Management Advice

Staying Connected in a Remote Environment

Roughly one year ago, companies across the globe were forced to accept and implement work-from-home strategies. Today, remote work is expected to continue despite the huge strides that have been made in tackling the pandemic. Prior to COVID-19, remote work had already seen a steady increase with an estimated 4.7 million people already in some sort of at-home work environment.

Due to the pandemic, roughly 56.8% of workers will remain in a work-from-home arrangement throughout 2021. With better work and home life balances and reduction of overhead costs, companies plan to continue these remote solutions. It is anticipated that 36.2 million Americans will remain in remote situations through 2025.

This, however, leads us to the burning question: How best to stay connected while working remotely?

By now, most of us are familiar with online messaging services like Slack, Microsoft Teams, GroupMe, and Google Hangouts. And let’s not forget to mention the immediate popularity of Zoom Video Chats. These all offer wonderful solutions, but they are not one-size-fits-all options. In face-forward industries like multifamily, it can be difficult to come up with creative alternatives for staying connected. Not only for your teams, but for your communities too.  First, let’s take a look at the operational side of things.

Tips for Keeping Your Multifamily Professionals Engaged

Make Video Interactions Mandatory

This one may seem a bit obvious. But, you would be surprised at how many people will do just about ANYTHING to avoid being on video. Unfortunately, in today’s world, this simply isn’t an option. Face-to-face conversations are key in business. Video offers interaction in a world where our time together is limited. Genuinely healthy face-to-face connection simply doesn’t exist through other forms of remote communication.

Assign Visibility Buddies

It is easy to get lost in your own world while working from home. For many people, the hardest part is the fact that you experience very little encouragement or interaction with others. It has been found that when team members are paired up, great things can happen. When linking arms with one another and cheering each other on, support and encouragement can be more easily achieved. It can sometimes feel like bragging when you share your accomplishments in a group environment. But, through one-on-one relationships, that dynamic can change entirely. Studies have found that continuous positive reinforcement is a highly beneficial practice.

Company Contests and Challenges

Over the last year or so, virtual socialization has become more widely accepted. But who says this practice has to be limited to social circles? Aside from obvious happy hours or lunch meet-ups, employers can create fun contests and challenges to keep employees engaged. Contest ideas can include “best ugly holiday sweater”, “best  costume,” and even “funniest pet or child moments while working from home,” or “most creative work from home set up.” Health and fitness challenges have also gained popularity in recent years, and have only increased in popularity throughout the pandemic. Keeping your office staff feeling like a team is imperative to keeping remote atmospheres positive and successful.

Now it’s time to talk about a completely different level of issues that have impacted the multifamily industry: Staying connected with your residents.

Ideas For Keeping Communities Engaged

Create a Social Media Page or Online Chat Board

Providing a safe space for residents to interact is a wonderful way to keep neighbors connected. It also helps keep them up-to-date on the latest happenings within their community. It offers a great place for management to advertise events, notify residents of community-wide maintenance, and to post important announcements. Conducting polls is another great way for residents to offer input and answer questions you may have for your community. Assigning a mediator will help keep your page or board a safe environment by watching out for any inappropriate posts. And, many communities have found this to be an incredibly successful way to keep everyone engaged and informed.

Create Community Virtual Events

Due to the pandemic, roughly 56.8% of workers will remain in a work-from-home arrangement throughout 2021. With better work and home life balances and reduction of overhead costs, companies plan to continue these remote solutions. It is anticipated that 36.2 million Americans will remain in remote situations through 2025.

Start a Community Newsletter

Newsletters are a great way to help residents stay up-to-date with community events, and hot topics. You can invite your residents to submit stories or request topics of interest. You could highlight birthdays, special events, or create a pet corner – I mean, who doesn’t love sharing cute photos of their furry loved ones? Posting accomplishments and positivity can also help you create the tone you want your community to have.

Just remember: Staying connected with your multifamily staff and residences can be accomplished. We’ve all had to get a little bit more creative during the pandemic, and we at Hire Priority can help. We take the time to provide ideas to both our clients and job hopefuls, and want to help you too. Want to learn more about our services? Check us out today!

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Closing the Sale from Behind the Screen

Over the last year, our sense of “normal” has shifted dramatically. You owe yourself a pat on the back because you have repeatedly demonstrated one of the greatest attributes of human nature: our innate and powerful ability to adapt. You have implemented virtual processes, automated your marketing approach, and even came up with virtual solutions for keeping your team and community engaged in a newly distanced environment. You have charted the course, leading the way towards creating your very own “new normal”.

But what about closing sales? Unfortunately, this aspect of the housing industry has its own challenges, as it simply isn’t something you can plug into an app or send a quick email on. Sure, you’ve set up a killer virtual tour, best shots around, and beautiful editing, but how can we build rapport that will result in a signed lease when we’re not working with our potential residents face-to-face?

