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Resident services or nickel and diming?

While I applaud people who think outside the box when it comes to resident services, I sometimes question how it is perceived by the resident and the thought process behind it.For example, I recently shopped an apartment community that provided sports equipment and mountain bikes for the resident to use free of charge.  With my three children and a husband who loves to play any kind of sport, I would love to live at a place that provided this equipment so that I wouldn't have to worry about finding ample storage space for the bikes, balls, and racquets that are currently scattered throughout the house.  A great resident service to provide!My next example is great in thought but not in how the property was providing the service.  I received rental information in the mail recently from an apartment community.  This community included a list of items that were available for the resident's use and the charges of those items.  On the list was a vacuum cleaner.  Great idea, I can borrow a vacuum cleaner from the leasing office.  Not so nice, I would have to pay a rental fee of $.50 in order to use it.  Really?  Is that $.50 going to help the bottom line that much?  The list went on to include many household and maintenance items and while I think it is a great idea to offer the use of these items to the resident I question the thought process behind charging a resident to use them.How are your resident services perceived by your resident's?  Do they come across as great conveniences or......
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Congratulations, you're the manager. Now what?

One of the most difficult things I ever had to overcome was taking the step from co-worker to being "the manager".  When you are suddenly the person responsible for EVERYTHING, it can be overwhelming.  The following is a list of suggestions to help make this transition a little easier:1.  You should meet with each of your team members and discuss their position, goals, strengths and weaknesses, what motivates them, and what they look for in a supervisor.  You will be surprised at what you learn and it will help you to better understand how they see their jobs and your new role.  Also, it always helps to know what motivates a person as not everyone is motivated by the same things!  Then, you need to discuss your goals and expectations for the property and for the team member.2.   Know your lease agreement, community rules and regulations, and your company policies and procedures - backwards and forwards.  You are now the person that everyone will look for for answers to their questions.  You need to show the prospects, residents, and employees that you know the answers.3.  Get to know your supervisor.  You need to learn what their goals and expectations are so that you can better understand your position.  What is their management style?  How do they like to communicate?  What reports do you need to complete for them?  Etc., Etc., Etc.4.  Always meet your deadlines.  Whether it is turning in payroll information or submitting bills for payment, you need to know when it is due, how to......
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Too much information

Recently, I requested information from apartment communities throughout the US.  As I reviewed each of the packages that I received, I was surprised to see what was included and that even within the same management companies the differences in the materials enclosed.  It made me start to think - what should be sent when a prospect requests information?In reviewing the materials, I have come to the following conclusions:1.  A personal letter should be included to the prospect.  This letter should address whatever questions the prospect asked and should highlight the community.  It should:be free of grammatical and spelling errors,be signed by the person writing the letter, andinclude the ways the prospective resident can contact the sender and the community.  2.  A brochure or informational sheet discussing the features and benefits of the apartment and the community should be included.  If your community has a brochure, it should be included in the package.  If your community does not have a brochure, you can make an information sheet using a digital photo of the community and describing the community and apartment features.  3.  It should NOT include copies of copies of copies.  Remember, what you send to a prospective resident is your first opportunity to make a good impression.  If you are sending them information that is not professional, what message are you sending?  4.  All information that is sent to a prospective resident should be positive.  I was shocked to see the number of information packages that included community rules, NSF payment information,......
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New Feature: Social Bookmarking! But What Is It?

If you are keen observer of Multifamily Insiders, you have noticed a small addition to both the home page and to the blogs section. It has a whole bunch of little icons, many of which you are familiar with:


So what is this thing? Well, in the big world of the web, certain websites help to both spread the word about new websites, and other try to categorize it. That's pretty much what those little icons are for. For example, many of you are on Facebook, LinkedIn, and/or MySpace, which are the first three icons on the list. So now, let's say you read a GREAT Insider Blog post and want to share it with your friends on Facebook. All you do is just click that little icon on the page you want to share! If you are feeling especially excited about a blog, add it to several websites to spread the word!
 

You can also use this to promote your own blog posts, as well!
 

We also included the sharing tool on the front page so we can help spread the word about Multifamily Insiders overall. Imagine if mentions of Multifamily Insiders started popping up all over Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn!
 

So just click on one of the little icons you recognize and try it out!

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Be original

I have recently had the opportunity to interview potential candidates for a Property Manager's position and I felt like I was starring in the movie Groundhog's Day.  The candidates starting running together because everyone was telling me the exact same thing and exactly what they thought I wanted to hear.  In fact, a few of them were quoting directly from the tips section of an online job search website.Here is an idea - be original!  I am actually going to help.  The following is a list of things to NOT say during your next interview:1.  "I love people and want to help them."  When asked why you want to work in property management, this in not an answer that I want to hear any more.  I can think of many reasons to join this vibrant, exciting industry and this isn't one of them.  If you love people and want to help so much, you could be a waitress, a nurse, a teacher, etc., etc., etc.2.  "I am detail-oriented."  Whoever came up with this phrase should be shot.  I have not conducted one interview in the past five years that I haven't heard this comment.  When asked to describe yourself, I would think you could come up with something different than what has been listed on every job board and written in the help wanted section of all the newspapers.  What exactly does it mean to be detail-oriented?3.  "I can't think of any weakness that I have."  Get real.  One weakness you have......
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Isn't our business supposed to be personal?

First of all, I want you to know that I am all for technology.  I have a cell phone, a laptop computer, voicemail, an email account, and a Facebook account.  I love that I have access to information and can communicate with the touch of a finger.  I love the fact that I can communicate with someone across the country in the middle of the night if I want to.  It is amazing.Now for the reason for my post today - I am so sick of not being able to talk to a live person.   I can't tell you how many times I have tried to reach someone only to get a digital recording and the prompt to leave a message.  I can't count the number of times that I have called communities, left a message, and never received a phone call back.  I can't tell you the number of Regional Managers that I have tried to contact, left a message, and never received a phone call back.  What if I am a resident with an emergency?  What if I am a prospective resident in desperate need for an apartment?  What is I am a family member of an employee trying to get in touch with someone because of a family emergency?Technology is great but it shouldn't be abused.  People want to talk to a live person.  They want a phone call back.  They want to know that their needs and wants are important.  While I understand this problem isn't unique to......
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Seach Engine Optimizing (SEO) on Multifamily Insiders

One of the benefits to getting active on networks like Multifamily Insiders is the search engine rank aspect. When you make a free supplier listing or add a blog post, these tools can help improve the search engine rank of your company, product, or service, but only if you know how to use them. Right now, I'm going to touch on one of the most important aspects of SEO optimization, which is called "Meta" information. Unfortunately, 9 times out of 10, users don't bother entering the Meta information, mainly because they don't understand what it means or how important it is!Basically, Meta information is one of the ways search engines categorize and place value on website results. So when you run a consulting business, you want your listings, articles, and blog posts to show up at the top of the heap when people are searching for "multifamily consulting", for example.In both the supplier listing and blog posts, there is a tab/link for Meta information. One of the fields will be for a description, which should incorporate your company name and the description of either your service, or in the case of a blog post, a quick blurb about the blog post. For meta keywords, again use your company name and then keywords that are appropriate for the situation. For example, in your supplier listing, use keywords that associate with your company's services and products, as well as your industry. For a blog post, use keywords that associate with the specific content......
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