by Danny Soule – 10.26.11
If you are currently in an city where locators are predominantly used by prospects, then it is in your best interest to establish a strong relationship with as many locators as possible. Locators are looking to accomplish two things: they want to find the ideal apartment for these prospects based upon the prospect’s interests and price range; they would also like to find the properties with reasonable locator referral percentage payout in return for their work of bringing prospects to the property. Locators will ask the main questions about the current price of an apartment community, as well as the amenities that the property offers to compare to what the prospect is looking for, but their final question will always be what the locator referral is.
With that being said if your property is neither the newest on the block, nor does it have the highest referral fee, then it is very crucial to establish a working relationship with these locators. Visiting the offices of the main locators to drop-off breakfast/lunch is definitely a good start to introduce yourself as a leasing agent. This in turn is a great lead-in into holding a locator open house to tour the property, so that way the locators are familiar with your product and will be able to personally tell these prospects what the property is like.
To push your property even more to the locators, purchase numerous 5×7 picture frames and in the picture portion of the frame insert a brief synopsis of your community’s information. This is something that the locators can have as a desk reference for your property that will be easily viewed by prospects right as they sit down at the locator’s desk. Prospects will be much more inclined to immediately ask about your property if it is the first thing they see when they meet with the locators.
Just as you are active in follow-up with your prospects, be just as active with locators. If they don’t accompany a prospect to tour your community, call the locator after the tour to let them know what the prospect thought and as to whether or not they leased. In the end the better relationship that is established with active locators in your city, the higher your chances are of receiving referral prospects from these locators.
by Danny Soule – 10.25.11
So here we are almost to the mid-point of the week and sometimes it tends to be a little difficult to stay motivated to finish the week strong. Therefore, to get you through the mid-week lull, here are 10 tips, courtesy of Jim Baumgartner of Rentsoda.com, that are guaranteed to improve your mood and let you radiate that positive mental attitude that is so important to maintain all week long!
“1. Attitude change. Many scientists theorize that we have the power to catch happiness. In fact, often we are the cause of our own unhappiness. How often do we take the negative spin on an event—be it an election, a co-worker’s action or a series of red lights. When you feel a rush of negativity stop and ask yourself what the positive side of the event is.
2. Watch your self talk—the majority of what we tell ourselves is negative. Self talk is the chatter that goes on inside ourselves; it is how we talk to ourselves. Know that you can handle everything that comes your way. When you own this attitude and learn to trust your ability, you will see these difficult situations as a challenge instead of as a threat. Do your thoughts make you happy?
3. Practice gratitude. When I feel a funk coming on, I stop and start listing all of the things that make me thankful—no matter how small. I am amazed at how quickly I snap out of it. No matter how bleak the horizon, I always discover that I have a long list.
4. So life isn’t fair—or is it? Several years ago my brother pointed to a neighbor’s beautiful house with two luxury cars parked in the drive and commented, “They are golden. Nothing bad has ever happened to them.” I suspect that we all have trials and tribulations that will make us who we are supposed to become. Some of us had our ‘classes’ early; others will have to go to summer school. If you are going through a trial right now, ask yourself, “Okay, what am I supposed to learn from this” and then get the lesson done! Who wants a retest?
5. I am responsible for my HAPPY! Own it. The next big promotion, gift, etc. will not make you happy. If you are not happy now, no job, thing or person will make you happy. What can you do for yourself that will enhance your happiness?
6. Live in the now. There has been a lot of writing about practicing mindfulness and living in the now. It really is powerful. Let tomorrow unfold and quit worrying about what you didn’t do or what you did to screw up today. We always have a second chance, you can’t change the past, enjoy today and tomorrow will unfold.
7. Think of others. Get out of our head and focus on someone else. Helping others puts your problems in perspective and increases your happiness.
8. Find meaning in your life. What gives you purpose? People who are strongly spiritual are better able to cope with difficulties and are generally happier.
9. Expect the best. You get what you expect. If you expect the worst you will rarely be disappointed.
10. Be kind to yourself. Practice some good habits:
-Get enough sleep. Most of us cheat our sleep to get more done. However, our lack of sleep often impedes quick
or quality work.
