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Denver Apartment Trade Show-May 20, 2009

How many of you apartment managers, apartment personnel, investors, contractors are going to the Denver Apartment Association Trade Show at the Merchandise Mart on May 20, 2009? Not many? A Few? None?With today's economy, it's more important than ever to get the best value for your money? Am I right? So IF you are going to the Trade Show; and IF you want a Reputable Vendor who can assist you with your cabinet, countertop, or custom casework needs, then you need to stop by our booth #414-Front Range Cabinets and visit us. At Front Range Cabinets, we offer over 8 Different cabinet lines, everything from Truckloads for Multi Family Projects to single kitchens. From Contractor cabinets to Semi Custom as well as Frameless cabinets. Are you looking for Countertops for a project? We do laminate in house and have access to Granite, Quartz, and Solid Surface materials as well.Custom Casework needed? We do that too. We build in house our own Frameless cabinets and have done MANY Teller lines for Banks, Custom desks, and cabinetry. Do you need cabinets, countertops, or casework delivered or installed? We can help you with that as well.Give us an opportunity to give you a competitive quote on your next project. Front Range Cabinets wants to work with you and will offer you not only competitive pricing, but exceptional service, delivery, and installation.Look us up and lets talk about how we can help you upgrade your property to get higher rents, remodel to sell a property, or just......
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Resident Retention: All Night Long

technologyYou should see the tweets regarding the AIM (Apartment Internet Marketing) Conference! (For those of you not yet on Twitter, well, all I can tell you is this is the next wave you should be riding).  While hundreds of brilliant minds are focusing on internet marketing strategies and trends, here I am thinking about internal marketing and the role the internet plays. We can't ignore the presence of technology in our world and in our communities.  How we shop, communicate, pay our bills, complete school homework, and even how we work is changing dramatically. In fact, when residents were surveyed regarding their preferred hours of access to the leasing office, nearly 15% of residents said they wanted 24/7 accessibility! Can we staff our management offices all night long? (All night?) The answer is, while we may not be able to physically staff our management offices, we can increase the hours in which residents can conduct business with us. And technology is the answer. How? Do you have online service request submission? Do you offer online rent payments? Do you have office email addresses? Do you have online community news? If you have at least one of these offerings, you have just 'virtually extended' your office hours! The question is: Do your residents know? You know how relentless you are with marketing your vacant apartments. Whether through print ads, online sites, craigslist, etc., there is constant attention drawn to you in the marketplace. Or, at least, that's the goal. It's time to......
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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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That's Hot!

Today I had the fortune of visiting a doctor’s office for one of those tests that it nearly kills you to schedule, but that you feel pretty good about once it’s done and you know everything is still in working order. The center was new, modern and sleek and the experience completely transparent. Smiling employees guided my visit every step of the way and explained exactly what was going to happen next. The nurse directed me into a well-appointed changing room and handed me a gown. That’s when it hit me – the hospital gown was heated!Two children and a number of other medical conditions have never resulted in a positive hospital gown experience. I have spent many hours shivering in chilly doctor’s offices in gowns that are always thin, usually falling apart and devoid of any reasonable coverage. Imagine my surprise as I slipped into a toasty warm, sturdy and roomy hospital gown. The impact was profound. All I could think was, “Now that makes a difference – they really figured out what bothers people and provided a solution.” Even better yet, everyone in the waiting room was talking about the warm gowns, and I bet, like myself, they will tell one of their friends or family about their experience. What did it cost? Most likely the heating device was not inexpensive, but the return generated in client satisfaction levels will justify the initial investment.What kinds of little things do you think your residents tolerate but would never even consider......
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Resident Retention: You Had Me (or Lost Me) at Hello

I have to say it. You never have a second chance to make a first impression. How many times have we heard that? It has turned into one of those phrases we've seen and heard so many times that it doesn't mean anything any more. Let me re-introduce you to it now.  In every leasing and service situation, we have a few opportunities to make a first impression. The first time a prospect calls or emails us. The first time they drive up to the leasing office. The first time they take a tour. The first time they enter their new home as 'official residents.' First impression time is not over once they sign the lease. There is always Move In Day! And in my opinion, this is the most critical first impression you've got! I heard a great example of a fabulous Move-In Day first impression from military housing, though it translates beautifully to any move-in.  On MoveIn Day, the leasing agent saw the maintenance team had confirmed the home was clean and ready for the family, so she did a last minute walk-through to give it a double check. Everything was in order. She then reviewed the lease documents and made a mental note of all the family member names. When they arrived, she stood and greeted them with, "Welcome to Sunny Meadows! We have been expecting you." She shook hands with the husband and wife and greeted them with, "Good morning, Mr. Sanchez. It's so good to see......
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Does Your Community's Website Retain Residents?

