Smart Marketing Budgets? Yes Please!

I was recently included in an article with some the best of the best in the multifamily industry – including Kevin Thompson, SVP of Marketing for Bell Partners, Jennifer Anderson, director of B2B marketing for RentPath, and Katie Nelson, director of marketing for CAPREIT. Together we offer some game-winning tips to ensure you are developing and executing a smart (and winning) marketing budget.

Here’s a sneak peek:

As a longtime consultant in the industry, Jim Kjolhede has a three-point message to share: Don’t ask for the budget too early, don’t be overly specific, and provide guidance for younger associates.

“Don’t require the budget to be done in August or September, because, then, you’re projecting 16 months away,” says Kjolhede, president and founder of Satteron Enterprises, a multifamily consulting firm. “That’s four more months of revenue from the current year that you can’t yet take into account. And the toughest thing to predict is revenue.”

Check out the article and let me know what you think!


OpTech 2017 – Here’s What I’m Looking Forward To

While some may have trepidation about heading to Mandalay Bay this week for OpTech 2017 (I do share some of that hesitation), I am excited to jump on AA Wednesday morning and put my 2.7mm miles to work.  Even though the world is a tough and wild place right now, it is important for me to reconnect with some of favorite people in the world and discuss my favorite thing, this crazy multifamily industry we are all part of.

This year’s event already looks to be one for the record books with cutting edge content on just where the future of the apartment industry is heading. Industry executives will tackle everything from the Internet of Things and Smart Homes to true-to-life stories about the impact of Hurricane Harvey and Maria and even more new marketing practices. And for this multifamily loving guy, I simple can’t wait!

Here are the top four sessions you can be sure I won’t miss!

Wednesday, October 25th


Corporate Social Responsibility Town Hall

Moderated by Dennis Smillie, president, Multifamily Solutions, Esther Bonardi, Vice President of Marketing for Yardi; Mark Delisi, Sr. Director of Corporate Responsibility for AvalonBay Communities and Jennifer Piccotti, Chief Operating Officer for Managinc will get into the nitty gritty of what it means to actually walk the CSR talk. A lot of companies claim to be socially responsible but I will venture to guess this group of industry execs will really make us think about how we can all do so much more. And I for one am excited for the challenge.

Thursday October 26th


Dialing Back Screening Thresholds in a Soft Market: How Far is too Far?

Moderated by Erik Brue, Vice President, Experian RentBureau and joined by panelists Rachel Davidson, SVP Performance, Alliance Residential; Nicole Jamie, Analyst Ancillary Services, Pinnacle and Jim Kjolhede… oh, wait that’s yours truly….this session will venture to provide an answer to some new and interesting waters surrounding the world of credit screening. Can we truly dial it back too far that it can negatively impact a business? From the calls with the rest of the group, we each have some unique perspectives on this very important, yet often overlooked, subject.  Join us to find out!


Data-Driven Marketing: Separating the Signal from the Noise

Moderator John Thornton, Senior Director, Performance Marketing for RentPath and speakers Elaine DeLude, Vice President at LIVEBe and Ryan Perez, Vice President of Marketing for CF Real Estate Services will give insights into just how they are gathering, digging into and crafting actionable tactics from all the data currently available on our marketing practices. Are they bringing marketing and revenue management data together? What are their key performance indicators for success?  Earlier at the MAXIMIZE Conference in Austin, I led a panel on B.I., it will be interesting to see this perspective.  I will be on the edge of my seat waiting to find out!


Is Voice Activated Smart Home Living the Next Big Thing?

Entrata’s COO Chase Harrington; Mary Herrold, Principal of Multifamily Partnerships iOTAS, Inc; Marcus Huffer, IT Director, Applications & Solutions Architecture for Mill Creek Residential; and Nicole McLemore, National Special Projects Manager for Lincoln Property Management will discuss the next big tech-convenience amenity that our renters are craving. Voice activation will be the leading topic in what I am sure will be a conversation that will evoke memories of The Jetsons. I have been implementing some of these devices in my home to see how they work, so I have first-hand knowledge and experience with the associated benefits.

Whatever your appetite is for content at OpTech 2017, I am positive conference planners and speakers will deliver the goods. Let me know what sessions you are looking forward to or what you think is missing from this year’s conference. And let’s not forget to catch up while at the conference and continue to share the love for this great industry!

Safe travels ~ Coach Jim!

Employee Incentives: What to do if they don’t work?

This is a tough one. Why don’t all employees just want to work hard and see their property and company succeed? Company success and resident customer service would be through the roof if all employees were engaged and empowered to perform. Unfortunately, as we all know, this simply isn’t the case. There are plenty of employees who do the bare minimum, following what I call the “good enough” mantra.  Those are the employees that we want to work for the competition!

It is common practice within our industry – and, really, many industries – to offer work incentives to elicit high performance. From pay incentives and awards to extra time off and other perks, employers are offering various ways to empower their team members to outperform.

Most of the time, this is all you need to ensure your teams are producing results and leasing apartments. But what happens when incentives aren’t working? Yes, the typical response is to simply let that person go, and I would argue that most of the time that probably is the best bet.

However, I believe there are ways to re-engage some employees to get them back into empowered performance. Before letting a really good employee go, consider the following steps:

Re-Assess: Ask yourself, how often to do you truly conduct employee assessment? I am not talking about employee reviews, but actually assessing their skill set and how it relates to their current job functions and responsibilities. Is it possible the underperforming employee is doing so because the job doesn’t match their best skills?

Open discussions with the employee can help empower them to share what they enjoy about their job and what they feel might be missing. It could be something as simple as they prefer in-face interactions versus phone interactions. Or they get nervous during property tours. These are simply fixes.

Taking it a step further. Have you ever thought that maybe you are asking too much of a single on-site person? We all know that our property team members often wear many hats, but could the weight of those hats actually be too much and detrimental to performance? It may be time to reassess your job roles and responsibilities.

Retrain: There are so many things a new employee needs to learn that is can be simply overwhelming. And while many of our companies offer continual training, we need to better understand if an employee fully grabs all aspects of their job before we layer in more detail.

After reassessment, you might realize that more training or even retraining may be necessary. Are you offering training multiple ways? Remember one person might do better with hands-on learning while another may prefer to read a training manual, and some may prefer a combination. Consider in-person training at a different property. The change of environment could be the kicker the employee needs to find the sense of pride for their property again.

Reassign: Occasionally reassignment might be the best option. Similar to training someone away from their property, moving someone to a new community or a new role offers a refresh. Oftentimes when an employee had been performing well and has started to slip, they need a change of pace to get them going again. As an industry, we assume incentives are the change of pace – just give them more money – but many people aren’t as motivated by money and instead need to feel a greater sense of responsibility. A new assignment might just provide that change for them.

Cultivating employees is far easier than sourcing, interviewing and hiring a new employee. While incentive programs are great and an amazing employee benefit, we need to remember incentives can’t drive empowerment and performance. So before you let go of someone who seems not to care or works to just be “good enough,” remember incentives aren’t the be-all, end-all. Consider investing more time into your employee as a person not just a performer.