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Each year, International Women’s Day is a reminder of the strides that women have made toward equality around the world, as well as the work that remains to be done in achieving parity.

This year’s theme, #BalanceforBetter, calls all of us to create a more gender-balanced world, where women are represented across industries. As the IWD website describes: “Balance is not a women’s issue, it’s a business issue. The race is on for the gender-balanced boardroom, a gender-balanced government, gender-balanced media coverage, a gender-balance of employees, more gender-balance in wealth… Gender balance is essential for economies and communities to thrive.”

Notably, property management is a profession where women are already thriving: 1 in 2 property and community association managers are women, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent estimates. However, the ratio of women to men varies wildly within the real estate industry: While 77 percent of residential real estate professionals are women, the same is true for just 35 percent of those in commercial real estate.

In celebration of International Women’s Day, we wanted to shine a spotlight on exceptional women in our industry. We reached out to two successful female property managers to find out what attracted them to property management, and what it’s like to be a woman in this profession; and to relay the wisdom they’ve gained along the way.

Leah Slaughter, Co-Owner of OmniKey Realty LLC

Leah and her husband founded their successful property management company, OmniKey Realty, in Plano, TX when they were just 19 and 20 years old. They decided to start the company in 2006 after going through the process of buying a home.

“We bought our first house before we were 20 years old,” Leah recalled. “I wanted to negotiate hard, and our agent didn’t want to do that. Then, at closing, we realized the ridiculous amount of money the agent and lender had made on the transaction. My husband said, ‘Leah, we could do this better.’”

Within months, they’d earned their licenses and were ready to sell. When it came to managing properties, she says they fell into it: “Our first clients were investors, and it just clicked.” After first focusing on the Dallas/Fort Worth area, they’ve since grown to cover nearly the entire state.

Leah and her husband have worked hard to build their business, and their level of dedication is evident. Leah describes herself as a ‘Type A’ personality, with her typical day consisting of “my phone in front of my face. Just kidding, but in all seriousness, I handle over 1,000 emails a day between our two companies. Most of my day is spent on calls and emails and scoping properties.”

Leah continues: “We have an incredible team for our property management company, and we take a very active oversight role; although most of the time, I’m being pulled in twenty directions at once. Most of my work is done from my laptop in my car while out visiting properties to buy to increase our portfolio.

“Property management is something you have to live and breathe. It isn’t a 9-to-5 job. It isn’t something where you’ll be able to go home and easily turn your brain off. You are always on call. Someone is always upset with you. You will always end the workday with things left to do.

“That said, when done right, it’s a great source of consistent income; and most importantly, it’s something that you will fall in love with if it’s a fit for you. I absolutely love my job, our team, and the flexibility and lifestyle it provides.”

Leah says that she’s never felt treated differently as a woman in property management, though many of her peers are men: “In real estate, perhaps half of who I encounter are women. Most of the large companies have sold and gone corporate, so it isn’t really individually owned by a local face anymore.”

What advice does she have for those who want to be successful in the property management field?

“Be ingenious, intuitive, and think outside the box. Make yourself stand out and be the apple in a bag of oranges, because there are a thousand companies out there trying to do property management, so do something different.

More than anything else, Leah and her husband strive to stand out by keeping their “family-owned-and-operated” ethos central to their business: “Every client has direct access to my personal cell and is invited to our home every few months for a get-together. It’s a different way of doing business that we love so much.”

Melissa Clinton, Owner/Designated Broker of At Home Properties

At Home Properties is a family business founded in College Station, TX in 2000. Melissa describes how her mother, who had worked in real estate since the 80s, “got into property management and ended up buying that department from the broker she worked with at the time. Then, she worked with other property managers and built even more.”

At the time, Melissa managed a helpdesk for a major telecom company. After cutbacks forced her to lay off her team, Melissa was ready for a change. She describes: “My mom’s company was growing and she needed help. We had our first daughter and were contemplating moving closer to family anyway. [When my company began to offer] voluntary layoffs and packages, I was like, ‘This is the perfect time to do it.’”

A year and a half after her mother founded At Home Properties, Melissa got her license and joined the company. Her husband made the move to property management three years later. Since that time, the company’s portfolio has grown from 100 units under management to more than 800.

Melissa says that what matters most to her is being a strong role model for her daughters as she works hard to build her business. She describes: “I hate to say I’m a workaholic, but I guess you could classify me as that. I’m not a stay-at-home person. Even when I’m sick, I don’t like being home. After I had our second daughter, I was back at work a week later. I would bring her into work with me. I had a nursery set up in the corner of my office. She just kind of fit in. She was like our little mascot.”

Melissa agrees that the industry presents a great deal of opportunity for women. (She noted with amusement, ”All of our staff members are women, except for my husband!”) What advice does she have for women getting into property management?

In order to be successful, Melissa describes the need to balance empathy with assertiveness: “You have to have a certain type of personality. You have to be able to stand your ground with tenants and owners, if necessary. But if you’ve got a tenant who’s having a rough time, you can be a little more understanding and not so by-the-book.”

In addition, she says: “You have to figure out that little space where you can take a tenant who’s so angry at you for whatever reason, whether you’re trying to collect rent or there’s a repair that’s taking too long in their eyes, to be able to turn them around to be happy with your service.”

