Out to Put a Dent in the Multifamily Universe

After Hours Lock Outs

Apartment Lock OutWe have all taken the 3am call for lock out service. “Hi, I locked myself out of my apartment; can you have someone from your team come and let me in?”

And we all have some form of the following:

Apartment Lock Out Policy

If residents lose their key or become locked out of their apartment, the following options are available: [loosely adapted from a quick search result on Google]:


1. During posted normal business hours (excluding holidays) residents may come to the main office for
2. After normal business hours, but prior to 9:00 p.m., residents may contact the emergency phone
number provided on the office door or on the recorded message, and a staff member, if available, will
open the door….
3. After 9:00 p.m., no lock out service is provided and residents have the option of calling a locksmith at
residents’ own cost and expense….

Is it Customer Service or a Serious Liability?

I do admit that I see the people side of this in that we want to be there to assist with any and all after hours calls no matter the nature. I also see the downside in that many of us do the service but charge for it if it is after hours. In that case, right or wrong, I see serious liability in asking my service team to collect a check, cash or money order prior to handing out a key. I also see liability in asking them to rifle through a resident’s file to compare and contrast ID’s against written records. Or, even worse, they just take the resident’s word for it.

In any case, I am looking for some quick thoughts on the subject.

Is it a good move to stop doing lock out service all together during off hours and leave residents on their own?

Your always wondering multifamily maniac,


#apartmentmarketing: Persistence


“There are no magic wands, no hidden tricks, and no secret handshakes that can bring you immediate success, but with time, energy, and determination you can get there.” – Darren Rowse, Founder Problogger

A ton of rhetoric has been penned about social media as it relates to apartment marketing, resident retention and the such. Some of it is really good and some of it is just fluff and fill. Some has merit and some has not the sense god gave a billy goat.

Apartment management brass tacks

Toss it all aside and get back to the brass tacks of good old fashion property management – what do you have? Boring, mundane, uncompelling and anti-dramatic and melodic methods of madness. Anyone who has been in the business for a very long bit of time would agree that property management is not rocket science. Just a couple days ago I was sitting diagonal from a finance quant who thought he hit the nail on the head when he made that very statement.


At the end of the day – it’s the culmination of personalities laced with wit, wisdom, humor, elevated emotion and a purpose larger than life itself that bring about the want to persist with the quest of managing property. And, those who do it well would admit that it’s what gives them life.

It’s the time that they love to spend.

It’s the energy that they love to exude.

It’s the determination of pursuing a worthy goal that keeps them coming back for more.

Admit it – There’s something about this business!

What is it for you? What keeps you coming back for more? I dare you to tell me in the comment section below! Double dog…

Multifamily Leadership: Set Clear Goals and Priorities

Up to this point in our Seven Behaviors Leadership Series we have talked about Knowing Your People and Knowing Your Business and Insisting on Realism . What do you think so far?

In Part 3 of the series we are going to brief on the subject of clear goals and priorities…

You cannot Hit a Target that You do not Have

This was an interesting exercise for me; thinking through what I would share today. So many angles you can take with the subject of goal setting from the process of identifying, reward systems, etc. In the spirit of brevity and clarity, I settled on were the follow three things:

1. Get

2. Read

3. Act

At some point, every self improvement guru, management consultant and business coach in the world starts and or introduces the subject of goal setting. Wether they call it strategic objectives or just objectives or more simply – goals. They talk about them. And, they do so because they are critical to both your personal success as well as your business success.

If you think about it from a multifamily leadership perspective, budget numbers are goals. We set them at the end of every year for the year to follow and then we work like wild maniacs to ‘beat the numbers.’

The simple point is that how ever you go about getting them – go do it and do it today. Pick your guru and system and get them on paper or in an electronic format.


Business Coach Chet Homes author of the famed book: The Ultimate Sales Machine trumps the statement Pig Headed Determination and Discipline with every point he makes in his book and otherwise. I reference it as a premise for point number two. You have to get pig headed about reading your goals every single day without fail.

The great Napoleon Hill writes about Think and Grow Rich. He makes the point of reading them before you go to bed at night and again when you wake in the morning. His posit; while in slumber your mind works out ‘the how’ as it relates to getting your goals accomplished. My posit; ‘read them’ and the rest will take care of itself.

What the Mind of Man Conceives and Believes and ACTs on he Achieves

Napoleon Hill penned the above absent the italicized piece – I added that for good measure. My epiphany with ‘action’ came in the early years of my management career. One of my absolute favorite mentors in the business – Jackie W. – wrote me a letter than contained the following statement. All the best intentions in the world are worth nothing unless followed through with. It hit me like a Mack truck in high gear headed down the open freeway. More than an Ouch!

Meaningful Specific or Wondering Generality

Let’s close with a good question; it comes from Zig Ziglar; “Are you a meaningful specific or a wondering generality?” Goals insure that you run with the former part of the question.

Your PHD&D contributor,


Multifamily Leadership: Get Real

Multifamily Leadership

Mouth of Truth

Part three of a seven part leadership series.

