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

Multifamily Blogs

This is some blog description about this site

The Intangibles Of Conference Education Sessions

Every year, people have to make the decision on whether to attend NAA's Education Conference, and who in their organizations they bring along with them.  One of the biggest benefits are the education sessions, which brings together the brightest minds to share absolutely fantastic information.  And it occurred to me today that some people may not realize the related, but maybe not obvious, benefit to these sessions, which adds a whole other level of value. So when we think about each education session, we think something along the lines of, "Donald Davidoff is one of the smartest people I know, so everything that he says will be absolutely gold".  Or, "Bill Szczytko brings such great actionable ideas in such a fun and relatable way."  Or, "Jackie Ramstedt is so engaging that I'm sucked into her world, able to see property management from a completely different perspective." *  But even more than being a great source of information, these great speakers also serve as a muse.  Each time I sit through a session, not only do I get their great nuggets of wisdom, but inevitably I hear something that strikes a chord on a completely different topic.  Suddenly, I'm furiously writing down notes that have nothing to do with the session at hand, but at the same time, was triggered directly from it. It's possible that I may have come to these epiphanies on my own, but I don't think so.  The education sessions got me into a certain mode, and hearing......
Continue reading
2157 Hits
3 Comments

We’re Living in a Digital World and I Am a Digital Girl

We’re Living in a Digital World and I Am a Digital Girl
So Madonna might not have been quite so tech-minded in her actual song lyrics, but I think my revision of her 1984 pop hit, “Material Girl," reflects what many multi-housing companies are aiming to accomplish in more ways than ever before as digital communications and technology continue to evolve. And yet at the same time, our apartment communities still love the traditional pen and paper, walls of file cabinets, and xeroxing (again, in the spirit of the 80s). And when it comes to training materials, we see a lot of people who strongly gravitate toward traditional workbooks and printed pamphlets. As much as we like to imagine on-site managers diligently reading and referencing our instructional guidebooks in whatever circumstance they may encounter, it's actually not a likely scenario for property managers to keep a copy on-hand at all times. Metaphorically, their hands are already full juggling prospects, team members, corporate reporting/requirements, and residents. And unfortunately because site staff have such a demanding workload, training is expected to happen quickly... on the go... whenever they have time. Like you'll find in a myriad of educational settings from elementary to collegiate, most industries involving any form of technology have opted for digital training methods rather than paper training packets. Instead of requiring site staff to memorize a slew of information straight out of the gate, offering on-demand training materials enable success by allowing team members to help themselves to training resources when they need it and delve deeper into the materials when they have the freedom to dedicate a block of time to it. As educators will tell you, memorizing rote information does little good in d......
Continue reading
1137 Hits
0 Comments

The D.I.R.T. on How We're Setting Up Maintenance Teams to Fail

b2ap3_thumbnail_The-DIRT-on-Maintenance-Requests.jpgIt's no secret our maintenance teams are one of the key reasons residents renew their lease. Repairs (especially those that were not completed) are one of the most common topics on ratings and review sites. We can tell our maintenance teams to work smarter and faster until we're blue in the face, but that's not going to change things. Before real improvement can take place, we have to stop setting up our maintenance teams to fail! Wait! We're What? Maintenance teams rely on the information that is provided in the work order system. The majority of those maintenance requests are input by front office staff. However, very few property management companies include "Maintenance Request 101" in their onboarding process. The result? Office staff learns how to take a maintenance request by listening to their co-workers (who also have received no specific training) take maintenance requests. Obviously, most communities are managing alright, but more often than we'd like to believe, these are the types of notes maintenance teams are reading. "Blinds broken." Which means.... ? Do they need a new slat, a new pull string, and entirely new set of blinds? Vague, general service requests often result in incomplete work, callbacks, or time-wasting trips back and forth to the maintenance shop, which gives residents the impression that the maintenance techs are not the rock stars we know they are! It's time we all learn how to get the D.I.R.T.  D - Details Your maintenance team is a great source for what details are......
Continue reading
6086 Hits
11 Comments

Are We Teaching "Fear" Housing?