Melissa says that learning to read people will go far in this business: “After all of these years, I’m still learning how to deal with different personalities. Everyone communicates differently. I’m a very type-A personality, so I’m very quick, short, and to-the-point when I’m trying to convey an issue or a need. But that doesn’t always work with people. It may rub people the wrong way. I’m still learning, and I don’t think I’ll ever stop.”

She also emphasized that as a property manager, “you have to be able to multitask. You have to be able stop what you’re doing because you have staff coming in asking questions or phone calls or emails or what have you, then go back and finish what you were doing in the first place.”

For Melissa, that means tackling the most urgent tasks first, writing everything down, and color-coding like crazy: “I have notes everywhere. My calendar looks like a bag of Skittles threw up all over it because I’m trying to coordinate everything.”

Finally, she advises those starting out in property management to seek balance: “It’s very easy to take your work home with you, especially in today’s day and age, where everybody has cell phones. I have to make a very conscious effort to put the phone down and step away. I force myself to make time to go to the gym because that’s my stress-reliever. I have to do something for me so I can be present at home.”

On International Women’s Day, join us in celebrating women like Leah and Melissa who have carved out paths for themselves in an industry that often requires sacrifice in order to exceed customers’ expectations and grow a successful business.

The post Celebrating women’s success in property management appeared first on Buildium.

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“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” —Benjamin Franklin

There are familiar sights, sounds, and smells to the start of a new academic year—the crunch of leaves on the ground, the smell of new books, the unpacking of suitcases in dorm rooms, and halls crowded with swarms of new students.

It’s with that same level of anticipation that we announce the winners of the Fall 2018 Buildium scholarships.

Over the past five years, Buildium has heard from hundreds of students about what motivates them to pursue higher education. We’ve received submissions from undergraduate and graduate students across the globe who are incredibly driven in their pursuit of careers within science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Year after year, we continue to be impressed by these students’ ability to articulate their goals and sources of inspiration. The winning applicants each receive $2,500 to put toward their education. Applicants are limited to STEM students currently enrolled in undergraduate or graduate degree programs in the U.S. and Canada.

On behalf of the reading committee and the whole team here at Buildium, we want to thank all of our wonderful applicants for sharing their stories, passions, and personalities with us. We’re proud to announce our two winners for the Fall 2018 scholarship cycle below; and we are so honored to have been a small part of their educational experience.

Buildium Scholarship Winner: Women in Technology Aurora Gray, Kansas State University – Class of 2022

Women in Technology scholarship applicants were asked, “Which female leader in STEM most inspires you to pursue your dreams, and why?”

We were impressed and delighted that Aurora decided to actually interview her chosen subject, Lenora Payne, CEO and founder of Technology Group Solutions LLC. Lenora and her company have received a host of awards, including Enterprising Women Magazine’s Woman of the Year, Top Woman-Owned Business, and 50 Fastest-Growing Women-Owned Companies Worldwide. Aurora wrote that Payne was a “big inspiration to me, not only because she has overcome the challenge of being a minority woman in a STEM leadership role, but because the type of work she does is the same type of work I am most interested in.”

Our favorite moment of the interview came when Aurora asked Lenora, “What’s one thing that you would want to share with young women in STEM like me?” Aurora describes that Lenora smiled warmly and said, “Respect yourselves and others, and believe that individuals that are treated with respect and given responsibility will respond by giving their best.”

When we asked what excites her about her field, Aurora replied: “I am determined to make it in Engineering, which is a mostly male-dominated field. I really want to make a difference in this world, and engineering is the perfect platform. Your scholarship means you believe in me and are partnering with me to help others. That is a really big deal, and having your support is encouraging. It also means I will be able to achieve my goals with less student debt.”

Buildium Scholarship Winner: Build U. Rizel Bobb-Semple, Boston University – Class of 2020

Build U. scholarship applicants answered the question, “Which company do you admire that exemplifies one or more of Buildium’s six core values?” Our values are:

  1. Focus on customers first
  2. Be helpful and supportive
  3. Communicate openly and honestly
  4. Be nimble and flexible
  5. Take initiative and work hard
  6. Be passionate and have fun

Rizel chose to write about Boston-based tech company HubSpot and how she believes that it focuses on customers first. She describes about how “HubSpot understands that happier employees are more motivated to develop improved products and provide customers with an exceptional customer experience. Unlike most companies, HubSpot invests in the personal lives of its employees.”

Rizel had a first-hand look at HubSpot’s employee-first approach when she herself was an employee in the summer and fall of 2017. She writes that she is an advocate of HubSpot because she believes “HubSpotters are customer-focused, supportive, candid, flexible, hardworking, passionate, fun, and more. Yet, HubSpot’s most significant and impressive trait is the support it generates for all employees.”

We asked Rizel how she plans to use the scholarship prize, and she responded: “For my education, this means the world. I was actually very worried that I wouldn’t be able to pay for this semester. In the past, I already had to withdraw from college due to limited finances, and I didn’t want to repeat that situation again. This has also motivated me to apply to more scholarships because now I know I have the ability to win.”

Congratulations and best of luck to Aurora and Rizel from all of us here at Buildium!

You can apply for Buildium’s next round of scholarships between March 15 and April 15, 2019. Be sure to watch the Build U. and Women in Technology pages for more information as the application period approaches.

