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Five Ways to Boost the Morale of Apartment Community Teams

Working on an apartment leasing and management team is not for the faint of heart. Addressing the sometimes numerous concerns of sometimes upset residents can take its toll, as can the never-ending push to market a community and bring in new residents and retain existing residents. Keeping a community team’s morale high must be a priority for apartment owner/operators. Fortunately, there are many simple ways companies can do so without busting their budgets. Below are five suggestions: Be transparentWhen it comes to employee morale, transparency is critical in two ways. First, you should be clear from the start of an associate's employment about the opportunities for advancement within the company and what the employee needs to do to earn those promotions. Knowing that they have the chance to grow and truly build a career at your company can have a beneficial impact on how associates – especially those who are millennials – feel about their jobs. Secondly, to the extent that you can, inform community staffs about what is going on in the company and how it may – or may not – impact their jobs. When employees feel they are being kept in the dark about something, their anxiety can spike and their morale dip.  Give back Team members also can experience a morale boost when given the chance to give back to the community. At ROSS's annual employee recognition event earlier this year, in lieu of the usual gifts, we gave each associate a $10 token to donate to one of three ......
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Does Facebook Still Work? A Case Study For Apartment Communities

Facebook success is getting more and more challenging, at least without the help of 3rd party add-ons.  Although I am sure success stories still abound, Facebook Pages are becoming less valuable for many people, as Facebook reduces organic reach in favor of paid advertising.  That may not affect communities that have a budget, but I am guessing that most communities do not have a budget line item for Facebook advertising.  And frankly, I think that Facebook has created a massive amount of negative feelings in the way they transitioned this space.  That said, I did stumble upon an incredibly active group on Facebook that could be seen as a stand-out success story.  It is not an apartment community, but there are enough similarities to make this a worthwhile examination. (WARNING:  The case study below features a group that does not have a filter, which means it can, and does, have content that could be considered inappropriate.  Please only view the group if you are not easily offended.) The group is "Reddit Phoenix", which is basically a group of people who frequent the site, Reddit.com, and are from Phoenix.  This group was not created by Reddit, but rather individuals who wanted to talk with others in the same area.  That sounds a bit odd, at first, as Reddit has its own community interaction elements, but apparently they thought that Facebook groups provided a better experience in some way.  And it looks like they were right.  Before we dig into what is happening......
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Julia F
Great post... I think the idea of 'groups' rather than 'pages' is a good one, but we need to tread carefully. Comments should be ... Read More
Thursday, 04 December 2014 10:12
Brent Williams
It definitely is a hard decision. On the one hand, I've seen online communities that moderate too much go stone cold, so it defea... Read More
Thursday, 04 December 2014 11:56
Guest — Amanda
how do you feel about facebook for prospecting?
Tuesday, 09 December 2014 08:50
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Texting: Everybody’s Doing It.

Texting: Everybody’s Doing It.
Text messaging has revolutionized the way that consumers are communicating and connecting not only with each other, but with brands as well. According to Frost & Sullivan, text message open rates have reached 98%, which means you can’t afford to not utilize this medium for communication. If your community is currently utilizing a text messaging platform, highlighted below are some “out of the box” ideas to apply texting to your current marketing initiatives. And if your community isn’t, perhaps these additional resident engagement ideas will help to highlight the additional benefits of two-way communication with your residents in the way they prefer.   Resident Engagement: Newsletter sign-ups. If your community sends out a newsletter, utilizing a texting platform allows users to text in to sign up or opt-in. This approach is also great because traditional print pieces, such as flyers, can be used to promote subscription, making it easier for people to sign up from their phones right there on the spot. Request work orders. Allow residents to request work orders via text instead of calling them in or stopping by the office. Calling in a work order can be more time consuming than it needs to be, especially if the office is busy. Having the ability to shoot a quick text to the community with a request would be convenient for both parties. The property receives the feedback through email, making it simple to catalogue and respond to. Coupon distribution/specials. Create membership levels within your community where people get specials or announcements via text. C......
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Should Every Apartment Community Be Active In Social Media?

