Friday, December 16, 2011

Groundhogs Don’t Rent U-Hauls in December

The apartment industry is dead set on one and only one sure fact about its renters. Nobody moves in December.

Owners shake in fear of retaining a vacant apartment through the entire winter. Leasing Agents fight back tears that offices will become ghost towns. Property Managers stare at budgets dreading evaporating bonuses. “You’re going to take that vacant unit through the winter,” the conference calls echo.

Maybe it’s all that celebrating done in December. Regardless of personal beliefs, some holiday is sure to fall between Thanksgiving and the New Year; most people have a reason to celebrate somewhere on the final month of the wall calendar.

And who wants to pack up a U-Haul and MOVE when there’s all this celebrating to do?

Apartments available for rent in December are like 2011 model cars, sitting on the car lot while their shiny 2012 replacements are en route from China. The 2011 models instantly become last year’s model and the dealer wants them gone!

There’s a best time to buy everything and a twelve month lease should be on that list for December!

Walk into an apartment community on December 15th and state, “I was thinking about moving on January 1st but I don’t know.” Then sit back and watch that leasing agent do financial cartwheels to lure you in. It’s amazing!

Don't be a mythical creatures that pop its heads out of the hole, looks around for a shadow, and then disappears until March. If you are a smart consumer, move in December, renew in December, get new in December. Then celebrate!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Remember Us? I Hope So!

Whatever happened to you? Nice couple with 2.1 kids. You were so very interested in the ONLY REMAINING three bedroom with central air, new cabinets, and a renovated master bath?

You don’t call, you don’t write. I’m beginning to think you don’t even remember us!

Let me help. We offered plush berber carpet, huge closets, a garbage disposal, a door with a number on it, windows that you can see out. Even a kitchen sink comes standard on your new home. Hang on. Didn’t every single apartment you looked at last weekend have all that? Fair enough.

I don’t blame you for not remembering us as the spotless apartment in great location. If that’s what we demonstrated, then we’re not doing our job.

I teach my leasing agents to show that we are different - in a good way. Did we succeed?

I hope it’s not that she kept calling you Bob when your name is Joe. Don't commit us to memory because this is the first place you ever saw, from the vacant apartment window, eight pre-teens single-handedly tip the landscaper’s Port-O-John.

This is what I mean:

When we follow up with a quick email and the link to the ethnic supermarket we promised was right around the corner, we do it so you remember that we are different. Our phone call to answer any questions you forgot to ask is because we are different. We even send handwritten thank you notes. When’s the last time you saw one of those?

We want you to know we are more than four walls. Do you recognize our attempts?

Renting an apartment is certainly about having a master bedroom big enough to fit your bedroom set, and it’s also about being close to a good school, your work, your favorite restaurant. It’s about getting what you want at a price you can afford.

Our job in the leasing office, management office, and maintenance office is to convince you that we are more than the drywall to hang the family portrait. We are a community. And when you move in, your input and contributions make it a place to call home.

Please just keep your kids away from the contractor’s Port-O-John.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Marketing to Mimes

We're changing the logo of the property. The current logo is just not cutting it. The residents have probably been calling the home office to express their dissatisifaction. (The property manager is always the last to know when the residents hate the logo.)

No one can decide what color the new logo should be. Color? How about the actual logo? Nope. Color is the hot topic of debate and no one can agree.

So we bring in the expert marketing guru and hash it out for 3 hours. I get him alone at a potty break and ask, "should COLOR really be the sole focus of our logo change?"

He shares my stupid question with his short, little, note-taking sidekick. And they both laugh. Stupid Girl! Color is everything. "The color of the logo will drive the clientele," he snides and then ignores every suggestion I make for the next 4 hours.

Gets you wondering: what color logo attracts what clientele? We must be very careful.

Red: Circus clowns - it's the nose. Those clowns are gonna flood the leasing office.
Blue: Trekkies - We really don't have the room for Star Trek conventions, but ok.
Yellow: Beekeepers- no good. We only allow cats. No dogs, ferrets, or stinging insects.
Silver: Disco Dancers - might be hard to rent apartments to Disco Dancers; they're a dwindling breed, but they do have rhythm.
White: Mimes - Great residents. They're very quiet. My husband practices mime. He's nice.

What color do you think. Doesn't matter - the decision is out of our unknowledgable hands. I hope they are very careful or we'll end up with a community full of gum-chewing, profanity-using birdhouse makers.

What Kind of People Live Here?

That's not a question any property manager can answer. Seriously. It's a fair housing issue.

So if you ask the question, you're going to get some standard, memorized, response pre-approved by the landlord's lawyer. "...we accept all kinds of people, as long as they meet our resident selection criteria..." Guaranteed!

I don't blame you, the renter. You want to know your neighbors before they start stealing stuff out of the UHaul, right?

You are making a commitment for a year. Take the time to find out.

Immediately after your community tour, get a coffee and return, incognito, to your potential new home. Probably don't need a disguise, but no need to sign in at the office before you case the joint.

Sit in the parking lot, in front of the entrance, walk around. Do it for an hour and watch. Leave when your coffee gets cold. Come back at night with a bag of Doritos and stalk some more. Leave when the bag is empty or you're sick to your stomach from Nacho Cheese additive.

You'll get the real glimpse of how many stolen shopping carts are currently on the property, if your Geo Prism will stick out amongst all the Beemers, or if you're the only one not skipping class to return the keg tap.

You're Too Lazy To Move

Lately, our best source of new residents is the community right down the street. I happen to be friends with the Property Manager. (colleague-acquaintance-rival-hated enemy that I WILL DESTROY.

She has a new business plan. Price gouging. I really like it. They move 'em at normal rent, then raise the rent 30% at renewal.

Their residents come to us in droves, with panic in their eyes. 30 days to find a new place or go back on the ramen noodle diet.

We grab the deposit. They make plans on where the couch is going. Welcome to your new home.

Back to the evil landlord, who just got their notice to move. "Stay," she begs. "Aren't we friends? Isn't this your home? It's so hard. Packing. Unpacking. Address changes. Window treatments. Isn't it just easier to stay? "

You should really say goodbye.

Don't get me wrong, Joe Renter. Every lease renewal will mean a rent increase. Anywhere you live, expect at least 5-8%. The property gots a gas bill increase, we gots payroll with raises, we gots to keep the lights on. It is a business. But let's be reasonable.

Are you really to lazy to move? Didn't think so.