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It’s blazed across headlines all over the internet: customer service is the new marketing. It’s a great catch phrase, but is it really true?

If you’ve been keeping up with the latest trends in property management, you know that the industry is getting personal. That means it’s more important than ever to build strong relationships and come up with out-of-the-box ideas for customer service that goes above and beyond. Think of it this way: finding new renters year after year is time-consuming and costly—on average, a vacant property loses $40 per day. Customer service builds loyalty and trust, which increases resident retention and fuels your entire referral engine.

As property management companies work to bring the resident back into focus, they’re relying on customer service to drive sales and grow the business. After all, customer service initiatives are often more affordable and effective than traditional marketing strategies. Even better, many growing businesses are finding that customer service helps them stay competitive with bigger management companies that struggle to scale quality customer service.

Responsive, personalized customer service is a key differentiator in a competitive industry. Here are three out of the box ideas for great customer service in property management.

#1: Mark Every Milestone

The most impactful customer service is personal and memorable. Your business is only as strong as the relationships that drive it, so take the time to show genuine interest in your residents and clients. Personal recognition is a powerful tool for deepening relationships and cultivating loyal customers. Acknowledging milestones like birthdays, anniversaries, and achievements shows that you care about them and the events in their lives. You can use technology to log important dates and set reminders for when it’s time to drop a resident a birthday card or send an owner an anniversary gift. Gifting is so important that AI-powered gifting companies like Alyce are gaining momentum and making it easier to scale thoughtful outreach. It’s the perfect balance of tech and the human touch: automate the reminder without sacrificing the sentiment.

Paying attention to important milestones also helps you anticipate your residents’ changing needs. When a long-term resident starts a family, check in and offer to help baby-proof the property. Everything from a graduation to adopting a puppy can trigger new challenges in the home experience, and strong relationships will help you create solutions before they become a problem.

#2: Text Your Customers

Are your communication methods outdated? Consumer communication preferences are trending away from phone calls and emails—two-thirds of consumers now prefer engaging with brands through messaging apps. The 2018 State of the Property Management Industry Report found the same to be true for how residents want to communicate with property managers. Fifty-five percent of renters preferred text message communication, and Millennials have come to expect it.

Face-to-face communication is great, but tech-enabled customer service is a competitive edge. Use proven technology, like a resident site, to enhance how you communicate with residents. Not only will it be easier for residents to reach you, it’ll also make managing showings and maintenance tasks more efficient—all of which frees up valuable time for your staff. Pro tip: look for property management software with a mobile app so that residents can reach you on-the-go.

#3: Be Transparent

We’ve all been there: a mini-disaster has struck one of your properties and you’re in crisis mode. When things get tough, our instinct is often to keep owners and residents as far from the problem as possible. But in reality, a lack of information almost always leads to rumors and guesses, all of which can cultivate distrust. When issues crop up (and they always do!), be upfront with owners and residents about what’s going on. Dealing with a landscaping misstep? Clearly communicate the problem to all those affected and let them know what you’re doing to solve it.

You can take transparency a step further by practicing financial transparency with employees. The practice of sharing company financials with employees gives them a sense of ownership over their daily work and how it impacts the company’s overall success. For residents, that means every employee they interact with is empowered to deliver great customer service and has a stake in how satisfied they are with the interaction. Financial transparency gives employees more responsibility and the knowledge they need to make informed decisions, all of which leads to happier customers.

Personalized, out-of-the-box customer service is key for businesses aiming to achieve sustainable growth. When you put people at the center of your business, the relationships you build along the way will help you build a business that lasts.

P.S. Be sure to subscribe to the Buildium blog to stay up-to-date on industry news and the issues you care about. Click here to sign up now!

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Companies across industries are looking for employees that have more than industry-specific know-how. They want workers with the necessary soft skills to run a successful team. Those soft skills that are often the most difficult to master include conflict resolution, interpersonal skills and the ability to communicate (often in situations filled with conflict and stress).

These skills are particularly useful for property managers, who at times have to handle tricky resident situations. Let’s take a look at some examples and see how adopting these property manager skills can improve your relationship with your residents and help resolve conflicts — sometimes before they even arise.

Resident Complaints

Resident complaints can run the gamut, from real problems like torn carpeting in a common area, to issues beyond your control like the amount of time the elevator takes to get to the first floor.

The important thing to remember is to listen to your resident and to validate their concerns. Make it clear that you have heard and understood their concern.

If you can solve the problem, thank them for bringing it up and explain what you’ll be doing and when to resolve the issue. Encourage their input, as well. If they feel they have been a part of the solution, they will walk away happy.

If it’s something you can’t fix, explain why. Again, thank them for their feedback, but make it clear that there are some things beyond your control.

Missed Payments

This is one area where you’re just going to have to stick to your guns. You don’t have to be rude or confrontational, but you do have to be strict to keep late or missed payments from becoming a habit.

Most residential buildings have pretty clear payment regulations and strict rules for residents who miss payments.

The first time a resident misses a payment, it’s fine to simply notify them and include a copy of their lease or association agreement. If they are generally a good resident, you may even waive any late fees the first time.

