I have a standing desk. It holds two monitors, a few pages of paper, two pens and two highlighters. That’s it – nothing more.

Aside from the health benefits of a standing desk, it does something much more important. It keeps me from nesting. Nesting to mean – sitting in a nice cozy chair for very long bits of time moving busy work around my digital or analog desktop.

When people come in to see me – we don’t sit. We use stand-up meetings that get right to the point. They last long enough to move the business forward. We don’t get comfortable to the point of spending long bits of time engaged in chit-chat. Not that chit-chat and relationship building isn’t important – it is. But over a day filled with a fair share of got-a-minutes – managing it is key.

Stand Up Desk – At the Site Level

I’m thinking deeply about the Customer Experience in our offices across Mills Portfolio and stand up desks, information/data entry ports and designated collision points are front and center to my vision.


The traditional office is in strong need of re-imagining. The day of the big desk with cozy, comfortable nesting chairs is over. The day of a wide-open fluid office space is here.

Another Leasing Commission Rant

Drop leasing commissions – make them a thing of the past.

I have railed about commission based sales in the multifamily space for years.

It’s a worn out model. But people keep finding premise after premise to keep it alive and kicking. It’s broken

The article below clearly demonstrates that the model is broke:

Pricing and Sales: An Interesting Interplay in Multi-family – Multifamily Blogs

That’s an “elephant in the room” that we need to talk about. Most salespeople only benefit from sales going up; but our leasing associates can sometimes feel like they’re being penalized for their own success. They lease well, so the pricing system raises rents which makes it harder to lease. This is not “normal” in most of the sales world, so we should be purposeful and address this very real situation with our leasing associates.

But to keep things alive and kicking; it goes on and on with suggestions about how to make leasing professionals feel okay about it. Here is the cold-hard truth, they feel penalized because the business model is different yet the compensation plan is the same. Let’s face it, money in the bank is the only thing that makes a sales person Phappyrrell [Read: Happy].

We need to stop and think about the compensation system that makes sense in the context of the new model. It’s that simple. It’s that clean. But it’s not that easyReally not that easy.

Drop leasing commissions – make them a thing of the past. Raise base wages to offset lost commissions (take a two-year trailing average of all commissions paid and tally an average increase – tweak where necessary) and move on.

Your looking to push the edge with leasing commissions Multifamily Maniac,


Belly up to the bar

I had one of my Apple devices serviced at one of their local stores recently. It was interesting to me how it felt like bellying up to the bar at one of my favorite pubs.

It felt comfortable.

It felt like being a good friend’s house.

It felt inviting.

It felt free from stress.

It felt trustworthy.

It reminded me of all that is missing from our typical multifamily leasing offices.

Your rethinking the standard issue office desk Multifamily Maniac, M

We Charge $125 to Tour an Apartment

Truth is we really do not charge $125 to tour an apartment. But what if we did it?

I wrote a piece earlier this year that ended with the question – what if you charged for touring an apartment? What would you do differently?

You’re not really thinking about charging for an apartment tour but wondering what we would do different if we did Multifamily Maniac,


The Anti-Pushy Sales Approach

Today’s guest post comes to us from Crystal Gluszek over at ZenRoommate.

Be Unforgettable

In my 15 Years of Multi-Family Management I have perfected what I like to call the “Anti-Pushy” sales approach.

I tour my clients like a best friend who is visiting from out-of-state. Not only do I show features and benefits of my community I also sell “that” feeling.

The feeling that I want them to live here but I don’t need them to live here because I am cool, confident and secure that my sales approach will close the deal.

I even like to add that “we don’t use any high pressure sales techniques here, because we don’t have to” which by proxy says that communities who do…need to for some reason and it’s not good. (Insert diabolical laugh here)

I feel the bond between the client and myself being made and I know that they’ll sign the lease now or be back tomorrow.  I send a quick follow-up asking about how their cat or dog feels about the apartments they have narrowed down.  Maybe even say “Fido called me and wants to live here” so I add a sense of quirkiness to what can be a mundane process and this becomes my approach.

I tell my agents to stay professional and stay fun and create an experience. After all isn’t everything we do about creating an experience your clients will relate to being home.

So my message is Be Unforgettable.

Crystal Gluszek

Zenroommate.Com Co-Founder and Multi-Family Fanatic


What we do is simple. We help you search for roommates using several different areas of compatibility, providing the opportunity for a more streamlined match.

We also allow Landlords and Realtors to list units that would be perfect for a roommate setting; condos, rooms for rent, house shares and more can be seen by people who may have an interest in filling that vacancy.


LIKE us at WWW.Facebook.Com/Zenroommate or Follow us at WWW.Twitter.Com/Zenroommate

Follow Up

Follow up with customers and earn more money.

