Thursday, December 24, 2009

Making Eye Contact in Social Media

Just when I thought some of the heat and debate would start to die down, then I find that the fire just keeps on burning with some.  I am not against other people voicing their opinions.  That’s what freedom of speech is all about.   I scratch my head though with repetitive comments and thoughts from 2009 already streaming into 2010.  Using social media simply has core attributes that cannot be ignored if you want a measure of success. 

Let me quote you what Mike Schnaffer said in this morning.  He was referring to Ford’s campaign when he stated the following. 

“A good example is Scott Monty who heads up social media for Ford. Monty is very effective in getting Ford's message out by talking with customers rather than just talking to customers.

The basis of the entire article was talking about how certain groups of people could actually be killing Social Media.  The spammers and the blatant advertisers who want to get you 2 millions followers and whiten your teeth are the ones who are ruining the experience.  There are a lot of good techniques to avoid these people in the first place which will be the subject of another post.  I want to leave everyone with the simple thought of the title of this blog.  How do you make eye contact in social media? 

There are some gross misconceptions out there as to how you should interact on these platforms.  I had one individual the other day ask me how to have a conversation and interact on twitter?  The question itself was very perplexing to say the least.  Making eye contact in regular conversation is a fundamental communication principle that we learn through leadership programs and through just LIFE!

Should it be any different with how we have conversations on a social media platform?  I think not.  When you are using these tools, pretend you are looking the other person in the eye.  That is talking with a person and not just to them.

Written by Jonathan Saar- The Training Factor

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Peggy Waskom-The Time is Now

I stumbled across this article a few days ago regarding multifamily education and how much effort property management companies have been devoting to it for some time now.  This article was posted in Multifamily Executive back in 2005.  Below is a brief quote from the article:

“Two years ago, George Lane, chairman of Lane Co. in Atlanta, taught a property management class at the University of Georgia. About 60 students showed up. This year, more than 200 students attended Lane's guest lecture. Taking a cue from this heightened interest, multifamily industry leaders and associations now are working with colleges and universities across the country to help establish and fund four-year degree programs in residential property management. 

Please read the rest of the article to see the history that has taken place to push and promote college education for the multifamily industry.  So what does this mean for the present and the future of the multifamily industry?  The Peggy Waskom Super Bowl is an event like no other.  This is your opportunity to reach out and support something that will benefit our industry now and for the future.  This is an event that will show to our children how important this industry is to us and how much we feel it means to them.  Have you reached out to the committee to see where you could contribute or participate?  Please follow through and do not delay.  Check out our links below for further information.  There are many already who have reached out and will be participating.  This event will provide a great networking opportunity for owner/managers and vendors.  Thanks to everyone who has already moved forward and are ready for February 9th 2010.   

Email us anytime at

Written by Jonathan Saar-- The Training Factor

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Webinar: Preparing Your 2010 Apartment Marketing Plan with Lisa Trosien (@LisaTrosien)

It's not too late to sign up for today's Webinar that is being hosted by Multifamilyinsiders and sponsored by AppFolio.  We are all looking forward to 2010 with great anticipation.  As of yesterday there was close to 600 who signed up for this presentation.  Click here to sign up for today's presentation at 1pm EST.

There is not one of us who have not realized the immense challenges that still lie in front of us.  The time for old school and narrow minded approaches to marketing our multifamily communities needs to stop.  Lisa Trosien is an award winning multifamily speaker and educator.  I have enjoyed numerous sessions she has conducted.  Please click through to join today's session.  This is one you are not allowed to miss.

Written by Jonathan Saar- The Training Factor

Monday, December 14, 2009

Where the Blogs Have No Name

Content Content Content.  What does it take to keep your blog fresh and up to date?  The worst thing in the world is to plagiarize.  The search spiders do not like this and if you are working on your SEO then this is not the way to go.  How hard is it to blog for your multifamily community?  That is the million dollar question.  I guess it all depends on your perspective.  Does your community have a story within itself?  When you are walking through your community, what is running through your mind besides the fundamentals of making the day successful from a curb appeal, Fair Housing, leasing perspective?  What about the people?

Every resident has a story.  Do you know what it is?  It will be quite challenging for you to have a social community blog when you have no connection with the people that make your community alive....  with the people who give your community a name.

So now you are approaching 2010 and you want to add a community blog and a Facebook page.  You are wondering what the best approach would be, who is going to do it and what kind of content will reach your audience.  Your first question should be: How do my residents view me and the staff or our community?  Are you viewed only as the rent collectors and the curb appeal enforcers.  If you want your outreach efforts to have a name, then you need to reach out to the residents with the names.  Who is your Betty the baker, Joe the DJ, Eileen the retail manager, and Bob the county inspector?

