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Postmortem; The Apartment Developers' Dilemma

Regardless of our role within an organization, we will be asked throughout our careers to participate in, lead or evaluate various corporate initiatives. After all, most of what a company really ‘is’ is a series of interrelated initiatives.  These could range from the acts of sales, operations, marketing, and acquisitions to finding efficiencies, fixing problems launching new products, etc. Generally we would like to succeed in whatever initiatives we are involved. And hopefully we have positioned ourselves for success through our understanding and expertise, our dedication and will to succeed, and our preparation and focus. Additionally we may have benefited from multiple books, papers and degrees which exist to provide us tools or help train us to succeed at whatever task we undertake. But invariably, there will be times when success is not an option or when we fail after seemingly doing all of the ‘right’ things. In those cases what do we do?   Our next step should be to perform a postmortem. Think of the postmortem as a forensic analysis of the results of the initiative. Admittedly, the specifics of every project are going to be different. But if we were to approach each postmortem as its own totally unique situation, then it would virtually be impossible to be efficient in our analysis. Over time, we also need the ability to connect the information that we gain to make better future decisions. This is the exact same process that our minds go through as the act of learning. The probl......
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Form 1099s & Year End Statements

By Salvatore Friscia, San Diego Premier Property Management, San Diego, CA For property management companies, the month of January signals a time to prepare and issue year end statements to their clients for tax preparation purposes. Consequently, each January the IRS requires that any taxpayers who have made payments in excess of $600 to workers that are not considered employees must prepare Form 1099 – Miscellaneous Income. Property management companies are also federally required to file Form 1099 for their clients regarding rental income received throughout the year. In addition, copies of this completed form must be provided to the IRS. The IRS compares the payments shown on the information returns with each recipient’s income tax return to determine whether the payments were reported as income and done so properly.   The filing deadline for Form 1099 is January 31, 2012. The IRS also requires that you file a Form 1096 to identify all of the Form 1099s. The filing deadline for Form 1096 is February 28, 2012.   Failure to issue a Form 1099 and file Form 1096 results in penalties and potential disallowances of deductions for those amounts paid. Thus it is imperative to comply with these filing requirements. In years past, SDP Management would spend a lot of time and resources preparing large bulky paper laden year end packages to meet these requirements. The packages, which contained printed year end statements and other tax required documents, would detail the properties prior year performance and provide necessary documentation for......
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The Price of Engagement

And I'm not talking the married kind of engagement. (although that can be pretty pricey too)

I'm talking the price of engagement in regards to social media. I was not a bandwagon social media user. I wanted to understand how to engage and converse with our residents and potential residents before I jumped on the social media train. I also wanted to understand how to measure engagement and then translate that to value for our clients. 

For me, the  issue with social media is not the time it takes to post, blog or tweet, the issue is engagement. Are you maximizing on opportunities of engagement? Are you talking at your residents and prospects are talking with them? Having thousands of fans or followers are great but what are you doing with them?

What gives you the best engagement bang for you buck? I have included my top three.


Posting and tweeting are a marathon, not a race. If you clog up their news feed, they are sure to unfollow or unsubscribe. Studies show a post every 3-4 hours is the sweet spot.


Are you looking at your insights page? Your insights page has a wealth of information and demographics. Use that to your advantage when posting. 


Look at your most successful post (in terms of likes, comments, impressions, re-tweets, etc) and figure out your feedback score. For the posts with the highest feedback percentage, do you see a pattern of posts people engage with most... sports, fashion, decorating ideas? 

I benchmark everything. As a Director of Marketing, making sure my marketing team's time is well spent requires just that, benchmarking everything. Have we figured out the secret formula to social media, engagement and ROI.. not yet but I'm working on it. :-)

Happy posting!


Sparkle Hammond, M.Ed.  First Communities | Director of Marketing
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
www.century-apartments.com | www.facebook.com/centuryapartmenthomes

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The Evolution of Search, plus Your World

Last week Google announced on their blog that they would be transforming their search experience into something rich with people and personal content.  Google claims search is limited to public webpages that are created by people you’ve never met.  At the heart of this new ‘search,’ Google is looking to bring your social world closer to you than ever before:

“Search is pretty amazing at finding that one needle in a haystack of billions of webpages, images, videos, news and much more. But clearly, that isn’t enough. You should also be able to find your own stuff on the web, the people you know and things they’ve shared with you, as well as the people you don’t know but might want to… all from one search box.” – Amit Singhal, Google Fellow

Google will be bringing this content directly to your browser by personalizing your search results page in three very specific ways:

  1. Personal Results: Find information meant only for your eyes, such as Google+ photos and posts – both your own and those shared specifically with you – on your results page.  
  2. Profiles in Search: Immediately find people you’re close to or might be interested in following in both autocomplete in the search bar and the results.  
  3. People and Pages: Find peoples’ profiles and Google+ pages related to a specific topic or area of interest and follow them with just a few clicks.  