-Find something to laugh at. Researchers at the University of California did a study in which a group of men watched a funny video. Their levels of stress hormones dropped significantly while their pleasure-inducing endorphin levels rose 27percent and growth hormone levels rose 87 percent.
-Do one thing at a time. Most of us are proud of our ability to multi task; however, studies show that this increases our blood
-Say no to activities that you do not enjoy. This will relieve you of the added stress and free up more time to do what makes you happy.
-Build and participate in community. Numerous studies have shown that those of us with an active social circle are happier and more fulfilled.
-Minimized the ‘little boxes’ in your life. My friend, Theresa Rose (http://www.theresarose.net), talks about getting rid of life’s time-wasters: television, cell phones, computers, video games, etc. Not only do these things sap your energy (she refers to them as ‘Mojo-busters’), they rob you of your most precious gift: time. (And while you are at it, skip the news for a while. Have you ever noticed what a downer that is?)
-Breathe deeply and get outside: bike, hike or garden. If you have a dog, walk it. Did you know that pets buffer stress better than spouses do? Aromatherapy can be beneficial too. (Rosemary makes you more alert and lowers your anxiety. Lavender increases the brain waves that indicate heightened relaxation.)
-Do things to reduce stress in your life (exercise, expressing creativity, maintaining supportive friendships, keep an organized home—a refuge or safe place, etc.)”
Hopefully these tips have you re-energized to tackle the remainder of the week with a great positive mental attitude!
by Danny Soule – 10.21.11
I am absolutely fascinated by the continuing dominance that Facebook has managed to have since it’s birth in the social media world, which is why it never gets old for me seeing infographs of Facebook stats.
With that being said another collage of Facebook statistics was put together by Ben Pharr of Mashable just today and as usual, the stats are mind blowing.
This is a great read for a Friday and the amazing thing about the stats on this link is that they are still growing.
When will they ever stop growing?
Enjoy the stats.
Facebook By The Numbers
by Danny Soule – 10.20.11
Post Properties has taken the initiative to go a little more green at a local Atlanta property. Planning for the automotive selections of some present day users and potentially all automotive users of the near future, Post has installed electric vehicle charging stations at a community in Buckhead and has plans to expand it’s operative green plan to more communities in the future:
“Luxury communities are getting more environmentally conscious. Post Properties are installing two electric vehicle charging stations at Post Alexander, a luxury community in Buckhead, located in Atlanta, Georgia. These stations, which were put in place to make the community more green, are Atlanta’s first electric vehicle chargers in a multifamily residence.
“Post residents expect their communities to be environmentally friendly,” Chuck Konas, executive vice president of construction at Post Properties, said in a statement. “Since we expect the popularity of electric vehicles to increase, it makes sense to deploy these stations at key Post communities around the country in the future.”
The GE Industrial charging Solutions stations, called WattStations, can fully charge cars in four to eight hours.
Post also has plans to add charging stations to its communities in Austin, Texas, and Alexandria, Va.”
This article comes courtesy of Jessica Fiur from Multi-Housing News Online and shows the direction that more and more apartment communities should be heading. With many individuals living in a close-knit community, apartment living is a great opportunity to reduce a mass group of individuals’ ecological footprint by providing green living options. Post Properties is definitely ahead of the game from an actively involved management standpoint, but should serve as a guide for others to follow in when it comes to making a difference
by Danny Soule – 10.19.11
Guerrilla Marketing is often times a loosely used phrase and by loosely used, I mean that many people use the phrase having no clue as to what exactly it means. Wikipedia defines Guerrilla Marketing as,
“…an unconventional system of promotions that relies on time, energy and imagination rather than a big marketing budget. Typically, guerrilla marketing campaigns are unexpected and unconventional; potentially interactive; and consumers are targeted in unexpected places. The objective of guerrilla marketing is to create a unique, engaging and thought-provoking concept to generate buzz, and consequently turn viral. The term was coined and defined by Jay Conrad Levinson in his book Guerrilla Marketing. The term has since entered the popular vocabulary and marketing textbooks. Guerrilla marketing involves unusual approaches such as intercept encounters in public places, street giveaways of products, PR stunts, any unconventional marketing intended to get maximum results from minimal resources. More innovative approaches to Guerrilla marketing now utilize cutting edge mobile digital technologies to really engage the consumer and create a memorable brand experience…”
Guerrilla Marketing is often times intended to be an out-of-the-box way of marketing, but is usually extremely effective, due to the fact that it is meant to be directly in the foresight of the consumer. It is actually getting out into the community, flyering in parking lots, cross marketing with local shops and spreading your businesses name with everyone you meet in an often creative way. That is the basis for Guerrilla Marketing. When property budget doesn’t allot you enough funds to do mainstream commercials, eye catching billboards, radio feeds, or other expensive marketing techniques, guerrilla marketing can be a very useful, inexpensive and successful alternative.
