Doing To Be Honest the Right Way

Using the phrase – to be honest – implies that you are a liar.

Catch this and let me know what you think. In the course of a recent conversation with a business owner I made the statement – “to be honest,” and before I could get anymore out of my mouth – he stopped me. He went on to suggest that by saying – to be honest- implied that I had the propensity to be dishonest.

I sat there stunned and thinking to myself – right (read: sarcastic self-talk). Great admonishment I thought. And despite my best effort to contain my verbal prowess, I said, “to be perfectly honest (which likely further implied my propensity to let the zingers fly), I disagree.” Yikes. Likely not the best line in that moment. At least not for making a new friend in the business world. In the same respect – to be interrupted and advised on a figure of speech that is as common place as “I” seemed completely misplaced.

What do you think? Heavy implications in the way of – window into the character of a person? Or, a little far-reaching?

Your to be honest (aka: I don’t really know but here is what I think) multifamily maniac,


What it’s all About

Property Management is about the people, people, people.

One of my absolute favorite things to do in the multifamily business is visit site teams. In my head, it’s what it’s all about. You’ve read it here a million times. Organizations are put in place to serve the people who serve it. And getting out to see the teams is front and center in that proposition.

Cherry Hills 

There is an old axiom in real estate – location, location, location. I would posit a new axiom – people, people, people. For some it’s the tough stuff. The touchy feely soft side of business that you can’t capture on a spreadsheet. It is the part of the business that I love.

We manage a property in Edwardsville, Illinois called Cherry Hills. It’s made up of five unique properties ranging in size from 32 units up to 100 units. The market has been hit by overbuilding and lagging unemployment. It’s been really tough to say the least. But this team is all over it. They are getting their lemonade out of the lemons so to speak.

And, here is what I mean by that – love the simple stuff…


Apartment marketing leasing goals

Apartment leasing, Apartment goals, multifamily marketing

Apartment marketing, apartment leasing, leasing and marketing apartments

Apartment Motivation

I will never forget the day (thumb and first finger held millimeters away from each other) that I was that close to my supervisor having to make a tough call.

Listening to Michael Tolcher tonight and thinking hard about a the lead stanza of his song – Sooner or Later. Under the premise of motivation – give this a read/listen:

Pull the hair back from your eyes
Let the people see your pretty face
Try not to say anything weird

Save your questions without answers
‘Til your old enough to know that things ain’t as they appeared

Before you go out in the sun
Cover your skin and don’t get burned
Beware the cancer, it might kill you when you’re old

Be first in line, raise your hand
Remember everything you hear
And playing in the rain is worth catching cold

mbrewer, mike brewer, butting heads in property management

Apartment Maniacs – The Point Is

The apartment management world is plenty full of people who will tell you what to do. And it is plenty full of people who will sit back and take it. Are you one of the sit back and wait for what people have to say kind? Are you one that learns the hard way. Or are you one of the try like hell, never sit still, over the top, drive everyone around you crazy to the point that they finally believe in the flavor of the punch you are drinking types?

The multifamily space is no different from any other business in the world. And odds are pretty good that the person tasked with leading you is no more sure of him or herself than you are. They just have a higher level of responsibility. But lead they will not if they don’t know what they are doing. It the best parts of those who think they are leading with no one following are only taking a walk kind of stuff.

I will never forget the day (thumb and first finger held millimeters away from each other) that I was that close to my supervisor having to make a tough call. A call that would have put me on the downside of my career. Why? He and I did not view the world the same way.It was the proverbial butting of heads. In his mind it was a defining moment. In mine – (youthful arrogance included) it was a wild waste of time.

Did I shift? No way on gods green earth. I knew in my heart of hearts what I was after. No deviation. No compromise. And no chance did I run down a road that I didn’t believe in.

What happened? We took 750+ units to 98.8% occupancy and less than 2 percent left to lease. And rent bumps of $100+ in some cases. Some would posit that the economy took over and I would posit back that someone had to lead the team.

Now I am under no illusion that I did that myself. But what I’m aware of is that I was relentless in drawing that team together under a premise that was larger than all of us combined. And they believed it. What I smile about to this day is that the other guy didn’t.

That Guy

He was that guy in Michael’s song that worried about me saying something weird or not putting my sunblock on before I went outside.

My lead for him and for you – playing in the rain is worth getting wet! Do it often Do it tomorrow.

Make this year your #gameon year – exclamation points included (for those that rest on the proper use of such endings – a life based on emotion and expressing is it liberating)!

Your encouraging and granting you permission to speak freely multifamily maniac,


We Care

How do We Care? How do You Care?

How can we show that – We Care:Smile and you will make more sales

1. Sweep your crib lines – every curb line

2. Paint your curbs – all cribs that have or need paint

3. Blow off your sidewalks and entry ways daily – all sidewalks

4. Power wash sidewalks and entry ways weekly – except in the winter months where there is a chance for freezing (don’t want to create a slip and fall situation)

5. Vacuum all common area carpets daily

6. Use smell good stuff in the common areas – daily

7. Conduct a ‘road map’ meeting every morning

8. Answer on the third ring – every time

9. Stand and greet everyone – vendors included

10. Smile

Your remembering that the smallest details have the biggest impacts multifamily maniac,


Apartment Budget Time Suck

#2012 questions, Apartment Marketing Questions

Ah! With budget season coming to an end, it will feel good to ease my way back into the blogging world. It’s been way too long. So, if I am rusty with words and concepts bear with me.

To kick it off, I have decided to start and ongoing series dedicated to questions that I ask myself throughout the course of any given year.

The subject matter will be all over the place but central to the ongoing operations of an apartment management business.

I hope to keep the posts brief and to the point [200 words+/-].

