You Catch More Flies With Honey Than Vinegar
By: Nicholas A. Dunlap
From an occupancy perspective, Property Management is no different than any other business in that a manager's success depends on their ability to effectively troubleshoot problems and keep their customers (tenants/residents) happy. Happy residents who feel cared for and respected will generally want to remain in their place of residence, whereas those who feel taken advantage of or neglected will at the very least move out and then trash your reputation and ratings online.
Recently, my kid sister shared with me her dilemma. She lives in a building managed by Kingsley Associates, who is an institutional, nationwide real estate firm. One who has thousands of units and many, many layers of bureaucracy or operations managers on top of regional VPs on top of regional managers on top of area managers on top of community managers on top of assistant managers on top of leasing agents on top of assistant leasing agents dealing with their paying customers. That means that most of the key decision makers are pretty far-removed from the people who ultimately put the money in their pockets. Anyway, back to my point.
My sister had lived in her current apartment for over one year, always paid rent on time ($1,612 for a 1 bedroom 1 bath no less) and was having issues with her neighbors. Since the on-site management staff were always too busy to listen to her and thus to busy to contact the resident who lived on top of her and made the noise, she decided to transfer apartments. That meant she was going to pay $1,670 for another 1 bedroom 1 bath in a less noisy location. But at least the speed-freak maniac who lives directly on top of her now, runs the water constantly and blares the television at all hours of the night, occasionally slam dancing to whoever happens to be the musical guest on Conan, Leno, Letterman or Jimmy Fallon.
So, February 1st comes and my sister politely requests a transfer to the upper level of the property once they have a unit available because she does not want to leave the complex. She is assured that while they do not have one now, she will be able to transfer to the soonest available unit if she re-signs her lease. I should note that this is quite common and in fact, we allow our residents to do this. Finally, 90 days later, a unit comes up and my sister requests to transfer. Now, she is told she will have to pay her current rent (30 days), a lease-break fee, a transfer fee of $500 which they first offered to waive,
then said they could only cut it in half but then said that once they paid everything that they would in fact waive the transfer fee.
In total, it would cost my sister $2,200 to transfer to her new apartment. And then, she would have to fork out $1,670 in rent! That's over $3,870 which is certainly not pocket change and is quite steep for someone of my sister's tenant profile. That is, she is 23 years old and works 11 hour days and is not independently wealthy. So after several phone calls, we discussed the charges and how there was likely double rent and some other excessive charges meant more to gouge or discourage than promote a quality of living experience, she decided to skip the transfer. Needless to say, when her lease is up, she will now be moving out.
Kingsley Associates took what could have been an easy moment for them to shine and butchered it. They could've come in, talked to the problem neighbors, solved the problem once and for all and my sister would have been happy. They could've understood the circumstances better and offered to help waive some of the superfluous company charges they pass on to transferring (good) tenants but they did not. Instead, they stood by and did nothing. They exercised no problem-solving skills, no customer service, no help and no care. This was a total missed opportunity for the company to shine.
In any service related business, people want to be and feel taken care of. The check they cut for rent is often their largest monthly expense. It takes just as much effort to be kind and courteous as it does to be rude and evasive. Make the right choice and you will always, always be more successful in the long-run. Trust me, we are in the business of making people happy.
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