Guerrilla Marketing is a tried and true means of marketing that allows you to be creative with how you get your businesses name
out into the public, so have fun with it. Think outside the box, get out into the community and feel free to share your success stories of using the guerrilla route to marketing prosperity.
by Danny Soule – 10.14.11
It takes just a quick glance, maybe three seconds, for someone to evaluate you when you meet for the first time. In this short time, the other person forms an opinion about you based on your appearance, your body language, your demeanor, your mannerisms, and how you are dressed.
With every new encounter, you are evaluated and yet another person’s impression of you is formed. These first impressions can be nearly impossible to reverse or undo, making these initial encounters extremely important, for they set the tone for all the
relationships that follow.
Just like individuals have first impressions about people, prospects have first impressions about properties before they even walk in the leasing office door. Therefore it is so important to have a property that is well kept, especially the pathway leading from the front entrance of the property to the leasing office. Any unsightly things can cause a prospect to do an immediate 180 before they even see the actual product. It only takes two seconds to take a walk outside the office to see if there is anything extraneous in the entry way or parking lot that can be caught prior to any prospects visiting the community.
The leasing office is going to be interpreted by the prospect as something that is similar to the actual apartments available, so keeping a tidy office is of great importance. It’s the little things that mean the most in the office: have the office staff professionally dressed; keep the office clean and orderly at all times; make sure the office smells good.
First impressions are such a critical part of the apartment industry, because once that first impression is made by the prospect, it’s nearly impossible to reverse their opinion. After all you only have one opportunity to make a good first impression, so make the best of it!
Enjoy and have a great weekend!
by Danny Soule – 10.13.11
A well-furnished apartment is an essential part of the marketing program for apartment communities and the great thing about an attractive model is that it expresses a lifestyle that cannot be verbalized. A model apartment could be the missing piece to any communities lease up puzzle, but there are some important details to remember when setting up a model apartment in a community:
1. Determining the number of models to setup.
• Often times it is beneficial to setup multiple models, depending on the community’s budget, if the community has numerous floor plans. Setting up multiple models could also allow for multiple decorating schemes, as well as make smaller apartments look more appealing with a creative furniture layout, or make those non-traditional floor plans (i.e., 2 Bedroom/1 Bath) have a more practical appeal.
2. Determining which apartment to use as the model.
• A less desirable apartment should be used as the model, rather than the best apartment available in the community. More desirable apartments with great locations will sell themselves without the use of a model staging. Decorating an apartment with a less desirable location will help offset the negatives and make this apartments location seem more appealing.
• Choose an apartment that is close to the office. Doing so will make the leasing agents tour more convenient, as well as make those time crunched prospects less likely to refuse a showing. The last thing a community wants to do is spend all of that money to stage a model apartment and not have every single prospect see it.
• Apartments that are on the first floor tend to be more convenient for model showing. In addition, some individuals have problems negotiating stairs, so the bottom floor will allow for the most convenience and accessibility for the prospects.
3. Decorating the model apartment home.
• Make the decorating and furnishing of the apartment truly alluring to the eyes. While the apartment should be decorated nicely, it should not be so exuberantly decorated that the prospect feels as if the apartment is out of their budget the second they walk in the door. Decorate the model apartment to appeal to the clientele that will be living at the community. If the community is a more modern and luxurious property, then nicer furniture placed in a more ornate setting would be more appropriate. If the community is a college property, then more comfortable furniture in a more laid back setting would apply. Don’t make the prospects qualify themselves out by walking into too nice of a model apartment.
