Cocktails and Compliance: Episode 3

ResMan’s Affordable Compliance experts, Rue Fox and Janel Ganim, are back with a delicious drink and PropTalk’s latest episode of Cocktails and Compliance! Grab a drink with Rue and Janel as you get all of the Fall updates on the Affordable housing industry. From emergency rental assistance plans and the Average Income Test to supply chain disruption and staffing shortages, you can hear it all right here on PropTalk.

To listen to more episodes of PropTalk, visit https://learn.myresman.com/proptalk/.

Want to make a great cocktail using Skrewball’s Peanut Butter Whiskey?

Here’s one of our favorite Old-Fashioned Peanut Butter Whiskey recipes. You’ll need:

  • Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey
  • Bitters
  • Soda water
  • Large ice cube

Be sure to subscribe for more yummy cocktails and all things on Affordable housing! Have a great Thanksgiving!

PropTalk: Trailblazing Your Way to the Table with Confidence Part 2

PropTalk invites Elizabeth Francisco, President of ResMan, with Jimmy Chestnut, VP of Incore Residential, Antoinette Williams, Regional Vice President at CARROLL, and Sonya Rosenbach, CFO of Allied Orion Group to continue their conversation from FAA. Together, they share helpful insights on how they prepared for senior leadership differently and identify what may be holding you back in your career growth.

To listen to more episodes of PropTalk, visit https://learn.myresman.com/proptalk/.

In-Person Networking: Why Face-to-Face Still Matters in Remote Work, ft. Alison Johnson & Marcie Williams from RKW Residential

Elizabeth Francisco sits down with Alison Johnson, Associate VP of Content and Program Strategy, and Marcie Williams, President of RKW Residential, to discuss in-person events in the workplace. Together they will give insight into the importance of peer-to-peer interactions, the changing climate in multifamily events, and NMHC’s role in bringing operators together again.

To listen to more episodes of PropTalk, visit https://learn.myresman.com/proptalk/.

Marketing for Property Managers – Importance of Effective Marketing, Featuring Tahlor DiCicco

Elizabeth Colina, VP of Marketing Solutions at ResMan & Co-Founder of Razz Interactive, sits down with Tahlor DiCicco, SVP of Marketing at ResMan, to discuss the impact that marketing has on the multifamily industry. This includes the importance of brand equity, marketing budget restriction, internet listing services, and much more!

To listen to more episodes of PropTalk, visit https://learn.myresman.com/proptalk/.

PropTalk: Investment Management in Multifamily – Featuring Reed Goossens, Co-Founder of Wildhorn Capital

PropTalk invites Elizabeth Francisco, President of ResMan, and Josiah Mann, CEO of Investor Deal Room, invited Reed Goossens, Co-Founder of Wildhorn Capital, to discuss how investor management solutions brings multifamily syndicators to their investors, the important considerations to remember when evaluating investor management solutions, and various digital strategies for young investors.

To listen to more episodes of PropTalk, visit https://learn.myresman.com/proptalk/.

PropTalk: Asset Management in Multifamily – Featuring Patrick Duffy, Founder of Tactical Asset Management

PropTalk invites Elizabeth Francisco, President of ResMan, and Josiah Mann, CEO of Investor Deal Room, to sit down with Patrick Duffy, CEO of Tactical Asset Management, to discuss the 2022 budget cycles, investment strategies, and rent collections.

To listen to more episodes of PropTalk, visit https://learn.myresman.com/proptalk/.

PropTalk: Cocktails and Compliance Episode 2

ResMan’s Affordable Compliance experts, Rue Fox and Janel Ganim, are back at it again with the return of PropTalk’s installment of Cocktails and Compliance! Grab a cocktail with Rue and Janel as you listen along about how affordable compliance has evolved in the past year, including the top concerns of management companies, updates on the average income test, and navigating the emergency RA plan.

To listen to more episodes of PropTalk, visit https://learn.myresman.com/proptalk/.

PropTalk: How Tech Empowers Your On-Site Teams, Featuring SightPlan CEO, Terry Danner

Full Transcript

Greg Demski (GD): Welcome to PropTalk, a property management podcast powered by ResMan. I’m Greg Demski, Senior Vice President of Business Development. 

GD: Today we’re excited to have Terry Danner, CEO of SightPlan, and Elizabeth Francisco, President of ResMan, discuss the ways multifamily tech solutions are empowering on-site teams, the partnership between SightPlan and ResMan, and how their backgrounds in the multifamily industry have helped shape their products. 

GD: So, I’d like to introduce Mrs. Elizabeth Francisco, President of ResMan. Elizabeth is known for her high energy and tenacity and has spent the last two decades building a successful career as an operator and a technology provider in the multifamily industry. Mrs. Francisco, who started her career as an on-site leasing agent and worked her way up to the VP of Operations while simultaneously helping to launch ResMan, a property management technology platform. 

Welcome, Elizabeth. 

Elizabeth Francisco (EF): Thank you for having us. 

GD: And Terry Danner, CEO of SightPlan. Terry spent a decade with Trammell Crow Residential Services, where he served as President. He started Riverstone Residential Group in 2006 and ran the company as President and CEO until merging with Greystar in 2014. After two years running US real estate operations in client services for Greystar, Terry brought his thirty years of multifamily experienced to SightPlan. Terry, lots of experience there. 

Terry Danner (TD): Awesome! Great to be here, Greg. 

The Transition from Operators to Suppliers

GD: Thanks for joining us. From your bios, it’s obvious you have a commonality: Operators who moved to the supplier side. So, as an operator, what drew you to the supplier side? 

EF: I like the fact that you said we have a commonality. I think that means we’re both crazy, I don’t know…That’s a huge leap. I don’t know if we’re going to have a read-in about the history of ResMan, but our stories a little bit unique, just on the fact that we never built our products to sell it. We built it in-house to help us navigate the landscape that was changing during the Great Recession. So, I always joke that I fell into the supplier side. I didn’t know that’s where I was going. But as we navigated that situation and ended up getting really good results with our platform, and we decided to take it to market, that’s when I realized what I really got into. 

TD: I mean, both of us have a long history…we’ve got many, many years, you know, Greg, you mentioned 30 there, which is actually probably why I got into doing what I’m doing. In 30 years—and as long as Elizabeth’s been in the industry as well—you learn a lot of things. And then you would take that, and you say, Well, based on what I learned, there’s something I can do with that knowledge. I can provide some solutions. I can better help other individuals.  

And I’m guessing that, you know, based on what you said about ResMan and how that started, the same is true of me. It’s taking what you learned and then trying to say, Hey, I saw gaps, I saw operational shortfalls that needed the proper solutions. And so, you start to work on those. And because you’re so intimate with the industry, because you’ve had that history, it’s easy to turn around and say, OK, I know exactly what I need to do, ’cause I know what the teams need, I know what I need, I know what the rest of my counterparts need. And so, you put that in a solution. 

EF: Yeah. I would agree with that. I think what’s been interesting as I’ve navigated this journey, I’ve seen different tech companies come and go. When you come into the industry for the sole purpose of wanting to position products—and we’re all in this to make a profit but there’s a difference when you’ve actually walked in their shoes. I don’t know if you still do this, but I know in our executive meetings I find myself still saying WE need. Sometimes when I get really excited about a new product or solution, I find myself thinking Oh man, I wish I still had properties. 

TD: But you’re right. There’s a lot of startups in our industry that started because they heard there was a need for a solution, so they said, Well I’m going to develop that solution. But if you don’t understand why the problem existed in the first place, what it really is, what are all of the pieces that are involved in the individuals that are going to interact with that solution, there’s a lot of potential for it to fail. I mean, we know this, a lot of the implementations today involve not just leasing. They involve IT, they involve marketing, they involve a whole host of departments out there. Too many people are focused on one of those groups and not satisfying their broader base of customers. 

EF: Yeah. And I like the fact that you made a point of saying individuals that are affected. The people that use our software and our technology, that’s what’s always drawn me to SightPlan in the very beginning, when we started talking about our partnership in the infancy stage. I was drawn because of the commitment and the passion to the people in this industry. Because, obviously with Joseph’s history and how he came up through the ranks much like I did, I think that’s really important and—who is it? I think it’s Richard Branson that says—As long as you take care of the customer and your end users, the business will always be there. 

TD: When we first started SightPlan, Joseph laid the foundation for a resident service platform along with the resident communication platform on top of that. My joining the company was really to kind of take that and say OK how does it actually fit with the industry? Who is this solving problems for? What is the best solution? And it has to be user friendly at the end of the day. So, when I first finished my multifamily operations career, Terry Danner 2.0 was then focused on going back and trying to close some of those operational gaps that I saw. I mean, you spend a lot of time in the industry. You learn a lot of things and you say, Well, how can I now help the industry? How can I solve some of these problems?  

So, I had that multifamily background. I then, at that point, teamed up with Joseph Westlake, an ex-Microsoft exec. Also had a family history in the multifamily business. I knew what I wanted. Joseph had started along that path and so that partnership, with the teamwork of both of us saying, Hey, I know what the operators want—at least I think they do—and I know that you have the wherewithal to solve this because you’ve got the engineering team that can make it happen. This could be a great partnership. And so we teamed up and now here we are five years later. SightPlan has just had phenomenal growth over those five years and I’d like to think we’re an industry leader at this point and we’ve closed a lot of those operational gaps that I first experienced. 

EF: Has it really been five years? 

TD: It’s amazing how time flies. Yes, it has.  

EF: I remember the very first time I ever was introduced to SightPlan, which you know was before you were there. But I’m really thankful that you did decide to solve this gap because it provided an opportunity for us to work together. So, I really have appreciated getting to know you over the years. 

TD:  Yeah, it’s interesting. I mean a lot of people say, Why did you make the switch? Because this says a lot about the multifamily industry in general, is that there’s a lot of great people. There’s a lot of great experiences that are out there. I had a phenomenal experience on the operation side for 25+ years and I worked with a lot of great supplier partners during those years. So, the opportunity, I guess, to broaden myself, to continue to challenge myself and experience everything the multifamily business has to offer, I mean, it’s been rewarding. I have no regrets about the change. 

EF: Well, you started when you were really young, so you definitely were not done yet. 

TD: I don’t know about that, but I appreciate the thought. The solutions that we’ve got right now far exceeded what I ever envisioned when I started. And most of those gaps that I saw, I would say that we’ve closed a lot of them. But the good news is that as our customer base grows, we’re getting a lot of new ideas on how to continue to move the product forward. Just as I’m sure you are at ResMan. I mean, you know, you thought you knew exactly what needed to be done, but your customers are now telling you, Hey, how about if you did this, how about if you did that? And to me, that’s success in the industry, if you’re listening to that customer base and you’re adapting your product. 

EF: Yeah, I totally agree with that. One of the things I’ve always said, if you are willing to listen, the customers will tell you what you need to be successful. 

TD: Doesn’t necessarily make a successful business, like you said. I mean, at the end of the day, still, somebody has to buy it, somebody has to pay for it. And usually that happens if you meet a need— 

 EF: Yes, if you’re solving some pain. 

GD: And there’s a fine balance of listening to your customers and being able to translate that to your product in your software offering. 

EF: Yes.  

TD: Oh, just look at it now. If you could go to Apartmentalize, and you could see in any given area, I’ll use virtual leasing, 24/7 leasing, which pre-COVID, had a lot of players in it. And a lot of them fell by the wayside because they really didn’t deliver the ideal solution. You would think that it would be relatively simple to say, OK I understand what the problem is here and what I’m trying to do.  

But to deliver a solution oftentimes isn’t as easy as you think it would be. Yeah, it is not just necessary about the solution, it’s about the backing. It’s about the customers and getting them on board and embracing them and serving them, as you mentioned. ‘Cause if customers don’t stick with you, if they are not a part of the process of getting you to where you ultimately could be, you’re probably going to fail. 

EF: Yeah. One of the things that was interesting about what you just said about leasing 24/7, it was well on its way before COVID happened, but I think where the industry was lacking was—it’s kind of a different subject—but I think this is where your products shine: It’s not losing sight of the true end user, the consumer, which is the renter, the resident. And I think a lot of these technology offerings—and even when we first started—you’re just thinking about, What is the process and how do I take it online?  

But I always say all of our customers and their customers, they’re all being trained by companies like Amazon and Netflix and we were not adjusting in any regard. And I think it’s funny, as we started having these conversations internally about What’s the resident experience that B2C really needs to look like, then that naturally falls back into the people that are in the offices and the maintenance teams. Well, they’re online users, too. They are also being trained by these other big technology providers out in the consumer space, so why shouldn’t we be taking that same approach with them? And that’s where I think—hopefully you agree—we both do a good job of trying to take care of the B2C and the B2B. 

TD: Oh, yeah, no, absolutely. I mean, when we started SightPlan—and I talk about kind of closing those gaps—realize I was in corporate leadership in the operation side, at that point, and I saw a lot of gaps there. But what I saw in the Back to Work Series, and what I really experienced over my career, are a lot of those issues at the site level itself. And you know this, when you implement anything, if the site doesn’t buy into it, it is not going to happen.  

EF: Yep! 

