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ApartmentManager April-June 2010

www.apartmentmanagersandiego.com

Apartment Security UNAUTHORIZED OCCUPANTS Resident Retention MATERIAL GIRL Legal Updates 2010 NEW LAWS AND TRENDS

JANET BIANCHINI Summercrest Apartments


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years ago showed that most people believed that they would be happier if they had more money. Thomas Jefferson considit in the Declaration of Independence. However, what will really satisfy man?

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Elaine Silberberg, Editor editor@apartmentmanagersandiego.com


ApartmentManager San Diego Magazine

ISSUE 6 APR-JUN/2010

CONTENTS

22 cover story 13

Manager Spotlight Janet Bianchini, Property Manager of Summercrest Apartments

departments 8

Customer Service

26

Workplace Has casual Friday created a “too casual” workforce? by Anne Sadovsky

28

Maintenance Where There is Water Damage There is Mold by Del Williams

29

Personal Growth Speaking of Communication and Silence by Barry Maher

30

Inspiration You Choose! by Lori Snider

The Friendly Factor Formula by Cary Cavitt

10

Legal Updates 2010 New Laws and Trends by Susan J. Lein, Esq.

16

Apartment Security Unauthorized Occupants by Chris E. McGoey

18

Team Building The Secret to Attracting and Retaining Excellent Employees by David Lee

20

Leasing Guide to Social Media Advertising by Israel Carunungan

22

April-June 2010

www.apartmentmanagersandiego.com

Resident Retention Material Girl by Jen Piccotti

24

ApartmentManager on the cover...

Marketing Three Ways to Attract Your Apartment Advertising Like a Hawk by Ernest F. Oriente

Apartment Security UNAUTHORIZED OCCUPANTS Resident Retention MATERIAL GIRL Legal Updates 2010 NEW LAWS AND TRENDS

JANET BIANCHINI Summercrest Apartments

Our cover for this issue is Janet Bianchini, Property Manager for Summercrest Apartments, and her 3 adopted chihuahuas: Monkey, Daisy and Luigi. The image of Janet was captured by photographer Lawrence Brillon (lawrencebrillon.com).


ApartmentManager San Diego Magazine Editor and Publisher

Now Enrolling For 2010-11 Challenging the Spirit, Guarding the Soul, Developing the Mind!

ELAINE SILBERBERG

This Issue’s Contributors ANNE SADOVSKY BARRY MAHER CARY CAVITT CHRIS E. MCGOEY DAVID LEE DEL WILLIAMS ERNEST F. ORIENTE ISRAEL CARUNUNGAN JEN PICCOTTI LORI SNIDER SUSAN J. LEIN, ESQ.

Photography

LAWRENCE BRILLON

Graphic Design

ELAINE SILBERBERG

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Published quarterly by Clever Publishing Company 10240 Thanksgiving Lane San Diego CA 92126 Phone: 858.564.9222 Fax: 877-381-0751

For Advertising Call 619-417-0019 or email info@apartmentmanagersandiego.com Copyright 2010

Apartment Manager San Diego Magazine is published quarterly by Clever Publishing Co. All rights are reserved. Reproduction of this publication in whole or in part without express written consent is prohibited. Opinions expressed in articles or advertisements do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the publishers or staff. Every effort has been made to ensure that all information presented in this issue is accurate and neither Apartment Manager San Diego Magazine nor Clever Publishing Co. is responsible for omissions or information that has been misrepresented to the magazine.


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 customer service

The Friendly Factor Formula: How Friendly is your Staff

— by Cary Cavitt

G

iving outstanding customer

friendliness towards others, it subconsciously

the other hand, when the employee offers a

service can be summed up in

tells them to stay away. That is why employ-

friendly tone and portrays a patient tone of

creating a team that is always

ees who are out in front can either draw or

voice to the caller, the caller makes a positive

friendly to every potential cus-

repel new prospects to your property. In

judgment of your property. Remember that

tomers. This is because being friendly

the end, the organization that understands

showing patience and a friendly tone of voice

the power of friendliness will eventually rise

will draw prospects in and give them a great

above its competition.

first impression of your overall operation!

How Is Your Telephone Voice?

Returning Phone Messages Quickly

always attracts others.

Even though this

concept may sound elementary, having the friendly factor in your leasing office needs to be continually reminded during employee training meetings.

The very first impression that every caller

How many times have you left a telephone

I believe that the reason friendliness at-

will make of your property is the tone of

message and did not receive a call back? It

tracts potential customers for life is because

voice that is used on the telephone. The

happens all the time. For some unexplainable

everyone wants to be treated with kind-

words used are not nearly as important as

reason return telephone calls are a rarity in

ness. When we are friendly, others want to

the tone that is heard by the caller. In many

the business world. In order to stay ahead of

come closer. In essence, we become more

instances, the caller senses that the employee

the game, it is important to promptly return

approachable to others. This in turn makes

who is answering the questions is impatient

messages that a prospect resident has left.

others want to do business with us.

or “too busy” to really give him or her the

The reason is simple. First of all when you

adequate time for a satisfactory answer. On

promptly return a message you are telling the

On the other hand, when we show un-

8

Apartment Manager San Diego Magazine | April-June 2010


 customer service person that they are important enough to call back. On the other hand, when a phone message is not returned it gives the impression that your property does not care for others. We must remember that they took the time to call and leave a message. It is only common courtesy that we honor this by returning their message. The second reason to return a message is that it reflects great customer service. The person who left the message will remember your prompt call back and think highly of your quick response. It lets them know that your property is on the ball and can be dependable in the future. This quick response will always reflect positively for your property.

Under Promise & Over Deliver on Customer Service A good rule of thumb is to remember to under promise and over deliver. That is why companies will tell you that the package will be delivered in 4-6 weeks. When you receive it in 2 weeks you are pleasantly surprised with the great service! But if the company promised that the package would arrive in 2 weeks and you did not receive it until the 5th week you would be disappointed in the slow service. Disney World tends to have the waiting line clocks portray a waiting time that is usually slower than the actual wait time for a particular ride. Let’s say that you and your children are waiting for a ride and the clock time says that the wait is 25 minutes before boarding the Disney ride. When you finally reach the boarding zone you pleasantly

see that the wait time was only 18 minutes. What Disney actually did was under promise and over deliver! You walk away from the ride with a good feeling that Disney is great and knows how to take care of its customers! Going The Extra Mile Will Shock Most of Your Residents On the most part, customers enter a business and expect average service. This is just a fact. They expect the service to be just so-so. This of course is a big advantage for your company if you understand this simple point. Your customers will be pleasantly surprised when you give them just a little extra service. And remember, they are your best advertisers! AM

About the Author Cary Cavitt began in the customer service field in 1975 and has served well over 100,000 customers. An award-winning PGA Golf Professional, he is the author of seven books, including “Service Starts with a Smile,” “Customer Service Superstars,” and “Five-Star Service.” Cary also has founded Service that Attracts Seminars, on-site workshops on how to develop outstanding service. For more information on purchasing books or scheduling a Workshop in your facility go to www.carycavittconsulting.com.