I will never forget the day I walked into the corner office and disclosed to our owner that I approved spending a large sum of money on attorney fees for a commercial eviction case. Was I nervous? No

Insist on Realism

Worse than nervous is how I really felt. I was disappointed in myself but very comfortable communicating the situation. Why? Realism. The individual I work with and for had the following words for me, “Mike, consider this an expensive education. Now, we don’t want to have to many of these but it’s not the end of the world.” I can’t say I would have been as staid in my response had I been in his shoes. It did, however reinforce the value in being real.

I think it fair to say that a good number of people, in or out of the multifamily space, work hard to shade or avoid reality all together. Why? Short answer – Fear. Fear of confrontation. Fear of looking stupid in the eyes of others – especially those in superior roles. Fear of being labeled.

How to Make Realism Real

It starts with Brand YOU! You have to be realistic with yourself!

No matter your role in the organization, you have to insist that realism is central to every conversation.

If you are the leader,  get out and ask people at all levels what your property management organization is doing right and what it is doing wrong.


Take notes.

And, take that feedback and make meaningful changes.

Your working to stay real contributor,


Multifamily Leadership: Know Your People Know Your Business


In the world of leadership it just makes sense that you would be out there glad handing, cheer-leading and relentlessly challenging those who serve your business. I have long held the belief that organizations exist to serve the people that serve it. Thus, it is the leaders calling to serve. And, baked into that calling is the need to know your people.

We have all been there, “Hey Fred, now what is that porters name again?,” “And, what is the assistant manager’s name?” I’ve done it myself more than once. Not only is that embarrassing, it just plain wrong. No a fact I am proud of for sure. Can we all agree that people want to feel like and more importantly know that they are part of something bigger than themselves. They want purpose, they want mission, they want values that are in alignment with their own. They want to be dignified. And, they want you to know their name and be genuinely interested in them.

Multifamily Management by Wondering Around

MBWA was made famous by Tom Peters and Bob Waterman when they researched and wrote about it in the book, In Search of Excellence. The practice was a cornerstone of Hewlett Packard’s business model. [A practice they seem to have forgotten; as of late at least.] The thought was that the most unadulterated pulse of your business comes from the front lines. The forward facing people that serve the people that participate with your goods and services. They are the ones that give you the best sense of what is and what should be as it relates to running a profitable business.

How do we do that?

First, we show up. Go ahead, make an appointment with your front line people today. Make two or three and stick to them.

Next, we ask probing questions. Get that list together ahead of time. But make sure you leave the environment open for fluid conversation.

And then, we listen! There is a reason you have two ear and one mouth. Listen twice as much as you talk and you are guaranteed to learn a lot about your people and your business.

That’s it. Simple as it sounds it is likely the most overlooked and underutilized piece of our business. We get so caught up in the deal, in the reporting, in the fire drill that we put the site visit off. We assume the people will understand. They get that we are in growth mode. They get that we are busy. They get it. It’s all good. Truth be know you rob them of their dignity, their pride and their wherewithal.

Your making several meaningful front-line appointments for next week contributor,


Multifamily Management: Release


“My motto is ‘release’ I have it written in my violin case. ‘Release’ , meaning, ‘Step back a little’. Those are the words of world renowned violin virtuoso Charlie Siem. It struck me as I was reading through the latest copy of Monocle magazine. So many times in life and in the multifamily business we get caught up in the detail of things. We major in the minors making huge mountains out of what should be considered but mere speed bumps in the path of progress.

Major in the Majors

Charlie goes on to say, “Because when you hone in on all the tiny details, it’s natural to tense up – and then nothing flows.”  Suffice it to say that everything moves at the speed of light anymore. Not when you tense up and take time to focus on the minutia at a very granular level. It stalls flow, it mitigates advancement and it stifles trust.

Granted mistakes can be and always are traced to the details of things and more astutely to people. Causes are often found in flawed policy and or application of business practices by teams or individuals. It’s still, at least in my head, not cause for alarm but rather time to address the mess and move on; a teachable moment.

I rather think you pick a course, put your metrics [budget] in place, gear yourself up [get the right people on the bus] and run the marathon set before you. Understand that you will experience adversities along the way, just make sure you have plans in place to address them quickly. But overall, stick with the majors. Sticking with the majors as it relates to a marathon would be to pace yourself, keep yourself hydrated and feed yourself mentally and physically along the way. Do that and the rest falls into place.

In contrast, focus on the nagging toe nail pain, foot pain, side cramp or bleeding nipples caused from friction between your shirt and skin and all of a sudden you stall your pace. You forget to hydrate and your mental and physical faculties give way to fatigue. It’s just not worth it.

My word this week – ‘Release’

Your releasing contributer,




TYE – Mr. Apartment Resident; That’s Goes Against Our Policy

Image from: techsavvyagent.com

TYE is is short for The Thank You Economy by Gary Vay-ne-chuk; I started reading it right after it’s early morning release today. I have made it through the preface and the first chapter and would highly recommend picking it up or downloading it.

