CRM 101: 5 Value-based Questions to Optimize Leasing Outcomes


CRM 101: 5 Value-based Questions to Optimize Leasing Outcomes

As an industry, multifamily runs one of the biggest sales teams in the country. This means that we must regularly evaluate our marketing and operations strategies to ensure that we’re investing in our leasing teams’ success in meaningful, technology- and data-driven ways. 
The key to building a strong sales team in any industry will often come down to the customer relationship management strategy you’ve deployed. Salesforce, the largest CRM company in the world, defines CRM as, “technology for managing all your company’s relationships and interactions with customers and potential customers.” 
I take that one step further to say, CRM and lead management technology need to deliver value to your bottom line. If you invest substantial time, money, and energy into front office solutions that don’t drive NOI growth, then why bother? 
Evaluating CRM (and yes, you definitely have one) for Value
Multifamily CRM solutions come in all shapes and sizes, from handwritten sticky notes and spreadsheets, to top-notch point solutions, to enterprise front office platforms. By nature of the multifamily business — responding to and engaging with prospects and residents — you are already executing a CRM strategy. The question is, how much real value is your current strategy creating for your business?  
Some questions you can ask yourself, your teams, and your broader organization to better understand how CRM is currently impacting your NOI (positively or negatively): 

How confident am I that I have fully maximized my NOI, or would I like to improve it further?
How happy are my leasing tea……

Online Leasing: 5 Common Myths & Misconceptions


Online Leasing: 5 Common Myths & Misconceptions

Accessing, signing and storing documents of all kinds online is commonplace in today’s increasingly digital world. Nevertheless, many landlords are reluctant to make the switch from traditional pen and paper to digital. Of course, it’s important to be cautious about making major changes to your business, particularly those that have legal implications. But, some of the wariness surrounding online leasing is unwarranted. Misconceptions are driving much of the apprehension. Trust us, signing leases online can save you and your tenants a tremendous amount of time and headache.
Here are the five most common myths about online leases:

Online leases aren’t legally valid.
Electronic signatures aren’t secure.
Leasing online is more trouble than it’s worth.
Online leasing is for the tech-savvy.
Online leasing is too costly.

Let’s take a minute to examine your doubt and dispel your hesitancy by reviewing these five myths:
Myth #1: Online leases aren’t legally valid.
The eSign Act that President Clinton signed in 2000 ensures that electronic rental agreements are 100 percent legally valid. As long as your lease contains all the basic terms of tenancy (which every lease should have already), the electronic signatures on the lease have the same legitimacy and enforceability as a hand-signed document. Additionally, the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) grants electronic documents the same at the state level, so they will hold up in any court in the U.S.
Myth #2: Electronic signatures aren’t secure.
A wet signature refers to a traditional pen-on-paper approach to signing. It’s unique to you, it can’t be hacked, and it’s stood the test of time — right?
On the ……

How Smart Technology Can Help Apartment Owners and Managers During Crises


How Smart Technology Can Help Apartment Owners and Managers During Crises

As the pandemic wreaks havoc across the globe and people are compelled to stay in their homes, rental property managers and owners face a challenge unlike anything they’ve seen before. On top of financial strains and increases in maintenance issues (thanks to everyone being at home 24/7), managers now have to figure out how to tend to the needs of residents while ensuring the safety of on-site staff, third-party vendors, and the renters themselves.
In the short term, many property managers are only responding to emergency calls. While this might be fine for the time being, it won’t be sustainable for long. People likely will practice social distancing — however loosely — for the remainder of this year. And even when the coronavirus crisis eventually subsides, the ways we interact with each other will likely be quite different from before.
Property managers and owners face the difficult challenge of incorporating social distancing into best practices for the moment while planning for uncertain changes moving forward. It’s an incredibly daunting task, but smart home technology offers a way to make the process a little bit easier.
How Smart Home Devices Can Ease the Struggles of Social Distancing
While smart property technology (smart home technology done at scale for property managers) can’t single-handedly cure COVID-19 or revive the economy, it can help mitigate risk while you continue to take care of residents’ daily needs. If you control the temperature or humidity level of a building or complex, for instance, smart thermostats can support distancing ef……

