Cabellas

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Changing Leadership Principles


I was recently interviewed regarding leadership and how it has changed in the last 20 years. Remember the word spider, I’ll explain later.  The changes we have seen over the past two generations and have complicated three environments related to leadership and those being the Home, Work, and The Social environments. 

                We start with the home.  So, I’m at thanksgiving dinner around a table of twelve and I see my nephew glancing down occasionally with the random snicker and look up at his sister across the table.  She would do the same and realized they are communicated with cryptic messages to a satellite a few hundred miles in space and then back down to earth when they are only four feet away.  Social skills are now in tweets and IM’s, and it is getting worse and also transfers to the other environments.  Kids spend so much time with a game controller in their hand, which at the touch of a button resets the circumstances and gives them an extra life.  I hate to shock these generation but in the real world there are no reset buttons or extra lives.  Kids today expect everything right now including their food within minutes of making the call but fail to realize relationships both business and personal take time, effort and real communication and friendship is not an event it is a process. Look at the average of 5-7 hours both before work and after work which used to be called family time.  How many can say they are involved with an electronic device rather than thoughtful and constructive communication during that short time together.  No, learning Klingon while watching Star Trek is not constructive or meaningful in the real world. 

                Discipline has been thrown out the window, and God forbid you spank your child for acting like an ass in a public location because within minutes the video will be on Youtube if you give the well-deserved subject a tap on the bottom, as you will be labeled and subject to child cruelty.  In my day, if you called the cops because your dad took a switch to you, they would ask if you learned anything.  You came home from school, did your homework, went out to play before dinner, had dinner with your entire family and there were no electronic devices or complaints unless mom served broccoli as I hated the stuff, then went back out until dark.  And now you have 26 year olds still living in their parents basements, coming home to seclude themselves in the room chatting and playing video games, texting with their friends  while sitting on a couch rubbing their fuzzy comfort animal to feel good about life.  We have generations failing who lack the social and motivational tools to be productive in society and we wonder why the suicide rate is so high.  The they go on the occasional date with a group rather than someone because of the “pack” environment which has been created, sporting the dog or cat hair on their clothing from previously mentioned comfort animal and wonder why they only have 2-3 really good friends.  And when they do go out they are threatened with the possibility they could miss the tweet of the century, only to ignore others and constantly check to make sure you have not been unfriended by someone in your social heirachy. And the clincher, everyone gets a reward for participating but God forbid there only is a 1st and 2nd place trophy because it will tramatize them to where they need a comfort animal or special food.  Sorry people, but in life and business there are no participation awards only winners and losers.  Promotions and opportunities are earned, not deserved because you feel they should be.  “I just don’t understand why I didn’t get the VP position.  I deserved it as an up and coming employee.” “Well, Bob who got the position has closed several contracts and you have not.  He has been with the company for 10 years and you have been here three months.”  “I can’t believe you said that.  My feelings are hurt and you have no right to criticize me.  I think I need the rest of the day off and some hot coco.”  “Well, you go ahead and take the rest of the day.  Come to think of it, why don’t you take forever off as we don’t need that kind of attitude.”  “You can’t fire me, I’ll sue you.”   “Fine, have your attorney contact our attorney, Hell, Freeze, and Over.” 

                The home environment has changed and impacted the work environment, which is the second spider in the equation.  My first job at 14 was working on a rabbit farm, and you can guess what I cleaned up for 75 cents an hour and was glad to get it.  Wages have increased in the last ten years more than the previous 30 together combined and these entitled people are not happy with it.  Now, someone gets upset they retaliate with a gun and shoot up an office.  When I grew up many of us in the winter had a shotgun in our vehicle and hunted after school.  We all carried knives and no one got shot or was stabbed.  Today if you walk into a school with a baseball bat you have to lock it up in the school safe instead of being able to take it in the classroom because it’s not a sports item, it’s a weapon.  People work from home, missing the interaction with others.  They hold video meetings to earn your business dressed in a shirt and tie, but because of the camera view you don’t seem them in their underwear.  In 1984 the first cell phone was released and were called the “brick.”  If you ever saw or had one of these you understand and they weighed over two pounds.  It cost $3,900 and had a talk time of 30-40 minutes.  With today’s phones and cameras, these younger generations fail to realize that lude photo you took at a frat party in college now can be found on the web by a potential employer. 

