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Are You on Autopilot?

Today, I purchased my lunch at Noodles , one of my favorite fast-but-good food restaurants. And I love how the one by my house is so 'green'. I get  preferred parking, right by the front door, because I drive a hybrid vehicle. And when I pay, they always ask me if I need a receipt. If I don't want one, they don't print one. I know it's small, but I like that they ask me. Today, as my order was 'to go', my server asked if I needed plastic silverware and a napkin. I didn't and I made a very specific point to tell them how much I appreciated them asking me. I abhor waste of any kind, and oftentimes,  take out orders get a lot of 'extras' that really aren't needed.  Shortly afterwards, my name was called, I gathered my bag and left. Upon my arrival at home, I was dismayed to find  - you guessed it - silverware and a napkin in my bag. I checked the instructions written on the bag label and it was clearly marked "Silverware - Yes".   It got me thinking. The server was obviously used to adding silverware to almost every takeout order. And while she asked me if I wanted any , she never really listened to my answer. She was on remote control - my answer was irrelevant. She was going to proceed as she had dozens of time before. How many of us are on autopilot? There are literally hundreds of......
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Resident Retention Tips

October 1st is one of the biggest moving days of the year and it’s right around the corner!  Having a solid resident retention plan is a great way to avoid the costs associated with big moving days.  Resident turnover can cost thousands of dollars once you factor in advertising, screening, leasing office time, maintenance, cleaning and everything else associated with finding the perfect new resident.  Here are a couple ideas for keeping your residents happy and living in your community.   Encourage residents to put down roots   Whether renting or buying, people want to feel at home in their neighborhood.  Help your residents build connections in the community and invite local shops to chip in.  Try negotiating a discounted rate at the neighborhood gym or with a dog-walking company for everyone in your apartment community.  Publish an annual neighborhood guide for your residents and have the popular coffee shop, book store, nail salon, dry cleaner and restaurants provide coupons, as well as fun tips for living in the community.  Giving back is a great way to build strong ties to a neighborhood, so try organizing a community service project for your residents.  Participants from your apartment community can get to know each other by cleaning up a local park or collecting canned goods from neighbors for a food bank.  Making friends and building relationships in their community is a great reason for your residents to stay.   Provide a resource   Fulfilling your residents’ needs is a great way to......
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Fourth Annual Top 10 Best Cities for Recent College Graduates List

Today, I’m excited to announce the release of our annual Top 10 Best Cities for Recent College Grads list with Hartford-New Haven claiming the #1 spot!    Faced with a sluggish economy, many college graduates who collected their diplomas in the spring are still looking for jobs and a place to live as summer comes to a close.  As competition for jobs soars, along with the cost of rent, there is hope for many of these newly minted graduates who know which cities afford them the best opportunity to jump-start their professional lives.  To help give these post grads a leg up, Apartments.com and CareerRookie.com—the collegiate job website from CareerBuilder.com—have revealed their 4th annual best cities list to paint a realistic landscape of the current job market and cost of living in the most popular cities for young adults.   The Top 10 Best Cities for Recent College Graduates list was based on the ranking of top U.S. cities with the highest concentration of young adults, inventory of jobs requiring less than one year of experience along with the average cost of rent for a one-bedroom apartment.    Read the press release now.   The Apartments.com and CareerRookie.com 4th Annual Top 10 Best Cities for New Grads list. Top 10 Best Cities for Recent College Graduates Average Rent for a One Bedroom Apartment 1.     Hartford-New Haven $1,047 2.     Cleveland $695 3.     Boston $1,625 4.     Denver $994 5.     Minneapolis $941 6.     San Francisco $1,560 7.     Washington D.C. $1,679 8.     Philadelphia $1,068 9.    ......
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Ask the Expert: Five Tips for Marketing Your Apartment Community to Students

It’s that time again.  Back to school!  If you have an apartment community near a college campus, then you are gearing up for the busiest time of year.  As soon as you get all of your 2011-2012 residents moved in, you have to start thinking about getting leases signed for next year.  I had the opportunity to chat with Kim Cory, Sales and Marketing Director for University Village, about marketing to students.  She offered five tips for reaching your key audience and having a positive presence on campus.   1.       You need to have school spirit On college campuses, a lot of prime recruiting opportunities for you revolve around university events.  Decide what the most popular sports team is and host tailgate parties before home games at your apartment community.  If the school allows it, set up a tent in the tailgate lot and hand out food and fun collateral to students.  Make sure to invite your current residents, their friends, parents and university staff to stop by.  Better yet, partner up with the university or student groups for a joint tailgate.  More exposure = More fun!   2.       Encourage your residents to bring friends When you host an event, encourage your residents to bring their friends.  These are your potential renters!  Don't be afraid to advertise your resident events on campus and in the school newspaper.  This is the fastest way, bedsides Facebook, to spread the word.  More students will want to come knowing their friends are welcome.   3.      ......
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An inconvenient truth about consumer reviews

I know consumer reviews are scary.  Trust me.  Having worked in public relations my whole life, user-generated content that can disparage a brand I’ve been working years to uphold, has kept me tossing and turning more than one night.  Something you used to have control over is not totally in your hands anymore: your public image (e.g. branding, advertising, marketing collateral, and even to some degree, the press being generated about your company).  Sure, people could complain about your property, but that was typically somewhat contained.  Today, anyone can publicize their praise or contempt for your brand by going online.  What’s worse than consumers finding it?  Consumers looking for it, especially renters.  In fact, 58% of renters, who are also active on social media, told us at Apartments.com they search for additional apartment information and recommendations online when looking for a new place to live.   My name is Tammy Kotula, and I’m addicted to review websites I have to admit that over the past two years, I’ve also become obsessed with reading reviews.  Whether it’s choosing a new restaurant to go to in Wicker Park, booking a hotel or purchasing a book on Amazon, I find myself consulting consumer reviews with nearly every purchase I make.  (Check out Chris Brown’s post on the zero moment of truth). In turn, I’ve also become less bashful about interacting with brands I LIKE on social media and leaving negative reviews for the places where I have received subpar service.  Let me just add......
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8 Tips for New Landlords

