SPECIAL REPORT: 60+ Innovative Ideas to Enhance Competitiveness in the Multifamily Market

By Erika Schnitzer, Associate EditorDenver–Multi-Housing World’s widely popular “60 Ideas in 60 Minutes” session drew management suggestions from 11 leading multifamily experts. The panel, moderated by Anne Sadovsky, certified speaking professional, proposed innovative ideas for use across the industry and to help properties stay competitive in their marketplaces.The dynamic panel was made up of Toni Blake, president, TotallyToni.com; Eve Bradford, president, Excel Training & Consulting Inc.; Tracey Hopkins, owner, Jumpstart Marketing; Joe Kaye, director of sales & marketing, Direct Energy; Cathy Macaione, president, CMA Direct; Wendy Muse, vice president of marketing and training, Tarragon Corporation; Terri Norvell, professional speaker and trainer, the inner prize; L. Lee O’Connor, COO/vice president, Ellipse Group; Jackie Ramstedt, president, consultant, national speaker and chief motivational officer, Ramstedt Enterprises; and Lori Snider, principal, Creativity for Rent LLC.Panelists listed a number of innovative websites, including:•    Slydial.com–use this to be directly connected to someone’s voicemail—when managers don’t want to appear pesky or confrontational.•    Crimereportslive.com–keep up with crime in any neighborhood.•    Zipskinny.com–provides information about neighborhoods based on zipcodes. Ideal for developer who want to compare areas.•    Rentometer.com–compare rents with similar properties to find out whether you’re charging too much or too little.•    Learningtown.com–a social networking site for trainers. Also, create your own social network at www.ning.com.•    Google Docs–collaboration made easy.•    Internal instant messaging–for when employees are spread throughout numerous offices. Examples include jabber.com and igniterealtime.org.•    Backyardview.com–faux three-dimensional wood-framed windows that provide a view, even when there isn’t one (“windows for the windowless”).•    Addictomatic.com–search live websites to see where a property is listed or discussed.•    Loopt–a land-based mobile social networking program with instant messaging and mapping.Here’s a sampling of other ideas:•    Livescribe–“Smartpen” that downloads notes straight to a computer.•    Fresh Wave–a non-toxic, “green” odor absorber.•    Display a sign advertising Wi-Fi hot spot–most properties have them, but make sure residents know. Post a prominent sign on site.•    The Flip–records videos and images and can be downloaded directly to a computer for easy upload to a property website.•    Keep it Clean–as an incentive, give away a free Dyson or iRobot to new residents.•    Click to chat/click to call–a feature on a property Website that can be turned on or off depending on employees’ availability.