Do NOT Create a PR Nightmare!


Do NOT Create a PR Nightmare!

You have probably seen a letter that a property management company sent to its residents making the rounds on social media and the regular media lately that says, 
“Despite these circumstances, you are required to pay your rent on time…While this may sound like we are being uncaring, please keep in mind that all of our expenses, including bank mortgages, taxes, insurance, etc. continue to be due and payable on time. Our policies to enforce the payment of rent remain exactly as they were before.”
The letter then went on to say that residents who paid their rent late would be charged a $50 late fee. Residents who didn’t pay rent in full by April 5th were threatened with the disconnection of their cable and eviction. 
The letter also included the following empathetic and understanding paragraph (sarcasm filter ON!)
“If you are not able to pay your rent in full, please contact the office and we will arrange a date for you to move out of your apartment.” 
Ouch. 
Whomever wrote this letter AND authorized the letter to be sent to residents just created a PR nightmare for the company. You do NOT want to be that person in this time. 
The company has since apologized for the letter calling it “totally insensitive.”
It WAS insensitive. 
Now was that the intent?
I don’t think so. I’m sure this company (like so many others) is simply trying to survive in this brutal economic environment. They wanted to remind residents to prioritize paying their rent. Because of course, without rent, the company can’t……

Your Guide to Not Lashing Out at Your Renters During COVID-19

“Hello?”
“Hi! Can you hear me?”
“Hi, everyone! Can you go on mute if you’re not talking?”
“Hello!”
[Slow Wi-Fi detected. Video will resume shortly.]
“Hello?”
“Hello, please mute yourselves!”

Oh, my god! How hard is it to conduct a meeting? Why is everyone still talking? This isn’t my meeting, but I should say something. I’m totally going to say something. Why can’t they take control? Everyone, BE QUIET ALREADY! Seriously, I’m going to say something.

And that, my friends, is how I almost yelled at a bunch of kindergartners during my daughter’s class’ online Show and Tell.

COVID-19: Best Practices for Service Providers


COVID-19: Best Practices for Service Providers

There’s no doubt about it: the novel coronavirus has become the issue in our country in recent weeks, and the multifamily industry is in a whirlwind as operators work to protect their team members and residents. 
Properties are well aware that any visitors can pose a risk which is why using services that work with the properties to ensure proper precautions are made is so important. These may be workers from a community’s supplier partners or from the service providers your residents use to help with everyday tasks like dog walking, house cleaning and other chores. 
As social distancing recommendations and stay at home orders growing on a daily basis, apartment communities and residents have a right to expect that their service providers do everything they can to prevent the spread of the coronavirus while onsite. The CDC has released some new cleaning guidelines, and here are some additional practices service providers should be employing:

It’s perhaps the most commonly heard recommendation these days, but service provider employees must wash their hands as much as possible. They should wash their hands between each and every service. They should wash them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, they should use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
Service providers must require employees to stay home if they are feeling ill or have symptoms of sickness. It is advised to have every employee take their temperature every morning before reporting for w……

Tips to Respond to Coronavirus Related Online Reviews


Tips to Respond to Coronavirus Related Online Reviews

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, with stay-at-home orders in 31 states and counting, an increased number of families are confined to their homes. During such times, the on-site property teams and resources are likely to be tested. Reviewers are complaining about the property teams not doing enough to combat Coronavirus or lack of accommodations by the management when it comes to rent payment. On the bright side, residents are quick to point out positive actions such as the “manager handing out pizza and sanitizers.” 
As you work frenetically to manage this crisis and the effect it may have on your online reputation, how can you effectively respond to some of the criticism stemming from your property’s handling of Coronavirus in online reviews? 
Here are some tips to respond to reviews around this fluid situation.

