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Six Hot Topics at #Apartmentalize


Sessions provided a wide range of valuable information for operations teams. Here are just a few things we’ve learned at Apartmentalize so far:

Not All Remote Workers Are the Same

Members of remote teams have different motivations and shouldn’t be managed the same way, according to Jackie Ramstedt, CAM, CAPS, CAS, Principal, Ramstedt Enterprises.

“Some want to be ignored—and that works for them; others need handholding,” Ramstedt said. “You can’t manage them all in an equal manner. Culture equals: Work ethic plus common sense.

“Strong leadership should not be defined by what happens when you are there, but what happens when you are NOT there,” according to Ramstedt. “Don’t over-train. If you do, the employee doesn’t have enough time to do what you are asking or to learn on their own.”

Gen Z Wants to Engage

Gen Z is the most diverse and inclusive demographic group, according to Kate Good, Principal, SVP of Development and Operations, Hunington Residential.

“When marketing to Gen Z, you can’t just offer, ‘One-month free rent,’ Good said. “You have to do it in a way that gives them a chance to engage with you and connect with you through visuals, etc.”

One way to connect with them is through reviews. “Gen Z loves to record their product reviews,” Good said. “Offer a ‘shelfie’ contest where they share images of their apartment shelves and the best ones win gift cards.”

The 55-plus Crowd is Arriving

In Boston, Alan King, Managing Director and President, Property Operations at Berkshire Residential Investments, sees a growing trend. Baby boomers are selling their primary homes (while often holding on to their retirement homes) and moving to luxury apartments.

They want to be near their grandkids and in areas with urban amenities. Alexandra Jackiw, CAPS, COO,

Hayes Gibson Property Services, said the industry needs to be aware of this wave of 55-plus renters. “There is huge rental cohort coming our way,” she said. “Baby Boomers don’t want to be in God’s Waiting room anymore. They want to live in a mixed-age environment and I don’t know if we
as an industry are prepared for that.”

A Great Maintenance Tech Does Not Equal a Great Maintenance Manager

Great maintenance technicians often move into management, but many times they’re not prepared. “Great technicians see an issue, diagnose it and go fix it,” said Ed Shaffer, CAMT, Director of Maintenance Operations, HHHunt.

For maintenance managers, the essential skills are different.

“There is an important communication aspect with team management,” said Fred Kicsak, Vice President of Maintenance and Service, Blue Ridge Property Management. “You are helping define a purpose for the people you lead and giving them a vision.”

But the broad skills of fixing problems apply to both maintenance leaders and technicians. “As a leader, you’re using the same troubleshooting methods that you used as a technician,” said Andy Meador, CAMT, VP and Director, Capital Projects, McDowell Properties.

Mentorship Can Help with the Training Gap

Kristi Fickert, NALP, VP, Marketing and Training, 30 Lines, sees a big issue facing the apartment industry. “Lack of training is one of the challenges we see today,” she said.

One way to give associates the skills they need for success is to start a mentorship program. “But even if you have a great mentorship program, it doesn’t guarantee a great mentor,” said Daniel Melton, Senior Director of Business Analytics, Village Green.

However, there are ways to help your mentorship program succeed. “You should have a process in place so you can assign the best possible mentor to the new associate,” Fickert said. “You want the mentee getting someone who is qualified and has been vetted.”

Maintenance Needs to Be in the Construction Process

As National Director of Facilities for The Michaels Organization, one of Tyler Davidson’s roles is to be a liaison to the development team when projects are drawn up. “The best strategy is to get as many eyes on plans as early as possible,” he said.

That role has been important. For instance, there was a 1,200-unit project in Northern California that seemed to be in good shape until Davidson noticed a problem. “I took a cursory glance [at the plans] and saw there was no maintenance shop.”

David Jolley, CAMT, National Director of Maintenance, Pinnacle, tries to take a similar approach on construction projects. “We are the ones that have to live with what they [the contractors] have built,” he said. Jolley urges construction managers to not only sit in on meetings but also
get the names and numbers of all of the key contractors. “Be friends with the pool guy and the wiring guy so you have a relationship with them if there’s a problem,” Jolley said.