4 Ways to Solve the Labor Crunch
Hiring is the biggest challenge faced by many property managers despite the unemployment rate at a 16-year low. Here are ways apartment companies are filling the void.
Ask any property management executives what their issue is and more than likely, they are going to answer labor.
At this point in the cycle, fundamentals are still good. Keeping heads in beds and fighting concessions is generally not a challenge. But with unemployment at 4.3 percent, apartment firms are constantly looking for ways to fill the onsite labor gap.
Here are four promising strategies that apartment companies are using:
In an effort to serve prospective and current residents after they return home from work, Cortland Partners is keeping its leasing offices open until 8 p.m. four nights a week. These hours help Cortland recruit college students, military spouses and other people who may want to work unconventional hours at a reasonable hourly rate, Melanie French, Executive Vice President, Operations, for Cortland Partners says.
“The key to getting great part-time employees is to pay them more than $8 or $9 an hour,” French says. “You want to pay them a wage that makes it worthwhile for them.”
US Residential is in the process of identifying 10 jobs in the economy that are likely going away over the next decade. If those positions have responsibilities that are compatible with apartment management, it wants to reach these workers to see if the apartment industry is a good fit from them.
“These employees could be qualified to become maintenance people or work in our leasing offices,” says Laurie Lyons, Executive Vice President of Client Services at the company.
One industry Lyons specifically mentions is retail. With companies like Macy’s closing stores, a whole set of potential employees with customer service skills could be out there looking for jobs. “Our recruiting department is identifying those stores that are closing and how we can get in front of their employees,” Lyons says.
Victoria Cowart, CPM, Vice President of Property Management for Darby Development Company, based in Charleston, S.C., says her location is a big plus for potential hires.
“We offer an opportunity to work in one of the top vacation spots in the country,” she says.
Cowart advertises jobs on Craigslist websites in other parts of the country to entice workers to move to her area. If she likes an applicant’s resume, she will do an interview over Skype. As a result, her company has hired people from Arizona, Tennessee, Florida and Virginia.
“Our location gives us a competitive advantage in lifestyle,” Cowart says.
Cortland Partners looks to its construction teams to help supplement its maintenance staff.
“For properties under construction or are undergoing renovation, those working for our construction teams can take over the make-ready process to help expedite immediate move-ins,” says Clay Landers, EVP of Construction at Cortland. “This allows the facilities team to focus on residents’ needs.”
Landers says he is looking at ways to expand this program and provide this relief to onsite maintenance technicians at communities that are not under construction.