Posts Tagged ‘Resident Retention’

‘Tis the Season… For Maintenance!

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

Spring has sprung and so have leaks, cracks, weeds, you name it

By: Nick Frantz

BuildingMaintenance_iconSpring has sprung… it’s maintenance season! After the winter thaw come the winds, the rain, the leaky pipes and roofs, the cracked paint, the weed surge, the potholes, need I say more? It’s a time when property maintenance becomes a frantic rush to stay ahead of the routine schedule, so you can also tackle the unplanned issues.

This is also a time that puts your retention rates at risk.

Here’s why: the quality of maintenance services tops residents’ lists of all factors that influence retention (SatisFacts Research 2011 survey). Yes, you’ve got to get the job done, but keeping your residents satisfied with your maintenance efforts doesn’t take perfection. It takes communication and coordination.

When it comes to maintenance issues, nobody likes to be surprised!

People become dissatisfied when their expectations are not met. Now this is good news for property managers. With timely communications and follow up, you have more control. You set the expectations.

Put a maintenance communication plan in place and get your staff onboard. Develop a communication plan with specific steps and stick to it. For example, when residents request service:

  1. Acknowledge requests as soon as you receive them.
  2. Let the residents know the next steps: who will perform the service, when it will be scheduled, what will happen.
  3. Confirm all appointments with residents.
  4. Follow up with residents after every service call.
  5. Continue to follow up until the maintenance is complete.

For general property maintenance:

  1. Let residents know what will be happening, who will perform the service, when it will take place and if alternative actions are needed (e.g. “…park in the north lot until repaving is finished on Tuesday”).
  2. Notify residents when the maintenance is complete.

Electronic communications—your website, email, texts and phones—will make this heightened level of communication easier. Check out a message notification service. It can save you and your staff loads of time and be convenient for your residents, too.

Let your residents know that you are addressing their maintenance issues and that it’s important that they are satisfied. It will pay off in the high-quality condition of your property… and it will pay off at renewal time, too.

For more information regarding resident communication solutions please visit www.onecallnow.com, or call (877) 698-3262 to find out how our text, email and voice messages can work for your community.

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NickFrantz2011Nick Frantz is the National Sales Manager for Property Management Solutions at One Call Now, where he has worked since March 2011. He specializes in Property Management solutions – commercial and residential – assisting in communications between property managers and staff/residents. Nick holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Miami University.

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Income Property Management Expo

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

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Apartment News Publications Inc. is teaming up with the Income Property Management Expo to provide Apartment Owners/Managers & Commercial Property Management Companies with tools for efficient, cost effective management, operation and maintenance of their communities & facilities!

Join us May 7, 2013 for the Southern California Income Property Management Expo at the Ontario Convention Center!
Click here to Pre-Register Online!
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Southern California Attendee Information:

  • Apartment Owners
  • Property Managers
  • HOA
  • Commercial Property Management Companies
  • Service & Maintenance Staff
  • Industry Partners & Vendors

This expo will host FREE seminars throughout the day addressing CA Energy Efficiency Programs, Landlord Legal Updates, Tax Code & 1031 Exchanges, Property Maintenance and more!  The goal of the Expo is to provide attendees with the opportunity to network with other industry professionals while enjoying fine food tastings, the PGA Experience, Luxury Car Display & Test Drives, raffles & giveaways and the expo floor which will have over 100 exhibitors!

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To learn more about the Income Property Management Expo, how to attend for FREE, or learn how to reserve a booth for the Expo Floor, visit IncomePropertyExpo.com!

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Are Your People Ready to be the Face of Your Brand?

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

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By: Rommel Anacan | The Relationship Difference

Until they merged with United Airlines I made a decision that I would NEVER again fly Continental Airlines. Ever. This was all because of one bad experience I had with a member of the Continental flight crew while traveling.

After this experience whenever I saw a commercial or marketing piece for Continental, I thought of this crew member and how she treated me. No amount of colorful airline livery or fancy marketing would ever replace the fact that to me that flight attendant was Continental Airlines. And since I didn’t like my experience with her, I didn’t like the company. Period. End of story.

