Category Archives: The Training Factor

The End of An Era

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ImageAs many of you know by now, I have resigned from my position as Assistant Property Manager.  It truly is the end of an era.  The past three years have been amazing to say the least, but I learned something about myself over the past few months.  I’m not cut out for the management side of Property Management.  

Marketing, sales and customer service is my passion, but my new position brought with it a drastic shift in focus.  I no longer had the drive and excitement I once had.  Every day began with a struggle to find motivation to drive the 40 minute commute to a job I now hated.  

So what kept me going?  The residents.  I grappled with the decision of leaving for a while now, but I knew I would miss the smiling faces and conversations with students I had grown close to.  For any of them who may be reading this, please know that you were the reason I came to work everyday.  You motivate me and I wish you all the best.  I’m sorry that I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye…. I don’t like goodbyes anyway…so instead…farewell and I hope to cross paths in the future.   

Could things have been different?  Absolutely, but we’ll leave that for a new series I’ll be writing over the next few weeks.  

I’ve been asked several times “What are you going to do?”.  The answer to that is simple.  I plan to take time to do some soul searching, work on a few projects and write a few blogs.  One thing’s for sure- I love Multifamily so I plan to continue in the industry!  

 For many people a job is more than an income – it’s an important part of who we are. So a career transition of any sort is one of the most unsettling experiences you can face in your life. Paul Clitheroe

 

~Angela

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Mashable Loses Valuable Readers and Credibility in Under 60 Seconds

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When I read the headline ‘hilarity ensues’ I thought some humor this morning would be nice so I clicked the link in a post from Mashable.  I’ve trusted Mashable for Technology related and breaking news from around the Web for quite some time so it came as a surprise that something like this would have passed through the quality control group before hitting my news feed.

If you haven’t yet watched the video ‘Teen Comes Out to His Mom, See What Happens‘, don’t.  It’s not even funny.  The comments, however are where the gold lies.  *NOTE* The original link now goes to a 404 error, but I found it again anyway… see the comment thread here

Why Mashable when you have so many valuable readers, would you allow  to jeopardize your credibility?  Here are some of the highlights in the comments:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What can we all learn from this Epic Fail?  Ensure your posts are composed of quality content before blasting them to the web!

Can I have my 46 seconds back Mashable?  If the waste of time wasn’t enough, I’ll now be skeptical of your articles, thanks….

Sincerely,

Shocked.

Increase Occupancy Via Twitter Mind Control – The Three ‘R’s

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Up until a few weeks ago, we had no competition in social. Our community dominated the Twittersphere. Enter our biggest competitor. A recent change of management brought forth a more social staff. Tweets are now going out and, this time, they’re not just recycled from Facebook. After almost 2 years of research, I’ve discovered that most of our residents are using Twitter regularly so we’ve scaled back the Facebook and beefed up the Twitter. Increasing Occupancy via Twitter Mind Control starts with three ‘R’s.  This post offers insight into new mind control methods you can use in both conventional and student focused housing markets.

Part 1 of the ‘Increase Occupancy via Twitter Mind Control’ series (seen here) will show how to search for relevant posts in your area, but it doesn’t quite go deep enough. To maintain our position as top dog, we’ve had to think outside the box. Now included in our daily searches are local events such as New Student Orientations.

You may be asking – OK, so what do I do with them once I find them?

A careful balance of engagable posts, that’s what.

  • Retweets – A ‘Retweet’ is Twitter’s version of the share button. Clicking ‘Retweet’ directly copies a user post and sends it out to your followers. It also generates a notification to the user you quoted, but the text is small so while this type of engagement is sought after by many, it’s not the most effective.

  • Replies  Replying to a Tweet will also generate a direct mention to the user.  This gives you a full 140 characters to ask a question, respond to a complaint or simply give your two cents.  You’d think this would be the easiest and most rewarding form of contact, but not quite.

  • RTs – A RT is a modification of a user post that generates a direct mention to the user you’re quoting.  The text is much larger and more noticeable to the user you’ve mentioned.  It combines the benefit of the first two ‘R’s by incorporating a Reply into a Retweet.