Follow up can be equated to the gold mine of all gold mines in property management. Ask any leasing consultant worth his or her salt and they would all tell you that following up yields them some percentage of additional sales that they would not have otherwise booked.

It Matters

Two Saturdays ago I made an unscheduled trip to my local urgent care – yeah, pneumonia. Prescription – get more rest.

To the point – that was a Saturday; the following Monday afternoon I get a call from a strange number. I don’t answer and they leave a voicemail. Guess who; yes – a nurse from urgent care. Just checking in on me to see how I was feeling. Took all of 2 minutes to make that call and leave that message.

Two minutes that – god forbid I have to go back – insured that I will return to do business with them in the future. That is despite the fact that I don’t know anyone at the urgent care. Not enough to call them friend or otherwise.

Caring Matters

It boils down to Care. Now one could argue that it’s superficial. Okay – but it is effective.

Take away – pick up the phone and call someone you do business with and see how they are doing. Just check on them with no mission in mind. Work on securing some loyalty down the line.

Your follow up on someone today multifamily maniac,



My guess – if you are looking to differentiate yourself from the pack; the skill of focus will be your linchpin.

Mike Brewer Apartment Management Distractions

There are distractions all around us. How easy is it to get lost in a status or tweet stream review? How easy is it to get caught up in a conversation that is not really moving your business forward? How easy is it to get into the busy and forget about the important stuff?

What do you spend your time on? 

What is the first thing you do when you get up in the morning? If you are like most you grab the phone sitting beside your bed. Or you scramble to find it buried between the sheets because you fell asleep reading something.

Focus is fast becoming the number on asset of excellent knowledge age worker. Property management professionals everywhere – it’s time to raise the stakes. It’s time to lay the phone down and get some serious quality work done.

Now before you start defending your opinion on the subject – let me say this. I’m not suggesting you put the phone in the drawer and ignore for the full day. I am suggesting you set blocks of time whereby you ignore the incoming text messages, emails and phone calls. Ignore the status updates and the urge to kill the next round of angry birds or fill in your word for a friend.

Raise the stakes and make some good work happen.

My guess – if you are looking to differentiate yourself from the pack; the skill of focus will be your linchpin.

Your always raising the stakes multifamily maniac,



Abolish Leasing Commissions


I am 100% convinced that leasing commissions need to go away.

They are a long survived sacred cow and serve no real purpose in the way of motivating people to lease more apartments or more importantly – serving people.

My solution – pay people a fair wage and tie 10% of that to your companies year over year same store revenue growth or some like kind metric.

Let’s Do Some Average Work

Put that ill-headed pride aside – get pissed – get over it and just ask.

Let's Do Some Average WorkAverage is easy

Average gets a leasing person a fair amount of sales

An average service tech can do a fair amount of tickets in a day

An average make ready tech can do a fair amount of turns in a day

An average assistant manager can process a fair amount of transactions in a day

An average manager can lead a fair charge

Ever Get Annoyed?

Do you ever think – I really have a disdain for this guy or that gal because they seem to get more done in an hour than I get done all week? They get twice the commissions for half the work. They get twice as many service requests done in a day than I do and they head home on time everyday.

Get Annoyed Get Excellent

Put that ill-headed pride aside – get pissed – get over it and just ask. Ask that top producer what it is that makes them different. Ask them how they organize their day. What they say to people during the apartment tour and demonstration that gets them so many leases. Ask the leader how he/she gets so much out of their team. Then get busy doing that stuff.

This note from the margin got me thinking about the things that I do to avoid being average –

  • I am number challenged. Budgets, forecasts and proformas are the bane of my existence. This is the hard work part of the business to me. What did I decide to do about it. I took out a budget and starting a blog series. I will take roughly two years – writing once a week – to think through and define every single line item right through the debt.
  • For the longest time I really struggled with the written word – to combat that, I started reading everything I could get my hands on. I took the time to memorize the 5000 words used on the SAT test. And, I started this blog.
  • I struggled with giving and taking feedback to and from industry leaders. Answer – I started participating in industry forums like the ones you see on Multifamily Insiders.
  • I struggled with finishing. I love to start things but I get to a point and I lose interest. Answer – this is the eighth year of M Brewer Group. I have changed the name three times over the years and have written well over 2000 posts. And, I hope to never finish but not for lack of an endgame.
  • I learned some basic code language so I could tweak the look of my blog. Word to the wise on this point (have a Mike Whaling backup plan if you get it wrong).
  • As mentioned above – I read a ton.
  • I am constantly trying something, suggesting we try something or pushing to get something done.
  • I exercise.
  • And, I love people where they are at without enabling them to settle.

Guess what, I still misspell words, break the rules of grammar, start and don’t finish, muck up budget work and go long stretches without posting to this blog. Do I fret – no. I acknowledge, learn from it and move on.

What do you do to keep yourself from doing above average work?

Your looking past average work multifamily manic,