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 legal updates

2010 Legal Update: Legislation and Case Law That Will Effect Rental Property Owners and Managers By Susan J. Lein, Esq. Kimball, Tirey & St. John

As 2010 gets under way, it is important for property managers and owners to be aware of new legislation, case law and legal trends that will significantly impact our industry. Below is an overview of the most significant laws and trends for this year.

New Legislation Lead-Based Paint Renovation Law Effective April 22, 2010, all individuals (including your maintenance staff), who will be performing renovation work that could potentially disturb lead-based paint in homes, child care facilities or schools (pre-1978 properties), will need to take an EPA-approved training class and become certified. The new certification requirement applies to renovation, repair, or painting activities where six or more square feet of leadbased paint is disturbed inside the premises, or 20 square feet on the exterior of the premises. In addition, landlords are required to provide residents with the new EPA brochure entitled “Renovate Right” prior to commencing any such renovation or repairs. The text of the new rule, as well as links to available training and the “Renovate Right” brochure are available at

www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/renovation.htm. Water Conservation Bill (SB407)

Effective January 1, 2014, all pre-1994 residential, multi-family and commercial properties must replace non-compliant plumbing fixtures (including toilets, faucets, and shower heads) with water-conserving fixtures when making certain improvements or alterations to a building. Final inspection/certificates of occupancy will not be issued until these plumbing fixtures are compliant. By 2017, all single family homes must replace non-compliant plumbing fixtures, and by 2019, all multifamily and commercial buildings must have compliant water-conserv-

10

ing plumbing fixtures in place.

Long Beach and Oakland.

Public Swimming Pools: Anti-Entrapment Devices and Systems (AB2010)

Utility Services at Foreclosed Properties (SB120)

By now, you are probably very familiar with the Federal Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act that took effect on December 19, 2008. With the passage of AB2010, California has incorporated the Federal Act into state law. If your pool is already deemed in compliance with the Act, you will also be in compliance with AB2010. The intent of AB2010 is to standardize enforcement. This law prevents local health departments from adopting new or additional safety standards relating to public swimming pools. In addition, it limits the fees that local and state agencies can charge to determine compliance with AB2010.

If the foreclosed owner previously paid for utilities, this new law allows a tenant residing at a foreclosed property to make the utility payment in place of the new owner and deduct the amount of the payment from the rent. The tenant must provide a copy of the payment receipt when making the rent payment to prove that the utilities were paid.

Meth Lab Remediation (AB1489) In 2005, the legislature passed SB536 setting forth very stringent remediation standards that had to be met before a home previously used as a meth lab could be rented out again. AB1489 changes these existing methamphetamine remediation standards. The law raises the acceptable level of residual contamination from the previous standard of 0.1 micrograms to 1.5 micrograms per 100 square centimeters on any indoor surface area. This change is intended to make it easier (and less costly) for a property manager or owner to remediate a rental unit previously used as a meth lab.

Controlled Substances and Firearms (AB530) In several cities, including Los Angeles, city prosecutors can file an unlawful detainer against a tenant on behalf of the owner when the tenant has committed a crime involving illegal weapons or drugs. AB530 extends this pilot program to additional cities throughout California, including San Diego, Sacramento,

Apartment Manager San Diego Magazine | April-June 2010

60-Day Notice Requirement (SB290) This law makes permanent the requirement that the owner serve a 60-Day Notice to terminate a month-to-month tenancy when the occupants have resided in the unit for more than one year. Whenever a new tenant (such as a new roommate) moves into the unit, the clock resets again. This means that a 30-Day Notice can be used until all occupants of the unit have lived there for one year or longer.

New Tax Withholding Requirement: Effective January 1, 2010, property management companies are required to withhold approximately 7% of gross rent receipts each month if the owner of the property is not a California resident. A corporation, LLC or LP which is registered with the California Secretary of State, or which has a permanent place of business in California is considered a resident owner. The management company must forward the funds to the Franchise Tax Board. This is a new withholding requirement, not a new tax. Property managers should keep in mind that the penalty for non-compliance becomes the obligation of the property management company, not the owner of the property. The CAA website has detailed information regarding this withholding requirement, along with forms.


 legal updates

Court Furlough Days Beginning in September of 2009 and continuing through at least June of 2010, California’s courts will be closed the third Wednesday of each month. Property managers should be aware that any notices served on a resident (such as a 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit, a 3-Day Notice to Perform Covenant or Quit or a 30 or 60-Day Notice of Termination) cannot expire on a court furlough day. The resident must be given through the next business day to comply with the notice.

Screening Fee Amounts for 2010 The maximum amount landlords can charge as a screening or application fee for 2010 is down from last year to $41.72. The reason for the lower amount is that the CPI for 2009 dropped, and the increased or decreased amount is based on the CPI. Note that the $41.72 is the highest amount that can be charged. By law, landlords must be able to justify whatever amount they charge, including both hard and soft costs.

Significant Case Law Landlord Liability for Criminal Acts In a case where a resident was injured during a carjacking in an open parking lot of an apartment complex, an appeals court ruled that three prior violent attacks by strangers in the common areas were sufficiently similar to the most recent carjacking to be considered foreseeable and therefore to impose a duty on the landlord to act reasonably under the circumstances. The case was remanded (returned) to the trial

Fair Housing: Accommodating Residents with Motorized Scooters

court to determine whether the landlord had a duty to install a security gate and fence around the open parking lot to reduce possible future criminal attacks.

Potential Landlord Liability for SecondHand Smoke In recent years, we have seen several lawsuits filed by residents against landlords regarding exposure to second-hand smoke on the rental property. Most of these lawsuits claim the landlord failed to abate a nuisance on the property or breached the implied warranty of habitability by allowing residents to smoke on the premises. In Birke v. Oakwood Worldwide, an apartment complex owner allowed smoking in all common areas. An appellate court ruled that a lawsuit could proceed based on nuisance claims against the owner for failing to eliminate second-hand smoke in common areas. This case involves a minor with asthma and other breathing difficulties. The child’s father claims that the property’s failure to prohibit smoking in the common areas exacerbated his child’s condition. The court has not yet ruled on ultimate liability in this case.

