About Mike Brewer
My mission is to tease out the human potential in the multifamily space.
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In business, there’s often a strong emphasis on conceptual strategies and theoretical approaches. Boardroom discussions have key metrics, performance indicators, and, at times, the dreaded PowerPoint presentation. While there is undeniable value in planning and strategizing, the true measure of effective leadership in the multifamily sector is not merely about presenting ideas; it’s about executing them. Without action, even the most innovative strategies are futile.
It’s quite tempting to get lost in spreadsheets and analyses. After all, data-driven decision-making is a buzzword for a reason. Nevertheless, a comprehensive plan without actionable steps is like a sports car without fuel. It might look good on paper, but won’t get you far. Herein lies the divergence between leaders and managers; while managers handle processes efficiently, leaders understand that success in the multifamily sector is often about stepping away from the playbook and daring to do things differently.
Let’s first talk about how a team-member-first strategy is invaluable for sustainable growth and operational excellence. This approach catalyzes enhancing productivity and morale, optimizing each team member’s specialized skills. When employees feel valued and empowered, they exhibit heightened engagement, directly correlating with tenant satisfaction and long-term asset performance. This strategy also fosters a culture of innovation and accountability, allowing for the rapid integration of technological advancements and best practices. The merit of this approach can be quantified not just in ROI but also in reduced employee turnover, streamlined operations, and an elevated quality of life for tenants. Therefore, it creates a virtuous cycle of prosperity that benefits all stakeholders, from investors to management to residents. But how many of us talk a good game regarding this concept, but we default to a customer-first action? And I don’t buy the idea that team members are internal customers. We will talk more about this in future posts.
Next, let’s consider taking action to implement a centralization strategy. Centralizing administrative, leasing, and maintenance tasks offers immense value through increased efficiency, reducing operational costs, and streamlining communication. Leaders can access real-time, unified data for quick, data-driven decision-making. In a perfect world, this approach minimizes redundancies and enables proactivity, allowing teams to resolve issues before they escalate. Vetting and implementing software platforms specializing in multifamily property management can further amplify these advantages. As we navigate the next 18 to 24 months, a bias for action is imperative. Committing to centralization isn’t merely a choice; it’s a strategic imperative for maintaining a competitive edge in today’s multifamily market. Not to overstate, but it’s important to take action instead of just discussing.
Finally, we cannot stress enough the importance of exceptional communication. It cannot be overstated. For business leaders, effective communication is the central axis around which all other operational components revolve—from resident relations to maintenance coordination and financial reporting. A lapse in communication can easily snowball into problems, from a lack of team member engagement to delayed maintenance, affecting asset performance and, subsequently, investor returns. Conversely, seamless communication practices can significantly elevate operational efficiencies, empowering property managers to swiftly address resident concerns, manage vendor relations, and execute value-added strategies. Yesterday I participated in a forum that discussed technologies like IoT sensors for real-time property monitoring, blockchain for transparent transactions, and machine learning algorithms for predictive maintenance. The role of communication in integrating these tools becomes even more critical. It’s not just about keeping lines open; it’s about strategically utilizing communication as an asset for agile management and data-driven decision-making. Implementing novel communication platforms, like real-time dashboards, can make this intricate web of interactions more manageable and more productive, serving as a multiplier for success across all dimensions of the multifamily business. But you have to take action to make it happen.
Decidedly, it’s important not merely to be a dreamer but a doer. The multifamily space, finally, is an evolving landscape where theories abound, but action-oriented leaders will set the course. Get and keep a bias for action!
The multifamily career requires a unique breed of leaders. Leaders in this space, like the properties they oversee, are multifaceted, displaying resilience, adaptability, grace, and an inherent ability to grow.
Resilience is not just about surviving; it’s about thriving. Every leader faces various challenges, from human concerns to economic downturns. Bouncing back is crucial in the multifamily industry, where the stakes are high and margins can be thin. But more than that, resilience means learning from these setbacks and using them as stepping stones. It’s about turning challenges into opportunities, turning occupancy challenges into inspiring opportunities, and seeing potential where others might only see problems.
Growth, on the other hand, is both an outcome and a journey. Leaders in the multifamily space must constantly evolve, embracing new PropTech or RentTech strategies and approaches. Whether incorporating smart home technology or adopting new AI-enabled solutions, leaders in this sector are on the cutting edge, ensuring their properties and leadership styles are current and ahead of the curve.
Directly speaking, it’s crucial to recognize that leadership isn’t a solitary endeavor. It’s about fostering relationships with industry peers, teams, and all stakeholders. It’s about recognizing that every decision has a ripple effect, impacting the bottom line and people’s lives. Your leadership journey is deeply intertwined with the communities you serve.
To succeed, it’s essential to stay updated. The digital era has introduced tools to elevate our game, from leadership development to AI-driven market analytics. But it’s equally critical to remember the human element. Listening to feedback, understanding the aspirations of your teams, and forging strong relationships with stakeholders will set you apart. After all, properties might be brick and stone, but communities are built on human connections.
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Leaders are no strangers to change. From evolving customer and team member needs to market dynamics and a blistering pace of new RentTech, the ability to adapt is crucial. Yet, as business professionals, how often do we fall victim to dismissing new ideas or strategies before thoroughly examining them? Herbert Spencer aptly captured this human tendency when he stated, “There is a principle, which is a bar against all information; which is proof against all argument; and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance. This principle is contempt prior to examination.”