The answers to this challenge may not be as intimidating as they appear on the surface. Sure, you may not have the ability to utilize that same in-person environment that most leasing agents thrive in, but there are ways to deliver that same energy, even from behind the screen.

Closing Over the Phone

Now you are probably thinking that after a year of Zoom conferences, Google Video, and FaceTime, surely our first area to cover will be all about “face-to-face” conversations via video. While we all agree that video is a wonderful solution, it isn’t something that’s always available, and some people genuinely prefer using the phone. There is something special about simply hearing someone else’s voice, taking us back to a simpler, more trusting time. Don’t be afraid to pick up your phone when closing sales. Here are some simple guidelines to follow when connecting with others and closing with clients over the phone:

  1. Remain Positive and Empathetic

As strange as this sounds, maintaining positive and powerful body language while speaking on the phone will help your energy stay exactly where it needs to be. Despite not being able to see you, prospects can usually hear the difference in your voice when you’re sitting down, standing up, and are even able to tell if you’re smiling. It’s hard to not have a positive attitude when you have a smile on your face. If you were speaking in-person you’d have a smile on your face, so why not now?

Another important practice to get really good at is to tap into an emotional connection with your caller. Imagine yourself in their shoes: they’re looking for a new home that they have only seen essentially online. What questions would you personally have about the property? What would you want to hear to help calm your nerves? Chances are if it’s something you would want to hear, they would as well.

  1. Listen

Active listening is key to building rapport with your prospective residents. Focus on what they are trying to tell you; take notes of their needs, their concerns, and any questions that come up. Address them by name and repeat back what they say as it will show them you understand and let them know you care. Gentle acknowledgments while they’re speaking, such as a verbal “nod”, will let them know you’re engaged in the conversation. The more you listen, the more you’ll be able to find the solutions they’re looking for, putting any concerns aside, increasing the likelihood of signing a contract with them.

  1. Be Direct

You know that what you’re offering has value, so make sure, to be honest, and direct in sharing that fact. Why is your community the best community for them? What excites you about your community? What can you offer over and above anyone else? Creating focus to move in the right direction will help you create the ending you are looking for. Do not be afraid to go for it.

  1. Create A Sense of Urgency

The current leasing market is competitive. Many people are looking to make a move from the home they were recently quarantined in for the last year. Let them know that. Have other prospects reached out about this unit? Let them know. FOMO is real, and it has proven to be a successful sales tactic time and time again. Let them know that the offer you’re providing has a deadline; you can only hold this opportunity for so long. People don’t like to miss out on a good deal.

Closing Over Video

Virtual Tours have become LIFE when it comes to the new age of leasing. I mean, it’s the next best thing from being in person, right? The truth is, being in front of a camera can actually be a bit more nerve-wracking than you would like to admit. Just remember, the person on the other side of the screen is likely feeling just as awkward as you are. Know that there are simple ways for turning a live video tour into a successful close.

  1. Increase Your Energy

Be excited and exaggerate your body language; you are, after all, face-to-face with someone! Utilizing your energy will help your clients connect with you more. It’s a bit more difficult to turn up your energy virtually than it is in person, so do what you can to make your presence known.

  1. Remember to Go About Business as Usual

Virtual interaction can be a bit awkward sometimes but just remember: not much of your sales pitch has changed. Continue utilizing the strategies that were successful in person, as it will bring a sense of normalcy and comfort to your prospects. It will also show that you have the confidence and knowledge they are looking for in the person who can help them choose their next home.

  1. Guide the Tour

Do you know what the best part of providing a virtual tour is over an in-person one? You have complete control over how the prospect views a unit. Know they are looking for something in particular? Highlight the items that are the most appealing to them. Spend time helping them visualize how it would feel to come home to their beautiful new home. Envision exactly how you want this to go and utilize the tools to execute it flawlessly.

  1. Ask for the Sale

Time is of the essence in a world that is ever-changing, and there is no better time than now. Feel like you nailed it? Then go for it! You have their full attention, you have their facial responses, what can hurt in asking if they’re ready to sign the lease? This is also the time to address any questions about the leasing process, and show what your team has done to make this a simple and safe environment.

The last and most important step to remember when selling from behind the screen is follow-up. Sometimes a prospect simply isn’t ready to sign immediately, and it’s ok. We all know it was no different when we were doing this in person. Not everyone likes to make snap decisions, and every situation is unique. Creating a deadline and setting up your follow-up, whether through email or a phone call, is imperative to landing the sale in the long run.

Hire Priority takes pride in providing valuable information to not only our leasing staff prospects but also to communities throughout Texas. Together we can help you to navigate the struggles in order to build a better tomorrow. Contact us today to see how we can help you.

