Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Let’s say you need a Marketing report for your community. You call several communities in your area. You’ll learn the rental rates, learn there are no specials, and they are 97% occupied. You are concerned since your community is at 87% and trending 83%.

Let’s say your Regional Supervisor is wondering why your community has dropped to 87% occupied, when your competitors are in the 90's!! You are told to find out what is up or get your occupancy back in the 90’s!!!

Since I have a rapport with the area community managers, I decided to visit them in person, share my frustration and get their input. The first one I visited is equivalent to my community. The manager greeted me, and we walked back to her office. We did the usual formalities, and then told her that I was frustrated and needed her input. My community is currently at 88%, and trending 83%. I wonder how she is maintaining the mid 90’s. She started laughing and said, “Who said we are in the mid 90’s?” I explained to her we did a market survey, and this is what we were told. She confessed that was not true and with the two skip-outs she just found she is at 86%. Plus, what she has intended to vacate at the end of the month will put her at 84%. So, why were we told the occupancy is 95%? We checked with the leasing consultant who had responded to the market survey. When asked why she didn’t tell the truth about the real percent of occupancy. She said, “It’s none of their business how we’re doing right now”. I could have jumped out of my seat, but to my blessing the manager of the community was “on it”! She told her that we should be honest on our reports. She explained I got the “word” from my supervisor to get the community back into the 90’s. All because this market survey shows we are in the mid 90”s. It appears as though she is doing poorly. She also added that if someone was considering building more apartment communities in the area, this may appear there is room for more to be built. WHICH IS NOT THE CASE.

So what is the moral to this story? PLEASE be honest when you are called for the rates, specials and occupancy of your community. I hope you are honest with your owners!! Much is weighting on those occupancy reports. The reports can have a negative result for you and your community if the actual results are inflated.

Linda Hansen ARM, HCCP
Director of Property Marketing
Yarco Company

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Handy Dandy Guest Card

Let us imagine for a moment that you are getting ready to purchase a car. You are going around to different dealers and you arrive at your first stop. You walk into the dealership and a seemingly nice man in a suit approaches you and shakes your hand. You two speak for a moment and you inform him you are looking to purchase a new car. He then leads you to the huge parking lot full of all different models. He takes you to several different cars that are all nice but not one of them has the features you are looking for. You thank the man for his time and return to your old vehicle irritated at the wasted 45 minutes you just spent.

Why was this wasted time you ask…. Because the dealer did not have a clue what features, price or even the color you were wanting. Why did he not know this information? I know it is hard to believe that men are not mind readers…. but he did no t know because he did not ask what you wanted. How do you know if your community is right for them if you do not find details first?

The guest card is easily the most underrated tool the leasing professional has. The guest card will assist you in the following:

1) It is the first step to building your relationship ~ It is no news flash (at least we hope not) that leasing your community is mainly established from the relationships you develop with your prospects; People lease the agent not the community. It is really hard to pull your weight in a relationship if you do not know the details of how to build it.

2) You will learn their hot buttons ~ You can be as nicely dressed with the most dazzling set of pearly whites this side of the Missouri river, but if you don’t have a clue what your prospect wants, then those shinny gems will gleam them right out the door.

3) Follow up, Follow up, Follow up ~ It is a great way for you to document what they really enjoyed about your community. When you speak to them or send them cards or emails later you can refresh their memory on the features they liked.

So now that we have offered a few reasons why guest cards are important, let’s discuss tips for getting the most from your handy dandy guest card:

1) Permission please ~ Ask for their permission and method preference before you contact them. You don’t want to be the messenger to their roommate that their looking for a new place to live.

2) What is in a name ~ If you cannot pronounce their name, then ask them to repeat it until you do. There is nothing wrong with asking for assistance. Do not spend the entire tour calling them by the wrong name. You leave them with the impression “If this person can’t even get my name right, how am I going to trust they will do anything right?”

3) Do not Interrogate them ~ As much as you may love your episodes of Law and Order, you are not Detectives Benson or Meloni. Keep the conversations light intermingled with some fun remembering that people lease on emotion. If you ask just a few simple questions it signals that the gates have opened and their information will come pouring out!

