He’s ten and sometimes I think he just isn’t listening. Then I see him prepping for his seed game, creating a playbook for his team and I see two things:
🏀 Slow and steady wins the race (my advice to myself when I’m attempting to avoid a knee jerk reaction vs a well executed response). He’s heard me say this many times.
🏀 Orchestrate the Offense *I cannot take credit for this one. This is Coach K inspired. He’s heard this from Coach K and from his own dad.
I had to digest the Orchestrate the Offense because the timing in reading it, for me, was stunning. I plan on using it this week at work. (I may even take it to another level and have a pep rally themed meeting.) 🏀🎉
As leaders we are charged with literally orchestrating the offense. Putting our teams in a position to be successful, to win. Whatever that win or success may look like. Providing them with the resources, the support, the information, the encouragement, well, the playbook. 📚🏆
This week I’ll be considering this in every action I take. Am I orchestrating the offense to be successful, or am I subjecting myself and the team to an over compensated defense (harder work)?
Side note: they didn’t win. It was a hard loss alongside an incredible experience and epic teamwork. Pictured below is his playbook, and one of my favorite plays of the game…..a behind the back pass to his teammate while facing the defense. He quite literally was orchestrating the offense while giving his other teammates time to get to the goal. Pure magic 🏀✨
Ways in which you have had success creating engagement.
I find that utilizing social media, as just that, SOCIAL, provides the ability to be more engaged. In my own experience, when you begin using your social media as a direct sales tool, posting floor plans, pricing, options to lease, it takes away from the intent of the platform….to be social. That in and of itself provides the engagement portion you need and want.
Don’t ignore comments on your posts or messages. Creating and remaining engaged means staying consistent with your own level of engagement! (Side note, not every comment requires you to comment, but at least like the comment….this isn’t a place for an entire conversation)
REMEMBER: Your active engagement on the social media platform plays into many algorithms meaning that as you engage, comment and like, your posts will also start appearing more actively in other’s feeds! Activity = engagement = exposure
Where do you find the content to post (How do you come up with the content to post?)
It’s a moment of inspiration really….is the dog that came to visit you in the office so adorable, post about it. Did you get a new sign? Post about (i.e. some funny post about “I saw the sign…and it opened up my eyes…I saw the sign”). New coffee flavor in the coffee machine, post about it in a fun and informative way. You or one of your team members go to the new _____(restaurant, coffee shop, bar, bookstore……) take a photo or selfie and post about it and TAG THEM!
Do you have some epic move in swag? Post a photo of a resident using it.
*Also, it’s worth mentioning here, I follow MANY MANY other apartment communities on my personal pages from one side of the United States to the other….if you find one that is making magic happen on their page, FOLLOW THEM! See what they are doing right. “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”….”
How do you make time to post consistently? It’s a priority and a standard for us as a company. We are measured weekly on how many posts that we completed and it gets sent out to all the on-site teams. We are being held accountable to the expectation.
*There are many quick posting tools available such as SOCI or Hootsuite. I acknowledge their efficiency and suggest using during busy season. Always make sure “in the moment” posts are not ignored either!
What content can you post to attract prospects outside of vacant apartments? The social media platform has always been in my mind, just that, a platform to engage, stay social, showcase your community’s personality (every property has a personality, SHOWCASE IT!) and less of a direct sales tool.
It is a sales tool in the way of showing off your personality, how your team and your residents have a good time, the resident events that you do, the community service that you do, the customer service that you provide. Maybe even some of the “hidden” perks of living at your community….those things that are not always incredibly obvious during a tour, but is important to living in your building (i.e. we did a really fun music video for “TRASH TRASH BABY” and while it is informational and shows off our convenient trash chutes….we made it fun AND….key word, SOCIAL!)
Advice for peers about social media? Remember that you are building your brand and your personality on this page. What do you want your personality to be showcased as?
*See also Best Practices below*
How do you build your following for Facebook and Instagram?
There are several different ways to build your following, but, typically when I am beginning a lease up property, and it’s a blank slate I start with the following:
1. Find local businesses, companies, restaurants that are close by to your community. Pages that your residents would be likely to follow. FOLLOW THEM!
