your community 5.‘Unit’ must go!  What the heck is a ‘unit’? It surely isn’t someone’s ......
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Pool: Most Attractive Amenity, or Attractive Nuisance

Apartment Community Pool

Apartment Community PoolHow can you make sure your pool stays an attractive amenity and does not turn into a risk filled nuisance? 

Apartment operators and developers spend a lot of capital to make their pool inviting and attractive to prospective and existing residents. We purchase colorful furniture/umbrellas, install fabulous hardscape and vegetation along with ensuring the water is crystal clear. This is all designed to make the pool an attractive amenity.

We post signs, paint depth markers, and install drain covers to meet the required safety codes and comply with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act to keep residents safe and mitigate risk. Our pools are self-policing. It is rare to see a life guard. So what action can we take to assure that our residents, aka ‘volunteer lifeguards’, can at minimum recognize a drowning person?

Mario Vittone’s article “Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning” is a highly recommended article for residents to read in order to spot a fellow resident in need. We should do all we can to be certain that pool safety is a priority. Consider also that our maintenance staff spends considerable time maintaining our pools. Perhaps a combined pool maintenance/certified lifeguard might be a good investment. During times when nobody is using the pool, they can make sure your “most attractive amenity” stays that way and is not “an attractive nuisance”.

Ward A. Katz, CPM, CEO of M-fishency, www.m-fishency.com
Blog: www.multifamilypropertyevaluation.com

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Essential Upgrade for 2012

Your residents want to charge and power their USB devices. Provide these new outlets and add another new amenity to your apartments no matter what the age of your community might be.

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