This instinctual barrier against novelty principle is common. Our industry is currently thriving on innovation, from apartment living experience advancements to smart home technologies and sustainable living practices. Preemptively rejecting future advancements without consideration can hinder progress and make your business obsolete.
Consider the rise of virtual tours, especially relevant in the post-pandemic world. Many were initially skeptical, believing potential residents would always prefer a physical walk-through. However, a leader who dismissed this tool without examining its merits was disadvantaged when social distancing mandates took effect.
The same can be said for emerging concepts like community-based living or the increasing importance of green spaces within multifamily communities. Dismissing these ideas without comprehensive analysis would mean missing out on significant growth opportunities and potentially alienating a new generation of residents.
So, how do multifamily leaders combat this tendency? By fostering a culture of curiosity within their teams. Encouraging questions, debate, and rigorous examination of all new concepts can help break down the walls of premature contempt. I like to say, argue, fuss, and fight. Moreover, it’s vital to remember that the greatest breakthroughs often come from the most unexpected places.
Leaders should make it a regular practice to step out of their comfort zones. Attending seminars, workshops, and industry conferences can offer fresh perspectives and challenge established beliefs.
Embracing thought diversity is also crucial. A diverse team comprising individuals from various backgrounds, experiences, and thought processes is less likely to fall victim to collective contempt. Instead, they bring myriad viewpoints to the table, ensuring that every idea receives a fair and comprehensive examination.
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The multifamily industry is not just about buildings, amenities, or strategic locations. At its heart, it’s about people—each unique, bringing their world into the community. The ancient saying, “In One Man is the whole world,” encapsulates the philosophy that within each individual lies a universe of experiences, aspirations, and potentials.
For multifamily leaders, understanding this concept is pivotal.
Every person who enters a multifamily space brings their history, dreams, values, and unique perspectives. Just like each apartment or unit is a crucial part of the whole community, every individual plays a pivotal role in shaping the culture and identity of the multifamily space.
As leaders in the multifamily industry, the challenge is to harness this collective power, appreciate each person’s vastness, and create physically secure and emotionally nurturing communities. This is where the real essence of leadership comes into play.
True leadership transcends the ability to manage resources and generate profits. It’s about understanding people, nurturing their growth, and fostering a sense of belonging. It’s about recognizing the world within each resident and staff member and ensuring their world harmoniously coexists with others.
Embracing this philosophy will also influence business decisions. When a leader understands that they are not merely renting out spaces but are providing homes where individuals will shape memories, it changes the approach to service. It encourages leaders to invest in community-building activities, promote cultural understanding, and prioritize mental and emotional well-being as much as physical comfort.
Furthermore, in the age of digitalization, where personal connections often take a backseat, multifamily spaces become even more critical. They are the hubs where real human interactions occur, where communal living provides the warmth of shared experiences.
To all multifamily leaders and business professionals, remember: within each resident, team member, or stakeholder lies a universe. Our role is to shelter them and ensure their universe thrives, grows, and shines. In understanding and embracing the world within each individual, we unlock the true potential of leadership in the multifamily industry.
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Fear of failure can deter even the most ambitious of leaders. This trepidation can potentially paralyze decision-making, whether it emanates from team member strife, negative customer sentiment, or property management challenges. However, one principle stands timeless: action cures fear.
The dynamics of managing apartment communities are manyfold, and the expectations from a leader in this are high. These leaders ‘ responsibilities are ensuring maximum property value by running smooth operations, managing turnover, inspiring team members, addressing resident concerns, and positioning the property favorably in the market.
Given these challenges, it’s only natural that fear can set in. A looming recession, increased competition, or a sudden drop in occupancy rates can quickly make any leader question their strategies. But here’s where the power of action becomes the panacea for such doubts.
The Cycle of Fear in Multifamily Leadership Before delving into solutions, it’s good to understand the cycle of fear. Typically, it begins with a challenge or an obstacle. Instead of addressing it immediately, leaders may procrastinate, leading to rumination. The longer this stagnation lasts, the larger and more insurmountable the problem appears.
For multifamily professionals, this could mean putting off emotionally loaded conversations with a resident, completing essential renovations, avoiding crucial financial discussions, or not addressing a gap in team skills.
Why Action is the Antidote Taking action, even if it’s a small step, breaks this cycle. It shifts the focus from the overwhelming magnitude of the problem to a proactive approach to finding a solution. For example, if there’s a decline in occupancy, a leader might strategize a marketing campaign, paid media campaign, or offer limited-time concessions instead of panicking.
When action is taken, it provides tangible results and infuses the leader with confidence. Over time, this practice of ‘action-taking’ solidifies into a habit, making leaders more resilient and adaptive to challenges.
Implementing an Action-Oriented Approach
- Start Small: Don’t aim to resolve everything at once. Identify one aspect of the problem and address it. For example, a survey is needed to pinpoint the issues if resident satisfaction is low.
- Gather Data: Data-driven decisions alleviate the ambiguity that often fuels fear. Utilize analytics to get insights into occupancy rates, resident preferences, and market trends.
- Collaborate: Engage your team. Sharing responsibilities and brainstorming solutions can reduce the perceived burden and accelerate problem-solving.
Remember, the antidote to fear isn’t always the absence of problems but the courage to act in the face of them.