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Seemingly Small Resident Services with the Biggest Impact

Seemingly Small Resident Services with the Biggest Impact
Small Services Add Up to Resident Satisfaction Property managers can shut down their swimming pool and spa for a week for renovations, and residents will be understanding. Temporary gym or game room closures for equipment replacement are generally acceptable, as well. Managers can even require residents to relocate their vehicles off-site for a few days while the parking lot is repaved, and receive little push-back. But run out of printer paper or forget to restock the complimentary coffee machine, and the office team is going to hear about it.  It’s often the attention to the little things that keeps everything on an even keel at apartment communities. Residents depend on those seemingly minor conveniences to help them stick to their daily routines. We’re creatures of habit, and we build dependencies on those services that have been ingrained into our daily structure.  Simple Services are Significant  Think printing isn’t important to your residents? Check with your on-site teams to see how often residents ask to have things printed. They’re probably spending far more time accommodating resident printer requests that you think.  More than 32% of apartment residents who responded to a recent survey said their printing, copying and scanning needs have increased since they started working or schooling from home, due to the pandemic. Print volume has also gone up accordingly. More than 57.4% of residents said they now print more than 10 pages each month and 31.5% of survey respondents reported that they print more than 25 pages per month. The survey ......
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Five Common Questions About Smart Home Technology

Five Common Questions About Smart Home Technology
The era of the smart apartment home is upon us.Like the owners of single-family homes, apartment residents have come to appreciate the convenience and lifestyle benefits of smart home devices. According to a recent report by the National Multifamily Housing Council and Kingsley Associates, more than 70 percent of apartment residents are interested in smart thermostats while 67 percent and 63 percent are interested in smart lighting and smart locks, respectively. Meanwhile, more than 56 percent are interested in smart/dynamic glass. The report also shows that residents are willing to pay for smart home technologies.But despite this general and growing enthusiasm for smart home solutions, apartment communities that implement them are bound to face a wide array of questions from residents. Below are some common questions and a framework for suggested responses.1) What are the benefits to me? Smart home devices can provide apartment residents with a level of convenience they haven’t experienced before. Emphasize to them how these technologies can allow them to control and monitor their homes remotely and can even help them save money. For example, smart thermostats can reduce energy bills by 10-23 percent.2) How much will it cost? This will vary, of course, depending on the solutions you’re implementing and the providers you’re using. But be direct and clear with your residents and explain to them that the cost is either incorporated into their monthly rent or that they will be charged a separate monthly fee.3) Do these technologies/devices come with security risks? Unfortunately, no technology is 10......
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Mobile-Optimized Sites Versus Mobile Apps

Mobile-Optimized Sites Versus Mobile Apps
Let's face it: it's a mobile app world, and we're just living in it. According to eMarketer, smartphone users spend 90 percent of their time online in apps. One study showed that the total sessions in travel/navigation apps increased 50 percent worldwide between 2016 and 2018, while another one indicated that more than half of consumers (57 percent) have used a retailer's mobile app while in-store. Yet another one demonstrated that consumers are expected to download 258.2 billion mobile apps in 2022, up from 178.1 billion in 2017.These numbers provide powerful evidence that mobile apps play a fundamental, indispensable role in people's lives. And they should remain top of mind when apartment communities consider whether to offer residents a mobile app or a mobile-optimized portal.What's the Design Difference?We all know that the main difference is that apps must be downloaded by the user for use on a mobile device through an app store like Apple or Google Play. Unlike mobile-optimized sites, apps allow businesses to send out push and in-app notifications to the user. Generally speaking, apps can provide users with a more nimble and responsive experience than mobile websites can. Mobile-optimized websites are designed to easily accommodate different screen sizes. Users can access them through their phone browsers without downloading anything to their mobile devices. When contemplating whether to implement a mobile-optimized resident portal to allow residents to do things like make rent payments or file service requests, multifamily operators should bear in mind that users have different communication and......
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Technology Can Play Nice with Each Other