Transfer PoliciesA guest post by Brian Davis, Ezlandlordforms.com, Moorestown, NJ Building a strong relationship with a new tenant and protecting your real estate investment is of paramount importance when crafting a lease agreement.  There are a multitude of considerations at this juncture that are essential to understand.  Brian Davis, Vice President of EzlandlordForms.com, is a seasoned landlord and top expert on landlord-tenant relationships.  Here he offers his top tips for new landlords as a helpful tool for navigating lease creation and the ongoing considerations of managing a rental property. 1. Understand the Fair Housing Act and how it applies to your rental.  When advertising for a new tenant, it is critical that landlords and property managers understand and comply with the Fair Housing Act. The Fair Housing Act prohibits landlords from using any of the following criteria when evaluating potential tenants: race, color, national heritage, religion, gender, disability, and familial status. While that may sound simple on the surface, consider that stating in a rental listing “perfect for a single professional” is a violation of the Act (bias against familial status). Advertising only in your church’s newsletter discriminates by religion. What landlords can and should use to evaluate potential tenants is financial data, credit histories, and other background data. 2. Know your tenant by thoroughly screening each prospective renter to avoid problems down the road.  This can be accomplished by a few simple steps.  First, conduct a professional credit check to learn an applicant’s credit history and if they have been fiscally responsible in t......
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Testing Email Subject Lines

I recently started a video series for Apartments.com called Got a Minute?  In these videos experts from Apartments.com answer questions and tackle topics in about a minute.  This month our Marketing Manager and Online Marketing Specialist discuss the importance of testing email subject lines and provide four tips to do so.  If you have any questions, make sure to comment below.
[video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T4MM16mWfgA 433x300]

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Establishing Transfer Policies for Multi-unit Properties

By Ben Holubecki, STML Realty Group, Glen Ellyn, IL Transfer policies are often a detail overlooked by landlords and property owners who own/manage multi-unit properties. A tenant requesting a move from one unit to another presents challenges and can add unnecessary and unexpected costs for property owners. Ignoring these requests or not addressing them properly can open landlords up to potential resentment from tenants and even legal liabilities if not properly documented. There are a lot of reasons why a tenant might request a transfer to another unit within the same property and there are positive and negative impacts resulting from this type of request. The most common reasons for these requests in my experience are: - Problems or issues with current neighbors - Maintenance issues within their current unit which they feel were not or will not be addressed - Lack of upgrades due to extended tenancy (newly remodeled units are obviously more desirable) - Preference regarding location within the property (different floor, closer to parking, amenities) - Moving from 1 unit type to another such as moving from a 1 bedroom apartment to a 2 bedroom Regardless of the tenant’s reason for the transfer request, there are both positive and negatives that you should consider. The positive: - Your tenant obviously likes the property enough to want to stay - You have a history with this tenant so you know what to expect regarding care for the property and rental payments. No surprises. That is always a positive. ......
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How do you deal with racism when it is you being attacked by the resident?

This is going to be a touchy subject for many, but one that I realize we do not talk about enough in our industry. Today I experienced for the first time in this industry, racism towards me in front of a room full of people. I did not know how to handle it and it took all the strength I had to not cry or go off on the resident. No one ever trained me to know what to do when a resident is racist towards you!  I was trained on what to do when a co-worker or a vendor is rude or racist. What was even more embarrassing was the fact that I was the only one of my race in the room and the others were either speechless or giggling about what was being said. So what do we do when this happens to us? Do we ignore it or address the issue right away? Would it even matter to the resident? I chose to calmly ask the resident to please leave my office.  I was told that I was denying them their right of freedom of speech. They did have the right of freedom of speech but not in front potential residents. This only added fuel to the fire and after several minutes of telling them to leave, they finally did. I turn around to see the astonished looks on my leasing specialist’s and the applicant faces.  I noticed that two prospects were giggling about the whole thing.......
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Five Tips for Remembering People’s Names

A fairly popular playwright once asked What’s in a name?  Well, I’m going to argue a lot!  Our names are very important to us, so your potential renters’ and current residents’ names should be even more important to you.  Here are five unforgettable tips to help you remember the name of everyone who walks into your leasing office:   1.       Focus – It may seem obvious, but when a person introduces themselves really focus and listen to what they are saying.  If this is what goes on in your mind when you meet someone, then you are not focusing: I have to grab a guest card.  Where did I put my pen?  Should I get a sandwich or Mexican food for lunch?  I like her shoes.  Don’t forget to tell her about our special this month.  Oh shoot, what was her name?!  Clear your mind, pay attention, look the person in the eye and focus on what they are saying to you. 2.       Repeat – Ok, so Pete and Repeat were on a boat.  You know how this one turns out.  Repeat, repeat, repeat!  After someone introduces themselves, repeat their name back to them.  “Hi, I’m Jim”, “Hi Jim, it’s so nice to meet you”!  Then try to use their name two more times during your conversation. 3.       Write it down – This tip is courtesy of every waitress I have ever had who thought they had such an incredible memory they did not have to write down my order.  If......
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