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Tips to Respond to Coronavirus Related Online Reviews

Tips to Respond to Coronavirus Related Online Reviews
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, with stay-at-home orders in 31 states and counting, an increased number of families are confined to their homes. During such times, the on-site property teams and resources are likely to be tested. Reviewers are complaining about the property teams not doing enough to combat Coronavirus or lack of accommodations by the management when it comes to rent payment. On the bright side, residents are quick to point out positive actions such as the “manager handing out pizza and sanitizers.”  As you work frenetically to manage this crisis and the effect it may have on your online reputation, how can you effectively respond to some of the criticism stemming from your property’s handling of Coronavirus in online reviews?  Here are some tips to respond to reviews around this fluid situation. Be empathetic: The situation today is an anomaly, and many people are extremely anxious. Be empathetic while reading and responding to reviews, and reassure residents that the management is making every effort to follow guidelines from trusted sources like the Centers for Disease Control and Preventionand the local, state and federal government to ensure the well-being of everyone connected to the community. It is critical to reflect sympathy and understanding particularly with complaints related to rent collection during this time of “economic vulnerability.” Monitor your reviews: Get your teams to diligently monitor reviews for any conversation related to this crisis. Nip any apprehensions and further gossip in the bud by reaching out to the resident directly ......
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What to do and what not to do when your resident says, "I can't pay my rent!!"

What to do and what not to do when your resident says, "I can't pay my rent!!"
I bet that you've been bombarded with emails, phone calls, messages and in-person visits (if you're still doing that) from residents saying, "I can't pay my next month's rent. What can you do??"  So....what do you do? Before I go further, I want to say that this post is NOT about whether you should offer payment options, deferred payments, waive late fees or modify your lease agreement. I recognize every situation is different and there is not a "one size fits all" option that is going to work across the board. Some owners and operators are able to take a short-term financial hit while others are already running on slim margins with not a lot of room to maneuver.  Do: Start With Connection If someone is contacting you to ask about what you can do to help them with their rent, what do you think they're feeling? They're probably scared, anxious, uncertain, angry, frustrated, and maybe even embarrassed. In other words they may be having "all the feels" right now.  So when someone connects with you, start with something like this: "Mackenzie-I really value you as a resident and I appreciate your taking the time to talk to me about this."  Whether you can help them or not, beginning your conversation with them with connection is always a smart strategy.  Do Listen Listening might be the last thing you want to do right now-especially if you already know what you can or can't do and just want the resident to stop......
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Three Ways to Eliminate the Pet Loophole

Three Ways to Eliminate the Pet Loophole
Pets contribute to the aura of a rental community just as much as the rooftop deck, club-quality fitness center, resident lounge or any other amenity—perhaps more so, in the eyes of many. But managing the increasing number of furry family members is no small task for onsite teams.  Today, leasing teams are keeping track of pets that arrive when a new resident moves in, but it’s more challenging to track pets that were acquired during a resident’s stay. Convincing residents to properly register their pets with the community is another challenge.  Tech tools can help with that, and also can provide onsite teams with a snapshot of previous pet and pet owner behavior when they apply at a rental community. Here are some of the ways to close the pet loophole and create the most pet-responsible and pet-friendly experience for residents: Proper pet audits Many apartment communities believe they have their pet population fully accounted for, but oftentimes, that’s like believing there are no bears in the forest just because you don’t immediately see them. Odds are, there are more than a few unregistered pets on your property, particularly because no comprehensive screening methods were available until recently. Taking inventory of all pets at the property can be a tricky task without being invasive, but an audit has immeasurable value.  Blowing a dog whistle and seeing which apartments have barkers isn’t a good strategy, but a few ways exist to help with a pet audit. These include revisiting a resident’s pet situation at ......
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One Phrase to Remember When You're Ready to LOSE It With a Customer!

