Sunday, October 26, 2014

Leasing Isn't About Romance; It's About Sex

Leasing is not about romance. Leasing is straight up about sex. You can’t get to the romance stage, the stage of wondering if this person is The One, the complement to you, your better half, unless you have the innate, insanely physical, wonderfully blissful chemical attraction. That’s sex, baby, an unadulterated, raw, feral passion.

Leasing has been compared to dating lately, but I am wondering when the last time most of you have been on the dating scene. That’s all changed since some of you married, even five years ago. Once you are married, your priorities change; they evolve.  When’s the last time you went on a date?

Gone are the days where the guy sees a girl and asks her for her phone number, waits politely until Monday and then calls and asks her to a Friday night dinner and a movie. Gone are the days where he arrives on time, rings the doorbell, perhaps brings flowers, and helps her on with her coat, opens the car door, and demonstrates impeccable manners at all times. Nowadays, people meet in groups and travel in packs. People see someone in the group they are interested in and casually start conversations. This may lead to a hook-up long before it leads to dinner. This may happen many times, or may happen only once. He may go to her place and end up sneaking out at some point leaving her to wonder if he will call, or thanking her lucky stars he had a condom. Dating may be frequent and there may be plenty of online chats, texts and Skype chats which may lead to online intimate moments that would never have happened in the fifties! And guess what? Ladies often pay their own way. Girls still confide in their friends and guys still share info, too – info gotten from Google. Yeah, expect that your “facebook friend” will have googled you at some point. Dating is typically very casual these days. This is not to say it can’t or won’t lead to a long term relationship. That may be the end game; but the short term goal seems to be most likely: finding someone to have fun with without a commitment.

Translate that to our Leasing Consultants and their jobs. Compare that to a few of the Top 40 songs out there and redirect your Leasing Teams to lease like it is 2014. You can take any song playing on the radio, on your ipod, through your Beats headphones and apply it to leasing (property management.) Often when we work with new hires or send our veterans to training seminars, we are looking for new ideas for touring, tools to speed up our application processes, and new ideas for resident retention. All great things! But, I truly believe it goes back to the basics.

Maps by Maroon 5: “I’m following the map that leads to you.” Leasing consultants must be able to give correct and accurate directions. You don’t want your Prospect whom you’ve been chatting online with for the last two days to not know how to get to you or how to find the Apply Online button on your website.

All About That Bass by Meghan Trainor: First, the most important thing is for leasing consultants to be real and dress for their body type. “Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top.” Second, quit using photos from when your property and models were brand new. Quit “working that Photoshop!” People feel cheated when the current product is not shown.

Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke featuring Pharrell & T.I.: Not suggesting sleeping with the Prospect; however, there is every reason to let the Prospect know that you know he “wants it” (the apartment) and that you certainly do “want it” (the lease) and flaunt that instant happy connection you felt when he walked through the door. Just for the record, wearing cut offs that leave nothing to the imagination is a No-No. Wearing a super smile, displaying interest in his needs and wants and meaning what you say can be intoxicating to a Prospect.

Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off: Even Superstars can have off days. “Players gonna play, play, play. Haters gonna hate, hate, hate. I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake. Shake it off!” You can’t win everyone who walks through your door or sends you an online lead, but with the right amount of charm and sincerity, you can capture the bulk of them!

Once that lease has been signed, sealed and filed, the next phase happens. In dating, this is known as a Booty Call. In property management, it is known as the after-hours call to emergency maintenance. And, this my friends, is where the love begins. There is nothing more wonderful for a resident than to want someone RIGHT THAT MINUTE and have her every desire fulfilled when SHE NEEDS it. Think about it. The phone rings in the middle of the night. The on-call technician picks up his phone. It’s her! He dresses and speeds over to her apartment. She opens the door, so relieved he’s here! That allows the love to ignite and grow from a professional one to a more personal one. That happens first with Sam Smith’s Stay With Me and cemented with his Latch. Ahhhh, the perfect song for resident retention!

Am I Wrong (Nico & Vinz)?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Is There a Bad Time To Give a Raise To Someone?

Is there any workplace topic more incendiary than compensation? Doesn’t really matter if you are on the Owner’s side of the topic or a regular employee. Equally, this can bring up buried emotions, for the workplace.

There is no hard and fast rule about doling out raises and bonuses that I know of, but I think every company should have a policy that guides them. Without any compensation policy, how does a manager determine when a raise might be appropriate? How much of a raise should be given? How often should an increase occur?

How about: managers should discuss some type of monetary reward, raise, or bonus when it is EARNED. Any day might be an appropriate day! How about: does it matter how much of a raise is EARNED? Could be fifty cents, a dollar, or a flat out bonus. How about: any time!
Okay, that sounds great to me, in theory. However, what happens when you have a three member Leasing Team who are friendly with one another and eat lunch together sometimes, and maybe even go out together after work? They talk. One of them mentions he/she received a raise and is celebrating, not thinking anything about it, or assuming they had all received an increase. “Really? Why?” one of them asks? The third person seethes inside silently as he/she ponders why he/she DIDN’T receive a raise, too.