Fair Housing: Accommodating Residents with Motorized Scooters In August of 2009, the Department of Justice announced a settlement to resolve a housing discrimination lawsuit regarding motorized scooters in apartment communities. The alleged violation was that the landlord violated the Fair Housing Act by prohibiting the use of motorized wheelchairs and scooters in residents’ apartments and in the common dining area of the property. The settlement required the landlord to pay approximately $250,000 in fines and penalties. Disability continues to be the most common basis for discrimination complaints and the cases are costly, even if you win. It is crucial that every employee who works directly with residents and applicants has fair housing training.

Section 8 Vouchers There are two cases making their way through the courts that involve participation in the federal government’s Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program. In the first case, residents are arguing that if a landlord is not willing to accept vouchers, he is violating a resident’s right to be free of source apartmentmanager sandi e g o . c o m

11


 legal updates of income discrimination. In the second case, a resident is claiming that the landlord must accept a voucher as a reasonable accommodation based on disability. Both cases are being litigated at the appellate level, but there is no final ruling as yet.

Trends For 2010 Local Smoking Ordinances In addition to the lawsuits mentioned above, many cities (including Belmont, Burbank, Calabasas, Dublin, El Cajon, Glendale, Loma Linda, Novato, Pasadena, San Mateo, and Temecula) have passed anti-smoking laws. Some of these laws require the landlord to set aside a certain percentage of units as “smoke-free.” Other laws call for an outright ban on smoking anywhere on the premises (including the inside of residents’ units) or a limit on where residents and guests can smoke on the premises. A database of California smoke free laws is available at www.ccap.etr.org. This website is updated monthly. Property managers should take care to monitor any local anti-smoking laws that pass in their cities as the landlord may be required to enforce them.

Medical Marijuana Last but certainly not least, the use of “medical marijuana” by residents continues to create problems for landlords. In 1996, California voters passed the Compassionate Use Act which legalized the cultivation, possession, and use of marijuana for medicinal purposes in the state. This has lead to some residents claiming they have a right to smoke medical marijuana in their units as a “reasonable accommodation” for disability. Although “medical marijuana” is legal under California Law, it is still a violation of Federal Law. Property managers are put in a difficult situation as they try to comply with both fair housing disability laws and their duty of care to other residents who may be complaining about the use of marijuana by a neighboring resident. If your community is a project-based HUD subsidized property, you should be able to prohibit the use of marijuana on the premises, even if your resident is using it for medicinal purposes. For those communities that are not projectbased HUD subsidized, the question of whether a landlord would be required to allow a resident to use medical marijuana as a reasonable

accommodation under California Law is not clear. If such a request is made and the resident can provide verification that he or she needs to use marijuana because of a disability, contact our fair housing department at (800) 338-6039 for legal advice on how best to handle the situation and the potential risks involved with each potential course of action. AM

About the Author: Susan Lein is an Associate Attorney at Kimball, Tirey & St. John LLP, Irvine office. She specializes in landlord-tenant law with an emphasis on fair housing, rent control and affordable housing issues. Ms. Lein is also in charge of the firm’s business development and client relations department for Southern California. Kimball, Tirey & St. John LLP is a full service real estate law firm representing residential and commercial property owners & managers. This article is for general information purposes only. Before acting, be sure to receive legal advice from our office. If you have questions, please contact KTS at (800) 338-6039 or www.kts-law.com.

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 cover story

Manager Spotlight Janet Bianchini

Property Manager of Summercrest Apartments

Story: Elaine Silberberg Photos: Lawrence Brillon


 cover story

J

anet Bianchini was born and raised in New

drove cross country to their new home in San Diego.

York City. She has a Masters in Social Work and

They both had quit their jobs to move and were hoping

worked in the field for over 10 years, mostly with

to build a new life in sunny San Diego.

developmentally delayed adults. Five years ago, Janet

“I had wanted to change careers and had always been

and her husband decided to put the harsh east coast

interested in Real Estate,” says Janet. She stumbled upon

winters behind them and packed their 2 cats, Sammy and

an employment agency that only placed for Property

Penny, a Chihuahua named Luigi and 2 chinchillas up and

Management companies. Janet began working as a Leasing Consultant at a property owned by Garden Communities in the UTC area on June 1, 2006, the busiest day of the year. “That day I realized that I had found my new career path and that it was not a far leap from Social Work,” says Janet. In a little over a year and a half Janet was promoted to Property Manager of the 560 unit apartment complex: “I stayed in that position for another year and a half and learned a lot about the Property Management field,” recalls Janet. After that it was time to move on. In August of 2009, Janet found a job with Related Management at Summercrest Apartments. She was originally hired as the Office Manager, but when the Property Manager left the week before she started, she was given the opportunity to become the Property Manager.

“It has been a great challenge, but I feel

that it has brought me even closer to my social work roots” – says Janet. Summercrest Apartments is a 372units residential property located in National City. This Project-based Section 8 subsidized property consists of 140 senior apartments and 232 two and three bedroom family apartments. In spite of her busy work schedule, Janet finds time to volunteer as a “foster parent” for chihuahuas, through the Chihuahua Rescue of San Diego. They started fostering one dog at a time and have now been known to have 6 dogs at a time in their house. “We have added a new Chihuahua, Daisy to our family. She is what is known as a foster-failure, pretty much a foster dog that fit too well into our family to give up”, says Janet.


 cover healthstory & wellness

Growing up, Janet and her brother had a variety of pets from fish, mice, hamsters, birds and even cats. “My Mom and Dad taught us to have respect for all animals,” says Janet, “and my passion for animal rescue definitely comes from my parents.” Janet recalls always having cats as pets and they were always strays found in the neighborhood. She remembers when she found a baby bird with a broken wing that had fallen from its nest. With the help of her parents, she tracked down the “Bird Lady” from a local children’s show to bring the baby bird to make sure that he would be taken care of. Janet talks about how rewarding it has been for her to give these dogs, which have been literally and figuratively thrown away, a new chance at life. “The best part is that it feels like these dogs give us so much more than we give them.” She feels honored to be the voice for these helpless animals and to hopefully make as big a difference in their lives as they are making in hers.

agement is to remember that you are working FOR your residents. It is amazing that when you convey this to your residents they will appreciate you so much more and then you can begin to build respect and ultimately make your job much easier. AM

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When Janet started working at Summercrest she noticed how many feral/stray cats were there on the property. “I especially noticed how many kittens were being born and felt so sad that these unwanted cats were left to fend for themselves.” A fellow volunteer for the Chihuahua Rescue, who works with SNAP (Spay Neuter Action Project) was able to get Janet some humane traps for the cats and she began trapping the cats, taking them to be neutered/spayed and then releasing them back onto the property. “The cats are a big part of the community,” says Janet, “especially with the senior residents that love to watch them play and love to feed them. To date, I have caught 16 cats on the property and still spend many nights setting the traps.”

