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Beat your Competition with Great Customer Service!

Property Management Companies Guide Customer ServiceNew property management companies and property managers should focus on providing their customers with great service to gain repeat service and succeed in their businesses.  A recent study conducted by the National Federation of Independent Business revealed that small businesses that prioritize customer service are at an advantage in beating their competitors who may be charging lower prices.  According to the Customer Service Institute, 65% of a company’s business comes from existing customers, and it costs 5X as much to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one satisfied.   Here is how you can provide Great Customer Service:1. Employees Influence Quality of Customer Service Make Customer Service your company's goal.  Set standards for Quality of Customer Service and make sure all your employees understand the company's goals.  Make Customer service a team effort by involving employees’ in brainstorming new ideas for customer service.  Train your employees to handle a difficult customer using role playing sessions.  Reward employees for achieving target goals.  Address any issues that could affect your company's service goals.  2. Understand your Customer's needsAsk questions and Listen carefully to your customers.  Train your employees to listen to focus on what the customer is actually saying and to then offer services that fit the customer's needs.   Check employees’ telephone manners periodically.  Building a relationship with the customer is important in giving them the quality of service that they expect.   3. Take an Extra Step to keep the Customer HappyA few examples include greeting them by name, treating......
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Property Management Companies and Property Managers- How to Get a Business Loan Request Approved

Property Management Companies And Managers Top Tips Business Loan ApprovalIf you are looking to expand and grow your property management business, you should position your business opportunity as an attractive investment opportunity to the banks and lenders.   Here are some tips to get your Business Loan Request approved:1. Research Potential Lenders Within your IndustryApproach a bank that understands your industry. Gather more information from your business networking group, or a small business development industry. You might stand a better chance approaching smaller community banks as they may be more familiar with the local target market and may have prior knowledge of your business. You might also consider loans that cover start-up costs and business expansion costs, such as supplies and machinery.2. Gather Relevant Documentation  Gather documentation about you and your business – such as your income record. Obtain a  Loan Checklist that you will need for any small business loan application.3. Loan Application formsThe loan application process differs for different banking institutions. The Loan Application Checklist may list the forms you need and may help you understand the loan application process.4. Preparing for the InterviewPrepare for questions that you may be asked as you will be asked to substantiate your claims. Be confident and professional in communicating the amount you plan to borrow, how you plan to use it and what are you revenue streams.  Have a repayment plan ready and include it with your documents.  5. Talk to the ExpertsTalk to your local bank or Small Business Development Center. They may have the latest information on changing market......
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Roadmap to Successful Business Plan for Property Management Companies

Having a business plan will enable new property management companies and property managers encourage loans and promote growth. A formal business plan is just as important for an established property management company as it is for a new company.What is a Business Plan?A business plan is your firm's resume. It defines who you are, what your goals are and what is your revenue model.  A business plan aligns employees, sales personnel and vendors with the company's goals and operational procedures. A good business plan helps you make good business decisions in allocating resources and handling unexpected situations.  A good business plan should include a current and pro forma balance sheet, an income statement, and a cash flow analysis.Why Write a Business Plan?A Business Plan is an important document in any loan application because it provides organized information about your company and how you will repay borrowed money. A good business plan serves as a blueprint of your organization for outside management of your operation and finances, promotion and marketing of your business, funding, credit from suppliers, and achievement of your goals and objectives.Before you begin writing your business plan, consider four core questions:Don't rush into a New Business Venture without answering these questions: * What is the Nature of your service or product?* What Needs does your business fill?* Who are the potential customers for your product or service? * Why will they purchase it from you?* How will you reach your potential customers?* Where will you get the financial resources to......
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Creating a Work/Life Balance in Property Management

If you’re reading this blog, chances are you are dedicated to doing your job right. But just as much as doing your job right involves knowing your business and completing necessary tasks efficiently and effectively, it also means taking care of yourself. After all, if you’re worn down and stressed out, chances are your work will ultimately suffer for it, no matter how dedicated you are. So for all of you workaholics out there, yes! Believe it or not, you should consider taking care of yourself and making a concerted effort to find some downtime nothing short of a vital part of doing your job right. But even if you are convinced that creating a good work/life balance is something you should attain, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s simple to do in this industry. Following are a few tips for finding the time you need. 1. Create a back-up system. Just because you need a break doesn’t mean that all work-related issues will grind to a halt. In order to make sure everything gets taken care of whether you’re in the office or not, it’s important to have a back-up system in place. Depending upon your situation, a back-up system may consist of extra staff on hand to make sure someone is there to address tenant concerns or property issues 24/7 or just an answering service to ensure that tenants’ calls are answered no matter what time of day they come in. 2. Make sure your back-up system is one......
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Supervisors & Employees: Take Advantage of Your "Open Door" Policy