The last session of the Apartment Internet Marketing Conference dug into a few of the great debates in the multifamily industry, such as whether apartment communities should be active in social media.  Mark Juleen and Bill Szczytko both did a great job at entertainingly sharing both sides of the coin, and now I'd like to chime in on the debate. First of all, I don't think social media should be a yes or no question.  Turning away from all social media, including reputation management, is a bad idea.  So even if we decide a community shouldn't be full throttle into a social media program, they still need to be doing some things, whether they want to or not.  Second, there are clearly great examples of companies doing wonderful things in social media, so it is definitely not a horrible solution.  But I think the more appropriate question is whether being extremely active in social media is appropriate for all apartment communities, or even the majority of them. If we look across the industry right now, you will see a virtual graveyard of communities who tried social media and it didn't pan out.  Some might argue that they simply didn't do social media correctly, but I believe that there are aspects to the medium that directly contradict common operations of apartment communities.  Here are a few big hurdles: 1)      Our on-site team is trained and skilled at running an apartment community, not being a content creator/curator. 2)      Social media is not as......
Recent Comments
Mindy Sharp
#3 and #5 - yes! I am not qualified exactly to add much to the conversation so I will bow out, but I enjoy reading and learning mo... Read More
Monday, 12 May 2014 18:55
Jackie Koehler
Brent,Its definitely a good discussion. I think "Social Media" is now just an extension of your marketing/PR and customer service ... Read More
Tuesday, 13 May 2014 09:54
Brent Williams
I agree completely, Jackie! Like I said, I don't suggest companies ignore all of social media, but there is a very big range of w... Read More
Tuesday, 13 May 2014 10:29
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Understanding & Building Your Brand in Five Easy Steps

Businesses don't need in-house marketing staff or an outsourced agency to start a successful foundation for their brand. I've heard dozens of reasons explaining away a lack of marketing efforts, but in this day and age where every possible resource you could dream of is available online at little to no cost, those excuses just don't cover it anymore. In order to take your brand to the next level, however, you first need to understand what exactly your brand is. It is important to note that your brand is not just your logo; in fact, your brand is so much more than that. People tend to assume that your brand is made up of all the material items that display 'your colors' (employee uniforms, website, business cards, office building, etc.), when in reality these are are only marginally related to your brand; rather, they are more of an outcome of your brand than your brand itself. Seth Godin, published author and game-changer in the world of marketing and consumer psychology, gives a perfect definition that every business owner can understand.  A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.- Seth Godin, Best-Selling Author With that definition in mind we see that our brand is, first and foremost, an experience, and we as business owners and entrepreneurs are given the grand task of figuring out what that should be and how it should be executed. Once w......
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Quantifying The Always Elusive “Sense of Community”

Instinctively, most of us see the value in a strong “sense of community” at our apartment communities.  It just seems reasonable that if you had to choose between a community where you were surrounded by strangers or one where you had actual friends living close by, you would probably choose the one where you had connections.  But before now, the concept was often too ambiguous to make a firm plan of attack for, beyond simply throwing money at parties and events at the community.  This made placing a priority on a sense of community very difficult for those that were more analytical minded, who wanted statistics to drive operations.  My recent trip to the NMHC OpTech conference made me realize, however, that this soon may no longer be the case. I attended a session on prioritizing lead channels, and Virginia Love mentioned how they were not just assessing leads upon move-in, but they were assessing leads upon renewal, as well.  What was particularly relevant to the discussion of a sense of community was that Waterton Residential uses RentMineOnline, which is a tool that leverages social media to drive resident referrals to their friends, family, and network.  In other words, this would mean that if someone moved in, they would already have at least one friend or connection right from the very start.  And by analyzing their renewal numbers relative to other lead sources, they should be able to quantify the “value” of that friendship in the renewal process!  Obviously, one would need to......
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The Problem With Better: A How-To Guide For Disrupting The Property Management Software Industry

