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The 3 S’s to Ensure Multifamily Resident Satisfaction

The 3 S’s to Ensure Multifamily Resident Satisfaction
Prospective renters that come to your multifamily property always have that set of requirements they make their decision on. Which properties they actually choose to tour depend on your online presence of the property (Yelp, photos, Google Maps) and most importantly, that call they make to a leasing agent. There’s always a chance, regardless of the quality of a property, that they may see something that worries them, whether it be a bad yelp review, not being budget friendly or weariness about the location of the property. Put your renters’ minds at ease by reminding them of the 3 S’s that stand out at your property: Safety A frequent question prospective renters have on the phone is whether or not the property is safe. If the renter is new to town and unfamiliar with the neighborhoods, they could make the mistake of getting fooled by the website without knowing community issues. You’re not in the business of fooling. No matter where your property is located, always make sure to take the time to explore every avenue of your property that could be a safety risk. Important safety features that many updated properties feature include gated parking with remote access and key fob access to buildings, pools and gyms. But it’s what your property is doing that no one else does that sets you apart, and makes the renter choose you. Offer them a number of an on-call security guard that can walk them to their car if they feel unsafe at night. An......
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Customer Service Doesn't Have to Be a Big Deal!

Customer Service Doesn't Have to Be a Big Deal!
I am a fan of the show A Taste of History with Chef Walter Staib on Public Television. Chef Staib is the owner and chef of City Tavern in Philadelphia, which is a recreation of a tavern which was at the center of our Revolutionary War history~with the Founding Fathers as frequent guests.    The show features Chef Staib cooking dishes as it would have been prepared during that period in history; often in historic kitchens and locales such as Colonial Williamsburg or Thomas Jefferson’s home in Monticello. As a history buff and someone who loves watching cooking shows, the whole theme of A Taste of History really appeals to me.    So…when I found out that I would be speaking for the New Jersey Apartment Association Conference and Trade Show (great show BTW!), I decided to fly into Philadelphia and do a little sightseeing while I was in the area … and City Tavern was high on my list of places to visit where I couldn’t wait to try the Colonial Pot Pie!    Going Back in Time   When I walked in I was greeted by a gentleman in colonial period clothing and it really did feel like I walked back in time to 1776! While I waited for my food, I wandered the rooms of the Tavern and on the second floor, I was approached by one of the workers there who asked if I knew of the history of the Tavern. I said I knew a little because......
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Would you work for you?

Would you work for you?
I was at my local office supply store yesterday; the Epson printer has printer her last page. Think I’m going HP this time.  While checking things out in their DIY print section (love to have a local places where we can get marketing items printed ASAP!)  I overheard a conversation between the manager and an obviously, new employee.  He was explaining how to NOT spend a lot of time with customers. Intrigued by what I was hearing…okay, I was being nosey, I continued to browse the area and hear more.  He made some good points. "Know the material to be able to explain to customers, be ready with an order form.  This way they won’t hold you up while they try and figure it out . Cause they usually can’t."  Wow. He continued as this young lady asked questions like, “well what if they’re really interested and just need help getting through the forms?”  Manager reply; “Sit them over here and tell them to let you know when they’re ready.”  Then go fill out forms, stock this or that, blah blah blah.  He continued in this intimidating manner and the whole time could clearly see me.  Within eyesight = within earshot. Good rule to remember.  Seconds later, I heard the girls voice crack as he barked at her and said something about no common sense.  Then asked her if he offended her.  Really?!  This is the time for Under Cover Boss!!  Or, would undercover boss care? Is that what we’re doing?   Is that the message we’re sending......
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“The Silent 97%” – Unspoken Apartment Ratings