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Tips for Hiring Your Ideal Apartment Maintenance Team

Finding and sustaining a good maintenance team is one of the greatest challenges in the multifamily industry today. Between the increased need for this service among home developments and the decreased desire among younger generations to pursue this trade, finding dependable long-term maintenance staff can be frustrating. Here are some tips to help you navigate the journey of finding your ideal apartment maintenance team.

1.         Determine Exactly What You Are Looking For

This element of the hiring process is one of the most important steps in hiring the right maintenance team. Taking the time to sit down and evaluate exactly how much assistance you need, along with getting a clear picture of what primary tasks they will be covering is key. What are the biggest issues you face with your building(s)? Is there any knowledge you would prefer your candidates already possess, or will a desire to learn be sufficient? Go through the history of issues you have encountered in the past; was there anything you wish your maintenance staff had known that would have made things go more smoothly? From asking yourself questions like these, you’ll be able to determine the knowledge and availability your ideal candidate would possess, and you’ll be better able to determine what salary you are willing to pay for this position.

2.         Write a Descriptive Job Post

When posting a new job, do not be afraid to include exactly what you’re looking for. Be specific about which skills are mandatory, and which skills are simply preferred. Even if you are willing to offer some on-the-job training, making sure to honestly state your expectations will help you fine tune a better caliber of candidates who are willing and able to put in the hard work.

3.         Pre-Screen Before An In-Person Interview

During the hiring process, thoroughly reviewing each of your applications should always be the first step. Create your short list based on the cover letters and resumes received, and from there you will proceed with your phone interviews. Conducting phone interviews is an excellent way to identify any obvious red flags, and get a good feel for whether the candidate would be a good fit for your team. It will also help by greatly reducing the time needed for conducting in-person interviews. The candidates you pre-screen should be the ones that hold your peak interest only. Here are some sample questions to help you in narrowing down your candidate list:

  • What hours are you available each day? Are there any days or times during the week you know you cannot work?
  • What experience do you have working in multifamily maintenance?
  • Which tasks do you tend to enjoy the most?
  • Do you have any experience in keeping track of maintenance records? How did you go about this?
  • What are your salary expectations?
  • Do you know anything about our community or company?

4.         In-Person Interview

At this point, you will have narrowed your choices down to a much more refined list of potential maintenance candidates. Be sure to make notes of everything that happens during this phase in the hiring process: Was the candidate late? How did they present themselves? Do they have clear and concise communication skills? Are they friendly? Are they fidgety? Meeting them in person will give you some quick insights on how they might interact with residents. Here are some sample questions for the in-person interview portion of the hiring process:

  • Describe a previous issue you encountered while performing work in an apartment maintenance or similar position. How did you resolve it?
  • You realize a mistake was made early on in a project you’re working on, and it will put you behind your deadline. What do you do?
  • How do you typically deal with conflict? Do you have an example of this?
  • What is the most important quality a supervisor should possess?
  • How would you rate your customer service skills?

5.         Send the Job Offer and Begin Probationary Period

Congratulations! You have finally found the ideal candidate to join your team. When sending your job offer, make sure to include a full job description, a salary outline, and a full narrative of company values and standards. You will always want to make sure you are clear about employment including a probationary period, because sometimes it just doesn’t end up working out (we’ve all been there). Remember to be specific regarding the time frame and expectations during the probationary period so there’s no confusion going forward. While we understand that finding the right maintenance fit for your community can be tricky, know that it’s not impossible. Being prepared with the right process and questions, and by following the proper steps, you can ensure you are creating a  maintenance team that is both efficient and dependable. At Hire Priority, we specialize in multifamily staffing services. We can help by providing you with insight regarding your processes, and assist you in accessing pre-screened maintenance professionals in the Central Texas area. Please don’t hesitate to contact us to see how we can assist with all of your hiring needs.

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The New Normal: The Future of Apartment Leasing in a Digital World

As we approach the first anniversary of Texas’s first lockdown order, we cannot help but reflect on the long-term changes that are a direct result from experiencing our first (and hopefully last) global pandemic. A majority of industries have had no choice but to adapt to survive, and the multifamily industry is no different. Even though the move toward digital processes and services had already begun, the incorporation of physical distancing only increased the need to implement these practices on a larger scale. While we were all forced to quickly accept these changes, industry leaders are suggesting they may not change once the pandemic has come to an end.

The Normalization of Digital Processes

Over the last year, multifamily leasing professionals have been forced to come up with creative solutions to continue sales and ongoing marketing efforts while continuing to follow safe social distancing practices. This task isn’t so simple when we’re speaking of not just individuals’ homes, but their communities as well. Digital-first products can be a great means for success, including systems such as: virtual tours, on-demand delivery and concierge services, virtual communities, online contract and payment portals, and contactless access options. While these are some of the more popular options, many more are available depending on your specific needs. It has also been found that as individuals begin adopting and accepting these digital approaches, the result will be a higher sense of customer loyalty while simultaneously streamlining the communities ability to meet the needs of their residents.

