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Sometimes You're Gonna Step In It...

Chaos I woke up this morning to see my 13 year old, Gwenna, coming down the hall. Her right hand was suspiciously stretched a distance away from her body while her left hand being yanked roughly by her black lab, Luna. I continued sleepily on my path down the hall to wake Joe, my son, and *Squish!* Yep, right between my toes. NOW I know why Luna was pulling Gwenna down the hall! As I scream in disgust I look down and see the evidence trailing in the form of paw prints from the bedroom all the way to the front door. The offensive smell hits my nose. "Gwenna, you're cleaning this up! This is your responsibility!" I'm wondering, as I say this, if she will be ABLE to do it... did I mention I've got a tan carpeted hallway? I'm furiously cleaning my foot. "HOW did you let this happen?" She's remorseful and running around like a maniac looking for cleaner and paper towels, "I took a shower and left her in her kennel. Luna had an accident Mom, it's my fault. I thought I could get a shower first, I'm sorry!" Here come my other children, Tory (15) and Joe (12) wanting bathroom access... "Eww, Gross! What's that SMELL! Mom, this is nasty!" And the CHAOS ensues. How does this %$#@ relate to social media? Daria Steigman recently posted an article on her blog discussing self-censorship, "I've also seen the crowd turn on lots of less-known people for real......
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I No Longer Give a #&%! About Your Closing Ratio

That's right, it deserved an explative.  Why in this industry do we get caught up on this number?  My question is how many leases did you get today (or this week)?  I don't care how many times you picked up the phone or how many people you showed an apartment to get that/those lease(s) as long as you get them.

Why, Mark, why?  Because you're all full of #&%! when you tell me how many calls or traffic you had anyway as you're afraid to have a low closing ratio.  We've been holding you to some magical closing ratio number, and it's time to stop.  I love interviewing new leasing candidates or managers and they tell me that they have a 50% closing ratio or higher.  I call BS!  How is that exactly measured anyway?  Is it based on people you actually showed an apartment to?  Is it based on everyone that inquired?  Does it include people that are interested in a one bedroom that you have no availability for? 

 And given all that criteria, what really matters?  I think two things matter.

1. Getting the leases to achieve the goals set for yourself and management.

2. Recording every single call, visit, or inquiry of any kind that comes in.

I believe these are the key measurements needed for leasing and marketing a community.  And that's why I no longer give a #&%! about your closing ratio.

 Enjoy your day!


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Urbane Follows Hyundai Lead, No Job, We Let You Out of Your Lease

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEJanuary 6, 2009Contact:Eric This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. APARTMENTS GIVES RENTERS HIT BY RECESSION A WAY OUTRenters who experience an “involuntary loss of income” in 2009 can get out of their lease with the local apartment company’s “carefree Freedom Lease.”In a local economy that is experiencing falling home prices and double-digit unemployment, it’s easy to think that consumers might be uneasy about committing themselves to a long-term agreement, such as a lease on a new apartment. Folks who are worried about losing their jobs aren't likely to take on the added risk of a one-year lease.Urbane Apartments – a local apartment company with communities in Royal Oak, Clawson, Berkley, Troy and Ferndale – unveiled a novel approach to the problem this week. Extending their already-available Freedom Lease, the apartment operator said residents who lease an apartment in 2009 would be able to get out of their lease if they lose their job or otherwise experience an involuntary loss of income at any point throughout the term of their lease."We don’t want people to feel paralyzed," said Eric Brown, the owner of Urbane Apartments. "It's a very tough environment around here right now, and we need to be willing to work with our residents if they are put in a tough position because of the economy."Getting out of the lease won’t have a negative effect on the resident's credit, added Brown.Urbane is no stranger to being flexible to meet their customers’ needs. For several years now, the company has offered flexible rental terms through......
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Do your people do the right thing even when you are not looking?

Would it surprise you to learn that in a recent study across the country where apartment communities were contacted with requests for information via the internet that less than 10% of the communities contacted responded?  In our current economic climate where maintaining occupancy is a challenge in many of our metropolitan areas, would your communities be part of the 10% or would they be part of the 90%? 

As we begin 2009, I would challenge all multi-family professionals, whether onsite or at a corporate level, to make sure that your teams are doing the basics.  Studies have continually shown that internet traffic is qualified traffic and that the number of individuals that are looking for an apartment online continues to increase every day.  Are your properties capturing all of the internet leads that they are receiving?   Are they following up with all leads in the manner that the prospective resident requested?  Are the internet leads answered in a professional manner?  If you don't know what your people are doing when it comes to internet leads, I would strongly suggest that you find out - today.  The only thing you have to lose is qualified rentals!