If you want your blog and other outreach programs to have a name, reach out to the people who already have one.  The rest will take on a life of its own.

Written by Jonathan Saar --The Training Factor

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Possibility of a Multifamily College Degree. #pwsb

Is that something you even fathomed when you started out in this industry?  Can you imagine what our future multifamily professionals will bring to the table?  This is what the Peggy Waskom Career Leadership Fund is all about.  This is why Brian Sutherlin and Julie Doran founded this.  This is why they and all committee members have been working so hard to promote the Peggy Waskom Super Bowl on February 9th 2010.  This is a brand new event that has the backing of the Georgia Apartment Industry Education Foundation (GAIEF)  We need your help to spread the word and to give us your support.  Please check out our kickoff video below and follow the links for further information on how you can show your support for this important event.

Peggy Waskom Facebook Page

Please email us at

Monday, December 7, 2009

What is GAIEF? Who is Peggy Waskom?

The Georgia Apartment Industry Education Foundation (GAIEF) is a private, non-profit organization that promotes career opportunities within the apartment industry.  The mission of this organization is to attract people to the apartment industry and inform them about its numerous career opportunities. 

The Peggy Waskom Career Leadership Fund

Peggy Waskom was committed to advancing the state of the industry-through improved training, better communication, and excellent customer service.  With your support, we hope to educate the next generation of leaders in the multifamily housing industry to emulate the very spirit and passion exhibited throughout her career.  In all she did, and all she was as a person, Peggy exhibited grace, compassion, and ingenuity.  Her intellect, humor, and ability to forge strong and lasting relationships made her a stand-out in not only her professional circle, but in her personal life as well.  She was a kind and loving mother, wife and friend.  For those who were fortunate to have met and worked with Peggy fell honored to have known such a loyal and uniquely talented individual.  It is in her memory that we begin this fund-raising campaign. 

Beginning now…GAIEF is collaborating with Georgia’s technical colleges and high schools to attract new talent to our industry.  Our industry will be represented at every educational level and can be viewed as a “career of choice.”  This fundraising initiative will be launched in memory of a dynamic leader who exemplified the very essence of what our industry can offer…  a career choice that rewards hard work, dedication, preparation and the highest level of integrity.  It is in the name of that we begin this Outreach Initiative. 

Currently there are over 700,000 students in high schools, technical colleges and career academics throughout the state who do not know about the apartment industry.  GAIEF has formed a collaborative partnership with the Department of Education, Department of Technical and Adult Education and the Governor’s office who is actively supporting a new model of education called Career Academics.  GAIEF is one of the first industries in Georgia to have the opportunity to participate in the Georgia Career Academy Network (GaCAN).  By providing learning modules to high school teachers and integrating our existing curriculum into career academics, GAIEF can develop a pipeline of talent for years to come.

In Peggy Waskom’s name, we will spread the word to high schools, technical schools, and those who are in career development courses throughout the state about careers in the apartment industry.

Thank you for your support- Peggy Waskom Superbowl Committee

For further information please email us at

If you would like to participate and support this function, please see information below.


Tues, February 9, 2010. Check-in begins at 3:00 pm
Midtown Bowl
1936 Piedmont Circle
Atlanta, GA 30324

Bowlers – FREE - limited to 2 per company
Attendees – FREE - unlimited
Awards for O/Ms companies with the most attendees.

Bowlers- For Sponsors only / 2 per company.
Attendees- $50 per person

Each of the 32 lanes will consist of 3 O/Ms and 3 vendors,
which will be assigned.

NOTE: Bowlers limited to first 48 O/M companies and first 48 vendor companies.

Sponsorship and bowler forms deadline: January 15, 2010

3:00 - Player check-in: Game 1 - bowlers assigned to lane
3:30 - Game 1
4:45 - Appetizers
5:00 - Game 2 - Bowlers assigned to new lane
6:30 - Dinner and Awards Reception

Cash Bar Available

2010 Peggy Waskom Super Bowl Sponsorship Levels
Limited to the first 48 companies

Each sponsorship level receives 2 bowlers and listing in Habitat.