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

apartment security

APARTMENT SECURITY Unauthorized Occupants

 by Chris E. McGoey

RENTAL HOUSING CRIME STUDIES have repeatedly shown that moderate to high-crime problems can usually be traced back to a small percentage of residents. Those causing the crime problems are often the acquaintances, ex-spouses, or boyfriends of a legal resident who decided to move in without your permission.

Resident Screening The best way to head off this problem is to practice resident screening and enforce clearly defined and articulated community rules that are emphasized during the lease application process. The resident needs to know that their tenancy may be in jeopardy if they bring in an unauthorized (and unscreened) occupant. Proof of this method is well documented in apartment properties all over the country, as police calls for service seem to fluctuate proportionally as resident screening standards and rule enforcement vary following management changes. Good resident screening involves checking credit, employment, rental history, and criminal background, if available. A good screening plan should call for all nondependent occupants to be included on the lease and subject to the same resident qualifications. All children should be identified on the lease along with maximum occupancy limits. In this day and age, resident screening is more than just establishing the ability to pay rent. In my experience, properties that tend to have a higher percentage of unauthorized occupants have lowered their screening standards on credit, rental and employment history, and don’t do available criminal background checks. A policy of collecting double deposits or getting co-signers for an otherwise unqualified applicant is asking for trouble down the road and is unfair to the other residents. 16

Apartment Manager San Diego Magazine | April-June 2010




apartment security

Keeping Your Residents Pest-Free

Criminal Infiltration When career criminals (usually males) cannot qualify to rent, they will try to infiltrate your property by secretly moving in with a legal resident. As you might expect, these undesirable occupants tend to attract other unsavory characters. The character of your property can change drastically, if left unchecked. The problem becomes acute when these unauthorized occupants are unemployed criminal types who hang out all day and all night and begin to ply their trade within your community. A symptom of this condition is people hanging out in the parking lot and high foot traffic in and out of a unit or group of units. To fix serious illegal occupancy problems, sometimes you have to clean house and evict residents for non-compliance with your residency requirements. You need to re-emphasize your occupancy standards and then fairly but firmly enforce the rules.The Crime Free Multi-housing Program lease addendum is a good example of community rules

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that can be legally enforced. Eviction rates as high as sixty-percent have been necessary to regain control over seriously troubled properties.

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erty return to profitability after a few months with 98% occupancy rates and a waiting list.

How to Spot Unauthorized Occupants A fair question often asked is how do you identify an unauthorized oc-

 Train staff to be alert for illegal occupants, new vehicles, and new

cupant versus a short-term social guest? The answer is to know your

children.

residents. This may seem like an impossible task, especially when your

 Periodically, inspect units (smoke detectors,A/C filters, furnace ven-

community exceeds one hundred units. Your community rules should

tilators, lock checks).

have a written procedure for notifying management when a social

 Always follow up all verbal occupancy warnings with a letter.

guest has an extended stay and to arrange for a parking space. To solve

 Serve non-compliance notices for every rule violation. Be consis-

this identity crisis, property managers around the country have found

tent.

creative ways to get to know their residents.

 Evict residents who violate community rules and house illegal oc-

Below are some ideas to help you identify and deal with unauthorized occupants:  Establish written community rules for visiting social guests.

cupants.

Be fair, firm, consistent, and document, document, document. AM

 Add new occupants/roommates to the lease only if they pass screening.  Regularly audit units for unauthorized occupants (formally and informally).  Photograph each resident for the lease file for ID purposes (helpful for unit lockouts).  Assign coded parking spaces and record vehicle information (easy to spot new cars).  Require parking permit decals on cars and motorcycles.  Require overnight guests to park in designated guest spaces only (get vehicle info).

About the Author Chris E. McGoey is an internationally known author, trainer, speaker, and professional security consultant. He specializes in the anticipation, recognition, and prevention of crime on most commercial property types. He consults with business owners and managers, insurance agencies, and the police on how to reduce the risk. Mr. McGoey also consults with the media, attorneys, and testifies as a security expert witness in various venues. Chris McGoey can be reached at chris@crimedoctor or visit online at www.crimedoctor.com. apartmentmanager sandi e g o . c o m

17


 team building

The Secret to Attracting Retaining Excellent Employees

&

I

t’s no secret that the challenge of finding high quality employees in today’s tight labor market is on every manager and business owner’s mind. What does appear to be a secret - given the typical response to this challenge - is what to do about it. Most employee attraction and retention strategies consist of creating a competitive compensation and benefits package, or instituting an employee appreciation and recognition program. Even worse, many companies - especially smaller ones - think attracting the best employees is a lost cause for them, because they can’t match the perks and programs showcased in Fortune magazine’s 100 Best Places to Work. Although most companies don’t “get it” when it comes to attracting and retaining employees, some do. These companies are the Talent Magnets - the employers of choice for highly talented people. They know the key to attracting and retaining quality employees isn’t compensation and benefits packages or gimmicky programs. They know the key is how well they address these four critical areas:

Your Company’s Image Great companies attract great people. If you have a strong brand in the marketplace, you will have a strong 18

Apartment Manager San Diego Magazine | April-June 2010

— by David Lee

brand in the labor marketplace. If your company is synonymous with quality, you will attract quality people; if it isn’t, you won’t.

The Quality of Your Internal Operations Your image in the marketplace influences your ability to attract good people. The quality of your internal operations influences your ability to retain these people. Out-dated technology, inadequate resources, inefficient work processes, and stifling bureaucracy are guaranteed Talent Repellents. Conversely, when a company is run intelligently and efficiently, people want to stay and be part of such a world class operation.

How Well Your Management Team Treats Your Employees This is where so many companies drop the ball. They promote technically adept people to management positions, even if they have virtually no people skills. They further compound the problem by scrimping on management training and coaching, so these managers never develop the skills to bring out the best in their workers. Worse, many companies turn a blind eye to disrespectful or even abusive behavior by managers. The importance of having a top notch management team and great supervisors cannot be overstated.


ZED

 team building

Research conducted by the Gallup Organization, involving over a million employees and 80,000 managers, revealed that having good managers was the most influential factor affecting both employee retention and performance.