Technology Can Play Nice with Each Other
To keep their properties running smoothly and to provide residents with the services they desire, apartment operators today use a variety of different technology solutions.Property management software. Revenue management software. Package locker systems. Smart-home technology. The list goes on and on and continues to grow.With all of these systems at work, it's more important than ever that technology providers enable their solutions to integrate and "talk" with each other. The apartment industry hasn't exactly been known for this over the years, but the time has arrived for suppliers to play nice. Doing so can make day-to-day life so much easier for both operators and their residents. Quick Primer on API You may have heard of the acronym API. It stands for "Application Programming Interface."But how about something a little easier to understand: Long story short, when a solution has an API, it allows the solution's servers to communicate openly and freely with another solution's servers. In other words, the two technologies can exchange information back and forth and in real-time. It's critical that multifamily vendors build their solutions with APIs. Doing so not only allows two different technologies to communicate, it also enables solutions like mobile apps to provide both operators and residents with a single interface to access the multiple solutions supporting a community.   Mobile Deep Linking Similarly, you may be familiar with the phrase "deep linking" within mobile apps. When an API is not available, deep links bridge the gap between apps working together in tandem, using a......
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Turn of Phrase: 5 New Takes on Multifamily Lingo

Turn of Phrase: 5 New Takes on Multifamily Lingo
Every morning as I was growing up, my dad would put a single word on the refrigerator.  It was the family word of the day.  Before bedtime we had to give an example of how the word influenced our day.  Some words were easy such as “friend” and “smile”; over time they became more mature like “altruistic” and “fortitude”.  Early on I learned that words held the power to affect my actions and decisions.  I adopted the practice when I became a parent and now my daughter is in an eternal love affair with words. Interactions with residents and prospects are predominantly verbal and the words we use can help or hurt our efforts to lease and renew.  It may seem improbable that a single word could do all that but we know when it comes to multifamily, nothing is improbable.  Here are five words I believe we can work into daily conversations to win over prospects and residents. 1. Home – As an industry, we’ve moved away from sterile words such as “unit”.  Early on in my career, I was taught to use the term “apartment home” because it sounded warmer and gentler to the ears.  But what if we can soften things up even more and instill a little pride in ownership to boot?  Next tour, try your best not to use the word “apartment”, instead stick to saying “home” – a simple switch that relays a sense of comfort and dignity.  “Well John, I think I have the perfect home just for you.” “Hi Mary, ......
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Making Money is NOT Always About the Money

Making Money is NOT Always About the Money
I wanted to share with you a story of a great customer service experience I recently had with a man named Bill Moore of Softcomm Industries. I am a member of Civil Air Patrol, and as a aircrew member trainee, I wanted to stop using the aviation headsets that are in our planes and used by different people, and wanted to have a set of my own. (This thought came to me somewhere at 3,500 feet when I wondered “Who else has been using these? And did they clean them??”) I found a headset, that was perfect for my situation, on eBay at a good price and was very excited when it arrived in the mail. My excitement was tempered a little when I realized that there were no cushion pads on the ear covers, just the covers themselves. After wearing them for a bit it was clear that they could really use the foam cushions! Wah-wah.  I looked online at my usual sources and couldn't find an exact match for my headset…then I looked on the Softcomm website and saw that they head accessories (like the ear cushions) but the only indication on how to purchase them was verbiage that said, “Contact us to find the dealer near you.” So, I contacted them to find where I could purchase the cushions and I received an email from Bill that simply asked for my mailing address. I gave him my address and I assumed that he was sending the ear cushions to me, an......
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Service Requests: The Ultimate Teambuilding Exercise