Perfect Game Sponsor: $5000
• Unlimited attendees
• For Game 1 and Game 2, selection of o/m bowlers for your 2 bowlers
• Name on front of tshirt

Turkey Sponsor: $3000
• 10 attendees
• For Game 1 and Game 2, selection of o/m bowlers for your 2 bowlers
• Name on back of tshirt

Strike Sponsor: $1500
• 8 attendees
• For Game 1 only, selection of o/m bowlers for your 2 bowlers
• Name on back of tshirt

Spare Sponsor: $1000
• 6 attendees
• For Game 1 only, selection of o/m bowlers for your 2 bowlers
• Name on back of tshirt

Awards Sponsor: $750
• 4 attendees
• Someone from your company can present an award
• Name on back of tshirt

Dinner Sponsor: $600
• 3 attendees
• Recognition at Dinner
• Name on back of tshirt

Appetizer Sponsor: $450
• 2 attendees
• Recognition during Appetizer break
• Name on back of tshirt

Lane Sponsor: $300
• 1 attendee
• Name on back of tshirt

Tshirt Sponsor: $150
• No attendees
• Name on back of tshirt

Here is a link to our Vendor Response Form

Created and coordinated by:
Brian Sutherlin and Julie Doran,
Sutherlin Carpet & Pressure Cleaning

Committee Members

Julie Doran                       Sutherlin's Carpet Care
Brian Sutherlin                  Sutherlin's Carpet Care
Walt Lamperski-              Stonemark Mgmt
Jonathan Saar-                 The Training Factor
Stephanie Morel-             First Communities 
Brandi Boudoin-              First Communities
Sherle Brown-                 SHB
Ellen Weissman-              Denyse Signs
Jack Weissman-               Redi-Floors
Matt Henderson-              Apartment Finder
D.Tapley/ K. Campbell-   Parker Young Construction
Jerry Warshaw-               Warshaw Properties
Kimberly Hudman-          SHB
Gigi Morgan-                  Firm Design
Dustin Lovingood-          AMLI Residential
Lisa Viator-                    For Rent
Debbie Phillips-              The Quadrillion
Kimberly Stewart-          Promotional Partners
Philip Klinkenberg-         Redi-Floors
Dana Hill-                      For Rent

What Will Your Business be Like in 2010?

What will your business be like in 2010? Will you downsize, stabilize, or 

Here are a few tough love insights of successful and unsuccessful 
What happened? We thought things were supposed to be much better now... at least that is what we were promised right?  If we print and spend billions of dollars things will certainly get better right? Hmmm... Doesn't seem to be having the kind of impact we had hoped for does it? 

So how can we survive the current economy while planning for the future? My industry involvement and association with numerous companies has shown me many great achievements by some and overwhelming struggles by others.

We see companies who are growing, expanding and making a profit! Yes! Even in this economy. And, unfortunately I see companies who are losing money and having massive layoffs due to lost fee management and foreclosed properties. So, I have asked myself why? What is the difference? Why are some companies excelling in this economy and others are failing? In this article, I thought I would spend a bit of time sharing my observations. Hopefully it might give some insight or ideas that will help your company survive and 
thrive in 2010.

1.       Leadership: This is what I see as the most crucial element. Goals! Do you know where you are going? What are you trying to achieve?  And most importantly, do your team members understand and buy into your company’s goals? 

2.       Whatever it takes: This seems like a simple concept but I don’t think everyone gets it! In the companies who are struggling a bit, it seems as though they are actors in the Movie “Ground Hog Day”. Do you remember that movie? They wake up and do the same thing over and over again producing the same results. I see that a lot in business. If something isn't working you have to change what you are doing to achieve a different outcome. And it might take more than one change; it could take 10 +. The key is to continue tweaking your processes such as, marketing, operations, people, training, etc., until you achieve your goals and get the results you need.

3.       Decision Making: Companies who are excelling are not afraid to make an out-of-the-box decision. They don't always choose the safe road. For example:  vendors and product selection.  High achievers may not always choose the largest and most well known vendors. You all know these types of vendors; the larger and oftentimes older ones who have been around forever and can’t embrace new ideas because they are too afraid to think outside the box. Well, we are living in a new and different day. Most of us, if any, have never experienced the economic challenges we are now faced with in our lifetime. To get through these times we must be willing to face new challenges with new strategies. When it comes to growth and survival, bigger is not necessarily 
better. Bigger oftentimes translates to more bureaucracy where it takes an act of congress to make a decision and as we've seen that's not always in our best interest.

High achievers are willing to embrace new concepts, vendors, technologies and marketing strategies in order to set themselves apart from the herd and walk the path less traveled. Consumers respond positively to companies with good attitudes who respond with prompt and superior customer support. 

I have witnessed thousands of man hours being spent in committee after committee to make a simple decision that should have only taken a 15 minute conversation and an hour or so of due diligence. I have to ask myself… are these people participating in “busy work” just to justify their existence? This may sound harsh but I believe it is something that an effective Leader should investigate.

