My Apartment Leasing Experience

If this had been your experience, would you have rented?

My current lease ends at the end of September, so I spent the last month doing the usual research: searching Craigslist, calling apartment management companies to inquire about their current availability and driving through the area where I want to live looking for For Rent signs.

The main issue with my search is that my criteria were very narrow: I was looking for a 2nd floor in a specific area with a small price range to work with. Because of this, there weren’t too many options, ultimately leading me to Red Brick Management, the management company that owns/manages a large chunk of the real estate in my neighborhood.

Being that I work in the apartment management industry and have rented more than a few apartments in my day, I have certain expectations about how I think the leasing process should run.

1. Friendly and Welcoming:

It’s not that they weren’t, it’s just the first time I can remember not being walked through an apartment with a member from the office, which I find to be somewhat unfriendly and impersonal. Given the choice, I’d prefer to be given a tour, not just an address and a set of keys.

2. Professional and courteous:

Instead of a tour through their available apartments, I got a set of keys, signed a waiver stating I would not damage anything in the apartment, that I would be responsible for locking the door behind me and that I would be back before they close. Shouldn’t I be getting the paycheck…I mean didn’t I do all the work?

3. Timely

I will say they were timely with my application process. In fact, they were very timely, running my application and approving me before I ever even submitted my income verification. On the other hand, on my “tour”, there were 3 or 4 maintenance repairs not yet completed with little post-it notes next to them that read: “This will be completed.” Since I already paid all my move-in fees, all I can do is hope that the maintenance will be as timely as the application process.

4. Smooth and Easy

From the first phone call or e-mail to the lease signing, the process should be 100% easy for the prospect. I think it is easy to fall short on this, as there are many steps to the leasing process and prospects have lives outside of leasing and have to fit within “normal office hours” when getting things done (unless the whole process can be done online). Red Brick is open on Saturday, which is convenient. They also allow credit card payments for application fees and deposits and their application is very simple, only taking a couple minutes. Overall, the application process went pretty smoothly and was very easy for me.

Now I’m not through the whole leasing process yet, and they did mention to me that they only allow lease signings a couple days a week (neither of which is Saturday), and that is not convenient.

I think the takeaway here is ultimately quality customer service. In my case, there weren’t a lot of options, but we all know that’s not usually the case. How the prospects feel treated and how easy we make the process for them is usually what makes or breaks a lease.

If this had been your experience, would you have rented?

Multifamily Monday: SBWA

How many of you get lazy and don’t walk your apartment properties as often as you should?

SBWA Supervising By Walking AroundWhat are we talking about on this Multifamily Monday? SBWA. What is SBWA. Supervising By Walking Around.

How many of you get lazy and don’t walk your apartment properties as often as you should? How many of you get lazy and do not walk your market ready product? How many of you get lazy and do not inspect what you expect of your teams.

Don’t be shy.

If it helps, I will admit that I am as guilty of this as much as the next guy/gal. At times, it is simply out of a haste to get on to the next thing that is calling my attention. Other times, it is simply just being lazy.

I admit it not for the reason of calling you or myself out but simply as a matter of getting it imbued in your mind. You, we must do it. It is fundamental to our business. It is what keeps us all true to our standards. If you are not looking at what you expect those standards fall pretty fast. I think we would agree.

Supervising By Walking Around

I wrote a piece on this concept back in the Spring of 2011. At the time my posit was that you could not know your people and or your business if you did not spend any time wondering around in it. Not my novel concept but one made famous in the world of leadership and management by Tom Peters (side note: you could consider me a super-fan of Mr. Peters).

To the Point

Since the purpose of the Multifamily Monday series is to be short and to the point – here it is.

Get our of your office today and walk around your community. Walk alone. Walk with the people in your office. Walk with your service team. Walk with someone that might be moving in soon. Walk with the cable guy. Walk with the landscaper. Walk with someone that currently lives in your community. Walk with a police officer. Walk with a Mom. Walk with a Dad.

GET Up – Walk NOW

Your SBWA multifamily manic,

M

All Aboard The Spirit Train

Where we work is where they live…and sometimes we forget that.

I recently heard a story from a friend who is also in the property management business about an apartment community that was promoting an early renewal contest. The community sent out flyers telling residents that if they signed renewal papers early, they would be entered into a raffle. So a resident excitedly entered the leasing office early with his paperwork and, as my friend stated, “that’s 12 more months of rent right there” and their office associate begrudgingly took the paperwork, almost as if not interested in dealing with this obviously-satisfied-enough-to-renew-for-another-12-months resident, that there was not even a smile on his face and didn’t even mention the contest until the resident asked about his raffle ticket.