Benefits of Virtual Leasing

Studies suggest that over 50% of new leases signed in 2020 were done completely virtually, giving companies the ability to understand more clearly some of the benefits to digital processes. These processes not only impact long-term tenant relations, but they improve leasing operations as well.

  1. Quicker Rental Processes

A number of programs have become standardized throughout the industry, eliminating the time-consuming process of emailing, printing, signing, scanning, emailing back, etc. Having the ability to create, send, receive, and save documents will help to save your precious time, allowing you to focus on more pressing tasks.

  1. Streamlined Marketing

Between 3D Virtual Tours and interactive site maps, prospects are learning more quickly if an apartment community is the right fit for them. Combine that with auto-generated email marketing software, and you have the ability to instantly send your available rentals out to potential residents with ease. This has not only proven to be successful on the leasing side, but surveys suggest that tenants prefer these methods over previous marketing and in-person methods.

  1. Automated Organization

Online services, such as automated assistance, have helped leasing professionals streamline their internal processes as well. From having the ability to automatically schedule showings, answer common inquiries, prequalify applicants, and collect and organize information, automating your leasing processes ensures you don’t miss a beat.

  1. Reflecting Professional Appearances

In the multifamily industry, first impressions are everything. You are not just selling an apartment home after all, but a community. Online processes and experiences provide your residents with safe interactions, professional communications, and easy-to-use portals for not only their leasing process, but their living experience as a whole.

  1. Good for the Environment

The pandemic demonstrated to us how even the smallest changes can have big environmental impacts. “Going green” with your leasing and continued management processes will not only shine a positive light on your brand, showing a “we care” attitude, but can also save you a lot of money in the long run. The reduction of paper, stamps, ink, and envelopes may seem like a small cut in comparison but businesses who have made the switch have found that it greatly reduces their long-term operation costs overall.

The “New Normal” doesn’t have to be as daunting as it seems. Leasing professionals across the country have adapted, proving that not all changes resulting from 2020 are bad. Utilizing and incorporating digital processes in your day-to-day can help save time, increase revenue, and create a more cohesive relationship between your residents and staff alike, leading the way to the better future we are all looking towards. Hire Priority is here to help you on this journey. As one of Texas’s leading multifamily staffing agencies, we pride ourselves in keeping up with current multifamily trends, allowing us to effectively  match the right candidates with the right positions. Please visit our website to learn how we can assist you along the next stage of your journey.

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How the Texas State and City Governments are Helping Renters and Landlords

How the Texas State and City Governments are Helping Renters and Landlords

May 1st came and went and with it saw another round of outcries from renters and landlords having to deal with unpaid rent and mortgage payments due to economic hardship caused by the pandemic.

The federal government has been dealing out relief checks to some American’s, however it has been largely left up to State governments to help out renters and landlords with their housing issues. Below are some of the things that are happening in the state of Texas to help out it’s renting and multifamily housing population.

Evictions are Banned by Some Counties

According to the Texas Tribune, “Some cities and counties have opted to ban evictions for even longer than the Texas Supreme Court has ordered. Austin has instituted a 60-day grace period, and the Dallas City Council may follow suit. Earlier this month, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins halted evictions through May 18. 

Harris County has also banned evictions through May 18.

Rent Relief Economic Packages

In Houston, Mayor Sylvester Turner announced a $15 million rent relief program that will use millions in federal COVID-19 relief money to help Houstonians pay their rent.

If approved, the relief package will be managed by the well-known local non-profit, BakerRipley.

Qualifying Houston renters who could not pay their April and/or May rent will get $1,056 of rental assistance per each month of missed April and May rent according to reports.

The program is supported by the Houston Apartment Association and is expected to help 6,818 renting households in the Houston area.

Other cities are following Houston’s example. San Antonio officials announced a $25 million emergency housing assistance program, and as of Thursday, 4,737 applications have been approved. 

The Dallas City Council allocated about $13.7 million in federal money to the rent and mortgage assistance programs. Some households will receive up to $1,500 in aid per month for three months, while others may get assistance for two years.

Apartment Associations are Stepping Up

Officials at the Texas Apartment Association, whose 12,000 members include around 7,500 property owners and operators, said they are unsure if there will be a sudden increase in evictions.

“I can’t predict what’s coming five minutes from now, much less five months from now,” said Chris Newton, executive vice president of the Texas Apartment Association. “But I do think it’s important that all the stakeholders are working together because this is where we are all in uncharted waters. We’re going to have to figure out a way to manage this.”

Newton said association members have been advised to work out deals with residents and that evictions are a last resource for them.

As we move towards June 1st and another rent cycle, we are glad to see that programs are being enacted that will help ease the pain of the multifamily housing industry and the renters that depend on it for their housing needs.

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