Most of our followers will either ‘Retweet’, thank or favorite a post of this type.   This is by far the most engaged type of post I’ve seen.

The key is to change it up so you don’t have a feed full of one type of post.  Take time to alternate the ‘R’s by analyzing each users profile.  See which R they use most and use it to your advantage.  New Student Orientation searches just scratch the surface.  Communities can also find local Twitter users to engage by searching local events such as sporting events, concerts, fundraisers, etc.  The opportunities are endless!

For more information on how to increase occupancy via Twitter Mind Control and just about anything social media related, follow me @angela_mfm

The possession of anything begins in the mind. – Bruce Lee

~Angela

Timeshare Industry Professionals – I Am NOT A Number

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In an era filled with trends such as ‘frustration nation’, ‘human touch’, ‘user experience’ and ‘consumerization’, one thing jumps to the forefront.  The customer.  Businesses failing to recognize the shift and reevaluate strategy to encompass these customer focused trends are falling to the wayside.  Look at Kodak, HP, the increasing number of newspaper icons and so many more.  Based recent events and an increasing number of timeshares being sold for as little as a penny, I feel more strongly than ever that the Timeshare industry as a whole may soon join the growing number of businesses failing to meet consumer demand.  I am not a number so stop treating me that way!

Have you ever walked into a ‘talkie’ only to feel like a head of cattle about to be prodded?  I have.  Several times in fact.  Even your own sales people see it in a similar light.  Is it just because the owners of these companies haven’t had the pleasure of sitting through the sales pitch in a windowless room surrounded by round tables filled with people looking around imagining their escape?  Could it be that (for purposes of this post we’ll assume 1 in 10) the one in ten that actually purchase are supporting the owners just enough that they don’t care about the others?

According to Facebook, 6 degrees of separation has dropped to 5 and in many cases 4.  Consumers are becoming hyper connected and any experience is quickly public knowledge, more so when it’s negative.  How are you as a Timeshare industry professional working to manage your reputation?  What happens to the 9 potential customers that walked out of the ‘talkie’ cynical and unhappy?  How do you locate the diamonds in the rough or the potential customer that didn’t purchase, but may be interested in the future?

Not one of the Timeshare industry professionals I’ve met with has followed up with me.  Why?  Is it because they don’t have time?  Is it because corporate policy forbids it like they forbid any detailed information to be given to consumers over the phone?  What if I want to purchase online?  When I ask for pricing, why won’t you give it to me?  More importantly, why am I not pre-qualified before you offer to give the cow away?

For future reference, here is what I want as a consumer.

Personal Touch:  Don’t sit me in a room filled with people and expect me to be comfortable.  Come to me.  Set an appointment to meet by the pool, my campsite or even in the lobby.  ONE ON ONE.  This is key.  I don’t want to feel like you are trying to sell a crowd or be subjected to the vibe of competition so thick you can cut it with a knife.   Most of all, I don’t want my kids to suffer because we have to go to a meeting.

Follow Up:  This should go without saying, but whether or not I ask you to follow-up with me, FOLLOW-UP WITH ME!  What I may not have seen the value in after being prodded like cattle, I now do.   In the multifamily industry, it often takes 6 or more follow-up calls before the prospect decides to lease.

Offer an Incentive to Tell You About My Experience:  Rather than giving 100% of your incentive just for coming in, make me earn 50% of it after.  Send me a survey so I can tell you how terrible or wonderful my sales rep was.  Ask me if I was followed up with.  Find my pain and solve it!

One Rep, Not Three:  When I say no to one, I’m not only going to say no to the other two, I’ll now be so annoyed that the thought of your company makes my stomach turn for the rest of my life.  Let one representative build rapport, earn my trust and be my liaison from start to finish.  Even if I don’t purchase now, I’ll be more likely to purchase from you when it makes sense for me.

Cap My Fees: Don’t make me end up like the growing number of people forced to sell my investment for a penny due to rising maintenance costs.  Offer me an option for fixed maintenance fees even if it means a higher initial investment.   

