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Positive Review Peril: 5 Steps to an Authentic Online Story

Positive Review Peril: 5 Steps to an Authentic Online Story
Imagine you are planning to make a major purchase, let’s say a car for example.  You decide to check out a local dealership’s website and find nothing but 5-star ratings, hundreds of glowing reviews describing excellent service, and testimonials of loyalty from customers who are over-the-moon happy with their experiences.  At this point you’re feeling pretty confident that buying from this dealership would be a smart decision.  Or are you?  Human nature tells us a little skepticism is bound to seep in when something seems too good to be true. We’ve all been burned before; it would not be far-fetched to say in hindsight the situation at the beginning was in fact, too good to be true.  “I should have known better”…sound familiar?  Renters have also been burned before; some have spent an entire year or longer dealing with bad neighbors, inconsistent service, unresponsive management and more - none of which was depicted in the community’s marketing message.  In a previous post, I wrote people now value the written word over the actual score.  Scores, while still a prominent factor for management companies and communities, have become secondary to those seeking information.  Star ratings are following this trend as well.  According to Brightlocal’s Consumer Review Survey, 68% of respondents said they’d be willing to do business with a company that had at least a 3.5 out of 5 star rating.  Communities intent on projecting an all-positive image could be in peril.  Renters are not looking for perfection – they’re looking for authenticity.  If......
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20 for '20 - A New Perspective on Multifamily Leadership

This week we released our much-anticipated white paper, 20 for '20: 20 Conversations with Senior Executives About the Outlook for 2020 and Beyond. For those of you who hadn’t heard about it, we interviewed 20 operations and technology executives at the end of 2018 to get their perspectives on the state of the industry and their own priorities. We felt that by contrasting our 20 interviewees' current priorities with priorities for the next few years, we could gain and share insight into the outlook to 2020 and beyond. We’ll be discussing some of the findings in more detail on this blog over the coming weeks. But today, aside from making sure you know it’s now available for download, I thought I would share what motivated us to put in the many hours of research and to invest in writing this white paper. Not another opinion piece Simply put, we wanted to write something that wasn’t just an opinion. So we worked to find a structured way to collect expert input and develop a neutral, sober perspective on where the industry is heading.  We wanted to identify and understand broad themes and trends, rather than just articulate a viewpoint to go with all the others. To this end, we structured our interviews around a combination of quantitative statistics and qualitative discussion.  While this white paper was not primarily designed as a piece of quantitative research, we feel that by comparing 20 sets of responses to the same questions, we can draw some inference from the answers. ......
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Email Marketing Best Practices for New Construction Lease Ups

Email Marketing Best Practices for New Construction Lease Ups
If you have a new construction project, email marketing needs to be part of your overall lease up plan.  Before I get into our email marketing best practices, there are two things you need to have ready first:  #1 - You want construction banners posted around the development directing people to a website.  #2 - The actual website that you'll setup needs to be a landing page (just one page) with the goal of building an interest list. On this interest list website, prospective residents can enter their contact information to stay in the loop as your new apartment community is developed. This will help you build a solid list of good prospects. The best way to stay top of mind with hot prospects is through email marketing. Here are 5 best practices: #1 - How often should I email?  Send one to two emails monthly. When prospects opt-in for more information on your website, they should receive a welcome email immediately. This first email is probably the most important, as it is your first contact with your prospects and sets the tone for their entire experience with your community. Confirm you received their information, thank them, welcome them, and let them know what to expect next.  Spend extra time making sure you're creating the right experience with your words. Then set this email up as an autoresponder, so they automatically receive it a few minutes after leaving their information. #2 - What should I say in my emails?  Include updates on construction, making prospects feel......
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5 Ways to Create a Great Move-Out Experience

5 Ways to Create a Great Move-Out Experience
It can all fall apart in the end.   An apartment community may have a great relationship with a resident and provide that person with a truly outstanding living experience. But if the resident encounters a rocky move-out, it can completely sour their feelings about the community and lead to angry online reviews and feedback.   Things certainly don't have to turn out that way. Below are some tips for creating a positive move-out experience for your residents:   • Set expectations about the security deposit – or eliminate it altogether. Anger about the small amount of their security deposit refund (or anger about getting no refund at all) is a common sentiment in online reviews, just ask your onsite teams.   Because of the tension refunds can create at move-out and because of the various administrative hassles associated with managing deposits, more and more apartment communities are making a fundamental shift in operations and  eliminating security deposits.   If that route doesn’t feel right for your company at this moment, you should at least work hard to manage residents' expectations about their refund. Give them some sense, both when they're paying the deposit and again when they're nearing move-out, of what the average refund looks like at your community. Explain the reasons why charges are typically deducted from a refund. Provide a checklist of the steps a resident needs to take to maximize their chances of getting a sizable refund.   • Communicate, communicate, communicate. This one would seem to go with......
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“Mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom.” “Honey, I’m trying to talk to the leasing consultant!”