The concept of “fairness” can tear a team apart if the appearance of unequal pay is at issue, especially when a sense of friendly competition is encouraged. Or, worse, if the team is expected to work together on all leases. For example, Leasing Consultant 1 answers the phone and books the appointment, but the only time the Prospect can visit the property is when Leasing Consultant 1 is off. Leasing Consultant 2 shows the Prospect around the property and makes every attempt to close the deal. Unfortunately, the Prospect is just not ready to commit and wants to continue shopping. It is three weeks later when the Prospect returns and Leasing Consultant 1 is not available and takes the Be-Back appointment and the Prospect tours a second apartment and fills  out and application. Leasing Consultant 1 then processes the application, follows up on scheduling the move in date. Enter Leasing Consultant 3 who actually is the only one available on the now new Resident’s move in day. Leasing Consultant 3 collects the money, does the initial move in inspection with the Resident, submits a couple of work orders and is the one who delivers a move in gift to the Resident the next day with a note of thanks.

Leasing is often a team event. Awarding a bonus to only one these professionals seem wrong to me. Most offices may offer a split commission and that would be the end of the matter. The prudent thing to do is to make sure there is a Policy in place that covers this topic, as well as, when ALL employees might expect a raise or Bonus. Many companies offer not only commissions, but also Bonuses. If the company offers raises at an employee’s anniversary date, then this should also be done for ALL employees. The worst thing a company can do is to offer extra compensation to its star players when so often it is a team event. Put your policy in writing and have your teams sign it for their personnel file so at the very least everyone understands and can anticipate when such additional compensation can be earned, whether that is annual raises, monthly bonuses, or commissions.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Leasing Style: Motivation - Figure it Out

I made up my mind a long time ago when I got into the property management business and took on some leasing responsibilities – the game is best played when I decided what kind of sales style I wanted to adopt. Perhaps it isn’t appropriate to call leasing a game, and really it isn’t; it is a part of the business. However, I do think that leasing consultants MUST decide to approach the duty of leasing in a way that already compliments his personal style.

The question then becomes “What is your motive?” Meaning: obviously the goal is to obtain a lease, and the result is a commission, in most companies, but what is the motive? Many people are motivate internally and many are motivated externally. Is there also a third option? I think there may be.
Internally motivated people may want to feel good about helping the Prospect because they like helping people solve a problem. They may want to know they have done their job well and this builds self-esteem in a very positive way. Their self-worth is related to how well they are personally received, believed, and this creates value.

Externally motivated people may need recognition through awards, Bonuses, Commissions and tangible rewards. They like that the team knows they have met the challenge of getting ten leases that week or month. They like that the company knows they do their job well and may promote them, add to their job responsibilities, and reward them with Leasing Consultant of the Month or Year or even nominate them for a state or national association award. They want that tangible “intangible” fame.
But that third motive is what concerns me. The third motive seems to rotate the negative, down deep rot, the inner total worthlessness perpetrated by those who are completely narcissistic. These individuals scare the crap out of me because I can never figure out if I can trust them. These are the ones who give the initial impression that they are helping when in reality, what they are doing is fueling their own neurotic means to appear and feel better about themselves. Those who are starved for real self-esteem end up as the Abusers.

Training our managers to be aware of these psychological traits in others is important. Spotting those who are vested only in themselves will help alleviate the decidedly unfriendly competitions without our offices. The next time someone comes to you and freely offers to do something not even remotely logical, run the other way because that person has ulterior motives that will benefit only him and will in the long run, do little for you. This is true for any business, not just property management.

Example: Prospect calls on the phone to ask questions about the property because she is looking for an apartment for (Son, daughter, uncle, cousin, friend.) Leasing Consultant 1 answers each question feigning interest (but isn’t remotely interested since the person calling is not the one actually renting the unit.) However, the person agrees this is the best option and begins the application process. A couple of days later, an application is submitted and the Caller phones again and talks to Leasing Consultant 2 (The original agent is not working that day.) Leasing Consultant 2 is interested in the Caller and solving her problem of finding an apartment and getting the lease signed and begins asking many questions and finds out that the person needs furniture and is willing to rent the unit furnished and for a much longer term, so instead of a 5 month lease locks down a furnished unit for 18 months. By simply being genuinely interested in taking care of the Caller’s needs Leasing Consultant 2 “sold” an apartment for a much better lease term and at an overall higher cost.

Being motivated for the right reasons in the eyes of your company and team’s goals is great. But being motivated by the right reasons will allow you to personally live with yourself and be admired by those who really matter in the long run: you, yourself, and you. After all, as someone once told me, your good name is really all you have and if you screw that up, you may never have the opportunity to make it right again.