I hope you found this insight helpful and are now running to reevaluate your strategy to include a significant increase in the trends mentioned above.  For more information or to pick my brain, drop me a line at angela.n.irizarry@gmail.com, or connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and So.cl.

~Angela

If you work just for money, you’ll never make it.
But if you love what you are doing,
and always put the customer first,
success will be yours. ~ Ray Kroc

Create a Living Resume with Facebook Timeline

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Enthusiasm is the yeast that makes your hopes shine to the stars. Enthusiasm is the sparkle in your eyes, the swing in your gait. The grip of your hand, the irresistible surge of will and energy to execute your ideas.~Henry Ford

This winter was brutal!  It’s time for the spring thaw and I can think of no better way to get back in the swing of things than with a fresh new idea.  

On the way home today, I was thinking about a conversation I had with a colleague at Multifamilypro’s Brainstorming Sessions. He said to catalog all of your accomplishments and milestones on LinkedIn.  Excellent idea, right?  It is!  The only problem I have found is the lack of character my updates had.  

I like my excitement to jump off the page!  Adding updates to LinkedIn wasn’t giving me the wow factor I was looking for.  

Cue Facebook Timeline!  

In about an hour, I had taken all of my important information from LinkedIn and added it to a brand new Timeline layout.  Each step of my career now has a post, special accomplishments are highlighted and I will be building a portfolio through photo galleries within the next few days.  I have a few other ideas for custom tabs so keep your eye out for another post soon.      

I’ll be cataloging my experience, accomplishments and milestones on this living resume and would like to invite you to join me on my journey…  

Special thanks to The Training Factor 🙂

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You are NOT alone!!

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My most recent position brought me to a brand new lease up student housing property.  I love the company, the property and my coworkers, but after almost a year of daily occupancy updates, unexpected cancellations and a myriad of new construction complications, I’ll admit, I was fading fast.  If it wasn’t for the great people I’ve met throughout this journey, I would have hit a wall and shut down.  Have you been there?  I’m sure you have at one point or another.  Brace yourself…You are NOT alone!!  The sooner you realize that, the better off you’ll be the next time you start fading away.

I recently had the pleasure of experiencing my first conference.  Brainstorming was the most amazing experience of my career.  It reaffirmed the reasons why I love the multifamily industry and brought back the passion I had at day one.  If you have yet to go, plant the seed now.  It is something you truly CANNOT miss!

No matter where I went and who I ran into, I felt adopted.  Groups of people, who, from a distance, seemed impenetrable, welcomed me to join them.  Each was a bit different, though they all had one thing in common…they made me feel welcome…they made me realize that even though I came alone, I was not alone!  Did I need the conference to learn this?  Not really, but it helped…A LOT!

On day 1, Tami asked all facilitators to stand up.  Once on their feet, she asked them to sit down ONLY if they had NOT met a lifelong friend at a previous brainstorming conference.  No one sat down.  Was I skeptical?  Absolutely.  Did I think that was part of a script?  Absolutely.  Was I wrong?  ABSOLUTELY!  I met several long-time friends on my FIRST day.  Of course, making friends was not the focus of the conference, but it was just one of many benefits of attending.

No longer was I fading away.  I was contributing ideas…I was out of my element…all fear disappeared…I was BRAINSTORMING!

Round tables and corporate conferences scare me.  They make me uncomfortable.  I try to blend in and nod when someone says something profound.  I think it’s the reality of the situation.  Everyone can see me, hear me…judge me.  I’m not protected by the vast space of the internet or the emotionless tone of an e-mail.  So why was brainstorming so different?  Was it the costumes?  Was it the atmosphere?  To be honest, I’ll never really have a definitive reason to share with you.  It’s something you need to discover on your own, but I will tell you again and again, don’t fade away, ask to go today.

** Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of the most amazing conference in multifamily.  I hope to go again next year…and the year after that and every year after that 🙂 **

Passion is the quickest to develop, and the quickest to fade. Intimacy develops more slowly, and commitment more gradually still. – Robert Sternberg

~Angela

In order to sell your community, YOU must be sold!