What does this have to do with your company?

I don’t care if your CEO has degrees from Harvard, Yale and Oxford; or if your executives have every certification given in the multi-family universe; or if your regional managers are the most intelligent and articulate groups of regionals the industry has ever seen . . . to the average customer, they are not your ‘brand.’

The people sitting behind the leasing desks are your brand. The people answering the phones at your community, responding to emails, monitoring your social media spaces and taking clients on tour are the face of your company to the average customer.

Remember your first day?

My very first property was an ultra-luxury community in Newport Beach, California. Rents for a one-bedroom home started at $1,860 and went all the way up to over $4,000 per month. Now how much time and effort do you think was spent preparing me to be the face of this mega-multi-million dollar community and of the company’s brand before I met with my first client?

One hour!

On my first day I was given the tour, handed the keys to the model and golf cart, showed where my desk was and given the book of 23 floorplans and a site map. I shadowed the business manager on one tour and then was then let loose to help customers and become the face of this iconic community.

How good do you think I was in my first 30 days? Not very. The adjustment to the property management industry was tougher than I expected. While I was a “nice guy” to everyone, I just wasn’t very good as a leasing agent in my early days. Our office was very busy, with everyone having multiple things on their plates, so I was really expected to figure things out on my own until I received my formal training a month later. Thank goodness the senior leasing agent showed me some of the ropes!

When I got the chance to manage my own community I didn’t want my people to go through what I went through. I didn’t want someone to become the face of my community and company (and me!) without preparing them for the role.

Here is what I did:

  1. I developed a leasing on-boarding program. I walked my people through all aspects of the leasing process, giving them all of the tools, techniques and secrets that I learned during my career. (Eventually my company adopted some of these ideas and created an on-boarding program for all associates.)
  2. I didn’t allow my new hires to help clients until they went through the program and felt they were ready. This period lasted anywhere from one week to two weeks, depending on the person.
  3. I personally worked with and trained my new team members because I wanted to be the dominant influence in the early stages of their careers.

I’m not going to lie, doing these meant more work for me! There were times I thought I was nuts to do this. But when the first shops came in at 90% or above, I knew it was worth it! When my leasing agents achieved things in their first couple of months that took me much longer, I knew it was worth it.

When the office could essentially run itself and I didn’t need to be involved in the minutiae, I knew it was worth it!

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RA picture 1ARommel Anacan is the president of The Relationship Difference; a corporate training, motivational speaking and consulting firm based in Orange County, California.  He is a multifamily industry veteran, having worked at all levels of the industry from onsite to corporate, where he developed a reputation for tackling common challenges in an uncommon way.

You can reach Rommel at www.RelationshipDifference.com and on Twitter @rommelanacan

Quick Community Upgrades to Get The Most Bang for Your Buck!

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

By Cathy Macaione  | Cathy Macaione Consulting Services | LinkedIn Connect

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With more apartments coming on line, it’s time to plan your interior selections upgrades. We all know that renters want to live in apartments that have a modern, updated look. Upgrading your vacant units so they have what renters want will help decrease vacancy loss. If you’re not sure what’s in demand in your area, tour new home communities, read decorating magazines and watch Home Improvement Shows to get ideas. The following are some quick tips to help you implement what you learn without breaking the bank.

CabinetDoorsHave a well thought out plan to make sure your selections will last.  Quality doesn’t always mean super expensive. Make a list of your “must-have” upgrades and devote ample room in your budget to those quality items. You can make cut backs on the “nice to have” items.

Upgrade in phases.  There’s no need to do everything at once. You can update the flooring, cabinets, counters, and lighting in each apartment as it becomes available for rent. This will enable you to spread out the cost of the investment.

