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Cross-Promoting with Local Businesses

In this economy, businesses of all stripes are looking for a little extra leverage when it comes to generating more sales. Despite all the gloom and doom news out there, this actually opens up a lot of new doors for property managers to not only lower their vacancy rates, but also to incorporate new business strategies that can pay off in spades over the long haul. We’ve spent a lot of time on this blog talking about viral marketing and utilizing new technology for growing your business and marketing your properties. While this is all well and good, it’s also important to keep those perennial grassroots marketing strategies alive and well. And one of the most effective grassroots approaches for those in the property management business is partnerships with local businesses. More likely than not, businesses in close proximity to your rental units are open to strategies that will bring a steady stream of new customers into their establishment, whether it be a restaurant, grocery store,video rental store, or salon. Believe it or not, you have your finger right on the pulse of their potential client base: your tenants. Of course, this is a two-way street—those same neighborhood purveyors may well have just the tenant you’re looking for in their clientele. Capitalizing on such potentially synchronous relationships is simple. First, sit down and figure out what your ideal tenant pool looks like. Is it students? Young professionals? Families? Once you know what your target tenant demographic is, take a look at......
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What is an Electricity Facts Label?

Ever since the deregulation of electricity in various states such as Texas, people are given the power to select their Retail Electric Providers. This also paved the way for more competition in an otherwise monopolized industry, giving consumers the option to choose companies that can provide comparatively cheap electricity or be environmentally helpful by choosing companies that make use of alternative forms of energy resources. However, with the myriad REPs that provide electricity to the millions of consumers in the state, it would be difficult to choose among these companies without a standard or a common basis that everyone would comply with. In this regard, the Public Utility Commission of Texas or the PUC have implemented the Electricity Facts Label (EFL) that each of these electric companies should provide consumers. The EFLs provide consumers with an apples-to-apples comparison between companies helping them choose which REPs they will work with. Once they’ve chosen a company, the EFL would then serve as a contract between the REPs and the consumers, with the REPs disclosing everything the consumers need to know about their electrical service. Getting to Know the Electricity Facts Label Similar to the nutrition label required by the FDA for all food manufacturers and products, the Electricity Facts label is also required by the PUC from Retail Electric Providers to give consumers a standardized information sheet where they can learn, and compare, critical information about the REPs products and services. The EFL also serve as a compliance form that indicates the details......
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Smart Meters: How Will They Impact Your Electricity Usage

Unless there is a new and more efficient way of generating really cheap electricity, the consumers should be more vigilant and efficient in their use of electricity or where ever they may be — including implementing ways to save energy and cut costs as well as reducing the carbon footprint to help protect the environment. One such innovation that is slowly being implemented is the use of smart meters. What are Smart Meters and How Do they Work? Smart meters or what is more technically known as the Advanced Metering Infrastructure or AMI is a technical advancement evolving from the electromechanical meters or the more updated automated meter reading (AMR) technologies used by electricity companies today. It is expected that within 3 to 5 years, AMI meters shall replace all installed electromechanical meters. With electromechanical meters, data concerning the end user’s electrical consumption is “read” and recorded by meter-reading technicians from the electricity company. With smart meters, this data is transmitted and reported every 15-30 minutes to the electric company, giving both the end user and electric company a visibility of how they consume electricity at particular times of the day. Aside from that, these smart meters can report power outages to the service company as soon as it happens, resulting to better and faster response times. These meters are also more technically advanced than old electromechanical meters making it more difficult to tamper and steal electricity. These meters can also be turned on and off by remote, which is a......
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Making Electricity Deregulation Work for You

The state of Texas passed legislation in 2002 deregulating the retail electric industry, ending the monopolies that have controlled utilities for decades. This promulgation has provided the people the power to select their electrical retail provider, making Texas one of the states that have effectively implemented this system — making other states follow suit. Whether it is residential, commercial or industrial users of electricity or consumers in several areas of Texas can choose their electricity provider. The concept of energy deregulation is a basic process which only involves the proper and wise selection of the utility companies that would provide electricity. There are no changes in the distribution infrastructure required as the switch would not affect existing electrical lines and utilities. What are the Implications of Electricity Deregulation? Energy deregulation has opened up the energy marketplace in the various states that have started to implement the system by legislation. This implies electric companies must compete in the same market as other energy utility companies in the city or state. End users should understand the implications of such changes, enabling them to find the best deals, rates and offerings that any of the several service providers in the state. Making these changes is important, particularly for thriving small and medium businesses that are greatly affected by large electrical expenses and are trying to find ways how to effectively reduce their energy consumption without affecting their business operations and functions. How to Get the Most from the Electricity Deregulation of Texas There so m......
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ASKING FOR IT. "Bring it." Nuggets are out there.