Are you a supervisor with an "open door" policy? Are you an employee that works for someone that has an "open door" policy? Are you maximizing the "open door" policy to be a better supervisor or better employee?"Open door" policies are not just for dispute resolution. A true open door policy is a communication process where employees and supervisor feel welcomed to discuss business or employment topics together openly.Why am I discussing this in a blog for the apartment industry? In our industry, more so than any other industry, there is A LOT of opportunity to advance. It is not unheard of for a caretaker or leasing agent to advance through the ranks and become a Community Manager, Regional or even CEO! But very rarely is there time to learn (and seldom do our own supervisors advise us) on how to be a good supervisor or a good employee. A key to being a good supervisor or a good employee is expanding and taking advantage of the "open door" policy.Doors are BOTH entrances and exits. There is opportunity on BOTH sides to take advantage of having an "open door." Let's take a step back, and ask ourselves, as people (whether you are a supervisor OR an employee being supervised), what does YOUR door look like?(Left picture provided by h-k-d and right picture provided by roboppy on flickr through creative commons license.)As supervisors, here are 5 things that we can do to encourage better communication:Set aside time for each individual employee, and meet with them consistently. This could be a weekly,......
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"Professionally Managed by..." What does THAT mean? by Daisy Nguyen

Recently, a close friend of mine asked me, "what does professionalism mean to you & how does it pertain to our apartment industry? I want our company to be more 'professional' and I want to better understand what that means." THIS - from one of the smartest most professional people I know? I took the question seriously.My first attempt: Duh! Professional is... you know, someone who conducts business in a professional manner - you know - a professional!! It's one of those terms that gets thrown around a lot, but what does it REALLY mean?I pondered some more and I realized it was a VERY relevant question to our apartment/property management/real estate development industry. There are numerous property management companies out there:  from the biggest of big - the HUGE REITS, to the smallest of small - the "mom & pop" duplexes managed by (you guessed it,) "mom & pop." How do we define "professional" and "professionalism" in an industry that is so wide? And, maybe more importantly, you are wondering - why would we want to? And who cares?YOU SHOULD care. It matters to your customer. It matters to your clients. It matters to your existing and prospective employees. It is your reputation. It matters to the industry as a whole, as it is those few "unprofessional" landlords that make the rest of us look like ogres. If you claim to be "Professionally managed by ABC Management Company," what exactly does THAT mean?(Image provided by Jesse Draper on Flickr through creative commons license.)The first image that popped into my mind when the word......
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The SKY is FALLING! How to Deal With Difficult/Dramatic People - by Daisy Nguyen

If you are in the multi-family industry, work at an apartment community, it's a given: You WILL have to deal with difficult people.  (Picture provided by STEFFE on FLICKR through Creative Commons license.)I'm not just talking about the person who might be unhappy about the color of the sky, I'm talking about the person who is IRRATE and thinks it's YOUR fault "the sky is falling!" How you can deal with THAT person and NOT have it ruin the rest of your day? Whether it is an disgruntled employee, an irrate apartment resident or even your BOSS (or any other miriad of difficult/dramatic people you may have to deal with), here are my top 3 TIPS:3.) You KNOW you're going to have to deal with difficult people, be prepared:Create a place where you can meet with difficult people - whether it is your office or a conference room.The room should be clean, neat, free of clutter, and decorated in soft, muted, calm tones like light blues or greens to help create a calming effect.Have a desk or conference table where both parties can sit to discuss the issue. The bigger the table or desk, the better. This keeps difficult people on the OTHER side of a large desk/table and away from you.Do not keep any heavy or sharp objects on or around the desk/table.Invest in a long horizontal mirror. You can create a BIG psychological advantage through this technique. Have the mirror mounted on the wall behind you, so that when you are talking to the difficult person, they can see THEMSELVES in the mirror. People forget......
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Try ANYTHING once...marketing outside the box!

Have you ever thought so far outside of the box that you thought you were crazy? Stop, write it down, put it on a piece of paper, wake up in the middle of the night and write it on something, anything...write it down and then DO IT! This promo is one that came to me out of the blue. Honestly, I have no clue where it came from, but now that it's here...here is what we are doing. During the month of December, anyone who leases gets a Snuggie as their move in gift! For goodness sakes, who would buy one of these for themselves? You should have seen me in Target purchasing 11 of them for the promotion...EVERY cashier looked my way!

