Why Your Staff is Your Greatest Amenity

At my apartment community, there is a morning and afternoon shuttle that takes residents from the apartment to the bus stop and vice versa. The usual shuttle driver is friendly (but not overly chatty), remembers which building to drop people off on the way home and, most importantly, is prompt. He’s on vacation this week though. The sub is fine…but he wants everyone’s life story, and isn’t there right away when the bus comes. So we all wait outside. In 90-degree heat.

I know, I know. Cry me a river, right? Why don’t I also complain about something of equal importance to society, like how there’s nothing good on TV in the summer? (There totally isn’t though. Except obviously for Dexter and Breaking Bad, which starts in August. Oh, and Whose Line is it Anyway? is back. And Under the Dome is slightly intriguing even though it doesn’t follow the book at all, except for the dome part, of course, but why even bother adapting a book if you’re not going to follow it even a little bit? But I digress.)

Anyway, the actual amenity—the shuttle—is still there, and waiting a few of minutes sure beats having to walk across a four-lane highway to get back to the apartment. But it just goes to show how important a good team is.

Case in point, a few years ago I lived in a Manhattan apartment where there was a great roof deck, a dishwasher in the unit and laundry machines in the basement. But what do I remember most about that apartment? The creepy doorman who insisted on chatting up all the women and who—you could totally tell—was mentally undressing everyone with his eyes. He did his job—we always got his packages, he called up when someone was visiting—but despite that, my roommate and I dreaded getting our mail in case he was in the lobby.

A good team makes all the difference to residents. In fact, your staff is your greatest amenity.

You might think you need all the flashiest new amenities to attract new residents. Fine, maybe that’ll get a few people in. But people will adjust. Don’t have a pool? Residents will find a town pool or just relax in the AC. In one of my apartments I could never have packages delivered because I wasn’t home during the day and there was no doorman or package room. So what? I would send my packages to my work or to my brother who did have a doorman (and he’s less nosy about packages then if I were to send them to my parents). But if you have a poorly trained team, people will start to get annoyed. For example, if the maintenance man never shows up for an appointment, or if the leasing agent out front always rolls her eyes if someone has a rent question, residents will begin to question if they want to renew their lease there, or go someplace comparable where people do their jobs correctly and don’t give attitude.

That’s not to say that all members of the apartment team need to become best friends with all the residents. Job competence is the most important factor. And a little friendliness goes a long way.

As a property manager, how do you manage this? Make sure your staff is properly trained. Maybe offer incentives for reaching a goal (like getting a certain number of renewals a month, or not throttling a resident who asks, monthly, what day the rent is due) so that they are motivated and excited to come to work. You might want to also ask for feedback from residents from time to time.

And make sure they’re on time with that shuttle. It’s hot out there.

-Jessica Fiur, News Editor