Service Requests: The Ultimate Teambuilding Exercise
Residents are expected to pay 100% of their rent, yet at times do not have 100% access to everything they pay for.  Consider this scenario: Toni has discovered that her dishwasher is broken.  She immediately contacts the office to alert them of the trouble.  Later that evening, Toni returns home from work, to find her dishwasher has not been repaired.  With a full load of dishes and an inoperable dishwasher, Toni is forced to hand wash them.  She’s hand washing the dishes while standing next to a dishwasher that she pays for, but is unable to use. The surveys we conduct for completed service requests are not a reflection of how well or poorly the maintenance team performs.  Our Work Order survey is not a maintenance survey – it’s a teamwork survey.  The results point to one important question: When something goes wrong in a resident’s apartment home, how well does the team work together to get the issue resolved?  These key questions in the survey speak directly to teamwork. The office response to the request for service The overall speed of the service request Was the maintenance team courteous and professional Did the maintenance staff clean up before they left your home Quality of the work done Was the request completed on the first visit Were you notified of a delay Did you receive a follow up call after the work was completed Do problems still exist Both the office and maintenance teams share the burden when it comes to service......
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Are Residents' Expectations of Their Apartments Really That Low?

Imagine for a moment a reviews site for trains, where people can rate their experience.  If this review site was in a third world country, "good" reviews might share how the train didn't break down on the trip, that it departed and arrived on time, and other elements that related to the very basic elements of riding on a train.  In an area where breakdowns are common, having a train that didn't break down was a source of satisfaction!  But now imagine reviews for trains in a developed country.  You would no longer see positive reviews about the train not breaking down, because that would be a basic expectation.  You would definitely see negative reviews if one did break down, but the reverse wouldn't be true.  Instead, positive reviews would focus on the cleanliness, comfort of the chairs, and higher end amenities. The point of this comparison is to show that the level of satisfaction is relative to the expectations that customer has with the product or service.  This also means that you can see what a person truly believes about a company based upon what would make that person satisfied.  For the first example above, if a person is satisfied simply because the train didn't break down, that implies that they don't see the train in a very positive light in the first place.  It's as if they are saying, "We understand the train is absolutely horrible, but if it can at least get me to my destination, I'll be......
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When Managers Can't Respond

When Managers Can't Respond

It’s understandable that property management companies choose to respond to online reviews from a central location.  One person in particular may be designated to create responses for all of the communities within the portfolio.  One person…one tone…one message.  It makes perfect sense when you think about it.

Where this practice seems very practical, it may cripple the onsite teams in a variety of ways.  Oftentimes, residents air their grievances online after numerous attempts to settle their issues in-house.  If managers have not been trained in handling these interactions, a small issue could escalate into something more complicated, and more costly to resolve.

The basics of reputation management are very similar to conflict resolution.  How to handle a situation as it is presented can determine what will ultimately be expressed in an online review.  Communities across the country are met with reviews about unresponsive management, lack of trust, and indifferent service.  I say this time and time again; what happens onsite will often end up online.

Even if onsite teams are not tasked with responding to online reviews, it’s important that they have been trained in reputation management.  Where they may not be responsible for addressing resident concerns online, they are responsible for doing so onsite.  Learning to address resident concerns head-on with honesty, empathy and professionalism goes a long way to ensure resident satisfaction.

Do you consider conflict resolution and reputation management skills one in the same?

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The Post-Dated Notice To Vacate

The Post-Dated Notice To Vacate
According to urban legend, there are teachers who will address their students on the first day by stating “As of today, you all have F’s.  It is your job to work your way out of the cellar to the grade you truly deserve.”  Urban legend or not, I had such a teacher – AP English…senior year of high school.  For fear of a 25-year grade reversal, I won’t mention said teacher’s name.  Let’s just call him/her, The Professor.   The Professor was a piece of work; hard, brash, and unyielding in every sense of the word.  The Professor treated everyone as if we were already in college.  Students with excuses were often ridiculed and those who outright lied were made to exit the class altogether.  The Professor had extremely high standards and very little patience.  Everyone dreaded their daily encounter with The Professor and thought of graduation more like prison release day.  So, imagine the collective groaning when The Professor was tapped to represent the faculty and give a speech during the graduation ceremony.  The Professor, really?  In the past, the faculty representative was always the “popular” teacher, the one who got the most screams and cheers from the graduating class.  The year before, when my sister graduated, the faculty speaker quoted Run DMC.  That’s what we wanted – not some long, drawn out soliloquy by The Professor.   The Professor began with, “I want to open by stating three important facts.  Yes, I was tough.  Yes, I demanded a full effort from each and every one of you......
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