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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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Using Multifamily Insiders To Understand Social Networking

One of the biggest benefits we felt we could bring at Multifamily Insiders was introducing the concept of social networking to a wider group within our industry. Although almost every member of our industry has heard of MySpace and Facebook, many still don't really understand the benefits and why their residents actually use social tools like this. Even though Multifamily Insiders is more of a mix between professional and social networking, we feel that we can be the gateway to understanding some of these well-known social networks for our members. In other words, if you don't quite have a handle on what a blog is, how a discussion board works, or social networking in general, you can use Multifamily Insiders as a test area, which will help you understand your residents needs a little better! So if you are currently waiting on the sidelines and not yet a member of the site, take a moment and sign up. If you are already a member but are waiting to get involved, the easiest way to jump into the mix is to make a post or two on the discussion board. Since our website is based upon sharing knowledge, here are two easy kinds of posts to make: 1) Share your experiences with the group. Have you recently thrown an onsite event that was a big hit? Tell us about it! Are you seeing a trend in multifamily construction? Share what you know. 2) Ask a question! Multifamily Insiders can act like a......
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2009: The Year of Opportunity

I came across the following quote on the blog Customer Experience Matters today. The quote originally came from the Harvard Business Publishing site where they were showcasing a book called "The Forever War" "One day near Kandahar I came across a minefield, which was hardly extraordinary in itself, and next to it a man named Juma Khan Gulalai. The field was bright and green. Gulalai was a butcher and he’d set up his table there, his apron and knives at the ready. Every day, Gulalai explained, a goat would wander into the green grassy field to graze for its meal and step on a land mine and blow apart. Gulalai would walk into the field and retrieve the carcass–braving the mines himself as he did–throw the old goat up on the table and carve up its meat for sale."What will it take to grow revenue in 2009I tend to think about things from 30,000 feet and many times miss or overestimate the logistics of ripping off a cool new idea. In that respect I tend to do better at visualizing things as opposed to hammering out the details. I say all that to say this. 2009 will be the year of innovation in the multifamily space. I think we will see a number of new and exciting technologies come to fruition one of which will be that our various property management systems will finally talk to each other. Hats off to the MITS initiative. Moreover and really where I am looking......
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Social Media Marketing for Your Apartments

The buzz surrounding Social Media Marketing seems to grow louder each day. It is almost as folks think it is something you can buy off the shelf, some wonder drug. There is MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, flickr, YouTube, LinkedIn. Ning, and several more. Then there are the book marking sites, Delicious, Stumble Upon, Digg and many more of those too. Then, top things off with the various Rating Sites, Yelp and Get Satisfaction, it all gets kind of complicated to follow, or does it? It isn’t as confusing as it sounds or appears. At Urbane Apartments we have used Social Media Marketing Concepts and Tools to market our apartments. In fact, starting in 2005 we dropped all traditional marketing efforts in exchange for an Urbane MySpace site, an Urbane Facebook site, an Urbane You Tube site and an Urbane flickr site. Urbane Apartments and Urbane employees twitter regularly. To further integrate we started a Social Network site the Urbane Lobby where residents can meet and greet, trade pictures and videos and socialize on line. We manage and power a blog aimed at our residents the Urbane Blog, all designed around our target demographic local brand recognition.Our Goal; “To provide our residents with an experience and value with a high enough return to create enough Customer Evangelists within our core resident base that they self rent our apartments.” We are working hard to lead our resident Influencers within our core resident base, and have transitioned most of our marketing budget inward, to further......
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Why, "One Out, One In," Doesn't Equate

I've been listening a lot for the last few months as the economy has crept along in this downward spiral that so many of us are experiencing as my clients and friends in property management talk to me about how bad the market is out there.  I always ask about their traffic and specials and how the occupancy looks because I think it is important to be pretty up to date with the market trends in the area.  (Truth be told, and I shouldn't really admit this because I'm a little embarrassed but, I do more market surveys now then I ever did as a leasing consultant.  I didn't realize how important they really were when I was on property, but I sure do now!)One of the common themes I have heard repeatedly is, "I have lots of people giving notice and virtually no incoming traffic."Now, if I had been hearing this from just one or two properties, I might think that it had something to do with their current retention efforts or customer service, but it's not one or two communities.  It's about 75% of them.75% of places are having notice given and having no traffic.  So if you've got people moving out, and they're not moving in somewhere else, then just where are they going?What we're seeing is more and more people in the roommate situation.  Mike has a one bedroom at 1000 dollars a month.  Marshall has a one bedroom at 950 dollars a month.  Mike and Marshall......
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Thanksgiving: Verb Word It!

As a young child, I had an English teacher who was obsessed with what she called, "the verb words," because they were active and led to more and more action in writing.  She used to make us stand up and act out all the verb words in our papers when we read them to the class.  I liked the writing part of that class, but the acting out "verb word" madness not so much.  I was the fat kid, you understand.  But what I did take away from that teacher is the importance of action, not only in our writing but also in our doing.Thanksgiving is next week and what have you done to shine your community spotlight on this holiday? It's traditionally a day of family and football for many of us, so how can we make our residents feel like family today?  A few of the great retention ideas I've heard out there are:Sending handwritten notes to residents telling them that you're thankful for their residency at your community and mentioning a specific way they make it betterPreparing and serving a GIANT Thanksgiving dinner for the residentsA step up on plain jane thank you cards, one community is sponsoring a float in their local day after Thanksgiving parade with a giant thank you to their residents on the side of itThose are just some of the great ideas I've heard tossed around this week!  The float one has me really excited and I don't even like parades that much!Another......
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