Your Ability To Satisfy The Needs Of Your “Internal Customers” - Your Employees Just as the key to marketing and customer service success is understanding what the customer wants, and then delivering it; competing in the labor market requires understanding what employees want, and then delivering that. Here are a few of the things employees want most:  Pride in where they work and what they do  Meaningful work  Respect - both personal and professional  Expressions of appreciation  Ability to exercise autonomy and control in one’s job  Opportunity to learn and grow on the job  Sense of Community and belonging  Flexibility that allows for work/life balance  Opportunity to make a difference  Have input and influence

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Taking the First Step Toward Becoming A Talent Magnet The first step is to find out where you currently are. Find out what your “customers” - your employees - think about your company. Engage your management team in a very frank self-examination process about how well the company is run, and how well employees are managed. Use the four critical areas and the nine key human needs outlined in this article as a launching point for this important discussion. By successfully addressing these, you will become a Talent Magnet. AM About the Author David Lee is a consultant, speaker, and executive coach.The founder of HumanNature@Work, he has worked with organizations and presented at conferences throughout North America and overseas. He is the author of Managing Employee Stress and Safety, as well as dozens of articles on employee and organizational performance. Contact David at www.humannatureatwork.com/programs.htm. apartmentmanager sandi e g o . c o m

19


leasing

media



youTube craigslist

Social Flickr Viral Twitter

BLOG Linkedin Facebook Yelp MySpace — by Israel Carunungan

C

hances are you’ve heard of MySpace, or you may already have a page in Facebook. Perhaps a profile in Linkedin, pictures in Flickr, videos in YouTube and of course, postings in Craigslist. But have you heard of these: Yelp, Bebo, Squidoo, Yub, Bloop, Squeet, Youmeo, Oyogi, Twitter, Zimbra, Renkoo, Shozu, Eskobo, Plaxo, Technorati, Lexxe, Gizmodo, Jotspot. Yes, I know how you feel. The point is that social media has now hit a “groundswell”, as the title of a bestselling book on social technologies tells us. Millions of people go online everyday and engage in dialogue that not only redefined how we interact with each other, but is also creating a whole new world of opportunities for businesses. So what exactly is social media? Well, according to Wikipedia that ubiquitous source of all online knowledge - social media are “primarily Internet- and mobile-based tools for sharing and discussing information among human beings. This interaction, and the manner in which information is presented, depends on the varied perspec-

20

Apartment Manager San Diego Magazine | April-June 2010

tives and “building” of shared meaning among communities, as people share their stories and experiences. Businesses also refer to social media as user-generated content or consumergenerated media”. In short, they are conversations, interactions, discussion, and exchange of ideas, advice, and banter among people. They can be in the form of internet forums, blogs, wikis, podcasts or peer reviews like those you see in Amazon.com or eBay. We see its full potential among networking sites like Facebook, MySpace or LinkedIn, microblogging sites like Twitter or sharing sites like Flickr or YouTube where consumers drive the content. We already see social media being incorporated in most major business industries - retail, restaurants, automotive, entertainment, travel and consumer goods. Most likely, you won’t purchase a product or book a trip without checking out the reviews or the ratings. Or you may go to opinion sites like Yelp or get feedback from your friends in Facebook.




leasing

Warm and Cozy is Our Specialty!

Marketing is no longer a one-way street where we put the carefully-packaged information in front of consumers. It has become a dialogue and consumers now have a platform to participate in the conversation. Social media as a marketing tool in the multifamily industry is not yet as defined as those in other industries. However, there is tremendous opportunity to participate in this phenomenon. After all, the biggest percentage of the apartment rentals market - the Gen Yers - is the most active in social media. And the Gen Xers, even the Boomers, are already participating.

Here are seven steps to integrate social media into your marketing plans:  Go to Google and set up alert emails with your company keyword, your name and your URL. Then go to Technorati and do a search there as well. Learn who is talking about your company, what they’re saying and create an action plan based on what you’re reading. Once you are fully committed, start reaching out to customers (happy and, most importantly, not happy) and join in.  Analyze each medium: Every tool is different and this is another place where marketers can go wrong. Twitter is not Flickr is not Facebook. The rules change from one to the other and you have to know what they are before engaging. How do people get value in each network and how can you add to it?  There is benefit to walking through different scenarios before jumping in. Imagine you create a Twitter account: what would you say each day? How will you add friends? How will you stay on top of replies and direct messages? How will you add value? How will you respond to criticism? How will you communicate in a crisis?  Start slow: do NOT go out and sign up for a Facebook page, Twitter account, blog, Flickr and MySpace page all in one day. Social media burnout is for content creators as well as content consumers. Pick the most strategic medium to belong to and start slow. As you become more comfortable you can ramp up and add networks into the fold. Any additions should compliment your effort and be on strategy.  Don’t stop: this is the killer. It’s worse than not having started at all. How many companies have you seen start using a tool and later abandon it. How many stale Facebook pages and Twitter accounts litter the information superhighway? Just don’t let it be you.  Finally, embrace it: Imagine having a built-in feedback loop.

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That’s what social media is to the consumer, and to you the business marketer.  Designate a dedicated social manager if you can. Someone who will manage, update and create new content. Think of ways your company can integrate contributed content and social networking into your own websites and business practices. Check out thirdparty sites like RentMineOnline.com and Rentwiki.com - they are geared specifically towards the apartments industry. AM

About the Author Israel Carunungan is the Director of Marketing for The Bozzuto Group, based in Greenbelt, MD. Israel is responsible for branding, marketing strategy, media management, creative development and lead generation for over 80 Bozzuto-managed properties consisting of 30,000 apartment homes in the MidAtlantic region. The Bozzuto Group is an award-winning real estate company founded in 1988. Visit Israel online at www.icmarketingpro.com or by email at israel@icmarketingpro.com. apartmentmanager sandi e g o . c o m

21


 resident retention

I

Material Girl

t’s true that we are living in a material world, but some of us are more cunning in the way we finagle those materials. There are times when the customer’s idea of ‘compromise’ or ‘solution’ has to do with monetary compensation from you to them, regardless of the situation that is in need of resolution. “The power was out for 2 hours. Why not a rent credit?” “The broken sprinkler splattered the newly washed and waxed car. A rent credit would be nice. A check would be nicer.” The more aggressive “Material Girls and Boys” may even threaten lawsuits or Fair Housing complaints if they feel they are not getting their way. It’s a fine line we walk when it comes to providing exceptional customer service. After all, the customer is always right, right? Not necessarily. In the business world, and especially in the multifamily housing world, we have to face the fact that the owner is always #1, and one of the ways we can respect the owner is to treat the resident as though he or she is #1. This means that when a resident wants

22

 by Jen Piccotti something for nothing, we have to consider the financial well being and the values of the company first, and the demands of the customer second. Where is the win-win? • Listen to the problem with empathy and ask for specifics. Find out what the resident believes is a fair solution and why. Try to keep the conversation moving toward what specifically would resolve the problem itself. What is the root or source of the problem? • Offer a solution - one that is fair and that would be provided to any customer with the same issue. If the sprinkler really was broken and ruined the brand new wash and wax job, the solution to the problem may be a meeting with the landscaping company to fix the sprinkler head and maybe even split the reimbursement of a new car wash for the resident. A $20 resolution with the problem actually being resolved rather than a $250 rent credit that still leaves a broken sprinkler head to cause further problems. This respects the values of the owner in wanting to provide great customer service as well as protecting the owner’s finances.

