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Seager Marketing President Patty Morgan-Seager has more than 20 years of marketing, sales, leasing, and training expertise in the advertising and multifamily housing sector.
She has gained a reputation as a speaker known for her ability to inspire people to rethink the way they have always done things to achieve their highest potential. In fact, she will be giving a Webinar Wednesday session for the National Apartment Association Education Institute in February titled "4 Tips to Outcompete Your Competitors."
Morgan-Seager recently sat down to give us a preview of that webinar and talk about the importance of transparency in the workplace, breaking the “always done it this way” shell and why to avoid nit-picking and what apartment operations and leasing professionals can expect in 2014.
What follows is our chat:
NATIONAL APARTMENT ASSOCIATION: What challenges can apartment operations, leasing, and management staff expect to face in the new year that might be different from previous years?
PATTY MORGAN-SEAGER: With the onset of the speed of technology, today’s resident is smart and educated. They know what they want and want what they want! They have high expectations and expect exceptional service. They have little patience with systems or processes that are cumbersome and hard to maneuver in. They want to do business with companies who are transparent and easy to do business with. That being said, in 2014, successful companies will focus on delivering exceptional service that will consist of a blend of up-to-date technology and the ability to personally connect with their internal and external customers.
NAA: Can you share some examples of how a company can be more transparent?
Morgan-Seager: Successful companies that I am currently working with that are great at being transparent have mastered the ability to communicate with their teams and with their customers! A great example of being transparent with your team players is to treat them like adults. Be sure to share and celebrate good news often! Good news boosts employee morale and reinforces any progress that is being made! When you have to share bad news, share it with everyone immediately. The worst thing a company can do is withhold information and sneak around behind closed doors. Withholding information only creates a culture of distrust and speculation and too often, what people are imagining is far worse than what is really happening!
Most importantly, keep your team players and your customers posted about changes that affect them. Knowing what is going on is always better than not knowing, because knowing builds trust between leaders and team players and customers and trust keeps everyone confident and connected to the big picture.
Here’s a real world example: I have a client that completely renovated their pool last summer. The onsite team and everyone in the community was excited about the new pool project and could not wait to experience the finished project. As time progressed, one thing after another prevented the progress of the pool renovation including lost time with builder permits, rainy weather, omission of a key component on the architectural design and so on! Quite frankly, the pool never opened the entire summer!
But because the decision makers in the management company kept everyone updated with both the progress and the pitfalls of the project, (sending progress reports on a weekly basis and focusing on the positives), this community withstood potential negative backlash and is currently experiencing 100% occupancy and a healthy waitlist! Transparency works! We all appreciate being in the know!
NAA: In your view, what are some things these professionals can do now to get 2014 kicked off successfully?
MORGAN-SEAGER: In today’s competitive and constantly changing world, true success largely depends on you and your team’s ability to be unique and stand out. What makes you different? What gets you noticed in a "sea of sameness" where everyone is imitating each other and doing the same thing? It’s just too easy to do things the way you have always done them, because that’s the way you’ve always done them. Take a close look at how you and your teams are doing business. Are there some processes or procedures that are bogging you down? Ask yourself: “Just because we have always done it this way, is this way serving us well? How can we tweak what we are doing to deliver better results and satisfaction for both our team players and our residents?” Be open-minded to flexibility and change.
Here’s a fantastic example of this idea in action: I have a long time client that had always required their on-site teams to submit leasing/operational reports every Monday morning. After voicing frustration week after week about the reports consistently being late, but also containing many mistakes that required re-do’s, my client took the leap of faith when I suggested to them that they explore changing the report day to another day. My client changed the report due date to Tuesday, end of day. What a difference it made! The reports are now always submitted on time and the reports most always contain accurate information. Not only is my client more focused on the positive first thing Monday morning, the onsite teams are happier and less stressed on Monday mornings too, as they have time to huddle with their teams first thing Monday morning and communicate their game plan for the week! It was a win-win decision!
NAA: Was there some advice given to you earlier in your career that has really stuck with you?
MORGAN-SEAGER: Always choose to be positive and be passionate about what you do! Focus on the abundance in both your professional and personal life. Be a good-finder, not a fault-finder.
I once had a client that had a huge company occupancy goal to accomplish in a small amount of time. The average community occupancy was 88%. We needed to be at 97% in eight weeks. We created a company-wide contest that focused primarily on getting back to the basics of the business. We achieved 97% occupancy at each community, and in fact, many of the communities exceeded 97! How? By getting everyone in the company to stop finding fault and nick-picking every little detail with a magnifying glass (which is what most of us do when we are stressed with a deadline) and instead focusing on the good things they were already doing. We started off with an all company kick-off rally sharing the goals and expectations with all, held weekly 15 minute webinars (to keep all “in the know” about our progress) and held two company rally sessions to keep the mojo flowing! It worked and it wasn’t rocket science! Proof that we all need a nudge to take a look at what we are doing now and then!
NAA: Looking back at 2013, what were some of your and your firm's successes?
MORGAN-SEAGER: 2013 was a stellar year for myself and Seager Marketing! I added a Social Media Content Manager to my team who is awesome, and we have worked on creating a bigger presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. We redesigned and refreshed our website to include photos, videos, and an all-new blog page. 2013 was the busiest year for Seager Marketing to date, and we expect to supersede our goals in 2014.
The primary goal for Seager Marketing in 2014 is to focus our core business, and doing what we do best … and that is helping companies achieve their goals and grow their business. We are committed to sharing/implementing customized training and development programs that are unrivaled options for both personal and professional growth and fresh, relevant leasing and marketing strategies that really work! For example, enhancing the customer experience by being present and in the moment, celebrating successes and embracing mistakes by learning from them, and most importantly being consistent with their follow-up and personal touches. We are committed to providing excellent service and value with all our endeavors.
NAA: You will be giving a Webinar for NAA in February titled "4 Tips to Outcompete Your Competitors?" Could you give our readers a little preview?
MORGAN-SEAGER: I am really excited to be presenting in February for NAA! My session is geared toward a real-world perspective on how to be successful in 2014. Many markets across the country are seeing a shift in the marketplace and experiencing an increase in vacancy and future exposure. If you want to stand out, and stay ahead of your competition in the new year, then it is time to take a look at how you and your teams are conducting business. This means getting a fresh perspective on up-to-date relevant leasing and marketing tips, and sharpening you and your team’s leasing and customer service skills. I’ll share four tips that are easy to implement and highly effective to help you gain a competitive advantage on your competitors.
The above are a sneak peek of a few of the many examples I will share in my Webinar…oh, and by the way, since I am a Certified Laughter Leader, be prepared to listen, laugh and learn with me during my content enriched webinar.
Visit the Webinar Wednesday Training Series section to see the full 2014 line-up of Webinar Wednesday sessions and register for the Webinar by Patty Morgan-Seager.
By Teddy Durgin © Copyright 2013 INFORMATION, INC.
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