#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 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,




Property Management: Money Orders are a Necessary Evil

…I think there an equal amount of people out there that make all the right decisions and still get hit with the downside of adversity.

I am turning to our readers today for some feedback on process.

A lot of renter’s in our communities are one life circumstance away from total financial ruin up to and including losing their apartment. It has given cause for desperate behaviors such as sacrificing their electricity, gas, phone, cable etc. in order to make the rent. In other cases they use creative means such as robbing electricity via extension cords run to your common area outlets in hallways and laundry rooms. It’s amazing what you see out there anymore.

Now one could argue that life choices predicated on fulfilling wants over needs or necessities has contributed to a lot of this and in the same respect I think there an equal amount of people out there that make all the right decisions and still get hit with the downside of adversity.

Our residents are not the only ones faced with making the rent. Many of our employees are waging the same battle month after month. And, sometimes it leads to desperate actions.

That leads me to the premise for my question – money orders left blank by the prospective resident and or current residents paying rent are so very tempting in a desperate time of need. Can you share some of your processes with me as it relates to keeping good people honest. What do you do to keep integrity in the system on your bigger sites where you have six, eight or even ten people working an office and handling money. Specifically, what do you do to make sure these blank money order gems are not used as float to get by to the next pay period? How do you make sure that once an application is taken that it is processed in your property management software asap?

While they are a necessary evil – I have to believe there is a system of handling that keeps theft to a minimum.

Thank you in advance for your considerations and feedback.

Your ready for some economic prosperity friend,

Apartment Management Fees to be paid on Economic Occupany

@mfguide posted the following tweet this morning – “We are now paying mgmt fees based on economic occupancy and #units Curious to know how MF friends respond.”

I have to say, I see the absolute logic in this and in the same respect see the value a property management firm brings to both the top line and ancillary services.

I am interested to hear the over-arching reason for moving this direction.

And, what are the thoughts of the community – please leave your feedback in the comments below.

Resident Pet Peeves

What are the top pet peeves landlords have of their tenants?

Pet Peeve ParkingIn a recent email interview I was asked the following question;

What are the top pet peeves landlords have of their tenants?

Shift in Thinking

In addition to being taken aback by the words landlord and tenant, my knee jerk response was a laundry list of have not and will do. Then I starting thinking in the context of new media and my whole person changed.  It instantly shifted from a position of attack to one of concern. I questioned that if I posted my response in the form of an adverse laundry list and a resident read it, would they retort in an adverse manner? And, would they be right in doing so? The answer is very possibly yes, the real question is to what extent?

Now I am stuck and curious how the community might answer the questions – would love to hear your thoughts…

Tell Them How Much You are Moved by the Neighborhood

Don’t tell prospects and residents how much your apartments are – tell them how much you are moved by the neighborhood.

imagesDon’t tell prospects and residents how much your apartments are – tell them how much you are moved by the neighborhood.


velTell them about waking up on a crisp fall morning and taking a run in Forest Park just one block over from your apartment. Tell them about stopping back by Velocity Coffee Shop to have a cup of coffee – served by a friendly Barista named Tracy who rarely smiles but wants to. Tell them about the free copies of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and the St. Louis Dispatch. Tell them about the free wifi. And, oh – it’s a bike shop too with cool bike motif everywhere. The bathroom even has a cool chalkboard where you once drew a giant dragon that looked as if it were eating the giant flower someone else drew.

Tell them about Papa John’s pizza and Subway at the end of the block where Tony and Charles remember your name and serve you with a smile. Tell them about Atlas Restaurant located in the heart of the neighborhood and the amazing food and desserts that they serve. Tell them about The Loop and The Central West End [very cool Saint Louis neighborhood hangouts] being just one mile away and don’t forget to mention the friendly cab driver resident who will drive you over while entertaining you with great conversation. Tell them about all the fun nights you had in those neighborhoods.

Tell them about Mr. and Mrs. Wang who own the dry cleaners right next door to Papa John’s and how they wash and fold clothes for $0.75 a pound. Tell them how much you love the fact that each Christmas they give your children big canisters of candy as a thank you for your business.

Tell them about the dog park even if you are not a pet lover – not even in the least.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, this is the neighborhood that I fell in love with in Saint Louis. Oh yeah, and I lived in a great apartment that overlooked a tree lined street that looks amazing in the fall.

Tell them with conviction how much you love the neighborhood the rest will fall right into place.

Apartment Marketing Idea: You are not Your Apartment Prospect

How about we call this Creating Experience by Walking Around [CEWA]. The real key to remember here is that you are not your customer and in order to understand your customer you must engage and participate with them.

1124847_person_questionI think one of the easiest traps to fall into when marketing to apartment prospects or residents is to think that they want what you want and they will like what you like. It is really easy when you don’t take the time to understand who your customer is and what they value. In order to that you have to be willing to spend time asking questions, trying new things, testing new theories, crushing sacred cows and refining your successes. All in the name of your client’s changing tastes.

Always done it that way

We have all heard the statement that if you keep doing what you have always done expecting a different result – you get the definition of insanity. It’s as true in our space as it is in different industries across America. We keep at it year after year because it’s easy. It’s really hard to go against the grain. It’s really hard to convince the powers that be that giving up tried and true processes is a good thing. Problem with this is that change, if not embraced, will free up your future sooner or later.

The ABC’s of change

In selling ABC stands for Always Be Closing, in understanding that you are not your apartment customer it stands for Always Be Changing. With the advent of the internet came the rapid acceleration of change. In one fell swoop we had every piece of information we could every want at our finger tips. That is not to suggest that it has not taken time to morph our imbued information gathering habits but it is to say it’s not your older brothers world anymore. If you don’t like change you will like irrelevance even less and that is your prize for standing still today.

How do you keep up with your customer

Tom Peter’s popularized  the phrase Management by Walking Around [MBWA], defined by BusinessDictionary.com this way;

Unstructured approach to hands-on, direct participation by the managers in the work-related affairs of their subordinates, in contrast to rigid and distant management. In MBWA practice, managers spend a significant amount of their time making informal visits to work area and listening to the employees. The purpose of this exercise is to collect qualitative information, listen to suggestions and complaints, and keep a finger on the pulse of the organization. Also called management by wandering around.

I think it is a fair way think about how to keep up with your customer. We should be interacting with them both on and offline. Here are just a couple of ideas on how to do that;

  • Ask for their opinion any time you see them
  • Hang out where they hang out
  • Eat where they eat
  • Read the magazines, blogs and tweets they read
  • Read the books, ebooks and ezines they read
  • Ask permission to enlist them on your Facebook, MySpace and Tweet pages
  • Participate on their Facebook, MySpace and Tweet pages
  • Shop where they shop
  • Read what they review
  • Ride the buses they ride
  • Frequent the places they work
  • Experience the products and services they like
  • Work out where they work out
  • Ask what keywords they used to find you

How about we call this Creating Experience by Walking Around [CEWA]. The real key to remember here is that you are not your customer and in order to understand your customer you must engage and participate with them. And, make it easy for them to do the same with you.