There are thousands of beautifully designed websites for apartment communities and management companies on the Web today yet most do little to influence their existing resident base, the ‘bread and butter' of their business. Sure these websites attract prospects. They are designed to sell a company and/or apartment community(s), but the time that has been spent crafting the prospect's online experience has - slowly but surely, and perhaps unwittingly - marginalized the process of creating and maintaining content residents actually care about. Traditionally communication with residents has been through printed newsletters and notices posted on doors or electronic versions of the same emailed or posted on-line. There is no doubt that a well designed newsletter with good content can be a desired source of information, but its quickly becoming an antiquated mode of communication. Recently Eric Brown of Urbane Apartments suggested that we ditch our newsletters and try a Community Blog in his post DITCH THE COMMUNITY NEWSLETTERS Urban Lab Project#033809 on multifamilyinsiders.com. Eric's idea is viable as one can communicate all that is needed and than some on a Community Blog and do so less expensively and in real time. Community Blogs are meant to be less formal. Although you control the content they become part of a conversation where residents can comment. They are also a great way to join residents' discussions, provide tips and insights and receive feedback. When used in a forum where one's main objective is not to sell, a deeper connection forms between residents and the on-site team. The ......
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Retaining Residents in a Price Sensitive Market

At a time when we are feeling intense market pressure to offer renewing residents the ‘same deal' as we are offering new residents, decisions not to increase rents and/or offer renewing residents some discount is helping ease the pressure. Even in good economic times, renewing residents often ask or at least wonder "What's in it for me?" at renewal time. Rewarding residents based on their length of tenure is a way your community and company can reassure residents that they are more important than gaining new ones. Additionally, a rewards program can diminish ideas residents have of moving down the street for a better deal. Offering a good product and great service is best, but it doesn't always guarantee a renewal. Life changing events cause residents to move as do tempting discounts down the street especially if someone is trying to save a buck or two.Today affordability dictates many renewal decisions and renewal programs have to include a pricing strategy. Through my experience it is preferable to stay away from offering upfront rent concessions as a renewal incentive even if a community is offering it to new residents. Renewing residents understand that upfront concessions are absorbed by the cost to move. Furthermore once an upfront concession is given as a renewal incentive it is expected from then on forward. Offering a reduced rate or percentage discount off the market rate helps make their home more affordable. Yes, one could argue that a reduced rate or percentage discount off the market rate......
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Resident Retention: Knock, Knock, Knockin' on Heaven's (???) Door...

Have you ever seen anything that is awesomely bad? You spot one of those songs or hairdo's or outfits from the 60's, 70's, 80's (what the heck, maybe you see someone sporting Hammer pants), and think to yourself, "Someone thought that was a good idea once." Our human history is full of those decisions that, at a particular moment, seemed like a good idea. And yet, upon further reflection or changing social norms, those decisions come back to bite us on the hindquarters. This sign, I believe, is one of those decisions. The intent? Probably to let a prospect or resident know that a closed door might not mean 'closed,' nor might an unanswered door mean, 'no one is here to help you.' And yet, I have to say, this sign awesomely, spectacularly, and most unfortunately conveys, "Your time is not as valuable as mine. If you REALLY need to speak to someone, sit around for an unspecified amount of time, and if you're lucky, someone may notice you there." I had the delightful opportunity this weekend to be treated like a valued customer, and I'm going to tell you all about it because is was so incredibly simple, but so overwhelmingly powerful. I was visiting a local golf course, and I had a question for the woman at the reception desk. Just as I stepped forward to ask my question, her phone rang. I began to swallow back the words that had been forming in my mouth, knowing that she......
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Helping Residents That Lose Their Jobs

More and more I've reading about companies who are implementing programs that make it easier for residents to get out of their lease if they lose their job (see links below). They are doing so in hopes of attracting new residents and keep existing ones. Companies I've worked for in recent years have implemented practices of releasing resident's from their leases without penalty if their home becomes uninhabitable due to no fault of their own or that of their occupants/guests and for heath related reasons specifically for a terminal illness or the need for hospice, rehabilitation or nursing care. We are now considering doing something similar for residents that lose their job. As it stands now residents that lose their job cannot afford pay early lease termination fees anyway. On February 11, 2009, I published an article "Recession Proof Your Rent Payments" http://www.multifamilymanagementconsultants.com/journal/2009/2/11/recession-proof-your-rent-payments.html that garnered a lot of attention. In light of this article, I'd like to emphasize that there is a way companies can let residents who lose their job out of their lease and minimize their loss of income. In the article I wrote: "...renter's insurance providers offer an option for Involuntary Unemployment Insurance. This optional coverage offers protection when the insured is affected by unemployment due to a lay-off or termination by an employer. One such known provider offers a policy that features monthly benefits paying up to $500 per month for two months directly to the landlord. Resident's can purchase as many policies as needed to cover their monthly......
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Notecards - NOT just for Thank You anymore!

 I hate going to the mail box.  In fact, if it weren't for NetFlix and the stuff I order off eBay, I would probably let the mail sit in the box for about 3 months at a time.  You know how it is; every time you open that little box with your mail in it, it's never good news.  Bill, Bill, Overdue Bill, Threat from the people at direct loans about breaking your knees if you don't make a payment, magazine, Junk, Junk, and Bill.  The mail rarely yields anything that makes me feel good, and it's something that I have to deal with every day.  I don't think I'm alone in this either.  I would guess a lot of people don't like to go to their mailbox anymore.Well if there's anything I loved to do when on site, it was finding a way to make something I hate in to an opportunity for resident retention!The handwritten note is one of the greatest traditions and most powerful tools that we have in property management.  We all know that the great leasing consultant sends a thank you note for tours.  But what about after people move in?  What about notes for resident retention?  When you consider how much it costs to lose a resident, especially in this wacky economy, it's well worth 10 minutes out of our day to connect with our residents.  Whenever we talk with them, they're opening the door for resident connection and retention. It's up to us to......
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