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Your Maintenance Staff's Impact on Renter Retention

When you're looking for or training a maintenance technician for your multifamily property, you're probably only focused on his or her core skills, and that's only natural. However, in the customer-centric environment of today, repair experience and an HVAC certification are just a part of the puzzle. Modern residents don't just want their faucet repaired quickly; they also want someone who is positive and friendly while doing so. If they don't get that, they may very well find somewhere else to live. Your maintenance team is also becoming an important interaction point with your renters. As more and more tasks like paying rent become automated, your residents are interacting with your leasing team less. This means more customer service and lease renewal influence is put onto your maintenance team, the very members of your staff who are the most likely to be left out of the customer training you offer. Fortunately, it's not too late to bring your maintenance into the customer service fold. Take a closer look at the following ways you can help prepare your maintenance team to build more meaningful relationships with your residents. Look for technicians who fit your culture Getting the right people on board is the first step toward building a quality maintenance team. Don't just look at how well the applicant can handle the nuts and bolts of the job. Consider exactly how this person will fit in with and adopt your company's fundamentals and culture. You want someone who is skilled and experienced......
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Paul Rhodes
PREACH!!!! It's not just about the fact that a technician know's how to fix something (Important)... It's how that knowledge is pe... Read More
Tuesday, 13 February 2018 08:11
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Your Residents Care More About Their Apartment Than You Do, and That Could be a Recipe for a Bad Customer Service

We often pride ourselves on how much blood, sweat, and tears we put into our jobs, doing our very best to create the best environment for our residents and prospects moving in.  And usually, more often than not, things flow smoothly without a hitch.  But sometimes something does go wrong, and when it does, one of the key elements to the resolution is whether the team can match how much the resident cares about the situation. Let me illustrate:  I remember when I first started learning to drive, a white-knuckled experience where I was hyper focused on the task at hand.  Fast forward many years, and you'll find people who often take a lackadaisical approach to driving - they text while they drive, they daydream, they even read through their Facebook feed.  They have essentially become so experienced, or at least they think they have, that the job of driving has become "old hat" to them, and they may not take the job as seriously as they should. This can also happen when working at an apartment community, no matter how much we care about our job.  We deal with hundreds of move-ins, service requests, minor emergencies, major emergencies, and who knows what else just to keep the community up and running.  When one deals with issues that many times, each new issue just doesn't seem as big of a deal as it might have when we were a green leasing consultant.  But compare that to our residents.  They have exactly......
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Creating Emotional Brand Connections, Through Stellar Customer Service

I am a huge promoter of technology and innovation; they make life better, faster and more efficient however, it’s vital not to underestimate the need for balance between innovation and a personal connection. For instance, last weekend my daughter had us drive an hour to have breakfast down the shore. While the food is undeniably tasty and the vibe quirky and fun, the real draw is the way they make you feel; the way that they know your name, chat with you at your table, bring you coffee while you wait in line, and make you feel like you are the most important person that walked through the doorway that morning. They have irrefutably created an emotional brand connection through their personal touch and stellar customer service, validated by the parade of loyal customers that line out the door waiting for their turn to share in the experience.  Creating a positive, emotional connection with customers will take you further to establishing a long-term relationship than any other strategy you could roll out. Here are 3 ways you can create an emotional brand connection through extraordinary service, and taking a genuine interest in your customer base. 1. Listen. Jot down the nuggets they share about their life. For instance, if you know their son is a little nervous about joining Little League for the first time; ask how he’s doing. Everyone wants to feel they’re important enough to be remembered and that people genuinely care. 2. Court Your Prospects. Selling is a lot l......
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5 Minutes To Good Customer Service

