The Career of a Lifetime

Years ago I wanted to see what it would be like as leasing consultant. I even reached out to one apartment management company due to an interest in beginning my career in the apartment industry. Needless to say, I did not get far.

This wasn’t the right time for me, but my opportunity eventually came. After moving to metropolitan Atlanta, I worked as an associate in a local pharmacy. Many shoppers told me the reason they frequented the store was because of the service (with a smile) they always got, no matter what time or day of the week. I took the store’s slogan to heart—“Win them over; Bring them back.”

I have always prided myself on the value of great customer service. In fact, I firmly believe it is a key to success for all businesses, whether big or small.

After several months as an associate there, I met a woman who was a manager for Lincoln Property Company. She gave me the opportunity of a lifetime in the apartment industry, and I’ll always be grateful for that chance.

Eventually, I took an assessment, met the onsite team and became a leasing consultant—the job I longed to do after graduating from college. Six years later, I have earned two promotions, joined Lincoln Property Company’s “Century Club” (leasing over 100 apartments in a year) and also experienced some obstacles. However, I’ve learned that life is full of many obstacles; what matters most is how you manage them. In this industry, you learn that obstacles are present every day—and it’s these unknowns that make our jobs as community problem-solvers so fun.

As a community manager for my current community, I’ve learned a lot from such challenges.

  1. You must show up ready to play ball, no matter what happens in the game or what you think the outcome should be.
  2. Teamwork is essential to achieving goals. In fact, last year, we implemented “Operation W.O.W.—Work On Willow” to get our 156-unit community over its initial pass/fail code compliance inspection of 1:69 (head scratcher).
  3. Several community management fundamentals are critical to overall success. Be sincere about how you serve your community; figure out how to prioritize; communicate effectively with all onsite staff; know your market and market your product to the right audience; tackle delinquencies in a timely manner; stick to the “Community Policies”; make sure every team member is pulling their own weight; know and understand your management company and its numbers (vacancies, traffic, occupancy, etc.); walk the property at least once daily; and be passionate about your experience—it will pay off.


Our community was recently sold to S&S Property Management and we’re in the midst of renovation. I’ve learned so much during the first 100 days, managing multiple onsite projects, dealing with deferred maintenance, renovating and marketing our community and product with a new phone number, image, and brand.

I have had a huge learning curve regarding the structure of community management, and it has all been worth it. In fact, I couldn’t be happier now that I’m in this industry.

Arletha Grandison is the property/community manager for Willow Ridge Apartment Homes in Avondale Estates, Ga. She has an Executive M.B.A. and B.A. from Wesleyan College, Macon, Ga., and is the author of "Service Above Self: Besides, It's What The Consumer Wants."