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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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The True Value of a Property Management Company

Rental agreement and a houseA guest post by Andrew Payne, Louisville Property Management, Louisville, KY Before doing business with a property management service, a property owner must feel that the company’s 8-10% management fee is valid and deserved. When you take a call from a prospective client, you must sell yourself based on what you truly offer. This article covers some key areas to explain when discussing your company’s role in the business. Responsive service. If a manager doesn’t handle all incoming rental leads quickly, you can believe that they’ll move on to the next listing. In a market where the competition for renters is stiff, you need to jump on every opportunity. Also, responding quickly to maintenance or payment issues is of utmost importance. Ability to deal with all types of tenants. Being a landlord sometimes requires less-than comfortable interactions with tenants. Your role is to serve as their liason in all dealings no matter what. At the same time, understanding and compassion is a key trait. Your company must react to each situation in a way that best reflects the interests of the property owner. Experience in marketing and applicant screening (judging the good from the bad). One bad tenant can turn a profitable venture into a money pit. Owners benefit from an established procedure that a property manager uses. Appropriate market analysis, tenant screening, and statement accounting will ensure that the property is well-managed. In most states, a property manager must be a licensed real estate agent, which means we understand the laws and duti......
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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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Budgeting for a Social Strategy

I was chatting with Mike Whaling yesterday, and we both agreed there are definitely some quick wins out there to help optimize your brand, stores, properties, etc. online.  It can be time consuming, but claiming your business's pages on Google, Bing, Yelp!, etc. can be quick ways to get some SEO juice for your websites and help promote your business on those additional channels.  Where I struggle from there is with a content strategy ongoing. Here’s the honest truth, you can’t half-ass it anymore.  Search as we know it today is changing, and if you aren’t trying to be part of or help create conversation then I will predict that drive-by may become your best lead source.  OK, that could be extreme, but the algorithm is changing from a keywords model and more value is being put on conversation and connections with real people to a brand.  Criticize Google+ all you want, but even if that doesn’t do exactly what they hoped it most definitely highlights how Google is giving more credit to social connections. If this really is the case then I believe it’s time to revisit your marketing spend.  Mike and I created an Apartment Marketing Checklist a couple months ago for people to really think about.  It highlights much more than Craigslist and ILSs when it comes to your marketing, and I hope it begins to help you think about the next steps in growing your online presence.  There are plenty of opportunities and strategies to consider, but what I will tell you is ......
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Focus on Profitability over Volume Lends to Successful Property Management

CalculatorBy Ben Holubecki, STML Realty Group, Glen Ellyn, IL One of the most important and difficult things to do as a professional property manager is to honestly assess your strengths and weaknesses and build your business around the part of the business that you do best. For those outside of the industry, a property manager is a property manager, and few people can or care to make any distinction between an HOA, multi-family, or single family manager. There are also few who make any distinction between competent professionals and slum lords. It is not surprising that the general public can’t grasp these differences. What is surprising is that many of us as property managers and landlords can’t even make this distinction within our own companies and portfolios. I’m not pointing fingers here, as my company was as guilty as any other only a couple of years ago. Our management portfolio consisted of hundreds of single family units, multi-family buildings ranging from the worst of areas to the best, multiple commercial properties, as well as some associations. We had spent years building up our volume of managed properties without any regard for the type, quality, or location of the properties that we were taking on. We were happy that our unit count was growing steadily, but no matter how many units we added, it seemed that we were not making any additional profits month over month. It was frustrating, to say the least, so we made an effort to find out what the is......
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Always Good Decisions To Be Made; The Apartment Developer's Dilemma

Not long ago, I toured an apartment complex with two friends; one was the architect who designed it and the other, the developer who built and owns it. The exterior was gorgeous and appropriate. The amenities were unique and clever. The units appeared to be attractive and reasonable for the market…that is until we entered the kitchen. This room was comprised of dark hardwood floors, rich wood cabinetry, stainless appliances and a builder-grade white laminate counter (that stuck out like a sore thumb). I winced. I looked to my architect friend- who gave me the ‘this isn’t the time’ slight head shake. We continued the tour.  Later, I took the architect aside and asked ‘What the [email protected]*k was that?’ He explained that there were originally granite counters spec’ed, but that they were lost in the V.E. process. To me, this was yet another example of the bad results of not training our young developers to know the difference between a good and a bad decision. It’s the problem of not teaching them that development happens in the real world- not on a spreadsheet. Which brings me to our theme; ‘Whenever there is a decision, there is always a good decision to be made.’ Now I’m not saying that every decision has an option which is ideal, just that there are always better and worse choices. When, as developers, we accept the opportunity to reshape the world around us, we also take on the responsibility to understand the ramifications of the decisions......
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Repair or Replace?

