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Defining Leadership.

“If one’s actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, that that person is a leader” – John Quincy Adams.

Often in today’s society, leaders are portrayed as those who yell the loudest, have the nicest office, or simply have a natural “gift” to lead. But what does it really mean to “lead” or “coach” a student or team member? Why does one NEED a leader?

According to Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool, co-authors of Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise, identification of the RIGHT mentor can mean the difference between harnessing one’s full potential, and simply giving up on an “impossible” task.

“Even the most motivated and intelligent student will advance more quickly under the tutelage of someone who knows the best order in which to learn things, who understands and can demonstrate the proper way to perform various skills, who can provide useful feedback, and who can devise practice activities designed to overcome particular weaknesses” (Ericsson & Pool, 2017).

Ericsson & Pool go on to explain several advantages to mentorship that teach students skills and techniques for life-long use:

  1. Purposeful Practice – The act of practicing a particular skill in a focused setting where one has a specific goal they intend to accomplish.
  2. Elimination of Naïve Practice – Simply participating in an activity without an intention to improve or develop new skills.
  3. Leave Your Comfort Zone – Without coaching and encouragement, students may not feel the need or desire to practice something new and instead continue with the same behaviors.

Alexander Forrest Investments (AFI) has a dedicated Leasing & Collections (L&C) Department within our corporate infrastructure that is devoted solely to the assistance of, and continued success of our Onsite Teams. Too often we see “Leaders” rely heavily on phone/conference call-type lecturing to address operational deficiencies and performance concerns while completely avoiding the interpersonal interaction. Inside of AFI L&C, we recruit and train seasoned team members t serve as Property Mentors who are responsible for the mentorship and continued coaching of our teams ONSITE at the asset.

If you are someone that values leadership, has a passion for coaching/training others, or simply wants to learn more about services offered by AFI, we encourage you to contact us directly!

References

Ericsson, A., & Pool, R. (2017). Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise. Boston, MA: First Mariner Books.

Pereira, R. (2021, March 1). The Difference Between Naive, Purposeful, and Deliberate Practice. In    www.blog.gembaacademy.com. Retrieved from https://blog.gembaacademy.com/2020/02/28/the-difference-between-naive-purposeful-and- deliberate-practice/

Colin CosbyDefining Leadership.
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October Quarterly Maintenance!

October is officially here! What are you most looking forward to?

  • Changing colors of the trees?
  • Cooler temperatures?
  • Halloween & Candy?

What about Quarterly Maintenance??

October tends to be the month where we “begin” the holiday season as Thanksgiving and Christmas time seem like they are right around the corner! As excitement begins to build, it can be easy to forget about something as important as quarterly maintenance.

So, where do we start? What differentiates an item to be serviced both as needed, and on a recurring schedule? Apartments.com provides a great list below of a just a few examples of items generally included in a quarterly maintenance checklist (Bullock, 2021):

  1. Gutter Maintenance – By properly cleaning gutters, you’ll avoid damage to the siding and foundation of your rental from gutter overflow.
  2. Check the Dryer – The main culprit of dryer fires is lint buildup! Be sure residents are well-informed of the dangers and educated to prevent unnecessary damage.
  3. Service the Septic System – Regular plumbing can help control scum that can clog drains and create many different issues.
  4. HVAC Maintenance – Cleaning or changing air filters is vital for ensuring air quality and performance of the entire system.
  5. Inspect and Clean the Chimney and Fireplace – Chimney’s should be inspected once per year. Fireplace maintenance is a critical safety, energy, and maintenance issue!

Alexander Forrest Investments (AFI) managed-assets follow a “work-order” system to ensure that these critical items do not get missed. Managers and maintenance teams are alerted as to when quarterly maintenance items are coming due and held accountable to mark “Completed” with notes/applicable photos once an item has been addressed.

To learn more about quarterly maintenance, other services provided by AFI, and employment opportunities feel free to contact us directly!

