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Does Your Website Pass the Test? How to Evaluate Your Status

Does Your Website Pass the Test? How to Evaluate Your Status
We all know that websites play an important role in any business today. But the majority of us only know we need them, maybe what we want them to look like or say. It’s another thing entirely to understand how to do that properly...in a way that will deliver the results we need.   That’s why you hire experts to do it for you, right? Well, it’s still smart to know the basics so you can pick those website experts even more wisely. And know what to watch out for.   SIDE NOTE: My experience with websites extends back to 1999. I started playing around with search rankings in the early 2000’s and ran an Internet marketing company for a few years (we specialized in building websites and marketing them using SEO, SEM and VSEO). I say all that to say this: I’ve learned some things along the way and I believe in sharing! So here it goes...   Choosing Your Domain Name If you already have a website, you have a URL that looks like www.myurl.com. You can purchase these on Godaddy.com. A quick, easy way to get them cheap is to first search for “cheap domains” and click the Godaddy ad for $0.99/domain.     Whatever you do, don’t let your website provider purchase your domain. They could get bought out, go out of business or, worse, keep your domain if you try to leave them (sadly, a common practice in some industries). It’s not a good choice, and I wouldn’t recomm......
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Vendor Guide – Maximizing A Business Exchange

Vendor Guide – Maximizing A Business Exchange
Business exchanges are becoming more and more popular as association events as a way for vendors to get in front of key property management personnel.  In a lot of ways, a business exchange is a cross between speed dating and a trade show, but rather than the vendor having a booth, the property management companies man their own tables, with suppliers having the opportunity to visit each table and pitch their service.  Oftentimes, the business exchange has time limits, such as 5 minutes for each meeting, which gives it a speed dating feel as vendors move from one property management company to another, trying to woo each one in the process. Since these events are becoming more popular, we visited the Houston Apartment Association’s Business Exchange to discuss vendor strategies with both vendors and property management representatives.  Here are eight tips to maximizing the business exchange from a vendor’s point of view: 1)      Do you have a plan or are you “winging it”?  Do you know exactly what you want to cover, and just as importantly, what goal you want to achieve at the event?  One supplier told us that they attempt to get included in manager meetings after the event, which means they attempt to find out the date and details for that managers meeting.  In a related conversation, we heard that being prepared to offer to sponsor a lunch at the manager’s meeting would definitely give an opportunity to address the group.  Another goal we heard was to identify who the d......
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Property Management Versus Suppliers: The Donation Threat

Are donations really required? Seeking donations from vendors have become the standard for many of us on the property management side. Is it really the answer to our lack of budget for resident retention programs or corporate meetings? Many on-site teams are instructed to request donations from our vendors for resident retention programs and even office supplies! At what point does it become the responsibility of the vendors to fund our retention programs? Vendors are the bread and butter of our industry, without them we could not perform to our fullest ability. They are not meant to subsidize our onsite teams and corporate offices with donations. Yet there is a fear among vendors that if they do not grant a donation request they will lose our business. In a recent survey, 94% of property managers said they would not stop using a supplier if they didn’t donate. However, 81% of vendors feel they would lose business if they do not contribute and 50% stated they actually had lost business when they did not contribute. Although only a small group of property management companies make donation requests mandatory, suppliers feel threatened with loss of business if they do not contribute. In a relationship where both parties should be partners in success, asking for donations can sour that relationship - whether the implication to lost business is real or just feared. What’s in it for the vendors? In the same survey, 76% vendors feel they have been taken advantage of by a property......
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Saying Hello to new renters