But if it happens again, follow these three steps:

  1. Communicate to your resident that there is no more wiggle room for missed payments. Follow the guidelines to the letter, notifying your resident, applying any late fees outlined in the agreement and starting legal proceedings, if necessary.
  2. Remain professional throughout the process. Communicate to your resident via email or phone to notify them when a payment is late and the next steps you will take.
  3. Never confront them at their home or in common spaces, and don’t call or email more than you need to. You don’t want to make them feel harrassed.
Undesirable Maintenance/Construction

Maintenance and improvement projects are inevitable. And we know you do everything you can to make sure they cause the least amount of inconvenience to your residents.

Still it’s important to communicate changes to residents at every step of the project.

To start, send out a notice through every channel available to you (especially through a resident site), and send it out well in advance of the project. Hang a notice on bulletin boards and mail areas. Send out an email blast and post it in community discussion groups and your social media channels.

Include a phone number or email address where residents with questions can reach you. And make sure you address those questions right away.

Be clear about what the project will involve and how long it will take. If there are changes to the plan, or delays, communicate them to residents immediately.

And don’t take the size of the project for granted. Something like changing the mats or seating in the entryway may seem small to you, but it could be a big deal to residents with limited mobility.

Residential Rule Violations

A lot of resident conflict comes from resident rule violations, whether real or perceived, especially in community associations and HOAs.

If a resident is breaking noise, storage, parking or smoking rules, there are, of course, steps you can take to resolve the situation.

Notify the resident via email and include a copy of the lease agreement or community rules. But talk to them, as well. Approach them in a non-confrontational way. Ask them if there’s anything you can do to help them. There may be a reason they are breaking the rules.

Perhaps their parking space hasn’t been cleared of snow, so they took another one. Maybe they have a guest who comes in from work late and isn’t aware of the noise rules.

The important thing to remember is not to approach them as a violator of the rules, but as a person who possibly needs some help.

And, above all, if you were made aware of the situation through a complaint, don’t divulge the name of the resident who contacted you. Simply state that you’ve been made aware of the situation and you’d like to fix it.

Resident Conflict Resolution

There are a few ways to handle conflict resolution, and it all depends on the situation.

Of course, a lot of conflict comes about when one resident is blatantly disregarding the rules. So making sure association rules are clear in the first place, and then enforced, can help nip conflict between residents in the bud.

Some conflict comes about because of perceived violations. One neighbor feels that another is breaking the rules at their expense, and that can be challenging to decipher.

Recently, a friend of mine and his wife were getting angry notes from their downstairs neighbor asking that they don’t talk in their living room because they were making too much noise. The neighbor even confronted his wife while she was home with their child.

Clearly, this is a situation where a 3rd party should get involved. Because the neighbor is making accusations that seem unreasonable and confronting a neighbor, it would be in the best interest for the property manager to speak to her privately and calmly explain what is an acceptable noise level and what is not.

But there are conflicts that should be resolved with all parties coming together.  If you can get the two parties to do that, set some ground rules.

Inform both parties that you will be acting as mediator and that each party should have a chance to air their grievances calmly and respectfully, without interruption.

Hear out both sides and encourage them to come to a compromise. If one party has broken an association rule, help them to see why it’s important to stick to the rules laid out for all residents.

When Residents Are Angry

Of course, when residents are fuming (especially when the anger is directed at you) it can be hard to get them on board with anything, be that new construction or solving a dispute with another resident.

But there are steps you can take to mitigate the situation. The National Association of Residential Property Management (NARPM) recommends restating the problem back to your resident. For example: “I understand that the parking lot repaving project inconveniences you.”

Then, explain the reason for the situation: “The repaving project will smooth out the frost heaves and fill the potholes that are bad for your tires and front-end alignment. It will keep your car in good shape.”

Repeating a problem signals to the resident that you’ve heard them, and giving them a reason helps put the situation in context.

You can use this in conflict negotiation, as well, restating both sides of the issue to the parties understand that you have heard them.

Mastering the right property manager skills to handle sticky situations with residents boils down to a few basic actions. First, always listen to what your resident has to say and acknowledge their concerns. Second, communicate with them at every step of the situation, whether that be a change in the building, a rule that’s being broken or a conflict with another tenant.

Finally, treat everyone involved with respect in a friendly, professional manner. A resident may get confrontational with you, but that doesn’t mean you have to rise to the occasion. Take a moment to breathe. Try to understand their perspective and work with them to find a solution. By establishing yourself as a calm, voice of reason, you’ll create the best possible living experience for your residents over the long haul.

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They’re the three little words that no one ever wants to hear: You’ve been hacked. But every time you turn on the television, there’s news of another major data breach that could put your privacy at risk. In fact, the number of major data breaches topped 1,300 last year—compared with fewer than 200 in 2005. What can we do?

For starters, you should know the best practices for password security and begin using them right away. It can be intimidating to try to stay up with the latest guidelines for keeping your small business secure, but it’s your best line of defense against hackers.

To get you going, we’ve rounded up some password creation ideas based on different personalities and then provided a summary of password security best practices that apply to everyone.  

Ready to give hackers a run for their money? Let’s dive in.

#1. The Business Visionary

If ‘entrepreneur’ is your middle name, should it be your email password, too? Actually, the new gold standard in password security is opting for a lengthier passphrase (think 20 to 60 characters) instead of a common word. That means upgrading your entrepreneur-themed password to a memorable phrase and making it unique by adding spaces, numbers, and symbols.