I was at the bank this morning, about 10 minutes before the bank officially opened, joined by a few of my fellow customers.  And as we waited, it occurred to me that a 5 minute change could make a big difference to your customer service! Sometimes it's the small things that make the biggest differences, both good and bad, so even when  something seems unimportant, those small "unimportant" moments can add up to either a great or not-so-great experience.  So getting back to my morning bank visit, here we are, the three of us, waiting for those doors to unlock and us to stroll/rush in to get our business done.  We all got there 5 to 10 minutes early, and when the clock struck 9am, I could see them stop looking at their phone, fidgeting, and waiting to get in.  My guess they had somewhere to go, so they were anxious to get in those doors!  Then it progressed to 9:01, and you could see them trying to see through the windows, wondering where the person was to let them in.  For some reason, a minute can seem like an eternity when something should be open but isn't.  Finally, at 9:02 they open the doors and we all go in.  So at this point, I am sure you are thinking, "What, 2 minutes late and they are freaking out?"  And you would be right!  It wasn't rational that they were getting amped up, but that is life isn't it?  People get......
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Mary Gwyn
Such small things can add up to big benefits! Thank you, Brent!
Tuesday, 28 November 2017 09:44
Jay Koster
Absolutely! Just a few weeks ago, I went to a vendor's showroom to check out some of the furnishings they had available for stagin... Read More
Tuesday, 28 November 2017 16:18
Brent Williams
Love this story, Jay, and a perfect example!
Saturday, 02 December 2017 16:10
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The Three Ps of Amazing Customer Service

The Three Ps of Amazing Customer Service
I was recently in Miami staying at the Fountainbleu Hotel for a conference. Located in the heart of Millionaire’s Row, the hotel is smack dab in the middle of a spit of land with the Atlantic ocean on one side and the bay on the other. The room was gorgeous, and I spent quality time on the private balcony enjoying the views of both bay and ocean.   Accommodations aside, what really impressed me was how The Fontainbleau seemed aggressively involved in the customer journey and experience. They crushed it in the three Ps; Place, People and Post-Experience.   The Place. The instant you walk in the experience begins. In the air throughout the hotel is the faint (but definitely perceptible) scent of flowers and, strangely, what seems to be suntan lotion. They use ScentAir products and have a signature Fountainbleu scent. The smell evokes the beach and reminds you that you should be out there soaking up the sun. I’m using my imagination about the sun part as it was raining with thunder storms and extremely hot and humid.   The People. Every single person was exceptionally customer-focused. From the porter to the shop clerks to the concierge, my every need was anticipated and handled.   The Post Experience. I reviewed the hotel on Facebook and within two hours, I had received a personal thank you and they asked me about any special memories of my stay. From start to finish, it was extraordinary.   Wouldn’t it be great if every......
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3 Do’s and 3 Don’ts for Interacting With Pregnant Residents

3 Do’s and 3 Don’ts for Interacting With Pregnant Residents

“You must be so excited!” our waitress said to me.

was so excited. At the time I was six months pregnant and enjoying a rare night out with my husband.

“Thank you, I am,” I said, beaming.

“Here you go. I’m giving you the bigger portion because you’re eating for two,” she said.

This pregnancy thing has some perks! I thought.

“But you should be careful with all that eating,” she continued, “because it’s hard to take the weight off after the baby, and you don’t want to lose your figure. So when are your twins due?”

I didn’t quite know how to answer that, partially because due dates are just estimates and babies come when they are ready, but mostly because I was not, in fact, pregnant with twins.

The whole experience was actually pretty awesome, though. Because we complained to the manager and got our dessert for free. But that is not how you should talk someone who is pregnant. Shouldn’t people in customer service know better?  Customer service is the name of the game for property managers and other employees who work onsite at the community.

Here are some do’s and don’ts for interacting with pregnant women at your properties.

 

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Wait, I Didn't See that on the Starbucks Menu!

Wait, I Didn't See that on the Starbucks Menu!
I was at Starbucks recently and I ordered a tall vanilla iced coffee with no milk. The reason I ordered that drink was that it was a hot day and a cold drink sounded good, and I saw the drink listed on the menu. The fact that the drink was on the menu told me that I could order it … simple enough right? Then I heard someone order a drink that I couldn’t even begin to repeat here, because there were so many moving parts to it. But it was something like an upside down caramel latte with two pumps of chocolate syrup, whip and peppermint crumbles or something like that. I didn’t see that drink on the menu … and it looked pretty darn good! Much better than mine did, anyway. What does this mean for you? If you sell (or lease apartments) you need to know that today’s rental customer is a lot like the customer at Starbucks I talked about earlier-they expect to have choices and the ability to customize their apartment, or at least the experience of looking for an apartment, to be able to fit their needs. For many years we have taught in the multifamily industry that there is only one way to show an apartment and you better show it that was all the time to everyone who walks in. What that meant though is that someone with only 10 minutes to see an apartment might have spent all of those 10 minutes at the de......
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What Can You Do When the Customer is NOT Right, But Thinks S/he Is??