• Don’t clutter the model. Setting up too much furniture in a model can make the apartment feel smaller, especially if the prospect has to constantly squeeze by furniture to maneuver through the room.
• Always make sure the model apartment is clean. Keeping the model in first-class condition should be the top priority with having a model apartment. If a prospect were to walk into an unclean model apartment, then he/she will automatically probably assume the property is one that does not care about its current residents if it doesn’t show its future residents the nicest thing possible.
In addition to these basic things to keep in mind when setting up a model apartment, here is a great article that shows, mathematically, how a model apartment can be beneficial.
by Danny Soule – 10.12.11
This is a great article from Brent Williams at Multifamily Insiders that covers an ever present topic every apartment community must battle and that is how to avoid resident turnover. We work at many apartment communities that are pleased with the abundance of new incoming leases, but seem to only barely stay afloat in the positive each month due to the high amount of drop-off they have from a retention standpoint. If the only contact your community staff has with residents is when it comes time to collect rent, then you may have a much larger issue at hand. Residents are looking to be connected to a community and want to feel as if they are residents of a neighborhood, as opposed to just rent paying tenants of a complex. Implement this outlook, as well as Brent’s 14 steps below, into your community and you’ll be reaping the benefits of a boosted NOI in no time.
“Mark Juleen mentioned a few weeks ago how there will always be resident turnover at some point, so it got me thinking: What would be the steps to approach zero resident turnover? Obviously, zero resident turnover is not actually possible, but if we set our goal at the best possible outcome, we are more likely to get farther along than if we try to barely move the needle. So let’s have some fun brainstorming how to move the dial towards zero resident turnover!
Stop Pushing Residents Out The Door
1) Customer Service and Maintenance – This is obviously step #1. If your residents have lingering maintenance requests, or if your customer service is not up to par, then you will easily drive them from your community.
2) Long-term Lease Contracts – Creating alternatives to the standard one-year lease that mitigate concerns over achieving rent increases. Why do we constantly make our residents re-evaluate their living situation year after year?
3) Apply Concessions Immediately – Obviously concessions are not recommended, but if they must be given, have it applied immediately to first months of lease. Therefore, the lease renewal isn’t coupled with a large increase in rent purely because of the concession expiring.
4) Release the Bad Apples – With your residents consolidated in such a small area, it is easy for one nuisance neighbor to make life miserable for several others, such as noise disturbances, trash, and other issues. Instead of placating these bad residents, we need to have good solutions to actually enforce our leases and drive these residents out the door. The key? Document, document, document!
5) Rent Increases Coupled With Benefit Increases – We obviously want to capitalize on market conditions that allow for higher rents. But honestly, we often get very lazy when it comes to the increase, with the mentality of “Take it or leave it, we’ll find someone else to lease your apartment.” But that means that although you have gotten your increase, you have to offset it with the turnover cost. And besides, residents find the market adjustment “sale” to be BS – Yes, if they move out they will get similar rent elsewhere, but then at least they get a freshly painted apartment with possibly new carpet, etc. So if we are giving big increases, why not plan in some benefits as well to soften the blow? By escaping the turnover cost, you can easily afford some tantalizing renewal benefits if they take the large rent increase.
Inspire Residents To Actually Want To Stay At The Community
6) Establish Emotional Ownership – The more effort you put into something, the more likely you are to stick with it. A great example of this is Google+. So many people will not want to join Google+ because they have already established their social circle on Facebook, as well as putting so much effort into their profile. When it comes to renting, however, customizing and making the apartment their “home” is more difficult, although renewal upgrades are an interesting concept.
7) Create a “Sense of Community” – This is another factor that moves from pushing out residents through bad service to making them actively want to stay. Human connections are incredibly powerful, so we should be analyzing more direct strategies to foster them.
Long-Term Resident Benefits – Create a system where longer-term residents acquire special privileges, rights, etc the longer they live at your property.
9) Resident Referrals – Not only do resident referrals provide new leases, but they are inherently resident connections right from the start. Plus, having friends in the community essentially means you have an “undercover sales force”. If Jack’s friend is thinking about moving, but Jack’s lease doesn’t expire for 7 months, he will actively try to convince his friend to renew!