Apartment Manager San Diego Magazine | April-June 2010

• Ensure no Fair Housing or discriminatory actions have taken place and stand your ground even when it seems easier to just give in. (Document, document, document.) Once a credit or reimbursement is given, a new precedent and expectation has been set and you can only expect more of the same demands in the future. The goal is to provide a resolution to the actual problem, not throw money to make something go away because guess what? The problem will not go away. It will come back and be even bigger! What are your strategies for focusing on the solution, not the dollars? AM

About the Author

Jen Piccotti, VP Consulting Services for SatisFacts Research. Jen has over a decade of resident loyalty and process efficiency experience, and is a multifamily industry veteran since 2000. www.SatisFacts.com.


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

marketing

THREE W AYS TO ATTRAC Your K Apartm

ent Adv ertising

Like a H

awk

 by E

rnest F . Orien

Tired of pouring endless money into advertising? Do you wonder which ads are “REALLY” working for the properties you manage? Would you like a bullet-proof system for capturing the results from your advertising? Below are three concepts that will enable you to track your advertising like a hawk! Really, it’s that simple!

Developing a Tracking System As a property management company you must have an efficient way to record and evaluate the results from your advertising program. Certainly, you should have a guest card which includes ALL your advertising/marketing sources. If your guest card is not current and complete, your on-site team will not be able to accurately track the results from each advertising source. Each property should also be required to have a phone log, a summary of their daily and weekly traffic/rentals and a report to summarize their entire month. Be certain each advertising source you are using has its own column for each report. Often, advertising sources are bunched together in the same category or column on the weekly and monthly recap, mak-

te

ing it impossible to track the performance of each ad. Of course, a tracking system can also be computerized, but the steps/tips outlined in this paragraph are still the same. Tip From The Coach: When asking your on-site manager to provide a summary of traffic and leasing results for each advertising source, have this person sign and date the form. This is a reminder that they are accountable for the timely and accurate “source” information which is reflected on each report.

Identifying the Source To accurately evaluate the performance of your advertising program, begin by deleting “drive-by” as a source on your guest card and computerized tracking systems. In most cases, the prospect read or heard something about your property before simply driving by. Next, have each of your properties design a marketing easel which has a sample of each ad you are running and the name of the media source above it. Then, ask your leasing team to begin each property tour at this marketing easel so they can ask each prospective resident if they have seen your current advertising. Now, this is the time to mark the prospect’s guest card as your leasing agent can accurately identify the advertising which brought this prospect to your property. And by using this technique, your weekly and monthly reports will now reflect a more accurate picture of which advertising source is most effective. Tip From The Coach: Remember that drive-by is not a source of traffic. Want a simple test: if drive-by is over 25 percent of your total traffic, you are probably not getting the accuracy you need from your tracking system. Also, shop your own properties monthly and compare the advertising source that was given, to the source listed on the tracking reports at your property.

24

Apartment Manager San Diego Magazine | April-June 2010




marketing

Creating a File For Return Prospects Wow! Isn’t it great when a return-prospect becomes a new resident? Such fun! Unfortunately, identifying the original advertising source which brought this prospect to your property the first time is a major problem at most properties. Often, your leasing team will hear from a return-prospect, “I was just here a few weeks ago and decided to come back.” Certainly, leasing an apartment to a new resident is the primary goal of your advertising. But each apartment that you lease, which comes from a particular advertising or marketing source, makes it easy to justify which advertising/marketing you will continue to use. And since advertising is such a large monthly expenditure at each of your properties, isn’t it important to be able to validate which ad is working and which one is not? Tip From The Coach: Create a master file of guest cards for all prospects and have

your leasing team file the guest cards from each day into a small box by last name, sorted A-Z. Now, when “Peter Smith” returns in three months after his first visit and says he wants to lease apartment 3B, your leasing agent can simply go to this small box and behind “S” the original guest card is right there! This is an instant way for your properties to source their advertising and marketing. More importantly, they will have in their hand the background of this prospect and can create instant rapport. Instant rapport equals higher closing ratios, a double win! Of course, a follow-up system can also be computerized, but the steps/tips outlined in this paragraph are still the same. Once you have these systems in place, you can then calculate your: cost-per-phone-call, cost for bringing each prospect to your property and your costper-lease! AM

For a free analysis of your advertising tracking forms or to discuss the results

you are receiving, fax your system/results to The Coach at 435-615-8670 and receive 20 minutes of complimentary coaching!

Author’s Note Ernest F. Oriente, a business coach since 1995 (24,560 hours), the author of SmartMatch Alliances, and the founder of PowerHour, has a passion for coaching his clients on executive leadership, hiring and motivating property management SuperStars, traditional and Internet SEO/SEM marketing, competitive sales strategies, and high leverage alliances for property management teams and their leaders. To subscribe to his free property management newsletter go to www.powerhour. com. Contact Ernest by E-mail ernest@ powerhour.com or visit their website: www.powerhour.com.

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25




workplace

Has Casual Friday Created a “Too Casual” Workforce?

— by Anne Sadovsky

S

tatistics indicate that we Americans pay close observation to one another based on these three primary principles:

 7% on the content of what we have to say.  35% on the way we look and move.  55% on deliverythe way we say what we have to say.

As we take a look at number two, all you blue jeaned, t-shirted, Birkenstocked workers of America now have permission to hate me. But a fact is a fact: almost 40% of your impact on others is related to how you look! Let’s take a quick look at the history of corporate attire. In the agricultural era, we worked in overalls, straw hats and muddy boots. The industrial times saw us at work in hard hats, rugged denims and steel-toed shoes. As we became more of an office work force, we took our professionalism very seriously, coming to work in suits, neck ties, bow necked blouses and high heeled shoes, not very comfortable, a little up tight, but we looked good! After years of being strangled by our neck ties and bow blouses, we wanted a little break, and “casual Friday” came into being. Just one

26

work day a week when we could loosen up, open the neck of our shirts and blouses, be rewarded for a job well done and breathe while toiling away at our jobs. We started all this with some rules: starched khakis, loafers, pressed polo shirts, no panty hose and the jacket went by the wayside. As we stepped into the world of high technology, some brilliant person decided that many of us no longer had live contact with our customers, so it didn’t matter how we looked. Casual Friday became 2 days a week, then three, then everyday. And as is the habit of we human beings, we began to take advantage of what “casual” means. For example, until recently our company was located on the fourteenth floor of a beautiful high rise, suburban office building. Since we were on the top floor, we spent quite a bit of time on the elevators. A computer company leased the entire 10th floor, had a huge workforce and obviously embraced the “no one sees us, dress as you please” concept. Therefore we rode on the elevators with people who looked like they were going to picnics, or were working in their gardens or on their cars, or worse yet, just rolled out of bed and came to work as they were. Until that time, I had spent little time reading mes-