What Can You Do When the Customer is NOT Right, But Thinks S/he Is??
As you know by now, I travel a lot for a living-which means that I spend a lot of time in airports-which means that I am around a lot of people who have a REALLY difficult time following directions, and yes, a lot of customers who are very, very wrong! On a recent trip I remember someone in boarding group 5 for an airline trying to board with the “Elite, Premier, Ruby, Platinum, Really Big Deal Folks” you know the ultra special peeps…and couldn’t understand why she couldn’t board in that group. If you know air travel, you know that a Group 5 boarding group is probably the last group before the plane departs (believe me, I know, I’ve been in that group many times), so someone who is in the last group trying to board with the VIP group causes frustration for the crew and passengers. There was another time when a passenger kept trying to jam an (obviously too large) bag into the overhead bin, even after the flight attendants made numerous announcements regarding this. The passengers behind him were getting irritated because he kept trying to do something he couldn’t (and it didn’t fit!) and it delayed them getting to their seats. Finally the flight attendant grabbed the bag (nicely) and brought it out of the plane to have it put with the rest of the checked baggage. In all of these situations the customer was wrong. You have two problems when a customer is wrong. The first is the obvious-they do......
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Guest — phil
great article! great advice! I hope I can remember it...
Wednesday, 03 May 2017 13:53
Rommel Anacan
Thanks, Phil! I'm sure you'll remember it fine!
Wednesday, 03 May 2017 18:41
Guest — Angel Rogers
Great article and very accurate!
Thursday, 04 May 2017 12:01
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The Secret Weapon

puckTuesday night my ten-year-old son, Frankie, and I went to witness the Anaheim Ducks beat the Dallas Stars at the Honda Center. Frankie has been begging me for five years to take him early so we can meet the players before the game. Not knowing anything about hockey, and not trusting the word of a hopeful child, I never went early. But on this particular day, the timing worked out and we arrived at the game about two hours in advance. “What in the world do you do for two hours before a Ducks game?” you ask. A very good question indeed. We covered every inch of the arena, including the Team Store (hold on to your wallets!) and soaked in the rich history of the Honda Center sports, concerts, and events. (Did you know the band, KISS, has an arena football team that plays there? You’re welcome.) At one point, we met a friendly usher who mentioned fans were permitted near the team bench to watch warm ups, which were beginning in about 20 minutes. We rushed down to secure premium seating, but the best we could get was eighth row on the rails of the tunnel used by the players when traveling from the locker room to the bench (and ice). The players were about to come out when Frankie leaned over the rail, extending his ten-year-old arm as far as it could possibly stretch in order to high-five the players as they walked by. Unfortunately, because of his posit......
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Mindy Sharp
I LOVE this blog! What a great story and the point is well written. Thanks for sharing!
Tuesday, 17 January 2017 13:51
Carrie Polonsky
Thanks, Mindy! This comment made my heart happy!
Tuesday, 17 January 2017 14:18
Guest — Julie Still
Great post...maybe a few tears on my end too!
Tuesday, 24 January 2017 08:16
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Customer Service - A Lesson from Hori

Customer Service - A Lesson from Hori
I was enjoying lunch last week at Benihana with our awesome chef, Hori. He was great, flipping and flying food with the best of them. Sadly, Hori had to deal with two high maintenance and very unhappy people. (Not us, we were delightful-don’t be silly.)   “We don’t want sauce.” “Add this sauce.” “More garlic butter.” “More this, more that…” Complain, huff, deep sighs. I felt badly for Hori, as did my dining companion who heard more than I did. Hori, though, rolled with flow, stayed professional, dignified, and kept plugging away doing his job like the rockstar he clearly is.   As is the usual, once your onion-volcano-making, shrimp-tail-flipping, clickety-clacking, food-flying chef is done, he’s off to another table to wow those guests and add more shrimp tails to his hat. After he left, the two at our table (or for the fancy reader … hibachi) went on a rant with the server about Hori.   Because, as previously mentioned, we were delightful, we stayed after to tell the server how great Hori was. We found out the other guests had complained about Hori and his awful service, saying he was “too old and should retire.” Can you imagine? Apparently, they “get stuck with him all the time.” All I could think was thank goodness I’m not in a customer service role like that.   Then it occurred to me. Unless you are a hermit living in a cave, everyone is in customer service. Everyone you deal with is a customer in one way or another. You......
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