Management Advice

How Trump’s Trade-War Will Impact the Multi-Family Housing Industry

How Trump’s Trade-War Will Impact the Multi-Family Housing Industry

Photo: Trump Administration

The news outlets are constantly reporting on President Trump’s trade war with China and other countries with many American industries having been impacted by the high tariffs on foreign imports. As many of us work in multi-family housing, it can be expected that we are concerned how the news headlines will translate to our industry.

While the multi-family housing industry has not been the most impacted by federal tariffs, it has not been untouched. Below we discuss what exactly defines the details of the trade war and how it specifically affects our industry.

What Is a Trade War and Why is Trump Doing It?

A trade war means tariffs or taxes are placed on imports. The purpose is to increase the cost of the product, and dissuade US consumers from buying foreign products. Trump is reportedly waging the trade war to cut America’s trade deficits.

America has the biggest trade deficit with China, almost $375 Billion, and Trump is seeking to close the gap by encouraging Americans to stop buying products imported from China and other targeted countries.

Long-Term Impact on Multi-Family Housing

Most of the talk has been about China, but it’s Canada that’s going to have the most impact on our industry.

Tariffs on Canadian lumber are adding about $9,000 to single-family home prices and more than $3,000 to multi-family homes, Randy Noel, chairman of the National Association of Homebuilders said last month.

Some companies can shield themselves, for now, with long-term contracts already in place for materials but other builders are starting to feel the pinch and construction has been halted.

According to the most recent single-family permit numbers for June, new home construction has decreased. The United States Census Bureau has reported 1,493 single-family permits for the month of June, a 10 percent decrease from May of 2018 and an 8 percent decrease from June of 2017 when 1,663 permits were pulled.

In Indiana for example, builders are already starting to show that they may be hurting from the high import tariffs.

“The concern over material and labor costs is making it more difficult to build homes at competitive price points, particularly for newcomers entering the housing market.” said Indiana Builders Association Chief Executive Officer, Rick Wajda said “We will continue to have discussions with our federal policy makers on the rising construction costs and encourage them to take action to keep housing affordable across the country.”

What this means for the multi-family industry can be both good and bad. The good is that higher home costs mean more and more people will be passing on home ownership and moving into multi-family housing. The bad is that new construction of apartment homes could stall and result in a shortage of properties to work for in the future, thus constricting the job market for leasing professionals, managers, and maintenance technicians.

Maintenance could be another area that will hit apartment properties in the wallet. The cost to repair, and maintain properties could be going up with items such as washing machines, doors, lumber, and other objects usually sourced from heavily tariffed countries such as China increasing in price. This could result in a rising rent prices, or a lowering of entry-level pay for multi-family housing professionals to offset the higher costs incurred by the properties.

All of these predictions are dependent on the length of time Trump will continue his trade war. If what the president is saying (and tweeting) is true, it seems like he is in for the long run and our predictions for the multi-family housing industry could indeed come true.

Posted in Management Advice, Uncategorized |

How To Make Entry-Level Pay Attractive to Potential Maintenance Hires

How To Make Entry-Level Pay Attractive to Potential Maintenance Hires

Every multifamily employer has felt the sting of dealing with a low response to an advertised entry-level maintenance position post. Qualified individuals expect to be paid higher wages and unqualified individuals can sometimes result in an undesirable hire. So, how do you bring good talent into entry-level positions with lower pay?

The answer is, you have a clear-cut promotional strategy in place that shows a potential employee their path to success (and higher pay).

We are all familiar with pay being “dependent on experience, ” but how about pay being “dependent on performance? ” By switching this wording on a job posting you can advertise the potential for higher pay, and grab the attention of motivated candidates, while still keeping a low financial risk on a new hire. Below we have detailed the key elements of an appropriate promotional program for your new, entry level maintenance team member.

1. Clearly Defined Timeline

When you are presenting a promotional strategy in exchange for being hired at entry-level pay, you need to include a clearly defined timeline so the candidate understands how long it would take to achieve their desired level of pay. Not only will this show the candidate that you are serious about getting them what they want, you will also keep yourself accountable on the promise you are making to the employee. It is very easy to let time slip by while an employee becomes more disgruntled over a perceived unkempt promise made at the time of their hire.

2. Transparent Benchmarks

Along with a timeline, you need to present the benchmarks the employee would need to hit to be considered for a promotion to the next level. The benchmarks should be unique to your company, but could include certain certifications, days worked, performance review scores, and/or maintenance project(s) completed. The benchmarks should be attached to the defined timeline so the employee knows what they have to do, and by what dates they have to do them, to get their desired promotion.

3. Pre-Scheduled Performance Reviews

The best way to keep track of an employee’s promotional journey is by conducting regular performance reviews. The performance reviews will contain all the elements needed to achieve a promotion to the next level. When an employee is brought onboard, they should know the dates of upcoming performance reviews, and what will be examined during each review. Ideally, each review (depending on frequency) will result in a promotion and/or an increase in pay. When you hire your new employee they should be able to see when, and by how much, their pay could increase by looking at the performance review schedule.

