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How Climate Change Is Affecting Property Management

How Climate Change Is Affecting Property Management
If you think that climate change has nothing to do with property management, think back to the last time you experienced a weather event at your managed properties. Hurricanes, blizzards, droughts, deep freezes, and other weather events can affect the property and units. To be prepared, property managers must anticipate how climate change will impact their buildings and plan for protection. The Real Effects of Climate Change While the debate on climate change continues, everyone can agree severe weather can cause real, lasting damage to property assets. Imagine the effects of a flooded basement where renters have stored their things, or where your common laundry facilities are located. Or consider how a wildfire brought on by drought and dry weather could ruin your landscape and your apartment in a worst-case scenario. The best way to protect your property is to understand the risks you face and be prepared. Consider the different weather events that could impact you, and then plan ahead. Do a test run of your disaster recovery strategy to make sure everything works. If you’re nervous about flooding, for example, you may relocate expensive equipment to higher ground or perform preventative maintenance. By safeguarding gutters and downspouts, cleaning drains regularly, patching cracks in the foundation, and installing a sump pump, you can mitigate water damage. For added insurance, invest in a wet vac or set up a priority arrangement with a local water damage company.  Since flooding may disrupt electrical systems, install a generator. With many disasters, time is o......
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The People Behind the Problems

The People Behind the Problems
If you have watched any news for the last couple of years, you’ve probably seen several stories about intense debates, protests (or riots...which are very different from protests), and general unrest. Politicians and regular citizens alike seem to be passing judgement on others before they have a complete picture of what may actually be happening. If you’ve seen these, then you have witnessed an unsettling trend in our society that accepts and even encourages snap judgments. In essence, we as a people are saying “just because someone has a different perspective than you, they’re absolutely wrong, and the world would probably be a better place without them.” (Heaven forbid.) Aristotle said “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” In other words, you’re a wise person if you can open your mind enough to understand why someone has a different perspective than you--even if you don’t necessarily agree with them. I’m hoping that the generation with access to the most information in the history of the world (our generation) can prove how educated our minds are. Asking if someone else is an educated mind doesn’t seem to help much, though. As soon as we start pointing out someone else’s flaws, it makes it that much more difficult for them to accept our input. The real question we should be asking is, “am I an educated mind?” (If you recognized the dual meaning behind the title of this article, congratulations; I think that means you’re an educated mind!) ......
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On Maintenance and Retaining Residents

On Maintenance and Retaining Residents
Thinking about the apartment my wife and I lived in right after we were married brings back a broad spectrum of emotions and memories.  Even though it wasn't what you'd call a class A property, we loved it for the simple reason that it was our first home together and a place where many great memories were created.  Between infestations, ceilings that leaked, appliances that didn't work, and an HVAC system with a mind of its own, there was always a new adventure waiting for us around the corner.  Eventually, things did get bad enough that we ended up demanding (and winning) an early release from our contract. As I look back on that experience, I wonder if there was anything the property could have done to retain us.  Given what we were paying (next to nothing) and the age of the building (ancient), should we have really expected anything different?  At work, we handle hundreds of maintenance requests every day and have a unique opportunity to see how apartment communities respond to them all over the country.  Based on these experiences, here are a few ideas for ways we can better serve our residents and, in return, earn their loyalty. 1. Set Clear Expectations Up Front. If your residents have unreasonable expectations about how quickly their maintenance items should be fixed, what constitutes an emergency, or even what falls within the scope of your maintenance team, you are likely to disappoint them. Make sure your residents know what to expect from day one. 2. Provide......
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How Well Do You Really Know Your Residents?

How Well Do You Really Know Your Residents?
Did you hear?  Mr. Jones in unit 210 just lost his job in a very competitive industry and without any severance.  There’s more!  Tim and Amy in 202 recently got engaged, Mrs. Martin over in 312 is going through a divorce, and the Porter’s son in 121 was just diagnosed with cancer.  Oh, and Maria in 324 received a major promotion last week!  What’s that?  You didn't know any of this? At times, it feels that our industry can be a cold world where leads are nothing but marketing costs, applicants are just calculated risks, and residents are little more than sources of revenue.  The phone rings on-site to the collective groans of an office staff bracing for more complaints from so-and-so who is always calling in to complain about such-and-such.  Didn't that lead see the sign that says the office closes at 6:00?  What audacity to walk in and ask for a tour at 5:55!  Don’t even get us started on renewals and evictions. This is, granted, a negative view of things.  There’s nothing wrong about a business that focuses on the bottom line— in fact, it’s essential.  As I have had an opportunity to live and breath in the soft side of the industry, the part where the little interactions we have each day with our prospective and current residents add up to something larger, I've noticed a few things.  I've also asked a lot of questions.  For example, does it really matter if we know our residents?  And do we truly know......
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Giving Residents an “Effortless Experience”