One Phrase to Remember When You're Ready to LOSE It With a Customer!
Did you parents (or a teacher, coach, relative etc.) ever tell you, “You’re better than that!” after doing something that you shouldn’t have done? What were they telling you? Literally- your actions or words did not reflect who you really are! Isn’t why hearing, “You’re better than that!” hurt so much? Because you knew it to be true!  There was a time when I went to buy some coffee and I could tell the barista was just over it! She wasn’t friendly to the customers and she looked like she was just ticked off at the world. When it was my turn to pick up coffee I braced for impact! Now my order was for four coffees and since I was the only one picking it up, I needed a tray. A tray that this barista didn’t give me. Although she could see that I was picking up four coffees and only have two hands. So I asked for a tray and I could tell this frustrated her even more. So she grabbed a tray and flung it in my direction, you know like she was throwing a flying disc. She didn’t take my coffees and put it in the tray. She didn’t even nicely and gently place the tray in front of me. She flung it at me.  Unfortunately for her the tray hit one of the coffees, spilling it all over the counter and on me and my clothes and shoes as well. Oh by the way, the coffee was hot too! I can stil......
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Responsible Pet Owners Month: Encourage Your Residents to Make a Positive Impact in February

Responsible Pet Owners Month: Encourage Your Residents to Make a Positive Impact in February
Being a responsible pet owner is undoubtedly a yearlong objective. But that doesn’t mean pet owners can’t occasionally take inventory of just how well they’re doing on the accountability scale. February is Responsible Pet Owners Month, which creates a prime opportunity for community managers to encourage their residents to take part. Odds are your community is largely full of responsible pet owners, but even the most stellar of the bunch sometimes aren’t 100% compliant with your pet policies. One idea for property managers during Responsible Pet Owners Month is to pass along a quick checklist for residents that outlines and refreshes the necessary steps to be an ideal pet owner. Items on the list can include: Vaccinations  Sometimes animals are so healthy and vibrant that it’s easy to forget that their vaccinations are overdue. Many indoor cat owners opt not to vaccinate their cats because the rationale is, after all, they’re indoor cats. However, many states require core vaccines by law—such as rabies and distemper for dogs and calicivirus for cats—and all pet owners should be acutely aware when they are due. While regular veterinarians will offer reminders, it’s possible that many of your residents are transplants from a different part of the country and haven’t yet acquired a local vet. A simple vaccination reminder could make the difference in meeting the deadline and lead to healthier and safer pets. Proper registration Many communities have recently added a platform for residents to register their pets at the property. This ensures that all pets at the com......
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Data Shows Which Apartment Resident Activity Ideas Are Worth Doing

Your residents say they want to be part of a community, but which apartment resident activity ideas are really worth the time and effort?   The Multifamily Field Guide took a look at responses from 193,000 consumers who visited almost 320 property websites across the country and crunched the numbers to take the guesswork out of how to increase resident satisfaction, your renewal rates and how to attract new prospects to stay ahead of the competition.   A discussion post here on Multifamily Insiders generated some great ideas. Property managers and leasing specialists discussed hosting a community car wash, a yard sale, casino night, chili cook-off or character day at the pool for kids. The Field Guide offers solid data that provides insights into what other types of apartment resident activities you can host, as well.    Seventeen percent of consumers said they enjoyed outdoor activities the most. Host outdoor events at your property where you give tenants more opportunities to hang out with their friends and show prospects what you offer by inviting them, too. You could host a neighborhood cook-out or a field day with games, races and prizes.    Share photos of your outdoor events on social media, on your website, in digital advertising efforts and in lead nurture emails. Ensuring there is an outdoor component to your activity will likely make it more successful! Outdoor activities don’t necessarily have to be on site, either. How about a night out at the local baseball game? See if yo......
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The Revolving Maintenance Tech Door and how to close it

