Take 5 with NAA - 2017

With so many sessions going on at once, we didn't want you to miss a thing. Check out our top five takeaways from select sessions below, organized by learning area. For complete session descriptions, see our conference schedule



  1. At the end of the day, it’s all about people. With the numbers and money aside, we are dealing with human beings and should always have that in the front of our minds.
  2. We can help to reduce or work to eliminate homelessness with a combination of the right leadership, engaged stakeholders and preparation.
  3. Every day we should be asking ourselves, “What can we do to help get people into apartments?” Not meaning the lease or sale; meaning how do we help house a person or family? Each one of us can take a piece of this information and use it to move forward.
  4. Helping to reduce homelessness can cut costs in your community from ER costs to jail costs as well as various other costs.
  5. 75 million people go to bed hungry in the U.S. We’ve made progress, but there’s a lot more to do to reduce this number over time. 

Game Changers

Dawn Hudson: The Power of Marketing

  1. A successful career is built by knowing your biggest strengths and weaknesses and focusing in on them to create your best self.
  2. There is no need to try to fix everything at any given time, instead try to do one or two things very well and success will slowly come.
  3. The number one decision you should make in marketing is thinking about the culture you are joining.
  4. In order to be successful in marketing, you must find that which unites and use that as a foundation for your marketing strategy.
  5. In order to be successful as a whole, you need to incorporate the entire team; you can’t win with just individual stars. 


Johnny "Cupcakes" Earle: Viral Business - Inspiring Customer Loyalty

  1. Do more of what makes you happy. You can get pleasure in doing something that makes you happy and your passion can make other people happy too. 
  2. Good packaging doesn’t get thrown away. It can translate across a lot of what you do in your own marketing.
  3. Events are beneficial because they make you think differently. Use them to meet people, hear ideas and stories, connect and get ideas for the future.
  4. If you want to build customer loyalty, you have to be loyal to your customers. Give thought to how to reward them for their loyalty and let them know that it means a lot to your organization and mission.
  5. Strange is important—you don’t have to do something bizarre, but it’s good to do something strange that stands out from all the noise. 


Sara Prevette: Design Thinking at Work

  1. Starting a new business isn’t easy. Whenever you start a new business, there is the plan then there is reality.
  2. Before taking about methods, entrepreneurs must consider mindset. Ego gets in the way of us understanding or appreciating what other people need.
  3. In this economy, customers want experiences. Everyone is in the business of driving experience. We are now in the experience economy.
  4. Product designers often spend too much time focused on how great their creation is, rather than what customers need. You are designing with your customer, not designing for them.
  5. User centered design is empathy and collaboration with the customers. Failure is a necessary part of progression.


Manjit Minhas: Achieving Business Success in Male-Dominated Industries

  1. It’s important to have a mentor and mentees in whatever you do. It shapes and guides our thoughts and goals.
  2. In order to achieve success, you must have courage. It is required to persevere.
  3. Life is not always fair, but you must not wait around for the opportune situation to come your way. You must be resilient and never give up despite obstacles thrown your way.
  4. You must have your pitch ready at all times, both personal and professional. Know what to say to sell yourself and your ideas succinctly.
  5. Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. It’s the single most important tool and skill to invest in for yourself and your future. 


Anjali Kumar: Transform the Norm

  1. True innovation is derived not from what you know but the understanding of what we don’t.
  2. Answers do not matter for innovation and there is not one single answer.
  3. The greatest innovations are born out of questions, not answers.
  4. You must focus on the questions that keep getting asked repeatedly; you must learn to live in the questions, known as the curiosity engine.
  5. You must think experimentally; it’s an ongoing journey and failed experiments often have the best outcomes. 


Daniel Sioeberg: Techlife 2020

  1. It’s okay to fail. Failure can create unexpected outcomes which may lead to unintended positive consequences.
  2. Google trends and surveys can be used to positively help your industry.
  3. Google Cardboard has proven to be an effective Virtual Reality, used to showcase your apartment’s floorplan/units.
  4. In order succeed you must be present, be aware and be real. Trying incorporating a phone stack during business meetings; the first person to break the rule buys dinner. You will receive a greater overall level of engagement.
  5. Putting your laptop down during meetings can help you pay greater attention to the material being discussed and help you to retain more information. 

Independent Rental Owners

Independent Rental Owners: Six Effective Ways to Maximize Income 

  1. Investing in your communities, is a great way to get a return.
  2. By making small tweaks and exploring rebates that local utilities offer, owners can find a lot of savings.
  3. Karla Ross, Owner, At Home Properties, installed a refurbished, stainless-steel fridge for $550 and charged residents an extra $50 a month to use the appliance. In 11 months, the refrigerator was paid off.
  4. If an owner can’t replace their boilers, simply remove sediment every six months can help owners extend the life of their boiler system and save on electricity.
  5. The expectation of free Wi-Fi will soon creep into the apartment world. People expect fast Wi-Fi. If you can install that in your apartment community, you can recover the cost by charging higher rents.

Industry Trends

Carving a Competitive Edge with New Trends and Design

  1. You can create a modern look for a low investment with fixtures and hardware by mixing and matching to achieve an affordable, stylish design.
  2. Paint is the best go-to for an affordable chance to make a unit appear fresh and new. Trends in colors lean toward cool neutrals.
  3. Appliances are high on the millennial priority list—they are used for cooking at home for an average of four nights per week!
  4. The #1 outdoor amenity right now is a pet-friendly area. It’s one of the best ways to get more rent from a resident.
  5. In order to encourage residents to use the community as a place to live and entertain, you must invest in the outdoors. Features such as grills, seating, exterior landscaping, fire pits, lighting and safety products change your building into an inviting community. 


