NAA's Top Operations Tips from 2014
by Michelle N. on 12/18/2014 6:37:18 AM
Check out NAA's top 8 multifamily operations insights from 2014!
As onsite staff in multifamily housing, we know you're asked to wear multiple hats, often at the same time. Because of this, Operations Insights has strived to bring you new information and helpful hints relevant to all of the hats you wear.
In case you missed it the first time around, here are eight of the most interesting insights into multifamily operations of the year:
1. When repositioning a community, it’s imperative to get the local police onboard.
“Because the property stigmatizes with the tenant base and the surrounding community, it also stigmatizes with the Police Department. When you go in and pick up such a property, your first thought really has to be the police. They need to know who you are. Often, they’re a bit fatigued dealing with the property…We ask them to help us. They need to know that if they call us because there is a problem that we’re going to act on it. We’re not going to sweep it under the rug or let it go.”
Read more about how Kathy Dennison Adrianse, owner of Lighthouse Property Management in Wyoming, Mich. transformed a previously crime-ridden apartment community into safe, thriving and family oriented housing.
2. Reduce invoice processing to boost your bottom line.
Processing of supplier invoices for both approval and payment is one of the most overlooked areas where hidden costs lie. Research has shown that it costs anywhere from $45 to $75 to process one invoice. Processing (soft) costs include employees’ time, usually multiple employees, postage and paper costs. Find more cost cutting measures in 3 Hidden Bottom-Line Boosters.
3. Use the screening process to help you say, “You’re Hired” with confidence.
“The screening process is definitely where you need to ask the right questions. Some of the most important ones are situational questions—how did they react in certain situations. I also think that circling back and asking the same question, just in a different way, to see if there is a slightly different variation is useful.”
4. You can improve a unit and get returns without doing a full renovation.
Gables Residentials’ Cris Sullivan, Executive Vice President, explained the Gables “Super-Punch.”
“The way we describe a Super-Punch is if there are some additional things we can do when we turn a unit that would really allow for some additional rent growth above the current market rent growth. The easiest way to explain is a full renovation is probably somewhere in the neighborhood of $10,000 to $15,000 a unit or more. Our average Super-Punch unit is probably more around $2,500 a unit. We come in and we identify just a few key things that we can do without going into a full renovation. It could be a new backsplash or changing the knobs on the kitchen cabinets. We’ve gotten big returns on minimal dollars.”
Read more about renovations, and find out which decorative trend has made a huge impact on units from the late ‘80s/early ‘90s.
5. In an emergency, candor is essential for successful crisis communications.
Why? Because effective crisis communications is straight and to the point. Don’t try to hide facts or paint a picture differently from reality. Stick to the facts and to your messaging. Read more about staying calm and collected in a crisis.
6. Listen closely to automated calls—or you could find yourself in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
It may sound like a robo-call but a deaf prospective or current resident may be trying to reach you! Deaf persons use telecommunications relay services to place and receive telephone calls Several forms of relay services are available for use by a deaf person, and onsite staff should be trained to recognize the different technologies available. Learn more about requests from deaf residents and applicants.
7. If you’d like to start using benchmarking as a tool, start by asking yourself who your competitors are.
“Take the time to prepare and identify your comps. How do you know how you are performing if you don’t compare or analyze your performance against a budget or market? You could be leaving money on the table, and nobody wants that.” Read more about benchmarking basics.
8. List, then fix, for a smooth make-ready.
According to Paul Rhodes, National Maintenance and Safety Instructor for the National Apartment Association Education Institute, you should use that first trip around the apartment to focus on what needs to be done instead of doing it. Make a complete list of parts and tasks that are needed to get the apartment ready. This will cut down on the amount of trips to the shop for parts. See his other tips for a smooth make-ready.
References: See more at: naahq.org
Christmas Tree Fire Safety Tips
by Michelle N. on 12/15/2014 12:37:46 PM
Christmas Tree Fire Only Takes Seconds
• How long does it take a dry Scotch Pine Christmas Tree to become fully engulfed in flames once ignited? Three seconds!
• How long does it take for the flames from the burning tree to increase to the point where they will reach across a ceiling? Five Seconds!
• How long does it take for the contents in an average living room to be heated to a point of spontaneous ignition from the heat of a burning Christmas tree? Forty Seconds!
All can occur in less than a minute and it should be noted that at fifty seconds the environment in the simulated living room above becomes unsurvivable.
This video done by the NIST shows a VERY DRY Christmas tree on fire in a room. It takes a little over 30 seconds for the room to flashover.
Christmas Tree Safety Tips
Ensure That You Are Purchasing a Fresh Christmas Tree
Needles on fresh trees should be green and hard to pull back from the branches, and the needles should not break if the tree has been freshly cut. The trunk should be sticky to the touch. Old trees can be identified by bouncing the tree trunk on the ground. If many needles fall off, the tree has been cut too long and, has probably dried out, and is a fire hazard.
