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Starbucks Guide to Resident Feedback

I know there are plenty of Starbucks haters out there, but one of the main reasons they are so plentiful is that they actually get it right most of the time. In another example of understanding their customer, they have started up MyStarbucksIdea.Com, a website designed to hear directly about what their customers want in their Starbucks experience. Anybody can put up their own idea, which gets votes by other Starubucks patrons. Right now, the top ideas revolve around punch card systems with free drinks for frequent customers, free wi-fi, and a green initiative regarding gift card redemption. There is also an incredibly inventive idea that allows the customer to put their normal drink order on their card, swipe the card at the register, and effectively reduce the order-taking process to one simple step.What's even better about this program is that Starbucks puts notes on the ideas saying which ones are being implemented or considered. It gets the customers feeling as though their thoughts and opinions really count, and the voting system means that it's incredibly easy to take part in shaping their favorite coffee shop.Now let's compare that with most apartment communities. Does the average community take any steps to truly find out what their residents want most in their home? Or do they effectively bury their head in the sand and just deliver what they think residents might possibly want? Here are the positives to having this type of feedback:1) Your residents will feel more in control. The more......
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GREAT Book Review and What It Means For Your Apartment Community

So as many of you may know, I am not a developer, having a background in Finance instead. But even though I don't handle the coding for AptConnect, I hate being ignorant on the subject. So I have decided to take up coding in my spare time, if only to have a basic understanding.So I started going through Amazon.com for the user reviews on certain books and had to share my favorite review so far. Hope you enjoy!This is the worst book I have ever read. It' s like reading a book on how to use a light switch over and over again even though you've already done it 1000 times. Does that make sense? Either way, I'm drunk and this book sucked and I still can't program. What a waste. Good lord.Sure swayed me!-------------------------------------------------------------------- [UPDATE 11/6/08     At first, I posted this as "Off-Topic", but as I read it again, I realized that there were some definite lessons to be learned from this situation!  First of all, it's another example of social networking and how it affects the view of your business.  This review identified the specific book, gave information directly to a "prospect", and ultimately influenced the prospects decision to buy.  Although sites like ApartmentRatings.com might be a thorn in your side, they aren't going away and they are providing a service your prospects care about.  Ignoring them is something you just can't afford to do.Going forward, it will be important to not only drive your good customers to leave their......
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Why Exactly Are You Staying At Your Apartment?

It occurred to me tonight that every survey that I have ever seen in our industry regarding a resident's apartment decision related to why he or she decided to move. Rent increase? Maintenance problems? Rent concession at a competitor? Crime? I realized that this question tied in perfectly with the Hygiene Theory I blogged about earlier. Isn't this question about their basic expectations? If the move is controllable (i.e., not a job transfer, bankruptcy, ect), it likely means that either the community did not fulfill the basic expectations, meaning you were effectively pushing them out the door, or you didn't provide them reasons to stay, such as unique perks, amenities, or sense of community. But I've never seen a survey that asks, "Why exactly are you continuing to stay here?" With this question, you could almost place a value on a resident: For example, a resident who actually loves staying at your community is "worth" significantly more than a resident who only stays because his lease tells him he can't leave. Do your residents adore your community or are they only staying because they are too lazy to actually move?  If your resident retention plan relies upon the laziness of your residents, you might have a problem! In the end, this second question really tells you how satisfied your residents are where as the first question tells you how dissatisfied your move-outs were. As you now know, these are two completely different things! I realize that you could never actually pose that......
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Hygiene Theory - Not as Scary as it Sounds!

As most of you will find out, this blog will not follow other publications with "neat ideas for a summer party." I always find those types of articles as just a band-aid to the problem of resident retention. Let me clarify: Even though I'm not a fan of the typical summer party, if it is part of a larger resident retention program it can sometimes work. However, if the only thing you provide is a yearly summer party, save your time and your money! So what is this blog about? Well, one of items that I find important is to really understand your community and, more imporantly, how your residents view it. I am a big believer in creating a resident retention program, not just a "cute" party every once and a while. In order to create this program, however, you really must understand what makes your residents satisfied and what community features do you have that can achieve that. A few years ago, I read about a concept called "Hygiene Theory", which was initially designed to help employers create employee satisfaction. The moment I read it a light bulb went off, and I realized how applicable this was to our own industry! So I wrote an article about it, published in the must-read MultifamilyPro magazine, and want to share it with you here. It's too long to include in this blog post, so please click the link. It will help you understand your residents expectations, as well as your employees'. I......
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