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Lucky Lost His Job Today

This morning I sent my dog Lucky out to get the paper and it wasn’t there.  Lucky circled around the driveway, blindly (literally, my dog really is blind) looking for the paper and I realized the day had come.  No more newspaper.  I am a news junkie and have subscribed to one paper or another for almost 20 years.  As a journalism student, I was taught the importance of the fourth estate and its relevance to keeping the world honest and safe, and once in the third grade my mug made the front page as I proudly marched in the West Bend annual Holiday parade. You couldn’t see much of me, as the 20 below wind chill dictated that all but my eyes were wrapped in layers of clothing, but there I was on the front page.  Famous for a day. Nothing is more exciting to a ten year old. There is little I love more than getting up at dawn, when things are still quiet around my house, settling into my red easy chair and perusing the daily news.  It is my routine and my comfort.  What will I do now?  I tried settling in with my laptop and the online version of the local paper, but it wasn’t the same.  It felt disjointed and incomplete. Lots of headlines, each trying to grab you, but no real substance. Maybe it’s me. My business partner is avid about getting his news on line.  He scoffs at my paper addiction and proclaims it......
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Apartment as the portal to amazing experiences

For those that might have an interest, I have been thinking about the following as of late;

"Apple built a design driven culture that knows how to connect with its customers in a deeply emotional way. Apple products are portals to an amazing menu of of continuing experiences that matter to a lot of us." - Robert Brunner and Stewart Emery

This really hit home with me the other day when my three year old daughter, Kate, said to me, "Daddy - guess what!" I said, "what?" She said, "I love you." I asked, "Kate, what is love." She said, "it's when your heart is happy." It made my heart happy to hear that my three year old grasped that fact of love. Hat's off to @sbrewer10 for that.

I say all that to ask this, "what makes a resident's heart happy?" If their apartment is the portal to amazing experiences then what are those experiences that bring peace and happiness to their heart? It's deep and it's key.

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Resident Retention: The Pen is Mightier Than the Price

What if I told you that by sharpening your writing skills, you could reduce resident turnover? It’s true. Which writing skills, you may ask?  The ones with which you write work orders, of course! Huh? Here’s the thing: according to the 2008 SatisFacts Index, only 76% of residents said their work orders were completed correctly the first time.  This means nearly one-quarter of residents did not receive a resolution for their maintenance issue. But before we place blame on the maintenance team, it is critical to acknowledge where the work order process begins: the Leasing Office. For the most part, work order requests are placed with the leasing office. A resident calls or stops in and says, “My toilet is broken.” The leasing agent may ask for the apartment number and confirm permission to enter, but may not think to ask, “Which toilet? Is the water running? Is the handle broken? What part of the toilet is not working? What is the best number to reach you if we have a question?” By asking more questions and writing more notes, several things happen: Maintenance can make an educated guess on which parts or tools are necessary for this particular issue.Maintenance does not have to play detective to try and discover which toilet or which light fixture or which outlet, for example, is ‘not working.’The resident is happy when they come home and find the exact problem was completely resolved.Less guesswork for the maintenance team means the repair took up less time......
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On Being the "Blip"

Remember those old movies that inevitably had some scene that took place in a submarine where there was a guy wearing headphones bigger than his head  and watching the screen of concentric circles for the little radar "blip" that meant something was out there?  Well success today, it's all about being the "blip."As a vendor, you don't want me on your doorstep every week, no matter how great the bagels are that I bring.  You probably want maybe one call a week from me, MAXIMUM, unless you have business for me or a problem that maybe I can help you solve.  My temps that go out to work most often are the ones who "stay on my radar" without annoying the fudge out of me. And, Leasing Consultants of the world, being the "Blip" on the radar of your future, current and even past residents will guaranteed bring you more leases and renewals.  Remember, being the "blip" takes some finesse, too.  The "Blip" is subtle, suave and secretive.   The "Blip" never makes sounds that last incessantly.  It's there and then it's gone.  The "Blip" reminds you once an a while that it's here, every so often, blinking on the radar screen so that you remember it's there when you need it.  Just when you've forgotten about the "Blip" it pops back up, just to say hello or maybe to bring you bagels.  The "Blip" also never tells you everything about itself.  It leaves you wanting a little bit more.  More conversation,......
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Ma'am, You Rock That Coat

I have a new yellow coat. I consider it stylish, vivid and daring, and I love it.  Not to mention procuring said coat was one of those perfect shopping experiences that many can identify with.  Last one.  Perfect fit.  Half price.  You know what I am talking about.  Anyway, when I wear the coat, I seem to be a little happier, and there must be a definitive swing in my step, because yesterday, in the produce department of the grocery store, a person approached me from behind and said, “Ma’am”.  I turned to see a young store employee and immediately thought, “Did I drop my wallet or something?” Looking at me she said, “You rock that coat.”  My surprise and delight were immediate and unexpected and actually rendered me speechless. My step definitely got a little swingier after that and my head was held a little higher knowing I “rock my coat.”  I received three more compliments before I left that store.  

The power of a positive suggestion.  Pay a client a sincere compliment today.  Watch what happens.  And don’t forget to once in a while wear something that “you rock”.  Then go hang out in the produce department.  It’s a great pick me up.
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Another reason why I love where I live!