References

Bullock, M. (2021, March 19). Top 5 Preventative Maintenance Tasks for Landlords. In www.apartments.com.

Retrieved from https://www.apartments.com/rental-manager/resources/article/top-5-preventive-maintenance-tasks-for-landlords

Colin CosbyOctober Quarterly Maintenance!
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Is it Time to Hire a Property Manager?

If you have been keeping up with AFI Social Media, then you have likely seen some examples of the benefits that Third-Party Management Operators are able to provide clients. While not the correct solution for all Property Owners, some may find that outside operators can further improve upon ROI MORE EFFICIENTLY than they could on their own.

The overall operations of an apartment community can be quite robust. Multi-Housing News provides several examples of just a few of the things many management companies are well-versed in that can not only help improve a community, but also reduce liability for the Property Owner (Fuhr, 2018):

  1. Time – Accredited investors often have more than one investment consuming time from their day. Some Property Owners may find that they simply do not have the time necessarily to adequately manage the community.
  2. Laws – Tenant/Landlord Laws often vary (sometimes exponentially) by state, city, or even at the county level. Despite whether or not the Property Owner is local to or familiar with the area of the property, he/she is still responsible for remaining abreast to the differing statutes.
  3. Marketing – While online marketing has expanded to where it can be managed from practically anywhere, Property Owners will still want to make sure they are utilizing the appropriate tools for their community (online advertisements, flyers, business-to-business, etc.)
  4. Safety – Most management firms bring a physical presence to the property that is often lost if the Owner/Operator is predominantly remote. Tenant screening, rule enforcement, and onsite issues are all able to be appropriately handled with onsite representation.

Alexander Forrest Investments (AFI) is a full-service management firm that oversees all day-to-day operational aspects of managing a multifamily apartment community. For over 30 years, AFI has continued to PROSPER ALL STAKEHOLDERS by ensuring that managed-assets are safe, clean, and disciplined.

To learn more about AFI, our service offerings, employment opportunities, or just learn more about the multifamily industry, we encourage you to visit our website or email directly!

References

Fuhr, Meeghan. “Is It Time to Hire a Property Manager?” www.multihousingews.com, Multi-Housing         News, 21 Feb. 2018, www.multihousingnews.com/post/is-it-time-to-hire-a-property-manager/.

Colin CosbyIs it Time to Hire a Property Manager?
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AFI Manager Spotlight! – July 2021

Alexander Forrest Investments, LLC is a nationwide operator of multifamily apartment communities. Our Vision is to PROSPER ALL STAKEHOLDERS. Who/What is a “Stakeholder?”

We believe a stakeholder to be anyone that has an apparent, or subliminal investment in the property. Residents, employees, owners, neighbors, police and fire departments are just a few examples of a local stakeholder.

AFI Manager, Brisa, has been working at a managed-asset on the East Coast for over six months. In the short time Brisa has managed the property, we have seen a steady increase in occupancy and total income all while managing onsite improvement projects as well!

Read on to learn more about Brisa’s experience with AFI and some of the challenges she had to overcome when taking over a new asset:

  1. How do you balance a personal connection with your tenants while still laying down the law to maintain a disciplined property?

​I try to have a very relaxed and down to earth interaction with prospects and residents. I try to make them feel heard and strive to earn their trust while always having a personal AND professional vested interest and obligation to make them happy and comfortable living here. This includes always being available for questions, queries, and concerns and being prompt at addressing those with them. 

2. What has been your favorite improvement at the asset?

There are still a lot of asset improvements that are underway but at this point in time, the marketing and rentability of our units is probably the major improvement here thus far.  

3. In your opinion, what is the hardest part about being a property manager, and how do you manage that?

I would say that being a property manager in this environment and at this type of property is extremely demanding. The hardest thing is having to uncover problems that need extensive solutions which require a quick mind and execution. Although days can be long, it is rewarding to have this type of opportunity and challenge. 

4. What are some tips for other property managers to make your tenants feel most at home on your property?

​A spotless clean apartment to move into as well as a prompt, professional, and kind property manager is a recipe for success. 

