Posted by: Kathy Harmon on 2/9/2012 | 0 Comments

Last August, I launched an on line training program called My Leasing Coach.  I am very proud of the quality of the content and the fact that I personally touch my students with phone and e-mail communications.  Recently, a new student posted a comment thanking me profusely for sending her e-mail.  I called her in response.  She said, “I feel as though I’m not very important to my company.  You made me feel like I mattered.”

Wow.  That’s sad!  She’s a site manager at a very good company.  It’s growing exponentially providing new jobs and developing beautiful affordable housing.  But their communities are geographically dispersed with supervisors whose plates are overflowing.  

The more time I spend with folks at the frontline of the multifamily industry the guiltier I feel, and I’ll tell you why.  We hire some of the loveliest, kindest, most enthusiastic people to stand at the front doors of our properties.  We give them initial training, hand them a procedures manual and orient them to our company culture.  Then we, their supervisors, scurry back to work putting out the fires that incessantly blaze around us.  We abandon the front line. 

What happens to them?  They work hard.  They deal with prospective customers, existing customers, vendors and the like.  They collect the money, market our product and problem-solve as best they can.  They work almost entirely on their own, but keep us apprised through regular reports, electronic data, phone calls and e-mails.   If occupancy lags or budgets bloat we suggest corrective action.  But, where are we when they need a pat on the back, a bit of mentoring or simply recognition for their daily contributions?  Too busy, I suspect.  Not surprisingly, their initial zeal wanes and we have high personnel turnover. 

Affordable housing communities may have the greatest need.  They often have older product, more problems and vacancy challenges that their staff is ill trained to handle.  Several of my colleagues have admitted that they only visit some properties twice a year.

I’m no exception.  I liken my own behavior to how I functioned as a mother.  My first child was heaven-sent.  He never fussed. I could take him anywhere without disruption.  My second child was plagued with nearly incurable ear infections.  Allergic or resistant to all but one antibiotic, he was in constant pain and could rarely be left unattended. He got everyone’s attention while his angelic brother managed to amuse himself with books and toys in his room.  They both became fine adults, but I could have done better.

Our managers, leasing agents and other frontline property staff could use a bit more attention.  They love training.  They want to better themselves and do the best job for you.  They want to be recognized when they do something right--not just when they fail in the performance of a task. 

I designed My Leasing Coach to fill the void that I perceived.  It wasn't intended to replace, but rather support, upper management.  In my role as owner or property manager, even when I visited properties, maintenance, inspections, HR and collection issues took up my time.  Rarely did I spend any substantive time coaching the most important job-- leasing and retaining customers.  I’ve walked in their shoes and I empathize.

I’ve finally found my niche in life as a frontline coach.  I don’t have to deal with the clogged toilets or the leaky ceiling or the party animals in apartment 5B.  Those things are critical and others are dealing with them.  I just teach the best leasing and retention techniques, share wisdom, motivate change, and recognize achievement.  I love my job!

Kathy Harmon, CPM, ARM, CSA, CRM
My Leasing Coach    View the Coach Video




Posted by: Kathy Harmon on 2/7/2012 | 0 Comments

I spend much of my day on the web.  So I consider myself mildly tech savvy. I’m also the handy one in our family having married to a true legal genius who will stand in front of an open refrigerator staring at a quart of milk and yell, “Where’s the milk honey”.  Most importantly I have far more patience than my beloved mate.  He is the brightest guy I know but will not spend a nanosecond working through a technical issue.  This is human nature. After all, if you can delegate the task, why not?  I call my son, another family genius, whenever I am technically challenged. I use the one hour of frustration rule of thumb before picking up the phone,  He confided in me recently that whenever I call, he simply Googles my issue then conveys the solution proposed.  I now do the same and trouble him far less.  Our son sent this blog posting last week and asked if it sounded familiar.  Our equipment is better but the cord tangles the same.  Recognize anyone?.

The website is McSweeny.com and the blog is titled:   

I FIX
MY GIRLFRIEND’S
GRANDPARENTS’ WIFI
AND AM HAILED AS A
CONQUERING HERO

“But, Lo, in the twilight days of the second year of the second decade of the third millennium did a great darkness descend over the wireless internet connectivity of the people of 276 Ferndale Street in the North-Central lands of Iowa. For many years, the gentlefolk of these lands basked in a wireless network overflowing with speed and ample internet, flowing like a river into their Compaq Presario. Many happy days did the people spend checking Hotmail and reading USAToday.com.

