Among the exponential growth in population in Boise, ID includes increased rental rates to assist clients in capitalizing on their investments. Unfortunately, Boise natives’ wages are falling behind these rental rates they are forced to relocate, move in with friends, or seek out housing assistance.
The summer of 2019 for First Rate Property Management was the busiest I’ve seen. We had anticipated 60 tenants moving out in the month of July, however, by June 28th, 2019 we had received over that amount of 30 Day Notices and counting! By the 2nd of July, we had received a total of 104 Notice to Vacates for the end of July. At this same time our maintenance department was combating all of the June 30th, 2019 move outs. We had about 73. In the midst of chaos we had to prepare for more chaos.
Our management team sat down to brainstorm potential bottlenecks and roadblocks to identify and anticipate solutions proactively. We threw around some good and bad ideas. Ultimately we came up with a solution that bettered our processes, tenant relations, client relations, and employee morale.
Our biggest concern was how our staff was going to endure over 100 turnovers on the same day without excessive overtime and diminishing enthusiasm. In the property management industry it is common to have a lot of employee turnover in our maintenance departments. Often overcome with negativity, and tenant and/or owner pushback, maintenance puts up with quite a bit. First Rate wanted to find a way to keep our employees happy by keeping owners as well as incoming or outgoing tenants happy. Our solution was to offer an “Early Bird Special”. If outgoing tenants turned in their keys 1-5 days early, they would receive a $25 gift card and/or credit, 6-10 days; a $50 credit, 11-15 days; a $75 credit. This cost FRPM a total of $600 between all 104 turnovers. This amount is a small price to pay to preserve the spirits of the team, client satisfaction, and tenant relations.
Along with the internal benefits, there were many external benefits in this service as well. If a tenant turns in their keys 7 days early, the average turnover time is 5 business days, and the incoming tenant moves in on the 6th day, the owner does not have any vacancy expense. For example, a tenant turning in keys on the morning of Wednesday, July 24th, 2019, we complete all the turnover work by Thursday the 29th, 2019, the incoming tenant can essentially move in on Friday July 30th, 2019.
The average daily cost of vacancy for an owner is $30 per day. Because our preferred vendors aren’t able to address all 100 units in the same 5 days, if all tenants were to turn in keys on the same day, this could have very likely extended vacancies out over two weeks. This “Early Bird Special” saved many of our clients up to $420 in vacancy per unit. Some of our bigger clients, who had multiple vacancies coming up would have been looking at even a much bigger expense.
First Rate Property Management was able to increase their Google Review Rating 4 tenths of a point in only 8 months. Many of these reviews came in during our busiest months, when historically, our staff tends to be spread thin and unable to provide the best customer service due to the sheer volume of calls, emails, and walk-ins. The “Early Bird Special” allowed our leasing department to offer early move-ins to already approved applicants to ensure their satisfaction with the move-in process.
Additionally, during this busy week we all got back to our elementary school roots and participated in an eccentric and comedic spirit week. This lightened the mood and kept spirits high as we attempted to simultaneously move people out and move people in. Instead of remembering the chaos of an exceedingly demanding week, our team remembers the amusing & creative outfits, hats, socks, and t-shirts everyone was wearing and the fun everyone was having.
Overall the team at all levels worked together to create a plan that was executed almost seamlessly. Property Management is inevitably unpredictable but throughout this process we were able to accomplish almost all of our 2019 goals developed in our Strategic Planning. We were able to reach a Google rating of 4.0, prepare for growth, improve and streamline interdepartmental communication, and reduce effective days vacant. While this example might be specific to FRPM, it can be applied to any business and any obstacle to achieve the goals within the company.
There are many obstacles in that our industry must face. Some are predictable and some are unpredictable. Among these challenges it is crucial to think outside the box to create a plan. Once your plan is in place, the follow through is of the upmost importance. Once you’ve gotten through the fire, you and your team will be even more prepared for the next big complication resulting in the growth and prosperity of your company.
Julie Tollifson, Leasing Team Leader