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Is Your Multifamily Brand Delivering on the Customer Experience?

What do the world’s most successful modern product and service brands have in common?  What’s the first thing that comes to mind? Is it advanced technology? A superior or entirely unique product offering? Maybe a new and innovative approach to world peace? Or, is it something more fundamental. . . something more inherently tied to the human factor. . . . perhaps, just perhaps. . . could it be a focus on the customer experience? “We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.” ~ Jeff Bezos If you’ve even remotely followed customer service trends over the past several years, you’ve undoubtedly noticed the growing dominance of the term “customer experience” in business publications, blog posts, and trend analyses. While “customer service” is primarily centered on a single or small series of transactions and customer touchpoints, the “customer experience” encompasses the entire past, present, and future customer interaction from both the physical and the psychological perspectives. In other words, it’s not just about the quality of the products and services consumed along the way, but equally about the customer’s lasting emotional impression from the culmination of the entire relationship and how that impression impacts brand promotion and future business. The major brands have not just driven their own success, they have effectively reshaped the face of business and elevated consumer expectations for all businesses to a whole new level. They have done so not just through pioneerin......
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How to Leverage Free User-Generated Content for Apartment Marketing & Social Media

Creating and curating content for apartment marketing and social media can be time-consuming, costly and involve using a lot of creative capital. Many apartment communities simply do not have the resources to employ an entire marketing team, so staff often have to multitask.   Property managers are sometimes responsible for far more than just marketing; their duties can involve graphic design, social media, resident event management, lease up programs and more. Due to the multi-tasking nature of these positions, focusing a lot of time and energy on content is practically impossible. However, curating content from tenants or staff isn’t nearly as strenuous on time or resources. An article written by Bill Gates all the way back in 1996, titled Content Is King, emphasized the value of content far before Internet marketing ever took off.  Many of Gates predictions came true and content has reigned supreme in online marketing. The average Internet user consumes a large diet of content; but also produces content as well – this user-generated content is an often-overlooked area for apartment marketing content curation.   User-generated content is extremely valuable for several reasons, most importantly being that it resonates better with users and develops a better brand image. User-generated content also appears more genuine and authentic. Consider some of the following stats:   1.     Bazaarvoice found 86% of millennials say that user-generated content is a good indicator of the quality of a brand. 2.     Adweek discovered that user-generated content results in 29% higher web conversions than campaigns or w......
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Using Google Trends To Determine Student Housing Search Popularity

Using Google Trends To Determine Student Housing Search Popularity
Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, once stated, “It's difficult to imagine the power that you're going to have when so many different sorts of data are available.” The collection of big data online has increasingly played a vital role in analyzing consumer trends and popularity; and as of 2015, this data became even more accessible, thanks to Google Trends.  Google Trends allows the general public to access the world’s largest real-time datasets, enabling the average user to seek out data about what’s most searched and what’s most popular. This data is particularly useful to a marketer, who can analyze information for any respective industries.   Google Trends can be applied to the student housing industry in a variety of ways and can help in answering questions like:   When are students searching online for student housing most? What geographic areas have the highest search volume for student housing? What other topics related to student housing are users searching for?   To showcase how Google Trends can be utilized to gather information about student housing, we’ve provided a few different search query examples. 1. Determine the most popular states and provinces for student housing search queries:The graphs below show search data for ‘student housing’ from April 2016 – April 2017 for both the United States and Canada.For the United States, the top 5 states were Utah, Hawaii, Mississippi, Idaho and Colorado (honorable mentions to Montana and Rhode Island, who were a point or two behind Colorado).     For Canada, the top 5 provinces were On......
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Are Virtual Reality Tours The Next Big Thing In Student Housing?

