Enter your email address for weekly access to top multifamily blogs!

Multifamily Blogs

This is some blog description about this site

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, ......
Recent Comments
Guest — Ellen Calmas
Great piece. Thanks!
Wednesday, 06 July 2016 10:02
Lia Nichole Smith
Thanks so much for the feedback Ellen. Happy to hear the info was helpful!
Sunday, 10 July 2016 13:06
Continue reading
1870 Hits
2 Comments

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......
Continue reading
739 Hits
0 Comments

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......
Recent Comments
MobileDoorman
Making it easy for the resident to submit a service request is important, too. If the problem is small, the resident may not be mo... Read More
Thursday, 30 October 2014 13:05
Mindy Sharp
Excellent, excellent points! Residents often don't understand the importance of timely submission, and unfortunately, even though ... Read More
Tuesday, 04 November 2014 06:24
Lia Nichole Smith
Thanks Mindy - you make some great points! Residents will report the service issues that make their lives uncomfortable but often... Read More
Tuesday, 04 November 2014 07:18
Continue reading
2121 Hits
4 Comments

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......
Recent Comments
Guest — Jim Sanders
Ok, I'll be the first to chime in. I think you are completely correct. I think some people might misinterpret your blog as sayin... Read More
Monday, 28 July 2014 14:54
Mindy Sharp
Except that when someone moves in and encounters a problem with the apartment, like no hot water (because during the turn, the wat... Read More
Tuesday, 29 July 2014 19:36
Brent Williams
I think we agree, Mindy, although I don't think my blog conveyed it very well. I think that maintenance is critical - probably th... Read More
Tuesday, 29 July 2014 20:36
Continue reading
1901 Hits
8 Comments

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?

Recent comment in this post
Brent Williams
If a company decides to handle negative reviews/etc centrally, I think they need to have a reputation management system that can h... Read More
Friday, 25 April 2014 12:51
Continue reading
2203 Hits
1 Comment

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......
Recent Comments
Brent Williams
I love this blog for so many reasons. I love how you so eloquently illustrated how we are not only setting the start date of our ... Read More
Friday, 14 March 2014 14:17
Guest — Ela
A very thought provoking perspective - thank you for sharing. It's funny I had a HS Statistics teacher who said the exact opposite... Read More
Tuesday, 18 March 2014 09:53
Amy Williams
Spectacular analogy! I've always preached that the renewal/retention process begins at move in. Your article also sparks interes... Read More
Tuesday, 18 March 2014 10:02
Continue reading
3580 Hits
6 Comments

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......
Recent Comments
Ellen Calmas
Nice blog. I especially like your focus on making it easier for residents to pay rent on time. I wonder if you've considered wha... Read More
Friday, 14 March 2014 09:28
Donje Putnam
Ah, but if you delivered donuts and a document to sign to my door, you'd have me for life.
Tuesday, 18 March 2014 06:52
Continue reading
2117 Hits
2 Comments

Plan on Texting in 2014

Plan on Texting in 2014
Do you text your prospects or residents? Do they text you? Should you let them? You might already be researching those questions, which means you’re paying attention. With the move toward mobile everything, there are multiple ways to use text to your team members’ and community’s advantage. (FYI, Nielsen notes that of the 94% of people with mobile phones in the U.S., about 86% text with them. Frankly, I’m surprised it’s not higher. Even people with *gasp* flip phones send text messages!)  But first, you need a plan.  Write Down the Point of It AllWhat are your business goals (what do you want your team to accomplish by texting in 2014)? Perhaps you want to increase resident satisfaction with an amazingly convenient customer service experience. Maybe you want to help your team get more done in less time, like following up faster. With this in mind, you can start looking into the types of texting services out there.  Think Beyond Marketing. Think Convenience. Don’t assume that the only way to text your prospects and residents is through automated marketing messages. For example, after ordering contact lenses from 1-800-Contacts, I text a picture of my prescription for faster turnaround. Within a few minutes, their staff texts back to confirm if they will be shipping today or tomorrow. It’s amazing how friendly little conveniences like that can stick with a customer.  If you take a more personal, one-to-one  texting approach, here’s what you could do: Respond when prospects’ interest is highest - Say a prospect has a qu......
Continue reading
1176 Hits
0 Comments

The Cure For Move-In Hiccups

The Cure For Move-In Hiccups
We’ve all had those rocky move-ins where it seems as though one thing after another goes wrong.  These rocky move-ins tend to be rocky residents.  These are the residents who will call in a service request, then place a follow up call to the office a few hours later to make sure someone will be coming to their apartment home.  Or they may email the office and then immediately follow up by phone – just to double check that the email was successfully received.  Why do these residents over communicate?  It’s mainly because they don’t have complete confidence in the management team’s ability to properly address their needs. In an earlier blog post, I suggested that “reputation management” be replaced with two new words: prevention and recovery.  I think these same words can apply to every stage of a resident’s life cycle. Residents start to from their renewal decision within the first 7 days of moving in.  How is that possible?  Well, as a prospect, this person probably toured 4 to 6 communities before deciding where to live.  After weighing all of their options, let’s say they chose your community.  Now, if the move-in goes smoothly – lease paperwork is prepared, the keys work, the apartment home looks great – you’ve essentially made good on their decision to lease at your community.  You’ve left them feeling as though they made the right choice. Conversely, if the move-in doesn’t go so smoothly, each hiccup experienced during the process chips away at the resident’s confidence and p......
Continue reading
1504 Hits
0 Comments

You Received New Carpet! One Step To Improve Resident Satisfaction

b2ap3_thumbnail_resident-satisfaction.png

It is often said that a person’s decision to renew their apartment is decided not at the end of their lease, but at the beginning.  The first impact of the new apartment makes a big difference on their ultimate satisfaction, so making sure everything is perfect right from the beginning is key.  I found this picture recently of under a hotel bed, where it makes that extra effort to make the guest aware of what was done to create an exceptional experience for them:

b2ap3_thumbnail_resident-satisfaction.png

In the same way, for apartment communities there is a big opportunity on marketing what may not be obvious for the new move-in.  For example, did you have to change the carpet?  Did you have to change an appliance?  Was the unit painted during the turn?  Those may be expense items, and therefore a negative from a profitability point of view, but it is ultimately a positive for the new resident.  I would love to see a card similar to the one above that highlighted some of the big changes that happened to their apartment before they moved in.  And if there were no big changes, maybe a list that explains all the things that were done to make the apartment ready for them?  This way, the resident knows right from the beginning that the community is working hard to make the experience a positive one.

 

What do you all think?

Recent Comments
Rommel Anacan
Brent-I think that card is a great idea! I think the idea of a card or a list of items done to prepare the apartment is a very in... Read More
Wednesday, 09 October 2013 10:43
Brent Williams
Thanks, Rommel!
Friday, 11 October 2013 12:58
April Scripture
Awesome idea!!!!
Wednesday, 10 September 2014 17:38
Continue reading
2154 Hits
4 Comments