Saturday, August 27, 2016

Don't Let Residents Steal Your Happiness!



Here’s the truth. Sometimes Residents are just mean, or mean-spirited. I received a text the other afternoon from a leasing consultant who was distraught after a rather nasty interaction with one of the residents. She texted that she didn’t think she was “cut out” for this kind of business because she is treated so poorly by many Residents and she is unprepared when people walk into the office and just start with all their negativity.

Onsite Office Teams shouldn’t be subjected to this; however angry residents are going to vent. It’s also the truth, and if your Leasing Consultant is the first person (or only person if it is small property) a Resident sees coming into the Leasing Office, they often take their anger out on that person. Besides telling our Teams to grow thicker skin, how do you think most Property Managers handle this, or should handle this?

I texted to the Consultant to not let one person who is having a no good, very bad, horrible day ruin her positive disposition and steal her sunshine because – the truth is – that person is not worth giving that power to! You ROCK it every day you work at this property and take a deep breathe. Lock the door, clear your mind, take a quick walk, and if you are still upset, simply close the office since there is only 20 minutes left anyway. The world will not come to a crashing halt if the office is closed 15-20 minutes early on a Friday afternoon.

And to the Resident who tried her best to humiliate, denigrate, and strip the joy right out of this Leasing Consultant, well, just wait till Monday ….  

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Pay Me Overtime! I Deserve It!



A recent ruling that becomes effective on December 1, 2016 will lift the overtime pay level from $23,660 to $47,476, which means essentially that even those in management positions are entitled to receive overtime pay. I remember a few years ago when this issue was raised, and I was told the National Apartment Association opposed this, I bought into their reasoning. After 17 years in the business, I just cannot buy their argument any more.

Dear NAA/NMHC,
Exactly why are you fighting this????
Sincerely,
Property Manager

In the June 2016 Units Magazine, an article states, “NAA/NMHC have worked to overturn this rule since its initial introduction because, in part, it would harm the ability of apartment industry employers to implement, and their employees to take advantage of, flexible scheduling options. The final rule would also limit career advancement opportunities for employees.”

What in the world are you saying?

What I am HEARING from this response is, yes, let’s tell our employees that they should not get paid for the 50+ hours they work EVERY WEEK (equating to an extra 40 hours per month) because we want them to prove their worth so we can promote them? 

There are still exceptions to this. If an employee is paid a fixed salary that is not subject to reduction because of quality or quantity of work performed, he would still not be entitled to overtime pay. However, I know if the work is not deemed satisfactory, I can be fired for non-performance. So, in essence, if it still takes extra time to write reports, create property goals, achieve those goals, I will need to do this without any extra compensation. 

Those people who are the backbone of the industry, the onsite people, work hard, are extremely diligent and most often are never promoted to other positions within the organization. Managers, in particular, look at financials in the evening, attend classes and trainings outside of the work place on their own dimes, post rents on the first of the month (and that includes New Year’s Day), perform month end closing tasks (even on a Sunday) and never receive so much as a “thank you.” They come in on their so-called days off to cover the office when someone fails to show up, or it is a busy first of the month and lots of rents and move-ins are occurring. 

So, please, do not speak for me, National Apartment Association and National Multi Housing Council because you have no idea how much time and energy I have put in and continue to put into my management roles over the years. I do it because I want the property to succeed, because I care about the residents, and usually because most of my properties have remained severely short-staffed through no fault of mine. I take up the slack and I know too many onsite managers who do the same. I used to think if I worked hard I would make into a corporate position with a company, especially on the training side, but that has not happened. Companies are focused on those with a 4-year degree, or a master’s degree, even, with no property management experience, or they hire from outside the company (people who have no idea what it is like at Ground Zero in a hard market area) instead of trusting the people who are there already making their companies better places for the residents, achieving or overachieving the financial goals. So don’t tell me I should not get overtime pay when you have no intention ever of advancing my career. And don’t tell me I should be exempt because my duties are “professional” and it doesn’t matter how I structure my day to get the job done. Everyone knows what happens to a property when there is no management presence on a daily basis. There isn’t really a flexible scheduling option, now is there? 

Why don’t you politicians talk to us for once before you presume to know how we feel? Shut up for once and listen to the people in the trenches.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Profits More Important Than Curb Appeal?



I get it. I know that when Residents saunter into the Leasing Office and start complaining about any aspect of the property, they do it because they truly care. It is almost 100% of the time coming from the heart. These are the residents who have CHOSEN to rent and continue to do so because they are invested in the concept of “This is their Home.” 

I began living in an apartment community after being a homeowner for eighteen years and moving back to Indiana. The number one reason was because of the landscaping and beauty of the area where my proposed future home were located. There is a large tree with downward sweeping branches on the edge of a pond. I noticed the pond was treated so it sported a blue hue, which only enhanced my feeling that “If I choose to live here, this is one of the most peaceful settings I’ve experienced” (even among the properties I have managed. I wanted to call this home.

Imagine my dismay as with each renewal period I notice less and less concern with maintaining that beautiful landscaping. When I moved here, the irrigation sprinklers kicked on at 4:00 am for the living room side and at 5:00 pm for the office side of my apartment. They haven’t used the sprinklers in two years. Here it is, the first part of summer and the grass is brown, too short and because of lack of water, the tree is losing its leaves. This past spring, there was a plethora of ugly clover creating large, dark patches in the landscaping. 

Which brings me to my point. I want to know why. I want to understand why, though all of the resident expenses are raised annually, the property management company is not activating the very thing that creates the draw, the curb appeal of the community. Honestly, it is embarrassing to have guests visit and bear witness to the decay, the decline. Being in the business as I am, I talked to the Contractor who has the lawn care contract.

“Oh, we only cut the grass and edge sidewalks. We don’t do anything else,” the Crew Leader told me.
Now, I will become “one of those” residents who is going to ask the onsite team why. And I truly dislike being in the position of doing that, but I am curious, both professionally and personally, as to the reason it seems like no one cares how the property looks any more.

 I don’t get that. Profits more important?