Are We Teaching "Fear" Housing?
Do you remember those infamous teenage driver’s education films like the “Red Asphalt” series or “Blood Runs Red on the Highway”? These “shockumentaries” dramatized accident scenes or showed scenes from actual accidents, and the (often) gory results of poor decisions by young drivers. The intent was to scare teens into becoming good drivers, by showing them what could happen behind the wheel.    While there is no doubt that these types of movies have made an impact on the minds of those who watched them, I wonder if they also instilled so much fear in young drivers that it made them more afraid of making a mistake, as opposed to becoming proactive, defensive drivers. And when the fear of making a mistake is a primary motivator, mistakes often increase! Plus, some studies have shown that a fear, or threat-based method of teaching drivers safety can often lose effectiveness over time.    Are we doing the same thing when we teach Fair Housing principles?    Throughout my career I’d see people come out of Fair Housing training with a “shell-shocked” look that essentially made them afraid to say anything or do anything outside of a very narrow path. I remember working with someone who didn’t want to ask any questions about prospect’s spouses or children, for fear of violating Fair Housing principles. Interestingly, she didn’t have any problems asking about client’s pets (especially dogs).    Quite frankly~I have a tabby cat … and if a leasing associate asked more questions about my cat than my wife or daughter ......
Continue reading
3800 Hits
12 Comments

Fear of spiders? That's nothing...

Fear of spiders? That's nothing...
Let’s face it, learning new software can be hard. You might think the biggest challenge we face when training an apartment portfolio on new technology is overcoming different skill levels in our learners. But really, the biggest hurdle is fear of technology, fear of change, fear of screwing things up... basically just fear. As a trainer, oftentimes I'll outline a fantastic step-by-step plan to usher clients  from one software program to another,  only to find they still haven't gotten past the login page when I check back even weeks later. No matter what type of training, I encounter excuses like, “I'm too busy” ... “I don’t like that sort of training” .... “I can’t remember anything the trainer said”... and the list goes on and on. If I really probe, I usually come up with the root cause, and most often it's fear. Digital natives don’t have the same issues with technology. There's an element of learned intuition in how they discover and explore new software programs. Because they've developed that familiarity, it just makes sense to them. For those who aren't comfortable with software, this fear of trying something new is a big enough obstacle that they'd rather just continue their usual tasks and routines. But if we can get them to give it a shot, then they actually make great strides. To help technophobes get over their fear, here are some techniques that my team and I have found effective: Always make sure the learner understands how the software will directly benefit them, and the way they do their job. Everybody wants to ......
Continue reading
885 Hits
0 Comments

The Leasing Office is Closed!

The Leasing Office is Closed!
I am writing this post as I sit in my car, waiting for a leasing office to re-open so that I can meet with the team on a consulting project. I actually arrived at the community about an hour ago, and as I walked to the front door, I saw a sign in the window that said something to the effect:   “We are currently out showing our community to a client.  We’ll be with you in a few moments.”   Having worked onsite for many years I understand that people need to eat lunch. I know that offices cannot always be staffed to ensure uninterrupted coverage during the day. So I am not begrudging the fact that the office has been closed for an hour.    Rather my issue is that I don’t know when to expect someone to be back in the office. The sign in the door said that someone would be right back in a few moments, which in my expectation would be like 5-10 minutes. But it’s been an hour later and still, the office is closed and I still don’t know if anyone is showing up anytime soon.    What if I were a prospect?    On the stretch that this community is on, I drove past several other apartment communities. Communities that a prospect could easily visit, while waiting for someone to show up at this one. Imagine if a prospect visited this community, saw the sign that said someone would be back in a few momen......
Continue reading
5051 Hits
11 Comments

NOI Value Creation

Let’s face it, your NOI was tremendously impacted over the past few years. And right now in 2013 you have a unique opportunity for income growth.  Engaging performance methodologies wisely - will pay you richly.  Enhancing your manager’s skills has a direct correlation to the bottom-line financial performance they deliver to you.   Let me give you undeniable, bottom-line proof.  There’s hard data that skill development really does determine your NOI!   The Facts:  An Indiana property management company with a focus on employee development from 1999-2007 (over a 9 year period) was able to realize noteworthy results throughout their 16,000 unit portfolio.  The results were quantifiable and impressive with a:  • 20% decrease in resident turnover  • 44% decrease in employee turnover • 21% increase in leasing consultant’s closing ratios • 41% decrease in lease cancellations    In 2007 specifically, they were able to compare and document the difference of about $400 per unit NOI …on two identical assets.  Yes… $400 per unit.  At a conservative 7% cap rate that’s a difference of $1.5 million in value!  Are you curious to know what the difference was?  One manager had additional performance and professional development.  She had her CAM…  Certified Apartment Manager designation.  Now we are talking about proof of performance through increased profitability.  All by increasing the skill levels of team members.  By developing the skills in your team....you really are developing your profitable results.   A CAM designation is one powerful way to grow your NOI.  There are other new performance methodo......
Continue reading
1651 Hits
1 Comment

Don't Become the Problem!

