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Resident Retention: Low Cost / No Cost Strategies

Numbers? We Ain't Got No Stinking Numbers! So, you need to obtain permission to enter, track down a late rent payment, return a phone call, or place a pre-renewal phone call.  But wait! Their phone number isn't in the system. Surprised? You shouldn't be. The sad truth is that the average apartment community has contact information for only 50% of their residents, and much of that information is outdated.  Perhaps, as an industry, we have the mindset of, "Well, at least I know where they live!" The problem is that when issues come up and we need to contact them, we can't.  Calling information, searching through their paper rental application, searching the White Pages online... It's a waste of the staff's time - and time is money!  There's a simple, yet EXTREMELY effective solution. We ask the resident for their contact information.  Sounds crazy, I know. But snark aside, by setting an organizational standard, property managers can train the team to ask for or confirm the resident's contact information at every interaction.  The impact of this basic cultural change will astound you."Well hello Mrs. Jones. Yes, I can help you with that. Oh, I see that we do not have a current phone number for you. What's the best number to reach you? What's the best email address to reach you?"  "Thanks for calling Mr. Lee. Is this still the best number to reach you: 555-1234? I see we don't have an email address for you. What is your email address?"  For whatever reason, our leasing teams......
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Cut Deep, It Hurts Less

For those of you that may be laying off employees over the coming months, John Mackey, Whole Foods, recommends in the current issue of Inc, that when you lay people off, you make the cuts deep enough so that you won’t have to do it again soon.  Mackey says your employees will forgive you one round of layoffs, but if you do it a second time you will lose their trust as people start thinking, My God, when am I going to lose my job?  Makes sense.  Go to http://www.inc.com/magazine/20090101/the-ultimate-business-tune-up-for-times-like-these.html#Graham to find 22 additional tips and tricks for business survival in tough times.
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Automated Lead Management & Technology

This is a new topic in response to MJ's blog on Closing % Today with technology many companies have automated toll free numbers assigned to each ad. When the phone rings at the community, the number dialed is recorded in an automatic report. Service providers collect, manage and present the data in real-time web-base reporting 24/7 for executives to review. There are marketing analysis tools which filter out non-prospect calls, giving you more accurate cost-per-lead analysis for each marketing source and conversion % for each leasing person. Voice recognition software is used to search the voice recording of calls, along with specialist trained to review calls. This documents the questions asked during the conversation and give the leasing consultant a score.  Executives no longer rely on a leasing person asking "How did you find out about us?" and hand write the customer response on a form that is tallied at the end of the week - it is automatic! The days of answering the phone and not recording the traffic is over for most technology savvy firms. Additionally, I have many clients reporting a decrease in telephone traffic over the last seven years by as much as 42%. That is HUGE!!! Why? The traffic is researching the property online rather then calling with questions. NOTE: I speak LIVE to over 15,000 onsite professionals each year in 60 cities. I spend the half hour before the program begins siting in the audience asking questions. When I ask the onsite teams "What questions......
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Isn't our business supposed to be personal?

First of all, I want you to know that I am all for technology.  I have a cell phone, a laptop computer, voicemail, an email account, and a Facebook account.  I love that I have access to information and can communicate with the touch of a finger.  I love the fact that I can communicate with someone across the country in the middle of the night if I want to.  It is amazing.Now for the reason for my post today - I am so sick of not being able to talk to a live person.   I can't tell you how many times I have tried to reach someone only to get a digital recording and the prompt to leave a message.  I can't count the number of times that I have called communities, left a message, and never received a phone call back.  I can't tell you the number of Regional Managers that I have tried to contact, left a message, and never received a phone call back.  What if I am a resident with an emergency?  What if I am a prospective resident in desperate need for an apartment?  What is I am a family member of an employee trying to get in touch with someone because of a family emergency?Technology is great but it shouldn't be abused.  People want to talk to a live person.  They want a phone call back.  They want to know that their needs and wants are important.  While I understand this problem isn't unique to......
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Do your people do the right thing even when you are not looking?

Would it surprise you to learn that in a recent study across the country where apartment communities were contacted with requests for information via the internet that less than 10% of the communities contacted responded?  In our current economic climate where maintaining occupancy is a challenge in many of our metropolitan areas, would your communities be part of the 10% or would they be part of the 90%? 

As we begin 2009, I would challenge all multi-family professionals, whether onsite or at a corporate level, to make sure that your teams are doing the basics.  Studies have continually shown that internet traffic is qualified traffic and that the number of individuals that are looking for an apartment online continues to increase every day.  Are your properties capturing all of the internet leads that they are receiving?   Are they following up with all leads in the manner that the prospective resident requested?  Are the internet leads answered in a professional manner?  If you don't know what your people are doing when it comes to internet leads, I would strongly suggest that you find out - today.  The only thing you have to lose is qualified rentals!

 

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AptConnect Graces the Pages of Multifamily Executive

AptConnect on Multifamily Executive:

http://www.multifamilyexecutive.com/industry-news.asp?sectionID=550&articleID=733522&refresh=true

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