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Give Your Renewing Residents Your Current Concessions

Yes, you read that right. Consider giving your renewing residents your current concession.No, I'm not crazy. I've always been an advocate of this ideology. And I've been severely criticized for it my entire career. I first mentioned it to some owners I worked for when I was a brand new Leasing Professional. My owners looked at me as though I was completely insane. If our industry ever needed to reconsider their ‘we don't give concessions on renewals' strategy, now is the time.Let's look at the math for a second, shall we? The average cost to turn an apartment these days is $2500, so as soon as a resident gives notice we're already at a negative $2500. So saving the resident already puts that money right back into our pocket. If we're giving away a month or two in free rent, we are probably locking the new resident into a longer lease term as well, so you're already getting the renewal resident for a longer lease term. Hopefully, you're managing your renewals with your traffic patterns so you don't end up loading some low traffic months for renewals (that's never smart).If you're watching the market and doing your rent surveys (this is assuming you are not using a revenue management software, such as Yieldstar) you have your apartments competitively priced. You're doing everything you can to stay ahead in this challenging economy. Everything but rewarding your current residents with the pricing incentives that you'll gladly give to someone with whom you have absolutely......
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Helping Residents That Lose Their Jobs

More and more I've reading about companies who are implementing programs that make it easier for residents to get out of their lease if they lose their job (see links below). They are doing so in hopes of attracting new residents and keep existing ones. Companies I've worked for in recent years have implemented practices of releasing resident's from their leases without penalty if their home becomes uninhabitable due to no fault of their own or that of their occupants/guests and for heath related reasons specifically for a terminal illness or the need for hospice, rehabilitation or nursing care. We are now considering doing something similar for residents that lose their job. As it stands now residents that lose their job cannot afford pay early lease termination fees anyway. On February 11, 2009, I published an article "Recession Proof Your Rent Payments" http://www.multifamilymanagementconsultants.com/journal/2009/2/11/recession-proof-your-rent-payments.html that garnered a lot of attention. In light of this article, I'd like to emphasize that there is a way companies can let residents who lose their job out of their lease and minimize their loss of income. In the article I wrote: "...renter's insurance providers offer an option for Involuntary Unemployment Insurance. This optional coverage offers protection when the insured is affected by unemployment due to a lay-off or termination by an employer. One such known provider offers a policy that features monthly benefits paying up to $500 per month for two months directly to the landlord. Resident's can purchase as many policies as needed to cover their monthly......
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Notecards - NOT just for Thank You anymore!

 I hate going to the mail box.  In fact, if it weren't for NetFlix and the stuff I order off eBay, I would probably let the mail sit in the box for about 3 months at a time.  You know how it is; every time you open that little box with your mail in it, it's never good news.  Bill, Bill, Overdue Bill, Threat from the people at direct loans about breaking your knees if you don't make a payment, magazine, Junk, Junk, and Bill.  The mail rarely yields anything that makes me feel good, and it's something that I have to deal with every day.  I don't think I'm alone in this either.  I would guess a lot of people don't like to go to their mailbox anymore.Well if there's anything I loved to do when on site, it was finding a way to make something I hate in to an opportunity for resident retention!The handwritten note is one of the greatest traditions and most powerful tools that we have in property management.  We all know that the great leasing consultant sends a thank you note for tours.  But what about after people move in?  What about notes for resident retention?  When you consider how much it costs to lose a resident, especially in this wacky economy, it's well worth 10 minutes out of our day to connect with our residents.  Whenever we talk with them, they're opening the door for resident connection and retention. It's up to us to......
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Resident Retention: If it weren't for all the residents, I'd love apartment management!

   Browsing some other multifamily blogs today, I noticed one that read, "Do New Residents Make People Move Out of Your Apartments?" I liked the author's line of thinking, because the heart of the matter is that perception of Value.  As we wine and dine any prospects we can get our hands on, offering discounts, upgrades, vacations and what not, our long-term residents can begin to feel, "What am I? Chopped liver?" Quotable quotes from real resident satisfaction surveys: "The attention and service from the leasing and office staff is great before moving in; after you move in, it all stops." "The biggest problem to me is to get a response from the person who was my leasing agent. I have tried to set up a meeting with the manager about my concerns, but have had no luck." "Getting a returned call or email now that I have moved in would be nice." Yikes! As we place more focus on closing the back door, remember it's a question of whether the resident is seeing the value your community provides. Yes, the rental rate is one big aspect of value, but another aspect of value is what they get for that rate they are paying: - Quick resolution of submitted service requests - Quick responses to calls and emails - Notification of delayed work order resolution, or upcoming inconveniences (slurry seals, office closures, etc.) - Convenient service offerings, such as online work order submission, online rent payments, text work order submission The decision......
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Maintaining Rapport For Resident Retention

Establish Rapport With Apartment ResidentsMost of us have been trained to establish rapport when leasing apartments, but once we have them all moved in, are we dropping the ball? I wanted to share a little story related to my lease renewal process I blogged about earlier. (And as a quick note, my apartment community does a solid job - not great, but solid, so I really shouldn't pick on them. But I think real-world examples are the best, so here I go...)  In the process of renewing my lease I went into the office twice, and talked to one of the leasing consultants as well as the property manager. As we talked about the renewal rent increase (which was hefty), the subject of their new pricing software came up, and both times I said I was familiar with the system that they used. I didn't mention it to "name drop", but instead wanted to gauge their reaction. Being familiar with that system should have immediately piqued their interest as it showed that I was either currently or in the past in their industry. But both times, neither of them flinched. They acted as if all of their residents had industry-specific knowledge and they kept talking as if I hadn't talked at all!  Needless to say, I was a bit shocked. Why wouldn't they take that moment to ask how I was involved in the industry? Isn't that normal conversational behaviour if you are the least bit interested in the other person? Which really made me......
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Where's Your Pleather?

