‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, and Not a Creature Was Stirring–Especially Well-Prepared Community Managers

The holidays are here, and for many businesses that means slowing down and some end-of-the-year time off. But for multifamily property managers, ‘tis the season to be more prepared, much busier, and exceptionally vigilant as deliveries ramp up, residents get creative with holiday lights, and more guests come and go

MMendillo_DSC_3106The holidays are here, and for many businesses that means slowing down and some end-of-the-year time off. But for multifamily property managers, ‘tis the season to be more prepared, much busier, and exceptionally vigilant as deliveries ramp up, residents get creative with holiday lights, and more guests come and go from buildings to celebrate at all hours.

With careful preparation and a few key holiday strategies, community managers can minimize any last-minute management issues and ensure that December 24 will in fact be the night no one is stirring, as the timeless poem, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, famously begins. The goal is not only to provide an exceptional holiday for residents, but for community managers to spend Christmas Eve “nestled all snug in their beds.”

How can community managers meet these goals? Many lines from the 1823 classic poem can help:

“The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow, gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below”

Safety remains first and foremost throughout the holiday season. Remind all residents about building policies regarding candles, holiday lights and any other decorations that could raise fire safety issues. Consider wishing residents a safe and happy holiday season with a card that includes these policies.

Every association and board differs on what is acceptable for lights and decorations, but in general avoid decorations “that give the lustre of midday to objects below.”

“When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter”

To avoid last-minute calls from residents about issues that wake them (and the building staff) in the middle of the night, do extra maintenance checks in the days leading up to the holidays. Ensure all electrical, plumbing and security camera systems in the building are well maintained and function seamlessly.

In addition, make sure building liability and fire insurance policies are up-to-date. Although hopefully no unforeseen events will arise, a quick policy check can add to everyone’s peace of mind.

“When, what to my wondering eyes should appear” then more packages I’ve seen any other time of year

OK, that’s only partially from the poem. But accepting, storing, securing and distributing all the additional parcels that cross a front desk this time of year is often challenging. Even buildings that designate extra storage space often face multiple issues, like notifying residents in a timely manner and securing potentially pricey holiday gifts to prevent theft.

It’s not just the sheer number of packages, either. Some front desk staff will also see unusual or unusually large parcels at holiday time. As Eric Gattoni, vice president of property services at FirstService Residential in Toronto, points out in “Meeting the King-Size Challenge of Parcel Management at Multifamily Residences” even a king-size mattress is within the realm of possibility.

“A wink of his eye and a twist of his head, soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread”

As they do throughout the year, front desk staff make the first impression for residents and guests at holiday time. Greeting everyone with a smile can help brighten the holidays.

Some buildings increase their staffing to accommodate more holiday visitors and parcels. Others gets creative with scheduling, overlapping or re-assigning staff at the peak times. In any case, some additional training may be in order, particularly with new staff at the desk.

“He sprung to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, and away they all flew”

Even with all these tactics and preparation, issues can arise at any time of day or night. Building problems never take a holiday, so community managers can be called upon to spring to action at any time. Because of this, it’s important to remind residents how to reach property management during non-business hours. At FirstService Residential, that means making sure all of our residents have the number to our 24/7/365 Customer Care Center. This can easily be done by distributing a holiday flyer or posting a holiday memo in elevators.

Hopefully these tips will help ensure a safe and peaceful holiday season for building residents, their guests and dedicated community managers everywhere. Finally, I’d like to add:

“Merry Christmas (and Happy Holidays) to all, and to all a good night!”

Michael A. Mendillo is president of FirstService Residential’s East region, which serves more than 1,000 community associations and 310,000 homes across Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, Washington, D.C., Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Illinois. Through a charismatic personality, a genuine connection with and passion for people, Mendillo has become a prolific speaker on such topics as community association management, entrepreneurialism, leadership, vision, corporate culture and the relationship between service and business.