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Earlier this week a new employee, who we’ll call Jack, started in the office. I was under the assumption that Jack was familiar with the sales process as he started at a sister community several months ago so I asked him to follow up on a few guest cards.  The calls were more than horrific.  He began raising objections after I offered some advice on follow up techniques. His objections indicated to me that he definitely needed additional training. I began a conversation to essentially overcome his objections. He cut me off in mid sentence with “why are you trying to sell me?”. Through the shock and awe on my face, I managed to get out “In order to sell your community, YOU must be sold!”

When I was first hired on, I was asked to create a feature benefit analysis. During this process, I sold MYSELF on our community. Kudos to my manager, she knows who she is 🙂  Do you have your employees do a feature benefit analysis on the first day? If not, I suggest you implement this before any of them are allowed back on the phone. Something so simple may be the difference between a dead guest card and a new lease. Now this particular situation was based on follow up, but any person involved in the initial prospect interaction MUST be sold on your community to effectively sell your community.

Have you ever asked a simple question and been told “you will need to speak with so and so about that”? One community I call for a market survey each month has several employees to answer the phone, but they are not allowed to answer questions! They take your name and number EVERY TIME to have someone call you back. At a recent housing fair one even told a prospect to stop by tomorrow because no one in the office could help them that day. WTH?! This seems quite counter productive to me. Everyone in your office should be on the same page. Questions should always have the same answer and anyone who is interacting with the public should be able to help!

The moral of this story is two fold. You must be sold on your employees ability to close the deal and your employees must be sold in order to sell your community. Whether the above references are due to managers not confident in their employees ability to close the deal or simply that these employees are not sold on the community shouldn’t matter. Tomorrow starts a new week and new training opportunities. On the agenda should be a feature benefit analysis, market survey and maybe even some roll playing… Not sure where to start?   The Training Factor has courses you can‘t afford to miss!

~ Angela

“It is not your customer’s job to remember you. It is your obligation and responsibility to make sure they don’t have the chance to forget you.”- Patricia Fripp

4 Ways to Add Excitement to Your Marketing!

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How do you view marketing?  Do you get excited about your creations?  Do you even attempt to create anything?  It’s the most amazing feeling ever!  Looking back on your work and saying ‘I did that!’  Think it’s too hard?  It’s NOT.

Social media makes it easier and easier every day to express yourself in your marketing.  Even if you don’t have the approval to implement anything immediately, consider just doing it anyway.  I don’t mean hijacking your company website or even their facebook.  Design a ‘test’ page and ‘test’ new ideas!  Apps and rules are ever changing, so staying current is key, but here’s some starting points for you.

Custom HTML:  For anyone who isn’t really computer savvy, this may seem like an impossible task.  It’s really not.  YouTube tutorials for beginners are a huge help.  Once you get the basics down, you can launch just about anything.  With some basic HTML and FREE apps I did this:

Flash banners, buttons and text:  Take it up a notch!  Look for free sites that allow you to create fun flash text, functional buttons and maybe even flaming banners.  Here’s an example I created from a free site (the finished product is interactive and moves) –

IWIPA: THE most AMAZING thing since sliced bread!!  Don’t have a budget for web hosting?  Create a website INSIDE your Facebook page…FREE!  I haven’t tried the paid version, but the FREE version is just peachy.  Check out this or this as examples.  You can block items from people who don’t like your page, make more tabs than you know what to do with and utilize the basic HTML you just learned by watching how to YouTube videos.  You will not be disappointed I PROMISE!

Attention Grabbing Pictures:  How’d they do that?  Well, I’ll give you a hint.  It has a lot to do with Word, Paint and this wonderful little thing called ‘snipping tool’.  Want more info?  Let me know, I’d be happy to help!  Didn’t know Word could do such things?  Check out The Training Factor’s Word course.  It ROCKS!  (Note:  The following picture was created using the newest version of Word.  The above mentioned course is for an earlier version of Word.)

 <~ He’s never seen a palm tree…EVER.

The more excited you are, the more exciting your marketing will be!  GET ENTHUSED!