The Advantages of Digital Communication for Property Managers

Communication has gone through an evolution following the advances of technology in general. The way we’ve communicated as individuals, groups, and organizations have all been disrupted by innovation. Property managers often act as a liaison between customers, colleagues, vendors, and others, which makes optimizing communication incredibly important. Being able to send documents like letters, notices, or even invoices electronically and en-masse can offer a multitude of benefits for your company.
Productivity
Typically, when reviewing notices or any other type of documentation, someone would have to manually write it all out, review the document, and add personal information like mailing address, name, and any other specific information. This process tends to be highly time consuming and unengaging which means that following this process could take a while to get done.
With technology that automates communication most of the steps and secondary checks when writing and sending letters can be streamlined. You can easily reuse notice layouts and templates, while contact management software can accurately pull all the personal information you need into your document, automatically sending every notice at once. This means that no time needs to be spent, printing, filing, mailing, or delivering. Recipients can get their notices immediately and can respond in just as little time. Electronic communication reduces wait times or stalling in between correspondence and enables work to get done faster.
Organization
Managing notices and letters online enhances the organization significantly than when these communications are handled via phone call or physical letters. Managing documents using software enables e……

Listening to Calls is the Secret Sauce for Leasing Agent Training

Properties pivoting in the time of COVID require nimble responses and openness to change. This pivot also provides a perfect opportunity to get back to basics when it comes to leasing agent training. 
 
Last week, I had the pleasure of hosting a virtual chat with Katrina Greene, CAM, NALP Trainer, and Senior Regional Property Manager at Sheehan Property Management, about leasing agent training in a time of crisis, and why listening to leasing agent phone calls is an incredibly valuable coaching tool. 
 
“During this time where everything feels uncontrollable, leasing agents seem more open to training,” she said. Katrina listens to calls to reinforce what’s working and identify opportunities for improvement — not only for the leasing agents, but also for the properties as a whole. She said it’s important to give your team permission to fail and permission to succeed while demonstrating ways to improve — not just telling them what to do.
 
 
Share Leasing Agent Calls to Benefit All
 
Listening to calls may feel invasive and certainly, if live, put a great deal of pressure on the leasing agent. With a variety of technologies available today, agents can record calls and submit them to their Property Manager for later review. Property Managers can review the calls using software that allows them to insert comments or break the call into segments within the conversation to make it easier to consume the feedback.
 
“I equate reviewing calls to something like judging figure skating, where there are two areas……

The Cost of Skipping Tenant Screening


The Cost of Skipping Tenant Screening

Particularly for first time landlords, tenant screening may seem like a waste of time – an unnecessary road block standing between you and your rent checks. Who needs a credit report or background check you’re not even prepared to interpret? You trust yourself to meet a prospective tenant in person and judge whether or not they’ll be a good fit, so why waste time and money running them through the mill of screening services? Ironically, time and money are the exact things you’ll end up wasting if you don’t invest in a proper screening process. In fact, the cost of not screening your tenants can be surprisingly steep.
Average Cost of Tenant Screening
Before we can understand the cost of not screening a tenant, it’s important to understand the cost of actually doing it. Typically, a tenant screening will run you anywhere from $20 for just a credit or criminal check, all the way up to $100+ for an extensive, all-inclusive report. We also strongly recommend you make a point of investing some time and attention to the reports returned. This means verifying information (like calling a listed employer) and discussing any red flags with the tenant. A great deal of effort is usually not needed and most landlords only require a middle of the road level of reporting. So, all in all, you should expect to pay a modest sum – $30-35 for a combined background and credit check – and be prepared to invest about half an hour of your time.
As noted, there are various l……

Networking: A Key for Savvy Landlords


Networking: A Key for Savvy Landlords

When trying to advance your career or make your next move, the importance of networking cannot be overstated. There is a reason people pay to go to networking events, after all. Property management is no different. Getting to know landlords in your area can not only help you improve your immediate ability to be a better landlord, but can also help your professional growth. Networking also gives you a deeper understanding of market trends; the wider your contacts are, the more confident you can be in valuing your portfolio correctly and knowing what possible changes are on the horizon. If you’re expanding your properties to a new area or city, getting to know other landlords sooner rather than later can make a huge difference in your comfort and ability to manage properties. With these tips, it’s even easier than you think.
Networking at Landlord Events
From conferences and seminars to simple social outings, there’s ample opportunity for you to meet likeminded property owners and learn something about the craft along the way. Keep a stack of business cards in your pocket, get a nice seat for the keynote conference speaker, and be ready to meet people who can give you practical advice that no one else can. On Meetup.com, groups dedicated to property management span the entire country (and beyond!) and are a free and easy way to put your name out there. Sites like 10 Times and Eventful are also valuable resources in keeping track of what’s going on around you.
 