One of the more unique aspects of this year’s Future Midwest Conference was Funded by Night.  The basic premise was to have startup companies compete in a business pitch competition for the chance to win an investment of $100,000 from Detroit Venture Partners.  25 companies competed for the prize in Shed 5 of Detroit’s Eastern Market. The ideas ranged from a simplified inventory management system for small restaurants to a high school sports channel run by student journalists.  Winning the competition was a company called Gumshoe that gives a geo-location angle to a mystery game.  Think Clue with a live Foursquare element. While these were all interesting ideas, the one that caught our eye was Hello Rent.  Their idea is pretty simple, give people searching for apartments an easy way to see the services available in the neighborhood they are searching in.  If a property you are interested in is listed, they want to show you where the closest gas station, grocery store and bar is in relation to your potential new home. The guys behind Hello Rent admit they are still in beta, and because they didn’t win the funding they are doing the work on a shoestring budget outside of their normal day jobs. They’ve done a great job despite that handicap.  What makes the site interesting is how easy it is to search.  The interface for a potential renter is very clean and gives information freshly gleaned from Craigslist and Google Maps. For property managers, it points to why w......
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Should I Allow Tenants to Make Unit Upgrades?

Every now and then, a tenant offers to make repairs to the unit he’s living in. Often, such offers are made in exchange for rent (in other words, the cost of the repairs is deducted from the monthly rental rate). In other instances, the tenant simply wants certain upgrades in his unit (a new paint job, removed carpet, etc.) and offers to do them himself. The argument for this is that the tenant can enjoy a place that “feels like home” and you reap the rewards of these upgrades once the tenant vacates the unit. Clearly, there can be benefits to this sort of situation: You receive property upgrades at a reduced (or negated) cost, and your tenant gets to customize the unit to his own preferences. Unfortunately, though, there can also be some pitfalls. All too often in these scenarios, tenants are not qualified to complete these upgrades or updates up to par. The result is unfinished or sub par work that ultimately becomes your responsibility to rectify. Not only this, but such deals can also result in sticky financial situations and—in extreme situations—legal problems. Let’s say that one of your long-time tenants wants to repaint his living room from the standard white all of your units are painted in to a more colorful rustic red. You agree that the color would suit the space well and tell your tenant can deduct the price of paint and labor from his next rent payment. When the first of the next month......
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Why Property Management Is A Great Career Path For You

I started in Property Management thinking it would just be “employment to pay the bills until I found a real job.”  Twenty eight years later, I owned a property management company and then became a consultant, trainer and speaker.   If you look on the Web for a definition of property management, this is what you will find:  The range of functions concerned with looking after buildings, including collection of rents, payment of outgoings, maintenance including repair, provision of services, insurance and supervision of staff employed for services, together with negotiations with residents or prospective residents. The extent of and responsibility for management between landlord and resident depend on terms of the lease(s). The landlord may delegate some or all of these functions to managing agents.  However, it is so much more!   There are many reasons property management might be the right career for you too.  To start, if you are a people person, like sales and customer service, you will use these skills in this industry.  You also have the opportunity of working in an office and outdoors.  No cubicle jungle here!   I started in leasing and found that I really had a knack for helping people.  I was able to draw out of them things that would help me, help them find the right home.  When they rented, moved in and continued their stay, I found it very rewarding.   As a manager I learned that leadership is doing the right thing and management is doing things......
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Renovation vs. Rejuvenation

To generate more rental income, it’s sometimes necessary to put a little work into your property. If a potential renter is comparing your property to a similar, less expensive property, the renter will need to be able to easily identify those aspects (whether it’s aesthetics or features) that make your unit worth more than the competition’s. Depending on where you’re starting from and where you want to go, upgrades may consist of as little as some simple “rejuvenation” projects or, alternatively, some larger-scale renovations. Generally speaking, your bathroom and kitchen are two key areas that play a large role in making or breaking the value of your rental unit as compared to competitors’. All other factors being equal (such as size and location), chances are most renters will select the unit with a nicer looking or more upgraded bathroom or kitchen. Many renters will even be willing to pay a bit more if there is a noticeable difference or greater utility in one or both of these two rooms. In other words, these are the first places you should make improvements if you want to command additional rental income for your property. What does this mean exactly? Let’s take a look. Renovation There’s not really any way around it—complete renovation of a bathroom or kitchen (appliances, lighting, tiling, fixtures, etc.) will cost you a few thousand dollars. However, it will also likely pay off in the form of a higher rent rate. Consider a renter who is looking at your apartment......
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12 Ideas for achieving excellent sales relationships