Don't Become the Problem!
 A few weeks ago my wife and I went to pick up our daughter from school. We were running a little late, so I dropped off my wife so she could “claim” our daughter from her class and I would then park the car. I wanted to save my wife and daughter a far walk, so I just decided to stop my car in a red zone, turn on my flashers and wait, since I thought they weren’t far away.  (BTW: I know that what I did was wrong and that I shouldn’t have parked my car in a red zone, even if my intention was to save my wife and daughter the walk.)   As I sat in the car, a mom stopped right by the passenger window ... and said (kinda loudly), “You can’t park here!!! This is a red zone!!...” And then she lectured me about parking where I did. (The funny thing is, I remembered that mom from the second day of school...where she yelled at a father who didn’t cross in the crosswalk after dropping his kid off.)   As she walked away, she talked to another mom, pointed to me, and then they both looked at me. The mom who lectured me then pointed to an empty space across the street, looked at me and then shook her head. The insinuation was clear (to me)-she couldn’t believe I would choose to park in a red zone since there was clearly an open space across the street.  &n......
Continue reading
2463 Hits
8 Comments

Back To School, A Lifetime Commitment to Learning

imageAs children head back to school, this is a good time to outline training/learning expectations for our on-site teams. First as leaders, managers should set the example, attending training classes, participating in webinar a and sharing ideas obtained from industry publications. Including training objectives in the weekly calendar can prevent the last minute cancellations, “we were too busy trying to finish a turnover for a move in, so we couldn’t participate excuse.” Recognize individuals that pursue training on their own. Give individuals an opportunity to share a new idea or process with the team, during weekly meetings. A mind set that once a job is learned, no additional training is needed, might be challenged with an observation of professional athletes. Homerun hitters talk about batting practice, baseball pitchers work with as pitching coach to perfect or strengthen a new pitch. Football teams watch film to see what plays were executed correctly and why other plays were not. Practice makes perfect. Individuals who are committed to self improvement are open and excited for opportunities to learn. Inquiries about learning something new might provide some interesting insights during the interview process. Establishing monthly objectives for team members to complete with recognition, competency testing and achievement levels will support an education initiative. Requiring completion of course work, online, video or “read this, and sign this acknowledgement form” will result in minimal learning value without follow up to apply the material. Simply requiring completion of specific courses by a due date often results in a marathon ......
Continue reading
2779 Hits
1 Comment

The Star-Spangled Banner | Why You Should Share Your Company's Story

The Star-Spangled Banner | Why You Should Share Your Company's Story
It took a minute for the moment to hit me...and when it did, I was inspired...moved, really, to touch the brick wall in front of me, so that I could physically connect with where I was and its place in American history. I looked around the courtyard with buildings dating from the early 1800s, I looked up at the 15-star U.S. flag flying from a tall white flagpole inside this old brick fort and I just took the moment in.    It was still hard for me to believe that I was really here inside Fort McHenry-the very place that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the words to what would eventually be called “The Star-Spangled Banner.”   I had just finished up a workshop for a great client in Baltimore and had some time before my flight home. I decided to do some sightseeing and immediately, visiting Fort McHenry came to my mind. I have always been unashamedly patriotic, even as a young kid, and I remember being moved and inspired by the story of the failed British attack on Fort McHenry, during the War of 1812.    The Power of Story   What gave Fort McHenry such emotional power and appeal to me wasn’t it’s age, or design, or even location---it’s that I know the story of what happened there.    Through my years of schooling, from reading books, from watching programs about it, I have been instilled with the knowledge that the British basically threw everything they had at Fort M......
Continue reading
1030 Hits
0 Comments