                Which takes us to the next spider on the web being the social environment, which has connections to the other two environments being work and home.  Now you can see why I mentioned the word spider because each of these is cross connected with the others on the web of life,.  If you dislike someone there probably was no direct personal interaction outside of social media and it’s easier to just unfriend them, even though you have known them for years and don’t want the possible controversy associated with whatever it is.  Violence and destruction and protesting is not the answer.  Mix in politics and you have what I call the circle of strife versus the circle of life.  Webster’s definition of strife is the bitter disagreement over fundamental issues.  Sound familiar?  When did it change the individual rights of some to enjoy a meal or go shopping should include shouting and cursing of others in a public setting and believes their rights are more important than someone’s else’s and condemning what a person does rather than who the person is.  Try at work saying no person can use their cell phone during work time or be on Facebook/Twitter, realizing you are there to work not for the entertainment within your social life.  Lord forbid you did that as you might traumatize an employee who now needs additional comfort time because their behavior was unacceptable and it couldn’t be their fault because they have been taught there are no winners or losers, just participants.  They will tell you this is not fair and you have hurt their feelings and they have to bring their comfort animal to work with them in order to cope with the hostile work environment.  Get a life people. This is business and there are no rewinds or comfort foods, no participation trophies or someone else to blame.  Because of the work and home environment changes, social environments have changed and we speak in metaphors, GIF’s, and symbols and bits of information instead of a full dialog.  Today you may be someone’s mother but you may be downgraded from BFF for someone else because you took their phone away when they were not doing what they should have been doing.  It’s more important to be liked on social media, as that status is more about what how people “feel”, than who you are.   Get over it cupcakes, your feelings will not bring you great success or happiness in the end. Who you "choose" to associate with becomes you.  Who you choose associate with can dictate your life.  And last and most important, who you choose as friends and associate with limits your perspective on life as being liked become more important than being you.  You can pick your nose and you can pick your friends.  Both can lead to unsanitary life conditions you allow to be created.  

I am positive some reading this who are in or on the cusp of some of the younger generations are at this time unfriending me or cursing me out because how dare I challenge their generation to bring back values such as respect, earning what you get, contributing to society instead of making up your own society, telling them their feelings are irrelevant, or calling them out for who they are and how they act.  If that’s the case, I have made my point and so be it.  Everyone of these environments (spiders) is inter-webbed with the others.  Everything is connected between these three environments and the exponent of 3 is 27 meaning there are 27 different interconnections.  Leadership has changed, but the core principals of effective leadership have been successful for generations until recently.  Now we face generations who demand or feel they deserve a different approach, just because they “feel” they are different.  Once again, hate to shock them but you’re not special, your feelings are not in play, and a comfort hedgehog will not replace personal interaction and make the world better for you as we are all the same….people in an ever changing world.   

                   

Friday, October 12, 2018

Workshops for 2019

Really excited about the lineup for 2019 and the workshops I am presenting.  Seems I have received quite a few inquiries regarding my emergency preparedness workshop in light of the recent hurricane to hit the southeast.  Had one company say, "We should have contacted you months ago."  Just remember disaster doesn't have to be in the event of a hurricane but can be a winter storm, summer storm, tornado, fire, flood, or even that major crime event that makes the news.

Please contact me regarding how I can assist you with your education and training needs, or maybe just that keynote for your corporate conference (or both).