Caring for Your Tree
Never let a fresh cut Christmas tree's water reservoir go dry. The average Christmas tree will absorb over a gallon of water in the first hour after being cut and will absorb a quart or more water per day after that.
Do not place your tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks. Be careful not to drop or flick cigarette ashes near a tree. Do not put your live tree up too early or leave it up for longer than two weeks. Ensure that you use a sturdy tree stand and keep it filled with water at all times.
Only use Christmas lights which are in excellent working condition. Inspect light strings for any signs of damage to the plugs, wiring, or bulbs. Ensure that you follow the manufacturer's recommendations regarding the use of lights and remember not to overload the wiring by connect to many strings in a row. Take care that light strings are secured away from the tree's water reservoir.
Disposing of Your Tree
Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood-burning stove. Dry Christmas tree branches can ignite and burn at a rate similar to that of an explosion. When trees becomes dry, discard them promptly. The best way to dispose of your tree is by taking it to a recycling center or having it hauled away by a community pick-up service.
Artificial Christmas Trees
It is best not to assume that your artificial tree is fire resistant. Ensure that your tree contains documentation regarding it's fire safety and fire resistance. And remember, no artificial Christmas tree is fire proof!
Get more information on Christmas tree safety here.
Leonardo247 Wins the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) 2014 Launch Pad Competition
by Michelle N. on 12/5/2014 9:26:06 AM
Congratulations to our property management systems supplier, Leonardo247 on winning the 2014 NMHC Launch Pad competition! We are very proud of your big win!
The cloud-based property operations software company, Leonardo247 won the National Multifamily Housing Council’s (NMHC) 2014 Launch Pad competition. The award recognizes the apartment industry’s top technology start-up, with four finalists pitching their products to a team of top industry executives at the NMHC OpTech Conference & Exposition. The winner receives a $5,000 cash prize and a one-year, complimentary membership to NMHC.
“With so many fantastic companies in the competition, we’re thrilled to just be a finalist, let alone winning NMHC Launch Pad,” said Leonardo247 Founder Daniel Cunningham. “Consistent application of best practices in property operations and risk management is typically a struggle across all sizes of portfolios. It’s exciting to see the recognition for our solution in the industry.”
Leonardo247 edged out other finalists Package Concierge, remotely and SlopeJet – selected from a record number of applicants. As a testament to the effect of winning Launch Pad, last year’s winner, InfoTycoon, is now working with five of the top ten apartment firms.
“Whether it’s managing multimillion dollar buildings or multibillion dollar portfolios, technology plays such an important role for the apartment industry across all levels of operations and management,” said Rick Haughey, NMHC Vice President of Industry Technology Initiatives. “NMHC Launch Pad is part of the Council’s efforts to help companies like Leonardo247 bring new technologies and innovations into the marketplace.”
Leonardo247’s proprietary database of real estate best practices and methodologies allows multifamily firms to develop and digitally distribute operations policies and procedures, as well as create customizable task lists for on-site staffers. This ensures that key actions involving risk management, preventative maintenance or basic day-to-day operations aren’t ignored or forgotten. Through Leonardo247’s software, apartment firms can maintain consistent standards in their operations while increasing support and accountability for on-site staff. In addition, property owners and managers gain visibility into progress at the community level.
The 2014 Launch Pad judges were Rick Graf, President and CEO of Pinnacle; Alexandra Jackiw, President of Milhaus Management, LLC; Greg Lozinak, Executive Vice President and COO of Waterton Residential; Greg O'Berry, Chief Operating Officer of JVM Realty Corporation; and Lori Reeves, Vice President, Strategic Business Services of Forest City Residential Management, Inc.
Read about all of the finalists here.
Read the NMHC release
Read the Leonardo247 release
See list of Buyers Access suppliers
Happy Thanksgiving Members and Suppliers!
by Michelle N. on 11/25/2014 7:35:45 AM
This week, many will reflect on how grateful they are for family, friends, and other blessings this Thanksgiving. We wanted to take a moment to say thank you to everyone involved in making Buyers Access a success and to all those who work with us to provide Smart Purchasing Solutions to the multifamily industry. Our members, partners, and employees have all played an important role helping us finish the year strong. We are poised for a successful 2015 and looking forward to all that we will accomplish together.
Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!
Winter Tips for Residents During the Polar Vortex
by Michelle N. on 11/14/2014 12:25:27 PM
As arctic air plunges over most of the United States, we thought we would share an article on winter energy tips for apartment and condo residents.
Keeping your apartment warm and comfortable this winter doesn't mean spending more on your utility bills. Reducing your heating needs and controlling your thermostat temperature settings will help you keep your energy costs down without sacrificing comfort.