TD: So, our first goal was to develop a solution that worked for the site team. Particularly when we got into business, I mean, most of the technology was focused on leasing. If you think about Y2K, for those who have been around that long, it was all about the leasing side, the prospect side, and we went technology crazy— 

EF: And forgot about our service providers. 

TD: Well, we did, but I think there were limitations that caused us to do that. One being you needed to have smartphones in the hands of your on-site team members. You weren’t going to do a lot of things with a flip phone, or you could have said Well, we’re going to give iPads or computers. That’s not really practical. And even then, with smartphones, you needed unlimited data plans, and you had to have a willingness for them to use your devices.  

So, there was, I don’t know if it was a perfect storm necessarily, but 5-6 years ago, things started to come to a head where you could actually put mobile solutions in the hands of the on-site team members. So, realize that nothing was going to occur unless you put something in their hands that was what they wanted to use. Everything else is secondary. And you can use those elements later, once your teams are actually adopting, using, pushing forward, to do a lot of the things that help them perform, make them more efficient. And with that thing comes a whole second subset of information, but that’s the precursor. That’s the foundation. 

Importance of Empowering On-site Teams Through Technology

GD: So, as your technology supplier today in the multifamily industry, why is it so important to not only deliver solutions that empower the on-site teams but to constantly innovate on that technology? Terry? 

TD: One of the things that I found in the Back to Work Series is that on-site team members want technology, yet there’s a disconnect because oftentimes corporate will tell you, You know we just can’t shove too many things on the sites or they go nuts. So, I would say there’s somewhat of a disconnect there, ’cause I think the on-site team members, particularly in maintenance, which is what we’re talking about here, is kind of a new frontier in mobility. They want these tools, but nobody really delivers the perfect tool first time out. We didn’t, either. You know. It goes back to the service level. You’re talking about the communication channels that you have to say OK I know what you need from a basic standpoint, but now let’s talk about all these other things

EF: Yep! The devil’s in the details. 

TD: It is! And, you know, as much as we thought we got all the details, right, I mean, people start coming up with all kinds of ideas: Well, it’s got to be in Spanish, and oh, we’ve got to be able to communicate effectively with one another, not just with residents. Oh, by the way, we don’t really have anything in assets, so let’s do something in assets. Oh, wait a minute, people are going to have to follow tasks, let’s do that too. It’s like, Wait a minute! I thought it was as simple as you got assigned a task, you did the task, life moved on. And that’s not the case at all. 

EF: No, I can completely relate to that, given the scope and the breadth of our solution. Yes. I imagine our backlogs or our enhancements are pretty lengthy at times. I know they were for us in the beginning. 

TD: Yeah. And to your point, Greg, this is what people expect. They expect that a solution is going to come up, it’s not going to be perfect, but in our industry, there are people who are willing to share, to communicate. They have ideas, There’s no lack of ideas, and there’s no lack of communication among people in the multifamily industry. It’s just people delivering the right tools to them. 

EF: Yeah. And I think what you said about the need to constantly innovate, when we bring new people into the company and they join our teams—fortunately, I get to spend some time with them—and one of the first things I try to do when they’re new to this industry is really share with them how much of the industry is built on the backs of the frontline team members, from maintenance to the end office staff.  

And you know, we can talk a lot about what we need at the back office in the corporate office, but in reality, it’s what’s happening out there day-in and day-out for the people that really support this industry. And all of us, including us on the supplier side, are beholden to. Because if they’re not doing their jobs and they’re not empowered to do what they need to do to be effective, which gives them the bandwidth and the financial resources to weather the tough storms like we just went through, that’s an important aspect of this.  

And it’s important to us and I know it is to you, too, because that’s where we really make the difference. And then everybody wins. You empower the frontline teams to be their very best, to have that pride and feel empowered on-site. Then they do amazing things and, in turn, the leadership achieves their goals, the investors achieve their goals. So that’s always been a really important aspect for us. 

TD: Yeah, developers would say that the value is created in the quality of the product that they deliver, and that is certainly true. And then the other piece of that is that it’s created in the interaction, those touch points between the staff and the residents. Because that’s the experience. Yes, you’ve got a product, but then you’ve got the experience after that, so it’s how do I perfect that experience? 

EF: Uh huh. We were just talking about that on the way here. One of one of our coworkers, Angie, and I were talking about that on the drive in about the experience. And she was saying Sometimes we lose sight of this, but this industry is unique. We don’t sell tennis shoes. We don’t sell cars. We basically put people in homes. So, you’re exactly right. Experience matters. 

TD: I use this comment when thinking about property operations, generally, I would say that people are the happiest the day they move in, right? They believe that the service is going to be as good as it possibly can be, because they’ve chosen you, your property, among other competitors. They like the product better than anything else. So, at that point, is it only the expectation that things could get worse to them? Yes, I think the really good teams can raise the expectations, can make them happier during that stay, ’cause I also think that a lot of people come into a multifamily environment without the expectations.  

And I think we saw that in COVID. Communication was so key. The industry was really behind in the tools that it needed to communicate with its residents, and you saw in the Texas freeze, right, you and I both here in Texas, I have three kids that are in apartments. During the Texas freeze, at no point did management ever communicate with any of my children to keep them informed of what was going on at the community. At my son’s community, the community was without power for three consecutive days—  

EF: Oh my God. 

TD: And at no point did he ever receive anything from the office that indicated, Hey we’re aware of the situation, here’s what we’re doing, any of that. 

So, those are some of those pitfalls that we’ve got to find the tools to solve. And it’s sad to think that we’ve been in the industry this long and those types of things still exist. 

EF: Oh yeah. This probably isn’t the conversation for that—at a later PropTalk we can talk about the leasing experience that I helped my son just go through in downtown Dallas, which was the most shocking leasing experience. I never would have thought that would have been possible given the last 12 months. I would have expected especially lease-ups to be at the top of their game. But yeah, there were a few phone calls we were making afterwards. 

TD: What I do think is important in our conversation is really to talk about the relatively slow adoption of tech of any type. A lot of times, we’re either so embroiled in our day-to-day or we just say, Well, you know we can’t deploy too many things at one time, so we put a lot of things on the back burner when there are actually a lot of tools out there that can actually help you. 

EF: And make a difference. 

TD: Yeah, there may be a little upfront pain in doing it, but in the long run, it’s the right thing to do. And I think our industry has been slower than other industries and maybe a little less willing to push the envelope a little bit. 

EF: No, I completely agree. But do you think that, from what I’m hearing the last 12 months since we entered into the pandemic, it does seem like we have put the throttle down on adopting technology. Now, whether everyone adopted the right technology, because it seemed like now there was a mad rush. Did you guys experience that? 

TD: Well, I saw that in the Back to Work Series, ’cause I was out and about, I went to 15 cities around the country and spent most of my time at the site level. They were highly energized during this pandemic, which is surprising. I mean, they’re also overworked, they’re busy, and life is changing around them. But at the same time, I saw great adaptation on their part. At the end of the day, they have a desire to help the residents. I think that’s what we see, most of the people on-site, is they want to help the residents. They want to do everything they possibly can. And we saw great things in the pandemic, whether they were forced to or whether they realized, Hey I’ve gotta start using some of this technology to help me in what I’m doing. And as a result of that, we emerged from this a much more receptive group to technology. 

EF: Yeah, tech-forward. What’s interesting is, as we were also having different thought leadership and brainstorming sessions, I was surprised that there are still a percentage of PMCs out there—property management companies—that maybe didn’t get on the bandwagon, they weren’t moving fast enough. And, as the country started to open up in different parts of the country, especially the Sunbelt, they were quicker to fall back into routines and old habits, whereas I would have thought, OK now is the time to evaluate technology. And we’re having some of those conversations, but I was surprised to see that as people don’t like to let go of old habits, there is a percentage of people that really just were like, OK, we just want back to normal and It was OK for us before, but at least we know this. I don’t know if you have come across any of them. 

TD: No, you know I think that’s certainly true. I would say it’s a temporary blip, because I gotta believe that at the end of the day, it’s still a competitive environment. 

EF: Yes. 

TD: So, whether you’re in the third-party business or whether you’re just flat out competing for renters and you’ve got to up your game—a lot of people during the pandemic upped their game. So, those that are the laggards are going to have to step up and catch up. I don’t know that there is a new normal that’s at that kind of, I’ll call it, lower level or pre-pandemic level. I think we’ve set a new bar. 

EF: Yeah, I agree with you. 

How to Help On-site Teams Adapt New Technology

GD: With the constant change and innovation that suppliers like ourselves are doing each day, what can we do a better job of in assisting the on-site staff in adopting that technology? 

EF: Well, it’s interesting, I was working on something; I have a deck about what does it take to navigate your career? And one of my slides—I literally just worked on this last night—was about becoming a change champion. I think there’s a messaging internally that, as you’re looking to adopt new technology, you’ve got to find some advocates, get people engaged in the conversation. We see, at least at our level, a lot of the top-level executives, high-level decision makers and influencers that make the decision for our platform.  

But at the end of the day, the majority of people using our platform day-in and day-out, the actual time in the platform, is by the frontline team. So, getting them engaged and getting them to understand before they’re sitting in the first training environment, to understand how does it benefit them? What is their return on expectations for them? How is their workday going to get better? And I think if you can start having those conversations earlier on and find those people who are excited and get them to be the change champion and lead that internally. 

GD: Terry, at SightPlan what are you guys doing to really help that adoption on the on-site? When a new owner rolls out your software and you’re constantly enhancing it, making improvements as you go, what are the things that suppliers can do a better job of to ensuring that we get the engagement on-site, but also keep them constantly up to date with the changes? 

TD: Yeah, well, you have to deliver a holistic solution right? It’s not just about the product. So for us, we could talk all day long about the product and say, Well, you’re getting the feedback, you’re adapting the product to the needs, you’re hearing their thoughts about how they want you to advance the product, so you’ve got that piece.  

But we talked earlier about the slow adoption, of corporate saying, basically, My sites can’t absorb any more information. And that’s probably, certainly not only, but it’s the results, oftentimes, of poor implementations. Either poor from the corporate perspective or poor from the supplier perspective. And a successful implementation has to be people first understanding what it is they’re going to be adopting here. I mean, you don’t just throw something at a user without them understanding what I’m going to use, how I’m going to use it, how it’s going to be supported. And then you actually have to do that, to live it.  

So, with us, we have a customer success team that will take most of that heavy lifting off of you. We provide all of the training. We do it live, because we want people to ask questions. It’s an opportunity to engage. But then we also record those trainings so that anytime—we know the multifamily world is busy right? If you try to schedule a training class at a certain time, half the people may get to show up—but record those trainings and store them. Have them available so those folks can listen to them at their leisure.  

But then, on an on-going basis, it’s, How are they engaged with the product? So, we have an engagement manager who monitors whether teams are actually using it or are they just, Corporate said ‘oh, do this,’ but then they’re not really using it? And so, we want to work with individuals, whether it be corporate or whether it be site teams, to say, Hey are your people really engaged? And if they’re not engaged, how do we get them engaged? What areas could they even advance more?  

There’s one thing to use the product. There’s another to use it to its fullest. I think a lot of times when people use something, they use 20% of its potential. We’re trying to work to get somebody to use 100% of the potential. But then on an ongoing basis, I mean, I would hope, that people are continuing to advance their product. But then, when you advance it, how do you communicate to folks on what you did to actually advance the product and why you advanced it? Oftentimes it’s—in our case—it’s a What’s New? webinar. So, every month we do a What’s New? webinar for the customers that talks about those specific releases that we just released this month and what’s coming in the next 30 days that will enhance their experience. 

EF: Yeah, I would agree. It’s funny, I took it from the operator side, but I think it’s important about the feedback in that constant communication, about How is the technology being utilized? So, for us, we have a layer that we put on our software that shows us engagement. We can see how people click through things and how they interact with it. But what do you deal with that afterwards? How do you circle back around?  

I know one of the challenges we’ve had is, because of the magnitude and sophistication level that we’ve gotten to within the platform, we have customers who have been with us since we started in 2013. And there has been quite a bit of an evolution to the solution and the products. And they struggle. So, we’re having to go back and set up the time to revisit with them. Here’s everything. Here’s what we’ve done, here’s what you might have missed, even if it was a while back. And You may have missed this, but this would enhance your work experience or would help you with your efficiencies.  

But I know that it’s one of those challenges and I think when we get the chance to talk with our customers, truly, they just get so nailed down, so you have to provide the knowledge, the training, it’s got to meet them where they live. They have to have the opportunity to train and educate themselves when they can. 

TD: We talk about the supplier/manager relationship as a partnership, right? Well, that partnership isn’t just about, Hey, here’s an engagement score or Hey, here’s some data. It’s How do I take that and how do I change my business? What’s the benefit of this data?  

You know, oftentimes you can do data overload. You could be the best at providing data, but if somebody is not using it, interpreting it, and growing their business as a result of the data, then you failed. 

EF: Yeah, I agree. 

The Collaboration Between Different Software Service Providers

GD: Let’s switch gears a little bit and let’s talk about the importance of working with other software service providers, and what does that really mean to the on-site operators? For example, Elizabeth, at ResMan we’ve got 120 different integration partners that we work with, but tell us what that means to the operator in that experience? 

