4 Walls Announces Weekend Coverage for 4 Mindshare & Respage Customers!

4 Walls is pleased to announce weekend coverage on our Respage and 4 Mindshare services. Available at no additional cost, this will allow our multifamily and small business customers to effectively communicate on social media throughout the week. Respage customers, click here for more details.  4 Mindshare customers, click here.

Why Socialize?

Socializing helps you provide better service to current renters as well as attract and close prospects looking for a new apartment. Specifically, it:

http://www.respage.com/whysocialize.html

3 Ideas for Improving Resident Communication

If I could boycott US Airways, I would. But I live in Philadelphia, their primary hub, and despite the welcomed arrival of Southwest, US Airways is often the only carrier with a non-stop or convenient departure to my destination. Such was the case with my current trip out to Seattle for the Riverstone conference—sure enough, I saw once again why I don’t like USAirways: their lack of communication.

Clear and sufficient communication is just as imperative in the multifamily space as well. How well are you doing in these three areas of resident communication?

Application process. All first time renters (and many veteran renters) do not understand the rental application process. Surprises such as low credit scores, the need to find a last minute co-signer, or tight application timelines can confuse and upset prospects who are already stressed out by the apartment search. How can you help? How about posting an educational piece on your website that informs customers about what to expect? Explaining what hurdles might arise during the process can help avoid a lot of hard feelings over what is simply business as usual in the multifamily industry.

Social media mentions. It always surprises me that many large businesses don’t reply to social media mentions (including US Airways). Not replying to customer complaints on your Facebook page can escalate to a post you can do nothing about on apartmentratings.com. Free and low cost tools are available to assist with the social media monitoring process, so there is no excuse not to be aware of and respond in a timely manner to comments on your blog and/or social media pages.

Maintenance/weather related notices. You probably have a pretty good process in place to let residents know when basic services such as water, electric, or elevators need to be offline for repairs or maintenance. Why not use these same systems to notify people about the snow removal process and how they can help everyone to dig out? Timely and thorough communication will help you to avoid annoying 5 a.m. calls to the manager on duty.

What are your communication enhancing ideas? Share them below.

Seabiscuit or Secretariat: What Supplier Horse Would You Ride?

The result of a recent supplier partner evaluation was to “keep riding the same horse.” In response, the supplier emailed back, “Thanks. I'll try to be Seabiscuit.” To which I replied, “Well, actually, I was hoping more for Secretariat.”

Truthfully, I was trying to be clever, but it did get me thinking about what should be at the core of an ideal multifamily vendor relationship.

On one hand, I've always been a fan of Horatio Alger stories, so the appeal of Seabiscuit, the undersized underdog who comes to the rescue and becomes an unlikely hero when he's needed most, is palpable. On the other hand, who doesn't like the idea of working with an “unflawed hunk of beauty and beast”, a sure thing at 1-10 odds who wins races by an unimaginable 31 lengths.

I recently learned the fact that broke the tie. Secretariat's necropsy (i.e. horse autopsy) revealed that his heart weighed 22 pounds, or two and a half times the size of the average horse’s heart.

The heart is the source of stamina and endurance, both of which are needed to complete lengthy and difficult tasks. But more importantly, “heart” is the origin of tenacity, fortitude, and pluck—traits that manifest themselves in caring and going above and beyond what is expected, or even thought possible.

As much as I'm a sucker for the unlikely hero, in the end, my vote goes to Secretariat—and suppliers with the huge hearts.

Don't Be So Fast to Scrap Your Current Website

One of our larger clients decided to use a friend to redo their multifamily site rather than use a company like ours that specializes in multifamily sites. Because I have a relatively close relationship with one of the owners, I wrote out a short list of the most critical things they needed to include in the site architecture and what to think about during the planning process to achieve their SEO goals. I only included the most essential basics, e.g. make sure your system allows you to assign unique titles and meta description tags to each page.

They launched the site, and guess what? The developer didn't implement a single one of my suggestions.

But the biggest mistake the developer made was that he simply dumped the old site and put up a new one with all new page names (URLs). This was problematic because the old site pages had already been crawled and indexed by search engines, and while they weren't setting the world on fire, they had built up some PageRank and were enjoying some search engine traffic. The minute these pages were pulled down, the search engine traffic disappeared. To add insult to injury, they didn't update their Pay Per Click ad links, and were therefore pouring many thousands of dollars a month in advertising dollars down the drain.

Don't let this happen to you. Your new website developer should keep your site in place and "redirect" old pages to the new one. Only after you are sure that Google, Yahoo, and other search engines have indexed your new pages, and that your old ones are not appearing in search results, can you safely delete the old pages.

Luckily for the client, Google's new algorithm indexes new pages much more quickly than it used to, so they won't be in the search engine penalty box for too long. However, any traffic they could have had during the critical spring leasing season is forever lost, as is the ability to convey the page rank of the old URL.

So the moral of the story is, don't scrap your old website too quickly.

Commit, and Win

I was going to be damned if I didn't at least try to do an axel jump during my 6 a.m. skate this morning. But, a nanosecond before I jumped, I chickened out and fell flat on the ice. My left thigh was throbbing, and though I knew I wasn't seriously injured, it did cross my mind that my behind might freeze solid before I'd be able to get back up.

In business, like in figure skating, sometimes you fall down. But the truth is, unless you are abnormally reckless, the most serious risk factor is not fully committing yourself to what you are doing. And with financial stresses continuing to mount in the multifamily industry, there's no better time to recommit yourself to your job and avoid the business equivalent of falling on your behind—finding yourself with a pink slip in hand!

Success abounds in every market condition, so why not recommit yourself and be one of the winners? Set professional aspirations and vow to do your best at all moments in pursuit of your goals.

If you work in the multifamily industry, either in a sales role or in a leasing or property management position, one of your primary goals is to close sales. To accomplish this, you must find prospects and close the deal. In this market, you may need to spend a little extra time to do outreach or prospecting, arrive to work a few minutes early to get those craigslist ads up and manage your social media, or thoughtfully analyze how to best deploy your advertising dollars. Don't let fear or apathy get in the way. Just do it! As always, treat your prospects like they are the most important people in the world during all phases of the sales process. Those who do this will not only reap short-term financial rewards, but they will be recognized and ultimately earn career advancement.

Don't wind up on your butt like I did. Set goals and then execute them with commitment. You'll land on your feet every time.