If you have a favorite quote from a business leader you admire, pull a few key words to make it your own. For example, the famous Walt Disney quote, “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing,” can be transformed into an ironclad password for the bold business leader (e.g. Qu1t Talk1ng & Beg1n D01ng!). If you’re not a fan of substituting numbers and symbols for letters, opt for a longer, randomized phrase with spaces (e.g. Quit Disney Doing Talking Begin).

Key Takeaway

The good news is that a password manager like 1Password or LastPass can create  complex passwords for you—without the need of remembering them all. Still, with any password manager, you’ll have to create a master password. A lengthy, yet memorable passphrase is ideal. (Don’t write them on a post-it note or store them in an unencrypted file on your desktop!) Password managers, as well as free tools like How Secure is My Password?, can also help you to evaluate the strength of your passwords.

#2. The Sports Enthusiast

As a diehard sports fan, you love your teams and you’re not afraid to show it. There’s nothing better than a unified team that keeps bringing home wins—on the field and in the workplace. Unfortunately, many organizations are blowing the call when it comes to password security. In fact, employees are the number one cause of company data breaches, and it’s often traced back to poor password security.

Ready to go to bat for your organization and help prevent a data breach? There are a few things you should know. First, protect your company’s security by putting strong password requirements in place for all employees. Train your employees on the best practices for password security that we’ve covered here and blacklist common passwords. (That means you, Password123!)

Finally, forget about requiring employees to change their passwords every 30, 60, or 90 days—new research shows that the practice often backfires. When busy employees are burdened with creating a new password, they often repeat previous passwords or pick predictable combinations that make your organization more vulnerable to attacks.

Key Takeaway

Training your employees on password security is paramount because of the impact that the actions of the collective group can have on the whole picture. Good habits inspire more security, while bad habits often create momentum for undesirable outcomes.

#3. The Proud Parent

Four kids, four unique passwords. Your work here is done, right? Not so fast. Personal details like the names of your children and their birthdays aren’t as confidential as you think. It’s easy for hackers to discover basic information about your family members and use software to test different combinations on your accounts.

And while you may also be inclined to use the names of your kids, it’s also not a good habit to repeat them across different sites. Imagine a hacker discovers one password and then is able to gain access across the board. The message here is to resist the temptation to reuse or repeat your passwords, no matter how endearing they are to you.

Key Takeaway

Even though your daughter’s name and birthday is a no-go, you can still rep your family pride in your password. Since complexity is key, opt for your daughter’s favorite joke or a memory from a recent family trip. Picking a lengthy collection of uncommon words is one of the best ways to protect your password security (think “Janie’S FaMouS Wh00pie Cushi0n PRanK!” or “dAd FaLLinG iN thE P00L aT disNeY!”). For added security, switch up the order of the words in your phrase to a non-logical pattern.

Bringing It All Together
  1. Use strong passwords (and a password manager). The first step to a stronger password is to choose a passphrase of a significant length that incorporates spaces, uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. If you’re worried about remembering so many complex passwords, use a password management system like 1Password or LastPass that can generate an unguessable password for you.
  2. Don’t get personal. Don’t rely on personal details to make your password secure. It’s easier than ever for hackers to uncover your basic information, like the names of family members or important dates.
  3. Never reuse a password. If you find that a password from one site has been compromised, then it will be even more difficult to remember everywhere that you’ve used it. By the time you make the change across all of the sites you use, it may be too late. For this reason, it’s not recommended to require your team to replace their passwords too frequently, as they may be more inclined to reuse them.

No matter what personality you identify with, making sure that you follow security best practices requires more than sharing a document once and then putting it on the shelf. Security means creating a culture of awareness. When it comes down to it, your work may never be done, but you can make a difference and protect your business starting today.

P.S. Be sure to subscribe to the Buildium blog to stay up-to-date on industry news and the issues you care about. Click here to sign up now!

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For those in property management, there are never enough hours in the day. Fortunately, emerging tech solutions are helping property managers expand their marketing efforts in exciting, new ways. The adoption of AI assistants is often assumed to be driven solely by resident demand for modern amenities and convenience, but these technologies can also help property managers further capitalize on an evolving type of marketing: voice search.

When you think of all of the connected devices available today, digital assistants are one of the most compelling since they serve as a hub that gathers a treasure trove of data and changes the way we accomplish our daily tasks.

According to a study from NPR and Edison Research, the rate of adoption of digital assistants has now exceeded the pace of smartphone adoption. What’s more, of those who take the leap and purchase digital assistants, 65 percent say they wouldn’t be willing to give them up. Siri and Alexa are here to stay—and will get better at fulfilling our requests.

So how will AI and voice search impact property managers’ business? Digital assistants can certainly drive potential clients. Twenty percent of mobile searches are performed via voice, and ComScore predicts that that number will jump to 50 percent by 2020.

Consumers are already looking for more ways to use digital assistants to find the products and services they’re pining for, so if you’re not optimizing your property management website and online listings to be found via voice search, you could be missing out.

Here are three ways to make sure your business is positioned to get the most out of the voice search revolution.

1. How do I choose topics that will capture voice search?

Digital assistants are often best at answering spur-of-the-moment questions — except, instead of typing your question into a search bar on Google, you simply ask your digital assistant for the answer.