LEADERSHIP – FINDING THE LEADER IN YOU
Everything boils down to leadership, period end.  Leadership is not a born trait, but one learned and many times governed by those that have led us as well as those we emulate.  This workshop helps others find the leader in them, identify key leadership characteristics of success, and discover leadership is not a title with anyone having the ability to act as a leader.  Learn what your leadership style is and what it means through this interactive and participative workshop.  This award-winning presentation will provide leadership development tools and provide key aspects of leadership skills I learned at Disney.
HOW TO SELL A BUDGET
Budgets can be intimidating as can the financial reporting that goes along with it.  Truth is, it doesn’t have to be this scary process managers dread.  Revealed will be tips and tricks to take the fear out of budget time which also will develop skills associated with monthly analysis of financials and reporting.  Included are templates to assist in the budget process, as well as critical techniques and tools to provide a more confident a approach and take fear and intimidation out of the equation so you get a better budget which can be sold.
EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED – EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS
Disasters can occur at any time and in many shapes.  Tornado’s, floods, winter and summer storms, hurricanes, fire, earthquake, are just a few events which can have an impact on a property manager, owner, and company. How will you or your team handle an emergency and are they ready for the unexpected.  This workshop provides the templates and knowledge to be prepared when the unexpected hits and guides the attendees in formulating a plan for preparedness.
MAINTENANCE FOR MANAGERS – New for 2019
This workshop was developed with the intent of informing and educating not just managers, but your entire support team.  Service is such a critical part of the success of any site. Having a better understanding of the service side of the business benefits your employees in gaining a better perspective of the services maintenance performs, preparing them for the next level of advancement with a higher knowledge base, and reinforcing what they must do in support to the overall service mission.  Studies still show the biggest reason residents leave is because of lack of or poor service, not their rent.  What are you doing to maximize resident retention and in support of your service teams when it relates to maintenance?
EXCITEMENT TO CREATE EXCELLENCE – A Magical Experience
Created and designed to cover two key areas which are critical to improving NOI.  The first area deals with our employees and team members, who are the foundation to your organizations success.  What can we do regarding training, communication, and creating inspiration that makes them want to do their job not because they have to…but because they want to?  How do we create excitement in the workplace so it inspires excellence?  Second, what can we do to create excellence for our residents so the last thing on their mind is giving you a notice to vacate?  What do your residents really want when it comes to amenities, activities, communication, and feeling they are part of a community?  How do we create excellence while dealing with things like rent collection, lease enforcement, the renewal process, and service?  How can excellence through excitement be transferred to your brand identity, marketing, and reputation within your market? 


*LET US CUSTOMIZE A MESSAGE FOR YOUR CONFERENCE OR EVENT

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

New Processes - Old Principles

The property management industry has changed in so many ways over the years, yet some things have not.  Rent optimizer systems now tell us what we should be charging for rent and renewals, marketing algorithms direct what is happening with our advertising and how productive they are, computers have replaced ledger cards, maintenance techs get new service requests in the field versus coming in the office to see what their next task is, residents no longer use a key to access their community or their home, print publications have all but gone the way of the dinosaur, and communication with residents and prospects is now only a tweet or mouse click away and takes seconds for updates to reach millions.  

What we think of as processes making our business easier, has in fact made it substantially more complicated and in some aspects scary. Here are a few examples:

  • In days gone by we printed newsletters and delivered them in nice plastic bags on every apartment door.  This process was time consuming in developing the medium, folding it, placing it in the bags, and of course taking the time and manpower to deliver.  Today we can use a template with populated information and post the information on our web site or deliver electronically in a matter of hours and not days.  So you ask, what has made it more complex.  Today we are inundated with hundreds of pieces of communication in our social sites or emails. We get so many pieces of communication we now filter what we are reading and if the last issue was not deemed important, relevant, or beneficial, the next one is simply deleted by operand or instrumental conditioning. The new process has made it easy for us to develop these communication mediums; however, also complicated matters in the ease of not even glancing at the information to see if the next issue is something they should consider to read.  Before if the print version sat in the apartment home long enough the resident might at least give it a cursory view, where now, it's just another communication in hundreds we receive and is deleted without consideration. 
  • Electronic advertising is here to stay and we will never go back to print. We now can reach thousands every day who might be interested in a new apartment home with photo's, bullet points, and data to create interest.  What a fantastic age we live in, except! Prospects can search hundreds of communities on multiple web sites in search of an apartment home making our business much more competitive and complicated.  But isn't this much easier you ask?  With so many more options including multiple web sites which our prospects do look on, so much data can become overwhelming and complicated.  Before, a prospect would pick up a guide of some type, dog ear pages they found interest in, and plan their attack looking for a new home. Today a prospect looks, closes the browser to do something else, only to come back to it again days later and basically begin the search all over again because it is so easy to find what they are looking for. The other side of this is, if one site is not easier to navigate than another site they have looked on, they simply don't go on that site which may be the location your advertising is on.  It also is more challenging because there are so many sites, unless you have a very large budget you can't be in all of them.  Before you had a choice of two or three publications and now you have dozens including one in NY called Nakedapartments.com.  Have to admit, it's a catchy name. 
  • Twenty to thirty years ago if a resident was unhappy they may have told a handful of people and it disappeared quickly in an uncomplicated world.  Today, current or former residents who are "unhappy campers," as I call them can now tell millions with a mouse click. Complicating matters, they can make you seem like the worst landlord in the world when in fact they just didn't pay their rent and were being evicted and you have little recourse.  You can respond to the situation, but your rating will not change nor the fact someone looking for a new home will seek out the bad information and for some reason not read the good reviews of hundreds who are happy living with you.  Welcome to the computer age.
There are so many more examples and one could probably write a book on the changes in this industry over the years.  What has not changed is the human factor.  In 2002 I wrote my best selling book, Complex - A Guide to Apartment Management with over 11,000 copies sold worldwide.  In it I mentioned handling a new prospect with a video call and making it a more personable experience through technology.  Today, that vision has come true and companies are reviewing Skype and other means to use as a leasing tool.  For some reason was have added technology but taken the human and personable side out of what we do.  We have replaced talking with someone for tweeting or emailing and have been conditioned to believe this is the easier and better way.  We have replaced dealing with challenges in a direct and personable way, to indirect and non-personable methods.  

We are teaching our leasing and community teams how to deal with software and technology; however, neglected to teach them how to deal with people.  We have taught how to develop our people to be managers, but neglected to teach them how to be effective leaders.  We have emphasized the importance of closing, but neglected to teach them how to be open with our prospects and residents.  We are so tied up with the feelings of people, we have forgotten how to feel. 

Larry is an award winning regional manager and President of Wizardry Enterprises, LLC, a company which provides training and education in the multifamily industry to apartment associations and management companies all over the country. He is an accomplished author with four publications in print, and has successfully led hundreds of teams with a passion for leadership.  Contact us at lawrenceberry@verizon.net about how we can help in your education and training needs and provide excellence to exceed.. 

Friday, July 27, 2018

Two new exciting workshops being offered


I am excited to announce the creation of two new interactive workshops at Wizardry Enterprises in addition to my other educational presentations.

“Excitement to Create Excellence,” is designed to cover two key areas critical to improving NOI.  The first area deals with our employees and team members, who are the foundation to your organizations success.  What can we do regarding training, communication, and creating inspiration that makes them want to do their job not because they have to…but because they want to?  How do we create excitement in the workplace so it inspires excellence?  How can you set goals and make those goals something your employees strive to reach?  I believe in the concept of treating our employees as number one, and they will in turn treat our residents as number one.  Second, what can you do to create excellence for our residents so the last thing on their mind is giving a notice to vacate?  What do your residents really want when it comes to amenities, activities, communication, and what will provide them with a true feeling they are part of a community?  How do we create excellence while dealing with things like rent collection, lease enforcement, the renewal process, and service?  How can excellence through excitement be transferred to your brand identity, marketing, and reputation within your market?  These are just a few of the areas we will touch on in “Excitement to Create Excellence.”