Offer packages.  Offer renters two upgrade packages—one with total renovations and one with partial upgrades. For example, if you’ve already changed the cabinets, and the countertops are in good condition but the color is outdated, select a paint color that will change look and feel of the kitchen so the countertops don’t look dated. Then offer the apartment as partially upgraded.

laminateflooringInvest in flooring.  Carpeting gets ruined very easily. Make your flooring last longer by installing a laminate floor. A good selection could be a distressed wood look. It’s in style and will hide wear and tear.

Think green.  Install dual flush toilet conversion kits. They’re inexpensive at around $40 each. It is also easy and low-cost to install low-flow shower and faucet aerators. Additionally, installing fluorescent light bulbs will show a noticeable reduction in utility bills. Look for incentives and rebates to help trim costs even more.

granite1Granite for less.  Yes, you can offer granite-like countertops. My favorite sources for countertop makeovers are Giani Granite (http://www.gianigranite.com/) and Appliance Art, supplier of Instant Granite (http://www.applianceart.com/). Check them out.

Upgrades and renovations don’t have to drain your bank account or be a source of anxiety. Carefully planned upgrades can be both simple and profitable. So start your upgrade plan today to make your apartment offerings more desirable. Before you know it, you’ll have a fully leased community!


CathyMacaioneCathy Macaione, President, Cathy Macaione Consulting Services, an Apartment Marketing and Management Specialist, has more than 28 years in the Real Estate Industry.  She demonstrates her creativity and expertise through the exploration and implementation of alternative marketing methods.  Prior to starting her own consulting business, Cathy held numerous positions, ranging from leasing professional to property manager to marketing/training director, for several large management companies.

To Tow… or Not To Tow? Seven Tips to keep that from being the Question

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

By: Nick Frantz | OneCallNow.com

tow truckI don’t know a property manager who doesn’t grapple with parking issues. At best, they’re a hassle. At worst, they threaten resident safety, satisfaction and retention. They can even send you to court.

Towing may alienate a resident… but failure to act on a parking problem could alienate many residents. The best solution is a proactive approach that maximizes compliance and minimizes your need to have to make the tough decision. Here are seven tips to help ease parking woes on your property.

1.  Understand the parking and towing laws and ordinances in your state and in your municipality.

If you don’t already know the laws, an Internet search should yield results. Illegal towing can do more than damage resident relationships. It can be costly. Some states allow the court to award loss of use damages for the illegally towed vehicle. Residents have to prove their case. But win or lose, it’s going to cost you time and money.

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2.  Have proper legal signage.

Posting parking permit and restriction signs on your property is one of the most important actions you can take to ensure and enforce compliance. With effective signage, residents, visitors, staff and vendors should never have any question about where to park.

 3.  Clearly mark the parking lots and curbs.

Sometimes signs disappear, but parking lot stripes and curb paint is permanent. Mark restricted parking areas as clearly as possible; leave nothing to question.

4.  Create, publish and distribute a clear, well-defined parking policy.

Your policy should spell out—and itemize—exactly:

    • Where residents, visitors, staff and vendors may park
    • Where residents, visitors, staff and vendors may NOT park
    • Snow plow procedures
    • Your step-by-step procedure for handling vehicles that violate the parking policy (It’s a good idea to try to notify the owner, whenever possible, before a vehicle is towed. Document your attempts to notify; it will payoff)
    • Actions to take if someone finds that their car has been towed and how much it will cost

If there are seasonal issues in your area, such as snow or flooding, send timely reminders that reiterate the parking policies and procedures.

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5.  Review your parking and towing policies with your snow removal and towing vendors.

Make sure they understand that only authorized personnel from your staff can request that a vehicle be towed.

 6.  Personally address parking issues with problem residents.

Some parking infractions aren’t as defiant as they may seem to you or to other residents. When parking issues arise, one-on-one notices are far more effective than blanket reminders. It doesn’t have to be a nasty confrontation. Stay calm, refer to your parking policies and rules, and make sure the resident has a copy. Keep a record of your resident contact with the date, time and content.