2. Find informational pages for your city, state, community that would be beneficial for you and your residents to follow. Stay in the know! FOLLOW THEM!
3. Figure out who your local SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCERS are and begin a relationship with them. FOLLOW THEM! If I tag you, will you tag me?? ……your goal is to BECOME the social media influencer in your community!
4. Invite people to follow your community on your social media platforms….it’s like asking for the lease…ask for the follow! We use it as a closing tool during any tour (in person, virtual or on the telephone)…..”if you want to know more about who we are and what we’re about, if you have an Instagram page, follow us!” (Please note, this is not always going to work….not everyone has an active social media page…)
5. We played BINGO and other games on our social media with prizes….which gives people an incentive to follow us on the platforms…they could WIN something!
Any Best practices?
(1) Hashtags! Know your local hashtags and maybe create some of your own property’s hashtags, or company/branding hashtags. Use them consistently!
Examples of our local community hashtags: #dtws #underthestacks #myws #wsnc #innovationquarter #baileypark Examples of our property/branding hashtags: #linkaptsiq #linkpups #linkneighbors #linkfriends #linkfun
(2) Tags! On Instagram, when you’re tagging someone else, don’t just tag them in the comment of the post, make sure you are tagging them in the photo as well. This is where it will also attach to their Instagram page under their own tags section. When you know you’ve made it……..a social media influencer tags your REGULARLY in their daily posts. (Ours? Lotus Yoga and Krankies Coffee)
(3) Check your messages and respond to your messages! If you want engagement, you have to be engaged and don’t ignore! In this day in age, some of the best marketing is occurring on social media!
(4) Steer away from controversial posts and opinionated posts! If it would make you raise your eyebrows if you saw someone else do it….don’t be the one doing it. Social media is meant to be FUN and uplifting!
(5) Stick to local, small business, hometown businesses if possible – it helps with the engagement and relationship building (just because you’re next to Target doesn’t mean you should follow Target on Instagram and expect a relationship from them…..) Some of our best relationships and marketing opportunities have come from following local businesses and individuals in the community….the humans behind the screen are the ones you’re wanting to access
(6) Avoid drama….if a resident, prior resident, customer etc takes their frustrations out on your social media page – STAY COOL – don’t ignore it, but simply formulate a standardized response that dismisses the opportunity for drama but also reflects a caring response.
Are there some tips and tricks you would like share?
(1) I personally follow local businesses, restaurants, people, informational pages on my own pages. Each time I go to a new property, I start from scratch on my own page, clear out any likes/follows from the previous area I lived and start fresh! Following (and stalking) on my own page, keeps me up to date of all the local information I need, and sometimes what I find on my personal page, is not also found on my property’s page…..as algorithms are changing for business accounts vs personal accounts……stay in the know even as a community member, NOT just as community business person
(2) If you find yourself scrolling through your property’s Instagram page aimlessly….make sure YOU/YOUR PROPERTY, is also engaging with others……like the post, comment on the post, do your own level of engagement on other’s pages!!! Don’t just scroll, engage with your community!
the top 3 posts during/at the beginning COVID?
(1) The amount of likes and engagement on this one was a direct result of who was tagged in the photo and at the height of our local stay at home order. 98 LIKES and 8 COMMENTS!
(2) This one was the same…..it was all about who we tagged and was a fun photo to scroll through as someone just looking! 100 LIKES AND 3 COMMENTS!
(3) I mean, it’s a rainbow….who doesn’t love a rainbow, much less a double rainbow! Again, this was about who was tagged and just the FEELS of the moment. Remember, your’re posting a photo and writing words to incite EMOTIONS and A FEELING. 98 LIKES
(4) I added two more posts that had equal likes (74 EACH) because this is an example of being local, staying local and supporting local, which I mention below……one of these posts were our team at the local brewery eating the local pizza, the second one is a showcase of a local energy drink and local distillery that we partnered with. Each of these places has their own following and as soon as you TAG them and MENTION them, you’ve just managed to gain triple the exposure!!!!