Join Associations
Even a simple ……

What is the Impact of Voice of the Customer (VoC) on Customer Relationships?

There is no question that customer relationships are crucial in the property management industry. The role of the customer has become increasingly significant, what once could be boiled down to the simple ubiquitous adage “the customer’s always right,” is now a customer-centric business model. For property managers to improve customer relations they must tailor service to suit customers’ the specific needs. To do this companies are using a concept called “Voice of the Customer (VoC)” which helps businesses determine how they can provide value to customers.
What is VoC?
The term “voice of the customer” first came from Abble Griffin and John R Hauser in 1993 for an MIT Marketing Science Paper and has been growing ever since. From the start, the concept was centered around “the detailed understanding of customer requirements” and “common language for going forward in product development.” The purpose of a VoC approach is to evaluate customers expectations what customers expect from your service in comparison to what they receive and to use that information to bridge that gap.
How Can Companies Gather Information?
To effectively leverage the VoC methodology, companies must collect customer feedback, analyze data, and produce useful insights. There are many ways to gather feedback from customers, one common method is to issue surveys because the results can be tabulated quickly.
A lengthier method is to conduct customer interviews. This can be time-consuming, but it tends to produce better results by providing customers with a more personalized experience and offers researchers more in-depth understanding of customer feedback.
You can also collect inform……

Overcoming Hurdles – Pegasus Interview with Two Apartment Industry Leaders

It is so refreshing that more discussions are happening on diversity and inclusion in America, and I stumbled upon an absolutely fantastic video produced by Pegasus Residential on the topic.  I highly recommend watching this enlightening conversation with Dana Hill, Marci French, and hosted by Bevan White.

 
I think it is absolutely worth watching the entire video, but here are some of the experiences and challenges that they faced growing in their career.  I will try not to editorialize too much below, but it did make in impact when thinking about the differences between their experiences and someone like myself.  The weight and gravity to everything they have to do in order to excel is inspiring, but also unfortunate in that those roadblocks should not exist in the first place.

Dana Hill shared a wonderful quote from a session she attended:  “Diversity is being invited to the dance.  Inclusion is being asked to dance.”

Dana talked about the importance of mentorship, advocating for others, preparation, and the responsibility of representing countless others:  “I feel the pressure daily in every room I am invited into to be well prepared and to represent my community with excellence.”  She was not just representing herself and her company, as she felt the pressure of being a strong ambassador for other people of color.

Marci reflected on having to navigate being one of the few (or only) women in the room, and then began to realize she was the only person of color in the room, a……

Five Ways to Improve Pandemic Related Communication

Even though the coronavirus is far from under control, states across the US have started to open and some residents may be feeling more encouraged while others are still on edge. Management teams are facing a new challenge, how to provide the right amount of information regarding changes community updates/changes due to COVID-19.
Renters are looking for details and transparency which includes solution focused messaging. We surveyed over 150,000 renters in our COVID-19 National Renter Study 21.1% of renters in Round 3 said they had not received any communication from management regarding COVID-19. In addition, for those that say they have received such communication, the amount and frequency is unsatisfactory.  The amount was rated 3.87 out of 5 and frequency rated 3.69; renters have made it clear that their management teams should improve in these areas
Residents are still interested in hearing from management even if offices are closed. Through our research, we have found that communication during this time is directly correlated to the intent to renew. With much uncertainty in their day to day lives, residents are looking for stability wherever they can find it. By creating a consistent flow of information management teams can secure trust; as well as prove management is still available and what steps are being taken to keep residents protected.  If management can continue to build trust and loyalty through communication residents will be more likely to renew.
Here are five ways to improve pandemic related communication. 

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