One of my friends and industry partners here in Phoenix asked me to speak about achieving excellence in sales relationships at one of the monthly vendor meetings.  It seemed that since we had fallen on tough times, many were feeling abandoned by their customers and it seemed no loyalty existed any longer.  I put together 12 reminders not lose sight of during the good times or the bad times. 1)      Good salespeople bring positive energy to a relationship.  We can choose to be energy givers or energy takers. 2)      Trust hinges on the willingness to deliver on promises.  Once trust is lost, relationships cannot survive. 3)      A relationships value depends on the customer’s perception of value, not on the salesperson’s definition of value. 4)      To the customer, the top value drivers are integrity, authenticity and consistency. 5)      Effective relationship builders are willing to listen to better understand customer challenges. They ask questions that lead to consultative conversations, which open doors to greater opportunities. 6)      The salesperson’s courage to resolve the difficult situations customers face enhances relationships. This is the ability to put oneself in harm’s way. 7)      The quality of the relationship with the customer is determined by the quality of the relationship between the sales manager and the salesperson.  Sales managers exemplify a company’s corporate culture. 8)      Relationships are enhanced by the salesperson’s ability to communicate in compelling and creative ways.  One sales leader told me how she uses video email prior to a customer visit and follows up with......
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Create a Unique Tenant Welcome Gift Using Travel Sizes

Example Tenant Welcome KitUsing travel-sized toiletries and cleaning items, one can create a unique tenant welcome gift that can create a lasting impression, especially during those hectic first few days of move in.  To choose what to put in the gift basket of goodies, one must think like a new tenant, whose stuff is still boxed up, but everyday things need to get done from the moment of arrival.  Some helpful tasks and accompanying products to include are: Laundry: Include a single use laundry detergent, bleach, and fabric softener to help get that first emergency laundry load underway Cleaning: Even with a professional cleaning, new tenants may want to clean certain things, or even clean their own stuff as they unpack it and set it up.  Thus, include a travel size cleaning solution, paper towels, and Lysol. Dishes: Cleaning that first round of dishes before being fully unpacked can require certain items, so include a sponge, washcloths, liquid dish soap, and a packet for the dishwasher (if there is one). Bathroom:  You could include the typical toiletries, but odds are, those have been prioritized in the packing and you don’t need to provide for emergency supplies (and, those tend to be more brand-specific to each person’s tastes).  Thus, a hand sanitizer can be helpful, and a travel sized roll of toilet paper for move-in day. Miscellaneous: Tape is always needed when moving, and not just when packing up.  Thus, a travel sized roll of duct tape (which is more versatile than packing tape) can......
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Property Management New Year's Resolutions

New Year's property management resolutionsAs 2010 draws to a close, it’s a good time to reflect on lessons from the past year and apply them to the future. As you prepare to move into 2011, be sure that you know not only what didn’t work in 2010, but also what did. After all, the goal is not to create a cycle of constantly tweaking systems and procedures but, rather, to find methods that work optimally for you and your tenants and stick with them. For an overview of where 2010 leaves you, begin by honestly asking yourself the following two questions: What was the highlight of my property management year? What was the lowlight of my property management year? When you’ve answered both of these questions, you should have a good idea of where you stand. Say, for example, that the highlight of your year was filling 40 percent of your available vacancies throughtenant referrals. This indicates that you are doing a great job of keeping your units in good shape and keeping tenants happy—in other words, in both of these realms, you’ve already found a formula that works. Though you may want to make little adjustments in these areas here and there, for the most part, you should continue doing exactly what you’ve done in 2010 on into 2011. Conversely, once you’ve come up with the lowlight of your year, you’ll want to determine why it happened and what needs to be changed in 2011 to prevent a similar occurrence from happening again. Let’s say, for example, ......
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