5. What has been your favorite part of working with AFI, and what has been your least favorite? 

My favorite part of working with the AFI Team has been overcoming obstacles and challenges. I believe that I have turned my property around quite a bit in the six months I have been here and I am entering a new phase that will present new challenges but I look forward to the end result. My least favorite thing is sometimes having longer than usual hours which can make balancing work/home life challenging. That will soon improve though since I am putting a lot of work now to reap bigger rewards later. 

Brisa’s effectiveness on property may not be better demonstrated than through the work she has done improving the property Google rating from a 1.0 at takeover, to currently 4.6! We are confident Brisa has her sights set on being a BLUE Property!

Colin CosbyAFI Manager Spotlight! – July 2021
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How to Sign MORE Leases!

PEAK Leasing Season is the time of year when the highest number of renters are looking for a new rental property (Collatz, 2018). Per a previous AFI blog post, we know that over 40 million Americans move each year with more than half of these moves occurring in the summer months!

With approximately 34,000 apartment complexes per state (Reonomy.com) Onsite Teams cannot expect the influx in potential applicants to directly correlate to increased traffic/performance. Managers must work diligently to ensure that their community stands out from the rest and attracts the most prospective renters!

In need of a “Lease-Up” this summer? Check out these helpful tips from MarketApartments.com (Housel, 2021):

  1. Develop Your Goals – Management Teams should work together to establish realistic milestones for the next 30, 60, and 90 days (at minimum).
  2. Utilize 3D Floorplans – With an ever-growing focus on remote accessibility, these detailed depictions can provide a convenient means for prospective residents to gain a full experience.
  3. Update Your Local Listings – Create and manage your brand through outlets such as Google My Business, Yelp, Apartments.com, etc.
  4. Involve Local Businesses – Spread the word! Build connections with the individuals and workplaces around your property that can start to give positive endorsements.
  5. Start a Referral Program – How many of your current or soon-to-be renters know others that may also be looking for an apartment?

AFI recently took over management operations of a new construction project on the East-Coast and have had to put these tools, as well as many others, to the test right away. With the first eight units coming online July 1st, 2021, our Onsite Manager had over 25 approved applications within the first week of advertising! The only acceptable standard will be to have all units pre-leased BEFORE they come online!

References:

Collatz, Andrea. “The Best Time to List Your Rental Property.” www.SmartMove.com, 11 Aug. 2018,          www.mysmartmove.com/SmartMove/blog/best-time-list-rental-property.page.

Housel, Isabella. “21 Apartment Lease-Up Marketing Ideas to Increase Occupancy.” www.MarketApartments.com, 25 Jan. 2021, www.marketapts.com/blog/21-apartment-lease-up-marketing-ideas-to-increase-occupancy/.

Reonomy.com, www.reonomy.com/properties/apartment-building/us/1. Accessed 9 June 2021.

Colin CosbyHow to Sign MORE Leases!
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Managing a Successful Apartment Complex.

What defines “Success?” A quick Google search will state that success is simply, “The accomplishment of an aim or purpose.” Essentially, completing the task at hand as expected with the available resources and despite any obstacles/distractions. While this may seem straightforward, nowhere in this definition does it identify the acceptable metrics for success.

Is it enough to say that simply completing a task makes it a success? Or is there a need to look more closely and define the standards of acceptable performance? When asked to define success, world renowned technologist, business-leader, and philanthropist, Bill Gates, described it as, “Feeling like you made a difference” (Bliss, 2018).

The Vision of Alexander Forrest Investments is to Prosper All Stakeholders and our Mission is to EXCEED Property Owner expectations. “Success” for AFI is not as simple as achieving a desired outcome. Rather, we place extensive, measurable goals in the paths of our Onsite Teams and provide constant coaching on how to surpass even these lofty objectives.

