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