Apartment Manager San Diego Magazine | April-June 2010

sages and studying logos on give-away t-shirts, nor had I seen as many dirty toenails hanging out of worn out sandals. It was a whole new workplace! This wasn’t just “casual Friday;” it was “sloppy everyday of the week.” A question began to form in my mind; just how much quality work really got done, how was company morale and how much respect for one another was there in that environment? What kind of social skills and attitudes were projected when people came to work in what looked like pajamas and yard work clothes? So I began a little research, talking with employers, clipping articles, consulting that primary source of information today, the internet. Here are my conclusions.  I do not believe that we need to go back to neckties and high heels for work. It was probably the same demented person who invented both. We don’t have to suffer to look professional, especially in property management, where we do more than our share of walking, stair climbing and sweating.  However, there is no doubt in my mind that we take our work more seriously and have a more positive impact on others, in addition to experiencing improved morale, when we look our best.




workplace

ď‚Ž I do not think that we have to dress in military uniform-like attire to get the job done well (although our armed forces and many private schools hold to that theory.) So what does work? Today, our lifestyles are fast paced, stressful and hectic. Clothing has to be comfortable and easily maintained, yet attractive and yes, professional, in order for us to fulfill the requirements of the beginning statistic number two: 38% of our impact on others is based on how we look! Many multifamily companies now require that their onsite team members dress in “professional attireâ€? or matching apparel. On resort or casual properties we often see khaki walking shorts and knit shirts with the property logo, and it works. But it only works WELL if the clothing is ironed, the socks and shoes are clean and white and the people wearing the “uniform’ are appropriately groomed. Matching attire is also a great equalizer. Perhaps there are two women working in the same office. One is married to a successful executive, and works because she simply

enjoys it, not because she has to. She works in $300 dresses.The other is a single mom of three, receives no child support and works to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. What little clothing she buys is from discount stores. Her morale is greatly improved by being able to dress in the same manner as her coworkers. Matching attire also lets your customers know who is part of the company team. On the other hand, we don’t have to dress alike in order to be taken seriously and to impress our clients. As long as our own clothing choices are work appropriate, clean and pressed, fit appropriately and we are well groomed, it works as well. In summary, think how you feel when entering a place of business and encountering a sales person who needs a shave, wears a wrinkled shirt, has bad breath and needs a haircut. Doesn’t it make you question the quality of the business, their products and their salesforce? Taking pride in how we look does impact our performance, it does make an impression

on our customers, and all my research indicates that people who dress for success receive more promotions, are better paid and ARE more successful. So, what are you wearing to work tomorrow? AM

Anne Sadovsky, CSP, CAM, CAPS, RAM, has been in this industry since 1968. She is a member of the National Speakers Association and has earned the prestigious designation of Certified Speaking Professional. Based in Dallas, Texas, she was named one of the top trainers in the industry by Multi Housing News. Her success story has been featured in Money Magazine, Ladies Home Journal and Texas Business. As a consultant, Anne has saved and made her clients millions of dollars. To contact Anne by phone: 866 9059300 or e-mail: anne@annesadovsky.com or visit her website at www.annesadovsky.com.

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

maintenance

e Reaping a Multiple Reward r  e h W

Unwanted Moisture The five most common sources of unwanted moisture are:  Above grade exterior moisture entering the building (rain).  Below grade moisture entering the building (commonly through a high water table).  Leaking plumbing pipes and mechanical equipment.  Interior moisture from facility use and climate control systems (vapor condensation).  Water used in maintenance and construction materials (cleaning, washing, material mixing). Monitoring common sources of unwanted building moisture can go a long way in preventing mold growth. The key is to prevent excess building moisture and to thoroughly dry it within 24 hours when it occurs. Mold growth doesn’t stem from just a few types of water problems. You’ve got to be vigilant in avoiding every source of excess

There is Mold

─ by Del Williams moisture, from burst pipes and flooding to pinhole leaks and vapor condensation over time, if you want to avoid triggering mold growth. Ironically, smaller water sources such as a pinhole leak may actually be more insidious than larger, more obvious ones such as a burst pipe, since they may go unnoticed and not be repaired for longer periods of time.

Two Roads to Mold Mold forms on wood with at least 16 percent moisture content, and wood itself begins to decay at 20 percent moisture content. Along these lines, building design flaws account for a sizable number of mold cases, because too much moisture accumulates. Landscaping design errors in both residential and commercial properties can contribute to mold growth as well. For example, at one facility the lawn extended to bay windows, which were subsequently damaged by lawn mowing. When the facility owner replaced the grass under the windows with flowers to prevent further lawn mower damage, he graded over the bottom of the window’s stucco, allowing water to enter through cracks when it rained. This provided a water source, allowing mold growth in the wall cavities between the drywall and studs.

Lack of Mold Awareness When building materials such as studs are left in unprotected storage, they can become wet or mold-contaminated even at new construction or remodeling projects. It may be a shock to find mold contamination in a brand new property but it can happen especially with porous, cellulose-based materials in humid or rainy climates. If growth occurs out of sight-in walls, attics, basements or near AC systems, damage can be substantial before the mold problem is identified.

Managing Mold

Water entering through window cracks causing mold growth on drywall.

28

by Jim Rohn

Any structure with water leaks, water damage, or a history of such is at risk of developing mold. High humidity increases the risk, and a musty odor or drywall discoloration after water damage repair are telltale signs of mold growth. Of course, sudden tenant respiratory problems or

Apartment Manager San Diego Magazine | April-June 2010

complaints of ill health may also be a tip mold is present and must be remediated. According to the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), there are a number of questions to consider before remediating a mold problem:  Are there existing moisture problems in the building?  Have building materials been wet more than 48 hours?  Are there hidden sources of water, or is the humidity too high (high enough to cause condensation)?  Are building occupants reporting musty or moldy odors?  Are building occupants reporting health problems?  Are building materials or furnishings visibly damaged?  Has maintenance been delayed?  Has the building been recently remodeled or has building use changed? Once a property has visible mold growth, it’s too late to simply dry and repair water damage. Without adequate precautions, maintenance staff could open up a wall and expose themselves and the building occupants to unknown types and quantities of hidden mold. That could release mold spores into the air and ventilation systems, spreading mold growth throughout the building. Follow your property management company procedure on mold and how to report it, and ensure that you have a lease addendum addressing residents’ responsibility in reporting mold, housekeeping procedures and ways to prevent mold. Also add mold to your preventive maintenance list and look for signs of mold in the property, to help prevent it from turning into a big problem. Proactive design, sound construction and preventative maintenance along with a timely handling of water damage will all be part of the front-end solution; just as certified mold remediation will continue to be part of the solution on the back-end. AM About the Author Del Williams is a technical writer located in Torrance, CA. For more information on mold prevention go to: www.epa.gov/ mold/preventionandcontrol.html.