4.       Hire Hard – Fire Easy… Ok, now you really think I am being harsh don’t you? What I am saying is:  search hard for the right person for the job at hand. A warm body, shiny car or fancy wardrobe just won’t do anymore. 
You have to have someone with drive, motivation, ambition and determination with business sense, sales abilities and customer service skills to make a business successful. Not to mention, they have to care! Our company performs secret shops for the multifamily industry and all too often as we review and score the leasing “professional” we just shake our heads in amazement and mumble to ourselves: “They really didn’t care if they closed the deal or not!”  Sometimes being successful requires making tough decisions. If you find that you made a hiring mistake. Take care of it quickly so a dead weight doesn't take your ship down.

5.       Training and Investing in Employees – We don’t believe you can train too much. Not training not only creates a liability for you but it is a huge demoralizer for your entire company. Companies whose employees know 
their company is willing to invest in them and provide “quality training” perform much better. Most employees want to do well at their job and cringe at the thought of being “slapped on the wrist” by their supervisor for not 
following some protocol they weren't even aware of. Therefore, successful companies train, train and train some more. 

So there you have it. 5 of my successful company concepts. I could go on for pages and pages but just to summarize:  success in 2010 will take strategic leadership, quick and insightful out-of-the-box decision making skills and well trained employees who actually care about the success of the company.

Written by Mechelle Flowers-  The Training Factor

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Corporate Decisions-What do you Trust in?

When was the last time you made a decision and reflected on the Antitrust Law?  I would bet not too often.  Remember the effect this law has had on our freedom to choose different products and services.  For the full definition by Wikipedia, click here.  Let’s take just one example, the purchase of a new TV. 

When you are standing in the electronics store, comparing brands like Sony, Panasonic, Hitachi, LG and Samsung, what is it that makes you choose one over the other?  Perhaps it’s the price, the quality, the features, the size or a combination of these factors.  How many of you say to yourselves when standing there looking a wall of flat screens:  “Samsung has four times the gross product and profitability than TV company X.  Therefore, I’m going to buy a Samsung.”

If consumers’ decision-making centered around the fact that Samsung was the biggest and perhaps best known electronics company, what would happen to all of the other companies?  Obviously our decisions do not center around that, or these companies would not exist.  1000 people may choose to buy a Samsung flat screen TV while 200 others may choose a Sony or Panasonic.  Does that make those 200 people look foolish for not purchasing from the big dog?  Absolutely not, these other companies all produce excellent products, they provide competition, and customers write excellent reviews on them.  Just because their company is smaller in size does not mean that their products and services are in any way inferior.

I will give you one more example based upon my trip to Houston for the Multifamily Brainstorming Sessions.  I chose for various reasons not to stay at the Hyatt where pretty well everyone else was staying, but chose to stay at the Inn at the Ballpark, which is owned by a restaurant chain.  I think it is pretty safe to assume that Hyatt is a pretty big name.  For all intents and purposes it served well to host everyone for rooming, the sessions, conferences etc.  Those who stayed there remember all too well the issues with customer service.  The elevators did not function; no one had breakfast brought to them Wednesday morning and a couple of other items.  Meanwhile, I had one of the best hotel experiences ever with this smaller outfit.  Top notch customer service from the restaurant staff, concierge and shuttle drivers.  I had a complimentary shuttle to and from the Hyatt.  The morning I had to check out I asked the shuttle driver the best way to get a taxi to Bush International and he told me just to write on the back of a business card my name and time I wanted to go and that he would take care of that for me.  I attended and enjoyed all the sessions on Thursday and then took the shuttle back to the hotel.  I had about 30 minutes to wait so I sat at the bar and relaxed for a bit.  About 20 minutes later a gentleman starts walking through the lobby with my name on a sign!  I had never had that before so that was intensely special to me.  My prearranged ride to the airport by my shuttle driver was in a nice Lincoln Continental with an absolutely courteous driver.  Now, by no means am I knocking the Hyatt at all.  My point is simply to illustrate that a big name does not always mean everything.  In my case, a smaller hotel company provided me with unbelievable service even though they are really not a known brand and do not have the marketing power as does a place like the Hyatt.

So stop for a moment and think about corporate decisions we make for our companies.  Are you thankful for the Antitrust law?  If we did not have it, guess what?  There would probably only be Samsung to choose from, and maybe only the Hyatt to stay at for a conference.  Give that some thought when you are making company decisions on products or services.  A company’s reputation and standards should certainly not be based primarily on its size and market recognition.

Written by Jonathan Saar- The Training Factor

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Certified Social Media Consultant! Huh??