As much as we talk about the importance of recycling, the United States is the number one trash-producing country in the world.  This means that 5% of the world’s population generates 40% of the world’s waste! With last week being National Recycling Week, I thought it would be fun to show you some ways to conserve waste and save money by repairing, versus replacing, your appliances.  The below infograph, from Part Select, shows the cost to replace some common appliances.  If you click on the buttons, possible symptoms and their fixes are shown.  Have fun playing around with this and maybe next time one of your resident’s dishwasher leaks, you can save some money by repairing it.

 



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Path to Partnership; The Apartment Developer's Dilemma

I have been fortunate to have the occasion to work with a group of promising young folks and get to hear their hopes and expectations. As I listen, I can’t help but think back to my own career path and chuckle at how little changes generationally. Their wants are no different than mine were at their age. Their frustrations that it all happens too slowly are the same. Their fundamental lack of understanding is heartwarming, as are their expectations.  Since early in our careers, those of us who are smart, hard-working and motivated have generally focused on the idea of ownership. We see the entrepreneurs who employ us and want to be similar. They embody a version of our concept of success. When we are young, being a partner means having a seat at the grown-ups table. It’s our opportunity to affect change or enable our visions. It’s the gateway to profit and security. There may even be a little pride in the title of ‘owner’ which we covet- if we’re confident enough to admit it. But because we are smart, hard-working and motivated; we also want things well before we’re ready for them, before we even understand what it is that we think we want. Of course we don’t recognize that we’re not ready; after all we have been told that we are bright and unique snowflakes since we were three years old. So I thought that I might offer some ‘tough love’ advice and words of wisdom to the......
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MISSING: Residents! REWARD: $$, Higher Occupancy, Better Word of Mouth!

Are your residents vanishing from your community at a rate that makes you consider putting up "missing" posters? If so, did you know that their disappearance was probably preventable? Before you contact the milk carton company, let me explain… We do an awful lot of training and spend so much money on advertising our communities to get them in the door…  but once they’re in, it’s like we change our focus to who’s next. To me, that’s utterly absurd and honestly… it’s quite expensive. ·         According to research data provided by Satisfacts, the average cost to “lose” a resident is around $4,000. Now, this can of course vary… but the least I’ve EVER seen is around $2,000… still a pretty good chunk of change and too much, in my opinion (and I'd wager that it's too much for any owner as well). What can we do differently? Well… how about providing the same level of service to current residents as we do to prospective ones? We wouldn’t dream of not following up after someone toured with us (called us, emailed us, etc…) so why are we so bad at following up after the move-in? Doing that allows us to temperature check (something I am very passionate about when I train sales) the now current resident; with regard to the move-in process, condition of the apartment, etc… setting us up, right off the bat, for a successful residency. BUT, it doesn’t stop there… inevitably; there will be a maintenance issue. How ......
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Slow or No Reaction Time… Costs Your Business!

For those of you who’ve met me or taken one of my classes, you know that I say what I mean and I mean what I say. I talk the talk and I walk the walk. I tell it like it is (professionally and with care, of course) but If it has to do with not sugar coating things, I’m your girl (of course, I’m not referring to using “visit us” or “live here” words during leasing… then a little fluff is just fine). But in normal every day dealings onsite and at the corporate office… I don’t see the point in wasting time beating around the bush, because TIME is MONEY! There have been numerous occasions that I am aware of, sadly, that a property manager has not filed an eviction on a resident who hasn’t paid rent by the time it’s due. Despite the action being spelled out, very clearly, in our policy and procedures manual (and common sense if you’ve spent any time in the business). The manager will have a wide range of reasons as to why they won’t… but the last time I heard the excuse, I nearly fell out of my chair (seriously). She said “Well… I needed the occupancy numbers”. WHAT? What good is a high occupancy percentage if you’re not collecting any rent? She didn’t know the answer. Turns out, this person was a habitual late-rent payer and eventually ended up skipping out… owning an absurd amount of money to the community. ......
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