EF: You could say that’s the original can of worms, if you will, that I opened up. Because we started down this path and we were just evaluating what we could bring to market. Well, we were able to develop in-house with ReMan’s core solution. And then we had things that we needed to solve for. As we were considering how we were going to approach the market, one thing that really stayed with us and was a key part of this decision was during the recession—the Great Recession, as we call it now—there were so many suppliers that stepped up in this industry and they stepped up for us in our management company. And they were exactly what you would hope you would have with a supplier partner: A partner.  

And so, when we were looking at launching the software, we were learning about the space, and we were hearing our early adopters really voice their frustrations about what they wanted—which is what they thought was best for their business—and finding that there was obstacle after obstacle in the property management platform and software space with the legacy providers. To me, I just couldn’t fathom being told what I had to use to run my business by somebody who’s not invested in my business.  

And that’s really where the foundation started in the original vision for us. I can tell you it definitely snowballed quickly, because we definitely want to stay an open and connected platform. It is important to us. It is part of the founding vision and that is, if we truly are a growth partner, we want our customers and our base to be able to utilize the supplier partners that they think are going to be the best for their business.  

But with that, we also want to develop new technologies. We have great insight and we want to be able to position those, but I think it should be a level playing field. And it’s about a healthy competitive landscape and being able to win the business because it’s the best solution. And not necessarily having to put up the barbed wire fences to guide your business and grow your business. You should grow the adoption of your products because they are the best that they can be, and they do work and the customers see value in them. 

TD: You know, we had one of our investors say early on to us, Do what you do and make sure it’s the best that there is out there, and have customers rave about your product. And that’s always been in the back of my mind, because over the years now, people have said, Oh, with your product you could extend it and do this, or you can do this, or you should branch into this, or this is related to what you’re doing, why don’t you do this?  

And the problem is, then you dilute what you’re really good at. And part of what ResMan is trying to achieve, and others out there as well, and I think what people in the industry generally appreciate is, they all want to do the best. And to do that you need to have partners that are focused on being the best in that area, ‘cause you can’t be the best at everything, right? If we’d branched out and done some other stuff, we weren’t going to be the best at it, ’cause you can’t be the best at everything. 

EF: The face of innovation is an obstacle in and of itself, right? That’s why you have to focus. Keyword there, focus. 

TD: You know, our industry is so collaborative and people are willing to work together. I mean, heck, in our industry, at times competitors work with other competitors. And I think that’s what’s great about our industry, because we can do that. We can all succeed if we cooperate in that way. And so, yeah, there’s collaboration. Not just, certainly the collaboration we have with you and the other property management softwares out there as well, but now we have a number of other groups that come to us and say Hey SightPlan, we would really like to interact with your product. And so, we have this open-API philosophy, as you all do with your structure. And that just helps tie us all together. 

If you think about it, at the end of the day, take an individual site, and you think about who’s doing the work on the site? Well, there are the site team members that work there, but you think of all the suppliers they bring in to get the work done: the landscaper, the turnkey companies, the marketing companies that are bringing in the traffic. I mean, it’s a whole host of suppliers and you’ve got to get them working well with one another, talking to one another. Because if you can get an efficient infrastructure of suppliers that are all working together, then your community can outperform all the other groups. So, there has to be some degree of cooperation between the suppliers that are working on the site, not just the property management software, but lots of groups. I mean, in our case now, we’re interacting with other supplier partners. We can bring in your landscaper or your turnkey company to do work on the property, to improve those channels of communication. That’s just one way. We’ve got lots of ways, but that’s just one way you’re saying, Hey we’re not going to do those things, but we’re going to help you do those things better. 

EF: Right. Yes. And that’s an important part. And especially over this last year, as people were looking to adopt technology quickly, having platforms like ourselves that are open and—luckily for us, we do have so many integration partners already set up within our platform—then it was just simply making the request and being able to activate things that were already integrated into ResMan, so that’s been an important part, too. 

TD: And that philosophy, at the end of the day, will help people realize, Hey the platform that we have is really what we want or what we should desire. I mean, I can’t take a group that has a bunch of substandard products out there and an unwillingness to work with others and have the ultimate best solution for my site. 

EF: Yes. And it’s going to be a great window of opportunity for the industry. If I still had assets—I don’t know if you fantasize about that; they tell me there’s therapy for this, but I haven’t taken it yet—but there’s this opportunity. We’re coming out of the pandemic, because we as an industry didn’t see the downfall that we thought we would. And the stimulus really did help protect the industry in rental housing.  

But now, as we’re looking at how do we grow our margins? Where’s that rent growth going to go? I think the technology is a competitive landscape because they are still in the high occupancies. I think I saw in our database, we’re looking at 93…94% across the board 

TD: The industry’s roared back. 

EF: Oh yeah. I would even say, we’re kind of even just a shuffle back, because we really, being part of the ______ rent tracker, we didn’t see…there are parts of the country that they really suffered. And I don’t want to take away from that, but I think as people are getting back and they’re looking at business as usual, they want to make the most of these assets. They probably have some investors that are hounding them about, Well let’s make up the lost margins from last year, and technology is an important part of optimizing your business. 

TD: It is. And the whole pandemic has broadened our minds to technology in general and the willingness to try some new things. One of the things that we’re seeing out of this pandemic, and SightPlan was built with this capability, is if you want to operate properties, they don’t have to be individual silos unto themselves. There are limitations that have prevented us from cross-utilizing resources across multiple properties in a geography. You know, I was in the third-party world and a lot of those were created by the fact that you were dealing with third-party owners. But now we have the capability to say, Hey there are new models out there where we can share resources across properties and we can properly allocate costs. And now you see people a little more receptive to new concepts. 

EF: Yes, and I think just to add to that is the shortage of labor. The industry was already struggling. I mean, every session I would seem to go to, every conference was talking about What can we do as an industry to attract talent, especially in the maintenance and technician side of the business? And when you don’t have enough resources, you have to share resources between properties. So, I think this has been a long time coming. And I know that you have a great platform that helps do that. And we have a great platform that supports your platform doing that. 

TD: I totally agree. Well said. 

GD: Alright. Well, Terry, Elizabeth, thank you very much. It’s been great hearing from both of you and your experiences from not only the Operator, but from the new hats that you wear. And the innovation and technology that you’re bringing to the multifamily space is so valuable and so needed. And you two are a classic pair, to say the least. So, thank you again. 

And for those who want to learn more about SightPlan and ResMan, visit our website and social media pages. You can get links to both ResMan and SightPlan’s websites in the episode descriptions. For more multifamily industry news and insights, be sure to subscribe to PropTalk on your favorite podcast platform. Thanks for listening. 

EF: Thank you, everyone. Thanks, Terry! 

PropTalk: Cocktails and Compliance Episode 1

Janel Ganim (JG):  Hi! Welcome to Cocktails & Compliance, a special series on affordable housing compliance from PropTalk, powered by ResMan. I’m Janel Ganum. With me today is Rue Fox.

Rue Fox (RF):  Hi, everybody. Welcome to the show. We hope you enjoy it. This is actually a little bit of a reboot from a prior podcast series Janel and I were doing a couple of years ago, and there’s a few things that have happened since then. Most notably bringing Janel to the team. We’re super excited to have her be a part of the ResMan family. Today she leads all of our product initiatives, especially around Affordable Housing, and so we’re super happy to have her here. So, welcome Janel and welcome all of our listeners out there.

One of the first things that we probably want to do to kick this off — and feel free to jump in at any time, Janel — is we really want to say thank you, most heartfelt thanks to all of the workers out there in affordable housing — and in fact, all of multifamily — for all of the work that you guys have put in this year. I know that this could not have been easy for you, and I know as someone that lives at a multifamily property, I’m eternally grateful that everybody has stayed with it and continues to do everything they can to make housing safe and be a good place for people to live.

JG:  Yeah, 100% Rue. Rue and I are very active in the industry. We hear a lot from people in the industry, as well. We know this last year has been quite a challenge and, again, so thankful for what you guys do. I know it’s been a rough year. You have a tough job, anyway, right? And this last year has been just quite a challenge. So, that’s part of what we want to talk about today, too. And we’ll kick that off here in just a minute. But as we said this is Cocktails and Compliance which means …

RF: There’s cocktails.

JG:   Gotta talk about our cocktail of the day.

RF: Absolutely.

JG:  So this one is a little bit fun. You may have heard us on our previous podcast talk about NAHMA. Rue and I have been members of NAHMA for very long time and one of our favorite things at the NAHMA fall conference is an auction that happens for the Education Foundation. And that is a wonderful organization that awards scholarships to residents of Affordable Housing properties. And at these meetings, there’s usually a former scholarship recipient that comes and speaks and talks about how their life has changed as a result of having that money and being able to go to college and further their career. And it’s always inspiring. Not going to lie, there’s usually some tears.

RF: Talk about tugging at your heartstrings, for sure.

JG:  Man, for sure.

RF: A really feel-good time.

JG:  It is, and it happens once a year. So, this past year, because it had to be done virtually, what we did was a big silent auction. So, it’s probably going to come as no surprise to you that Rue and I bid on wine; there were several wine baskets to choose from. I’m not embarrassed to admit I won the biggest one, and Rue won one, as well. I chalked mine up to hey I needed some extra around for when I’m entertaining.

RF: She overbid me.

JG:  I bid on a different basket, for the record.

My basket had — we’ll just call it a selection — of wines that were from California. And it was sponsored by, I think AMHA NCH, who is in Northern California, where there’s some wonderful vineyards. So today we have, I’m going to call it our NAHMA wine, it is Hopson Estate. It’s a Cabernet Sauvignon. We’ve just cracked it open. Believe it or not, we actually haven’t started drinking, yet but …

RF: We’re about to.

JG:  We’re about to. So, cheers to NAHMA, cheers to their ad foundation, cheers to—

RF: Resman.

JG: Cheers to Resman. I’m super happy to be here, as Rue said. I’ve previously been a guest speaker, now I guess I’m just a regular speaker, but super excited and, again, for those of you that don’t know, Rue and I have known each other for a really long time. We joke that we’re a package deal now. This is the fourth time we’ve worked together, all in the multifamily industry, as well.

So, I was happy to sit and have some cocktails with Rue. It may or may not be a regular occurrence with us, but anyway, happy to be here and so happy to get this kickstarted again. And thank you to the marketing team at ResMan for doing this. Super excited to watch this whole PropTalk series and looking forward to that.

2020 Trends

JG:  So, one of the things that we wanted to catch you up on is what’s happened since our last podcast.

RF: Only about two years ago, so, yeah, not a lot.

JG:  Yeah, I mean, nothing’s really happened like the last year, 2020. I don’t remember it, but a lot has happened—

RF: A lot has happened in the last couple years, for sure.

JG:  A lot has happened for sure. Obviously, there was the year that was, 2020, and COVID, and the pandemic, but—

RF: Was it really a year that was? I think it was more a year that wasn’t.

JG:  Yeah, it was, it was crazy. We probably won’t speak of it again. But one of the things that we were talking about in our last podcast—pre-COVID—was Electronic Signatures, which I’m super passionate about, and TRACS 203. And if I recall, I was joking that we had delayed the TRACS 203a release for so long that even though we’ve been talking about Electronic Signatures for what feels like 72 years, I said Electronic Signatures is going to get approved before TRACS 203a. And lo and behold, since we’ve last chatted with you, Electronic Signatures did get approved. That happened in April of 2020.

RF: I think you had insider information, you wrote the proposal.

JG:  I wish I had insider information. If I did, I would have gotten that thing out a lot faster ’cause we submitted it a year prior to that. But anyway, and you know we kind of joked it took a hurricane to kick start it. Well, apparently it took a pandemic to get that thing through and get it finalized but—

RF: Well, and also, an important part of Electronic Signature is the ability to be able to store documents electronically. Let’s not forget about that.

JG:  That’s true. That’s a big, big initiative for Affordable Housing, for sure. That’s true and I’m glad you pointed that out, because it did originally start as e-signature and then it became electronic signature, electronic storage and electronic transmission of documents, as well. So, if you think about the case of a property selling and you want to be able to transfer those documents from one management company or one owner to another, that got included into the notice as well, which was exciting to see. But you’re absolutely right. The electronic storage piece of that is key.

RF: That means you know you don’t have to chop down any more trees to create a resident file.

JG:  For sure, and you think about keeping those files, and as long as you have to keep them, and you think about, from a HUD perspective, your HAP request, having to keep a wet signature version or copy of that and having to keep that for so many years. And God forbid, you do a retroactive gross rent change! You’ve got pages and pages and pages of HAP request. You can now just keep all of that electronically within your software system.

RF: I need to do a shameless plug here, because we are one of the only products out there on the market that have unlimited document storage.

JG:  Alright, I think every time Rue does a shameless plug, we’re going to stop and take a sip.

RF: Oh, it’ll be like the Bob Newhart game.

JG:  There you go. If I know Rue, there’s going to be more shameless plugs just ’cause it means we’re going to stop and sip. Back to Electronic Signatures. So, it did include electronic storage, which is important, and particularly important given the way that last year went, and people moving to more online and more paperless ways of doing business. I do want to just, while we’re at it, I feel like I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about TRACS 203a, for those of you that are just hanging on the edge of your seat. Yeah, that still hasn’t happened.