Trendcentral reported this week that pleather shoes are back, and better yet, being sold as “vegan/cruelty free” specialty items.  Pleather!  Talk about finding a way to make a mundane product with a cheap reputation hip and chic again.  Give a product a trend-friendly spin, and voila’ – people have a reason to buy it again.  

Think about your community or portfolio.  What is right in front of you that with a twist, could add value to your offerings?  Perhaps you have a vacant plot of dirt.  A little elbow grease and topsoil could result in a community garden – very hip to today’s recessionista crowd.  Maybe you have an old community but you have a lot of land.  Pace it out and create a walking area complete with distance markers.  Conference room void of conferences?  Abandon that purpose and turn it into a CYO (Create Your Own) room.  Offer classes in do-it-yourself fare and show people how to create with less.  Don’t like that idea?  Offer classes in money management or resume building.   The point is, think about what resonates with your residents during these times and respond.  In the process, you will build value.  

Get together with your team today and ask yourselves, “Where is the Pleather in our community?”  Then redefine it.

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Social Networking - So easy even a cow can do it!

I AM BACK!!! I have been busy traveling and working, however, I wanted my friends at Multifamily Insiders to know about this great new idea! I am co-hosting a Social Networking Marketing Contest with Ellipse Inc. and the winner get's $500 CASH Here is how: Join Ellipse Group's Facebook fan page or become their friend on Facebook & MySpace. Post or comment your best idea for social networking in Multifamily on the Facebook wall. The winner will be notified via Facebook or MySpace email on June 1st 2009. All entries must be posted by 11:59 PM EST on May 27,2009.  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ellipse-Group/46342189946http://twitter.com/TheEllipseCowhttp://www.myspace.com/ellipse_symphony 1. OK - Here is one of my best social networking idea!!! HAVE A Facebook Photo contest the 1st - 5th while residents are paying rent! Create a fun seasonal photo scene with props and a positive message about your property. Example: Have spring flowers in April, plus four pages printed 8 1/2 x 11 with one word that makes a message. GREAT PLACE TO LIVE with your property name. Create fun rules about the props and the message. Winner receives $100 off the next months rent. Send out door hanger to announce the contest 10 days before the first and tell your residents to bring their friends when they pay their rent this month. List the rules and props and recommend they load the photo up with people. The more friends, the more possible referrals. The more friends you can tag and the more of your residents friend's friends will see your photos......
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Resident Retention: S-E-R-V-I-C-E! Find out what it means to me!

I grew up in a town where the nearest Nordstrom was a 6-hour drive away. Needless to say, the folk-lore surrounding the Nordstrom level of service was the stuff of legends by the time I moved to Southern California and had no less than 3 of the stores within a 15 mile radius of my home. You can imagine the anticipation that had built up as I walked through the doors of this promised land. I was going to buy a New Suit. From ‘Nordy’s,’ as those in the know call it.

I walked through the appropriate department, eyes bright, scanning for that most-helpful-in-the-world sales person. There she was! I couldn’t imagine how the exchange would begin. I smiled. I held my breath. She was speaking with another woman. I slowed my walk to allow their conversation to finish. It did not. I slowed even more. This was going to be great. I came to a full stop at a rack of suits within her line of sight, maybe 5 feet away. I noticed the other woman was also a sales person. Surely they would stop what they were doing! Surely they would be more than happy to help me find my New Suit. But they didn’t. They weren’t. I got a glance. A look up and down. And their conversation continued.

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Frugal Fix

This idea definitely won’t blow your budget.  If your community is starting to show wear and tear, but your budget doesn’t include new doors, cabinets or floors, the Sharpie touch up permanent marker is for you.   A few seconds and a few strokes with this permanent marker will get things looking like new.  At $3.00 for three, in light, medium and dark wood colors, it’s a recessionista’s friend.   One word of caution – don’t try to color the whole cabinet…some things really do need to be replaced. http://www.sharpie.com/enUS/Product/Sharpie_Touch-Up_Permanent_Marker.html

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Live the Life - The Year of the Resident

Last November at the Indiana Apartment Association "Industry Outlook" presentation, the speaker said a dirty word when sharing his thoughts about 2009.  It was much longer than four letters, beginning with a "C" and ending in "onsessions".  After that night we began brainstorming about overcoming this obstacle.  What we came up with was "The Year of the Resident."  Why every year isn't "The Year of the Resident" I really can't tell you, but maybe we just needed to hear that dirty word to get refocused?  Where that extra focus is for us, is where we're choosing to spend our marketing dollars.  In 2009 we've made the decision to focus more of our marketing dollars on our residents.  While many of our competitors are spending more on advertisements and giving away free rent, we're taking that money and spending it on our communities and our residents.  A couple examples include increased "Resident Relations" budgets, increased "Resident Event" budgets, capital improvements for clubhouses, and some "Special Promotions" geared toward getting more involved with our residents.Some of you may have already had a chance to see what's been going on with our first "Special Promotion" called the J.C. Hart Live the Life Video Contest.  This contest asks for J.C. Hart Apartment Community residents to create a two minute video or less on why they love living in their J.C. Hart Community.  The videos were posted to YouTube.com to enter, and since have been narrowed down to the top 5 finalists in our 6 winning......
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