  I’m in the multifamily industry in St. Louis, MO and have been for almost 30 years.  It seems we have an ongoing, common issue with getting and keeping good maintenance techs.  With so many property management companies losing & needing great maintenance techs, I posed the question on our facebook page as to why good techs are leaving and the common answer was wages. They can make more with their own business or in commercial construction jobs and also avoid the issues with being on call.  So, I did some math. Again, I’m in the St. Louis market, so using some typical numbers we see here for this.    If the average rent is $900 per month and you lose just 6 residents a year due to poor maintenance, that’s a minimum of $5400.00 in vacancy loss if the apartment sits vacant for just 30 days. Now add in the wages paid to maintenance, contractors and leasing to turn and re-lease the units and the utility costs management will have to pay during this time, also any inspection fees. So, let’s add in another $500.00 per unit. Now we’re at $8400.00 for the 6 units we lost due to poor maintenance. And these number are conservative. In all likelihood it will be much more. And can we put a dollar amount on the poor reviews we’ll get and the chatter they’ll be telling literally everyone they know about the reason why they’re moving due to poor maintenance?? All the while, we’re spending ......
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Innovations that Create Resident Loyalty and Don’t Rely on Technology

There is a lot of focus on technology in the apartment industry these days. And rightly so. Today’s residents are seemingly glued to their smartphones, and we’ve all seen how software, mobile apps, smart-home technology and artificial intelligence can be used to significantly improve the resident and prospect experience. But operators must not lose sight of the powerful impact that non-technological amenities and features can have on the lives of residents. Today’s renters have a real longing for connection and wellness, and forward-thinking owners and managers have realized that meeting these needs can also be achieved through innovations that don’t rely on Wi-Fi or a sophisticated software program. Below are some non-technological innovations through which apartment operators can distinguish themselves from the competition and create a community full of satisfied and loyal residents (these amenities and others will be discussed in a session at the upcoming MICA 2020 conference): Concierge and lifestyle services. Today’s residents are extremely busy. Between their demanding jobs and other responsibilities, they often have precious little energy or time to take care of everyday chores and tasks. When a community offers concierge and lifestyle services – dry cleaning, dog-walking, housecleaning, clothes folding and plant watering, to name just a few – it allows residents to easily handle their day-to-day responsibilities. These services enable renters to use their downtime to relax and unwind. In the process, these offerings can create real resident loyalty and satisfaction. Exercise and wellness classes. Many apartment communities have a fitness center filled with cardio machin......
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A Property Manager's Guide to Dealing with Difficult Residents

In a perfect world, all residents at an apartment community would pay their rent on time, be quiet and thoughtful neighbors, write positive reviews of the building without prompting, attend events, bring you homemade cookies daily, volunteer to babysit your kids, offer to chauffeur you in their Maserati, set you up on a date with their cousin Chris Hemsworth...

But, it's not a perfect world.

And, sometimes, despite screening them, some residents are, well, less than the ideal. Here's how property managers should deal with difficult residents. 

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Create Relationships With Neigbors Builds Value

Part Three in the Life is More than Bingo for Today's Seniors A successful Senior Citizen Apartment community will create relationships with neighbors to build a supportive environment or a network of its residents.  While the active individuals categorized as senior citizens have no interest in housing that is typified as a senior center, congregate living or what might be referred to as the old folks home.  They are likely to look for an apartment community with a reputation that has created its own neighborhood. B-I-N-G-O The third point in our series about today’s Seniors, tying into the letters in the word BINGO;  is a look at the community atmosphere, our Neighborhood and Networks.  Previous posts have suggested an understanding that Seniors see themselves as “better than” rather than older than.  We’ve acknowledged the importance of an Individual and Independent lifestyle. Ties To A Neighborhood The need for relationships remains the glue that cements friendships.  They choose to live close to friends or family.  They don’t want to move because their “friends are here.”  Multi family providers can create relationships with neighbors when they support this community atmosphere.    Connecting With The On-Site Team  This includes the relationship with the office and maintenance teams.  When an individual has confidence in the staff that provides the interior, exterior repairs as well as the administration of their lease, they can have confidence that they don’t have to worry about being taken advantage of or ignored.    Photo by Ian Baldwin on Unsplash However, its important to acknowledge these are not “mandatory” resident attendance events.  We are not requiring participation  to community potlucks or bingo.&......
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