RF: That’s taken almost as long as Electronic Signatures has.

JG:  I’m almost to the point where I feel like the boy that cried wolf, saying you know we’re going to have this. And everybodyis like, yeah, sure we are.

Almost! We budget time for it, we think about it in terms of road map and making sure that we allocate time to work on it, and I don’t think people believe me anymore.

But it did actually get mentioned at the last NAHMA meeting. There was head staff there that said it was still in progress and still going to happen, but—

RF: There’s also some other functionality there that’s tied into that release that people are waiting for this industry, too.

JG:  Yeah, and a piece of that, that we talked about before, is some changes to the way RAD contracts work, and in terms of some of the calculations and what has to get reported on the HAP request and things like that. So I know that a lot of people are anxiously waiting for that. This feels like déjà vu, ’cause I think the last time we talked about this two years ago, we said OK, we’re waiting on OMB approval of forms. And hey, guess what, guys, that’s the hold-up. We’re still waiting on OMB approval of forms, which, look, in all fairness to HUD, you know, COVID threw them a curve ball, too.

RF: And didn’t we submit a new forms package for approval, or did I dream that?

JG:  No, you didn’t dream it. We did it, we — the industry — submitted a forms package to OMB. We are still waiting on that approval. Again, you know, COVID threw everybody for a loop. HUD is no exception to that rule, because there were suddenly things that they had to issue guidance on and think about, how are we going to handle certain things? So, in all fairness, their focus shifted to answering questions and dealing with things that have come up as part of the pandemic.

RF: Or really anything besides 203a.

JG:  I mean, it kind of feels like it.

RF: It does feel like that a little bit, it does.

JG:  But you know, still waiting. I still budgeted time this year to work on it. We’ll see … it’ll be great if it happens. If not, I don’t know …

RF: How about this? When it does, we’ll be ready for it.

JG:  When it does, we’ll be ready and we will absolutely be talking about it on a future podcast, that’s for darn sure.

RF: Probably, the next five!

JG:  I mean, maybe. Because I’m beginning to think, you know, as much as we introduce our cocktail and talk about all that, I think giving TRACS 203a updates is going to be at the top of the agenda as well as a recurring theme for these podcasts. So, stay tuned, I guess, again—

RF: I think we — do not hold your breath!

JG:  No, no, for goodness sakes, you would have passed out like four years ago. But do stay tuned. When we know, we will be sure and share. We also share on social media at ResMan, we’ve been doing quarterly webinars to talk about what’s going on in the industry and things like that, as well, so stay tuned. We’ll let you know when we know. And who knows when that’s going to be? I feel like I need to place a new bet on whether or not it’s going to happen this year. I’m going to go with no.

 RF: I feel like I need to put in another shameless plug in for ResMan, too, though, ’cause we’ve got a blog. So please be sure that if you’re not subscribed to our resident blog, follow it. We talk about a lot of things, not just compliance. We talk about all things multifamily out there, so, lots of good stuff.

JG:  We do, absolutely. Lots of good stuff, we do absolutely and shameless plug … [sips] I think we really, really just needed to take another sip …

RF: Watch LinkedIn, as well.

JG:  I know that I get a lot of information off of LinkedIn. I follow a lot of different groups and companies. NAHMA, we can plug again. NAHMA posts information, as well, so that’s out there for the industry. Other industry organizations do, too, but we try to share as much of that to as soon as we know. Rue and I personally post, ResMan posts as well, so watch for that. That’s always a great source of information.

RF: Connect with us out there on LinkedIn, too. We’d love for you to do that.

Eviction Moratoriums

RF: Janel, there’s all kinds of other things that we want to talk about too. I’m just going to throw it out there. Let’s talk about the eviction stuff.

JG:  Ooh, yeah, so that’s a lot as a lot to unpack right there. So, one of the things that Rue and I really wanted to focus on, like we said, we feel like we’ve got some catching up to do here. So, one of the things that we wanted to talk about today is what has happened in the last year. How has the industry changed, how have they had to adapt? And while some of it wasn’t super fun, it is interesting to see for us this year … people are now talking about well, post-pandemic, what are we going to keep from that? There are some best practices and some good things that happened as a result of all of this. And Rue and I participate in—I feel like I’m shamelessly plugging NAHMA again—but NAHMA holds calls for their members every Friday where we’ve been able to share experiences: What’s going on? What challenges have we had? Members share information and share best practices. So, it’s been really interesting to watch the industry adapt and deal with all of these, but as we mentioned, eviction moratoriums—interesting.

Early on in the pandemic last year, around the April, May timeframe, everyone really started holding their breath and saying Oh, my gosh, what’s going to happen? What’s the financial status of my property? Am I going to be able to collect rent from my residents? And are they going to be able to pay? And what do I do? And one of the things that I saw that was so interesting, particularly on the Affordable Housing side, is the overwhelming trend of management companies to be proactive and reach out to their residents and say you know what, there may be an eviction moratorium, but that moratorium only applies to non-payment of rent. So if there are other release violations that are happening, those evictions could happen—whether or not those are successful is something we’ll touch on here in a minute but—

RF: That kind of depends on your state. It can kind of go either way, too.

JG:  Yeah, yeah, I agree. And I don’t know how many people are actually pursuing those types of evictions but, again, the focus was really on educating residents and saying you know what, you need to understand this isn’t rent forgiveness. This is just “I can’t evict you right now because you can’t pay,” right? So, I’m making sure that those residents are educated. They understand that it’s not just man, this is great, I don’t have to pay rent for months. It’s really working with those residents to say look, if you’re getting a stimulus check, if you’re getting some additional unemployment benefits, whether it’s an increased amount or an increased duration of that time, use that money to pay your rent or work out a payment plan … or something like that with the residents.

RF: Well, I’ve even seen management companies work with the residents on how to go find that money. Like, what are the sources of rental assistance? And there are sources out there. And from what I hear, there is money out there that hasn’t been used.

JG:  And working on payment plans. So I can say—gosh, I guess it’s my turn now to shamelessly plug ResMan—I know others in the industry did this as well, but putting payment plan functionality into the software to help people in the industry track that information and at least be able to show that you’ve worked out a plan, to be able to track that plan, keep up with what’s going on, what is that resident owe, but to be able to show there is some history of payment has been really good.

But fast forwarding to now and thinking about what is going to happen—although the eviction moratorium just got extended—but management companies are now starting to get concerned about what happens down the road once this is lifted. What if I do have a number of people that need to be evicted and how is this going to work, right?

RF: And does it count as income? And all of those types of things with the rental assistance.

JG:  Right, so that’s been interesting as well. And that’s one of those things where it’s a challenge for the industry, right? What is stimulus money? Is it a onetime thing? Does it count as income, as recurring? What do I do with it? What do I do with the extra unemployment benefits? How do I annualize that benefit? How do I determine the duration of that?

And there really hasn’t been clear guidance. There’s been some, but I would say that it hasn’t been clear. And so, in lieu of clear guidance, you kind of have to go back to the What do I know that’s black and white, right? I count it as income unless it’s specifically on this list of things that are excluded and so, if it’s not on that list and that Exhibit … 5-1? That was a stretch to come up with that.

RF: That’s assets.

JG:  I think 5-2 is assets. 5-1, but look at the exhibits at the end of Chapter 5, as far as what was included in income. If it’s not specifically noted there and if it’s not specifically spelled out in an FAQ, I mean, that’s really thrown a lot of Affordable Housing property managers for a loop. And wanting to do the right thing by the resident, but also wanting to do the right thing for the property and meet those expectations that HUD has, as well, to follow the rules.

RF: Well, and I mean, let’s be honest. How many times do we get updates daily, almost, on different pieces of guidance that have changed. So, I’m certain it’s really difficult to follow all of the changes in the updates to everything out there right now.

JG:  Right, and let’s add on top of that the fact that very few people, if anyone, I think it’s just now starting to open up, where there are some in-person conferences. But so many conferences last year, where people would stay up to date on what’s going on and, you know, get the latest information, it’s all moved to virtual.

RF: I feel out of the loop, don’t you?

JG:  Well, it’s been harder … it really has, for sure. I certainly miss all the in-person conferences for multiple reasons, but being able to have that opportunity to network and be able to get that information or go to trainings that are in-person things, things like that—What did I do?

RF: Nothing, I was just saying you missed the in-person for different reasons and I was like … a little drinky drinky.

JG:  Well, we’re going to take a sip while we toast the in-person conferences that we missed.

RF: That’s right and we hope that they’re going to come back by at least the end of this year.

JG:  That’s what happens when you’re sitting here chatting with someone who knows you and goes to those conferences with you. She gives me this look like yeah, I know what you’re talking about. You miss it.

Anyway, back to the property managers and even the corporate staff, you know. Trying to keep up with everything that’s going on, not having the benefit of those in-person conferences, not having the benefit of in-person training. We know several trainers who have had to switch to online training and it’s tough, right? I mean, it’s better than nothing, but even for us as a company, you know, having to do the same thing, to train our users on our product. It’s hard to keep people engaged, right? I mean, we all joke about Zoom fatigue. I mean, by the end of the day, after I’ve been on 15 Zoom calls, you know, I’m kind of tired, too.

RF: Yeah, I’ve got Zoom fatigue, for sure.

JG:  Yeah, so again, it’s been hard to keep up with the information, especially the first few months of the pandemic, with everybody being home and the information was just coming fast and furious and not knowing what to do and where do I go for information? how do I keep up? It was crazy and, again, that’s what Rue said at the beginning of this, is it’s been tough, and I know it’s been hard for her managers and site staff to keep up with everything, but you know just keep watching for guidance. And what’s happening now is MORs are starting to happen again. And what we’re seeing is MOR findings on income calculations ineligibility in saying why did you count it?

RF: Janel, you say, keep up with the guidance, but because we’re connected, we get a lot of emails, and we talk with people, and we’re involved in working groups and things like that. But for a site staff who doesn’t always have the benefit of being that connected, what is a good way for them to stay in constant contact to know of all of the guidance that’s coming out and getting changes and things like that. What do you think?

JG:  So, for site staff, again, depending on if it’s a HUD property or tax credit or rural housing, signing up for any kind of email alerts that you can from either your PBCA, your state housing agency, your state or local rural housing office, if you’re a rural housing property, doing that. But again, going back to the bigger organizations, HUD and tax credits and rural housing there. They push out a lot of information as soon as they get it too. We know that there are trainers in the industry—Mary Ross is the first one that comes to mind from HUD, you know, her HUD blast is free to sign up for. She’s got a lot of information there that people can read. I know I get information frequently from her. Rip Listservs[GC1]  from HUD are also a good way to keep up with information as HUD releases guidance. But honestly, you know, HUD can release a new housing notice or updated a FAQ and I get an email from four or five different sources about it the day that it happened.

RF: So that’s what I was going to say. One thing you can always count on is your software provider, that even if you’re not up to date, that’s part of what we have to do, so you should always be able to count on your provider to be up to date as well.

JG:  Yeah, absolutely, absolutely, Rue. I want to go back for just a minute to eviction moratoriums. We talked about how to best avoid that by working with your residents and helping them understand you know, it’s not for rent forgiveness. You’re working on payment plans. But what we’re hearing now is concerns about what happens when the moratorium is lifted? And there are concerns about am I going to see a surge of vacancies? And what am I going to do from a maintenance perspective, to have to turn several units and get them occupied again?  And what does that cost, to have to turn units … and you know, thinking about budgeting and if you have this one month where suddenly now you’ve got all these evictions and you didn’t necessarily budget for it, and you’ve got all this added maintenance expense. That’s a concern, certainly, for people, and then an increase in leasing activity and, you know, how are you going to hurry and get applicants qualified and get them back in the door and get people in your units and get that rent money coming in?

RF: I mean, think about that. Think about the interview process for an affordable resident, all the time that that takes. I mean, it seems like that’s something that you’re going to want to put some kind of a time allocation plan in place for, to start looking at your staffing and go OK, I can set up interviews this day and interviews that day. And hope that you can get them in your everyday workflow. I know that’s one of the hardest things that, as a property manager in Affordable Housing, you’ve got so many things to do. Hopefully, your software helps you take care of some of that.

JG:  Yeah, for sure, and, again, what was so great about the timing of the notice last April for Electronic Signature is that it enabled the online leasing and online application process for HUD that the industry has so desperately wanted for so long. Again, you know we talked about this in the past—it was only HUD that said hey, we’ll approve it.  And I know on tax credit, on that side, you know, some of the states tend to ask forgiveness, not permission. And so some states were doing their own thing and accepting it. And the hope is that with HUD giving that permission to the HUD properties, that the tax credit properties just followed along, and states just said yeah, we’re going to play, too.