I get really confused with this TITLE at times.  This post is more to warn people not to get sucked in by claims that they are an “expert” or a “guru” of social media.  I was reading a post from Aliza Sherman (@alizasherman) this morning.  I really appreciated her four points of advice to anyone considering hiring outside help with their social media initiatives.  Here they are:

  1. "Question the source. While the Internet and new media industries have been around now for over a decade, social media as its own industry is young. If someone is touting social media certification, question where they received it and what they had to do to earn it.
  2. Google them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been approached by potential clients who have been ripped off by people claiming to be social media consultants. A quick Google search of those consultants and companies reveal little in the way of evidence that the consultant/company in question is engaged in social media. A good social media consultant will be active in social media including LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook but also other more niche networks.
  3. Read them. At this early stage of social media consulting, those who are doing it are also writing about it because there is so little credible documentation of what we are all doing and learning. Read their blog, white papers or articles, and check out the recent books by some of the top social media thought leaders of today for greater perspective.
  4. Check their references. Why someone would hire a social media consultant without checking their online portfolio and references is a mystery to me. A few phone calls and emails, and you’ll have a much better sense about the reputation, professionalism and skills of anyone claiming to be a social media consultant."

I posted my own comment on her blog this morning out of appreciation for her post.  I have my own thoughts to add as well.  There is education then there is application.  Does that make sense to you?  Think of three items you learned in school that you thought you would never use.  Now think of where you actually use them now.  Do you see the difference?  There is really plenty of free education out there to get you going.  Google any social media topic and a wealth of resources will appear for you.  Setting up Google alerts is a way to have information sent to you.  There are numerous chats on twitter to participate in or just observe to get education.  Some of my favorites are the following:

#aptchat on Friday’s 4pm EST – Hosted by Lisa Trosien (@lisatrosien) and Mike Whaling (@30lines)
The focus is on any multifamily topic.  Items such as Fair housing, resident retention, marketing, apartment training etc are discussed.

#blogchat on Sunday’s 9pm EST- Hosted by Mack Collier (@mackcollier)
The subject changes each week, but essentially the main topic is the same which is how to blog and learning best practices from others.

There are others such as #journchat on Tuesday night 8pm EST and #socialmedia on Tuesday’s 12pm EST hosted by Marc Myer (@Marc_Myer)

The list can go on regarding education that is out there to help you in social media.  The application is a different story.  This is where I have a hard time with individuals who declare themselves “certified” or a “guru”.  Some of have even gone as far as calling themselves “The King”.  Then you do a little digging and you find out the truth.  Please be very careful.  Social Media and its impact on the way we do business are all still very new.  The application is still being defined.  Every business model is different so it makes no sense to take a one-size- fits-all approach. 

Work hard to educate yourself.  Ask questions.  Observe how others implement and use social media as part of their every day strategy.  Don’t be selfish either.  Always remember the first word in the expression “Social Media”.  Sharing and expressing our thoughts will only help us improve as we all share this path and learn together.  What has helped you in learning social media?  What resources did you find best?  Do you think that anyone can really call themselves an expert?  I have been educated and instructed by many great professionals who do have real experience in Social Media.  Just ask me who they are and what help you need, and I will tell you for free.

Written by Jonathan Saar – The Training Factor

Monday, November 30, 2009

Don't Drink and Facebook

Two conversations I had yesterday compelled me to write this post today.  One I had on Facebook itself with an acquaintance of mine who very eloquently pointed out the complete shallowness of some guys who pretend to be sweet and sensitive by posting status updates that reflect some movie or emotion that are supposed to be endearing to the female crowd but obviously are completely shallow and are no different than the pickup line at a bar, “Can I buy you a beer?”. 

The second conversation was involving shameless posts where the user supposedly feels empowered by posting something that he or she would never be able to say to someone’s face.  In other words, one’s inhibitions are let down as a result of not having a physical face in front of them.  However you want to word it, to me it’s Drinking and FacebookLisa Trosien posted a good article from the Los Angeles Times on twitter last night that I wanted to share that elaborates a little further.  Here are key points to remember before you decide to post something.

Potential and existing employers are monitoring social media posts and using them for or against their employees.  Some employers are asking for login addresses for Social Media sites you may be using.  We can only expect this trend to continue when it is very easy just to Google your name and see what comes up in the search engines. 

We are professionals 24/7.  Keep me in mind celebrity goof ups that were highly publicized.  One minute you look at them with respect and dignity and the next it’s all gone as a result of a misplaced word, photo or action.  It is no different with us.  Many people would agree that at the top of our list of the most important things in life would be our career and our reputation.  Why wouldn’t you want to be extra careful with what you post since these important items are at stake?

