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