“The Silent 97%” – Unspoken Apartment Ratings
I came across a blog post1 the other day that discussed the cost a company incurs because of poor customer service.  One of the surprising statistics that stuck out to me was that 97% of customers don't complain or vent their frustrations, even when they are unhappy with a product or service. I should clarify that they are certainly venting to their friends, families, work associates and the pizza deliveryman about how horrendous this product or that service is... But they're not voicing their complaint to the company responsible. Why aren't businesses hearing from these individuals more often? Can you imagine how much of a positive impact their feedback could have? In order to receive that crucial resident input from the silent majority, your apartment communities must establish practices that show you do in fact want honest feedback from the people you serve each day. Once you've made the decision that you want this feedback, regardless of how harsh it may be, there needs to be an effortless avenue for residents to provide their input. You have to make it as easy as possible. Integrated ratings & reviews, net promoter scores, and comment forms are a few simple, online avenues for a customer to let you know how good or bad you are doing as a company. Once you have the data, you have to leverage it. It's actually worse to ask people to provide feedback and then do nothing about it, than it is to never ask for feedback at all. When residents take the time to......
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Five is the New Fifty

Five is the New Fifty
Anyone who has a 5 year old cell phone knows a couple of things are true.  First, the phone is considered an “antique” and second, it’s not very “smart” compared to today’s standards.  A 5 year old cell phone simply can’t compete.  Yes, it may be able to take photos, but can those photos be edited, looped into a streaming video and posted for the world to see?  Can that older model view attached email documents, deposit checks into your banking account and most importantly, get you to level 400 of your favorite game? Over the next 24 months, new apartment communities coming to market will cause a major shift in our industry.  These communities will begin opening their doors and competing for residents, adding an interesting dynamic to current leasing and retention efforts.  Imagine a 5-year old community becoming a proverbial relic, a virtual has-been in the eyes of fickle apartment renters.  And if a 5 year old community is considered a dinosaur, what is to be made of a community which is 10, 20, or 30 years old?  Now is the time to shore up your retention program, strengthen the bonds of resident loyalty and close your back door.  Sure, there will be some residents who are swayed by the latest and greatest, those who have always wanted to be the first resident to live in an apartment home.  There will also be those who wouldn’t think of going anywhere and are truly happy with the things your community does have to of......
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Top 4 Over-looked Secrets to Building Onsite Automation

Top 4 Over-looked Secrets to Building Onsite Automation
The overworked property manager has become a familiar portrait in the multifamily industry for good reason: It’s true. When I've interviewed property managers in the past, they have frequently credited their passion for helping people as the main driver for their lengthy tenure in such a challenging role. One went so far as to explain that when prospects walk in the door looking for a new home, there is usually some life trigger that has caused them to be there—divorce, marriage, college, downsizing, empty-nesting. Technology such as online rent payments, digital lease signing, package handling, etc, helps automate the mundane, repetitive tasks they face and allows them to focus on helping prospects and residents in their time of need. As apartment communities continue to expand their digital portfolio, they sometimes overlook simple changes that make a big difference. To help your teams make the most of their technology suite, here are the top four most over-looked opportunities for building onsite automation: 1. Require prospects to fill out an application online - Even for walk-ins, a kiosk or tablet solution goes a long way in collecting digital applications. Every digital application collected is a data-entry error avoided. Each is also a safeguard of sensitive, compromising information about renters. Additionally, digital forms have the ability to require data fields, thereby ensuring that prospects don’t skip over information that’s necessary for background checks and informed decision-making. A good online application will also require an email address, which is crucial for subsequent communication throughout the leasing cycle AND a necessary data po......
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Resident Retention Begins with Employee Engagement