In an English class this term we were assigned to write a persuasive argument essay. I made the choice to find a topic within multifamily and struggled initially to decide between staffing or the age old courtesy officer argument. Ultimately I made a choice to write about a topic that can be properly researched and has substantial meaning to operations as the landscape of our work changes with technology.
I leaned on a few peeps for support and revisions. Huge thanks to Betsy and Stephanie for their input and support during many revision phases.
The essay includes research and credit where credit is due is found in references and citations.
If the due date had been due just a bit later, I could have utilized so many nuggets from the AIM Conference this year. However, even with the dates not lining up for me to include real time seminars and interviews for the research, just having the opportunity to hear other industry professionals solidify some of the concerns with proptech and reiterate the importance of human interaction/engagement was refreshing.
Changing the Paradigm of Staffing Brittney Nelson
The standard for hiring in the multifamily apartment industry on-site has been a ratio of 1 team member for every 100 units, for at least 20 years. This practice continues to be the standard mostly for the cost benefits associated with it; payroll is one of the highest line items on annual budgets and there is the rule of thumb “control the expenses that we can.” The practice of controlling expenses should not come at the sacrifice of the on-site teams. With the increased metrics of success in resident satisfaction found in resident surveys, reviews, and feedback, we must proactively provide on-site teams with the ability to meet those metrics. In what is still a pandemic safety-oriented workplace, we must consider work schedules combined with potential symptoms, quarantines, and the reality of new flex time for team members. Many industry professionals would assert that technology like AI, chatbots, call centers, and more, has provided the ability to scale back in staffing and has proven increased efficiencies for on-site teams. While there are many elements of technology that give on-site teams opportunities to focus and prioritize, factors exist that inundate on-site teams with more workload. The antiquated idea that multifamily staffing on-site should remain at 1 team member per 100 units is no longer sustainable due to an increased focus on resident satisfaction, newfound burden of employee schedules in a post pandemic world, and presumed cost savings related to the implementation of property technology or proptech.
Resident satisfaction is considered one of the highest priorities for the on-site team and is often marked as a KPI (Key Performance Indicator) in an employee performance review and in executive level reporting. Online surveys, in-person feedback, and social platform reviews are many of the ways that resident satisfaction are measured. The value in these measurables are found in the opportunity for all team members, from executive level to on-site, to pivot if necessary, to applaud areas of success, and to focus on those areas of weakness. According to a study on resident satisfaction by Russell N. James III, he mentions several variables directly affecting resident satisfaction from staff communications, friendliness of management, cooperation or understanding from staff and other factors (Russell, 2007). Residents want a sense of community, engagement on social media, they want more parties and gatherings. They have an expectation of basic customer service: telephone calls answered, problems resolved, a home in working order, but they also want to be surprised by the unexpected, the wow-factor. According to Doyle (2021), “Resident satisfaction is within the top three on the list of property managers’ objectives.” If resident satisfaction is an indicator of performance for on-site team members, a top priority for the team and the requirements to meet resident satisfaction include some version of human interaction, it only proves beneficial to ensure that the on-site team is adequately staffed to meet the expectations. The reality is, even in the event metrics are being met, or exceeded, there is still an additional workload; happy surveyed residents do not end the expectations. Providing the on-site teams adequate staffing will result in residents checking the box, “Exceeded Expectations”.
In addition to not having enough team members to meet expectations, on-site teams are also met with the challenge of scheduling the team members they do have. Scheduling on-site teams has always proved to be a balancing act. In an example with a standard six-day workweek, a team of four, and one team member working the weekend, a manager will always end with only three team members for three days of the week. As though this was not difficult enough when the unexpected happens, managers are now presented with schedule conflicts associated with a pandemic. In a post pandemic safety-oriented world, the schedule comes with significantly more unanticipated changes. Teams are met with the challenge of quarantines, the stress of sick team members, and waiting out test results due to symptoms and fever checks. The team’s safety is vital and steps to remove risks will leave teams short staffed in an industry that is essential. In addition, flex hours are also being considered for many team members that permits them to work from home. The workload has not stopped or decreased during the pandemic, if anything, it has increased and now there is a new schedule conflict to consider. Industry pro, Betsy Kirkpatrick says it best and even ties the employee experience to the resident experience when she said in a 2021 interview at NAA, “If your staff experience is bad, your resident experience is going to be terrible. We’re understaffing our communities as an industry, we need to take better care of site teams, so concentrate on your team and then move it out.” (Betsy Kirkpatrick, NAA 2021 Interview). There is a direct correlation between the employee experience and the resident experience. If a property management company is measured by its positive culture environment, rest assured, that measured success or failure will be equally visible in resident satisfaction scores.
