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Leasing: 10 Steps From SAD to RAD! by Daisy Nguyen

Here in Minnesota, we blame the leasing slow-down to the weather - we tell ourselves that no one wants to move when there is snow on the ground. (And who would really?)It's not the snow. It's SAD. (Seasonal Affective Disorder) And it happens EVERY year, EVERY where. So let's not get our undies in a bunch! If you can plan it right, you'll forget about being SAD and become RAD (Rocking All Day!)Below is RENT SODA's 10 step program from SAD to RAD:ACCEPT that SAD does happen. Your prospects get SAD, and they don't want to move. Your office is afflicted by SAD, and it's hard to keep a positive attitude. First step is to ACCEPT that SAD happens!The second and MOST important of the 10 activities, is to GET OVER IT. SAD happens to good people! Let's stop whining about how bad it is, how bad it might be, how bad it's going to be, how bad the economy is, stop worrying, stop attracting that negativity! It's one thing to accept it, but let's not wallow in SAD-ness! GET OVER IT.Every time you accomplish one of these steps, cross it off your list! Now that you're over IT, breathe in, breathe out, and print out this list to be used as your CHECKLIST.Update, refresh, renew your ILS listings: This is a great time to look at all of your ILS's. Who are you using? What new features have they implemented that you may not have taken advantage of? Many times, our ILS vendors are responding to our......
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The ROI of facebook - the value of creating community by Daisy Nguyen

This is PART I of a 3-part series. You can read the intro here:3 facebook questions everyone asks when starting out... OK, so the million dollar question is:What is the ROI (Return on Investment) of facebook for my site? Usually followed up by - how many leases can I get from facebook? Serious questions, and just like an owner/investor/upper management to get to the point - eh?Well, short answer is your ROI is either 0% (yes you read it right, ZERO) or 100% depending on how you look at it. Intrigued? Read on...Facebook is all about creating community.  It's all about people connecting with other people because they have at least one thing in common. There is a group for just about anything and everything, from politics, to sports, to music. Some as broad as "I Love Music" fan page which has over 2.4million fans, to the more specific, like "Sting" fan page that has over 300,000 fans, to your local band, who may have 100 fans.Your apartment/site IS a community - whether you are 30 units or 300 units or 968 units, your apartment IS a community. Your #1 person on site - their title is "COMMUNITY MANAGER." hmmmm....Before facebook, and it wasn't so long ago, most sites had a bulletin board of some sort. The community manager &  staff would decorate this board, organize it, and make sure it fit within the guidelines of your community in appearance and postings. You allowed residents to post random things on there, like......
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Responding to Bad Online Customer Reviews

apartmentrating reviewsThis afternoon various multi-family people will be joining in on a twitter chat on the topic of "Ratings Services: Friend or Foe?". Mike Whaling and Lisa Trosien started #AptChat as a resource for multifamily industry folks to discuss, debate and share ideas about the apartment industry. I am interested to see everyone's insight on this topic. My position on social media has always been about transparency and building relationships by being real and human ... even (and especially) on a business level. Although some industry people would like to exclude rating and reviews sites from the umbrella of social media, the fact that the content of these sites is user created makes them social by definition. In a recent article on NAA's Aptly Spoken blog, Dealing with Apartment Ratings Web Sites, the suggestion is to "take the Brad Pitt approach and not react. Instead, spend the time and resources you would battling with these Web sites on training your staff to follow up on service requests in a timely manner and properly handling customer service issues." There is a big disconnect in this analogy, Brad Pitt does not have to respond to tabloids and bad reviews, because WELL he is Brad Pitt. I hate to break it to you, your property's online reputation is not in the same ball park as celebrities. One of the biggest lessons of the Horizon Realty uproar is that not responding does not make the feedback go away. Lori Snider add in the comments of this......
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Why I Heart This Blog

