Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What To Do In A Slow Down

Let me set the stage for you...

Last month you were at 100% occupancy and the the phone wouldn't quit ringing... you couldn't handle all the calls.  You were turning people away in droves, raising you rents, and had a waiting list 200 people deep.  It seemed like the good times would never end.

And then it all stopped.  Now the phone doesn't ring, no one is asking about your specials, and your five best long term tenants just told you they were moving out.  Your boss is freaking out and it's all coming down on you.  Worst of all, you have no idea why.

First, this happens... because of the normal cycle of schools, businesses and holidays, you are going to have some slow times.  Thankfully long term projections for the apartment industry are great.  The economic downturn hurt lots of industries but the rental housing market isn't one of them.  Lot's of folks that used to be able to go out and get a loan for a house simply can't any more, consequently the rental housing industry is stronger now and has a stronger outlook then before the recession.  But that doesn't help you right now.

Here's what to do...

1.  Spend you ad money locally.  You're going to get more millage out of $500 spent in a local shopping guide or apartment guide then on some weird non-local web site or newspaper.

2.  Hit facebook.  Do something fun for your residents (like free hot chocolate in the office) and tell the world about how much fun your residents are having on your facebook page.

3. Put up holiday decorations around your street sign.  It shows the world that active, fun people run your community.

4.  Call the major employers in your town human resources department.  Tell them about your special this month and get their permission on send them a fax about it to put on their company bulletin board.  A fax is better than an email here because it's already printed out for them.

5.  Give to a charity.  Is there any charity even you can help sponsor to get your name on it.  Call around to some non-profits in your area to see if there is something you latch on to.  Oh, and this will help someone else also :)

Remember, things are really looking great for apartments so there's no reason to think this is a long term problem.  Chin up!  You're going to make it through this just fine.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Boost Referrals - Dance With The Ones That Brung You

You know this... the best source of a good new tenant for your apartments is a good current tenant of your apartments.

Referrals from happy residents can get your owner or management company praising you all the way to a holiday bonus.  The usual way to drum up referrals for your apartment community is the "Refer a Friend for $500 Off Next Months Rent."  That's great, and you should be doing it, but what if (1) your owner isn't willing to take the loss in rent anymore or (2) you've been doing it so long that your residents aren't really paying attention to it anymore.

In the case of the first one, the owner is, well, an idiot.  If things are that tight then it's time to start looking for another job.  I'm serious.  Any owner that isn't willing to take a little loss in the short run to get a new lease has something going on...  either the bank is about to forclose on the property and you're going to show up to work one day with padlocks on the office or they're selling the property.

In the case of the second... your first reaction is to run out and buy a banner right?  Hold off.  You're going to end up spending $250 of petty cash for a banner that's going to be ignored 12 hours after you hang it up.  Try these instead:

1. Give something tangible away for a referral.  Give away the electronic thingy that everyone wants - right now it's an iPad.  Or how about a $300 gift card or gas cards?  Straight cash works too.  Make the giveaway real for your residents - something they can see when they come in the office.

2. Put a limits on the giveaway.  You've got to create immediacy to get referrals moving. "Refer a friend by the end of the day for $200 cash!" or "Everyone who refers a friend gets an iPad.  This week only!" or "The next 10 residents who refer a friend get a $300 gas card."

3. Give away something you're going to spend money on any way.  If you're in the process of upgrading your units, give away a new appliance, or new carpet (if they don't have a pet), or paint their cabinets.  Most residents will love those things and, hey, you're doing it anyway.

4. Go big.  Try an annual referral race.  Who ever gives the most referrals over the next 12 months gets $2000.  How many referrals will it take for your apartment owner to make their money back.  About 1.  They'll go for it.

5. Tell your residents.  Door hangers, facebook, signs in the lobby, signs at the mailboxes.  Tell every resident that comes in your office or calls you on the phone.  Do those and you won't need a banner.

Good luck!  And don't forget to vist our friends and sponsors.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Tradition dictates that ones first post is a grand prounouncement of good intentions.  This is then followed by a few well intentioned follow-ups that rapidly start growing further and further apart.

I see no reason to break from tradition.  So here's my grand pronouncement...
(standing on soap box)
(gathering note cards)
(clearing throat)

"I can't find a good blog that helps apartment owners and managers market their apartments.  So I'm starting one.  When I come up with some good ideas or remember some good ideas I've had in the past, I'll share them with you.  When I see something that I think needs to be reported on, I'll report them to you.  Thereby making your job of renting apartment easier!"

Alright.  All done.

In an effort at full disclosure, I do have a sponsor for my blog.  They're an apartment finding website and all around good guys,  who hope that by sponsoring this blog, you'll be overwhelmed with good information and good intentions and look favorably on their site.  I'll be linking back to some articles I write on their site frequently.

Now all I have to do is post more and more infrequently and I'll be done.