Are Virtual Reality Tours The Next Big Thing In Student Housing?
Since 2003, one of our key recommendations for landlords looking to enhance their online rental listing has been great photography. Photography has been a staple in the multifamily rental industry for well over a decade now; but it may find itself eventually replaced by virtual reality tours and 3D floor plans.Student housing is a prime market segment that is likely to be at the frontier of virtual reality tours, especially as they become increasingly more affordable, accessible and easy to facilitate. Virtual reality tours go a step beyond photos and video, whereas they allow for an immersive and interactive experience for student renters, without leaving the comfort of their current home. Out-of-state or out-of-country students typically cannot arrange for in-person tours of accommodations, which is where virtual reality triumphs.So will virtual reality tours be the next big thing for marketing in student housing? The current market environment would lead us to believe so.There are already a handful of major student housing players that have adopted and started to implement virtual reality tours including:   Domus Student Housing Campus Suites Varsity Properties Campus Life & Style Campus Apartments   UForis VR that works with Domus Student Housing conducted a case study on the units they equipped with VR tours and saw a 20% increase in year-over-year monthly number of units rented. In addition, Domus Student Housing saw a significant decrease in workload for their leasing agents and estimated that it resulted in 40-50% less work.Even on-campus housing properties are taking an interest in VR, as MacEwan University Residence has......
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How to Think Different- recap from AIM keynote speaker

A super-fantabulous 7 minute recap of the Futurist key-note speaker from AIM 2017.  Rohit Bhargara, trend creator extraordinaire gave us not only a glimpse into future trends, but showed us how to curate them.  Well-known for maxims such as “Big Ideas Don’t Work” and “Most Trend Predictions Fail”, Bhargara teaches a framework for discovering and testing trend creation and putting the insights to work in a profitable way.  Sharing 8 of the Top Trends, attendees were on the edge of our seats, and we were not disappointed.  Better yet, we left motivated on how to think differently about ideas and current trends. Industry Leaders, we are in a believability crisis.  See through the noise; find the ideas that have meaning.  Teach yourself to spot ideas and make them trends.  Accelerate the ideas.    The TOP 8 trends for the next year.  Here is how they produced the trends: a.       Gather- save interesting ideas b.       Aggregate the data c.       Name the trend d.       Elevate e.       Prove TOP 8 TRENDS: Virtual Empathy- people want to understand the process.  They want to feel, touch, see everything- during all milestones.  This makes them feel connected.  Bring them into the story. Use VR, AR, and Mixed Reality to take people behind the scenes- Video is a big tool for this.  Fierce Femininity- YEAH! Take a stand and make a statement where you can.  Women are strong, hardworking, inspiring and fierce.  No longer seen as pretty girls. Passive Loyalty- these days, people choose convenience unless they are heavily r......
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Why Snapchat May Not Be a Viable Marketing Platform for Student Housing

Why Snapchat May Not Be a Viable Marketing Platform for Student Housing
Snapchat, as of late, has been a hot topic in the student housing market. Earlier in the year at the 2017 NAA Student Housing Conference & Exhibition, a session covered social media trends in student housing and highlighted Snapchat as a platform ripe with marketing potential. As NAA put it, Snapchat is dominating the student housing marketing conversation. But is the marketing potential all it’s cracked up to be? While there are plenty of great free Snapchat marketing techniques for resident engagement and interaction, paid marketing opportunities on the platform are limited for student housing providers.   Common advertising objectives such as getting new leases signed, driving website traffic to listings or booking on-site tours are just a few of the goals that would be difficult to accomplish through Snapchat marketing. Some other key limitations student housing providers should be aware of are listed below. 1. Extremely High Ad Costs: Snapchat currently only has three paid advertising options:   ·      Snap Ads: As of February 2017, there was a minimum campaign buy-in of $10,000/month.   ·      Sponsored Lenses: These cost between $450,000 to $700,000+/day, depending on the day and other factors.   ·      On-Demand Geofilters: The price depends on a few factors, such as the size of the Geofence area and the duration for which it will run. On average, Buffer puts the cost at about $5 per 20,000 square feet for a Geofilter. However, if a large area were to be selected, say the entire Drake University campus, the cost coul......
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Brent Williams
Excellent write-up.
Friday, 12 May 2017 15:24
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When a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

When a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

I was against emojis at first. After all, I am a writer and editor. I know the power of the written word and grammar. (In fact, a missing Oxford comma could end up costing a company $10 million. Seriously. Grammar is important.) Also, I am not a 12-year-old girl anymore, thank god. Anyway. Why write with pictures when you could use actual words? OK, sometimes you need to show you’re joking, so a colon and parenthesis works as a smiley face. Right?

Read on for the whole blog. 