 7.  Communicate regularly and always document.

Managing your property is your job. But your residents have their own jobs, busy—often hectic—lives, and lots on their minds. Make sure your parking rules don’t slip their minds. Proper signage, marked parking spaces and curbs, a published policy, personal reminders and community-wide announcements all work together to minimize slippage.

It’s important to document all your parking compliance efforts.  Take photos of your signage, parking lot, curb markings and any instances of policy violations. Keep a record of all your communications to your residents, whether community-wide or one-on-one. Your documentation should show dates, times, and message content. It should also confirm that your residents received your communications. If a conflict or legal issue arises, all of these will work in your favor.

The name of the game here is to maximize parking compliance and minimize towing instances. It takes a proactive approach, vigilance and a commitment to regular communications with your residents.

For more information regarding resident communication solutions please visit www.onecallnow.com, or call (877) 698-3262 to find out how our text, email and voice messages can work for your community.

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NickFrantz2011Nick Frantz is the National Sales Manager for Property Management Solutions at One Call Now, where he has worked since March 2011. He specializes in Property Management solutions – commercial and residential – assisting in communications between property managers and staff/residents. Nick holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Miami University.

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Five Things You Can Do To Effectively Manage Resident Complaints

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

By: Rommel Anacan | The Relationship Difference

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Have you ever heard the statement, “Customer service would be easy if it weren’t for those customers?” Sometimes that is just too true, isn’t it?

After all we know that sometimes residents:

  • Don’t read their leases
  • Don’t think their leases actually apply to them
  • Cause the problem then get mad at you for the problem
  • Can be unreasonable
  • Can be dishonest
  • And on and on and on and on

The challenge that you face is even if a complaining resident is all of the above, you still have to deal with the situation don’t you? In other words, the fact that a resident may be all of the above doesn’t mean that you can just brush off their complaints. Well you could try but then you still have ‘Harold’ standing in the middle of the leasing office wondering why he can’t “speak to the manager!”

So what can you do…or what can you encourage your teams to do to manage these situations? After being in contact with thousands of people during my career, both onsite and at corporate, I have isolated FOUR effective things that people can do when someone complains.

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One: Help the customer feel important

The most important “people-skill” that I believe all of us should learn is how to make other people feel important. If you are able to make an unhappy resident feel important, you will go a long way towards resolving any issues, even before you get to resolving the issue.

I cannot tell you how many times I spoke with people who just needed to vent and feel as if they were important enough to be heard. And even when I couldn’t give these people what they asked for,  I still got lots of “thank yous” and even some apologies after I took the time to make sure they felt important.

Two: Remember it’s not a battle

One of the most common mistakes that associates make is approaching a customer complaint as if it were a battle to be won or lost. How many times have you seen this when you’ve lodged a complaint with a company? Don’t you often want to say, “Look I’m not the enemy here, I’m just unhappy about this!”

A battle with a resident is battle you cannot win, even if you’re right. And the issue shouldn’t be about trying to prove who is “right” and who is “wrong” but how the issue may be resolved.

And the more you fight with a customer, the less important you make them feel . . . which means they will continue to do what they have to do to prove they are important!

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Three: Lose the snark

Four: Use some warmth

When someone has a complaint, she often braces for “impact.” In other words, she expects the associate may give her some grief (especially if the resident secretly knows she was in the wrong), so she is prepared to dish it right back.

Remember that scene in the movie Top Gun when one of the pilots says, “I’m going to guns!” An upset resident is often prepared to go to guns…so when an associate fires a round of snark, the resident is prepared to pull the trigger.

Not the best way to diffuse a situation, huh?

When you’re genuinely warm and sincere with a customer, that can immediately diffuse things. I mean, how can someone argue with, “I’m so sorry. I see that we really fell short and I’d love to see what we can do to help you.”

business help or solution to problem isolated on whiteFive: Look for solutions

As I talked about earlier, associates often see these situations as battles to be won; so the search for solutions takes a back seat to putting the customer in his place. But the truth is, there are always solutions to be found aren’t there?