4) Do not force it ~ If they don’t want to complete a guest card, that is ok. Just get the basics of their name and any info they feel comfortable giving. If they are talkative you should be able to gain most of all the knowledge you will need during the tour. Just make sure to document on the card they declined to complete.

5) Our old pal Fair Housing ~ Do NOT document the cards with information such as race, color or any of the protected classes. Don’t make reference if they were rude or if their kids were bratty. An example of an appropriate note would be if they informed you they heard about your community from a friend whom works at the hospital next door, which your community has been heavily marketing. Another example could be when you show them the lakes on your community and inform them about the fishing; they get excited, informing you how their grandkids love to fish. Ask what their grandchild’s name is and document just the name and that they love fishing. When you follow up later you can mention how much that feature would benefit them!

There are many other benefits and “rules” for the guest cards. Make sure you check with your supervisor and reference your company policy for the methods that work best for you.

Tina Clauder

Friday, July 15, 2011

SOCIAL MEDIA 101 - Ten Tips

People often express their confusion and downright lack of patience in the school of social media. We have learned that a lot of the frustration with learning the ropes is the misconceptions, and to help out, we have formulated a sort of Social Media for Apartments cheat sheet. Hopefully this will save you some time, energy and will shave a little off the grading curve. (Don’t worry, there’s no pop quiz at the end!)

1. Social What ~ Social Media is the dancing of words, in an effort to build and maintain relationships with the masses, via technology, It should be fun, entertaining or informative (and we don’t mean posting reminders about late fees). The moment you start making it formal and stiff, is the time people “hide all posts” from YOU!

2. It’s a single tool, not the whole box ~ Social Media is a means to establish conversation, not an entire marketing plan. It is a way for you to interact and mingle with the masses. If you are expecting a GET LEASED QUICK SCHEME, you need to pick another tool. You will see results, but it will take a while.

3. Your Social clock is ticking ~ Yes, it is true that social media can take some time. The good news is the majority of time is merely setting up the accounts. Once you’ve gotten down the basics and developed a routine, it’s smooth sailing. The sooner you start the better, developing relationships takes time.

4. Set Reminders ~ I recommend scheduling the dates and times you will make posts at least 1 month in advance. This allows you plenty of time to coordinate with holidays or property events. To make it easy you can link your Facebook, twitter and blogs all together so you only make 1 post for all 3 or keep them separate for distinctiveness, but keep it up! It’s easy to get lost in the chaos of putting out fires, only to realize on Friday at 4:30 you haven’t posted anything for the entire week!

5. Flaunt your flaws ~ DON’T be afraid of negative comments as they make you seem more real. People don’t expect a business to be perfect and they want to see how you handle adversity. It’s imperative you respond to them and be professional. Many times it’s the same person/persons making constant nagging comments. Your followers will quickly pick up the nagger’s persona and take their comments with a grain of salt; if the comments are vulgar or lies then remove them pronto! Embrace an opportunity to demonstrate excellent resident care!

6. Too Many Hands In The Pot ~ Social Media should be narrowed down to one person on your team, if possible. People can relate to a person, not a corporation. Make things funny and entertaining. You want people to return to your page and REFER others to it.

7. Directing Traffic ~ All your Social Media sites should be directing people to your website. Your website is for sales not social sites. If you’re posting the rent special for a two bedroom, you’re going to lose interest fast. Instead, post ways to decorate apartments. There are TONS of amazing decorating tips and techniques you can share! If you have small closets, post tips from HG how to get the most from your space.

8. More is not always better ~ Make sure you are spacing your posts adequately. I don’t know how many times I’ve “hidden all posts” from a business that rocket fires 7 in a row about their specials or events, in 10 minutes, 1 day a week. A good rule of thumb is posting to twitter and Facebook once daily (at least 3 times a week) and blog post 2 – 3 times per week. There is NO mandatory number, do what works best for your business.

9. SEO ~ I assure you SEO does not mean Some Extra Obstacles, although it may certainly feel that way. SEO is Search Engine Optimization and is very important to ALL of your websites. You want to use lots of “tag words” in your communications. The more tag words you use, the more likely your sites will be one of the first a person locates in a search. Example; the more I say Leasing Lessons or Social Media the more likely this is to pop up in the first page of a search. (On that note please pardon me while I do a quick plug; Leasing Lessons, Social Media, Apartments, Multifamily, Resident Retention, Customer Service, Leasing Skills, Property Management, Marketing. Whew, that should be good enough for now!)