The Problem With Better: A How-To Guide For Disrupting The Property Management Software Industry
  The June announcement of Property Solutions’ new management software offers interesting possibilities for disruption. Entrata, currently still in BETA, is a one-stop-shop for operators and boasts a single platform development. Features include resident screening, portal, and CRM. Just to name a few. What seems to set the software apart is its open API, which would, in theory, allow owners and operators to customize the code to their specific needs. Entrata sounds even better when you hear the price for its "core suite" - Free. While it is still unclear what, exactly, comes with the free edition, Entrata is sure to ruffle some feathers with its new pricing model. The decision to move towards an open source, freemium model make Entrata a prime candidate for a disruptive technology. It's clear Property Solutions intends to steal away market share by simply providing a better service with better pricing. When you consider the current state of property management software, you can't help but root for Entrata to knock out the established firms. Unfortunately, "better" doesn't always convince the masses. And it certainly doesn't last. Why Better Won’t Work The problem with better is it can always be made better. Theres nothing special about better. Software teams ship better all the time - better reports, better apps, better code. Better gives no real advantage to the little guy. Better is how the established firms compete and, in all likelihood, they can ship better a lot better than an entrant firm could hope to. Different, however, is, well, different. The rules for......
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Renting to Mary Jane

I want begin this post with the observation that there is absolutely no connection between the facts that (1) I have not posted here at MFI for a while and (2) this post is about marijuana. Sometimes I just can’t think of something that is truly relevant for you to read, but then my muse does her thing (and this time my muse is DJ Ryan with the law firm of Kimball, Tirey & St. John, LLC). Speaking of relevancy, this post is for the California folks only… Medical marijuana has been legal in California for many years and if you have communities that you own or manage there, you do need to have a policy about its use on your property by residents. (BTW – I have been told that a California case precludes employees from using medical marijuana on the job.) Many California communities are smoke-free now, as result of landlord preference or local laws. Smoking is smoking – cigarettes, pipes, cigars, hookahs, roaches. You can forbid it all, but if because of a disability someone asks to be allowed as a reasonable accommodation to smoke their medical marijuana, you will need to consider that request. It is likely that unless such use becomes a nuisance (in the legal and lease sense, and be careful here in coming to that conclusion), or if it conflicts with someone else’s disability, you will need to allow this to happen. This is a complicated topic – does the smoking of marijuana leave residue beh......
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William Rhoten
Hello Nadeen, With two states making recreational marijuana legal your post may have implications beyond California. The biggest ... Read More
Friday, 07 December 2012 10:37
Green Nadeen
And hello back, Mr. Rhoten. I do believe it is perfectly OK for a landlord to "just say no" to allowing the recreational use of m... Read More
Friday, 07 December 2012 10:53
Green Nadeen
An update to the information and comments above. If you are interested in more resources for this issue, you may wish to take a g... Read More
Friday, 07 December 2012 15:07
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Apartment Industry and the Social Media Dust Bowl

  Driving to work this morning the dust bowl analogy popped into my head as I reflected on the last few years in this industry.  We all felt it in one way or another.  The question remains though is that has the dust settled for us and can we see our path or process clear enough to move forward? Social media hit us just like the dust bowl.  It kind of came out of nowhere and many of us were very unprepared.  We could not tell night from day.  It made many of our business decisions very hazy and confusing.  There was so much discussion (dust) flying all over the place that it left us searching for anyone or anything that would provide a solution and a process to get through the storm and to focus on our business in general. I do believe the dust is settling.  There are far less Twitter debates.  The blog article versus blog article approach has petered out.  I have not had an apartment community “friend” me in quite some time.  There are far less opinions and a lot more action from my perspective.  It appears that the apartment industry has a solid footing and really understands that we have just been provided tools that are there to facilitate what we all want….a solid business model. So that brings us to the next question.  What’s next?  I was reading an old prediction post I wrote from back in 2010 and it gave me some great perspec......
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Licenses and Furthering Education

As a professional in the multifamily industry, I want to take my career to the highest possible level. I am getting in gear to begin a graduate program, working on becoming a licensed Real Estate salesperson, and doing as much as I can to learn and stay active. My position right now is not directly in line with property management (but closely tied), however I have worked as a leasing manager, assistant property manager, and property manager in the last 3 years.

My question to those experienced professionals out there: What source of education, certifications, and licenses do you believe to be most helpful in the world of multifamily management? How do you decide what educational institutions/programs to pursue? Any suggestions for a young professional looking to grow and become a leader in the industry?

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Amy Abdallah, MS HRD
Nikki - Great questions! A couple of answers or at least suggestions that I would like to lend to you. First - Are you getting a m... Read More
Wednesday, 23 January 2013 13:52
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