“Maintenance for Managers,” is a workshop with the intent on informing and educating not just managers, but your entire office support team.  Service is such a critical part of the success of any site. Having a better understanding of the service side of the business benefits your employees in gaining a better perspective of the service maintenance performs, preparing them for the next level of advancement with a higher knowledge base, and reinforcing what they must do in support to the overall service mission.  What should we be asking every resident when they call or come in the office to request service?  How does preventive maintenance play a factor in keeping residents, and what strategies can you provide in support to make it a simpler, more efficient, and effective process?  What is your resident’s perception when they make a request for service, and is it one of inconvenience or appreciation? How can leasing and the move-in experience contribute to service through a proactive approach?  How easy do you make it for residents to request service, and are you using the latest techniques and processes available?  Studies still show the biggest reason residents leave is because of lack of or poor service, not their rent.  What are you doing to maximize resident retention and in support of your service team when as it relates to maintenance?

Please contact me at lawrenceberry@verizon.net so we can discuss how I can provide support to your educational needs.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

INSPECT WHAT YOU EXPECT

I wrote an article for UNITS magazine some years back titled "Communicate, Don't Complain" talking about this as it relates to vendors and service providers; however, the topic includes other areas.  Inspecting what you expect also relates to our team members and the job they are doing.  Let's start with the basics.

Site inspections for any regional or district manager are part of the position.  First, any site visit should not feel intimidating but in support of the overall goals and objectives of a company or property. Making a  site visit feel more like a treasure hunt and a learning platform is a skill, and is a leadership characteristic which supports the team approach and can be motivational versus intimidating.  When I visited my sites, they knew I wasn't there to find faults but to find opportunities.  The old adage you don't see the forest for the trees applies; however I like to look at it as you don't see the trees for the forest.  Think about it and you'll understand what I mean.  After all, it's the details which make the difference and support both resident services and leasing as well as building effective teams.  They need to know, and more importantly feel, you're there in support of the operation.

Vendors and suppliers are needed in most operations such as painting, cleaning, carpet cleaning, and providing services outside of the abilities or scope of the team.  Which is why I encourage and require the team to adopt certain behaviors that can lead to getting what is expected:

(1) Have written specifications on what the task is expected to provide.  As an example, do your  cleaning specifications call for edge cleaning along baseboards, air and return air vents, fixtures such as lighting and globes, appliance details, cabinets and drawers, payment for services, reporting conditions which management needs to be aware of, and the fact you will be conducting inspections?  I asked in a recent seminar I was conducting who had these processes and only one in the room of over 30 property managers could say they had them.  You should have the same type of specifications for carpet cleaning, carpet and tile installation, painting, pest control, pool maintenance, or any services you contract out.  
(2) Everyone on a team needs to know the expectation by service providers and support and understand these specifications. I will say it again, you can't hit a target if you can't see it.   Walk apartment turns with the team so they understand what a quality product looks like.  Ask them to inspect with you, reviewing and covering any areas which could be improved on.  Make it a treasure hunt not an inspection. 
(3) Actually perform inspections and at times walk apartments with your service providers and the team.  It all starts when you hire them with setting the expectation and insuring there are clear expectations.  I'm willing to pay a little more if I know a service provider gives me a quality product, and it will show in the bottom line with satisfied prospects and residents.  
(4) Inspecting the services we provide is so critical to success.  I can tell you the number one reason residents leave is lack of or poor service, not rent.  We spend ten time more on leasing than we do on resident retention, which in my opinion is backwards.  Do you have an effective program for resident satisfaction and do you take action and respond to the resident if there are deficiencies?  What percentage of service requests do you follow up on?  If you have electronic satisfaction formats is it easy for your residents to complete and do you have both acknowledge and a reward for contributing. I suggested in a recent workshop they consider having a monthly drawing for anyone completing a satisfaction survey.  Just in the past week, I received an email from a property manager saying she had offered a $50 rent rebate with anyone participating eligible for their drawing.  Her communication informed me it was a huge success in the first two months of offering.  Another side to this coin is identifying employees or services which were substandard and needed correction or coaching. Remember the "don't see the trees for the forest" statement. 
(5) Do you listen to phone calls if you have that option (and you do have that opportunity even if not electronically by listening to the calls your office staff are on), and do you coach for success and developing to create an environment of excellence?  Do you survey visitor traffic to see how good of a job your leasing team is doing?  