10. Last but certainly not least ~ Do NOT Discriminate! You can get in big trouble with discriminatory posts to your social sites. Make sure whoever is responsible for your social media is fully aware of the fair housing laws in your area.

We sincerely hope this has shed a little light on the joy of learning Social Media. If after everything you have learned, you decide to throw your hands up and hire a Social Media rep to handle it all, we promise we will not consider it cheating!

Tina Clauder

Tina has been in the Apartment industry for nearly 20 years. Starting as a grounds keeper, also did make-ready maintenance and apartment cleaning before moving into property management.
Tina has displayed her love for people through her excellent leasing skills. Having success in leasing, marketing and training, has added Social Media as one of her talents.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

What is ROTFL?

Abbreviations for Email and Texting

Recently some friends and I were sitting back just shooting the breeze when one of the guys received a text.  He replied and had a bit of a conversation with the person on the other end.  Then he looks at us and says, "What the heck is ROTFL?".  Well, none of us knew, so I called my daughter (who is in an Xer -Generation X was born between 1965 and 1980) and she explained it meant Rolling On The Floor Laughing.  So we asked her for more abbreviations, and she gave us the ones we knew already like BTW;  By The Way and OBO; Or Best Offer.  But she also shared more we did not know.
BCNU - Be seeing you
FWIW - For what it's worth (I think I have seen this one before)
IMHO - In my humble opion
TTYL - Talk to you later
TTFN - Ta ta for now (Actually my friend Cecil used to often say ttfn to me, so I know this one too).
RTFM - Read the funny manual (yea, that's not what she really said. . .)
TNSTAAFL - There's not such thing as a free lunch. 
So for my Baby Boomer friends, you may find this very helpful.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011


By Tina Clauder

How many times have you heard internet leads are not followed; If you’re in property management, probably a lot? According to Bill Rice the CEO of Leads on Track, an estimated 80% of leads are not followed up.

When you go to a restaurant and sit at your table you expect to wait a few moments for your server to arrive in request of your drink order but what if you wait for 10 or 15 minutes?  Do you stay and speak up or do you leave, tired of being ignored? Either option you choose your servers’ tip will most likely reflect your dissatisfaction being put off, especially if you leave. Now think about this from a leasing standpoint? If you receive commissions how much money do you lose out by NOT replying to these leads?

Recently, I was employed with a company and consumed the role of internet lead follow up. Most internet marketing has default automatic, generic responses for each lead that requests more information. These replies are great for a start but many people attach a specific question to their inquiry which unfortunately, most go unanswered. We live in the land of RIGHT NOW. Your prospect doesn’t expect a reply right that minute but they do expect an answer within the day. I checked the property email constantly; replying to an average of 8 leads per day, on a large, property. More than 50% of the leads I followed up on came to tour and more than 70% of those leased! At least 5 times a week prospects would reply thanking me “for the quick response”. On average 2 tours’ a week, from internet leads, would mention more than half of the inquires they sent on line to other properties where never answered! Ridiculous!

I would challenge you to log onto 5 internet marketing sites and request information as if you were a prospect and see what kind of replies you receive. If after this little stint you’re still content with throwing your money away please let me know as I am happy to provide my address so you may mail me checks. When you DON’T reply to your prospects you’re basically PAYING your competitions leasing commissions; that’s where the prospect is going, to your competition. There is no way I would give money up so freely, what about you?

Tina Clauder
Sales & Management Specialist for 15 years.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren - Pemberton Park

I am proud to have been involved in this new adventure for the Multi-Family Industry. Pemberton Park, exclusively for Grandparents Raising their Grandchildren.

This article from The Best Times is great.

The Best Of Times - Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Socialnomics: Social Media Revolution

Socialnomics: Social Media
Please click on this link to view this video.  It's really good!!

I talk to sooo many people who are unaware of the power of Social Media.  So if you're not into Social Media it unlikely you will see this post.  But, if by chance you do, enjoy!