Don’t burn any bridges.  Stop thinking of the now and think of the future.  Stop and think about what you post.  It takes a lifetime in some ways to build up a good professional reputation and can take mere seconds to see all of that disappear.  One of the purposes of Social Media is to build relationships, not tear them down.  You never know who or when you will be interacting with any given individual in the future.   

The multifamily industry and many others are working feverishly to understand and properly implement Social Media tools such as Facebook.  Just remember how embarrassing it was in school when you were caught passing notes during class time and the teacher caught you and read it out in front of the whole class.  It’s no different with what you post on Social Media sites, except the consequences can be much greater.  Don’t Drink and Facebook.  I hope you get the analogy.  Letting your inhibitions and guard down can lead to a serious blow to your reputation and career. 

I really think this is a subject that merits serious concern.  What have you been doing professionally to monitor and check yourself?  Do you feel it’s important to know what social sites your employees are on?  Do you have any actual examples where you have seen inappropriate posts and how have you dealt with it? 

Written by Jonathan Saar- The Training Factor

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Keep Beating Your Drum!

What are the first images that come to your mind with this opening title?  Hold that thought.  The drum is one of the most ancient of instruments and still has the ability to make us tap our feet, tap our desk, make us run faster, work out harder, and pretend to dance better.  The drum is a fundamental instrument at pep rallies.  Can you imagine a pep rally with all flutes?  I think you get the image.  The drum has the ability to inspire, motivate and pursue whatever goal you aspire to achieve.

At Brainstorming last week, the keynote address was presented by top executives in the multifamily industry.  The CEO of Camden Property Trust,  Richard Campo, used the expression “keep beating your drum”.  His message was to inspire all of us to pursue the ideas we feel will work, investigate options that will benefit our company and keep presenting them to our superiors.  He encouraged vendors to provide hard data and infomercials in order to communicate effectively with decision makers. 

So what does this all mean?  Does it mean our rhythm and beat should be the same as our multifamily company’s beat?  Or do we beat our drum with a different tune?  Are we ready to stand out as different and present a different tempo because our belief is that we have something better to offer?  Are we ready to march to the beat of our own drum?  How does your company inspire you to find the new tune?

Written by Jonathan Saar - The Training Factor

Monday, November 23, 2009

Life’s perspectives- When is a Spider not just a Spider

Last week before Brainstorming I posted on my Facebook page the question, “In general- what is your opinion of insects, bugs, creepy crawly things?”  I received a few comments which echo what most would say-eww..yuck.. not in my house.. etc.  These thoughts are standard as a result of unpleasant experiences we have had like having a cockroach crawl up our back while sleeping or a giant Florida Wolf Spider jumping out of warm laundry while you are folding it and land on your face.  These experiences and millions of others have just given bugs a bad rap overall. 

But as in all things with life, there is always another perspective.  Cockroaches have this amazing ability to just not die!! No matter how hard you smack them they keep moving.  We have even heard the notion that they could survive a nuclear war if it came.  Spiders may scare us to death but they are one of the most patient creatures alive.  By being patient, they always get what they need to survive.  Their 8 eyes allow them to be super observant and take advantage of any situation in order to come out triumphant.

So there you have it, 3 qualities I feel are very important as we approach 2010.  Patience, survivor mentality, and the power of observation will help us face our challenges.  The multifamily industry was reminded at Brainstorming this past week, that we are not out of the woods yet.  We may look at this economy and the mandates from our principals with similar words we use for bugs.  That is one perspective.  Our success depends on developing the other one.

Written by Jonathan Saar- The Training Factor

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Do you Know How to Shake Someone’s Hand?

When we were young our folks taught us at a wee age what was customary when greeting someone. How many more times did they have to remind us on what was proper?  This became an automatic rule of cultural engagement.  Within a short period of time you realized what was socially acceptable and what was not.
You were taught to shake someone’s hand, say an appropriate greeting depending on their age, and taught proper body language that showed respect and that you truly were interested and engaged by the person you just met.

These basic social concepts of human interaction were engrained in us and have continued to serve us well through school and into the work force.  Now Social Media enters the picture.  Did the definition of “Social” change with this new revolution we are going through?  If you think so then you are reading the wrong post. 

There has been so much debate on how to use Social Media, what it is for, and where to start.  How about just saying “Hello”?  I have a few people on Twitter who I follow that always start their day by saying something like “Good morning Tweeps”.  They never end there.  Throughout the day we tell each other what is going on in our day.  As time has gone by, I have started doing business with some but the vast majority I have not.  Does this mean that “Social Media” does not work?  I guess the better question is  what do I want it to work for? 

Every day is another opportunity to network, engage, and learn from others.  I thank my parents for teaching me how to shake someone’s hand.  That simple life lesson has helped me to successfully navigate the new revolution we are in now.  Don’t over think it folks.  Start by saying Hello.