But then one gray morning did Internet Explorer 6 no longer load The Google. Refresh was clicked, again and again, but still did Internet Explorer 6 not load The Google. Perhaps The Google was broken, the people thought, but then The Yahoo too did not load. Nor did Hotmail. Nor USAToday.com. The land was thrown into panic. Internet Explorer 6 was minimized then maximized. The Compaq Presario was unplugged then plugged back in. The old mouse was brought out and plugged in beside the new mouse. Still, The Google did not load.

Some in the kingdom thought the cause of the darkness must be the Router. Little was known of the Router, legend told it had been installed behind the recliner long ago by a shadowy organization known as Comcast. Others in the kingdom believed it was brought by a distant cousin many feasts ago. Concluding the trouble must lie deep within the microchips, the people of 276 Fernadale Street did despair and resign themselves to defeat.

But with the dawn of the feast of Christmas did a beacon of hope manifest itself upon the inky horizon. Riding in upon a teal Ford Focus came a great warrior, a suitor of the gentlefolks’ granddaughter. Word had spread through the kingdom that this warrior worked with computers and perhaps even knew the true nature of the Router.

The people did beseech the warrior to aid them. They were a simple people, capable only of rewarding him with gratitude and a larger-than-normal serving of Jell-O salad. The warrior considered the possible battles before him. While others may have shirked the duties, forcing the good people of Ferndale Street to prostrate themselves before the tyrants of Comcast, Linksys, and Geek Squad, the warrior could not chill his heart to these depths. He accepted the quest and strode bravely across the beige shag carpet of the living room.

Deep, deep behind the recliner did the warrior crawl, over great mountains of National Geographic magazines and deep chasms of TV Guides. At last he reached a gnarled thicket of cords, a terrifying knot of gray and white and black and blue threatening to ensnare all who ventured further. The warrior charged ahead. Weaker men would have lost their minds in the madness: telephone cords plugged into Ethernet jacks, AC adapters plugged into phone jacks, a lone VGA cable wrapped in a firm knot around an Ethernet cord. But the warrior bested the thicket, ripping away the vestigial cords and swiftly untangling the deadly trap.

And at last the warrior arrived at the Router. It was a dusty black box with an array of shimmering green lights, blinking on and off, as if to taunt him to come any further. The warrior swiftly maneuvered to the rear of the router and verified what he had feared, what he had heard whispered in his ear from spirits beyond: all the cords were securely in place.

The warrior closed his eyes, summoning the power of his ancestors, long departed but watchful still. And then with the echoing beep of his digital watch, he moved with deadly speed, wrapping his battle-hardened hands around the power cord at the back of the Router. 

Gripping it tightly, he pulled with all his force, dislodging the cord from the Router. The heavens roared. The earth wailed. The green lights turned off. Silently the warrior counted. One. Two. Three. And just as swiftly, the warrior plugged the cord back into the router. Great crashes of blood-red lightning boomed overhead. Murders of crows blackened the skies. The Power light came on solid green. The seas rolled. The WLAN light blinked on. The forests ignited. A dark fog rolled over the land and suddenly all was silent. The warrior stared at the Internet light, waiting, waiting. And then, as the world around him seemed all but dead, the Internet light began to blink.

The warrior darted out back over the mountains of National Geographic magazines and made haste to the Compaq Presario. He woke up Windows XP from sleep mode and deftly defeated twelve notifications to update Norton AntiVirus. With a resounding click he opened Internet Explorer 6 and gazed deep into its depths, past the Yahoo toolbar, the MSN toolbar, the Ask.com toolbar, and the AOL toolbar. And then did he see, at long last, that The Google did load.

And so the good people of the kingdom were delighted and did heap laurels and Jell-O salad at the warrior’s feet, for now again they could have their Hotmail as the wireless internet did flow freely to their Compaq Presario. The warrior ate his Jell-O salad, thanked the gentlefolk, and then went to the basement because the TiVo was doing something weird with the VCR.”

BY MIKE LACHER


 




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