Litmus Test - Ric Campo, CEO of Camden, national REIT based in Houston, BELIEVES in litmus tests. Camden is awaiting waves and raves. Multifamily Executives are asking for it. They're sticking their toes into the water...they just want Reviews and Communication through Social Media done RIGHT. They are seeking new ways to bridge the Consumer & Community Gap. Check out these recent Tweets; A national Apartment Management Company sent out this St. Paddy's Tweet..."My Lucky Day! I just turned my first negative Resident Tweet into a Positive!" And this one during March 19th's weekly Friday afternoon Twitter #AptChat. "Rented on of our apts recently? If so, let other renters know how you like it by rating it at http:..." In an ironic twist and despite the ever-growing frustration with various apartment ratings sites, several Multifamily executives are not only willing to put their properties up for review, but they are actually asking for it. “Regarding apartment reviews, it’s not that somebody has to do it, it’s that somebody has to do it right,” said Mark Juleen, VP of marketing for the JC Hart Company based in Carmel, Indiana. “Ratings and reviews have been out there for a long time in the form of ApartmentRatings.com and now Yelp.com. The problem is, these companies aren’t fostering open communication between the renting community and the apartment community.”  Companies eager to engage in the two-way dialogue taking action today include Camden, Mission Residential, Mills Properties, Gables Residential, Urbane Apartments, and the JC Hart Company.“We believe in......
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Are you the Better Property or the Better Deal on the Block?

 I started working in this industry in 1994 at a 238 unit community.  I can remember working and living on-site and how I truly enjoyed going to work everyday.  Each day brought new challenges and was always fulfilling.  I loved my property and treated it as if it were my own personal investment each day.  I worked long hours (because I wanted to), did landscaping on the weekends, decorated the property for the holidays, and so much more and enjoyed every minute of it.  What do we have today?  Today I see people who grumble as they walk in the door because they would rather still be in bed and they don't want to deal with that resident today and they are not shy to tell you that. If they don't tell you that you can probably read it on their Facebook page. We have people who tell prospects they can't view an apartment without an appointment. I mean after all, who do they think they are walking in our offices without notice? We have people who refuse to talk with a resident because they are "off the clock".  We have people who refuse to bend over and pick up trash while walking property because it's not their job.  We have a "Maintenance Department" and an "Office" and neither should ask the other a question. The last time I checked, one can not function without the other can they? And this list can go on and on. What has happened?We are......
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Resident Retention: Come On In! The Appliances Are (urm) Fine...

Houston, we have a problem


Houston, we have a problem
Houston, we have a problem!

Hopefully, we all understand very clearly how critical the move-in process is for establishing a positive resident relationship from Day 1. However, in the hustle and bustle of the daily grind, an astonishing figure has come to my attention:

According to 2nd Quarter 2009 data from SatisFacts Research, only 73% of residents indicated that all appliances and fixtures worked properly upon move-in!

That means more than one-quarter of all new residents had an appliance or fixture that did not work!

Are we okay with this stat? I hope not, because unresolved issues at move-in reduce the percent of residents "very likely" to renew by one-quarter!

So, what to do? Let's re-evaluate the make-ready inspection process. One tip I learned from Bill Nye is the concept of "walking right," or "follow the wall."  This means, for the final inspection, the maintenance team member enters the apartment and follows the wall to the right stopping to check each light switch, outlet, phone jack, window treatment, doorknob, appliance, light fixture, etc. Eventually, you end up at the front door again.

Rework is always costly - whether in time, materials, customer patience, or all of the above. Ensuring the resident's new home is truly in move-in condition will be the first critical step in assuring the resident they have made the right decision in making their home in your community.

What make-ready inspection tips are effective for you?

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Resident Retention: Movin' On Up

  or  ?I just got back from Boise, Idaho recently to visit family and enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Northwest U.S.  I found out a cousin who has been living with her parents for various family reasons is now looking for a rental situation. I asked her what kinds of deals she was finding in the apartment market in Boise, and while she told me what I expected to hear – that the move-in deals were pretty amazing – she had chosen to submit a rental application for a single family home with a yard. This is no new story to any of us, and she shared all the reasons we’ve heard before: - Fenced in yard - Same price as an apartment - No shared walls - Lots of space - And the neighborhood even had a pool and clubhouse! Yes, the shadow market is alive and well, there’s no point in denying that. We’re competing with it for prospects as well as our existing residents! While there are many experts on the leasing side who can offer strategies and approaches to get new prospects in the door, there is a need to continue to use some of these same strategies to keep the residents we have. Remember the TV show, The Jeffersons? The theme song is all about moving to a “deluxe apartment.”  How do we re-kindle that pride of residency in our own community?  When it comes to existing residents telling us at renewal time that they......
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Which is more important? Price? Quality? or Service?

What is more important to you as an apartment investor, owner, or contractor doing a remodel in a rental property?

Is everyone only looking at price now because of our economy? Or do some people still give credence and importance to quality of materials, loyalty to the vendor they are getting a bid from, timeliness of receiving the bid, the delivery, and installation?

 I would really like to know what is more of the  driving force in the market. We have seen a large upswing in people wanting a bid, but putting more emphasis on Price than anything else. What does that say about the relationships you have built with your vendors? About our society as a whole?


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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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