Written by Jonathan Saar- The Training Factor

Friday, November 13, 2009

Marketing Cost Per Door

This blog post is really meant for everyone to help me drill down into the specifics of what is actually being spent per door in marketing.  I drummed up a few discussions on Twitter, Facebook, and Multifamilyinsiders.  I received quite a bit of comments to help me put this together.  We at The Training Factor had some market research available from some of our clients so that helped as well. 

From our research it seemed that the average cost per door in marketing was around $125.00 per door.  Some properties were more and some less, but let’s stick with that as a working number.   In our newsletter this past week, we had this downloadable Excel file entitled Training ROI Estimator.  Please feel free to use it to calculate your individual company’s marketing per door costs.  What came up in the discussions was of course everyone’s dream to convert more leads to leases.  How is this accomplished?  Of course, with quality multifamily training you will see your conversion rates go higher.  There are some crazy stats that show how many internet leads are never followed up on.  This can be upwards of 50% or more at times.  Not only that, even the ones that are followed up on never go past that first attempt.  This  Excel spreadsheet highlights costs incurred when a training program is implemented.  Training is not an option.  How tiring it must be to see marketing dollars fly away in the wind, when attention to your people is what will certainly close the deal!

Any thoughts you may have on what constitutes what is spent on marketing per door would be awesome.  If you have any testimonials on how training has increased your conversion rates for leases that would be great too. 

For multifamily training courses that help increase lease conversion percentages click here.

Written by Jonathan Saar-  The Training Factor

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Brainstorming Session #mfbsconf –Why I am Filled with Jubilation

Next week in Houston Texas, Tami Siewruk (@multifamilypro) will be hosting Brainstorming Sessions: Stellar Solutions.  Within the multifamily industry there has been so much positive chatter about this event, hence the reason why I decided to write this today.

This year has been an amazing learning curve for me as I made a huge career transfer from 12 years as a general manager of floral import company to the multifamily industry to this.  The general business concerns are much the same, marketing, customer service, ROI, NOI etc.  However the direct application was far different.  As my boss Mechelle Flowers put it, I will have to learn the lingo.  How true that was!  Learning expressions such as curb appeal, ILS, CPM, Fair Housing, Leasing Professional and many others was an intriguing educational challenge. (Side note I was an assistant property manager for a shopping mall at age 16 J )

If I was to even try and list all of the professionals who have helped me this year, this blog would never end.  What I can broadcast to you is this simple statement: You know who you are, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart!  Thank you for recognizing where I needed help and answering my questions and being there for me. 

So as I prepare for this event next week the key word I thought of this morning was Jubilation!  I am very much looking forward to personally meeting everyone and getting that face to face connection.  I am looking forward to listening to the various sessions that will provide insight and ideas on many of the key topics that the multifamily industry wrestles with.  Most of all I am looking forward to my continued growth as a professional in the multifamily industry as a result of next week’s event.

One of my learning curves in blogging is writing in a way that inspires people to comment.  I know I have a ways to go!  What I would like to hear from my readers is what they are looking forward to at next week’s conference.  I can’t wait to meet everyone!  See you soon.

Written by Jonathan Saar - The Training Factor

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Fair Housing: Landmark Judgment Passed for Multifamily Company

A landmark decision was handed out by the Justice Department yesterday.  This is something that everyone in the multifamily industry needs to pay attention to.  Here is the link to the article and also the full article from the Justice Department.

A couple of key excerpts are as follows: “Tuesday, the Department of Justice announced that a Los Angeles apartment-building owner had agreed to pay $2.7 million to settle allegations that he discriminated against blacks, Hispanics, and families with children. It’s the largest penalty ever obtained by the department in a housing-discrimination case involving apartments.
“The magnitude of this settlement should send a message to all landlords that we will vigorously pursue violations of the Fair Housing Act,” said Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general for the department’s civil rights division.”
In addition, an independent contractor will test Sterling’s compliance with fair-housing laws at his Los Angeles properties for three years and provide training to his apartment managers and leasing agents on fair-housing rules.”

This judgment should strike a chord with all of us the importance of making sure our companies are fully educated in the Fair Housing Act.  I found it quite sad after reading this article yesterday and then reflecting on a recent conference I attended.  Here is why.  One of my usual questions to everyone who came by our booth was, “What does your company do for training?”  It was unfortunate to hear from some, “Training! We don’t need training.” 

I wonder how this landlord feels about multifamily training now.  The Fair Housing Act is in place for a reason.  In order to work without fear of a violation, it’s important to be educated properly and have clear documentation on how each staff member is in compliance. 

