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LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME!

LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME!
  So, it’s Sunday morning and I’m getting my church on when the collection plate comes around. Some parishioners place nothing in the plate at all, some place a few folded up bills in the plate, some confidentially place an unmarked envelope or folded check… and then there’s those that place a check face-up with their name on it and the amount they’ve given written bold for all to see (accompanied by a smug little grin). No judgment, but it reminds me of a concept I enjoy sharing called “conspicuous consumption and conspicuous conservation.”     The concept of conspicuous consumption was something I read about a couple years back and refers to the need for people to show other people that they are spending a lot of money on their things in an effort to enhance their social prestige. The handbag has to have the right pattern and/or tag, the car has to have the right hood ornament, the watch has to be the right brand. Example – I would never spend the money that I spend on a certain brand of shoes if the red soles didn’t SCREAM to others exactly what brand they are.   Yes, I am guilty.   But when I read the article about conspicuous consumption, I immediately came up with my own term (it may have been coined by someone else in the past, but on that day I made it up) – Conspicuous Conservation. You see – just as much as (some) humans like others to know how mu......
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Resident Incentives Part 2: The Move Out

Resident Move-OutI remember the first apartment I moved into – it was a nice community that was well kept and gated for added security.  The managers in the office were very friendly; the community allowed for our dog; we had to argue with the company about having over $500 removed from the deposit due to repainting the entire unit because of a black scuff on one wall of a bedroom.  Unfortunately, that last portion was also the only goodbye memory I have from that community and also something that gets shared with anyone I talk to about an apartment to rent.  While not all residents will have the perfect send off, there are still small gestures you can make that will leave a positive lasting impression.  Offer Additional Services: See what sort of reasonable deals local cleaning companies might be willing to offer you.  Pass this offer to your resident that they can subtract ‘X’ amount from their deposit.  For under $100 this might be a very attractive offer to someone relocating who doesn’t want to have to think about moving large appliances to clean their floor. Leave a Card: Have a box of thank you cards in your office and a few days before someone leaves, put one on their door.  Something that says it was a pleasure having them as a resident and you hope they will remember the property fondly. More Recycling!: Just like the moving box recycling program you can do the same for newspapers.  Once you ......
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What Incentives do your Residents have while moving?

It seems like everywhere I look I see advice on how to get residents into your property and how to keep them there.  What I don't see is articles about how to make an impact on your resident right after they sign the lease.  The period after they sign the lease and begin moving in is one of the most difficult times.  They have to go through the headache of moving, transferring all accounts, informing people of their new address, and then they still have to adjust to a new home.  Adding value to their life during this period may make more of an impact than any other time.  Here are some great ways to improve their transition: ·     ♦ Leave them a move-in present: Have a welcome package waiting on the kitchen counter for when they begin moving into the premises.  Contents of this package could include a package of water bottles, a change of address form, some snacks such as trail mix or beef jerky, picture frame hooks, etc. ·     ♦ Create a moving box recycling program: As residents move in, offer them the option of recycling their broken down moving boxes in your office. Over time this can become a ‘take a penny, leave a penny’ type of option for movers. ·     ♦ Contract with local small businesses: Talk to some local cleaning business, moving companies and truck rental business.  See who might be willing to offer some form of discount or compensation for referrals from your ......
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Lead residents down a green path this Earth Day

As property owners, managers or leasing agents, you understand the need to conserve energy at your apartment community.  By installing energy-efficient appliances and windows and using eco-friendly alternatives for floors, countertops and paint, you are not only significantly reducing your carbon footprint, but also banking significant savings on energy costs.  If 10,000 owners of large apartment communities change to Energy-Star appliances, the energy saved could power each of your TVs for 1,640,625 years!  While the people on the property level are doing their part to protect the environment, we want to provide you with four sustainable tips you can share with your environmentally-friendly residents—leading up to Earth Day on April 22nd—that they can put into practice today. 1. Be a Savvy Shopper Cut down on the amount of paper or plastic consumed by bringing a reusable shopping bag to the grocery store.  If eco-friendly shoppers forget their tote, ensure those plastic grocery bags get reused to line garbage cans or when scooping kitty litter.  Additionally, fuel and distribution costs can be reduced by shopping at local farmers’ markets instead of large chain grocery stores for produce.  2. Kick the Bottled Water Habit Americans use four million plastic bottles every hour – but only one in four is recycled.  Instead of reaching for bottled water, use a water filter on the kitchen faucet and fill up a non-leaching, lined aluminum SIGG bottle with filtered tap water.  If 10,000 people gave up their daily bottled water habit for a year, they could ......
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Five Tips for Proper Document Disposal after Switching to an Electronic Document Management System

More and more apartment owners and property managers are turning to document management systems to control the paper flow and streamline and improve their business processes. These systems not only manage electronic bills, contracts, and invoices, but also create an electronic library of documents once they’ve been scanned into the system. But after you’ve made the move to an electronic document management system, how do you properly dispose of all the information that has occupied file folders, filled storage boxes, packed file cabinets, and otherwise cluttered up your desk? Proper document disposal is essential as improper or otherwise short-sighted removal can put your property management company, employees, and residents at risk for fraud and identity theft. Consider: In November 2011, a Dallas news crew showed up at an apartment complex and pulled credit applications – complete with copies of driver’s licenses and social security cards – from a dumpster. A spokesman for the complex said the documents were intended to be shredded but were mistakenly placed in the dumpster. In 2008, MSNBC’s website reported that sheriff’s deputies in DeKalb County, Ga., outside Atlanta, found the mortgage records of at least 1,200 former customers of Ameriquest Mortgage Co. in a dumpster behind an apartment complex, two years after the nation’s biggest subprime lenders ceased operation. Having a system in place that securely and confidentially destroys or removes sensitive documents enables apartment property managers and owners to comply with federal regulations, safeguard residents’ privacy, and prevent identity theft and security breaches. Here are......
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Repair or Replace?