Sure, sometimes the solutions are not what the customer wanted initially, or what associates were able to do initially…but there are solutions everywhere. You just have to be willing to look for them.

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RA picture 1ARommel Anacan is the president of The Relationship Difference; a corporate training, motivational speaking and consulting firm. His passion is helping people succeed by helping them improve the quality of their relationships. He is a multi-family housing veteran, having worked at all levels of the industry from onsite to corporate, where he developed a reputation for solving common industry challenges in an uncommon way.

You can reach Rommel at www.RelationshipDifference.com and on Twitter @rommelanacan

Apartment Gardening for Kids

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

By: Nicholas Walker

Apartment living does not mean that you have to give up gardening; it just means that you have to be more creative with space and more thoughtful of what you choose to grow. The same goes for pint size apartment dwellers; tending to a garden is a great way for kids to learn about the earth and gain pride in themselves as they work hard to take care of something. Growing a mini garden sized just right for an apartment is easy and here are some ideas for a miniature plot:

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1. First of all it is important to evaluate the amount of space there is available.  If there is no balcony or any outside area connected to the apartment then step inside, it is amazing where a garden can grow; kitchen window sills, bathroom shelves, tabletops, sunny corners where plants can thrive.  Once the decision about where to grow the garden has been made then what to grow comes next and the choices are many.

2.  Making a miniature garden that kids can tend can is as simple as purchasing a few small pots of indoor plants and flowers and clustering them together in one area, African violets, cyclamen, hibiscus and orchids are great choices and have color and yummy aromas which kids love.   Choose a container and fill it with succulents, add pebbles and rocks for a southwestern feel that will definitely bring some sunshine into a winter home. Avoid prickly cacti or little hands could get hurt when looking after their garden, stick to aloe plants  and smooth leafed desert cacti;  the great news about succulents is that they are hardy, low maintenance and look interesting, a triple whammy of miniature cool.

3.  Growing a garden from a seed is always a winner; it opens up a wonderful opportunity to teach kids all about where food comes from and the importance of looking after our planet.  As the plants grow, so will the joy that kids get from tending to their indoor plot.  It is a relatively inexpensive way to start a garden but it is more time consuming and seeds need a lot of care in the beginning to survive.

4. An indoor herb garden is a great idea as well and all you need is a window ledge and some light and you are in the miniature gardening business, which means big fun for kids. Herbs are fast growing and hardy, they smell yummy and taste delicious too so they are a wonderful introduction to sustainable gardening for kids; eating what you grow has always been very cool. Some good herbs to grow are mint, rosemary, basil, cilantro, thyme, lemongrass and oregano.

5.  Tabletop gardening is a great use of small space, all that is needed is a pot, soil and sunlight and you are good to grow. Growing a mini tropical garden is as easy as picking a coconut, plant some miniature bamboo, miniature palm trees and aromatic orchids to make a tropical jungle garden fit for an apartment.

Apartment gardening for kids is fun, affordable and environmentally conscious, three good reasons to get growing.

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NickWalkerNicholas Walker is one of the world’s most accomplished garden designer- builders. Nicholas is a member of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers and the Garden Writer’s Association of America. His partnership in Jardin, of  kathy ireland Worldwide (kiWW), has established him as one of America’s most celebrated and innovative leaders, in the design community.  He speaks on sustainability, the environment and a healthy, greener lifestyle.

His stunning works of art have been featured in magazines, such as the historic Elizabeth Taylor gardens’ inArchitectural DigestMetropolitan Home, Sunset MagazineGarden DesignForbes and LA Times Magazine. He is also a contributor, to Good Housekeeping Do it Yourself, Woman, Furniturefind.com and kathyireland.com.

Media Apperances:

Oprah, HGTV | Forbes Magazine | Architectural Digest- The Private World of Elizabeth Taylor | Casual Living | Gardens of Inspiration | Sustanable Living Council Dwell on Design | Craftsman Radio | Bella Petite Magazine

 

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