What is Google telling me?

Google will continue to show all of the natural results and ads you would normally see on a results page, but now you will also see websites that your social circles have shared as well.  Just like Google did when they rolled out Universal Search, they are now pushing content from Google+ into the search results along with Google News, Images, Maps and Video.  You will no longer need to leave Google search to find information your friends or family have shared.

[video:http://http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Z9TTBxarbs 433x300]

What kind of impact will this have?

It is no secret the tiny component tying this new search experience together is Google+.  If you ever questioned whether a Google+ account was needed, you may find it more vital than ever, especially if you are a search marketer.  Think of this new search environment as search results sprinkled with Google+ suggestions.  This format of search is not new, but rather an update to the current Universal Search in which all Google products are being represented on one page.

As with any Google update to search (remember the Instant Search craze?), this new approach has caused quite a stir in the search marketing community as Google critics and enthusiasts alike are alarmed with the direction Google is taking.  Danny Sullivan, one of the most respected people in SEO, has written several great articles on this subject.  You can read about his concerns with this new search format on his post Search Engines Should Be Like Santa From Miracle On 34th Street.

What Can I do?

For starters, create or update your Google+ profile. You should also spend some time to build a strategy around the messaging you want to deliver via Google+.  The idea is to be engaging, so people can share your content, which gives it the most reach.  In a world where search is now personalized by what friends +1 or re-share to their circles, engagement levels should become a top priority.

I’d love to hear your take on this updated search.  Do you like this new direction Google is taking?  Feel free to leave a comment or take the conversation to Twitter (@AmadoCan).

Happy searching!

Note: This was originally posted on the Apartments.com Blog - http://www.apartments.com/blog/uncategorized/googles-latest-search-plus-your-world/

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Team Building III (the final chapter); The Apartment Developer's Dilemma

In this, the third and final installment of the Team Building series, we are going to hone in on the key skills to identify and quantify when hiring a young developer. As we recall, in the first chapter we discussed the three key indicators of success; The Get-It Factor, Communication Skills and a History of Success. In the second chapter, we introduced our ‘toolbox’ and explored the difference between hard-skills and soft-skills (i.e. the tools). As we previously mentioned, between hard and soft tools, the soft ones are more critical because they are more difficult to develop. This fact doesn’t make them more important in the long run- but a young developer with a strong soft-skills base will generally be much easier to train successfully than one who relies heavily on the hard ones. The irony is that our profession most heavily respects hard-skills.   So what are the key soft-tools to hone for a developer’s toolbox?   Clearly we all possess multiple soft-skills with varying degrees of proficiency. Within the limits of an interview process, it is impossible to identify them all. That is why there are a few which are both critical and identifiable. The top three of these are:   Comportment. The way that an individual behaves and carries them self is indicative of a number of other key qualities. Do they speak clearly and concisely?  Do they maintain eye contact? Are they well groomed? Does their appearance indicate an attention to detail? Are they deferential, or aggressive,......
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Hire Me: Getting Hired for that NEXT LEVEL Position!

As an approachable leader and champion for both multifamily and my company, I’m asked almost daily how to get to the next level. They’ve taken classes, have a degree, a designation or two and yet their career with their current company is at a standstill. Professionals want to grow, to make more money, to be challenged, to feel like they’re making a contribution, to make their mark… but they’re often unsure about how to find a new position. You might be thinking this is a no-brainer; you’ll just head to an internet job board, type in the type of position you want, and search through the hundreds or thousands of results. Maybe you’ll apply to all of them, I mean… the more you apply to the better your chances, right? To quote one of my favorite plays, Death of a Salesman, “It’s who you know, and the smile on your face! It’s contacts, Ben, contacts!” Sure, applying to any and every position that even slightly resembles what you’re hoping to do, does seem to make sense, statistically. But, you’re going to burn through a lot of energy sending dozens of resumes and cover letters, why not put your time to a little better use and start networking, instead? NETWORK The multifamily housing industry affords us so many places to connect with likeminded professionals. From peers to potential supervisors, interacting has never been easier. Have great ideas? Share them… people will take notice.  Super smart firecracker? Let your personality & knowledge ......
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Is All Social Media Engagement Created Equally?