So the first step to prepare your business for the rise of digital assistants is to think about the types of questions your potential residents are already thinking about and searching for online in a more conversational way (filler words and all) when they might be considering a property manager.

Determine the most common phrases that they’re looking for, and then weave those terms into your content following SEO best practices so it’s easy for Google to find. Some SEO, content tools that you can use to help in determining the topics and search terms where you have a chance of ranking are Keywords Everywhere (free plugin), Ahrefs, MOZ, and SEMRush.

For example, if you’ve found that many people in your region are searching for “who are the best property managers near me?” or “what do property managers do?,” make sure you include those phrases in your relevant content.

2. Optimize for voice search through featured snippets and local queries

One difference between voice assistants and traditional search is that when you search for something on Google or Bing, you’ll see an entire page of results you can sort through. But when you ask Alexa, Siri, or Google Assistant a question, you’ll only get the top response. Digital assistants pull this information from featured snippets — or the nugget of information that pops up in a block at the top of the search engine results to quickly address the search intent.

For this reason and others, there are certain searches that have a lower click-through rate to the actual site.  So if you want to ensure digital assistants find your website before they find your competitors, you’ll need to make sure you are doing good job of including answers to the key questions your residents are asking relevant to your local market. The good news is that voice search tends to skew towards local searches!

3. Make adjustments as AI assistants improve

The technology behind digital assistants continues to advance with the help of artificial intelligence. So the best piece of advice is to stay on top of those changes so you can adapt your marketing efforts. Eventually, these assistants might be able to learn users’ habits and pick up on trends or understand tone and/or context when a question is asked. This technology is moving quickly, and property managers will be impacted—especially as the technology is able to help consumers vet and organize their options quickly.

Imagine a day where a property owner asks Siri to decide who the best property manager is (based on local reviews) and to set up an appointment with you—all without raising a finger. The experience is not as far off as it seems.

Have you taken advantage of voice search in your property management business? Let us know if you have any more tips in the comments!

P.S. Be sure to subscribe to the Buildium blog to stay up-to-date on industry news and the issues you care about. Click here to sign up now!

The post Voice search revolution: 3 ways property managers can use AI assistants appeared first on Buildium.

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There’s a lot to love about working in the property management industry, but the job can also be pretty stressful and emotional. We hear it all the time: property management burnout is real, and it takes a toll on your business. Workplace burnout is often caused by factors like overwhelming job demands, improper or inadequate training, and lack of social support. It can impact everything from performance to personal well-being, and property managers are telling us that they’re getting hit hard.

If you’re feeling burned out, it can be difficult to know what to do about it. Even worse, employees won’t always share when they’re feeling burned out—you might not find out until they submit their resignation. It’s tricky territory, but fighting burnout means not accepting this as the way things are. There are plenty of opportunities to take action, and it starts with a healthy dose of self-care.

No, we’re not going to insist you throw on a face mask and meditate your stress away (but meditation does help manage stress!). Instead, we’re sharing how to create a workplace that empowers you and your employees to achieve better work-life balance and be happier and more productive. We’ve learned that recognizing and rewarding employees, using the right technology, and increasing training is your best line of defense against burnout.

You heard it here first: property management burnout is no match for an empowered workplace. Here are three ways to say goodbye to burnout in 2019.

Tips for Avoiding Property Management Burnout: #1 Reward and Recognize Employees

Make this phrase one of your 2019 mantras: recognition leads to retention. Burnout is more likely to occur when employees don’t feel valued for the work they do. Property management is a fast-paced, demanding industry—it’s crucial for employees to know that their hard work matters.

In fact, research from Globoforce’s WorkHuman Research Institute found that 93 percent of employees who receive praise at work believe that the work they do is meaningful and purposeful, compared to only 72 percent of workers who have never been recognized at work. Reward and recognition programs help cultivate a more engaged, productive, and motivated staff.

You can embed recognition into your culture through simple initiatives, like shout-outs during team meetings or annual awards for stand-out employees. Worried about finding the time to keep up with employee accomplishments? Encourage employees to recognize one another in formal and informal ways.

Use internal resources, like your messaging system or email, for day-to-day, spontaneous recognition. For more formal rewards, create quarterly or annual programs that allow for peer-to-peer nominations. Remember, employee recognition isn’t all about performance: create awards that celebrate your core values and those who live them out every day.

Tips for Avoiding Property Management Burnout: #2 Invest in Technology

Feeling burned out? One of the first things to go should be the mundane, time-consuming tasks that come with the territory in property management. If you’ve been putting off investing in technology to automate and organize your property management business, now’s the time to make the leap. Manual tasks like managing maintenance requests and tracking documents often feel meaningless and create frustration—two key ingredients in the recipe for burnout.

Although property management software is great for automating manual processes, it’s also about providing your staff with the tools they need to get organized and boost efficiency. Your employees can’t provide top-notch customer service to your residents when they’re feeling disorganized and unsupported in their daily tasks. The right property management software can make life easier for everyone from your marketing lead to your staff accountant.

Tips for Avoiding Property Management Burnout: #3 Create Training Opportunities

When your staff is confident and knowledgeable, they’re more likely to have the skills necessary to manage stress and solve problems. Continuous training opportunities are important at all levels of the business, from the C-suite to frontline employees.

