Sunday, July 12, 2015

What Are You Doing to Reduce Common Service Requests?

At some point in the last twenty or so years, tub spouts changed. In ordinary circumstances, you wouldn’t pay too much attention to this unless it affected your own ability to turn on a shower. But even then, I think most Americans figure it out pretty quickly. Instead of having a lever to pull upwards to turn on the shower, one must pull down on the spout itself. I remember when we installed on in our shower of the main bath, my husband demonstrated how to do it; our children actually grew up knowing how to operate it.

It may seem extraordinary then, when our Residents cannot seem to figure it out. However, the one thing I noticed right away was that almost 99% of the returned move-in inspection forms from our international residents contained this: “shower doesn’t work.” When the Maintenance Tech would go to attend to the work order, he would turn it in as completed marked “Nothing wrong.”

This type of service request became such a frequent one (recurring from our international students) that a pictorial demonstration booklet was given to every person at move demonstrating how the shower operates. (We found many people were extremely embarrassed and felt “dumb” after finding out there was nothing wrong and it was attributed to “Operator error.”) In addition, our Maintenance Techs now pay a visit to each person who moves in and demonstrates the operation of the thermostat, alarm system and shower.  Sometimes it is the simple things that make life easier – like knowing how to turn on one’s shower. 

More than that, by reducing the risk of making someone feel badly for not figuring out the “American way” of doing things, I think it helps us create a better overall experience for our Residents.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Hire a Team Player

Short and sweet, hiring a team player should be the goal. If you have the fortunate or unfortunate experience of trying to hire someone for your Leasing/Office Team (that depends on why you need to hire someone!), may I make one suggestion? Don’t hire someone for your Office/Leasing Team who uses the word ‘I’ almost exclusively throughout the interview. Instead, listen for the word ‘we’ or ‘our’ at least three times. I know – that’s kind of an arbitrary number. <SMILE>

I know when someone comes in to interview for a position, she/he wants to make a good impression. They hopefully show up in proper business attire, groomed, and smiling. But when you get down to the nitty-gritty, he/she will also want to highlight his own accomplishments. But if the person spends all the interview time talking about “I did this”, “I did that”, “I increased NOI by such and such”, and “I reduced the cost of turns by this much”, that’s great – so – how did YOU do all this? Alone? I don’t think so.

 I really don’t think it matters if you are hiring a Manager, Assistant Manager, Leasing Consultant or a Maintenance Supervisor. Instinctively, we all want to show our great results, that we should be hired on the spot, but no one works in a vacuum. I like hiring people who know how to work within a team and still shine. Eventually, someone who cannot, will become sullen and will not give credit where credit is due and those people, my friends, are not going to do the team or the company any good in the long run.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Did The Owner Lower Your Rents?

The great debate continues as to what the best property management software is. Who cares? Obviously, a company is going to pick the most affordable solution that will offer the most bang for its buck. As long as you can track residents, finances, and keep up with what is needed for your company, I don’t think it matters what you use.

There is also a lot of discussion regarding revenue management. I think this should matter a great deal to your company. If you cannot afford this pricey add-on to your current software, I think it is vital to employ a savvy manager who can direct your property to maximize its potential rental income. However, if you do nothing, or worse, LOWER your rental rates, then you are devaluing your property and investment. Why would a company or Owner do this?

In one instance, you might consider this strategy if you are very low in occupancy and need to get some cash flow going. In another, you might do this to build occupancy in order to increase the rent roll in order to market the property as a stable asset in preparation for a sale. Other than those two instances, there is never a good reason to devalue your asset. 

As a manager, when you are directed to lower prices, get ready. If there was no communication to indicate the strategy is to be used short term, then get your resume ready.