RF: It does, I know it does put some pressure on the HFAs, but the other thing to think about—in in the presentations that I do, and we’ll talk about that often—when we’re in a tax credit property, about if my HFA accepts them, and we don’t actually know which HFAs do or do not. So, the best advice that I could give you in a situation like that, because we’re software providers, they’re not going to listen to us when we call them. We’ve already tried that, I tried that in 2004. It just wasn’t even working, so as a software provider, the best thing that you can do is, at your property level, you can reach out to your HFAs and implore them to do that. And especially now that HUD’s doing it, it’s been proven to be safe and effective, and most especially, efficient. And efficiency is going to be so important in the next 12 to 18 months as we come out of this eviction moratorium and you have all of this paperwork and unending things to do. So, be sure and get out there and reach out to your HFAs and implore them to accept that.

JG:  Yeah, so it’s great that this guidance came along, because so many people said hey, I’ve got to move to online processes, I’m concerned about my residents or applicants, I’m concerned about protecting my site staff, I’m concerned about protecting my maintenance staff. So, one of the trends that we saw over the last year was an amazing adoption of technology in the Affordable Housing industry, which—

RF: Ready or not.

JG:  Yeah, ready or not, here it is. And from our perspective, I mean, the Affordable Housing industry tends to lag behind conventional or student or even military, in terms of being able to have online processes. If you think about trying to lease to students or someone who’s in the military who’s needing to find housing and they’re deployed. You know they can’t do all of that in-person at an office.

So, it was nice to see Affordable Housing catch up to a degree. Like Rue said, ready or not, it’s here. And you have to do it. So, seeing an adoption of online applications of mobile maintenance, mobile work orders … and payment! I mean, ironically, watching that adoption of online payment has really gone up in Affordable Housing, which is great to see.

RF: By the way, we just released a payments product, too.

JG:  Alright, stop and sip. Shameless plug.

RF: Cheers!

JG: Cheers! So, yes, we did release a payments product. And there are some additional things coming this year that I’m excited to see particularly for Affordable Housing.

RF: Can we talk about it yet?

JG:  I mean we can. Hopefully our boss isn’t listening, so yeah, let’s talk about it.

RF: We’ve got the mic, he doesn’t, so it’s OK.

JG:  It’s OK. So, Cash Pay is going to be awesome, particularly for Affordable Housing. I’m super excited about that functioning. Obviously, we take credit cards, debit, and ACH and all of that, which is great, but for Affordable, I personally am really excited about a Cash Pay option.

RF: Yeah, I really like Cash Pay and I really think that’s going to help tremendously with money order fraud. That’s going to virtually eliminate that, so if you’re unsure what a cash pay option means, it just means that when a resident moves in, they get a little identification card with their account number on it and they can go to any, like, 7-11 or a Walmart or something like that, and they can actually pay their rent and it will actually apply to their ledger. Did I say that right?

JG:  Yeah, I’m really excited about that and, again, watching the adoption, like Rue said ready or not, one of the things that we learned on one of the weekly AMA calls is actually in New Jersey, I think it was that day or that week, New Jersey passed a new law that said that management companies must accept credit card payments for rent during and for one year after the COVID-19 emergency. And, I mean, we were floored. People on that call just went bonkers because one of the big barriers to that is well, who pays the transaction fees for the credit cards, right?

RF: And I gotta tell you, the transaction fees are not a decent size.

JG:  Yeah, it’s not a small thing, right, especially if you’re thinking about Affordable Housing residents. So, it’s always been one of the biggest barriers, I think, personally, to credit card payments or Affordable. The law in New Jersey was very clear and said that those transaction fees could be passed on to residents, so that was huge for affordable because there are so many fees that you can’t pass on—you can’t pass on an application fee or a fee for screening, you know, which is required to do criminal screening, right? So, the fact that New Jersey said hey, you’re taking credit card payments, if somebody wants to pay, you gotta let them.

RF: Well, what do you think about like on a tax credit property? In a situation like that, I would definitely check with the HFA because I don’t know if that means that they have to pay it if they’re not playing max rent, or if they can pay it over and above max rent, right? I don’t know, so you definitely want to check with your HFAs in a situation like that.

JG:  Yeah, one of the things that’s interesting too, if you think about well great you know they’re going to pay with their credit card well. But if they don’t pay their credit card or they reverse the payment or whatever, well, the law addressed that and said that any kind of reversal due to fraud—and we know we have to be careful, the F word in affordable housing is fraud—we have to be careful with that because that is actually considered unpaid rent, if they reversed that. So there is some protection there for the management companies, which was good to see.

But one of the things that we’re watching and why it’s so beneficial to have these calls and hear what’s going on throughout the country in different states, you know, we hear about it on the national level, what is HUD doing? What is the IRS doing with tax credits? But do you hear about things like that in specific states ’cause we want to know what other states are going to jump on that bandwagon, right? If New Jersey is doing it, who else is going to do something like that. So, really watching keeping a close eye on that.

And speaking of states, one of the other things that came up during this call was California.

RF: I was just about to say, yeah, what do you do about this?

JG:  Yeah, so now management companies are required to offer credit bureau reporting of tenant rent payments in California, which is, you know, it’s not unusual on the conventional side, but to see that it doesn’t matter, Affordable Housing, if they’re making rent payments, you’ve got to report that to a credit bureau. So, it’s an interesting trend.

The open item on the credit bureau reporting is the charge for that, right? There’s a fee associated with that, so it’s unclear yet as to whether or not the renters can be charged for that reporting of payments to credit bureaus or not.

So that’s another situation where you should stay tuned, follow your state HFA, be in close contact with them, because the rules are always changing. Certainly, something that you want to keep up with and be able to ask questions because a lot of times a rule comes out—and I’m not picking on any particular state, it happens with HUD and other things too, that you know, it sounds great and then you go to put it into practice and that’s where all of the gray area comes into play and you need some additional guidance or FAQs.

RF: You mean it’s not in black and white, it’s in gray? And that’s just always how it is with regulations. Isn’t it?

JG:  That’s what makes it tricky.

RF: Part of it is just left up to your interpretation.

JG:  Part of it is, yes ma’am. So—

RF: We’ve covered a lot. Do we want to talk about what we’ve been doing for the last year?

JG: We do, but before we get to that—

RF: What, I went ahead of time?

JG: A little.

RF: How dare me!

JG: So, we’ve talked about things that have happened in 2020 in the past year and challenges, but the thing that’s interesting now talking to management companies is what are those good little nuggets that we want to keep from that? You know, what was a good practice that they want to keep, and they want to extend, and going forward, what’s here to stay? So, we did a survey a while back and the top things that we saw in terms of trends were to expect increased adoption of technology, which was no surprise. Actually 67% of respondents said that they’re expecting to increase their adoption of technology, which is great.

RF: Yes, it is, that’s a lot.

JG: Like we said, it’s here whether you like it or not. 59% said they expect increased regulation. So, if you think about it, all the things that are changing, the things that we just talked about, what’s going on in different states, right? So, they expect to see increased regulation as part of what we’re going to have going forward.

But 47% also said they expect increased government investment. So, there’s been a lot of talk in these meetings about preservation, and how are we going to get money for that and what’s going to happen with additional funding, and it was interesting to note and hear in the most recent NAHMA meeting, where members were saying you know, this isn’t like the recession before in, that there’s still new construction going on, and there’s still a lot of new development. And I know from our perspective, we’re seeing clients who were still taking over properties at an amazingly rapid rate. It seems like every time we turn around, we’ve got a client adding a new property, you know, ’cause they’re just continuing to expand their portfolio.

RF: And I’m seeing tons of new Affordable construction. And all of the groups that I’m in on LinkedIn, every time I turn around, there’s an announcement that somebody’s won an award to build another property. So, there is a lot of new construction going on in Affordable Housing, too. Yay!

JG: Yeah, it is, and I think the other thing that we’ve been talking about, too, is they anticipated increase demand for it as well. If you look at people who are in need of it—and this one particular session I was really focused on senior housing—and they said one of the things that happened last year is seniors who maybe had a nest egg or whatever and they ended up blowing through their savings just because of different challenges that happened last year, and so now, there’s an increased need for senior housing.

RF: And there’s already a housing shortage.

JG: Exactly. We think there will continue to be an increased shortage in Affordable Housing so that’s certainly what’s driving a lot of new construction, new development.

RF: Get those hard hats ready.

JG: Yes. And so, again, one of the trends it fascinated me to see, because we see it on the conventional side but to see this now on the Affordable side, is a really renewed interest in green building and smart technology. And you know, I never really put it into this perspective, but they said we’ve got more people working from home or you have children in the apartments who are doing school from home—and who knows what’s going to happen with all that—so they said you know these buildings have got to be wired for Internet. Really good Internet. This is not the time to have crappy dial-up Internet or whatever. You’ve got families, you’ve got to have great Internet in these buildings in order to support people working from home or doing school from home.

RF: It taxes our infrastructure, too.

JG: But the other thing that I, frankly I’m almost embarrassed to say I didn’t think about it, but if you think about senior properties, the amount of telemedicine that happened. You know, all the telemedicine doctor visits. So, those properties need Internet, as well, for that. So, it was interesting to hear conversations about that. And then also thinking about the increased usage of utilities. With that many more people being home all the time, think about your water, your electric, all of that. So, trying to put anything in place to help detect water leaks or help control temperatures in apartments, things like that, and help with utility usage. It’s interesting to watch the Affordable Housing industry kind of catch up.

RF: Yeah, it really has been really fun.

JG: Yeah, for sure. So interesting to see that and, then again, with new construction, the other thing that came up was how do we design our common areas. How do we have safe areas for residents who desperately need to get out of their units and have some interaction with other people, but do it in a safe environment? Sothat’s part of what’s being locked out, too, in terms of construction of new buildings, so those are definitely some things that I think were good and interesting to see, you know, moving forward. The adoption of technology, again, just blows my mind to see how many people have said I’ve gotta have online applications, I’ve gotta have a way to take payments, I’ve got to have mobile maintenance solutions. And even within management companies to say you know we’re going to do more online training because we’re doing it and it works.

Conferences

The thing that’s going to be interesting for me to see—I’ve heard mixed reaction about this—is what do we do with conferences? And some people have said well, you’re going to have hybrid conferences now where we can do it in person, if you want, when we feel it safe, but some people said you know, what I don’t want to spend the money to travel or I want to be able to send more people and have more people benefit, but I don’t want to take people away from my office and so they want a virtual option, too, and I’m frankly torn on it.

RF: I’m really torn on that, too. Honestly, participating in some of the virtual conferences that I have this past year, I feel like as long as you’re at your desk, you’re open game for everybody else at work, too. And same for everybody else at work, too. And so even though you’ve registered and you’ve got time blocked, there’s other things that are always going to get in the way. And so, I think that probably the real benefit of an in-person is that unless you can actually go lock yourself away in a room where nobody else can get to you and nobody else can interrupt your sessions, it’s hard for you to get the full benefit of a conference in a virtual situation.

JG: I 100% agree. And it’s funny, I’m sitting here kind of laughing about it, thinking about it. I’m personally guilty of it, it happened to me, to do it in virtual conferences. And I thought, but I’m not even in an office where people are walking around. I’m at home, all by myself at home, and I’m still getting interrupted. And it’s hard to attend and, I don’t know, maybe part of it is at least when we went to a conference, if you knew it was two days, it’s like look, I’m gonna be super focused on this for two days—

RF: Don’t talk to me!

JG: —And I’ll catch up on emails and things on breaks or I’ll call you before or after hours, or whatever, and now, a lot of the virtual conferences—and I don’t fault them for this—but it expanded and now it’s four half days. And I get it, right, because you need to be able to do some other things, but I’m also thinking in some ways, it is harmful. ‘Cause now it’s like gosh, now I gotta be available for four days, right, even though it’s not four full days. So it’s tough and I really feel for all the people who are having to put these conferences on. It was quite a shift for them to have to switch to virtual, right?

RF: And kudos to everybody out there who has done these, because there’s no way they can be easy.

JG: No, I mean, I know when speaking with some people who have had to suddenly shift from an in-person conference, it‘s a totally different way of planning, having to think about technology and how do you get all your speakers on there. And we kind of laughed, we did a panel on technology at one conference, and we were the first group to try it out and be the guinea pigs for it, and I swear we have more problems with it than anybody else did. And we’re your good kids, right?

RF: We’re the ones know what we’re doing, supposedly.

JG: Yeah, it’s been tough, and it’s been a challenge. We talked about this, and you teased me about it before, but I so miss being in person. I’m missing all the friends that we’ve made in the industry, and I miss having that face-to-face interaction and being able to network and, you know, just having that interaction within a session.

RF: Being face to face with the officials, right? There is nothing that can take the place of sitting in a room, having all of the HUD officials or the IRS officials right there at your disposal to ask questions of.

JG: Yeah, and probably even more so, catching them after the session.

RF: Absolutely

JG: And saying, hey I need to make you aware of this challenge that we’re having, and I just want to expand on something that was said earlier and, to their credit, they’re great—

RF: They are!

JG: —they’re great about sitting there and listening. They want to hear it, you know, they want to do the right things, too.

RF: But you can’t catch them on the phone, an email, on a Zoom call … you can’t catch them when you’re like that, so those are kind of the things that really, I think, are so important to an in-person.

JG: Yeah, yeah, I do, again, certainly miss it. I think there’s no substitute for it.

New for ResMan

RF: Are we ready, about what’s coming this year now?

JG: Yes, you’ve been so good and so patient. We can talk now about what’s going on.

