Ms Management July 2017

Posted: 6th July 2017 by Melissa in Ms. Management
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Carol Levey, writer and creator of Ms. Management also appears as a guest blogger on Rent Sense. Her insights appear in dozens of other industry publications across the country. Carol is a regular presenter at the annual AAMD Education Conference, has served as MC Host for Award Events, and consistently over 35 years of volunteerism taught & authored curriculum for AAMD Education. She has been acknowledged for her outstanding contribution as an Industry Supplier becoming the recipient of the Jack Shapiro Award Winner twice; in 1987 & 1990.

Carol Levey is perhaps more recognized at the national level as an educator in the real estate industry. She served as one of the original team that produced the National Apartment Association coursework leading to the respected NALP designation. Her company Levey Enterprises has provided temporary leasing specialists, site managers and marketing offsite personnel to major apartment community operators throughout Colorado and across the U.S. Her business was founded on decades of experience in property management and executive leadership as a third-party leasing and corporate housing provider.

Read on for this month’s Ms. Management Q and A!

Q: I’m an onsite property manager in my third year at this apartment community. We have enjoyed resident satisfaction and renewals despite steady rent increases. However, with new construction now leasing up in our marketplace we are getting “push back” on our renewals. We send our renewal notices but residents put us on “ignore” while they check out their options. Meanwhile, requests for repairs seem to be ramping up.

This changing situation is putting my team back on their heels. The maintenance guys are being stretched between “vacant turns”, maintenance and other service requests. Our leasing specialists are under pressure to hit their leasing numbers and therefore, are offering greater latitude to potential residents: alternative floorplans, locations, condition and move-in dates. Our existing residents are getting wind of what is being done to accommodate new leases and demand similar treatment. Of course, all this custom treatment is impacting the service team as well. We need every renewal and right now we are working hard to get it done. Any advice to help us work smarter?

A: Last time we focused on why it is essential that our entire team understand renewals and manage as a priority. While you cannot control the marketplace or your residents you can work together accomplish incremental improvements to retention; say 3-5% increase in the retention rate. I focused on why this was a leveraged benefit suggesting that once the team understands “why” they can process and execute the “how” to get it done as a project. In management, we don’t settle for a series of successful projects. Rather, wherever possible onsite teams with leadership and support establish renewal performance standards and routines to control results.

How

Renewal teams don’t control external market conditions but they certainly “know their market” because they shop their competition (any alternative rental that is capturing their customers). Outreach efforts need to be managed with a schedule and feedback. This should include maintenance since different eyes see differently. Communication updates the entire team; new renewal ideas are considered and energy around renewal expectations gain momentum.

A leasing matrix takes shape when the team has data in front of them that measures leasing traffic and results for your property during each month of the year. The object of the matrix is to better match your expectations with the current realities to control results. Let’s say that during the first quarter you have 100 leases that are expiring while you can anticipate 150 of leasing traffic. However, a closer look reveals that your leasing ratio is right at 33% and retention at 50% in past first quarters. So, if your experience works just right you’re okay (50 renewals and 50 new). However, when there is additional new availability in the marketplace traffic and/or renewals might become deluded so even small market incentives and you can lose control of leasing results.
What if you capture more leasing traffic by “matching” incentives? Maybe you design a “Look & Lease”

contest? You give something to learn something. In this case, you’re uncovering what are the real competitive incentives and how likely are such incentives to continue into other quarters?
Maybe you create an incentive for renewals with the two-fold goal of: a) reducing the need for leasing traffic and new leases during the 1st quarter and b) modify the lease term to move the lease expiration into the second or third quarter when you have traffic to fill vacancies even at a lower closing rate.

Renewals Need Personal Attention

Treat each renewal like your onsite team knows that an existing customer is certainly as important as a new customer. Here are some suggestions how-
1. There’s time for an official notice letter but remember, at 120 days from expiration send a formal invitation to renew. Emphasize that you know they have choices. You would appreciate the opportunity to review the choices you can offer should they choose to renew.
2. Prepare for and schedule a renewal appointment early enough to become aware of customer concerns and reservations about renewal. Also, what incentives might be necessary and/or effective.
3. Review their resident file for understanding about their service requests and other communication during the lease term. Become aware of the team’s responses/actions/results.
4. Be prepared with market intelligence on availability of similar feature-benefits, comparable floorplans, trends and cost to move analysis.
5. Track renewal process, results and possible changes. This information should be shared with the entire team to sustain renewal as a leasing priority.

Build a Renewal Culture
The ideas contained herein are based on real renewal turnarounds that I have helped initiate and/or utilized to coach onsite teams across the country. We have barely scratched the surface on useable renewal improvements but the goal is the same. Create and sustain a team renewal culture as a building block to your leadership reputation. Everyone thinks about renewals even when you’re not present because your reputation precedes and follows you.

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