Management Advice

5 Questions Your Leasing Professionals Aren’t Asking

5 Questions Your Leasing Professionals Aren't Asking

No matter what our jobs are, it can be easy to switch to auto-pilot when performing repetitive tasks the occupation requires. In the world of the leasing professional, one of these instances could be when signing on a new resident. The common questions get asked over and over and the goal of getting the paperwork done and the keys in their hand gets accomplished, then you move on to the next task of the day.

However, signing on a new resident is a golden opportunity to find out about what type of resident they will be and what the human face of your community is shaping up to be.

We suggest asking the following 5 questions to new residents and keeping the answers organized so they can be referenced when making decisions about everything from what improvements you will do to the property to what kind of community events you will plan in the future.

The questions below are conversation starters, so make sure you are asking them face to face instead of just handing them out in survey fashion.

  1. Why Are You Moving?

Sometimes the answer to this question is a simple “for work” or “they raised my rent”, in these cases there isn’t much to learn. However, in other cases you can dig into why they are choosing your property to live in. Perhaps they didn’t feel safe in their last area of the city or they were in the suburbs and wanted to have a more urban lifestyle. These tidbits can help you target your marketing efforts towards others that may be living in the same area they were, but are looking for a change.

  1. What Was Your Favorite Thing About Your Former Residence?

People are usually happy to answer this question. For the most part, people will readily provide answers to positive questions and by finding out their favorite things you can identify and reinforce what they will love about your property.

  1. What was Your LEAST-Favorite Thing About Your Former Residence?

This question can be a little trickier to get a honest answer to. People don’t like to complain and they do not want to be judged as a needy and dissatisfied potential resident in their fresh new home. However, the answers you get from this question could be invaluable in determining issues your own property may be having and not aware of. Explain to the new resident that you are asking for the improvement of your own property and their feedback is important.

  1. What Are Your Top Three Wish List Items for Your New Home?

Perhaps the resident wants a garbage disposal or blue walls. There could be something in their wishlist that you could easily accommodate but they were too afraid to ask for it. You could greatly increase their level of satisfaction by making sure you know what they want, no matter how small (or big).

  1. What Type of Community Events Would You Participate In?

Planning community events that have high attendance from residents can sometimes be a daunting task. Most of the time when you ask for feedback from the current residents, they are too busy to think about what they would like to participate in. While you are signing a new resident, you have a captive and excited audience. Take this opportunity to record what events they would like to do and implement the ones you get the most requests for. Make sure you keep a record so you can personally reach out to the residents that requested the event. That will not only help with attendance, but it will show them that you were listening!

Sometimes signing new leases or renewals requires you to go beyond the obvious tasks.

These 5 questions can help the leasing professional dig deeper for the information that will improve their closing ratio while also increasing the team’s renewal rates and overall resident satisfaction.

Posted in Management Advice |

What the Apartment Industry Can Learn from Japanese Customer Service

japanese customer service apartment industry

Japan is famous for many things, however it isn’t Godzilla or sushi that the apartment industry should be paying attention to. Japan exports something that multifamily professionals should be buying in bulk and it’s called Omotenashi.

Omotenashi is defined as selfless hospitality to one’s guest. During Tokyo’s winning 2020 Olympic bid, spokesperson Christel Takigawa promised that Tokyo would offer athletes and tourists alike a “unique welcome … One that dates back to our ancestors, yet is ingrained in Japan’s ultra-modern culture. ‘Omotenashi’ explains why Japanese people take care of each other and our guests so well.”

So how can America’s apartment industry translate Japanese hospitality into their leasing practices? Below we have listed five easy ways!

1. The Welcome

When you walk into a Japanese store or restaurant the first thing you will hear is an audible welcome from the staff. This style of greeting is completely Japanese in it’s nature because it goes far beyond the typical American “eye contact” and quiet greeting” most customers get state-side. While the boisterous Japanese-style greeting may seem out of place in a leasing office, you may be surprised at the impression it can make on potential residents. After they visit multiple apartment communities during an apartment hunt, which office will the remember the most?  That is correct, the one that was overly excited to see them walk in the door!

2. Make Each Encounter The Best It Can Be

Ichi-go ichi-e” (“one time, one meeting”) is a Japanese saying that refers to making each and every encounter with a customer be the best it can possibly be. In the world of Japanese business transactions there are no small events, every encounter deserves the business person’s best self present. This includes paying attention to tiny details such as professional dress. cleanliness of the office and property curb appeal.

3. Ambiance

When you go into a Japanese business one of the first things you will notice is the pleasant feeling that you get in being there. Ambiance is something Japan takes very seriously. Sometimes it may seem as though a professional artist was hired to make the space look accidentally artsy and modern. And, the truth is there probably was an actual artist involved. A visit to your local home decor store may not be enough to achieve that perfect leasing office ambiance that will make your potential residents feel great when the walk into the space. Hire a professional to get your ambiance just right.