It used to be that an unhappy resident told a handful of people about their poor experience.  With the advent of the Internet, now they have a platform to tell millions.  Management is helping others climb the ladder of success.  Leadership is making sure they're on the right wall.  Coaching, training, supporting, and yes inspecting what you or your residents expect leads to a cohesive environment and helping others exceed and excel.  Communication is also so important when dealing with this topic so your team understands the reason behind what is being done and what success feels like in meeting objectives.  Let them know the method to the madness.  This also goes with sharing successes and letting the team and team members know when they have met the excellence goal.  Now, go lead. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Taking Risks

"You cannot live life based on what might happen, otherwise you will miss the things in life that can happen." 

As I prepare for my workshop in Savannah, GA with the Coastal Georgia Apartment Association, I was reflecting on my leadership presentation after talking with a friend.  Life is full of risks, and sometimes taking them leads to life changing moments.  As my friends and family know, I am a professional Dive Master and love diving...especially with sharks.  I remember my first scuba dive with these amazing creatures and was shortly after getting my certification.  Standing on the back platform of the boat I looked down into the crystal clear water of the Florida Keys and seeing 10 - 15 sharks swimming below me.  My heart was pounding and I thought, what the hell am I doing and is my life insurance paid up.  I gained my courage and took the giant stride into shark infested waters and headed to the bottom which as about 35 feet below.  After getting on the bottom sharks were coming around me and acting like puppy dogs wanting attention.  I soon learned they were not there to eat me and came up from the dive saying, "Can we do it again?" which we did.  I can say I was hooked and came to appreciate these awesome and majestic creatures. I later went on dives with hammerheads, tiger sharks (largest one was 16 feet), lemons, reef sharks, black tips, sand tigers, and the list goes on and never at any time felt threatened.  I have ran my hand down the side of a 14 foot tiger shark, who came back around several times as if to say, "Please rub me again."  People say to me all the time, "Aren't you afraid of sharks?"  To which I reply, "Have you met some of the residents I have had to deal with?"  Everything is relevant.

I have para sailed, bungee jumped (which I will never do again), dropped out of an airplane at 10,000 feet, rock climbed, swam with sharks, and even raced a car at over 130 miles an hour.  Life must be lived and fears overcome to make the most of life.  I remember a quote by Richard Cardinal Cushing:
Every day sends to their graves obscure men who in all probability would have gone to great lengths in their career of fame. The truth is you cannot stand back back thinking of the cold and danger, but jump in and scramble through as best you can.  

Live life to the fullest and find your sharks.  For life it to short and you never know what new adventure will be your career of fame. 

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Improving NOI - Focus on Expenses

Income is only one part of the equation when it comes to improving NOI, with the second part being on the income side.  It's no secret the biggest way income can be improved is through resident retention.  This key component also has a dramatic impact on the expense side...but there is more.  Many of the factors of minimizing expenses we understand, but you may not have practices in place to fully reap the rewards.  Others involve capital improvements to lower expenses which we will also cover.  So what are the greatest aspects of controlling expenses?