Winter Energy Costs
Heating your apartment or condo is your biggest energy cost during the winter. Paying attention to a few details will help you manage those costs—and be more comfortable.
Keep the heat in
Spend your money keeping yourself warm instead of wasting energy heating the outdoors.
- If you have storm windows, make sure they are completely closed.
- Install plastic window film kits on windows that are leaky or that don't have storms.
- Install covers on window and through-the-wall air conditioners.
- If you have a fireplace, close the damper when you're not using it.
- Pull your shades or close your drapes at night (but leave them open on east, south and west windows during the day for solar heating).
If you are renting and your apartment is too hot, don’t just open a window—work with your landlord to solve the problem. Helping your landlord save on heating will also save you money. Remember, you pay for your heat either directly or through your rent, so don’t throw that money out the window.
Control the temperature and humidity
The temperature at which you set the thermostat affects how much it costs to heat your apartment or condo. Regularly lowering your thermostat will save you money. Lowering the normal setting (all day, all night, every day) one degree saves three percent on your monthly heating bill. Two degrees will save six percent. You can save another one percent for every degree that you lower your thermostat for each 8-hour period you’re asleep or away at work.
- Set your thermostat no higher than 72°F when people are home.
- Lower your thermostat to 65°F or less when you are sleeping or when no one is home.
- If you have baseboard heat, turn down the units in unused rooms.
- If you are a condo owner and have your own furnace, make sure it is energy efficient (90 percent AFUE* or higher). If it isn't, consider replacing it with a high efficiency unit. Also, keep your furnace filters clean.
- And remember: the thermostat is not like the gas pedal on your car—turning it to the highest (or even to a higher) setting does not warm you up any faster.
During the winter you’ll feel warmer if the air in your home is not too dry. Maintaining the relative humidity between 20 percent and 40 percent can let you lower the thermostat setting without making you feel cold.
To read more about winter tips, click here.
2 year Twitterversary :)
by Michelle N. on 11/6/2014 7:24:17 AM
Did you know that NAA has an Emergency Preparedness library?
by Michelle N. on 11/5/2014 1:16:29 PM
NAA Emergency Preparedness is your source for information and resources related to preparing for and responding to the emergencies that can affect your community. Find information about what you can do to prepare yourself and your community in the event of an emergency.
NAA's Emergency & Disaster Library
The documents found in this library help members plan for natural disasters and other emergencies.
The Emergency & Disaster Library resources have been split into sub-categories for easier browsing:
- Health and biohazard preparedness
- Specific weather-related documents, such as hurricanes, winter storms and tornadoes
- General disaster planning
- Disaster recovery
Periodic natural disasters displace Americans across the country from their housing. National Apartment Association members have a history of generosity in response to these events. NAA is proud to recognize its members' philanthropic housing efforts.
NAA supports the American Red Cross. For information on how to help disaster victims, including directions for making monetary contributions, please visit the American Red Cross.
Read full Emergency Prepardeness information via www.naahq.org
A Few Tips for Apartment Trick-or-Treating
by Michelle N. on 10/31/2014 3:58:19 AM
Kids everywhere love knocking on doors for candy, and apartment buildings are a sweet way to get tons of treats in the shortest distance! So we found some great tips for your little monsters who plan to trick-or-treat at apartment properties this Halloween. Be safe and Happy Halloween.
Do you think that trick-or-treating is just for kids who live in houses? The truth is, this Halloween tradition can be fun for apartment dwellers, too. Your neighbors are close by, you never have to brave the cold, and your children can flaunt their cute or creative costumes without having to cover them with jackets and scarves.
If you have children who will be going trick-or-treating in your apartment building this Halloween, play it safe by doing the following:
- Supervise young children. If young children don't like the idea of an adult shadowing them, you (or a nanny) can watch your children enjoy trick-or-treating from down the hallway.
- Set rules for older children. Make pre-teens promise not to enter anyone's apartment and to return home by a certain time. Give older kids a cell phone to keep in touch, and instruct them not to ring the doorbell of any neighbor with whom you're not on good terms.
- Enjoy treats later. Once you're home, check all treats carefully and discard any that look like they've been opened or tampered with. Also, keep homemade treats only if you know they've come from a trusted source. Finally, get rid of anything your children should avoid because of allergies or other dietary concerns.
If you're expecting trick-or-treaters at your apartment this Halloween, follow these tips:
- Be inviting. Put a Halloween decoration on your door so trick-or-treaters know you're game.
- Keep pets away. Keep dogs, cats, and other pets a safe distance from trick-or-treaters. Some children scare easily, and certain pets can get aggressive or run out of your apartment and into trouble.
- Offer pre-packaged treats only. Play it safe by offering trick-or-treaters store-bought, pre-packaged treats. This will help parents feel confident that their children will enjoy a snack that's fun -- and safe.