I want to tell you just how much I love the place that I live at currently.  Now, I've always been fond of them, but they are continually building more and more value for themselves in my happy little heart, and their most recent resident retention/relations event is quite the cherry on an already well stacked sundae!This weekend on Sunday, they're holding a craft fair!  Right before Valentine's Day, this event will be held with vendors who live at the community and attendance is open to anyone.  They're promoting it out in the community at large, and they're not even charging their residents a set up or booth fee.  I suggested they name it, "Trinkets and Treasures by our Talented Tenants," even though "tenants" doesn't jive with the MF marketing lingo these days.  I think it's worth it for the alliteration high.  The community is also not requiring a cut of the profits or anything.  They'll set out cookies and juice, and they're good to go.  $50 Resident Function Idea!Let me tell you, this a PHENOMENAL idea!  Not only do their residents get a chance to meet other residents with similar interests (Hello group building!), they also get the chance to possibly make a little money.  How often does a community give a resident a chance to make money other than through resident referrals?  And best yet, on the management side, this brings people to the community and it's a source of high traffic.  Talk about a great Look'n'Lease!  Anything you......
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Everyone Needs a VIP Sash

Recently, on a trip to my home state of Wisconsin, I found myself with a few extra hours and an opportunity for lunch with my old college roommate (and maid of honor and godmother to my oldest), Katie.  It was one of those impromptu opportunities that you just know before you get there is going to be fun, fun fun.  Not to mention, Katie is hilarious. As usual, both of us were running late, and we didn’t get to the restaurant in Oshkosh until after 1pm, so the sparse crowds didn’t surprise us.  Heck, it’s par for the course, these days.  That actually may have been a good day. Our server was Lisa and she quickly got a handle on our wild and raucous entrance by letting us know if we signed up to be VIP’s we would receive a substantial discount on our lunch.  No catch.  Just sign up.  Of course we did, and Katie wanted to know when she would get her VIP sash, that is, unless there was a crown available, then she would prefer that.  We all laughed and continued on with the VIP humor until I am sure most were nauseated listening to us.  During lunch Lisa informed us that it was her last day, and she was about to start her career as a social worker in Wausau. I’m sure it is a very exciting and stressful time for her, and looking around the restaurant, probably a financially challenging one as well. Needless to say,......
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Lease Renewal Form Steps In it

I am a proud apartment renter, and today I received my lease renewal offer as it slid through my front door. I thought it would be a good example to share with the group and see what people think! (My comments are in italics) "Dear Brent Williams, (my fiancee, incidentally with her name spelled wrong):The lease on your apartment #XXXX will expire on 03/31/2009. We are currently offering the lease renewal terms and rates shown below.You may sign a 12 month lease renewal for $XXXX per month. (a $96 increase)You may sign a 6 month lease renewal for $XXXX per month. (a $107 increase)This offer will expire on 3/31/2009. If you do not choose to renew your lease, you may remain month-to-month for a new rent of $XXXX. (68% higher than the 12 month lease offer)We hope you will continue to make your home with us. Should you have any questions, please call or come by the management office. Sincerely,XXXXX, Property Manager"So before we get comments from everybody, here are a few of my own: 1)  This was the first time they have ever contacted me since I moved in. 2)  The letter came the evening before I had to make my decision based upon the 60 day notice to vacate. Do they think their residents appreciate that type of timeline, or is it a way to bully them into staying because they cannot make the 60 day notice? Either way, you can tell what type of impression it made on me.3)  The......
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Resident Retention: Low Cost / No Cost Strategies

Numbers? We Ain't Got No Stinking Numbers! So, you need to obtain permission to enter, track down a late rent payment, return a phone call, or place a pre-renewal phone call.  But wait! Their phone number isn't in the system. Surprised? You shouldn't be. The sad truth is that the average apartment community has contact information for only 50% of their residents, and much of that information is outdated.  Perhaps, as an industry, we have the mindset of, "Well, at least I know where they live!" The problem is that when issues come up and we need to contact them, we can't.  Calling information, searching through their paper rental application, searching the White Pages online... It's a waste of the staff's time - and time is money!  There's a simple, yet EXTREMELY effective solution. We ask the resident for their contact information.  Sounds crazy, I know. But snark aside, by setting an organizational standard, property managers can train the team to ask for or confirm the resident's contact information at every interaction.  The impact of this basic cultural change will astound you."Well hello Mrs. Jones. Yes, I can help you with that. Oh, I see that we do not have a current phone number for you. What's the best number to reach you? What's the best email address to reach you?"  "Thanks for calling Mr. Lee. Is this still the best number to reach you: 555-1234? I see we don't have an email address for you. What is your email address?"  For whatever reason, our leasing teams......
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Pot luck anyone?

Whether it is gas prices, unemployment, or other general economic concerns, we are all chosing to spend our money differently.  Americans are rethinking their spending habits and most people are cutting out all unnecessary spending.  Dining out has been a luxury in many households.  Has it for your residents?In an effort to continue to build resident satisfaction and a sense of community, why not host a pot luck function at your property?  How nice to provide a "night out" for your residents without the high cost to the resident or the property?  The property can provide an entree and have the residents bring the side dishes, drinks, and dessert.Another idea might be to host a movie night - either for adults or for kids.  The property can provide a movie appropriate for the audience and the popcorn.  The residents will enjoy a night out and get to know their neighbors.  Instead of hosting a breakfast on the go, why not do a networking breakfast for the community?  With unemployment increasing, it would be great to be able to help people within your community meet other professionals who might be able to assist them in their search for new employment.  If budget constraints are present, you might want to reach out to your community for event sponsors.  Businesses are struggling in all sectors and are looking for ways to increase their customer base.  Improving your resident's sense of community and letting them know that you understand their circumstances and challenges will help your property reduce their turnover rates.  Plus, what is the best form of advertising out there?  A......
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