Apartment

You deserve to be recruited

 

You’re talented, you’re just not industry-famous. Yet.

You’re probably not even looking for your next opportunity. But wouldn’t it be nice if your next opportunity was looking for you?

That’s why we exist.

We’re student housing veterans, curating talented candidates for industry leaders. By pre-qualifying candidates and presenting only those we feel would be a great fit for the culture and location of the job at hand, we save time and effort for employers seeking to find their next rock star.

We’re confidential, free to talented candidates, and focused solely on the student housing industry.

Hiring Managers: You have incredible turnover, and the process of finding talent is tedious, and often unfruitful. We seek to help you quickly identify talent where you are, that’s pre-qualified, and a great fit for the culture you’re trying to build.

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We know all of this because we have around 40 plus years of experience at all levels of the industry. Creating a space for top talent to congregate just sounded like an amazing opportunity, so that’s what we did. We’re continuously refining our searchable criteria, and working on ways to best help your new career move find you.

Not a rock star yet? Are you a Leasing Agent, or CA, and thinking you want to make student housing a career?  We want you too! Among the toughest gigs to fill are Leasing Manager and Marketing Manager positions. We’ll be looking at you if you’re interested in making that step up.

Because privacy is essential, we let you make the decisions. Don’t want to put it on blast that you’re open to a promotion to the next level? Great. Sign up with us and let us know to contact you first to gauge your interest. It’s that simple. Or, if you’re wide open to having us share you with the world, we’ll do so when we find a job that sounds perfect for you. The point is, we’ll only share what you want us to.

It’s a new age, with new rules. You deserve to be recruited.

Let us know about you in as little as sixty seconds and we’ll be in touch for more info. Know someone in student housing? Send this to them to share the love. TalentPath.com

 

Business Culture, Prime Directives, and killing John Connor

I got sent this email yesterday, which was one I’d sent some three years ago while at CVI-Orlando. At the time we were six months into a $2 million renovation, and working concertedly to establish a new culture.

When you’re trying to build culture, it’s important to be honest and authentically one’s self. People loathe artifice and inherently move away from it. This email happens to be “me” in written form, and I think it was evident of something that’s worked for me over the years. People know it’s not just some corporate policy I’m being forced to endorse while a concealed derringer burrows into the small of my back, but something I full-throatily support.

I offer it here at as an unedited look, an example, of how I believe in communicating with my teams. Also, I just really crack myself up and I can’t get enough of my choice of analogy here. How great is that hipster John Connor meme?

Big thanks to Larry for 1. Having kept this all these years, and 2. For thinking of me enough to send it to me now. It was a nice laugh during a really busy time and a great glimpse of some of the most fun I’ve had during my career.

Ourmission

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Apartment Video Maintenance Tips, Made Easy

I hate when things break around the house. Having bought my first one three years ago, I’ve often found myself in the position of trying to figure out how to repair various issues on the fly. With YouTube as the Time Life books of our generation, there haven’t been many things I’ve needed to call someone for.

A light bulb came on: quick access, to short videos about common maintenance issues, would be wildly helpful to our Residents. Housing college students means that necessarily a good number of them have never; done their own laundry, run a dishwasher, or unclogged a toilet. A website that explains how to do it themselves is a non-starter. Ditto for a manual or handbook. For Millennials, video is king. Even better, every one of them come with a mobile video player permanently affixed to their hand. How do you leverage that?

We worked on a series of videos with important questions in mind: What’s the vital information we’d want someone to know in a moment when they need it most? What are the types of calls we get all the time that take seconds to fix? Resetting a breaker, a GFI, unclogging a toilet, resetting a garbage disposal – all the easy stuff that a Resident could do themselves in seconds, if they only knew how.

Important to the project was making sure we didn’t make each video too long, or make it complicated in any way. A three minute run-time would kill our click-through rate. Most of our videos are 20 seconds or less and specialized to whatever you’re looking for in the moment.

Knight Circle's new magnetic QR code/short URL sheet for fast video maintenance tips.

Knight Circle’s new magnetic QR code/short URL sheet for fast video maintenance tips.

You can either scan the QR code with your phone or type in the short URL for each area of the apartment, and then you’ll get a playlist of videos to choose from on our YouTube page. At first, we toyed with the idea of stickers on each appliance or area of the home with a quick link to a video specific to that item, but this quickly proved unwieldy. We settled on a 6″x9″ magnet that could be placed on the fridge in each unit – an area where it’s likely to survive and be ever-present in our Residents lives, but not intrusive.

Starting this August, we’ll be placing them on each Fridge as we complete our final inspection walks prior to move-in and dropping some info to look out for them with our new move-in email.