personal growth

Speaking of Communication and Silence — By Barry Maher

H

ere’s a tip that a lot of us, myself included, seem

Tip: No matter whom you are or how new or experienced

to have trouble remembering: when you have

you might be, if you don’t know, that’s usually the correct

nothing to say, say nothing. Particularly when

answer.

we are new in an organization or when we are

My father was an attorney and a man who had an

uncomfortable in a job or in a situation, there’s a

answer for everything. Ask him to elucidate the

tendency to want to speak up—to speak up for

difference between Einstein’s concept of

the sake of speaking up—especially in meet-

special relativity and just ordinary run-of-

ings. We feel if we keep our mouths shut,

the-mill, day to day relativity and he’d give

people will think we know little or noth-

you a 20 minutes oration: without having

ing about the subject under discussion.

any more of a clue about any of it than

If we actually do know little or nothing

you or me. But he was an excellent at-

about it, the desire becomes especially

torney, trained at Harvard Law, loved

strong. Get me around a bunch of

by his clients, and if you asked him a

guys at a construction site, and I can’t

question concerning the law, the re-

shut my mouth.

sponse could well be, “I don’t know.”

In communications training, we call

“I don’t know,” is powerful expert

this panic blathering. The less you know,

testimony. It makes everything you do

the more you want to interject something

know that much more believable. If you know

— anything — and usually what you interject

where to find the answer and you can promise

proves just how little you actually do know.

to do so, even better. “Let me find out and I’ll

In an astonishingly short period of time, you

get back to you on this by Friday, if that’s soon

can damage your credibility in a way that can

enough.” Then do it.

take months and even years to repair.

When Gary Ames was president of U.S. West, whenever he was addressing a group and got

Panic Blathering

a tough question, he’d say something like, “Ex-

I know it’s difficult, but when the impulse

cellent question. While I generalize for the next

to panic blather seizes you, take a deep breath and think before you

thirty seconds, Jake Hanes who’s sitting out there in the back of the

speak. Weigh your words carefully and contribute only when you have

room will be coming up with the correct answer. When I stop talk-

something worthy of contribution. A penetrating question—or even

ing, Jake will give you all the specifics, because I don’t have the slight-

an admission of what you don’t know — is a greater sign of intelligence

est idea.” When Gary Ames told you what he did know, you believed

and even expertise than a transparent pretense of knowledge.

him. AM

About the Author

Barry Maher made his mark as a world-class salesperson and sales manager, then as a management and sales consultant, helping clients improve their productivity, often dramatically. Today, as a speaker or a consultant, Barry is hired to get results: to improve productivity and attitude and ultimately, the bottom line, to make his clients money. Barry’s book, Filling the Glass was cited as “[One of] The Seven Essential Popular Business Books” by Today’s Librarian magazine. His latest book, No Lie: Truth Is the Ultimate Sales Tool, from McGraw-Hill, has been translated around the world. Visit Barry Maher online at www.barrymaher.com. apartmentmanager sandi e g o . c o m

29




inspiration

M

— by Lori Snider

You Choose!

y dog Lucky is blind. Our fabulous ten year old tri colored Australian Shepherd who is practically perfect in every way suffers from cataracts, which would explain why he keeps walking into things. A specialist informed us that surgery to repair the problem would cost at least $3,000. Since we have college tuition to worry about, not to mention the mortgage, and since the specialist would not even entertain the thought of fixing just one eye, we made a difficult decision and Lucky has lost his sight. To keep him company, and keep him on his toes, we decided Lucky needed a pal. So we adopted a second dog, Dusty, and everything has worked out as planned. Except for the paper. Years ago, I taught Lucky how to retrieve the newspaper. Each morning, Lucky trots down the walk and onto the driveway, grabs the paper and brings it to me. For this feat, he receives a treat. I get my paper, people driving by are impressed, and Lucky gets a snack. Everybody’s happy. The trouble is, now that Lucky can’t see, he trots out the door, walks into a bush, gets to the driveway and circles round and round in search of the elusive newspaper. I yell from the door, “To the left Lucky…no, it’s right there… get out of the road…back this way,” as Lucky circles. Many days I sigh, and (in my pajamas), head down the walk and onto the driveway, where I reach down and shake the paper. Lucky hears it, trots over and grabs it. I then follow both dogs into the house. I am not happy with this situation. Yesterday, as Lucky circled, I glanced down and saw Dusty looking at me. “Let me do it,” he seemed to say, “I can see that paper from here.” My wheels began to turn, and as we sat down to dinner later that evening, I said to my husband, “I think I am going to teach Dusty to get the newspaper. Lucky can’t find it and it’s becoming quite a show every morning. “My husband put down his fork and very seriously said, “Lori, you can’t do that. That is Lucky’s job. You will kill him if you take away his job.” In my selfish heart, I knew he was right. Lucky dutifully waits by the door

30

Apartment Manager San Diego Magazine | April-June/2010

each morning to perform his job to the best of his ability, as he has for the last ten years. Shame on me for trying to cast him aside with a replacement when all he needs is a little help. Lucky’s situation might be compared to certain management strategy. If team members are given no responsibility or freedom to make a decision that assists a customer, or if management allows them no resources to make a wrong a right, they are sending a message that the employee is not to be trusted to make a decision. The employee will likely become a policy junky, serving as no more than a vessel to direct the customer to upper management – the people that can be trusted. Initial enthusiasm, dedication and desire to learn will whither. When the employee feels they can’t make a difference because the company does not trust them to use sound judgment in serving the customer, they will grow frustrated and leave. Essentially, all of the qualities they were hired for will die. Help your team understand how to creatively find solutions to customer challenges. Help them deliver, guide and assist them, know that mistakes will be made and that is how people learn, and let them do their jobs. In the end, the customer will be better served. Now, each morning I follow Lucky out the door, and provide the back up that allows him to do his job well. Because he is allowed to serve, he is happy, and that makes me even happier. You choose! AM

Lori Snider is a professional speaker, author and marketing strategist widely regarded as one of the best sales and service trainers in multifamily real estate. She is regularly sought for her keen insight regarding marketing trends. Her enthusiasm, sales skills and imaginative problem solving abilities are contagious, and her creative capabilities can take a company from average to exceptional through strategic, focused initiatives. Call Lori at 303-517-2006 or email at lori@lorisnider.com to discuss your marketing needs.


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Apartment Manager San Diego Magazine - April/2010