As much as we talk about the importance of recycling, the United States is the number one trash-producing country in the world.  This means that 5% of the world’s population generates 40% of the world’s waste! With last week being National Recycling Week, I thought it would be fun to show you some ways to conserve waste and save money by repairing, versus replacing, your appliances.  The below infograph, from Part Select, shows the cost to replace some common appliances.  If you click on the buttons, possible symptoms and their fixes are shown.  Have fun playing around with this and maybe next time one of your resident’s dishwasher leaks, you can save some money by repairing it.

 



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Trendsetting Business Ideas - Go Paperless!

Property Management Companies guide Go Paperless  Does your business require maintaining a lot of paper business records? Have you considered going paperless? Read this quick guide to going paperless. 1. Save on Real Estate! By cutting down on paper, you can save on real estate that is required to store old records and other related equipments. If your business operates in a city that is prone to natural hazards, you are at the risk of losing all your files and records that you store on-site. 2. Reduce Man-power! Maintaining records can be time consuming and may require hiring additional employees. Go paperless and cut costs in hiring additional resources. 3. Go Virtual! Switching to emails and virtual records can speed up your operating efficiencies. Virtual records provide the flexibility of pulling up the records anytime at your convenience, comparing multiple records simultaneously, and printing them. If a client requests a certain record, email is a quicker and greener solution. Save time and focus your efforts where it is needed.  4. Keep Risks at a Minimum! In case of natural hazards or emergency situations, such as a fire or burglary, you are at the risk of losing your paper records. You may not enough time to create back up files or move the files to a safer location. Maintaining virtual records minimizes the risks of storing paper records. 5. Go Green! Be a trendsetter by going green! Save on paper, save forests! Intelligent use of print and copy machines helps in becoming energy efficient.  Join the Green Movement! Let your Clients know that your business cares for......
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Green Up Your Property Management Company

Gone are the days when going green was a cutting-edge, leftist notion. With environmental issues at the forefront of the media, going green is now firmly in the mainstream, quickly becoming the norm rather than the exception. Even with all of these new, more eco-friendly options on the market, the truth of the matter is that completely greening your properties and your business in one fell swoop can be an expensive endeavor up-front (though most green measures will likely save you money in the long-run). Our suggestion? Take small measures over time that won’t break the bank in the short-run, will save you money in the long run, and will make you feel great about doing your part in the process. AppliancesInstalling energy-efficient appliances in your properties (dishwashers, refrigerators, washing machines, etc.) is a great way of incorporating greener, more energy-efficient elements into your properties. Not only will your property be more energy efficient by using less water and producing fewer greenhouse gas emissions, but you can also cut down significantly on utility bills by using water and energy more efficiently. Speaking of saving money, you can save some cash up front with energy efficient appliances as well. Rebates are often available for ENERGY STAR certified products, of which there are many. Not only do energy efficient appliances offer you the chance to be greener and save on utilities, but they’re also something that (sooner or later) you need to purchase anyway. You don’t have to break the bank by going out and......
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Want Your Apartment Community To Be “Green”? It Already Is!

We often discuss ways to transform our apartment communities in more eco-friendly ways, but many times this is in relation to other apartment communities.  In other words, we are trying to create a competitive advantage between apartment communities.  But how does the multifamily industry stack up against single family homes?  To answer this question, I talked “green” with Tim Frank, Team Leader of the Livable Communities Committee at the Sierra Club. After talking with Mr. Frank for just a few minutes, it became clear that the “American Dream” isn’t “eco friendly” at all. There are several direct negative consequences of single family housing, and several indirect sources, as well. Expanded Resource RequirementsLiving in a single-family house is extremely inefficient in terms of resources needed to run it.  Mr. Frank explained that single family developments require more electricity and water.  And due to the spread out nature of these developments, they also require longer lines for sewer, electrical, phone, cable, as well as longer roads.  The buildings themselves also affect the ecological impact.  Mr. Frank explained that during both the initial construction, as well as with ongoing maintenance, multifamily buildings are much more efficient with the resources they require relative to single family developments. Green Space A Thing Of The Past One of the main reasons people don’t consider single family developments as eco-“unfriendly” is that they are usually so green, literally.  A drive through a single family development is often greeted with green grass in the yard, trees along the way,......
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Earth Day Inspirations for Your Community

For those of you aren’t familiar, today is April 22, and today we are celebrating Earth Day.  The first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970 and it marked the beginning of the modern environmental movement (thank you, Wikipedia). Since then the movement has picked up quite a bit of speed, evolving from a small political outcry to a full blown trend. Now it’s cool to be “green.” There is so much pressure to be green that one might have an anxiety attack in the grocery checkout line when asked the simple question “Paper or plastic?” (For the low down on which is really best, check out this handy article: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18538484) How does this pertain to you, dedicated apartment management teams?  Well, if your community doesn’t already have at least a recycling program, you’re slipping behind the times.  Here are a few ideas to help you get caught up: ·         Recycle:  Read this wonderful step-by-step guide to recycling and waste management specifically geared towards multi-family communities, created by the BFI Waste Service of Salinas, CA: http://www.bfi-salinas.com/multi-family-sbs-guide.cfm.  Keep costs down by investing in just one community recycling bin to start, and provide your residents with an optional fee to have their own bin.  Also, seek an eager resident to manage the program instead of using paid employee time.  A small incentive such as a rent discount or a waived fee might help you find the right person for the job.   ·         Grow: Provide a community garden space. Growing and eating your own......
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