Check out the video below...as always Marketing is about creativity, thinking outside of the box and just having a great time! :)

http://www.snuggieapartments.com/

 

 

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One Glass of Wine = $1300

When does a glass of red wine come close to equaling $1300?  When it gets spilt into a 3 week old MacBook computer. Yep, that’s what happened in my office yesterday.  Sparing you the details, that glass had a 360 degree option of where to tip.  Only one of those options was smack dab into the middle of that brand new keyboard.  Frantically taking it apart, drying it out and Googling solutions brought the awareness that I’m not the first to have this heart wrenching experience.  After a tough nights sleep, finding out that Apple warrantees everything BUT liquid so I would need to send it to refurb with no guarantee of it working or buy a new one for another $1300.  Then the good news happened. My insurance company found a way to cover it for only my deductible.  I was giddy with new found support! Because accidents happen so quickly, here are the precautions I’m putting into place and highly recommend. They are so simple when done in advance. Check to make sure both your company and home computers:1.    Have insurance.  An Apple employee told me about his extra technology rider for $200/month.  A small price to pay with all of the technology in our lives.2.    Backup regularly.  Yep, it can be a pain to remember to do this so set up automatic backups.  If your company does this for you, count your blessings. 3.    No liquids.  I’m committed to keeping ALL liquids away from my keyboard and my......
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A Vendor's Perspective on Resident Retention.

It's interesting that in a down economy, there are so many low-cost opportunities to "wow" residents.  I'm noticing that residents are responding especially well to community-building "interactive" amenities much more so than the usua

l "physical" amenities like pools, fitness centers, and business centers.   It's really shown me the value of more community-building types of amenities as a cornerstone of resident retention and leasing strategy.
In talking to property managers, they all share the same complaint in these economic times.  Old tenants are moving out, and new tenants are not moving in as quickly as they used to.  How are their management companies responding?  Many are slashing marketing budgets and lowering rents.  I don't see this strategy as working well for them, however.  It's a bit of a Catch-22: they need visibility, but they can't afford to buy it.  We're seeing that our most successful customers are actually increasing their budgets for small-ticket items that pay off in big ways, and they are still charging among the highest rents in their territories.

I think the a big reason so many communities keep lowering their rents in a recession is that they get into a bidding war, because they aren't making themselves stand out.   Many offer the same types of "physical" amenities like gyms, business centers, and pools, so that they become relatively indistinguishable and compete mainly on location and price.  But in fact, residents tell us time and again that they are more likely to sign or renew their lease

s, regardless of location or price, when they feel emotionally connected to their communities by getting to know neighbors with similar values and interests.  What they want more than anything is to meet other residents more often, and in the right way!  You might call this a demand for "interactive" amenities, rather than "physical" amenities.  We also notice that some physical amenities, such as clubroom areas, kitchens, or certain outdoor spaces, go largely unused, just waiting for managers to turn that dead space into a profit-generating "interactive" amenity.  The great thing is, creating these sorts of amenities is extremely quick and easy to implement.  Best of all, it's incredibly inexpensive, since communities already have a multifunctional space, and they already have the residents!  All managers need is to pull them together with the right activities and a little creativity.

We always tell our customers to think of their clubhouse as the neighborh

ood's town center or social hub.  Imagine residents filling those empty areas socializing in small groups each week, really getting to know each other, and making friends in the neighborhood.  Those beautiful clubhouse areas are specifically designed for group gatherings!   By organizing such gatherings, managers finally put those spaces to good use and tap into their biggest marketing asset of all - the residents themselves, waiting to meet each other around interest-based activities.  We've seen many types of community-building activities flourish, including:

  • Volunteer Groups - organize a group of neighbors to participate in a charity walk, or create a bake sale fundraiser.  Get the staff involved!
  • Book Clubs - get residents together to read and discuss bestsellers.
  • Gourmet Cooking Classes - bring together residents with a hands-on, live cooking show with a professional chef.  This is an ultra-p opular, high-class amenity at little cost.
  • Wine Lectures - have a vivacious wine expert bring together your residents for a trendy, upscale "happy hour."  It's like a night out at a wine bar with friends, but on-site!
  • Group Fitness Classes - bring in professional fitness instructors to host after-work pilates or yoga classes once a week.
  • Intramural Sports Teams - organize a community softball team to participate in local intramural leagues.  This increases pride in the community.
  • Mom-and-tot Play Groups - Buy some inexpensive toys and games for the kids, and host a morning coffee-and-muffin indoor play gathering in your clubhouse.  Moms can relax on sofas and chairs while kids play in a safe space.  Or, organize a bring-your-own lunch outdoor playgroup in a grassy area or playground.

These are just some of the things that we've seen work at our customers' communities over the years.  But especially now, they are really hot!  And we're getting strong feedback that the monthly cooking class and wine lecture program is their number one most successful amenity.  They even use this event as a marketing tool in their "For Rent" magazine ads, on their property tours, and even announce it when new residents are "on hold" when calling in.

Anyway, today I just wanted to talk a bit about this idea of interactive amenities helping communities create a real in-group mentality and a lot of b

uzz among their residents, since it requires a bit of a different mindset.  Next time, I will touch upon some of the challenges we face in dealing with different property management styles, and maybe some of you will be able to offer some insight on that.

I look forward to meeting more of you in the weeks and months to come.

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