Giving Residents an “Effortless Experience”
We have all heard that it is far cheaper (and easier for that matter) to retain a current customer or resident than it is to acquire a new one. How much simpler life would be for your leasing staff if every resident renewed their contract year after year? Actually, if that was the case, your leasing staff may be out of a job – bad example, but I think you’re picking up what I’m laying down. The big question then is – How do we convince our residents to renew their contract at our property year after year? Customer loyalty, of course! It is so simple – if you build loyalty with your residents, then they will never, ever leave, right? So how do you build this so-called “loyalty”? Let's say you get your staff together and start discussing all of the ways that they can go above and beyond for your residents, so they put out a candy jar and a plate of cookies in the leasing office for all of the residents to enjoy. Each resident is sent a birthday card on his or her big day. When a resident experiences a big inconvenience, you issue them a credit no-questions-asked. After seeing a resident take one of those delicious chocolate chip cookies from the counter after they made a trek down to the office to make a rent payment, the staff says to themselves, “He is really going to enjoy that cookie. I bet he will never want to live anywhere else.” As you know, tha......
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Best Practices for Improving Online Resident Notifications

Best Practices for Improving Online Resident Notifications
It wasn’t more than 10 seconds into the story that one older kids in my Sunday school class took it upon himself to inform the room that he had already heard about Jonah and the whale, he already knows that Jonah dies, and this entire class is boring him. It’s that moment I take solace in the thought this child is going home with humans far more loving and patient than myself. Even children can instantly recognize when they’re being relayed information that is not catered to their specific situational interests. Likewise, apartment residents will recognize in less than a moment when communications violate their expectations; and at a time when their online megaphone is just a click away, corporate and site-level staff hold huge responsibility in ensuring apartment community notifications are relevant, timely, and well-received. Within the broader topic of today’s online resident experience, Laramar Communities’ Interactive marketing Manager Christine Millier spoke about how multifamily communities can create a superior resident experience by adopting online communication tools to keep their message current, personalized, and actionable. Using integrated messaging tools for email and text, as well as personalized account notifications through their online resident portal, Laramar has incorporated the following best practices for improving online communications: 1) Establish Communication Guidelines: Provide team members and site-level staff with specific instructions as to the use of spell check, image selection, etc. 2) Create Templates: Select a messaging tool that allows users to build off templates, which is especially crucial for companies without in-house graphic design. 3) Start Small & Put......
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To Tow… or Not To Tow? Seven Tips to keep that from being the Question

I don’t know a property manager who doesn’t grapple with parking issues. At best, they’re a hassle. At worst, they threaten resident safety, satisfaction and retention. They can even send you to court. Towing may alienate a resident… but failure to act on a parking problem could alienate many residents. The best solution is a proactive approach that maximizes compliance and minimizes your need to have to make the tough decision. Here are seven tips to help ease parking woes on your property. 1. Understand the parking and towing laws and ordinances in your state and in your municipality. If you don’t already know the laws, an Internet search should yield results. Illegal towing can do more than damage resident relationships. It can be costly. Some states allow the court to award loss of use damages for the illegally towed vehicle. Residents have to prove their case. But win or lose, it’s going to cost you time and money. 2. Have proper legal signage. Posting parking permit and restriction signs on your property is one of the most important actions you can take to ensure and enforce compliance. With effective signage, residents, visitors, staff and vendors should never have any question about where to park. 3. Clearly mark the parking lots and curbs. Sometimes signs disappear, but parking lot stripes and curb paint is permanent. Mark restricted parking areas as clearly as possible; leave nothing to question. 4. Create, publish and distribute a clear, well-defined parking policy. Your policy should spell out—and ite......
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