It's only because I love you!!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Celebrate Reaching Occupancy Goals!!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Assuming the Sale
By Becky Batista with The Yarco Companies

The mind is a powerful force. Think about the power of positive thinking.

There was a girl I went to high school with who always got the cute, popular
guys. Curious thing was, she was not very pretty by most standards. I made up my mind to study her to try to figure out what she had that the other girls didn't. Simply put, SHE believed she was beautiful. As a result, she carried herself like a beautiful, confident girl and sold it!

Fast forward twenty years, give or take a few. I had taken a position in Vegas as a dreaded telemarketer. Talk about a hard, thankless job! I have a little competitive edge about me and I wanted desperately to succeed, so I positioned myself to sit beside the guy who was the top salesman. Everyone
around us was making a sale every fifteen or twenty minutes, and this guy was cold selling nearly every call. What kind of mojo did he have that the others didn't possess?'s a practice called assuming the sale. It's pretty much exactly the
way it sounds. When you're talking to a prospective customer, or in our case a prospective resident, you use language that sounds as though you are assuming that they will rent. Remember the girl from high school? She believed she was beautiful, so she made others believe it too. It's no different in business. If you convince the prospect you believe something, you make them believe it too! It might sound something like this, "Let me show you your apartment." You are sending a message subconsciously to the prospect
that you it's assumed they are renting. "This is your living room, and just look at your kitchen!". You are causing the prospect to envision themselves living there. "You're going to be so happy here!". You are imputing a positive emotion that they will remember when they think about their visit.

Now let's look at the flip side. The differences are subtle, but they make a huge difference. "Let me show you an apartment." It may or may not be theirs. There's no assumption that they will be renting. "This is the living
room and this is the kitchen over here." They are busy surveying the floor
plan, but not imagining themselves there. "So, do you like it?" or "What do you think?". You've just transferred the control of the conversation back to them and opened the floor for a negative reaction or comment.

Be confident in your product. Know your product. Assume that the prospect WANTS your product. You will set the stage for a successful close every time.
 Happy leasing!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Facebook Fanatic by Jeremy Lawson, NALP

What is your community doing to promote your social media sites?

Upon move-in and at renewal time, are just two great times to easily let your residents know how they can keep in touch with your community online.

Whenever a new resident moves into your community remember they are eager to learn! Why not let tell them all about what your awesome community has to offer. A welcome letter you can leave in the apartment is a great place to tell them all about their new home and how they can connect with you socially.

Do you have a cover sheet that you send out with your lease renewals? If so, make sure your social media logos are at the bottom. If not, making one only takes a few minutes and you will be surprised how many current residents may not know how social you really are. You can also add an area to ask for updated contact information and other housekeeping items.

Help your property stand out on search engines

When posting on Facebook and other sites don’t forget to link readers back to your community website. This will help make your community website rank higher on search results. Ultimately, this can help drive more prospective residents to your community. One great idea is to add detailed events to your community website and then say, “visit www… for more information.”

Speaking of community events pages, did you know having links on your calendar will also make you appear higher on search results pages? The more links you have on your website to other pages, the higher “organically” you will appear to searchers. So, add area links to your “Residents Links” page and your Facebook page too, you may even be able to sell the links on your community website to area merchants.

Tweet to you soon,

Jeremy Lawson, NALP

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

LISTEN TO LEASE - Listenting 101 By: Malissa Silvey

Don’t you just HATE it when people don’t listen to you!

You tell the saleslady exactly what you are looking for and she comes back with something totally inappropriate. You describe, in detail, exactly the look you’re after and still your hairdresser cuts it too short!

On the other hand, occasionally you find a hairdresser that really listens to what you’re saying and actually hears clues about you and your personality during your ‘beauty shop’ chit chat. When they can use that knowledge to suggest new styles, a mani/pedi for a special occasion or a sassy new hair color, you are a customer for life. I’ve even followed my hairdresser to other cities and will drive miles out of my way for a hairdresser that listens to what is important to me.

I call this Listening 101 and it involves listening, really listening to your prospective resident. Listen to what they are saying from the moment they call you or walk through the office door to see your apartment community and continue to listen and absorb the information they are giving you as you engage your prospective resident in conversation. As you begin the tour of your apartment community and discuss the amenities it has to offer, you will already know what your potential resident is looking for in a home and a neighborhood and can discuss the particular benefits that this prospective resident will find the most appealing about your apartment community.