One measurable our Managers strive for is to achieve BLUE PROPERTY STATUS. Despite our ~+/- 5000 managed-units across the country, the number of properties that are able to achieve this goal on a recurring basis is relatively low. Why? Read on to learn more about what it means to be a BLUE Property:

  1. 100% Occupancy – ALL Units on the property are FULL and a waiting list has been established.
  2. Pre-Leasing 30 Days in Advance – All future notice/lost renewal units are PRE-LEASED prior to current tenant move-out.
  3. Less than 1% on Accounts Receivable – Manager has collected a minimum of 99% of all outstanding items on the Income Statement.
  4. Achieved Monthly Renewal Goal – Varies by month (typically 60% of presently expiring leases).
  5. 4.7+ Google Rating – Property must have greater than a 4.7/5.0 review rating on Google.

Given the robust nature of these key performance indicators, one can see why it is such a sought-after goal! Rather, than simply completing a task, AFI chooses to measure success through exemplary performance that exceeds standard expectations.

References:

Bliss, Dan E. “12 Remarkably Successful People Define Success.” www.globalexperiences.com, 1 Aug. 2018, www.globalexperiences.com/blog/successful-people-define-success.

Colin CosbyManaging a Successful Apartment Complex.
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How to Get an Internship: The AFI Difference!

Fetching coffee, prepping documents, compiling generic spreadsheets, etc. are all examples of the pictures painted by movies and television of what items are associated with a student internship. Unfortunately, in some cases, this may not be too far from reality!

“I have been asked to do small tasks like cleaning a shelf or compiling information that takes me less than an hour to complete. I have been asking people who I know are busy to please let me know if they need any help, because I’m desperate” (Green, 2020).

Internships are usually sought by college students that are seeking preliminary professional experience in a formalized organizational setting. Should an individual be motivated enough to seek these opportunities, prove he/she is able to manage the job/school workload along with personal interests and obligations, and have the aptitude to pass all of company’s hiring criteria, is it not reasonable to reward this individual with the type of experience they are seeking?

While any role (whether it be Full/Part-Time or an Internship) can have some “horror stories,” Indeed.com cites several examples of how internship opportunities can really benefit interested applicants (Indeed, 2021):

  1. What Am I Interested In?
    1. Internships are a great, low-risk opportunity to see what tasks or careers one may or may not be interested.
  2. Networking.
    1. Whether an Intern is thrilled about the internship or not, it will still provide an otherwise unavailable environment by which professional connections can be made.
  3. Learning in a Safe Environment.
    1. Again, most internships can be considered “safe” or “low-risk” where mistakes are expected, corrected, and learned from.
  4. Unspoken Rules.
    1. Internships in an office environment are a great way to observe general “office politics” that may not be otherwise identified in a job advertisement such as office gossip, order of authority, addressing upper management, etc.

AFI has been able to grow its business over the past 30 years through the creation of systematic processes and repeatable systems by which the same standard of excellence is continually ensured. The responsibility of executing these systems is then placed into the jurisdictions of the applicable individual. This standard is replicated throughout the entire company, including our Interns.

Recently, Paige and Dominic, two students at the University of Missouri-Columbia completed their respective Marketing and Accounting Internships with AFI! Both students were given a robust list of jurisdictions that they were responsible for on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis in addition to any schoolwork or extracurricular items they were involved in. AFI asked a great deal of both these bright individuals and the feedback that was continually offered was, “I cannot believe the amount of responsibility I have or how much my work actually influences the business.”

In addition to an hourly wage, AFI was DELIGHTED to award both Paige and Dominic with a $10,000 bonus following graduation and completion of their internship requirements. These students have worked diligently to add true value to AFI and we wish them nothing but tremendous success in the future. The bar is certainly set quite high for the next group of Interns!