RF: Because I’m so excited. I can’t stop being so excited.

JG: I know. I’m—

RF: Almost everything I’ve asked for.

JG: You guys, that’s no small list.

RF: Actually, pretty much everything I’ve asked for.

JG: Yeah, yeah, for sure. We do have some exciting things going on at ResMan with our Affordable platform. We’ve certainly been working hard. We have an amazing team, both product and developers, and some internal stakeholders, Rue being one of them, to say hey, here’s what I’m hearing and here’s what we need to make sure that we’re able to provide. So, we spent a lot of time doing that last year.

This year, super exciting to me, one of the things that we just released was Automatic Income Limit Updates. So I know that that’s time consuming. It’s fraught with human error for all the data entry and, especially if you have a large portfolio, having to go in and spend the time to update your income limits. I’ve seen, in some cases, people sometimes forget that it’s time to update their income limit. So being able to do that automatically for our customers is really, really exciting.

RF: Really huge. And especially with all the extra stuff that they have to do. I mean, if you’ve got a large portfolio, we’re just giving you back a whole day at the time.

JG: Yeah, for sure, for sure. One of the other things that we’re working on is Income Averaging.

RF: Yes!

JG: And I know it’s been around for a little while, but—

RF: It’s also changing, like almost weekly.

JG: Well, it’s been changing. And there’s a proposed rule that came out and industry associations had said hey, you know we have some concerns about this. And, again, that’s one of the great things about participating in these industry associations, is to be able to have a voice and say hey I know how this works in practice and let me tell you where I see some concerns in the proposed rule and being able to send that back, in this case, to the IRS. And they listen and they read through all those comments, ’cause I know I’ve seen it both with the IRS and with HUD, but income averaging is certainly something we’re working on. We’re watching very closely the changes to the rules. I know it’s difficult to track manually and we do know some people that are doing it, but we’re going to work on automating that for our customers.

One of the other things, too, and you know, I will tell you, I partially waited for TRACS 203a because of all the RAD functionality in it, but I’ve given up a little bit on 203a, and so we are also adding RAD contract functionality this year, which I’m really excited about. We’re seeing more and more, the public housing to RAD convergence, which have been going on, but we’re seeing an increase in the PRAC to[GC2]  RAD, as well. So being able to provide that for our customers who are moving over to RAD is great. And, again, one more time, I’m going to hope that TRACS 203a comes out soon, because there’s some really great things in there that help those RAD properties.

RF: Well, and in both of those programs it doesn’t apply to everybody, for sure, but it truly is happening more and more and more across the country. So just because you’re not in it right now doesn’t mean in six months or a year’s time, you won’t be in it.

JG: Yeah, exactly well and going back to income averaging, same thing, right? If there’s a lot of new construction going on, that’s a lot of opportunities to select income averaging as you set aside.

RF: Yes – I thought I said that, so good.

JG: So, we do anticipate an increase in that and an increase in the amount of RAD contracts, for sure. And I know one of the things Rue is really excited—

RF: [Squeal]

JG: So, I kind of saved it for last—I don’t know if ya’ll just picked up on that squeal that she did, but I certainly heard it. What we currently have in development right now is our Rural Housing Functionality. So that really just rounds out our Affordable program nicely. I am really excited about that.

RF: I’m really excited about it, too.

JG: Yeah. It’s a smaller segment of the market, but it’s amazing to me how many people have it and have a need for a better solution than what they currently have, and so I’m really excited that that’s coming out. So, stay tuned! Like we said, we post industry update, but we post product updates, as well. And so, as we launch those, we’ll be talking about those in some of our upcoming webinars. I’m really, really excited to talk about that

RF: Yeah, I’ve seen little bits and pieces of it, too, so, really excited. You know, we really don’t just have cocktails. We actually really do love compliance and we love our Affordable Housing part of the industry.

JG: We also love cocktails, I’m not gonna lie.

RF: Alright, everybody, that is about a wrap on this edition of Cocktails & Compliance. Thank you for joining and we hope to see you next time.

JG: Be sure to subscribe to PropTalk on Apple Podcast, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. For more about ResMan’s property management platform, visit myresman.com.

PropTalk: Protecting Your Most Valuable Asset: Your Team

Full Transcript

Elizabeth Francisco (EF):  Welcome to PropTalk, a podcast powered by ResMan, that focuses on the property management ecosystem. I’m Elizabeth Francisco, the President here at ResMan.  

Amanda Mabrey (AM): And I am Amanda Mabrey, the Director of People and Culture.  

EF:  We are so happy to be recording our first episode of this podcast series. You can expect a variety of experts from the Multifamily and Affordable Housing industries, each discussing key insights into how property managers can maximize their efficiency and increase their NOI. 

So, Amanda, I can’t think of anyone better to have here on the inaugural podcast for ResMan’s PropTalk other than my right hand, who’s had God knows how many varieties of positions inside the company. But I can’t think of anyone better to do this with. Thank you for participating. I’m so happy you are here and do what you do every day, but I’m really happy you’re here with me for the first one, also. 

AM:  Thank you. I’m very happy to be here. 

Honest Conversations 

EF:  One of the most challenging and most important aspects of growing a business is managing employees and keeping them engaged. And I know that, given how long you’ve been here at ResMan from the very early days, you know first-hand how important that is, regardless of the industry. 

Employees champion our business and ultimately determine our success or failures along the way. The work they do determines what customers and partners see. So, you need to prioritize your employees for the total value they bring to the company. You know, employees leading an organization might be able to be replaced physically, but their skillset and their knowledge can’t be. This is why we decided to launch our PropTalk podcast with a discussion about your most valuable asset in any company, which is your team. 

You know, 2020 lead to so many challenges and changes for businesses all over the country, but it was more than just changes to the way we work. We asked our employees to change with the changing times. Many companies had to maintain operations during the start of the pandemic while possibly having to reduce staff or implement payroll cuts. Or maybe, like our property management customers, your employees were essential workers, forcing you to think about their safety and maintaining the quality of the community for the renters, all at the same time. And renters who, by the way, were now in their homes 24/7.  

There was so much change to our work environments, on top of the ones to our personal lives. I think most of the people in charge of these businesses and the ones I know and talk to, if you will, I think the industry did a hell of a job putting the focus back on their employees, working to support them through trying times that I never faced when I was in the industry. 

And while we’ve made so much progress and we’re all ready to move into business-as-usual, I’m afraid the trying times are not quite over, though. Now that we’re well into 2021, we’re still in the midst of change. As leaders, our teams count on us to lead them through this next chapter, whatever that may be. I’m sure we’re not the only ones discussing what getting back to business-as-usual means today, or what adaptions due to the pandemic should be adopted for the longer term. Not to mention, there’s a growing pressure from investors to make up for any lost revenues incurred last year, in the last 12 months. As we move forward, we must make sure that we put our teams in the best positions to succeed. 

Amanda, I know your thoughts on this because I bounce my sanity off you on a regular basis. You know that the buck stops with us as leaders in the organization. And I would just like to hear your perspective of the things I’ve just said about the importance that leaders play in leading the way and what our role is in this. 

AM:  Absolutely.  Thank you. Our job as leaders is to facilitate the ability of our employees to have their needs met. One way we can look at it is based on Maslow’s hierarchy. So Paycom adapted Maslow’s hierarchy –think back to psychology 101, right? The pyramid, having your needs met. And before you can move up in the pyramid, that need needs to be met. So Paycom adapted this to the hierarchy of employee needs, right? Basic needs, stability and transparency, along a recognition and finally self-actualization. It’s our responsibility to meet these needs so that our team members can fully feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves. 

EF:  I love that you mentioned the sense of belonging, because I know as we have continued to evolve our thinking in turn inside the company and focusing on diversity equity and inclusion, one of the things we talk about is it’s really about a sense of belonging at the end of the day. So, I’m really glad that you said that and mentioned that. 

AM:  There are so many ways that you can recognize team members. You can make them feel like they do belong. One-on-ones. We’re going to talk about one-on-ones. Private and public recognition are absolutely huge. The biggest thing is that just as the world around us is evolving and changing, so are the needs of our team members. So, I’m excited to talk about that in depth with you today. 

EF:  Awesome! Fantastic, and I think, too, as we started this conversation, it’s easy to put something down on paper. It’s easy to research what needs to be done in an organization, but at the end of the day, as I mentioned earlier, the buck stops here. Right? The buck stops with Paul, our CEO, with myself, with the rest of our leadership team. We have to be present, and we have to be actively engaged, because if we’re not and if we don’t lead from the top, right, then those things won’t happen, at least not to the magnitude that they could. 

AM:  Being in front of the organization is so incredibly important, right? We learned this right away in 2020 when the pandemic hit. Previously to that, our executive team was wonderful about being open with our team members but what we learned is that visibility is so powerful to team members to know that our executive team, the executive team of an organization, is right there in the trenches with every single team member. 

EF:  You know what’s funny? I literally said today, not figuratively but literally, I said, well I’ve always had an open-door policy in my office. In fact, I never locked it, right? And you know that from yours. So now I have a virtual open policy also. I just told someone this today, never hesitate to reach out to myself, and I know the rest of the executive team is the same way. We will make the time. And you know, I think it’s important at any point in your business life cycle that you make yourself available, but I think the last 12 months really highlighted that. Sometimes we as leaders, we get our heads down and we’re buried and we’re just we’re trying to do what we think is best for the company to help provide opportunities for our employees. Even we can sometimes find ourselves being too narrow and just heads down. I know for myself, coming through the last 12 months, this really helped me make sure that it stayed front of mind. And you know I hope that it will always be that way but it’s important that we remind each other of that along the way. 

AM:  It’s a challenge. You talked about walking the floor, and now many organizations are still remote and so the idea of walking the floor and meeting with people that they may not have had normal meetings with it has changed drastically. And so, leaders of all organizations have needed to become more creative in how they can reach out and be visible and be present to their employees. 

EF:  Completely agree. OK, so one of the things that you know we’ve heard repeatedly with Paul Bridgewater joining the organization as our CEO, something I heard before he joined the organization, was that it is super important to have honest conversations within your organization. And I know you, and you study anything that you do to the NTH degree. So, you may already know this, but that’s a management philosophy that is the foundation of a business philosophy in a book called Radical Candor, which basically states that guidance and feedback has to be kind and clear, specific and sincere. So Amanda, that sounds like a simple thing to do. We’ve been living it for two years now, sometimes successfully, sometimes not so successfully. So why do you think something that sounds so simple is actually so hard to do? 

AM:  So, it goes back to the hierarchy, right? Having those basic needs met. Once those basic needs are met, you’re getting paid on time, you know that you’re going to get paid, you know you have a stable job, the stability and transparency, right? That’s part of those honest conversations, but it leads right into feeling like you belong. 

Two of my favorite thought leaders in this realm are Kim Scott who’s the author of Radical Candor. She spent the majority of her career working in Silicon Valley, spent time at Google and Apple and now is a CEO coach for some of the biggest Silicon Valley tech companies out there. Alongside her, Patti McCord was previously the chief people officer at Netflix. She authored a book called Powerful and I know you and I both simultaneously, not knowing, read the same books. And so Powerful details her experiences of building out that culture at Phenomenal.  

So Patty says the greatest motivation for workers is their ability to contribute to success. The majority of workers want to be successful. Our responsibility as leaders is to guide them on that path toward success, which sometimes includes having difficult or challenging conversations. This is where the idea of honest conversations or, as Kim Scott calls it, radical candor, comes into play. Honest conversations and radical candor are all about our ability to deliver and to receive feedback.  

The trick is exemplifying to the listener, whether it’s your boss or your employees, that even though you’re challenging directly, you’re having a direct conversation where the content could be difficult to receive, you still care personally about that person. It’s difficult because we’ve been raised with Thumper wisdom: if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything. It’s in the back of our minds, so if the greatest motivation for our workers is the ability to contribute to success, then we definitely don’t want to do anything that would demotivate them. However, radically candid and honest conversations, if they’re done correctly, can positively impact performance, your relationship, the commitment to the organizational objectives, and their willingness to continue to do what it takes to be successful for the organization. 

EF:  I completely agree with everything that you just said. And I think what I’ve personally experienced and what I’ve seen as I’ve navigated my career and when we talk about why is it such a difficult thing to do, I think the stage in your career that you’re at also can play a role in that. And it’s funny, I’m sitting here thinking about what you were talking about, coming up through the ranks in property management and then seeing it here, in ResMan, as well. And I think depending on the staffing, maybe at a property or within your company, and when workloads are tough and there’s pressures to meet goals, you can find yourself, especially if you’re a younger first-time manager, sometimes you can be too cautious and too withdrawn from having the tough conversations because you’re afraid of losing the worker. 

AM:  You’re not only afraid of losing the worker but prior to that, we all want to be friends, right? We all want to go to happy hour… 

EF:  Absolutely not me! 

AM:  We all want to have that relationship where we spend how many hours a week with each other. And to have someone who you think may not like you can be difficult, especially as a first-time manager. So, you know, practice makes perfect in these situations. And I highly recommend finding someone on the leadership team to practice the conversation before you have it. That can be incredibly powerful once you are able to deliver that conversation. 