No – That’s Our Policy

Gary starts the book by telling a story about a guy who comes into his father’s wine store to redeem a coupon after the fact. The manager in the story quotes a strict interpretation of the coupon policy and sends the guy away empty handed. Gary recalls feeling, in his gut, that the guy was never going to come back to the store and let’s the manager know as much. He goes on to suggest that his gut was wrong about the guy returning but right about another thing.

Apartment Company Policy

The topic has been written about over and over, many times in our business we push our prospects and residents away over policy and procedure. I don’t have enough fingers and toes [even if I count my Facebook acquaintances] to count the number of times I have witnessed it over the past fifteen or so years I have been in the business. I can’t honor that, I can’t waive this, I can’t waive that. I know it’s your first month being late after twenty-three years of living here but late is late is late [Read with a good cheer in your voice]. The really good ones displace it on corporate; it’s a corporate thing! I wish I could help but corporate won’t let us do that.

Apartment Company Policy of tomorrow [Read: Today]

Understanding that Fair Housing plays a necessary and important role in our industry; the world of business has changed. Getting back to Gary’s Gut; the guy returned to the store to let them know he would never buy another thing from them – ever! We know the rest of the story [pre-social media and smart phones]; the man likely told ten of his best friends about his experience. And, so on and so forth.

Business has changed and we not only have to adapt but rather stay ahead of the competition and the human beings we do business with. One of the ways I try and stay ahead is reading books of all kinds and participating in our industries social spaces. And, believe me; I learn something everyday. The preface of Gary’s book reminded me of how being rigid and using strict interpretation turns customers away and unlike the guy in the story, many never return. And, today they pull out the social media bullets to get you back. Trust me, many of us, sad to say, deserve it…

I can’t wait to read the rest of the book and share some more thoughts. In the mean time; what have you learned in the short year of 11′ that speaks to the point of rigid policy and or procedure that turn customers away?

QR Codes in Apartment Magazines

Image: Apple.com

The jury is still out in my mind as it relates to the use of QR codes. I wrote about them three or four years ago and at the time I thought they were cool but today I have a very different opinion. Back then there was no real mass use commercial or otherwise and in the same respect there was a neat kind of novelty about them. It was cool that I could make my own but really confusing in that that I had no way to read it after I made it. That was before that proliferation of smart phones and the apps that make them so powerful. For now I classify QR codes under the “just because you can, does not mean you should” category.

Waste of Time

For example, I am reading The NOW Revolution by Bear and Naslund and it is full of QR codes. I give them high points for novelty. I give them high points in quantity. And, if it mattered, I give them high points in placement as it relates to aesthetics. They really packed a ton of information into 200 pages or less. But, I would never, in a million years, take the time to pull out my phone, take a picture and wait for the page to load. It’s too much work. Don’t make me pay [in the way of my time and in my money] twice for information.

Think Twice

As a result of The Now Revolution, I will never buy another book without flipping through it more thoroughly. If I see QR codes; I see that money more well spent in my bank account.

QR codes in Apartment Magazines

QR codes are pasted all over the pages of ForRent Magazine and others like it. I wonder, outside or AEs presenting a WOW moment, if people actually use them in a meaningful way. I hear the echos of “value add” but I think “what a waste of space.” Tell me what the value is and reduce my bill accordingly and keep the crazy things off my page.

Power of the Written Word

I heard a story not so long ago about the power of a thank you card. Seems she had set out to find a new wallet for her husband; a gift to mark their fist anniversary as a married couple. With a little thought she picked Coach as her place to make a purchase.

Get Personal

The sales associate she happened across was more than eager to assist. He went about learning the exact nature of her purchase and took the time to match up the perfect wallet for the occasion. He picked off that the wallet was her gift for their first year of marriage. In doing so he also picked off a deep emotional moment that two people shared.

Take Action

By getting personal; he yield some insights for meaningful action. People are emotional. As such people are moved by emotion. If our actions are emotional in nature; suffice it to say that those emotions will be reciprocated back to us in like kind. In the case of the Coach associate; his action has yielded him a customer for life.

Gain Loyalty

How, you ask? He wrote a very kind; very personal note of congrats to the young lady. He included some very kind words regarding the wallet and the years of use he would garnish out of it. Loyalty for the price of a pen, some paper and a few minutes of time. Hand written and mailed the same day of the purchase. Sound familiar?

The young lady in this story told me she would never consider shopping at another retailer for leather related products. Not a novel concept in the apartment industry but one that I wholeheartedly believe is lost in the struggles of time, attention and willingness to extend oneself under the premise of fostering meaningful connection.

Whether you are B2B or B2C; the power of the written word is rarely for not. Take some time today and pen a few cards to people you have interacted with this week. And, come back and share some stories about what happened as a result.

Apartment Maintenance On-Call Policy

I have taken a number of questions lately on the subject of calculating compensation for on-call maintenance men and women. As such I thought I would post the important points of our policy as a way to hopefully starting some discussion.

In brief of our policy is as follows:

1. Employees are paid for one-hour minimum – if they physically leave their home to complete a call

2. They are paid at time and a half

3. They are paid mileage from their legal residence

I am curious about other nuances our there; please drop us a comment as the community is interested.

And, I do hope that you have an amazing and over the top weekend.