The estimates are in – and it’s not pretty: depending on who you listen to, the forecast is for 175,000 – 250,000 new multifamily rental units coming online in the next 12 – 18 months. What’s your plan to stay competitive? And can you do it without concessions and lower rents?The answer is “yes” and here’s a few more suggestions to get you started:
- Forget “The Golden Rule”: When it comes to customer service, “Treat other people the way YOU want to be treated” is a rather selfish and arrogant way to treat customers – how do we know that everyone wants what we want, likes what we like and dislikes what we dislike? I suggest a slightly different rule: “Treat other people the way THEY want to be treated.” How do you know how they want to be treated? ASK THEM! Try it – it works!
- Train Your Service Team to Serve: Yes, it’s important that your service technicians be up to date with their technical skills – and how about their customer service skills? Start with a basic “Customer Service” class, followed by an “Effective Communication Skills” class and then a “Dealing with Difficult People” class. There are plenty of great, cost-effective training programs available today (classroom and self-paced online training) and since your service team has more contact with your residents than any other team member, don’t you think it’s worth spending a couple of bucks to make certain they are trained to serve?
- Offer Evening and Weekend Service Appointments: If I can get my transmission replaced at the new car store on a Saturday afternoon, why can’t I get my sink repaired on a Saturday afternoon? This is a zany business – the office is usually closed when all the residents are around – nights and weekends. Whether we like it or not, many people don’t want a “stranger” in their apartment, alone with their stuff. So schedule a Service Tech to work Tuesday – Saturday, and from noon – 8:00 PM a couple of days a week.
- Don’t Tell People You Can’t Do Something Because “That’s our policy”: This is just another way of saying “You wouldn’t understand – you’re not worth explaining it to – go away”. While I do not advocate anarchy, I do advocate having a bare minimum of “absolute” policies – most of the decisions that have to made each day should be made locally, based on the particular circumstances. This requires hiring competent people, training them well, and letting them make front-line decisions (AND holding them accountable for those decisions) that please our residents. Stop telling your residents what you can’t do – they expect you to help solve their problems. Don’t disappoint them – unless you want them to move!
- “If I do this for you, I’ll have to do it for everybody” Well, we certainly don’t want anyone to feel TOO special, do we? While part of our job is to practice fair housing, observe all laws, rules, and regulations and to offer equal treatment to everyone, that doesn’t mean that we can’t make everyone feel SPECIAL in the process. And, so what if you have to do it for everybody, if it makes financial sense and makes everybody feel SPECIAL – why not?
The most effective – and successful – multifamily professionals are the people who can do the same couple of hundred things over and over and over and over and over and over . . . and almost ALWAYS be enthusiastic and caring about it. We work where people live – this IS a personal business – and the way to compete is to genuinely care about our residents and show it through every interaction!
Try it for a day – when you hit a rough patch, fake it till you make it real again and keep at it. Remind yourself that your residents pay your salary, feed your pets and finance your vacation. Then tell your face and carry on – your residents will get it when it’s genuine and it will take more than new carpet and a fresh paint smell to get them to move!
For more ideas, make sure you view the webinar recording.