EF:  Yeah. I was in a conference with one of our favorite customers Allied Orion earlier this week and one of the questions during my session was talking about work life balance and just doing some deeper diving in investigating and looking at some other resources. One of the things that happens when we’re afraid to have the tough conversations is that we actually handicap the employee and we handicap ourselves, because the work still needs to be done. And a lot of times what I’ve seen is when somebody is not doing what’s expected, you’re not on the same page, both of you may be working really hard, but you’re not actually getting what needs to be done the right way, so you’ll have someone maybe try to step up and try to pick up that slack, which in turn is making it hard for them to get their deliverables done. I was thinking about this, just over the years, and I think you’re afraid to have the tough conversation because you don’t want the employee not only not to like you, but you don’t them to leave.  

One of the things I’ve seen my whole 30 years in management is that sometimes by holding back, not only are you impacting yourself, not only are you impacting that employee, you’re actually hindering the rest of the team. And the rest of the team sees that. So, if you’re not addressing the tough conversations, if someone’s not performing to expectations and there are things that are falling through the cracks, or there’s a certain amount of that workload that shifts on to the backs of their other employees, well, the rest of that team is counting on you to look after the best interest of the company. But if you’re truly dedicated to someone’s success, you’re not doing anyone in that scenario I just described any favors.  

It was hard for me—I continue to work on it, I hope I’ve gotten better over the years, but learning to have the honest conversation where someone walks away from the tough conversation truly believing that you’re dedicated to their success before your own. I think sometimes we can approach situations in leadership, or we’re talking about this goal, that goal, that goal, and ultimately responsible for stepping into that role and phrasing it where it comes across it’s all about you and what your responsibilities are to the company. And for me, I’ve just seen that that doesn’t work.  

When you take yourself out of it, take your immediate goals out of it, if you are truly dedicated to those employees, you have those tough conversations and you’re helping them identify areas for improvement. When they feel that sense of “this person is really looking out for me, they want me to do my best that I possibly can, the business in turn will accomplish its goals. 

AM:  Yeah, and just like you mentioned, being kind and clear and specific and sincere, along with the why, right? If every worker is wanting to contribute to success, if that is their greatest motivation, then they need to know the why just as they need to know the why for the good things that are happening, right? They need to know the why behind the challenging conversations.  

And so when you’re thinking about having a difficult conversation, first know that their intentions are most likely very, very positive and good. Very rarely are there saboteurs in our business, right? The second thing is understanding the why and then the third is the delivery … being kind, clear, specific, and sincere is all what radical candor and honest conversations are about. 

EF:  You know. In leadership one of the things I also find, and I remind our team and myself, that our titles have weight, alright? And the point about an honest conversation is not just the conversation I’m having with you as a supervisor. It’s also helping the team have honest conversations with you back, so that if there are challenges that need to be tackled, if there is, let’s say, something you know could impact the business, I tend to see and I will tell you. I’ve seen this at ResMan. I’ve seen this in property management. People are afraid to speak up or to say what needs to be said … their fear of looking bad, their fear of letting down the company. Maybe they’re not sure how it’s going to be received or maybe it’ll be discredited, so they hold on to it and whatever that problem is—not all problems—but sometimes those challenges or issues start to become a much bigger issue that can impact customers, that can impact other internal customers within your team.  

So, what would you advise me for the leaders to help their frontline teams understand, and how can we communicate better so that they feel comfortable and confident to come to us and have the honest conversation? I mean, it’s hard to tell the president of the company “Oh, by the way … I don’t know how you’re gonna take this…” 

AM:  In Kim Scott’s book Radical Candor, she discusses this. The leader’s responsibility is not only to be there to guide and to have those conversations, but you also need to be open and willing to be on the receiving end. So, what she recommends is in your one-on-ones, in your meetings, ask your team members, ask your individual contributors how you’re doing and be receptive to the feedback that they have. That’s a really important step that many leaders are fearful to take. They don’t want to look bad. It’s the same reasons they’re fearful of giving that kind of advice or feedback. It’s the same thing. So I think that’s a really important aspect of having that two-way conversation. That’s really what creates a truly honest environment and a truly candid—radically candid—environment. 

EF:  Well, I don’t know if I will ever master it but I can definitely assure you that I must have gotten somewhere with you because you tell me exactly what you think. 

AM:  It’s true. It’s hard. I report to our CEO and yesterday I had to provide feedback that was not warranted—he didn’t ask for it—but you know, starting off the conversation in an open and engaging way like ‘what was your reasoning behind this?’ Asking those open-ended questions and not coming at it in an accusatory way is really important and it lends itself to actual conversation. That’s how you drive towards a solution. 

EF:  I completely agree. Awesome, thank you for your insight there. The last thing I would add to that is that publicly we have to admit we are human, too. I think that opens the door for conversation. We’re not going to have every answer. In fact, what I would tell you, over time, is there’s a lot of direction we can provide, and we do have a different level of insight and a bigger picture view. Sometimes we have a better understanding of where we need to go, but the people that are doing the job actually have the information we really need to know, to make sure that we ultimately achieve those goals. Opening that door and being vulnerable, like you mentioned, is a critical part of that. 

Well, Amanda, thank you for the insight on the importance of honest conversations. If I think about how to combine that topic and thinking about what we started—and you were so eloquent about—being the needs of the employees and that sense of belonging, you know we’ve talked about even our diversity and inclusivity goals, that we’re trying to work on as a company, one of the things we frequently say is we want to level the playing field. We want everyone to have the same opportunity within the company. And one of the things that we talk about in our employee engagement committee is that the level of the playing field, one of the first—and probably most significant—things you can do is be very clear and transparent and set goals, measurable goals, that are the same across the board, so that it’s very transparent on both sides. 

With Paul joining the organization, one of the first things he did was set out to tackle, let’s refocus in, let’s understand and make sure that we have this not just verbally, but well-documented—as we all know, we think we’re on the same page verbally and oftentimes we’re not—how do we set those goals? But more importantly, how do we track those goals? And if there’s a challenge or maybe we’re not hitting those goals, how do we deal with that as an organization? I think you have some great insight on that. 

AM:  When Paul joined the organization and engaged us in coming up with this VSGM, which is Vision, Strategy, Goals and Measures, I was still pretty young in my HR career. But something just clicked, and it makes so much sense. You start at the top. What is your organization’s vision or their mission? What is the thing that you’re striving for?  

A strategy … how are you going to get there? What are you going to invest in? What products are you going to build? What assets are you going to purchase if you’re onsite or working in the property management industry? 

The goals. These are short term, or they can be long term goals. They have to be measurable. They have to make sense. They have to be attainable, right? That’s the idea of the smart goal. 

And then the measure is the way that you’re going to get there. So, we as an organization have had this VSGM for the past couple of years and every year we tweak it just slightly to make it make sense for where we are in the times. 

And then from there, it’s the leaders’ and the individual contributor’s responsibilities to work together so that every single employee or team member or associate knows what they need to be doing on a daily basis to achieve their goals that ultimately tie into the larger goals of the organization. 

EF:  Yeah, and I think one of the things that was eye opening for me in this exercise, I’ve never been exposed to this practice in my previous career before starting Resman or being part of this team, and I thought one of the things that was interesting is there’s truth in you can have a company goal but if everybody’s not on that same page… And it was interesting through this exercise that we did, we had conversations and where we had some employees struggling in the organization is because their idea of what was expected to them or and how it aligned with their perception of where the company needed to prioritize or what they thought the company was prioritizing – they don’t always align, you know? 

 So that’s been a very enlightening part of this exercise and in our in our situation, we go in and we set it first for the company because that has to be the strategic road map of where we’re going with the business. When we as leaders have that that big picture, long term view of where we need to go so that we can do the things we want to for the company and for our customers and for our teams. 

But now I’m taking it down and sharing those goals and being very transparent with all of our teams. And then sitting down with each person and sharing it with them. And I just I loved this part of the exercise, when I was helping with our support and customer success organization, is let’s go through now for each individual employee and here’s the goals of the company. Then as a department head, here’s the goals of our department that support that ultimate goal. And then having each employee sit down and have their first attempt at what am I going to do to support those goals? Where can I individually contribute?  

I can tell you, I’ll give some shoutouts to Cal, Caroline, other people that I engaged with personally back in 2019. It was really exciting to see them communicate and think through it and come together. Their sense of belonging and their value in the company, I think for a lot of people, became more visible to themselves. 

AM:  As you think about the hierarchy of employee needs, that’s part of stability and transparency. The wonderful thing that Paul and our leadership group has done prior to the pandemic—and this is very relevant to our PMCs that we serve—they’re dispersed. They’re not all in one central location. So it can be difficult to translate and feel like you’re attached to the larger company objectives. 

One thing that I appreciate about our leadership is that they do a wonderful job of bringing everyone together, taking the time and walking through the goals. And not only walking through the goals but doing check-ins throughout the year to ensure that we’re still on track. From there it’s down to the middle managers, the supervisors and line leaders to again be able to translate and coordinate everything that the team members are doing, back up to the company objectives. And it gives them that sense of ownership. 

The other thing, too, is you cannot have 15 goals as an individual contributor. You absolutely cannot. Just like a company should not have more than four to five goals that they’re really focused on in a year, you should not expect your individual team members to focus in on 15 goals. They have to be simple and focused…a term that Paul uses—simplify and focus is our friend—it’s incredible to see they need to meet these ten metrics. Well, it’s impossible to stay focused and to do all of them well, so I recommend four to five goals. How do they relate to the larger goals? And then having those consistent check-ins to ensure that you are on track. You shouldn’t wait until the performance review at the end of the year to tell a team member that they are doing poorly in an area. 

EF:  Yes, and that goes back what we were talking about earlier about. If you are truly dedicated to someone success, you wouldn’t want to do that. You should see the path and how that can be very disruptive. And I’m glad you brought that up because you reminded me, years ago we had an employee in maintenance and the property management side. He worked really hard but there were some challenges with a certain area of his skill set and his attention to detail. A lot of times in property management, the position below the one you’re promoted into doesn’t always have the same skill set, so we end up promoting them into a new position, and a lot of management teams don’t have the internal support or means or resources to properly invest in that education, especially from the people management side. So, I remember getting to work with this one particular gentleman and the main supervisor is like I’ve told you, we’ve had so many conversations about this—in passing, you know, in golf carts passing or whatever—I just don’t understand why we can’t get there? And this was a lesson learned. I did exactly what you said not to do. We waited ‘til the end of the year and—at the time, that was the way we did our annual reviews, and it was so interesting to see how the employees scored themselves versus the manager and the maintenance supervisor—the employee was just shocked because of the way that it was presented to him. His perception of his performance was he was doing all the right things. He wasn’t resentful, it was just a moment where we were able to come together and realize Look, we’re not on the same page

And so, I think you’re right. You can’t wait till the end of the year. You’ve got to have those constant check-ins. Take that a step further. In the first 90 days (we’re talking about those 90-day probation periods; I don’t know that I’ve ever really liked that term), but I think when people come in in the beginning of a new employment, they have a mentality of I need to understand what’s expected of me. So, they’re very open to hearing any sort of criticism. And it is perceived as constructive criticism because I’m joining your organization. I want to meet your expectations. When you don’t have those regular check-ins, especially in the beginning, and you’re not helping set expectations of that role—and maybe if it’s not the right role you need to come to that understanding for both of your sake.  

But let’say that it does have that potential and you wait and you don’t have those meetings and you don’t have those check-ins. And then six, nine months later, you’re coming back around, and you’re frustrated because the employee’s not meeting the expectations, they’re not hitting the performance goals they were supposed to. But in the employee’s mind, when you bring it around and you bring up this topic, they’re like wait a minute I’ve been here for nine months, I’ve been doing this since the first month I got here. So now it’s personal and they can’t hear you at that point. Now they’re questioning, they’re doubtful. They don’t understand your motives because it was fine up to this point. 

And with your role, mentoring and counseling our leaders, our new managers and their employees, have you seen some of that and what would your recommendations be? 

AM:  It happens more often than not, unfortunately. And I personally have taken a larger role in the onboarding process of our new hires. I know personally, for me, I’ve taken it upon myself to meet with our new hires a month after they join. I’m asking them how are they doing, is the job or the position that they’re filling is it what they expected? Because there’s a couple of reasons that team members fail, right? Obviously one of the biggest ones is they are not being managed well, there is a disconnect between what they should be doing and what they are doing. 

Another reason is that the position may not be the right fit and that’s OK. Part of being able to have these conversations and doing it on a frequent basis—whether you have weekly one-on-ones or just monthly one-on-ones—is being able to identify the fit for the position. It can be hard to have a conversation with someone to say I don’t know that this is going to be the right role for you, but we as an organization we’re going to assist you for a period of time, or we need to have a conversation about how we can exit you from the organization very amicably. And that is OK.  

But it’s not something that is actually very common. It just festers and that can create all the problems that we discussed previously, where the manager is taking on the bulk of the work because their team member can’t perform, or they’re having to correct the work, or the surrounding team is having to pick up the slack. And those are all things that you can avoid by just meeting regularly having the conversations and asking those exploratory questions. 

EF:  Wait, you mean honest conversations? (laughs) 

AM:  Honest conversations. 