While you are walking to the new apartment home you are planning to show your prospect, you can point out the gated community or a security patrol to a person whose biggest concern is safety, or you can make sure and tour past a playground with a family who expressed interest in a play area for their children. It also bears mentioning now that the better you know your property and what it has to offer, the more apartments you will lease. How will you be able to answer a senior who is concerned about mobility if you don’t know where the nearest grocery store or bus stop is?

When you arrive at the apartment you are showing your prospective resident you will have an advantage because you’ve been listening to them. You can show them that extra storage area and point out that it is big enough to safely store the prospect’s bicycle. Or you can remark on the light in the second bedroom and how perfect it would be for an office area. Or perhaps they mentioned gardening as an interest so knowing that a balcony/patio with the perfect conditions for growing herbs or flowers might be the thing that convinces your prospective resident that they have found their new home.

It doesn’t matter what the person’s hot buttons are, or what they feel is most important, your job is simply to listen to what they want. When you listen, you will lease because you will know exactly how to help your prospect look at the apartment you are showing them and see their new home!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Start On Day One – Not Month Nine
Over the years I’ve seen managers spend a lot of money on gifts, tokens of appreciation, parties and incentives to entice their apartment residents to sign a new lease and remain at their apartment community for another year. Approximately 90 days before lease expiration a resident will be contacted for the first time in months and asked how things are in their apartment home. Then 60 days before lease-end they will be sent a letter asking them to sign a new lease. IN ADDITION, they are told, they will qualify for a menu selection of incentive items if they do. I am a strong believer in customer service and showing respect for your residents and this type of contact is great but your apartment residents should receive this treatment all year long.
The best way to ensure that your residents remain in your apartment community is to do everything you can to make each resident feel like they belong. Ask yourself how it makes you feel when you encounter someone who is genuinely happy to see you?  They call you by name, smile a greeting and engage in conversation. Doesn’t it make you feel good when someone you don’t know well is kind and treats you like a neighbor?  What if that person is your Apartment Manager or leasing staff?
True resident retention starts the first time you have contact with a prospective resident. The first meeting with a prospective resident is when you are showing them an apartment home that fits their needs and wants. Typically this is when a resident is at his or her happiest so why not try to build on that and set a goal to continue keeping that resident happy for the remainder of their residency at your apartment community. 
Here is a list of resident retention suggestions:
1.      Each visit to the Apartment Office is rewarded with a warm smile and personal greeting.  Call them by name.
2.      Ask “how are things in your apartment” when rent is dropped off. This may remind them of something they’ve been meaning to call in.
3.      Try to follow up after service requests when possible to confirm satisfaction.
4.      Schedule regular resident activities or events.
5.      Maintain the cleanliness and quality of grounds and all common areas.
6.      If a situation arises that upsets a resident, remember to listen and “under promise & over deliver.”
7.      Train your team to smile and greet residents when passing.
8.      At move-in confirm that everything in their new home is clean and working perfectly. If you were unable to complete any item prior to move-in, warn the resident. Your new resident has moved all day and they are tired. Now is not a good time for surprises and you don’t want them to feel they made a wrong choice moving into your community. People are generally reasonable if you are honest with them but a bad impression with an unexpected problem at move-in may be impossible to reverse.