  Some kids are quiet, sweet, and completely respectful when their parents are trying to talk with someone.  This does not describe my kids.  My kids are incredibly talkative and energetic, and when they were younger, having an adult conversation while they were around was an exercise in extreme patience.  As a leasing consultant, if one of these families walks through the door, the key to that lease very well may depend on your ability to provide a bit of quiet to allow a normal conversation with the parents! From a kid’s perspective, apartment hunting has got to be painfully boring.  They might be interested as you walk by the pool or playground, but a discussion about the family’s needs in an apartment, especially when they have had the same discussion five other times that day, is going to drive those kids bonkers.  And when they flip out, then you have lost the parent’s attention, as well as the sale.  So the key is to distract, distract, distract!    My initial inspiration for this blog was actually from my sister-in-law, who is a teacher and shared her reading nook in her classroom: My reaction was immediate – wouldn’t something like this be great for a community leasing office that had a high percentage of families with kids?  As a parent, this is an incredible lifeline giving me a few minutes a peace and quiet so I could have a conversation with the leasing consultant about what we were looking for.  Stress goes down......
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Your Insider's Look: The Laundry RFP

Greetings Gentle Readers! Typically when a property owner or manager needs a laundry proposal for their multifamily asset they contact a laundry company and ask for a “proposal” without giving the operator specific, if any,  guidelines in which they are interested.   And, usually when asked by the laundry vendor what the property wants to see in a proposal, the response is all too often a vague and less than strategic response: “Just give me your best deal”.    That response, unfortunately, is a nonstarter for a laundry vendor and leaves way too many options for the laundry vendor who sadly doesn’t have any idea what the property’s “best deal” looks like.   Too often neither does the property and it can result in multiple proposals, revisions, lost time and energy and missed opportunities for both counter parties. Let me give you an analogy that might help make the point.   1.      If I were to go looking for a roofing contractor, I would know at least 3 things, conceivably more, that are critical to my decision process.  In no particular order those might be: reputation, timeline for job and price.  I might also know that I prefer composite to tile and that I want 8 nails not just 6...all those are preferences that begin to outline my request. And it provides the contractors bidding the job a solid understanding of what I want.   2.      What I’m saying is the property owner/manager who knows at least three things, hopefully more, is in a better position......
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The Art of Connecting, a great message from Jason Stoughton


I ran across this video from Jason Stoughton today and absolutely thought it was worth sharing.  It is actually a video leading up to him speaking for the First Coast Apartment Association, but it's really powerful as a stand-alone message on the "Art of Connecting" with others.  If you all are near FCAA, you better go see him!

 

 

 

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Quick SEO Tip to Help Your Website Get More Clicks

Quick SEO Tip to Help Your Website Get More Clicks
One of the top SEO problems I see when reviewing apartment websites is that no one takes the time to properly write a meta description for the homepage of their website.  What is a Meta Description Anyway?   The meta description is the paragraph of text that appears below the headline in your Google search result. The meta description is essentially a short statement about the website. See below: In most cases, the meta description is left blank. When that happens, Google will just pull random text from your website and display that as your meta description. That’s not a good idea, because the description for your website will show as a bunch of broken phrases that don't represent your community from a professional standpoint. For example: Instead of leaving it up to Google to pull random text from your website, write your own meta description and treat it as a mini sales message that further compels your prospect to take action.   Why Write Your Meta Description as a Mini Sales Message The person searching Google will be enticed to take action and click on your website.  Your website will stand out among the other Google-generated meta descriptions. Your site will get more traffic, which will move your listing higher in organic rankings. How to Write Your Meta Description in 5 Simple Steps   Search engines will typically cut your meta description off after 158 characters. So, keep your text less than that. It should be roughly two short sentences. Include your two main keywords in y......
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How Do Higher Interest Rates Affect My Investment?

33.jpg  Interest rates always exert a significant effect on any investment one can make. That is naturally also true for real estate investments. In general, higher interest rates have an adverse effect as they go together with a poorly performing economy. Higher interest rates always prevent consumers from buying goods and thus investors lose on investment opportunities. In the end, sales and profits drop as well. But how does all of that affect real estate? How exactly do higher interest rates change real estate investments? Real Estate and Interest Rates The first thing you need to know here is that many often confuse what exactly affects real estate. Many wrongfully assume that the direct factor in real estate evaluation is the current mortgage rate. The influence comes from interest rates, as they have a profound effect on mortgage rates, which then, in turn, affect real estate worth. However, that’s not all. Interest rates directly affect capital flows, which means that they also affect the supply and demand for property, which in turn changes the price of real estate. There are several other factors involved which we don’t have time to go into. The important thing is that all of this is naturally not an exact correlation. With so many factors involved, it’s never possible to predict whether or not higher interest rates will result in a slower real estate market growth, fewer sales, and subsequently lower prices. The Effect of Higher Interest Rates First, it’s important to note that when we look at......
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Why Grouping Floor Plans Is Like Selling Shoes

Last week we were talking about the experience of leasing up big projects, and it reminded me of something that I’ve advised companies against doing for years.  It’s to do with the setup of pricing and revenue management systems (RMS) – a set of tasks that do not always receive the attention that they should. When companies set up new properties on an RMS, one of the most frequent missteps, even for experienced revenue management departments, is the execution of floor plan groupings.  It’s an essential set-up step, as it determines the level at which the system will forecast and make pricing recommendations. Here’s the problem that I’ve seen again and again over the years: companies tend to form the groups that make the revenue management system easier to manage, rather than the ones that will yield the best results.  There is some logic to this approach: revenue management systems generate statistics, and segments with large unit counts usually yield more reliable statistics and hence results. However, when 5, 10, or even 15 different floor plans are lumped together in 1x1's or 2x2's and so on, it becomes hard to interpret the pricing recommendations.  The risk is that when managers are unable to make sense of the recommendations, they look for quick ways to affect changes to unit pricing, with mismanagement of amenity pricing a common and potentially damaging consequence. Why bottom-up beats top-down Through years of experience, I’ve found that the key to good unit type segmentation is to build from the bottom rather t......
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