Be empathetic: The situation today is an anomaly, and many people are extremely anxious. Be empathetic while reading and responding to reviews, and reassure residents that the management is making every effort to follow guidelines from trusted sources like the Centers for Disease Control and Preventionand the local, state and federal government to ensure the well-being of everyone connected to the community. It is critical to reflect sympathy and understanding particularly with complaints related to rent collection during this time of “economic vulnerability.”
Monitor your reviews: Get your teams to diligently monitor reviews for any conversation related to this crisis. Nip any apprehensions and further gossip in the bud by reaching out to the resident directly ……

Tips to Respond to Coronavirus Related Online Reviews


Tips to Respond to Coronavirus Related Online Reviews

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, with stay-at-home orders in 31 states and counting, an increased number of families are confined to their homes. During such times, the on-site property teams and resources are likely to be tested. Reviewers are complaining about the property teams not doing enough to combat Coronavirus or lack of accommodations by the management when it comes to rent payment. On the bright side, residents are quick to point out positive actions such as the “manager handing out pizza and sanitizers.” 
As you work frenetically to manage this crisis and the effect it may have on your online reputation, how can you effectively respond to some of the criticism stemming from your property’s handling of Coronavirus in online reviews? 
Here are some tips to respond to reviews around this fluid situation.

Be empathetic: The situation today is an anomaly, and many people are extremely anxious. Be empathetic while reading and responding to reviews, and reassure residents that the management is making every effort to follow guidelines from trusted sources like the Centers for Disease Control and Preventionand the local, state and federal government to ensure the well-being of everyone connected to the community. It is critical to reflect sympathy and understanding particularly with complaints related to rent collection during this time of “economic vulnerability.”
Monitor your reviews: Get your teams to diligently monitor reviews for any conversation related to this crisis. Nip any apprehensions and further gossip in the bud by reaching out to the resident directly ……

Operational Struggles: Call Abandonment for First-Time Callers Doubles During Outbreak

Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S., the apartment industry has been closely monitoring its effects on leasing behavior. One unfortunate trend we are seeing right now is the rise of call abandonment. This trend means apartment communities are missing valuable leads and, as a result, operators may need to revamp their leasing processes.
Answer Rates Have Materially Shifted
First, let’s dig into some data. For analysis purposes, let’s compare the leasing call volume data of Anyone Home customers from February 25 to March 14 against March 15 to March 25. The analysis below looked at calls made to apartment community customers that don’t use our contact center; the calls met the following criteria:
•Only leasing calls to multifamily properties
•First-time callers only; any repeat or follow-up calls from prospects were excluded

Since March 15, leasing call answer rates dropped by nearly half, presumably because apartment communities have scaled back their onsite staffs in the wake of COVID-19 concerns and restrictions. What does this decline mean? If a community isn’t using a contact center to answer calls missed by the onsite team, those calls are being abandoned by the prospect. In the analysis above, the difference between a 65% and 33% leasing call answer rate means the properties are now losing an additional one-third of all leads, whereas prior to the outbreak, those leads were receiving some immediate level of engagement. To make matters worse, we did not see any material change to the number of prospects leaving voicemails,……

Some Tools to help you stay social while distancing


Some Tools to help you stay social while distancing

It can be incredibly isolating to be stuck at home while practicing social distancing. And that’s become the new reality for many Americans. But being at home doesn’t have to mean you’re alone. There are many ways you can be social and connected while staying inside your home. Here are some tips from me to you:
Use social media. Everyone is a lot more active on social media right now because it gives people the opportunity to feel connected even if they’re in isolation. Use social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and Snapchat to stay in touch with everyone. You can have conversations through Facebook groups, view videos and content that your friends and colleagues have shared and share pictures of cute animals because that makes everyone feel a little bit better.
Get on the phone. I know, no one talks on the phone anymore, right? This is the perfect time to change that. Have long phone conversations with friends and family to check up on them and update each other even while you’re separated from each other.
Try video conferencing. You can talk to your family, friends and colleagues as if they were in the same room with you. Just hop on a video call and have a conversation like you normally would. Being able to see someone’s facial expressions along with hearing their voice will help you really feel connected.
Attend virtual events. You can find practically any kind of event in virtual form online. Even breweries are participating in the new trend…….