References:

Green, A. (2020, January 14). I have nothing to do at my internship. In www.askamanager.org. Retrieved from https://www.askamanager.org/2020/01/i-have-nothing-to-do-at-my-internship.html

Indeed Editorial Team. (2021, February 22). Why Is an Internship Important?. In www.Indeed.com. Retrieved from https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/finding-a-job/why-is-an-internship-important

Colin CosbyHow to Get an Internship: The AFI Difference!
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Move-Out Cleaning Checklist

AFI’s latest blog post, talked about how moving to and from apartment communities is most common in the summer months. While a lot of factors may play into the decision to find a new place to call home, there are two important aspects of the moving process that are always present:

  1. Moving IN to a New Community.
  2. Moving OUT of the Current Community.

While fairly obvious, each item is critically important as failure to plan appropriately can result in added stress, or even added expenses! When it comes to moving out of a current residence, the general expectation is that the exiting residents will leave the apartment in similar condition to how it was received. An unwillingness to put in a little elbow grease can result in the withholding or total loss of one’s security deposit, and even added fines in more egregious circumstances.

According to a survey by Rent.com, more than 25 percent of renters have lost part or all their security deposit at some point (Lassman, 2019). Again, seems obvious, but if it is so simple, then why are one of every four people being penalized?! Thankfully, many online resources such as Apartments.com provide renters with resources/checklists to help plan appropriately for the move-out process  (Pirulis, 2020):

  1. Give Proper Notice – Many complexes have policies regarding when notice must be provided to be eligible for receiving the security deposit back. Failure to do so on-time could result in a total loss regardless of how sparkling clean the apartment is left in!
  2. Consider a Cleaning Service – Residents should assume that Managers/Landlords have seen a TON of “clean” apartments. While the term is somewhat subjective, a local cleaning service may be able to help if the task is too much to handle oneself.
  3. Take Pictures – A reference point following move-out will be very beneficial should any concerns arise regarding condition of the unit.
  4. Schedule the Walkthrough – Consider walking through the apartment with the Manager/Landlord. This activity provides an atmosphere for open communication about any issues and associated costs prior to receiving the bill. 

AFI Property Managers are trained to begin renewal communications 120 days in advance of lease expiration. With each renewal communication, Residents are given the Move-Out Cleaning Guidelines Checklist that states minimum cleanliness expectations for every room, floor, countertop, appliance, etc. in the apartment. Receiving an apartment back in rent-ready (or close to) condition not only saves time and money for the Manager, but will help ensure that Residents receive their security deposits back!

References:

Lassman, C. G. (2019, November 19). The One Thing People Forget to Clean When Moving. In ApartmentTherapy.com. Retrieved from https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/move-out-cleaning-mistake-262210

Pirulis, A. (2020, April 30). The Essential To-Do List Before Moving Out of an Apartment. In Apartments.com. Retrieved from https://www.apartments.com/blog/the-essential-to-do-list-before-moving-out-of-an-apartment

Colin CosbyMove-Out Cleaning Checklist
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How to Move This Summer.

Weather, school, and work relocation are just a few of the reasons why we see nearly 40 million Americans move every year (Heath, 2017)! Per a recent AFI blog post, we know that it is likely approximately half of these moves will occur between the months of May and August.

With so many people moving every year, one might assume this means that the moving process is an enjoyable one for most, right? Not necessarily! A recent survey of 2,000 people reported that six of every 10 people cited moving as their most stressful life event ahead even of divorce/break-up (Neal, 2018).

Given the statistics, there is a relatively high probability for someone reading this that they are either currently or planning to make a move this summer. Again, the statistics indicate that this same person is likely experiencing some stress about the process. Fortunately, Apartments.com has provided some tips and tricks to help alleviate some of the moving stress (Pirulis, 2020):

  1. I Need Boxes! – While readily available at most office supply stores, consider reaching out local grocery stores and retailers for a cheaper alternative.
  2. Do I, Do I, Would I? – Three questions to ask when considering keeping or tossing various items during a move. If the answer to any of the following is NO, it is likely time to free up some space!
    • Do I use This?
    • Do I Like This?
    • Would I Miss This?
  3. So Much to Do, Such Little Time! – Consider beginning to pack at least two weeks before your schedule move date. You never know what last-minute items may come up!
  4. General Packing Tips:
    • Use soft/malleable materials such as dish towels and t-shirts as “packing support” when boxing up fragile items.
    • Heavy = Small. Always pack heavy items such as books in small boxes to make it easy to carry.
    • Number or label your boxes. This is especially helpful when hiring movers as it allows them to place everything in the area it needs to go so you can unpack right away!