Monday, January 17, 2011


Continue Building Interest through Your Prospect’s Emotional Side,

The Apartment Home is a sanctuary. So using your prospect’s information, identify their key wants and needs. Once you know what they are really looking for, you can feel confident that you have the right apartment home for them. You must not only show them their new apartment home, but also demonstrate all the features and benefits this apartment community, as well as their new home, has to offer.
As you walk from the leasing office, guide your prospective resident through the clubhouse area. Depending on what your apartment community has to offer, you may have several amenities to reveal. If you have a Business Center take them through the center so you can identify a valuable community asset if they lack access to a personal computer as well as educate them about any classes or tutoring opportunities available for them to increase their personal and professional computer skills. This is also a good time to discuss the available internet connection(s) in the apartment home.
From the Business Center (or the Clubhouse if no Business Center is available), a visit to the Fitness Center is next. Point out that all the items needed for a healthy workout are right outside their new apartment home. No investment in bulky, expensive exercise equipment. No expensive and restrictive gym membership fees—everything needed is right here and included in their rent. There is even a fitness trainer on staff to work with them individually to learn the different programs offered.
As you walk from the Clubhouse on your way to show them their new apartment home, take the most scenic route. DO NOT walk across the lawn for a “short cut.” Walk on the sidewalk and chat with them. You are walking with them through their potential new neighborhood and the better the rapport you build with them; the friendlier the neighborhood will feel to them. Don’t just point out, “There is the swimming pool.” Take them into the pool area and let them see the other residents having a good time. Ask your prospect if they enjoy swimming or the sun. Learn what interests they may have in/with the pool area. Turn whatever they say into a positive. If they say they have children, mention that the rules allow children swimming privileges as long as they are accompanied by an adult. If they don’t have children, point out that there is a scheduled ‘adult’ swim time that doesn’t allow anyone under 18 in the pool area.
As you walk by the barbeque areas ask them if they like to grill. Talk to them about their favorite foods to cook out and let them know if there are policies regarding the grill area hours of operation or if reservations are required prior to use. This is also an excellent opportunity to tell the prospective resident about any community gatherings like summer picnics or resident holiday gatherings.
After you present the prospect with their new community, show them the more personal side of their potential new apartment home. Point out where they will pick up their mail and which dumpsters are available for their trash. Discuss their trash service days and any limitations on debris volume or size.

Discuss the apartment community’s great maintenance staff. Tell the prospective resident about the maintenance policies regarding emergencies and repair turnaround time. Detail any resident activities that will be coming up soon. And continue to chat with them about the community and the benefits of being a part of it. It is also a good time to point out that there are several staff members who live on site (if that is the case) so you can assure them that the staff cares so much about the property because it is their community as well.
Upon entering the apartment, begin pointing out the features of the apartment and the benefits of each. Make a list of the features and benefits of your apartment homes. For instance something as simple as a plug-in on every wall is a feature. What is the benefit? It is the variety of ways that they can arrange their furniture. Discuss where they would place their furniture. Let them “feel” the apartment. Pay attention to ‘who’ they are and what they say. Do they have the latest and greatest in cell phones? They may be into electronics; you can bring up music and point out the outlets. Have you talked about food at all? If you’ve discussed cooking, you can point out the ability to plug in every kitchen appliance at once. The rapport you have built with your prospective resident will give you clues about how to present the features of your apartment home.
Continue to discuss the benefits of all the features the apartment home may have in general and for your prospect specifically. Do you feature a frost free refrigerator and or self cleaning stove? What are the benefits? How about a dishwasher? What is the benefit? Walk in closets? You get the idea. Don’t just point out the features; discuss the benefits of each feature and how it relates to your prospect. The more excited you are about the possibilities of them living there, the excited they will become as they ‘see’ their home through your eyes.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Great Year End!

I had a wonderful close to 2010.  I was assigned to work at one of Yarco's brand new senior  apartment communities in Globe, Arizona.  The apartment community is beautiful!  I love showing prospects the new apartments.  It was easy to lease the apartment homes.  But, it was not easy to find qualified prospects.  The apartment community is a senior LIHTC community; therefore the window of qualified prospects was small.  Plus, Globe is a smaller town so we exhausted the qualified residents of the area rather quickly.  Then the leasing nearly stopped!  Yikes. 

Here it is the end of the year, only two more weeks during the Holiday season to “tax out” the community and we still had 10 more apartment homes to lease. The month prior, we had rented half that amount of apartments. This was indeed a challenge.

Some of the things we did were visiting the tour bus at the nearby casino that stops with senior citizens from other areas and handed out treats and apartment fliers showing move-in specials. We also put newspaper ads in the large cities many states over. These along with calling and calling the entire past guest cards brought us enough qualified prospects to lease all the apartment homes!
Kudos go to Becky, Laura, Eileen and . . . .     
Linda Hansen, ARM, HCCP

Are You Ready for 2020?!

 3 Habits of Highly Memorable Leasing Professional When your customer walks out of your leasing office, they will often remember the small...