Multifamily Insiders is proud to share that Toni Blake recently was given the “Industry Legends Award” by MultifamilyPro. A veteran of the multifamily industry for over 30 years, Toni travels to over 60 cities a year speaking to thousands of industry professionals. We were fortunate enough to pick Toni’s brain about her achievement and her experiences in the multifamily industry.
What was your reaction when your family surprised you on stage as you were receiving your Legends award?
I was so excited once the program started. What a thrill to be honored by your peers. I had been a part of orchestrating this award for others, so I don’t know why I didn’t put it together – but when the doors opened and I saw my father – Then, behind him came my mother, and only two siblings and the love of my life Doug. WOW – the love was so strong and that moment was so rich – I will cherish the memory forever. Standing on the stage during the standing ovation and waiting for people to stop applauding was the most love I have ever felt in my life. Seeing my family’s faces so full of love and pride, it was overwhelming. When I tried say “Thank you that is enough” someone cried out “We love you Toni” and they just kept on! My heart was so full I almost exploded. I will never forget those powerful moments created for me by my industry friends and fellow Brainstormers. I am truly blessed to be a part of such an amazing industry.
How did you first get into the apartment industry?
I couldn’t pay my rent and got a letter to come into the office. When I went, I took my “LadyLove” cosmetics sales kit and sold the manager make-up. I left the office with a hot check and took the last $60 the manager had to her name... By lunch, she had lined up an interview for me in the main office and I was on staff three days later when my check bounced. They took my rent from my check from that day forward. I loved it from the first day I walked into a leasing office in 1978, and love it even more today 31 years later.
Of the programs you have implemented for your clients, which one have you been most proud of?
I get so frustrated at our city, state and national reputation. The only time you see an apartment community on TV is if it is on fire or a fugitive is hiding out. I have helped companies create positive PR stories including a campaign in my hometown of Denver called “Love Letter from America”. We had the communities create hand made valentine cards for the troops in Bosnia. They were mailed from Loveland, Colorado and we got tons of great press. I was even featured by the morning NBC affiliate to ask for help to meet our goal. I have gone after the geniuses book of world records for kite flying, and auctioned off a division of Marines at a Toys-for-Tots Christmas party. I love to see a positive story about apartment people. We need to have a PR committee on each city association working to show the world what a fantastic industry we are!
What areas in the apartment industry do you see growing the most in 2009?
I believe that more companies will be looking for older product for rehab. The people who make mistakes up are going to be bought by the people who know how to do. right I get calls everyday from properties in trouble and most the time they are the largest part of the problem. We have to start implementing our “best practices”. It is like dieting, we all know what to do, we just don’t do it! This year, it’s about discipline and paying attention to details.
For those just starting in the apartment industry, what advice can you give them?
Watch, listen, learn, find great mentors, go the extra mile and make friends!! This is the most incredible group of people I have ever known and I am so grateful for the amazing friendships I have made through the years. My industry friends are my greatest accomplishment and bring me the greatest joy!
Now that you are a Legend - how do you maintain your expertise in Multifamily Housing?
After 30 years and becoming Legend I have never been more excited by what is NEW! I research and read everyday. I am blogging at Multifamily Insiders, touring with the All Stars and just yesterday we added FREE MP3 audio files to TotallyToni. We constantly update new services for our clients and audiences to use. The FREE MP3's are 8 - 14 minutes of LIVE recorded seminar they can listen into anytime. Train a new leasing agent, get a refresher, reminder and quick renewal for their team. No matter what success you have had - the future requires us to be diligent to STAY on top!!! We are also finalizing our first bi-lingual closing tools in English/Spanish that will also be available for FREE at TotallyToni.com next week.
If you would like to read more of Toni’s experiences in shaping our industry, you can read her blog right here! Read Toni Blake's Blog