  • Employee Turnover: Turnover of your team members can be costly in more ways than one.  In addition to the cost of advertising, hiring search firms, having testing in place, placing a team member in a position at a higher salary than the previous person, background and credit checks and other expenses, the training piece can also be costly in both time and finances.  This is where consistent training as a motivational tool can play a positive roll in keeping great team members, not to mention making them more productive which also impacts the bottom line. There is a hidden factor we don't always think about and it is familiarity.  Your residents get to know the staff, feel confident in them, and if we build relationships as we should will leave to them feeling they are in a stable environment.  A revolving door of team members does not instill that confidence and can have an impact on resident retention. 
  • Inventory Management:  I cannot count how many shops or offices I have seen while either managing or consulting which gave the appearance of disorganization.  With disorganization comes ineffective ordering and maintaining inventory levels.  Having shelves with labeling showing what is there and displaying PAR numbers to reflect what stock should be on hand is something few properties practice.  Only maintaining stock of any item for immediate needs through a PAR system keeps ordering to a minimum and organized.  If there are boxes of unopened inventory or items just thrown on shelves haphazardly, how do you know what you really need.  If you also have a system of maintaining proper inventories you won't run out of an item.  This means your team won't be scrambling to one of the big box stores or the local hardware wasting time and money to get something needed to take care of a service request or turn.  Having the items needed for quick repair or replacement also leads to higher resident satisfaction because the request is being handled timely and efficiently.   Inventory management is not restricted to the shop but also to the office.  Office supplies should also be organized with PAR levels established.  If an item goes below PAR, you know you need to order.  I have an inventory spreadsheet I developed which will automatically flag when an item is below PAR and should be ordered. Taking a physical inventory twice a month will keep appropriate levels and remind the team when something needs to be ordered.  
  • Inspect What You Expect and Training Contractors:  I wrote an entire article on this for Units Magazine entitled "Communicate, Don't Complain."  Replacing contractors is a pain and time consuming, not to mention expensive and in more ways than one.  You hired the painter, cleaner, carpet cleaner and it's a quick turn for a new resident with not a lot of time between the old resident leaving and the new one coming in.  They finish and the next day is when the new resident is arriving so you send someone to inspect. Paint is not the best and cleaning isn't detailed.  The edges on the carpet got missed and to top it all off the new resident arrives at  ten AM in the morning...not good.  There are several components to what could have and should have been done to prevent or minimize the challenges.  First, anytime a new vendor is used you physically show them what the expectation is and what areas are commonly missed.  I am betting very few management companies have this practice in place.  Second, you inspect what you expected.  Every team member including the groundskeeper or porter should have a unique understanding of what is a quality product and what is not so anyone can be used for inspections.  Especially with a new contractor you do spot inspections and always do the first service they have done for you in detail with them.  Hold them accountable just as our residents hold us accountable.
  • Improvements Which Impact Expenses:  I get owners cringing when I bring this subject up until they are sold on the result.  Just like selling a budget which is one of my favorite seminars I like presenting, selling an improvement for a future reward is the only way you will get an owner or upper management to see the light.  Perform a cost benefit analysis on changing carpet out with laminate or tile.  I guarantee you if presented properly with real numbers and facts it will make sense, but only if you show a real return on investment. Let's just say you are paying $1,300 for a two bedroom apartment with a basic carpet including pad and installation and the average covered area in the apartment is 800 square feet. You decide to look into laminate and can do for $2.  Two components to this scenario as well.  First, who follows up and tracks to verify warranty for stains and wear consistently, then actually holds the installer and manufacturer responsible for what they tell us?  Second, plain and simple, our residents don't treat the apartment like if they owned it. Third, I don't care what they tell you the carpet never has the life expectancy they tout (No offense to those carpet companies I have worked with over the years).  Ten year stain resistant and wear warranty...right!  If we held them to the warranty they would soon be out of business, at least in our business. If I can show an owner where in less than two cycles the laminate pays for itself and the facts be what they are, I'm installing laminate.  Guest what, you also don't have to clean the carpet at turn or need to offer as a renewal incentive.  Last there is the "puppy factor," as I call it.  Don't think I need to go much further on that one.  
  • How about inspecting each and every apartment home before renewal.  How will this save on expenses?  Please tell me you're not actually asking this question.  Trust me, I have seen my share of apartments you went into and thought, "OMG, they live here."  And yes, they are doing it to your asset!  Do you not think their general upkeep also doesn't haven an impact on how they treat your dishwasher, tile, refrigerator, HVAC, and other features?  
I could go on further and cover other areas but you get the hint.  It's not rocket science and but it is common sense.  I believe they should change the phrase from common sense to "occasional sense," as that is more appropriate. Each year we are asked for the NOI to improve and that fact is never going to change.  We work in a business and for owners and investors.  The reality is, it is our obligation and the expectation so we might as well face it and not complain each budget season or be surprised when we are asked to show improvement in the coming year.  

Now go lead.