Total Disruption: Meet the Companies Affecting the Industry 

 “Uberification of everything”: You can rent literally anything, why own anything model:

  1. Abode-connected: Home security platform.
  2. Hello Tech: Geek Squad meets Uber in home tech support service.
  3. Baroo: Pet concierge.
  4. Hello Alfred: Personal assistant/home manager.
  5. Cubicasa: Service that converts any format into a 3D interactive floorplan.


Mentoring Millennials: Developing the Young and the Restless

  1. In order to be promoted, you don’t have to be at a company for a certain amount of time. If you have the skills and smarts, then you should be eligible for promotion, regardless of age or start-date.
  2. By 2030, Millennials will outnumber Baby Boomers in the workplace by 22 million.
  3. When interviewing potential employees, it is important to look for leadership potential.
  4. Employees are most interested in companies that offer and focus on their success, career paths, mentoring, training, work-life balance and offer them meaningful work.
  5. Employers must try to stay ahead of trends because Millennials expect the same technology in the workplace that they have in their personal lives in order to operate at their maximum potential.


Apartment All-Stars Leasing Spectacular 

  1. The number one reason people cancel a lease is that they find a better deal, so you must show value to make people believe it’s worth it.
  2. Use the positive reviews from your residents to help build your brand in areas outside of traditional marketing.
  3. Market with local companies; it is free marketing for both parties and a key tactic to gain exposure.
  4. Change up your leasing routine to keep it fresh. Incorporating apps such Chabox and Postly could go a long way. 
  5. Focus on what you have to offer that others don’t and use that to your advantage. 


Lease-Up Lessons (Speed Round)

  1. Bring property management into your strategy as early as possible. They can help with amenities, floor plans, finishings and popular requests from residents.
  2. All extra staff should be specialists and a critical part of your team; you’re hiring for a lease-up, not a stabilized property.
  3. There are no bad days during a lease-up; you are in control of how the day turns out based on your outlook.
  4. Keep your leasing office separate from your management office so that problems, delays and other issues are discussed and dealt with away from potential residents.
  5. Don’t cherry pick the building. Blend your leases so that you always have good inventory.

Legal / Fair Housing

What the What? How to Approach Emotional Support Animal Requests

  1. Several laws and governing bodies dictate emotional support animal requests and have provisions for their disability, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, Federal Fair Housing Act, Federation Rehabilitation Act, as well as state and local laws.
  2. An assistance animal is a service animal that provides emotional support and is trained to provide a function.
  3. A handicap is a substantial limitation of one or more physical or mental impairments that limits lifestyle activities.
  4. The NAA Toolkit is an excellent resource for information, forms, samples and procedures.
  5. In order to mitigate liability, you must have a written policy for assistance animal requests, utilize forms for requests, have a verification process and educate your team. 


Apartment e-Commerce: Traditional Methods for Online Leasing 

  1. Determine best calls to action on your website (it may not always be "apply now" and a phone number).
  2. Align with how customers search - make it easy for your prospects and residents to do business with you. Adding a frequently asked questions section on your site can really alleviate questions that may have to be asked on a phone call.
  3. Develop a life for your community on the website. Determine what we are not delivering where a prospect may be getting from other sources.
  4. Ensure your marketing always ties back to investor goals.
  5. Let residents create the social "proof" for your community.


On Your Best Behavior: User Behavior Testing and Optimized Website Conversion

  1. Provide a great user experience: Make it easy & add good photos anywhere you can.
  2. 38% Click to Floor Plans, make sure that it is easy to access on your website.
  3. Ensure that your contact page is simple. This will allow for a decrease in drop off rates, the time on the page to decrease and the conversion rate to increase.
  4. It may be useful to have the location of where people land on the webpage to be the gallery page as more people what to utilize the images.
  5. There are so many tools to test your website to make it better:
    1. Heat Analytics
    2. HotJar
    3. TestMyWebsitewithGoogle


The New Apartment Marketing: From Cost Center to Revenue Producer

  1. How to turn marketing into a revenue generator - working with Revenue Management and Operations is imperative.
  2. Assisted conversions - very important to understand where a prospects journey began.
  3. Your funnel management tools should include your website, virtual leasing center, CRM system and PMS.
  4. Know what your tracking - understand goals, review data, develop reporting that makes sense, know who your customer is.
  5. Connect with vendors as strategic partners - do your goals align?


The Exemplary Property Manager

  1. Apartments are starting to create Uber pickup areas. You can dedicate a waiting room for residents and put up marketing messages.
  2. Bikes can help offsets parking. A lot of cities will give you a reduction in parking requirements if you include bike racks and bike storage..
  3. A lot of communities include spinning rooms and yoga rooms. You don’t need an instructor because residents can watch instructional videos online via the television.
  4. Music rooms with sound barriers are becoming more popular onsite. In the room, you can jam out on the guitar because the neighbors will never hear.
  5. It is important to provide communal spaces, like beer gardens, for residents to gather. You don’t have to supply the beer, you just have to supply the space.


Inventing the Perfect Proactive Manager for Today’s Changing Apartment Industry

  1. Successful managers ensure that their teams have the resources to succeed, communicate effectively, and see themselves as asset managers who are constantly building connections.
  2. Even with the best engagement programs, changeover is inevitable. Proactive companies should address access physical and figurative access challenges that come about from changeover and have organizational systems in place.
  3. In order to master time management and productivity, put the ugliest, biggest challenge on your to-do list first and knock it out.
  4. 80% of training occurs at the peer to peer level.
  5. Bring out the best in your people. Culture is not created by declaration. Respect and embrace hierarchy for organizational effectiveness.
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