We have all heard the saying, “If they jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?” Well, just because so many individuals move every year does not mean everyone should. Check out another AFI blog post to learn more about the benefits and considerations of renewing at your current property!

References:

Heath, J. (2017, June 20). Why Summer is the Peak Moving Season. In www.allied.com. Retrieved from https://www.allied.com/blog/view/all-blogs/2017/06/20/why-summer-is-the-peak-moving-season

Neal, B. (2018, September 7). 7 Ways to Make Moving Suck Less, From Someone Who Has Done it too Many Times. In www.bustle.com. Retrieved from https://www.bustle.com/p/moving-is-one-of-the-most-stressful-life-events-a-new-study-says-but-here-are-7-ways-to-make-it-suck-less-11832166

Pirulis, A. (2020, July 24). Apartment Moving Day Tips and Tricks. In www.apartments.com. Retrieved from https://www.apartments.com/blog/apartment-moving-day-tips-and-tricks

Colin CosbyHow to Move This Summer.
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Summertime = Lease Time!

Many Property Owners and Managers alike will find that the transition to warmer weather can mean added challenges in terms of general occupancy. With summer just around the corner and more renters searching for a new place to call home, this is the prime time to not only recover occupancy, but pre-lease for months to come (Bennett, 2018). Owners, Operators, and Onsite Teams can all use these following tips help to increase an assets performance, occupancy; and ultimately, top line income. The most critical time to do this is approaching – start planning now!

  1. Full pipeline, full property.

First, the property must have adequate leasing traffic. Online advertisements should provide a unique selling proposition to attract consumers in the target audience. The listing should match the market, without blending into the market. Examples of online advertising sources include Apartments.com, Facebook, Google, etc. It is important to continually track which application sources yield the highest quality leads.

One of the biggest factors of driving quality leads to the apartment complex is the online reputation of the property. According to LinkedIn, the consensus is the sweet spot for online rating average is generally between 4.2 and 4.7 (Callaghan, 2017).

2. Consistent, personal communication.

It is not only vital to call every lead immediately, but to also follow up with every received guest card. Guest cards are typically completed in advance of a prospect visiting the property and indicate that individual is already interested in the community! AFI expects Onsite Teams to respond to new guest cards within seven minutes of receipt and contact each individual three times daily (at minimum) by phone, text, and email. Some helpful items we can learn from guest cards include various aspects of what renters may be looking for in an apartment:

  • Working from home? The free Wi-Fi will be perfect!
  • Looking for family friendly activities? Tell them about the community pool and park down the street!
  • Safety concerns? Feel at peace with ample exterior lighting and security doors!

3. How does the property look to someone passing by?

Curb appeal is the first impression the community makes to a visitor and is an opportunity to invoke a “wow” factor right from the start. Planting rows of flowers, touching up paint, professional landscaping, and keeping the parking lots clean not only attract people to visit the property, but also invokes a sense of pride and may encourage some renewals!

While this is not an exhaustive list of leasing techniques, should all these items be working together simultaneously, great results are much more likely! Make sure not to fall behind this summer. Start making plans now to be 100% occupied through the Summer, and in to Fall!

References:

Bennet, S. (2020, July 30). How does seasonality impact rent prices? Retrieved April 08, 2021, from https://www.apartmentlist.com/research/best-time-of-year-to-rent

Callahan, S. (2017, August 27). The power of online reviews to boost sales. Retrieved April 08, 2021, from https://business.linkedin.com/marketing-solutions/blog/b2b-beat/2017/the-power-of-online-reviews-to-boost-sales

Colin CosbySummertime = Lease Time!
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