After reading my business partner Brent Steiner’s post this week on maintaining some perspective as it pertains to monitoring your online reputation, posted as a result of the Twitter hysteria over the Horizon debacle, I must say, I feel relieved.  The myriad of “conversation” playing out on this subject is astounding – as though this is the only thing residents and property management peeps are doing all day long.  I can picture it now, man walks into a leasing office, and waits patiently while leasing professional finishes her morning round of monitoring her online presence.  “Just a minute,” she says, “I just have to make sure nobody is ticked off at us this morning.  I’ll get to you in a minute.”  Some of the advice I have seen of late as it regards to online reputation management (let’s call it ORM, as monikers seem to be all the rage in the social media world – nobody but you is supposed to know what you’re talking about, as this makes you look smarter than those people that have not yet “embraced the conversation”) – is not contexted to speak to the world of real life property management professionals.  Having recently spent some time on site, in the “real world” it is way more difficult to monitor your ORM when the in-person resident is coming and going all day long.  Let’s not forget that people do quite often appear physically to view and lease apartments, renew leases, make complaints, (believe it or n......
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Is ApartmentRatings.com Your Friend?

Is sure can be. And if so, ApartmentRatings can help you rent apartments faster.

I was onsite working with a manager last week when the topic of ApartmentRatings came up.  She started to glow.  Not the typical reaction to this site.  

Here’s why she is so positive. Her property has a 93% RECOMMENDED rating... the highest in the zip code.  When prospects come in they have done their homework and know about all these comments.  They actually select to visit this property because of the high rating and willingly share this comment.  Good to know.  

Here’s more details. This is an older property, without all the latest and greatest features and yet they have the highest occupancy in the area. At higher rates, too. Sweet deal!

How have they gotten these positive comments?  They asked the residents who love living there to post comments. Brilliant idea. The residents were very happy to share their happiness.  

She credits the ApartmentRatings site as one contributing factor in the property’s 97% occupancy success.  

The other part?  People still rent from people they like.  She and her team are very helpful, friendly and likable. There’s a good energy vibe in the office.  You can feel it. Obviously the residents feel it and the prospective residents do, too.  

What SUCCESSES have you had with ApartmentRatings.com?  Please share.
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Taking charge of your ApartmentRatings.com Score

Slowly over the past year, there has been a significant shift in how the apartment industry views ApartmentRatings.com. The initial reaction was to somehow attempt to ignore or discredit them, but ultimately, that strategy failed miserably because it really only mattered that prospects WERE using it. So we are now seeing a shift of acceptance (to a certain point) and the realization that it is something we should deal with in some way.  I believe with any type of social media, the best solution is to address it head-on. Although I do not believe one should pay for reviews, I think it's wise to nudge the rating in your favor using open and transparent methods. Today, I got an email from Fandango asking how my movie experience was. (And yes, my fiancee did have me go see Harry Potter with her...)  Now granted, the review isn't of Fandango, so this isn't an exact Apples to Apples comparison, but it shows the proactive approach to participation and feedback. Why not take this same approach and apply it to all new residents after one month of staying in the community? They are still fresh enough to take the time to review, and if you are doing your job, they will be satisfied overall.  Now what about the bad reviews? Well, if you did a poor job with the new resident, they are going to write a review ANYWAY! (And besides, you can always filter them out of the email to begin with) ApartmentRatings.com is......
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Feedback is the reason and the goal