I understand that sometimes we as property management communities forget that our every day job is the same place that our residents want to look forward to coming home to after a hard day of school or work. I can even think back to times when I was really tired and busy and would lose sight of the fact that where I work is where people live, their home, the place they chose to live (and renew) among the hundreds of others, but even then I can’t remember being annoyed and ungrateful when they brought their renewal paperwork back or got excited about a contest or event (especially because sometimes it took a lot of work on my part to get that renewal paperwork back!). The fact that they got excited about contests and events was often the motivation I would need to get back on the spirit train.

I visit on-site teams now to help them think of new ways to involve residents in the community, and more and more I hear them tell me that their residents don’t want to be involved or aren’t interested in the community experience. And I honestly started to believe it. Then I hear a story like this, and it makes me think: If when they are excited and motivated enough to participate, they are then let down by feeling like they are being bothersome, it’s no wonder they “don’t want to participate”. Just as we would not want to go home to someone who’s miserable to have us there, neither do our residents and it just might mean they go elsewhere where they are appreciated.

While I will not naively believe that every resident will get excited about or become involved in every community activity that is presented to them, that story helped me to regain that spirit and confidence in the importance of resident appreciation and community activities and I hope to motivate our teams to get back that spirit instead of giving up.

I would love some advice and even some great stories that I can share to help others regain their spirit and motivate them to continue to think outside the box and create a living experience that is truly memorable for their residents.

Multifamily Types: What is Your Something New?

Time suck in the apartment management business I love what Seth’s Blog:  said on the likes of sitting down to begin your day:

You’ve just surrendered not only a block of time but your freshest, best chance to start something new.

Time Sucks

It’s true; if I start my day in the office I inevitably get caught up in the race to get my inbox count to zero. Or, I get drawn into the necessary but time sucking “got a minute” conversations. Both of which leave the “move your business forward” stuff to suffer. There has to be a better alternative.

Something New

My something new for this year? It’s not really new but it is a more determined effort to exercise a relentless focus on delivering the things that matter most. Things that move my business forward. Things that keep my apartment management clients, collaborators and vendors feeling connected, communicated with and most important – wowed.

With that I’m considering a more mindful approach to consuming email, Twitter, Facebook and the such. I’ll be focused more on the end result of my actions as opposed to the processes that get me there. I’ll employ the build backwards approach to getting things done; thinking first of the end goal then the avenues and resources to get me there. It’s saying no more often. No to email. And, no to – got a minute meetings. A more controlled approach if you will.

First Things First As it Relates to Business

I am making this blog one of my first things first. I’ve admittedly been all over the board with my posting efforts. Will I do it better in ’12? Will I do it more in ’12? Will I at very least be more consistent? I think so. One of my blogging goals is to post on Mondays (Brief: inspirational – motivational) and Fridays (Apartment marketing, operations and at the urging of a friend some accounting).

Main takeaway – take control of your time as it will always be happy to take control of you.

Your taking back control of his time multifamily maniac,

M

 

Photo credit: GoodROI Internet Marketing 

#apartmentmarketing: Persistence

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.

Personality

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…
M

Multifamily #Trust30: Right Now

Day 7 of the #Trust30 challenge – and, today is a challenge! Whoa!

To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, that is genius. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

What is burning deep inside of you? If you could spread your personal message RIGHT NOW to 1 million people, what would you say? (Author: Eric Handler)

It’s All About Choice

The message is something to this effect – the difference between that which you are and that which you want to be is the sliver of a  space between stimulus and response – you are what you ‘choose’ to be and you can be what you want to be by choosing differently.

How would you answer the question above?

Your lovin’ the #trust30 challenge contributor,

M

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.

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,
M

Influence: Consider this…

The next time you serve a fellow employee, vendor, prospect or resident by way of your thoughts and actions – consider this:

The next time you serve a fellow employee, vendor, prospect or resident by way of your thoughts and actions – consider this:

Please share the stories that come to mind from the video in the comment section below…

Quote for Property Managers

What are you doing with your time as it relates to others?

I love quotes – every now and then I like to share the ones that really move me and I think that will move you too –

Business has been crazy as of late and the blog has been left to suffer. Not good for a number of reasons and in the same respect I appreciate the time to focus. That being said, thank you for the various emails some of you have sent questioning the next post. In some ways – it’s a good precursor to the quote I want to share.

“Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.” -M. Scott Peck

Could I take that one step further in the way of being a leader in the Property Management Space?

Until you value your time you won’t value the time of others either.

Being on time is huge in the eyes of others – if you make the commitment – be there.

What are you doing with your time as it relates to others?