With that, let’s see how it goes…

To start: What do you do to streamline your budget process?

Every year from September until the later parts of December we nearly stall our home office operation to write our property operating budgets. To me it is one of those necessary evils of doing business. That is to suggest that the end product is a well thought through playbook for not only the year to come but the ten to twelve years beyond that.  As such, it demands prudence in its preparation. But, what suffers?

Nearly all the fundamentals get the semi-thoughtful but certainly not mindful once over review. Everything is surface and there is little time to dig in to the really important stuff. In all fairness this year was the best one on record. That said, we are always looking to approve.

Would love to hear your feedback on the subject.

Trusting you will have an amazing 2012.





#apartmentmarketing: Clarity

Clarity trumps persuasion. – Dr. Flint McGlaughlin

I have written about the subjects of brevity and clarity on a number of occasions. The concept came to me from a senior leader at Equity Residential some years ago and has stuck with me ever since. At the time I had the propensity to provide reports that were beyond the time necessary to digest them and I had the knack of going on and on in my descriptions of strategies and results. That is despite all the customary body language queues that would have guided me otherwise; had I been paying attention to them.

Principle: Brevity and Clarity

When thinking about apartment marketing, exercise the principle of brevity and clarity in your print ad copy, website copy, brochure offerings [if you still do this sort of thing], Facebook posting, blog posting and the such.

It’s not sage or unique advice but nevertheless a good reminder; we live in an attention economy. As such, we have to be compelling in our remarks and mindful of the clarity in our brevity.


#apartmentmarketing: Blog Format Question

..should apartment marketers truncate their blog post offerings?

Short and sweet today –

One of my favorite blogs, one I read everyday without fail, is Valeria Maltoni’s – Conversation Agent. First rate content always.

Apartment Blog Trunk

I gave up on RSS feed reading about a year ago as I spend more time in my inbox. Nearly every blog I read is done through Outlook now and as such I give more time and attention to the things I read. In other words, I generally do not skim the headline and move on.

About a month ago Valeria made the decision to truncate her email subscription delivery meaning we only see a portion of the message and are forced to click on a link to see the rest.

Result: I read fewer of Valeria’s material to the end. Sorry Valeria.

I understand the reasons for cited in her Saying it in 200 Characters post  back on Aug 10, 2011.

My question – should apartment marketers truncate their blog post offerings? We are trying it a Mills [Shameless plug – the Mills Blogging Team is Putting a Dent in the #STL market place].

Would love to hear this communities thoughts? And, thank you in advance for taking the time.

Good or Bad Strategy: Kenneth Cole

I really like the Kenneth Cole brand and have been for a long time. There was a stretch of six years where I purchased the same black KC Reaction dress shoes because they were perfect. As of late they shifted a piece of their marketing strategy to include some real hot bed social issues –




I am even more intrigued with their brand as a result…

How about you? Good? Bad? Indifferent?


#apartmentmarketing: Twitter

I was very encouraged to see their use of the medium included push marketing.

The biggest mistake we see companies make when they first hit Twitter is to think about it as a channel to push out information. – Tim O’Reilly & Sarah Milstein – The Twitter Book

For those veterans out there in the media space this seems like a no brain-er but in a world steeped in tradition, it seems like the right thing to do. Take a new medium, insert old practices and principles and voila, we experience success. Except that we don’t.

Apartment Twitter Marketing in Saint Louis

We have Amazing Apts...

Just this week, I followed up some new #STL Twitter handles [new apartment deliveries in the city proper]. I will admit, I was very encouraged to see their use of the medium included push marketing. Special after special, floor plan after floor plan, us – us – us & look at me copy – it all makes me smile inside.

It makes me smile because I don’t think it’s what those who use the space expect or even want to see. In other words, it’s a big turn off and at best it’s ignored and left to rot in a digital dump-ground way off over there in the dark ‘Cloud.’

Not that we at Mills Properties have it all figured out and are knocking it out of the park as a result. That being said, we do seem to experience a ton of participation from the people that work with and for us, the people that they serve in our some fifty properties in the Saint Louis Apartment Market and our coaches and mentors in the multifamily industry. All by using just the opposite approach and all for which we are immensely thankful. We keep experimenting, failing, learning, tweaking, experimenting & thanking those who give us feedback along the way.

Push Marketing on Twitter

Back to the point at hand; is there a time and place where this works? Have we reached that point or are we approaching a time where the masses that frequent Twitter, Facebook and the like expect, heck even desire to see some push marketing for goods and services? 

#apartmentmarketing: Vision

You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new. – Steve Jobs

For the span of my professional life; I have believed in the act of getting your companies vision down on paper. It’s a must in the way of creating a proactive culture as opposed to a culture of reaction. It’s also a way of making sure that you are out ahead of your constituents.

Random thoughts on creating vision

Penned in no particular order and in no exhaustive manner…

– It creates the ‘bigger than self’ that motivates people to get juiced about the work they do. In other words; people in the multifamily space, like people in other industries, want to know they are working on something bigger than anything they could accomplish as an individual. And, they want to know their time is spent in a meaningful way. And, if you are lucky enough, they think it’s cool too

– You spur a proactive approach to all aspects of your business. In the absence of vision people just make it up as they go along. Zig Ziglar sums it up like this; “you can not hit a target you do not have.”

– It sets the stage for future-casting. In other words, you give your team the ability to look out into the future and anticipate, with a good deal of accuracy, what your constituents really want

– You build meaning stuff

– You build tough stuff in an simple and efficient fashion

– It becomes your battle cry

– It is the way in which you imbue an owner’s mentality on the minds of the masses

– It is the way you evaluate talent

– It is the beacon of light when times get tough. And, times will get tough

Would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below

And, thank you for taking the time to read…it means a great deal to us.