Learning new skills and acquiring knowledge is important to today’s workforce. In fact, millennial workers are so committed to learning and development that they’re willing to change jobs over it. That means it’s more important than ever to provide meaningful learning for employees even after onboarding is over.

What kind of training keeps employees engaged and productive? Micro-learning delivers bite-sized, focused training opportunities that address timely, specific topics. For example, a 15-minute eLearning course on 2019 real estate trends or a webinar on new ways to manage job-related stress. If your budget is tight, leverage the experts on your team to create mini-training opportunities, like lunch and learns or mentorship programs.

The key to preventing property management burnout is as simple as finding ways to show you care, and that doesn’t cost a dime.

P.S. Be sure to subscribe to the Buildium blog to stay up-to-date on industry news and the issues you care about. Click here to sign up now!

The post 3 strategies for sidestepping property management burnout appeared first on Buildium.

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Editor’s note: We interviewed Bruce Carlsmith of Carlsmith and Putnam to talk about what makes his property management business whir in this day and age of automation where the human touch is often overlooked.

How did you get into property management?

Some fifteen years ago my tech start-up crashed and I decided to renovate a few homes while deciding what to do next. I had always been handy and fancied myself as knowledgable about construction; which turned out to be an illusion. But nonetheless my wife and I succeeded in making a modest profit renovating single family homes in Sacramento, and I sort of never got around to returning to technology.

A year or two into it one of the houses we fixed did not sell, so we decided rent it out as an interim measure. That started to look good to us so we picked up a few more and eventually bought our first apartment building.
At somewhere around 50 units I got tired of chasing down minor mistakes in accounting and started looking for accounting software. I tried maybe 4-5 products, but Buildium was by far the most advanced and functional. We’ve been with Buildium about five years now and have grown to over 100 units. Since my wife and I are a partnership we simply go by Carlsmith and Putnam.

Bruce Carlsmith of Putnam and Carlsmith based out of Woodside, CA.
What makes your company unique?
Our company is a bit unusual in that we only manage our own properties, and I interview all prospective tenants personally. Prospects really like the idea of being able to reach the owner, and that helps our sales process immensely. I have a lot of pride in our properties and seek to continuously improve them, for better rents and better sleep at night.

Why do your residents love you?

The combination of good properties and careful tenant selection means we have very congenial and agreeable tenants. In one of our downtown properties of about 22 units, for example, where all the tenants are young professionals, the tenants have independently put together regular social events like “Wine Wednesdays” and movie nights. They have chartered limousines to a baseball game and gone as a group to the Napa wine country. They even have a Facebook page, and write a monthly bulletin with interviews of new tenants. Needless to say we get a lot of referral business.
Our situation, in one of the fastest rent growth areas of the country, in a state with an acute housing shortage, makes me think our success has a lot of luck in it, but I could pass on a little advice. We bought only properties with a distinct advantage of one kind or another. One is close to a university. Several are in the thriving downtown are where the urban renewal is booming. Another is in a town which lies just outside the hyper-expensive SF bay area. So for us, location has been key.
Another factor has been the personal touch. In our area relatively few owners are involved with their properties, and tenants enjoy talking with someone who has a personal stake in making their homes a good place to live. We have a low noise policy in all our buildings and I personally respond to any complaints. I also do a fair number of repairs which further gives the tenants the knowledge that I actually work and don’t just collect checks.

What’s the best advice you have for property managers?

Buildium has been an important part of our success because of its simplicity, reliability and functionality. For young professionals ePay is a natural way of doing things and all our tenants use it. I look forward to incorporating more of Buildium’s progress into our business as it becomes available.

The post Customer spotlight: Bruce Carlsmith appeared first on Buildium.

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In the throes of the Great Recession and the subsequent recovery, large metropolises like New York City and San Francisco saw an influx of new residents. Mega-cities with strong economies were the first to rebound from the downturn, making them attractive to those seeking well-paying jobs and vibrant surroundings.

Since 2016, however, a new migration trend has emerged: Residents in expensive, overheated primary markets have their eye on thriving secondary markets—and some are making the move to these small cities and satellite towns. Over the next 5 years, PwC projects that the populations of New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles will grow at a rate of just 0.2%; while Phoenix, Charleston, and Boise will increase at the significantly faster rate of 1.6%. Much of the migration is from the coasts to the middle of the country, where job and population growth are booming, and a lower cost of living means that residents’ and investors’ dollars go significantly farther.

So, which secondary markets will attract residents’ interest in the year ahead—and how can investors and property managers stay a step ahead of this trend? We evaluated hundreds of cities across the country to form our list of 50 secondary markets to watch in 2019. We utilized a range of measures that reflect qualities that appeal to residents and investors, from growth in job opportunities and property values to cost of living indexes and rent-to-income ratios. The cities that we’ve selected are those that balance projected growth for investors with affordability for residents—a necessary combination for sustainable growth.