This judgment could be the first of many to come.  Let’s be proactive and not reactive.  Being reactive could cost us dear.

Written by Jonathan Saar - The Training Factor

Monday, November 2, 2009

Preparing for Flu Season-An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure Series

Fall is now in full swing.  There is great importance for all multifamily companies to make sure that you and your staff are fully prepared for this flu season.  The CDC has issued its official documents for business owners.  Its entitled “CDC Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to the 2009–2010 Influenza Season”.  Make sure you click through to view the entire PDF document. 
Suffice it to say there is much that needs to be done to educate and train our staff in order to make sure we are as safe as possible and that we are ready to face productivity issues and concerns.  Many corporations are instituting new guidelines and procedures to make sure they are ready.   Here are a few items.

1.        Ask your cleaning company what cleaning products they are using and where.  Ask for a check list of what specifically they are cleaning and with what product.  Make adjustments where necessary.

2.       Make sure there are hand sanitizer stations throughout the office.  Have some available for visitors and residents when they enter the office.

3.       Set up employee policies on what to do when they have flu like symptoms.  Be clear to the staff what will happen if they have to miss work.  Give clear guidelines in order to alleviate any fear.

4.       Create VPN or other similar portals in order for your employees to work from home if they have symptoms but can still continue working if they wish.

5.       Make sure your staff is clearly educated as to what symptoms they need to watchful for so that it is not confused with something else.

You may have others you wish to contribute in the comments below which would be greatly appreciated.  The flux of this post is to make sure we are prepared and show how much we care for our staff.  Our team is everything to us.  Let’s show them how much we care by being proactive instead of reactive.

Written by Jonathan Saar- The Training Factor  
To learn more about multifamily training options click here

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What goes around, Comes around

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post on how corporate can really do a number on those who are just trying to be creative and innovative.  This is kind of a follow up and a brief reminder that corporate decisions should really come as no surprise.  In other words, remember to never get too comfortable.  What may appear as peachy keen and hunky dory in one moment, can change in an instant after they review their quarterly P&L.  Then all of a sudden, its the "Oh No", and "We spent that much", and "Now things got to change" speeches.  Their typical solution is not using the resources they have in their people, but letting those resources pack their bags and head out the door.

This is a reminder that our multifamily career path should never be fixated on a single course.  If you are fortunate enough to have had only one job your entire life, then I tip my hat to you.  For most of us that does not happen.  The only thing you need to be focused on is to not treat individuals the way you were treated by your corporate heads.  Those who squashed your creativity look exactly like our CEO in the video below.  In your comments below you can call him what you want.  Thanks for stopping by and remember what comes around is not vengeance but your opportunity to rise, shine, and fulfill your goals no matter what.

Written by Jonathan Saar--The Training Factor

Friday, October 23, 2009

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure Series: Fair Housing Education

Fair housing laws are not something to be treated lightly.  The law was enacted in order to protect the civil rights of all human beings living here in the United States.  Just because the law was enacted over 40 years ago, does not mean that we have breached the discrimination here in this country.  As last year’s CNN report so eloquently reports for us below. 

So this is just my personal reminder to not take proper training for granted.  Not only do you not want to face criminal proceedings and unwanted publicity if you and your staff are caught breaking the law, but you need to remind yourself and your team the depth of your belief in this important law that was enacted to give freedom and equality to all people.  The Fair housing act is constantly being reviewed and updated which continues to put great responsibility on the multifamily industry.

Take a minute and run through these memory tests

Here are a couple of others that you can just think about.
Name 10 people that you met for the first time at your last conference without looking at their business cards.
Recall the scores out loud of the 3 football games you were following last weekend.

Now you may or may not have done so well on these little tests.  Here is the point though; our memories are always being challenged.  Do you think it makes sense to take a fair housing course just once and feel that is all that is needed?  Do you think that this is all your team needs?  Please make good decisions.  Our memories are fickle and our able to retain and apply information is based on the repetition we give to any given subject.  Brent Williams from Multifamily Insiders made an important point yesterday with me.  It seems that there is much fear with multifamily professionals about committing a violation of the Fair housing act, which I agree with him 100 %.  It can be very scary to fulfill your work responsibilities and have the law hanging over your head.  Here is my little analogy.  I always had two types of emotions when I was about to complete my course exams at the end of my semester.  If I studied and worked hard, I walked into that room with a sense of confidence.  If I did not, then fear was the emotion of the moment.  

So that leaves us with this question.  If our team members are fearful over possible Fair housing violations, what are we doing to alleviate that?

Written by Jonathan Saar-- The Training Factor