b2ap3_thumbnail_The-half-and-halfspecial.png  We've been receiving quite a few requests for data recently: how to overcome the most common renewal objections, what incentives are the best for securing renewals, what are the best-attended resident events, how to generate the best online reviews from your best residents.  Resident retention. There are tips and tricks and strategies galore that can be shared. The correlations are clear. However... all the data in the world on resident retention will do you no good if your team members are not engaged. I read a great article recently on Connecting Customer Loyalty with Employee Loyalty that does a great job of defining the difference between a satisfied employee and an engaged employee. The bottom line is that an engaged employee is going to be the one who impacts resident retention. Why?  A satisfied employee will do everything expected of him. He'll cheerfully answer the questions and run the reports and check the boxes. And at the end of his shift, he'll head home, content with a day's work and a day's wage. He'll wave politely at Mrs. Anderson who is hurrying up the sidewalk to try and catch someone in the office before it closes. When Mrs. Anderson calls after him, he might cheerfully tell her to please call courtesy patrol if it's an emergency, or he might not hear her. It's 6:01 p.m., after all. An engaged employee will not only do everything that's expected of him, but he'll go a step further, when he can, to ensure the......
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In Response: How to Get a Tenant-Centric Staff

In Response: How to Get a Tenant-Centric Staff
A topic I like to write about on a regular basis is tenants. What do they like? What do they not like? What trends are they adopting? How can we get more of them in the door of property offices? And, in so doing, I seem to get a lot of feedback on the topic as well. This is especially true when I bring up the importance of having a well-trained and personable office staff, a bit of detail many owners simply do not value, while their tenants definitely do. In fact, in response to a recent blog post on the subject, in which I noted the criticality of having a customer-centric (i.e., tenant-centric) office, the following was posted in part in the comment section:    When I was shopping comps I rarely EVER saw a Manager or if I did the Manager was talking to someone else (usually not a resident) and ignored me completely. I have yet to have a leasing professional take the time to introduce me to any staff member… And while this person isn’t a tenant of the properties she’s addressing, I hear this type of complaint of apartment office staff all the time—from tenants, maintenance crews, contractors, and even visitors interested in a lease. Greg Cohen is with Impact Management in Queens; and in a recent interview, he said that one of the biggest complains he hears about today’s property managers is their lack of concern over returning phone calls. The article he was quoted in goe......
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Adding A Little Love To the Resident Relationship

selling-doesnt-endWhen I was in college, I used to wait tables. We had a lot of regulars in the restaurant I worked at, and when people came in who we didn’t recognize, we treated them as if they were going to come back, as if they were going to become regulars. This played out in a few different ways, but on a very basic level, we interacted with them as if we would see them again. It’s unfortunate, but true: most of us treat people differently when we assume we will never see them again, as if somehow they are less worthy of kindness and consideration if our interaction with them is only a single instance. At this restaurant, when we intentionally treated people like we would see them again, it generally resulted in customers being treated better. They received the subtle perks and privileges of a regular that bond a person with a business. Have you ever been a regular at a coffee shop? They knew your name and your drink and you probably had a warm fuzzy feeling when you walked in. It creates a sense of ownership and loyalty. It makes you not want to go to a different coffee shop, because, well, it wouldn’t be the same as entering a familiar place where people remember you and make you feel special. Maybe it’s an ego boost, maybe it’s what Mr. Rogers preached about neighbors, either way, it’s nice and it works. When I became an apartment manager, I used this s......
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Is there a limit to giving great customer service?

Customer service gurusCustomer service gurus Think of a company who gives great customer service and you probably immediately think of Zappos. The famous, insane and often heroic customer service stories are the things of legend. The 10 hour customer service call, how they refused to accept the wrong pair of shoes (donate them to charity they said) and sent the correct ones to the customer and how Zappos can even find local pizza delivery shops still open at 12am. These stories are feel good. They give hope that there are companies out there that really do care about their customers. The goal, of course, for all of these efforts is to create customers for life. Over the years, I’ve read endlessly about how customer service can impact our ratings and reviews and resident retention and how we should go above and beyond because customers have strong voices today due to social media. Whew. I remind myself, though, that all things aren’t created equal. We’d love to have customers for life but the fact is, that rarely happens. People move back west, they buy a home, they move back in with their parents, they elope, they go back in time to see how their parents first met and change the future. Let’s face it, a large part of our yearly turnover is filled with people who will leave no matter what you do; life happens. Is it possible or practical to offer this type of service to our residents? Sure, we can wow them. Fix those......
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