Developing and executing a clear-cut promotional strategy will not only result in a higher success rate in hiring for entry-level positions, but can also result in higher productivity from those you hire, and a better job satisfaction rate among your staff. The good thing is that you can put in the extra effort to develop the program now and replicate over and over for all your new hires in the future!

Posted in Management Advice |

Why the Texas Hill Country Should be Your Next Weekend Employee Retreat Destination

Why the Texas Hill Country Should be Your Next Weekend Employee Retreat Destination

For those of us lucky enough to live in central Texas, it’s great to know we have access to one of the most beautiful and diverse destinations: The Texas Hill Country. Whether we are talking Texas Wine Country or amazing camping and hiking, this beautiful spot located near the state’s capital of Austin is the place to be.

As an employer, you are always looking for ways to make your team feel valued and connected. Finding a weekend retreat that doesn’t break the bank can be a challenge, lucky for you we have a great suggestion for your next employee weekend getaway!

Texas Wine Country

What could be better than employee-bonding over a nice bottle of Malbec? The Texas wine country has never been better, and with beautiful accommodations, and well-organized wine tours, the wineries of the hill country are a sure bet for an employee weekend retreat. Currently there are 53…yes 53…. wineries that are scattered throughout the Hill Country, from Austin to Fredericksburg and Lampasas to New Braunfels. You and your employees can learn about wine, which makes for great conversation pieces with clients (hint-hint). You can find a complete list of accommodations HERE where you can plan a day of team building activities coupled with nights sipping wine by a fire pit while your employees talk about how much they love their job.

Go Climb a Mountain!

Ok, so Enchanted Rock may not technically be a mountain, but it sure feels like one during the hike to the top! Team building is at its best in nature and the Hill Country has plenty of opportunities to connect with the great outdoors. Excellent camping abounds, such as Garner State Park and Guadalupe River State Park where your team will have the opportunity to rent kayaks and paddle boats, enjoy an outdoor BBQ, or maybe even a trust fall from a picnic table. River floating is also a popular activity in the summer where your employees can enjoy a lazy day of bonding from an inner-tube, followed by an evening of team building activities before retiring to their tents.

Plug into Unplugged Music

You don’t have to be a fan of country music to appreciate the infamous Luckenbach, Texas where “Everybody’s Somebody”. The quaint little music destination was established as a trading post in 1849. There is an old dance hall still in use every weekend, live music daily, a General Store and a bar (beer and wine only). While this isn’t a place for an overnight stay, it’s still a great place to visit. You and your team can kick back under the 500-year-old oak trees, listen to music, and watch the chickens that roam freely around the yard. Close enough to the aforementioned Texas vineyards, Luckenbach is a great day trip while staying overnight in the Hill Country.

Travel to Europe without Leaving Texas!

Fredericksburg, Texas is a very special little place that leaves the visitor feeling like they booked a plane ticket to Germany. Pioneers from the Fatherland settled in Fredericksburg over 160 years ago and brought with them their quaint architecture, love of beer, and of course schnitzel! There are many adorable bed and breakfasts along with larger hotels that are equipped with meeting rooms to host employee development and team building. Fredericksburg is great to visit year-round, but it really shines during its Oktoberfest, which mimics the world famous one that happens in Germany every year. Train your employees by day and then let them travel to Germany by night, what could be better than that?

Whether you are looking for an escape to nature, a cultural mecca, or a sophisticated wine country experience, the Texas Hill Country has you covered! You can learn more by visiting http://texashillcountry.com/.

Posted in Management Advice |

Top 3 Skills To Identify a Potential Bookkeeper on Your Leasing Staff

Working in the role of “Bookkeeper” for a multifamily property is a unique and sometimes complicated job. The basic accounting skills are of course necessary, however interaction with other people is at an all time high in terms of the accounting world.

The best property management bookkeepers come from a customer service background which could include being a part of a leasing team.

Since the bookkeeper of a multifamily property has to deal with residents over rent, back payments, and security deposit issues, it makes sense to promote someone in-house that is already well-versed in interacting with the residents. Below we have pointed out the top 3 skills to look for in your leasing consultant when considering them for a bookkeeping position.

1. Detailed Orientated

Any bookkeeping job will require handling and making sense of a large amount of data. Being able to sort through and keep up with the financial dealings of your property is an essential requirement of acting as bookkeeper. The margin of error for letting a detail slip through the cracks is extremely small to be able to run a profitable multi family community. Look for someone that borders on the line of obsessive when it comes to having things “just right”. Even a well-organized desk and consistent daily habits can be telling.

2. Communication Skills

Often it falls on the property bookkeeper to deliver bad news to the manager when something isn’t going right financially. An example could be “we have outstanding rent balances” or “a resident’s check has been misplaced”. Your bookkeeper needs to be able to be assertive in communicating what is happening in the property’s books to maintain order and consistency.