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Brent Williams
Don't get me started on the Oxford comma!
Friday, 31 March 2017 12:37
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Property Managers: Learn to Think Like a CEO

The Senior VP of the company I work for is always pushing her area and regional managers to think at a 10,000-foot level. Some of the newer, non-seasoned managers now overseeing two or more properties may find it hard to shift between details and bigger picture thinking. While I am certainly not a CEO, I’ve had the privilege to learn a little bit about them, their styles, and how they think. In the next few paragraphs I’ll share with you what I’ve learned. What you’ll find is bigger picture—10,000-foot—level thinking is not rocket science. 1. Hire people smarter than you. In grad school I had the opportunity to hear the legendary CEO Jack Welch speak about his career. One of the things he said that will forever stick with me is that he always hired the very best—admittedly, people smarter than him. He argued that hiring the brightest made his job easier. Smart people have better problem solving skills, communication skills, and are better critical thinkers. Companies like Google and Apple purposefully recruit from top colleges like Stanford and UCLA—they hire the brightest for their ideas and creativity. So, why would you not want to hire someone brighter than you? Do you fear they might try and take your job? If this is so, then you have a self-esteem issue. Ultimately, the “leader” that thinks he or she knows it all is toxic to an organization. In the IREM white paper series, Alfred Ojejinmi explains that when you “acknowledge what you have to learn [versus......
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Jim Kittridge
Great article Nathan. Couldn't agree more with Blanchard's technique. A lot of junior managers mistake managing as telling others ... Read More
Wednesday, 22 March 2017 12:06
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Showing Tenants Some Love - The Rise of Tenant Rewards & Perks Programs

Showing Tenants Some Love - The Rise of Tenant Rewards & Perks Programs
In recognition of Valentine’s Day tomorrow, we thought it would be fitting to discuss a clever new way for landlords and property managers to show their tenants some love.   A relatively new trend in the rental industry is the introduction of tenant reward and perk programs, whereby accommodation providers offer discounts, incentives, and prizes to their tenants.   Tenant satisfaction and retention are two central aspects of maintaining a successful rental housing business, which makes these reward programs an excellent way to help keep tenants happy. Tenant retention is a particularly tricky issue in student housing, as the average turnover rate is about 50% per year, according to Centurion Apartments.So what are some examples of these tenant reward programs?   While there are certainly no shortages of tenant reward programs that have popped up over the last few years, the following are a few of our favorites.  Killam Perks – Killam Properties operates several student housing locations across Canada which offer a program known as Killam Perks. Tenants receive a perks card which grants them access to discounts and special deals from a huge list of retailers.Our favorite offer at the moment? Save the tax at a fast-growing fresh food chain, Freshii.  MoolaPerks – One way or another, tenants have to pay rent; so why not get rewarded for doing it? RentMoola’s MoolaPerks program does just that. This third-party rent payment company allows their users the ability to be rewarded with a slew of discounts, freebies and perks from a plethora of retailers.Our favorite offer at the moment? A free $3......
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Customer Service - A Lesson from Hori

Customer Service - A Lesson from Hori
I was enjoying lunch last week at Benihana with our awesome chef, Hori. He was great, flipping and flying food with the best of them. Sadly, Hori had to deal with two high maintenance and very unhappy people. (Not us, we were delightful-don’t be silly.)   “We don’t want sauce.” “Add this sauce.” “More garlic butter.” “More this, more that…” Complain, huff, deep sighs. I felt badly for Hori, as did my dining companion who heard more than I did. Hori, though, rolled with flow, stayed professional, dignified, and kept plugging away doing his job like the rockstar he clearly is.   As is the usual, once your onion-volcano-making, shrimp-tail-flipping, clickety-clacking, food-flying chef is done, he’s off to another table to wow those guests and add more shrimp tails to his hat. After he left, the two at our table (or for the fancy reader … hibachi) went on a rant with the server about Hori.   Because, as previously mentioned, we were delightful, we stayed after to tell the server how great Hori was. We found out the other guests had complained about Hori and his awful service, saying he was “too old and should retire.” Can you imagine? Apparently, they “get stuck with him all the time.” All I could think was thank goodness I’m not in a customer service role like that.   Then it occurred to me. Unless you are a hermit living in a cave, everyone is in customer service. Everyone you deal with is a customer in one way or another. You......
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