Up-and-Coming Real Estate Markets to Watch in 2019 Tier I Cities

Compared to the rest of the country, the emerging real estate markets that we’ve named our best bets for growth in 2019 are:

  • Gaining residents twice as fast
  • Gaining jobs more than twice as fast
  • 4 years younger on average
  • Seeing home values grow 50% faster
  • Staying affordable for residents—the average cost of living index is on par with the national average
  • Seeing 20% faster rent growth than the rest of the country—enough to help property managers and owners turn a profit, but not enough to scare renters into moving or buying homes at a faster rate than usual
  • Located largely in the southern half of the country, particularly Florida and Texas

Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta Real Estate Market Statistics
  • Metropolitan statistical area: Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA
  • Population: 486,290 – 38ᵗʰ largest U.S. city (Wikipedia – 2017 estimate)
  • 5-year projected population growth: 1.3% (PwC, 2018 – U.S. average is 0.7%)
  • Median age: 33 years old (City Data, 2016 – U.S. median is 38)
  • Median household income: $53,843 (City Data, 2016 – U.S. median was $57,617)
  • 5-year projected employment growth: 1.0% (PwC, 2018 – U.S. average is 0.6%)
  • Cost of living index: 98.7 (City Data, 2016 – U.S. average is 100)
  • Rent-to-household-income ratio: 22.1% (PwC – less than 30% is ideal)
  • Median 1-bedroom rent: $1029 (Rentonomics, 2018 – U.S. median is $743)
  • Year-over-year rent growth: 1.5% (Rentonomics, 2018 – U.S. average is 1.5%)
  • Median single-family home sale price: $224,100 (NAR, Q3 2018 – U.S. median is $266,900)
  • Year-over-year home sale price growth: 9.7% (NAR, Q3 2018 – U.S. median is 4.8%)
Expert Opinions on the Atlanta Real Estate Market

Austin, Texas

Austin Real Estate Market Statistics
  • Metropolitan statistical area: Austin-Round Rock, TX
  • Population: 950,715 – 11ᵗʰ largest U.S. city (Wikipedia – 2017 estimate)
  • 5-year projected population growth: 2.3% (PwC, 2018 – U.S. average is 0.7%)
  • Median age: 32.7 years old (City Data, 2016 – U.S. median is 38)
  • Median household income: $66,697 (City Data, 2016 – U.S. median was $57,617)
  • 5-year projected employment growth: 2.0% (PwC, 2018 – U.S. average is 0.6%)
  • Cost of living index: 95.6 (City Data, 2016 – U.S. average is 100)
  • Rent-to-household-income ratio: 19.4% (PwC, 2018 – less than 30% is ideal)
  • Median 1-bedroom rent: $1154 (Rentonomics, 2018 – U.S. median is $743)
  • Year-over-year rent growth: 1.5% (Rentonomics, 2018 – U.S. average is 1.5%)
  • Median single-family home sale price: $318,200 (NAR, Q3 2018 – U.S. median is $266,900)
  • Year-over-year home sale price growth: 7.4% (NAR, Q3 2018 – U.S. median is 4.8%)
Expert Opinions on the Austin Real Estate Market

Boise, Idaho

Boise Real Estate Market Statistics
  • Metropolitan statistical area: Boise City, ID
  • Population: 226,570 – 98ᵗʰ largest U.S. city (Wikipedia – 2017 estimate)
  • 5-year projected population growth: 1.6% (PwC, 2018 – U.S. average is 0.7%)
  • Median age: 35.3 years old (City Data, 2016 – U.S. median is 38)
  • Median household income: $55,199 (City Data, 2016 – U.S. median was $57,617)
  • 5-year projected employment growth: 1.3% (PwC, 2018 – U.S. average is 0.6%)
  • Cost of living index: 92.1 (City Data, 2016 – U.S. average is 100)
  • Rent-to-household-income ratio: 16.9% (PwC, 2018 – less than 30% is ideal)
  • Median 1-bedroom rent: $715 (Rentonomics, 2018 – U.S. median is $743)
  • Year-over-year rent growth: 1.5% (Rentonomics, 2018 – U.S. average is 1.5%)
  • Median single-family home sale price: $274,700 (NAR, Q3 2018 – U.S. median is $266,900)
  • Year-over-year home sale price growth: 18.3% (NAR, Q3 2018 – U.S. median is 4.8%)
Expert Opinions on the Boise Real Estate Market

Charlotte, North Carolina

Charlotte Real Estate Market Statistics
  • Metropolitan statistical area: Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC
  • Population: 859,035 – 17ᵗʰ largest U.S. city (Wikipedia – 2017 estimate)
  • 5-year projected population growth: 1.5% (PwC, 2018 – U.S. average is 0.7%)
  • Median age: 34 years old (City Data, 2016 – U.S. median is 38)
  • Median household income: $61,017 (City Data, 2016 – U.S. median was $57,617)
  • 5-year projected employment growth: 1.3% (PwC, 2018 – U.S. average is 0.6%)
  • Cost of living index: 92.9 (City Data, 2016 – U.S. average is 100)
  • Rent-to-household-income ratio: 20.6% (PwC, 2018 – less than 30% is ideal)
  • Median 1-bedroom rent: $961 (Rentonomics, 2018 – U.S. median is $743)
  • Year-over-year rent growth: 1.5% (Rentonomics, 2018 – U.S. average is 1.5%)
  • Median single-family home sale price: $245,000 (NAR, Q3 2018 – U.S. median is $266,900)
  • Year-over-year home sale price growth: 5.1% (NAR, Q3 2018 – U.S. median is 4.8%)
Expert Opinions on the Charlotte Real Estate Market

Clearwater, Florida

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