EF:  I couldn’t resist! Yes, that’s what we’re talking about. You’re exactly right. It’s funny, the hard side of management is people management. As you’re coming up and you aspire to be those things in your career and whether you initially want to do it because it is an income increase— that was all important, we’ve got to feed our families, we got to take care of our families—or it’s just some personal, professional career goals, but that’s the hardest part about this.  

And the other part I would say on that is when you’re in a new role and you’re coming up within the company, as leaders we always need to be present, we need to be challenging ourselves. The weight is on us. Ultimately the responsibility is on us. BUT, I would also say we are human. Some of the times when I’ve been brought into conversations, you know, it’s OK to reach up, too, and maybe I’m not feeling it. You are exactly right. It is not easy to have that honest conversation about maybe this isn’t the right fit. But if you set the tone, that look let’s figure this out together—and fortunately I did this once in my career. It was interesting, the employee that I was talking with was really on the way out the door and we just had this come-to-Jesus meeting, if you will. And it’s like OK let’s talk about this. I don’t know if this is the right role for you but are you really giving it everything you got, let’s take this together. Let’s give the next 90 days … here’s the expectations: You give me everything you’ve got and if at the end of the 90 days we’re both on the same page and you see a career here and I’ve been able to see the performance, that’s fantastic. But along the way, if you decide this isn’t what you want to do–because I know that you’re struggling; when I have to counsel you, I see how it deflates you. I know that you’re not in your natural fit. But then I’m going to honor my commitment that says hey I’m going to help you, whether it’s I’m going to call and try to help you with some references, I’m going to see who I can reach out to. If you show me you can do the work and this is just not the right fit, then I feel comfortable putting my name behind you.  

And it’s amazing because there’s employees in my property management past, and employees within ResMan, and some of them I am very close to this day, but it’s not easy. Again, it goes back to the honest conversations. Sometimes people — we talked about this before — avoid the honest conversations, sometimes even deep down inside it’s almost more selfish, because I don’t like the way it makes me feel when I have to do it and that that’s something you certainly have to push through. Because at the end of the day, this is a business. And that’s part of that tough conversation. I can adore you as a person and think you’re fantastic, but if you can’t do what’s really needed to help move the company forward, I’m obligated to the company. I’m obligated to everyone else here. I’m obligated, as the leaders of the company, we are obligated to our customers, the business, our fellow employees. It’s not personal. I want to be here to support you personally, but I have to put the business first.  

And I think specifically with ResMan, starting where we started and how much weight we had to carry in the early days, that’s definitely been one heck of a journey. But it’s important and I think if I didn’t know that in property management, I definitely learned that in the early days of ResMan because everything was so critical, and we were wearing so many hats. We just we really couldn’t afford to have people on the team—we can’t today either–have people on the team that are not pulling their own weight, that are not “oaring” in the right direction with us, as I think we said once in a company stand-up.  

AM:  Also, you know, it goes back to the idea of radical candor, right? You mentioned it just now: care personally. Having your individual contributors know that this is an uncomfortable conversation for me to having to deliver this news or to deliver this feedback. I think if they can sense that and they know that you have their best intentions in mind and that they understand that it’s for their own good, that goes a very, very long way. 

EF:  Yeah, I would agree, I would agree. I guess that’s the hard part the people management is that  there is no—well, there’s a lot of books but I don’t know if there’s any guaranteed playbook though. There’s a lot of things you can do—but there’s no guaranteed playbook, that’s for sure. So you know, circling it back around when we were talking about the VSGM, as we call it internally, you know, we understand our strategy, we’ve set our goals, we understand what we can do, we have worked with our team members to make it clear and transparent what each person can do and what’s expected of them and how we’re going to measure it. 

Recognition 

EF:  But I think another aspect that we didn’t talk about that I want to circle back to is what happens when they do hit all of those goals and we are moving the company forward in the right direction and, as I jokingly said a second ago, everybody is “oaring” in the right direction and we’re making progress. I think how we acknowledge and recognize our team members is so important and I know you’re a huge champion of this. You have come up with many creative ideas over the years and have pictures for some of them, I’m pretty sure, based on what you’ve shared with me recently. And anybody who is at ResMan who knows what the ResMan orange tie is will know exactly what that’s in reference to. 

AM:  We’ve come a long way. So it’s exciting to talk about recognition because we just talked about some tough conversations, right, those honest tough conversation. But a good, positive, exciting honest conversation is when they’re doing an awesome job. At Resman, one of the things that I love is our commitment to those shout-outs. And getting it from peers is awesome, getting it from your leader or your supervisor is just incredible. The feeling that you get is just indescribable when you get a shout out, especially when it’s in front of other people, especially when it’s in front of the entire organization, which is something that we do at Resman.  

But it’s also something that we don’t do enough of, right? We don’t do enough recognition. I think it’s very important that our team members know just as when they’re not doing well, they need to know when they are doing well. Not only because it is good for their self-esteem and feeling like they belong and then getting to that point of self-actualization in their role, but it also can lend itself to training opportunities for others on their team and it helps with growth in their own career. If they’re doing something well, they get a shout out and then their leader says hey why don’t you train the other people in your group to do what you did and share with them how you did this? And that’s even better than getting a shout-out. 

EF:  Yes, I completely agree. I love our shout-outs, too. I wish we were back in person to do them which, hopefully we will be again soon. But I love that, how creative we’ve gotten with utilizing our virtual platform that we do our stand-ups on. And one of the things I’ve noticed is how engaged people are with the clapping.  

AM:  Yes.  

EF:  Because you don’t want to take yourself off mute to clap, but these little virtual clapping things that they are now doing, oh my gosh, we’re wearing those out. I love it. 

AM:  The virtual clap and the chat feature within a Teams meeting or even Slack or Zoom is awesome. I know you know when we used to be in person, I loved the applause and the shouting. You know when we first started doing these virtual meetings, with our weekly stand-ups—we call it ResMunch, which is a once-a-month company lunch—and it was hard for me because I didn’t feel that connection, the connection and the liveliness of the group. It was there all along and so I’m glad that there are ways now that you can really feel the love and I don’t ever want it to stop. I want to continue giving our team member shout-outs.  

The other thing, too, is that you don’t have to invest a lot of money into recognition and awards and things like that. There are so many organizations out there that that’s their priority, to sell recognition platforms and creating social platforms for the business. And while those are wonderful—and we utilize Awardco, which is a wonderful platform—the easiest thing to do is just ask for an email, right? Ask for a message. Ask someone to send you a message so you can share those shout-outs. It does not have to be an expensive venture, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t. We’ve done things related to our organization where our mascot Roy wore a tie, so we created a tie program. We’ve given out acrylic tiles for promotions and things like that, but I think when it all comes back, people just want to know, and they want to be heard. They want to feel like they belong in an organization. So, words means so, so much, and I think mean even more than a tchotchke or a thing that you can take home at the end of the day. 

EF:  Yeah, and, again, this goes back to honest conversations. It’s a lot easier to have honest conversations and for an employee to believe you care about their success and you’re dedicated to seeing and for providing them an opportunity to do their best when you acknowledge when they’re doing their best. If there’s one advice, like you said, we can all work on, it’s this. We can, at Resman, I’m sure others can, too, if they really take a step back when you are so buried and there is so much work and especially when you go from a startup scaleup to high growth mode like we’ve been in here, I look up and I swear it’s not just 8 hours … like I don’t know how the sun was up and now it’s down, right? And you don’t even realize that much time has gone by. But you’ve got to look up, whether it’s virtually or in person, and you’ve got to look for what’s being done right. Because I think what happens is, we get too ingrained into what we’re all doing individually and so then the only time that you, unfortunately, maybe see something is because it’s the opposite. Something has come up, something isn’t going right. And if that’s all you ever acknowledged, then you’re going to deflate and demotivate your teams incredibly quickly. Because it’s not fair to them and it’s not warranted. Because there’s, like I said, there’s a book about it—The One-Minute Manager is the one I’m thinking of—that if you take the time every day to look for something being done right, you will see something done right. And I think sometimes we just lose sight of that. 

AM:  The worker’s greatest motivation is the ability to succeed, right? And it is their success, so let’s empower them. Let’s give them that feedback and encourage their success. And they will continue right on that path. 

Time Off 

EF:  One of the things that I love that we have done is have a very flexible time-off policy. You’ve been talking about this internally, that we know the last 12 months have been incredibly difficult. Not only do we have our own challenges in the organization in response to the pandemic, but we know our team members faced personal loss, unfortunately, so many of our team members. That was a difficult situation and I think a lot of people wanted to lose themselves in work. I know I did. You only can take so much of it on the news and so you wanted to dive in. And we wanted to encourage people to step away. Maybe they couldn’t go about the country, you know, like Southwest Airlines likes to say, not then, anyway, but they weren’t taking the time off. We were noticing this and, while we appreciated that productivity was off the charts, it was taking, it does take a toll. You have to unplug.  

And I know that you know, we have these ongoing—I’m going to say this incorrectly, we have one coming up next Friday, where we’re basically helping our teams unplug by what we call the ResMan holidays or the … 

AM:  ResMan Recharge. 

EF:  ResMan Recharge—forgive me for that, but the ResMan Recharge is such a cool idea and people take advantage of it. Otherwise you wouldn’t have seen them schedule off, right?  And so, kudos to the leadership team and I know you were helping spearhead that. And we still, to this day, see that for those of you out there considering a flexible time-off policy, when you have the clear entrance, the clear, transparent goals, and they know what they need to achieve so that they can get their recognition and, potentially, merit increases at the end of their year, what we’re seeing is people still want to get the job done. And so even though we have the flexible time-off policy, we don’t see people really taking advantage of it. There’s no abuse of it. It’s really been surprising what we’ve seen, so I would say for those organizations out there that are considering it, you probably have a misconception about what it will actually be. If you have the right team members, which I think we do, you’ll still need to force them to… we have to designate time that is not your standard national holidays to have our wonderful team members unplug occasionally. 

AM:  And you’re seeing this all across at least the tech industry. And it may be more difficult for our site leaders, the people who work onsite, but being able to have a little bit more flexibility is so important. And I think that’s part of the evolution that we’re a part of right now. We are part of a transformation of the workforce. And so, as we continue to move forward, I believe that people will continue to work longer and harder hours every day, but it needs to be tempered with this ability and the feeling like I am able to take off without what we call Resman FOMO, which is the fear of missing out. And it happens in every organization, so our responsibility as leaders is to continue to normalize taking time off and to continue to promote taking time off by taking time off ourselves, as leaders. And it doesn’t often happen, so as an organization, I think it’s important, yeah, for me … I’m taking my first vacation, my first time away in over a year and I’m nervous about it. It’s going to be very weird to not be in my office at in my home working so … 

EF:  Well, if it makes you feel better, I will personally keep notes so that you do not have a fear of missing out when you get back. I will personally go over everything that happened. 

AM:  And that’s a good point: It’s also the leadership’s responsibility to know that their team member is out. So if they can avoid sending a message, if they can avoid sending an email and maybe just have a recap afterwards. I know that it is almost physically impossible to do that, but the less that we contact team members who are out on vacation, the more that they will have a chance to relax. So, I recommend doing that, as well, when your team member’s out, is to try to avoid reaching out to them. 

EF:  It’s another subject, but one of the things you brought up was thinking about the site level and because, again, being a true partner, and the passion we have for the industry in multifamily and affordable housing in general, is how do we help our frontline teams? And I was thinking about this because I was listening to a seminar yesterday through the National Multi -Housing Council and the guest speaker was talking about how women in the workplace have taken a huge step backwards through the pandemic because they are the caregivers. And where it’s not just nurturing our children, now it’s the caregivers for the family members.  

And there’s a lot of concern about what that’s going to look like going forward. I know within our organization, with our flexible policy, we definitely try to lead by example and hopefully our teams know that we want you to take care of your family. We found ways to be very flexible with our teams, but I think I would challenge our base of customers to think about that one day, that somebody doesn’t have to come in, and maybe they can work remotely. That time out of traffic, having breakfast with your kids, having lunch with your kids, having a zoom meeting with Maggie on your lap—who’s my favorite small coworker—I think that that also is an important part of recognition and sense of belonging in a company. 

AM:  It’s all about care personally. Showing your team members, personally showing your team members hey you can come in late. I understand, you know, take the morning. You’re covered. Those little senses of and nods are about recognition. They’re about that care personally and it gives them that sense of belonging. And it goes all the way back to having their basic needs met, right? I shouldn’t feel guilty or feel like my job is at risk for taking time off. It is there to use. And it just lends itself all the way up to getting to that point of self-actualization. 

EF:  Awesome. Well, that’s a great thing to end on. Alright guys. Well, thank you for joining us today. And we hope that you will take that step back and think about how you’re working with your teams and how to empower them to be their very best and put their success ahead of yours. And your company will be on an inevitable path to success. 

Thanks for listening to the first episode of PropTalk. We hope you enjoyed this episode and that you’ll join us again next time. Be sure to subscribe to PropTalk on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or whatever you use to get your podcasts. 

To learn more about ResMan’s property management platform and get more insight into the multifamily ecosystem, visit myresman.com