3. Software Savvy

The property accounting software is not the only technology that bookkeepers need to use, they also need to be comfortable working with data in spreadsheets and quickly maneuver within software programs. Consider looking for the leasing consultant that is completely at ease in front of their computer and currently used leasing software. You can possibly consider someone that is active on social media and takes part in the property’s social media activities. This is because social media requires a certain proficiency in using technology.

There you have it! Finding an awesome bookkeeper for your property is extremely important to the success of the whole community. Choose your person wisely!

Posted in Management Advice |

How To Turn Your Staff into a Marketing Secret Weapon!

How To Turn Your Staff into a Marketing Secret Weapon!

Photo: DueProps

In the world of marketing it is widely known that you have to get the word out on many different platforms to have the success you are looking for.

The multi-family housing industry is no exception. A property has to market themselves in a way that makes them stand out from the competition and develop a brand identity in the community.

What most properties don’t know is that the BEST marketing tool is sitting right in their leasing office everyday…their own staff!

Let’s say you have 4 people in your leasing office and 3 people on your maintenance team. If each of them has 250 followers on social media and they all re-post a marketing link for your property you are instantly exposed to 1,750 people on social media without ANY advertising dollars spent. These are all very modest numbers too!

Below we explain how to turn your employees into your new marketing secret weapon!

Basic Social Media Training

The first thing you will want to do is make sure everyone understands the platforms you will want them to share on. Facebook is a pretty safe one to start with because it is the most widely popular social media out there.

Gather your team together, perhaps at a happy hour to make it fun, and let them know you want them to help in the marketing efforts for the property. Ask them how they feel about sharing social media posts from the property with their followers. Also find out if anyone has any questions about how to share posts. By starting with the basics you ensure there won’t be any confusion down the road.

Set Up a Monthly Posting Schedule

Make your marketing efforts super efficient by putting a calendar in the leasing office of the posts that are to be shared for that month. Asking your staff to share monthly posts will ensure their profiles aren’t taken over by your marketing content. You can also take suggestions from the staff of what that month’s post should be. Try to have them involved in the process as much as possible, you want to make sure that the employees stand behind the posts they are sharing.

Make it Easy!

Let your employees choose when to share your marketing post throughout the month. You will know when they share because you will tell them to tag your property’s profile in the post. There are also great apps, such as this one from HootSuite, that will send a post to your employees and give them an option to share with a push of a button. Another great way to get the ball rolling is to set up posts from the property’s social media pages giving praise to an employee and tagging them. This gives the employee an easy post to share on their pages so they get used to sharing work-related posts. Something along the lines of:
———————————————————————————————————-
“Suzi did a GREAT job closing a lease today with a wonderful new addition to our residential family! Bravo to you Suzi (tag the employee)!”

In the world of marketing it is widely known that you have to get the word out on many different platforms to have the success you are looking for.   The multi-family housing industry is no exception. A property has to market themselves in a way that makes them stand out from the competition and develop a brand identity in the community.   What most properties don’t know is that the BEST marketing tool is sitting right in their leasing office everyday...their own staff!   Let’s say you have 4 people in your leasing office and 3 people on your maintenance team. If each of them has 250 followers on social media and they all re-post a marketing link for your property you are instantly exposed to 1,750 people on social media without ANY advertising dollars spent. These are all very modest numbers too!  Below we explain how to turn your employees into your new marketing secret weapon!  Basic Social Media Training  The first thing you will want to do is make sure everyone understands the platforms you will want them to share on. Facebook is a pretty safe one to start with because it is the most widely popular social media out there.   Gather your team together, perhaps at a happy hour to make it fun, and let them know you want them to help in the marketing efforts for the property. Ask them how they feel about sharing social media posts from the property with their followers. Also find out if anyone has any questions about how to share posts. By starting with the basics you ensure there won’t be any confusion down the road.  Set Up a Monthly Posting Schedule  Make your marketing efforts super efficient by putting a calendar in the leasing office of the posts that are to be shared for that month. Asking your staff to share monthly posts will ensure their profiles aren’t taken over by your marketing content. You can also take suggestions from the staff of what that month’s post should be. Try to have them involved in the process as much as possible, you want to make sure that the employees stand behind the posts they are sharing.   Make it Easy!  Let your employees choose when to share your marketing post throughout the month. You will know when they share because you will tell them to tag your property’s profile in the post. There are also great apps, such as this one from HootSuite, that will send a post to your employees and give them an option to share with a push of a button. Another great way to get the ball rolling is to set up posts from the property's social media pages giving praise to an employee and tagging them. This gives the employee an easy post to share on their pages so they get used to sharing work-related posts. Something along the lines of: ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- “Suzi did a GREAT job closing a lease today with a wonderful new addition to our residential family! Bravo to you Suzi (tag the employee)!”  ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------  Make sure you are constantly getting feedback from your staff to make sure everyone is excited to share!

Photo: Giphy

———————————————————————————————————-Make sure you are constantly getting feedback from your staff to make sure everyone is excited to share!

Posted in Management Advice |