What to do and what not to do when your resident says, "I can’t pay my rent!!"


What to do and what not to do when your resident says, "I can't pay my rent!!"

I bet that you’ve been bombarded with emails, phone calls, messages and in-person visits (if you’re still doing that) from residents saying, “I can’t pay my next month’s rent. What can you do??” 
So….what do you do?
Before I go further, I want to say that this post is NOT about whether you should offer payment options, deferred payments, waive late fees or modify your lease agreement. I recognize every situation is different and there is not a “one size fits all” option that is going to work across the board. Some owners and operators are able to take a short-term financial hit while others are already running on slim margins with not a lot of room to maneuver. 
Do: Start With Connection
If someone is contacting you to ask about what you can do to help them with their rent, what do you think they’re feeling? They’re probably scared, anxious, uncertain, angry, frustrated, and maybe even embarrassed. In other words they may be having “all the feels” right now. 
So when someone connects with you, start with something like this:
“Mackenzie-I really value you as a resident and I appreciate your taking the time to talk to me about this.” 
Whether you can help them or not, beginning your conversation with them with connection is always a smart strategy. 
Do Listen
Listening might be the last thing you want to do right now-especially if you already know what you can or can’t do and just want the resident to stop……

COVID-19 and Package Management Best Practices


COVID-19 and Package Management Best Practices

It is quite clear that the coronavirus has made an undeniable impact on our daily lives. The amount of information flowing through the media has people running rampant. Meanwhile, everyone is trying to figure out the best ways to prepare themselves in any way they can. 
Social distancing, isolation and self-quarantine have caused people to over-prepare for the worst. People are clearing the shelves of household cleaning products, perishable foods and almost everything else at grocery stores and even some online retailers are struggling to remain stocked. However, package delivery services are working diligently to keep operations moving forward as best as possible, though the higher volume combined with airline restrictions are adding complexity and delaying last-mile deliveries.
The CDC and local health authorities have released information to stop the spread of germs, specific disinfectants to use against the virus, recommendations for cleaning and disinfecting, encourage social distancing and much more. 
Everyday activities that become a habit, like checking the mail and picking up a package, need extra precautions at times like this. Even though there are no set guidelines concerning COVID-19 and package management, and there is little evidence that the virus can be transmitted via mail and packages, it is important to be as diligent as possible. 
Regardless of what type of package management you have on-site, it never hurts to be safe. Here are a few practical tips for onsite teams and residents to keep in mind when it comes to managing packages during these unprecedented times:

Wash Your Hands. You should wash your……

Three Ways to Eliminate the Pet Loophole


Three Ways to Eliminate the Pet Loophole

Pets contribute to the aura of a rental community just as much as the rooftop deck, club-quality fitness center, resident lounge or any other amenity—perhaps more so, in the eyes of many. But managing the increasing number of furry family members is no small task for onsite teams. 
Today, leasing teams are keeping track of pets that arrive when a new resident moves in, but it’s more challenging to track pets that were acquired during a resident’s stay. Convincing residents to properly register their pets with the community is another challenge. 
Tech tools can help with that, and also can provide onsite teams with a snapshot of previous pet and pet owner behavior when they apply at a rental community. Here are some of the ways to close the pet loophole and create the most pet-responsible and pet-friendly experience for residents:
Proper pet audits
Many apartment communities believe they have their pet population fully accounted for, but oftentimes, that’s like believing there are no bears in the forest just because you don’t immediately see them. Odds are, there are more than a few unregistered pets on your property, particularly because no comprehensive screening methods were available until recently. Taking inventory of all pets at the property can be a tricky task without being invasive, but an audit has immeasurable value. 
Blowing a dog whistle and seeing which apartments have barkers isn’t a good strategy, but a few ways exist to help with a pet audit. These include revisiting a resident’s pet situation at ……