4. Make it Count Outside the Office

The maintenance team plays as much importance in Omotenashi as the leasing staff does. In Japan there are traffic wardens standing outside of all the shops making sure customers make it safely to wherever they want to go, even on the slowest of traffic days. Train your maintenance staff to interact with residents and future residents in a friendly and enthusiastic manner. Sometimes they are the last person from the property a potential resident sees as they are walking back to their car.

5. The Goodbye

As with the Japanese verbal greeting, the goodbye is also given much attention. It is not out of place to see a shopkeeper carrying bags out of their place of business for the customer. “Bowing” is also customary after a transaction is made in Japan. While “bowing” would be a bit off-putting in an American leasing office, you can still find ways to acknowledge with gratitude the exiting of a potential resident. Make it a positive experience to the very end.

The apartment industry employs some of the best individuals in customer service. However, even the best can stand to benefit from studying the hospitality habits of the Japanese. Consider adding these little influences to the training of your leasing professionals and maintenance staff and see big returns in resident happiness and new leases!

Sayōnara!

Posted in Management Advice |

Top 5 Austin, Texas Experiences in December 2016 and January 2017

Things to do in Austin, Texas

Austin, Texas is a great place to live for many reasons. Besides the Tex-Mex and live music, Austin also offers many unique and fun events for its residents and visitors to enjoy.

Now that the weather has turned to non-sweltering temperatures in central Texas, you will want to get outdoors and experience all that Austin has to offer!

Below we have listed the Top 5 Austin Experiences in December and January!

1. The Trail of Lights in Zilker Park (2100 Barton Springs Road, 12/10/16-12/23/16)

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the infamous Trail of Lights in Zilker Park! There you will find dazzling holiday lights to walk through with your family and friends, along with yummy food vendors selling everything from hot chocolate to tamales! You can spin yourself into a dizzy stupor under the Zilker Christmas Tree located at the entrance and pictured below or just take numerous selfies with all the holiday characters you will find there!

Things to do in Austin, Texas

2. The Annual Polar Bear Plunge at Barton Springs (2201 Barton Springs Road, 1/1/17)

Barton Springs is a perfect 68°-70°F year-round that is refreshing on a hot summer day and cozy on those frigid winter mornings, but that doesn’t make jumping in on New Year’s Day any less impressive! Join other Austinites as they start their 2017 off shivering from the magical waters of Barton Springs. Be ready to warm up with free coffee and donuts right outside the gate after you take your plunge!

3. The Armadillo Christmas Bazaar (900 Barton Springs Road) and the Blue Genie Art Bazaar (6100 Airport Blvd) (11/25/16-12/24/16)

We admit it, we cheated a little on this one because it’s two events…but you can’t mention one without including the other! It is the ultimate holiday shopping experience that is quintessentially Austin. At the Blue Genie Art Bazaar shoppers can browse thousands of original works ranging from serious art to fun and kitschy items. A great way to buy hassle-free holiday gifts and support local artists. The Armadillo Christmas Bazaar also features local award-winning artists along with with live music and two full bars making it the ultimate shopping experience.

4. Free Week (Various locations, 1/1/17-1/8/17)

The first week of January might be the best time for a music fan to visit Austin. Why? Hundreds of Austin bands participate in this annual FREE event that encompasses multiple venues all over Austin. Plan to be out and about to take part in a music tradition that showcases why Austin is just so darn great!

5. Ice Skating on the Plaza at Whole Foods (525 N Lamar Blvd, 11/27/16 – 1/7/17)

Just because you live in central Texas doesn’t mean you don’t need to brush up on those ice skating skills! Spend an afternoon on the ice rink at the Whole Foods flagship store on North Lamar. Then head inside for a cup of cocoa or cider and live, local music on the weekends! You can also plan to eat a delicious lunch or dinner at one of the pop-up restaurants in the store and enjoy a glass of wine or a craft beer at the sit-down tasting bars. The PERFECT date night!

2017 is going to be another GREAT year to live in Austin, Texas…but 2016 isn’t over yet! Get out there and enjoy all this city has to offer!

Posted in Career Advice, Featured Jobs, Hiring Tips, Management Advice |

How To Turn Your Staff Into a Team!

How To Turn Your Staff Into a Team! Now Hiring Management Advice

Identifying and maintaining a company culture is becoming a modern-day necessity for managers to be concerned with. Having an office that feels like a team can mean the difference between employees wanting to show up to work every day or wanting to shut down mentally when they clock in.

