Management Advice

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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Posted in Career Blog Categories, Hiring Tips, Management Advice | Tagged , , , |

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.

Posted in Career Blog Categories, Management Advice |

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.

Posted in Career Blog Categories, Management Advice |

5 Tips for Practicing Social Distancing in Apartment Communities

Beyond Countertops: Which Multifamily Amenities Are Performing Best

We are all well into the quarantine life the Novel Coronavirus has pushed onto us and are getting used to the “new normal” of the rules we have to live by. As we move into a new phase that includes loosening of some restrictions, many apartment communities may wonder how to reintroduce communal spaces to their residents.

Below we have 5 tips for community managers to help their residents continue to practice social distancing in their apartment properties.

1. Disinfect Shared Spaces Daily and Provide Hand Sanitizer

Many apartment communities closed all their non-essential common spaces when the social distancing rules went into place. These places included the main office, business center, fitness facilities, and dog parks. Now that the rules are starting to loosen, allowing restaurants and movie theaters to open, residents may be ready for their common spaces to open too.

First and foremost, a daily protocol of disinfectant by the maintenance staff will need to take place before these spaces can be opened. In addition, hand sanitizer must be provided at entrances for residents to use as they enter and exit. Even with sanitation efforts, spaces will need to be restricted to around 25% capacity. This means additional staff will need to be employed to count residents as they enter and exit.

2. Pools and Gyms

It may be safe to re-open the gym and pools at 25% capacity and with a sign in and sign out sheet. You may need to close every hour for sanitation. The most important aspect of reopening large spaces is being able to contact trace if someone tests positive for the virus. A sign in/sign out sheet will enable the community to not only control how many residents are in the space, but also which residents used the space that day. Closing the gym and pool every hour for a 15 min sanitation, wiping down equipment and chairs, will also ensure that germs do not spread.

3. Non-Emergency Maintenance Requests

Most communities shut down any maintenance requests that weren’t emergencies when the quarantine rules went into place. Communities may be considering accepting non-emergency maintenance requests as the restrictions loosen. It is important to make sure that there is no contact between the resident and the maintenance person when they visit the unit. Requiring the resident and the maintenance person to wear a mask when inside the unit is also essential. Rules that were put into place with emergency requests should be upheld in all future requests.

4. Laundry Room Appointments with Assigned Machines

The laundry room may have been considered an essential area for your community. If it wasn’t, there are helpful things you can do to safely reopen it. An online sign up system with time blocks and assigned machines will help in contact tracing and sanitation. Sanitizing the machines each time they are used is essential in stopping the spread of germs. Providing hand sanitizer at the entrance and requiring masks will also help keep your residents and staff safe.

5. Communication

Perhaps the most important aspect of reopening common spaces is communication with your residents. Even if you are not comfortable reopening, you can explain that to your residents so they don’t suffer frustration as they wonder what’s happening in their community. Make sure every resident has access to the messages you are sending out. This could mean putting a flyer on each door with a link to sign up for email or text message communications, or also providing paper bulletins on community boards for residents that don’t have phone or internet service.

While we are not in the all clear yet, life is starting to get back to “normal” as we go into May of 2020. Things might never be the way they were, but battling germs will always be something that community managers should consider for their residents. Some practices implemented now may be lasting moves to provide a safer and more enjoyable apartment community.

Posted in Career Blog Categories, Management Advice |

Top 5 Ways to Use Technology To Speed Up the Hiring Process

It’s April 2020 and the global quarantine is still in full effect. It may seem endless now, but this time will not last forever. In terms of hiring, employers need to be ready for when the business is fully operational and the massive amount of unemployed workforce begins to apply for open positions.

Time lost in hiring is time lost in producing much needed revenue, so it’s more important now than ever to utilize technology to quickly hire the right candidates to get your business up and running.

Below we list the Top 5 Ways to Use Technology To Speed Up the Hiring Process.

#1: Applicant Tracking System

Many AI hiring applications contain an advanced applicant tracking system that will enable you to easily monitor key hiring metrics such as “time to fill,” “cost per hire,” and number of applicants applying for certain positions. This means you can accurately keep your hiring budget in line. An example would be to see that a certain position has less applicants and then allocating more advertising budget to that position. 

#2: A Short-Form Messenger Service

Since it is expected that there will be a flood of applicants, it can be assured that communicating with them all in long-form, traditional emails will be a big time suck. Setting up a messenger system that can quickly ask filtering interview questions will be invaluable to hiring managers. The majority of applicants in 2020 are conducting job searches on their phones, so being able to shoot them quick text messages with questions you would normally save for an intro interview will be efficient for both the interviewer and the candidate.

#3: Personality Assessments and Background Checks

Personality and background checks are usually saved for later on in the interview process. However by moving this up to the intro stage you will quickly identify the best candidates for your company culture before even asking any interview questions. There are many free personality tests online that you can send the candidate to in the beginning stages of the hiring process. 

In addition to a personality fit, you need to make sure the candidate’s criminal background is clean. Usually it takes up to 3 days to get a background check so pushing this up to the forefront for qualified candidates can save time in getting them to work. Unlike personality tests, criminal background checks are not free so a hiring manager will have to be be able to utilize all the information available to them to make sure they are checking only qualified candidates.

#4: Video Interview System

Applications such as Zoom enable businesses to take their meetings online via professional video conferencing. While this is not new technology, most entry-level candidates are not asked to participate in video interviews. By opening this way of interviewing up to all positions, a hiring manager can both start the job search process as early as possible and interview multiple candidates at one time. Imagine having your top 10 candidates for an entry level position all on a video conference and being able to ask them the same questions to see how they compare to each other? Probably stressful for the candidates but very enlightening for the interviewer.

#5: Learning Management System

Lastly, outside of the hiring process, the most important aspect in bringing on new employees is the onboarding process. Many companies have well thought out material to ensure the success of their new employees. However, oftentimes that learning system is dependent on in-person training and takes time away from seasoned employees that will need to be dedicating themselves to their own jobs when things are back up and running. Now is the time to invest in an onboarding system that a new hire can complete online, possibly from home. 

An online company academy need not be only for new hires! You can utilize it for continuing education for your current team, making the financial investment work double time for you.

Software such as Enboarder and WorkBright are great examples that you can consider for your company.

While it may seem that this is a time where productivity has halted, you can instead start to discover all the great technology that is out there  to make your transition back to “business as usually” quick and painless. Possibly even better than before!

Posted in Career Blog Categories, Management Advice |