~Angela

“Enthusiasm is excitement with inspiration, motivation, and a pinch of creativity.”  – Bo Bennett

3 Reasons To Master All of Your Claims to Fame and Stop Jacking Around

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I find it difficult to watch people fail at something they are supposed to be an ‘expert’ in.  If something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.  You CAN do ANYTHING.  Shoot for perfection EVERY time!

Do you claim to be proficient in something, but you really just know enough to fake it?

Stop doing that!

Look at your resume.  Are you pretending to be someone you’re not?  How many things do you claim to be proficient in, but just know the basics?  I’d be willing to bet at least one.

So why shouldn’t you exaggerate even a little?  I’ll give you 3 reasons.

Prove it:  The phone interview went great, you met with the corporate office and finally you have to take a skills test based on the claims to fame you included on your resume.  What do you think the test scores are going to reveal?  Do you see the offer letter slipping away?  Be true to yourself and the company you are trying to become a part of.

I need this at 9am:  So you faked it well enough to pass the skills test and fool your new boss.  Now comes the real test.  A huge project is due at 9am.  Your boss comes to you at end of business and says ‘I heard you know ______ really well.  I need you to finish this project so I can present it in the morning.  Thanks Jones, you’re a real life saver!’  Fortunately, you’ve got all night to figure out what you’re doing.  Google and YouTube how to videos here you come!  Oops you didn’t hear the alarm?  You probably shouldn’t have stayed up so late trying to learn that program you know so well.  Good thing you have e-mail!

Can you help me?:    Ok so you’ve managed to fake it well enough to pass the skill test and were smart enough to e-mail the project on time.  You’ve learned a lot pulling that all-nighter, but are you prepared to show someone else how to do it?  This just isn’t your week is it?  Lucky for you, the meeting was postponed, but now your boss wants you to present it!  Can you take the heat?

Maybe you can, but are you willing to risk it all and potentially look like a fool?  People talk you know.  Imagine the Facebook and Twitter posts during and after your public epic fail.  Are you revamping your resume yet?

Wait, don’t do that…

Instead of revising or removing some of your skills, take some time and actually master them.  You CAN do it!  Find training online, pick up a ____ for dummies book.  Test yourself!  Make sure anything you say you can do, you can teach someone else to do.

~Angela

Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.” – Oscar Wilde

The Reason Why Your ?’s Aren’t Getting Answers

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I don’t like to talk at people, I like to talk to them…In my head you’re answering the questions as you’re reading.  How do you engage your audience?  Do you ramble on about your fitness centers and spacious floor plans?  Descriptive wording can capture the reader, but to keep them reading you have to make them think!  Creating Home, I dedicate this to you and your inspiring posts 🙂

They say you should end all e-mails with a question because it will entice a response.  That’s absolutely true, but are you really taking advantage of the ? and it’s uncanny ability to engage your reader?

Consider this – A prospect sends an e-mail with a blank comment box obviously using the contact button on your website or an ILS system.  Since they were just on the website, they know many of the amenities and features your community offers.  They receive the following response:

Dear Sam,

Thank you for contacting ABC community!  Our apartments are filling fast!  Your rent includes:

  •  All inclusive utilities
  •  Wired/Wi-Fi internet
  •  Cable with HBO
  •  Leather living room furniture
  •  Coffee table, end table and blah blah blah
  •  blah
  •  blah

Amenities:

  •  blah
  •  blah
  •  blah
  •  blah

Would you like to come in for a tour?

I already know all of this!  The ? wasn’t effective because I lost interest at bullet point #5, stopped reading and more than likely deleted your message.  Don’t feature dump.  Let your website do the selling so you can focus on the closing!  Take a different approach.

Thank you for your interest in the ABC community Sam.  We would love to have you here!  Is there anything that you are unhappy with at your current place?  We’ve done some things differently than other communities in the area and I would love to show you around.  Are you available for a tour today?

Hi Sam!  I see that you just visited our website.  Were you able to check out the virtual tour?  Some of our residents helped us make it!  Would you like to stop in and see what else we have to offer?  I’d love to show you around!

Imagine your e-mail is an actual conversation.  Talk to your reader not at them… If you wouldn’t say it face to face, don’t send it!

~Angela

Boredom, after all, is a form of criticism. – Wendell Phillips