Below we explore ways you can ensure your employees feel like they are more a part of a team instead of just another member of the staff.

Collaborate on Core Values and Goals

Does your company have a mission statement? Most do, however a paragraph that was written years ago by someone your employees don’t know isn’t going to rally them around your flag. The best way to establish goals and core values is to collaborate with your team and come up with points you all feel strongly about. A great way to do this is to check in with them late in the fourth quarter by asking them how they feel the year as gone and what goals were being achieved. Ask them if the current set of core values are serving them and the company correctly. Listen to their feedback and adjust accordingly so you can start the new year off fresh with renewed enthusiasm.

Start a Company Charity Initiative

Getting your office involved in a charity can be beneficial beyond the obvious community outreach it offers. Employees want to be involved in a cause that makes them feel like their efforts are going to something bigger than themselves and the company’s bottom line. To turn a charitable effort into a team building exercise, get your employees involved in the project from square one. Have them make suggestions for a favorite charity and research how your office can contribute. Organize a round of presentations and then hold a vote on which charity to get involved in. Lastly, give each department or staff member a specific job so they are required to “team up” to get the good work done.

Compete Against Other Offices

What do teams do best? Compete against other teams of course! If your company has multiple branches you can get some friendly rivalry going on with a competition. Perhaps it’s sales goals or maybe even a trivia bowl! Nothing brings people together like a desire to win.

Concentrating on turning your staff into a team of motivated individuals will ensure success year after year. Happy team-building!!

Posted in Career Blog Categories, Management Advice |

Top 5 Reasons Employees Hate Their Jobs

Top 5 Reasons Employees Hate Their Jobs

Any employer can tell you that keeping their employees happy can sometimes seem like an impossible task. However, happy employees equals better productivity which translates to a more profitable organization. Improving your employee’s happiness doesn’t have to be a chore.

Read below to see the Top 5 Reasons Employees Hate Their Jobs and plan on avoiding these pitfalls in your workplace!
1. They Feel Disconnected From Their Boss

To be an effective boss you sometimes have to forgo being your employee’s best friend. This professional distance can sometimes backfire on the well-intending manager. One of the reasons employees dread going to work is having to answer to someone they feel disconnected and awkward around. The most effective way to fix this undesirable situation is to check in with each employee on a weekly basis and convey to them what your experience is like in the workplace. Make a point to tell them how the job they are doing is helping you do your job better. You can connect professionally without compromising professional distance.
2. They Feel Their Job Doesn’t Matter

There is nothing worse for an employee than to feel like the job they are doing everyday doesn’t matter in the workplace. It’s easy to do the same thing over and over and forget that your efforts mean something to the company. As a manager, find a way to convey to the employee how their efforts contribute to what the company is accomplishing on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis. Perhaps do a monthly job highlight where you post on a message board in the workplace how a certain job contributes to the company so the whole staff sees how their co-workers contribute.
3. They Want More Meaning In Their Lives

No matter how good the intentions are of a company, at the end of the day work is work. As human beings, we are constantly seeking meaning and purpose in our lives beyond what we do to pay our bills. An employer is in a very important position in a person’s life because they take up the majority of the person’s waking hours. This fact can be forgotten when a company is worrying about their bottom line, however it is better to be considered and acted on. Programs that allow the employee to engage in charitable activities have shown to be big morale boosters. The key is to make sure the employees can participate during work hours, you don’t want to ask for more of their time because then they are likely to not participate and you lose out on those mood boosting benefits.
4. Their Skills Are Underdeveloped

One of the worst things an employer can do to an employee is not set them up for success in their job. A big way to make this mistake is to not provide the tools necessary to the employee for the purpose of building the skill set they need to be successful in their position. Many bosses take for granted that something they might find simple and obvious would be the same for the person being paid to do the task. This is simply not true if that person has not been properly developed to the role. Keep in mind that an employee may not admit they feel unprepared for a task for fear of being terminated. Make sure you require the employee to participate in on-going paid training. Not only will this show the employee they are valued, it will ensure they feel confident in accomplishing the job at hand.
5. Their Opinion Isn’t Valued

It’s impossible to make everyone happy, but it’s not impossible to make sure everyone is heard. This simple concept, giving your employees a voice, can go a long way in keeping up morale. In the age of modern technology, you can have employees email suggestions to you at a certain time every week so you can make time to read and reply to them. It’s not enough to welcome opinions, you have to address them in a respectful and prompt fashion to make employees feel like they are worth sharing.
Making sure employees are happy doesn’t have to be rocket science, but it does have to be a concern. Investing time and effort into “employee-happiness” now can save you a lot of headaches down the road and make sure you get the very best from your workers.

Posted in Career Blog Categories, Management Advice |