 I am trying something new for our portfolio in the way of content sharing and internal networking for our residential communities. The Operations Support network is open to service providers and The Goodman Group portfolio to share information, ask questions and update web content. Please feel free to upload appropriate content for sharing and review. http://operationssupport.ning.com/I've already connected our internet advertisers and am continuing to build content that they can utilize for our property listings.  This summer I am going to promote this resource to our site staffs and hopefully in time our residents to use in conjunction with our website's resident portals and Facebook listings.   I've been closely following the postings on Multi-Family Insiders and it seems that this experiment in resource sharing and networking works.  I see a potential for a responsible transparency in the way we interact with service providers, staff and residents that can be healthy and productive.  Thank you to all of you who took the leap into these new mediums and have paved the way for the rest of us who feared Apartmentratings.com and feared what people actually may say about us.  We have feared it because we have had little to no transparency in the way we do business and as a result residents believe we are the "bid bad landlord".  We let them believe that.  We have been disconnected...just a notice put under door and all policy.  With these new tools we are turning a corner in the multi-family industry and I am excited to be a part of it.Please let me know what you think of our young......
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Resident Retention: Let a Smile Be Your Umbrella on a Rainy, Rainy Day

Does anyone remember that song from the Sesame Street soundtrack? Then there are the sayings, "Take those lemons and make lemonade," and "Every cloud has a silver lining." Whatever rah-rah pep talk floats your boat, it's time to dust it out and lay it on the troops. Yes, things are challenging. Yes, there are move-outs we can not control. But you've got to remember that whenever a door is closed, a window opens. I heard the greatest idea from Valerie Sargent at a stop on the Multifamilypro Brainstorming Tour last week here in Southern California.  She suggested that when a good resident gives their notice, and it is something that can absolutely not be influenced (job transfer, home purchase, etc.), and the resident gives verbal kudos to the team, don't be afraid to ask them something to this effect: "Thank you so much for the compliment! Would you be willing to write that in a letter or email and allow us to use a quote for our web site/print ads/brochures?" "We're so glad you've had such a good experience! May I ask you to share your experience online at www.apartmentratings.com (or whatever apartment search site is most popular in your area)?" While our research shows that 60% of turnover is controllable, and can be impacted by our service delivery practices, there's that 40% or so that we may not be able to affect. In those cases, and when appropriate, let those departing residents be a part of your referral and promotion......
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Don’t use social media to market apartments, if…

…you are not ready to be a marketer. You see, the essence of social media is conversation and that conversation is you being a marketer. So in order to use to social media to market you must be willing to be a marketer, you must be willing to engage. When you use social media to market apartments you take on the responsibility of engaging in feedback - be it good, bad, indifferent or even downright hateful. And, therein lies the fear of many operators. How do we handle the negative and hateful feedback we might get, is the question I hear most often. I say, “engage in a conversation with them.” I might add, “how do you respond when someone meets you face to face to voice their discord about your community? Do you sit silent or do you engage in a conversation?” You have to think of social media as just a mechanism for conversation - nothing more - nothing less. And, about those potential negative comments, they take themselves. To that point let’s direct our attention to a Washington Post titled; Listening to the Dot-Commenters written by Doug Feaver, former Executive Editor of the Post [thanks for the great post, Doug]. The gist of the article is about the self correcting nature of socially irresponsible commenter’s and more specifically anonymous ones, that is to say people who use feedback platforms as bully pulpits. I think the Post’s philosophy is one that could/should be mirrored in the multifamily space. I......
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"The danger of social media sites." What!?

An email was sent to me this afternoon with a link and this one sentence:
 
"The danger of social media sites."
 
 
I read the article (which is actually about planning a property party) and my immediate email response was sent.
 
"No, this is the danger of ignoring social media sites. If reputation management and social media strategies were being implemented into the overall marketing plan, this article could’ve been avoided and the residents would be happier."
 
Then I said, "Thank you for sharing, this will go perfect in my social media guide!"
 
The article is based on an older (2007) review on apartmentreviews.net. However, there is no response from anyone from the property. In fact, no responses are online at all! Why not respond? Especially now, with the publicity alive and well. This is the perfect opportunity to set things right, make necessary changes or state they've been made.

So many properties and property management groups are hiding from social media. This poor property and it's management group is an example of such an avoider. This is their wake up call!

Who do you blame? Social media? The property manager? Or the property management company? Maybe the marketing firm is to blame? What are your thoughts? What should this property do now?
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