This staffing ratio argument can be opposed with the use of property technology, often referred to as proptech, in the industry. Proptech can be considered AI (artificial intelligence), chatbots, self-guided and/or virtual tours, and so much more. There is value in proptech and its use is fundamental to the multifamily industry remaining relevant and is vital to securing the metric of resident satisfaction. There cannot be assumptions that the use of any proptech allows the industry’s ratio of 1 per 100 to stay the same. The introduction of technology on-site, partnered with proper training, provides the on-site team the ability to be more efficient andrelieves them from certain tasks, but, in some instances, can add to the workload. In the April 2021 article, “Why Chatbots Are a Must-Have for Multifamily Marketing”, Bell Partners mentions significant growth in leases in a five-month period at one community (from 15 to 43 in the same period) and an increase in tours scheduled based on the ability of afterhours conversations (Friedman, 2021). The value in this example can be found in the obvious growth in closing leases, but those tours and leases increase the workload of the on-site teams with answering necessary questions, evaluating, and approving new applications, and performing the proper paperwork trail (even in the event the property is paperless). For those that recollect when call centers entered the industry, team members spent their days reviewing calls because there was too often a disconnect between off-site call centers and the property’s objective. Team members were left feeling undervalued for the additional work as a result of something that was intended to make them more efficient, knowing they could do better than those off-site were paid to do. Valuing the on-site team members includes proper training of the technology combined with the assurance of a seamless transition from the proptech to the human on the other side of the process. Often the on-site team members are left to the troubleshooting phase of a new technology causing additional frustrations. Faith Aids, VP of Marketing and Branding for Laramar Group, mentioned in the 2019 article, “The Amazonification of Leasing” how busy teams are and how many different directions they are being pulled in throughout the day. Trying to find tech partners that make life easier on them, so the end result is that they are able to provide a higher level of service” (Willis, 2019).
When everything in the multifamily industry is so interconnected, it is only presumed that changing the standard of staffing will benefit every facet of the industry. Mike Brewer even asks what’s the optimum staffing for more tech enabled properties (Davidoff, 2019). My answer will consistently be, change the paradigm of overstaffing and let’s shift the ratio to 1 per 45-61 units in order to account for what Mike mentions as “the need for improved soft skills.” With the ability to better understand the resident expectations and act on them, combined with conflicting work schedules during a pandemic, and technology that is sometimes counterintuitive to the presumed efficiency, workload has only increased. Let us break the paradigm of overstaffing and re-evaluate the sustainability of our biggest asset, our on-site team members.
References Davidoff, D. (2019, June 1). Technology Will Change Multifamily Leasing: AI technologies, self guided tours and short-term rental platforms are set to change the prospect and resident experience. Units, 43(6). Doyle, D. (2021, April 15). The Power of Resident Satisfaction Surveys. https://www.multihousingnews.com/post/the-power-of-resident-satisfaction-surveys/ Friedman, R. (2021, April 13). Why Chatbots Are a Must-Have for Multifamily Marketing. https://www.multihousingnews.com/post/why-chatbots-are-a-must-have-for-multifamily- marketing/ James, R.N.,III. (2007). Multifamily housing characteristics and tenant satisfaction. Journal of Performance of Constructed Facilities, 21(6). Willis, P. (2019, March 1). The Amazonification of Leasing: Appropriate technology solutions can streamline the leasing process. Units, 43(3).