Target Prospects Who Will Become Long-Term Residents
10) Targeted Niches – A resident will more likely stay at a community that ties in with their lifestyle in a focused way. For example, going beyond just “pet friendly” to a dog paradise would create multiple connection points beyond just having a “sparkling pool” and granite counter tops. For example, an unbelievable dog park will actually inspire someone to say, “Duke LOVES the dog park – I would hate to take him away from that.”
11) Targeted Resident Traits – Some residents are predisposed to living at one place for long periods of time. Effectively targeting these types of residents can naturally lengthen the stay for the average resident. (Targeted traits could be professions, such as teachers potentially, and personality traits, such as those who don’t like change in their life)
12) Target Current Long-Term Residents From Other Communities – If someone is currently a long-term resident somewhere else, that means they have the personality type to stay at your community for a long time as well. I’m not sure how to find these types of residents directly quite yet, however. In a non-targeted way, you could market special benefits to those that have rented/owned their current residence for over 5 years.
Exclude Prospects Who Will Not Likely Be Long-Term Residents
13) Tighten Up Resident Approval Process – Not only do you want to proactively reach out to those who could be long-term renters, but you also want to weed out those who surely won’t. Obviously do not do anything that violates Fair Housing, but restrict residents who are obviously more transient by requiring that they have stayed at their previous residence for longer than X years. Also, increase income requirements to lower chance of default.
Problem-Solve To Help Residents Stay
14) Helping Residents Who Are On Hard Times – In a time of high unemployment, we will have situations where residents want to stay but simply can’t because of finances. We can help in a variety of different ways:
1.Roommate Finder – Create a program that helps residents find roommates to help spread the cost of rent across multiple people.
2.Job Finder – We already have Preferred Employer Programs to get referrals from companies, but why not reverse the situation? Work with companies to establish a job board and special lead-ins for residents who have lost their job? Also, provide events that will help with finding a job, such as a resume development workshop.
3.Miscellaneous – Your community should have a list of every reason someone decided to move. For each reason, there should be a way that you are actively countering that.
What other concepts can you think of that would drive down resident turnover?”
Great article Brent!
by Danny Soule – 10.6.11
In the apartment industry each apartment community is typically designed with a certain clientele in mind. Based upon Fair Housing every leasing agent must lease to every qualified prospect, but there are certain properties that are solely eligible to very specific clientele: senior properties being a main one.
Senior properties are eligible only to prospects above a required age range (usually 55 per seniorresource.com). Just as with any other apartment community, there are certain marketing and leasing strategies that must be used for a senior property to be successful. In addition, there are also very many misconceptions about senior properties, due in part to the belief that there are certain venues of marketing that do not capture the interest of senior citizens (i.e., internet). Multifamily Insiders and Rent Soda put together two excellent lists of not only tips for leasing to seniors, but also proven tips to marketing to seniors to drive-in traffic.
The senior market is continuing to grow as more and more baby boomers are steering from the housing industry to the lower maintenance apartment industry. This means only more good news for anyone that is in the industry looking to gear towards seniors and capture this growing market.
by Danny Soule – 10.3.11
“In a recent Apartments.com national survey, 48.3% of residents said that their most important search criteria is the cost of rent. This does not mean it is their most important evaluation criteria or that apartment selection is price-driven. This is a common misunderstanding you can’t afford for anyone on your team to have.
What is there to misunderstand about renters telling us that they want the lowest cost rent? We are, of course, supposed to listen to our customers. However, even more important than listening to what they say is doing what market researchers do – measure behavior rather than intention.
The next time income-qualified prospects beat you up on price, first ask yourself, do renters in my market have an option with lower rent? If so, and they are still looking at your property, then price is not the core issue or they would all choose the cheapest option. Qualified prospects who say price is the bottom line in their evaluation when they know they can rent for less, are really just negotiating. If they are not choosing the lowest price option, then price is not their bottom line. So why do they pay more to rent from you? Isn’t it because they value your amenities, location, or relative safety? Studies of consumer preferences show that we choose to spend more on all kinds of things to get options and extras of perceived value. The core issue with your renters is value – as it is with all people who have their basic needs met.
Since the core issue is value, if you raise it, you can raise occupancy.”
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