- Consider fun, safe alternatives. A treat doesn't have to mean food. Given the many children with food allergies or other dietary restrictions, why not offer some non-food Halloween treats to those kids who want them?
To read more, click here.
Preparing Your Properties for Winter
by Michelle N. on 10/27/2014 10:31:04 AM
Depending on where your properties are located, you may find yourself spending weeks preparing them for the cold winter months. Even those in more temperate climates will need to do some basic housekeeping in order to keep maintenance calls in check.
Here are a few preparation tips for your property as winter approaches.
• Have a ready supply of ice melting products on hand.
• Tune-up the snow blower to ensure it will function properly before use.
• Disconnect and drain outdoor hoses in order to prevent pipes from freezing.
• Service any working fireplaces prior to burning a fire. Check the flue for proper ventilation.
• Inspect the current heating system in your rentals for potential problems.
• A solid inspection of the property should also be done at this time to check for leaks and drafts that may need additional insulation.
• Change air filters and the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
Provide your residents with a handy winter preparation checklist that they can refer to. The list makes it easier for residents to remember what needs to be done, and they can check off the item once it’s completed. This makes for more satisfied residents and a well-maintained property.
Ebola Information Update: Basic Facts To Know
by Michelle N. on 10/15/2014 11:47:34 AM
Ebola Information Update
Posted by Membership Department on Monday, October 06, 2014 - http://www.haaonline.org/EbolaFacts/
With all the news and questions about the Ebola patients in Dallas, it's important to know some basic facts. Here is information from official health authorities:
From the World Health Organization:
• Ebola spreads through human-to-human transmission via direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and with surfaces and materials (e.g. bedding, clothing) contaminated with these fluids.
• The incubation period, that is, the time interval from infection with the virus to onset of symptoms is 2 to 21 days. Humans are not infectious until they develop symptoms.
• First symptoms are the sudden onset of fever, fatigue, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash and, in some cases, bleeding (from the gums, in the stool, etc.).
From the Centers for Disease Control:
• Ebola is not spread through the air or by water. There is no evidence that mosquitoes or other insects can transmit Ebola virus. Only mammals (for example, humans, bats, monkeys and apes) have shown the ability to become infected with and spread Ebola virus.
• Healthcare providers caring for Ebola patients and the family and friends in close contact with Ebola patients are at the highest risk of getting sick because they may come in contact with the blood or body fluids of sick patients.
• Practice careful hygiene. For example, wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and avoid contact with blood and body fluids.
• Do not handle items that may have come in contact with an infected person’s blood or body fluids (such as clothes, bedding, needles and medical equipment).
Advice for the Multifamily Industry:
• Ebola is most commonly transmitted through bodily fluids such as vomit, blood, urine and feces. We echo the public health officials by recommending an abundance of caution on any task involving unknown fluids found in common areas or vacated units. Take extra precaution to avoid – or carefully manage – all bodily fluids. We encourage you to visit the CDC website for updated information and safety precaution tips.
• Although most public health officials have publicly stated that Ebola does not survive on surfaces in “real-world settings,” it is always wise to use precaution. If you have any belief that your apartment community has symptomatic people, try to avoid “common touch” areas by using a tissue or handkerchief. Also, wash your hands frequently.
• If a resident is exhibiting symptoms of Ebola, do not direct janitorial or maintenance staff to the apartment. Immediately notify the local health department and contact the CDC for guidance regarding appropriate measures to be taken by maintenance staff.
• You may want to contact a biohazard cleanup provider for advice or services.
If you receive questions from concerned residents or the media about a possible Ebola infection on your property, we recommend referring them to the CDC and health officials, who are better qualified to answer their questions at this time. NAA, TAA and HAA are not health care professionals and guidance should come from the CDC. Here is an example statement provided by NAA for our members, if contacted by the media or concerned residents:
“We understand your concerns. Your questions are best handled by the local health officials and/or the CDC for the most current information. Our understanding is that the
building owner/manager are cooperating fully with CDC/local public health guidance and are taking all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of all residents. We encourage
you to visit the CDC website for updated information and safety precaution tips. Based on current guidance, we can share that the risk appears to be contained to people with direct
contact with a symptomatic victim, or that person’s bodily fluids, such as vomit, blood and feces.”
If you find yourself involved in an Ebola case with a resident and need additional guidance, please call NAA at 703-518-6141.
CDC: www.cdc.gov or www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/index.html
City of Houston Health Department: www.houstontx.gov/health or 832-393-5169
Harris County Health Department: www.harrishealth.org or 713-634-1000
Dallas County has compiled a set of Ebola fact sheets in more than a dozen languages, including English and Spanish.
We recommend that people take seriously the advice from the CDC and other officials on basic things you can do to remain safe.