It’s the question every property manager and industry partner wants to figure out: just how much does social media help build our brands, improve services, save money, and create new revenue? I think it’s especially difficult to calculate social media’s rewards because they flow into many different buckets. I’m not implying this means we should shirk the responsibility of measuring ROI—but remember that there are benefits beyond leads, like branding, customer service, and SEO lift to marketing pages with proper social media integration. It can take a long time to see that social media is generating leads, leases and sales, so we naturally try to justify our investment with other data, including increased page views, inbound traffic generation, SEO, and engagement. Some consider engagement to be the key to social media success. But does all engagement lead to equal return? Believe it or not, donuts made me question this. Our strongest post in terms of engagement (measured by likes and comments) was the  question, “What is your favorite donut?,” which we asked on National Donut Day. Now, our CFO loves donuts, so the question reflects our corporate personality—but does it make anyone more likely to buy our products? On the other hand, I’ve crafted many long blog posts that get plenty of page views, but almost no comments or mentions. Judging by comments alone, I’m wasting my time. But my clients and peers let me know they do read them, so the benefit is there, even if I can’t quantify the......
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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year; The Apartment Developer's Dilemma

Let me begin by wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah. For those of you who regularly read my scribbles, you are used to some pretty meaty topics. In light of the Holidays, this one will be a bit frothier. In each blog that I write there are certain themes which remain pretty consistent. One of my favorites is that real estate development is about the coolest industry on the planet. After all, our job is to make the world a better, more usable, more beautiful place.   Often my intended audience is the real estate developer (my hope is of course that there is some part of my subject matter which translates to my non-developer audience- or at least helps you better understand those temperamental developers who constantly tell you ‘We can’t afford that.’). Today, I would like to remind us all of something that is very easily glossed over as we perform our day-to-day tasks.   No matter what our role in the industry, we have a hand in something very precious. Through our daily work (whether it is building, developing, leasing, managing or maintaining) we have a definite and real effect on people’s lives. We provide the backdrop in which our residents and neighbors work, play, rest, are made safe, fall in and out of love, have babies, spend their final years, argue and make-up, worship and congregate and pursue their individual goals. And while we don’t necessarily know which combination of these that they are ex......
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Team Building (part deux); The Apartment Developer's Dilemma

In the first installment of Team Building, we discussed the three key predictors of a developer’s success; the Get It Factor, Communication Skills and a History of Success. For those of us who are used to trying to isolate more tangible items in an interview, this concept can seem a bit too touchy-feely.  But truth be told, it is the touchy-feely items that are actually critical for success in a strategic role. You have to agree that we cannot attribute the success of Donald Trump, Mack Pogue, Trammel Crow, Jorge Perez, Robert Tishman, etc. to their abilities at running excel spreadsheets. Equally clear is the fact that the ability to generate pivot tables has had virtually no effect on your career’s trajectory either. So then why is it that we use this as an entry requirement into our profession? Sadly, the most obvious answer is also the most truthful- we do it because we are lazy. If we, as the leaders of our organizations, would simply accept the notion that the role of developer was ALWAYS a strategic role, then it would be inconceivable for us to rely on tactical skills in the hiring process. We must begin to respect and understand the entirety of the candidates’ potential, if we want to choose folks who can grow into developers that we want to have on our teams. Each of us has a couple of components that make up our potential (I call this potential our ‘toolbox’). The toolbox is comprised of......
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Team Building; The Apartment Developer's Dilemma

One of the great challenges in development team building comes down to composition. We ask ourselves; What are my immediate and long-term needs? What skills are important in my new hire? How do I find and choose the best candidate for my organization? The reason that these questions are more daunting in development than other careers is because of the vastly diverse set of skills that must be present in order to create a ‘successful’ developer. It’s not like hiring an accountant. At first blush, we might say that hiring for a new team is very different than hiring for an existing one. The reason being that with a new team, we know that need a comprehensive skill-set (an A to Z guy), whereas with an already operating team, we might feel that we can simply hire to address our immediate need- what I call a ‘fill the hole’ mentality. For those of you familiar with my blog and the School for Development concept, you already know that this is the exact wrong solution. We cannot continue to make tactical hiring decisions for development roles because a developer is always a strategic position. When we don’t approach our strategic positions strategically, we increase our turn-over and consequently add chaos to our organizations.  So what should we look for when evaluating a candidate? In my experience, there are three primary qualities that are essential predictors of success for anyone who embarks on the developer’s path. And I choose these three because being......
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