Our mission states that we seek to simplify the complicated and we think this is a huge step in that direction. By allowing our Residents to quickly learn easy lessons about apartment maintenance, and by relieving the work load for our Technicians and CAs, we can free up time better suited to proactive items that really deliver value.

All your room are belong to us

Another year and another order of “Renew your lease now” banners and bandit signs. Ah, student housing – you have few predictable moments, but this is certainly one of them. Last year we wanted to mix it up and do something that would catch an eye because face it, no one is reading your plain text “Renew and save!” signs. They’re not, so stop lying to yourself.

So, we came up with these. I really enjoy them and was proud of the fact they had no contact info on them -they weren’t supposed to. You know where you live and you know where to go if you want to renew. The signs beg you to read them all as you’re not exactly sure what’s going on. Plus, everyone loves memes – that’s why they’re memes.

Aaannndd

This one still sits in my office.

This one still sits in my office.

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I love it. Still cracks me up a little every time.

I love it. Still cracks me up a little every time.

Deadlines are deadlines! Yeah....

Deadlines are deadlines! Yeah….

You know that feeling.

You know that feeling.

To write a better Mission Statement, have a better mission.

Planning is invaluable, but plans are useless.

Planning is invaluable, but plans are useless.

For the last year we’ve been discussing our Mission and who we want to be as a team. What’s the imprint of our collective souls and what words do we want to live by, faithfully? It’s not an easy question and it’s taken us the better part of a year, with regular meetings, to arrive at this:

In everything we do we seek to simplify the complicated. Because nothing is faster, we trust our teammates and clients freely and implicitly, and we treat them that way. Doing so builds a safe environment where communication is free-flowing, open, and honest.

Through this environment we continually work to innovate our operational systems to ensure the best possible user experience (UX), from first tour through graduation. Knights Circle creates an exceptional Student Housing experience by focusing on people, and a ceaseless desire to make their lives easier.

A few thoughts relating to our mission statement and how we went into the process of creating it:

It’s focused: We wanted something that wasn’t too long or too all encompassing – if you have five priorities, you have no priorities. We wanted to focus on systems because we all could and everyone had skin in that game. From the bottom up, our organization has an interest in making sure our systems work properly every time. Our clients’ satisfaction is directly wrapped up in our systems, as are our front line team members. If things work right, you’re generally happy with the service – both inside and outside the operation.

It’s not permanent:  I think too often people tend to assume that a mission statement needs to be god speaking for all time. Not so. It’s a living document, much closer to a constitution – this is how we’re assembled and for what purpose. If we no longer feel as though this speaks to our highest purpose, and there’s another revelation that we want to enshrine, then change it we will. The good news is we don’t need anything as unwieldy as a continental congress to do it.

It advises action: A mission statement that can’t help guide your choice in actions isn’t worth the time it takes to read it. If we’re going to say that we trust everyone implicitly, what’s that look like in action? Are there things we’re doing now that suggest we don’t trust people? For example, some managers have required doctor’s notes for absent employees who’ve called out for appointments. Requiring the note says fully “look, we don’t really believe you and we want to see proof – we don’t trust you and we have to protect ourselves from you.” That’s not at all the message we want to send, so we stop doing it. The same with our clients – if they want to switch rooms due to an unsolvable roommate dispute, requiring the jumping through of hoops for documentation in order to offer it, it says “We don’t believe you and we don’t trust you. You’re trying to get over on us and we’re not going to have it.” That was never the intention of course, but that’s the resulting feeling to the client.

 It’s honest: How many times have you looked at a company’s stated mission only to shake your head? The soaring platitudes are exhausting and immediately erode whatever trust you may have had. If an organization can’t be honest with themselves, how can they be honest (consistently, institutionally) with anyone else? We wanted to say something we all believed in and that we all wanted to live by. The best parts of US is our ability to work together and our shared desire to provide a great experience. We were honest with each other that while we’re pretty damn good at this thing, we’re not perfect and we’d like to get closer to that. Breaking it down we realized focusing our energies on perfecting our systems would have a ripple effect positively touching every other aspect of our business; Happier clients, happier Team, and more success.

Another great design by Danae McDermott

Another great design by Danae McDermott

We started with Why: A giant hat tip to Mr. Simon Sinek for his inspirational TED talk. If you’re not familiar, I can’t implore you enough to check out his work (Talks, books, consulting services, etc…) as he’s directly responsible for how we chose to approach this formulation. In short, Sinek advises that great organizations start with Why they do things, then How, then What. Most though do it the other way around and this gets it all wrong, eliminating any of the inspiration and identity that could be had between the client and the company. For an example, ours is as follows:

WHY: We hate needless complication. We like things to work seamlessly. We think we can simplify things better than anyone else because we understand WHY they ultimately should be that way.

HOW: Because we trust each other, and our clients, we’re able to be honest about our business and our shortcomings in our systems. We strive to fix our systems to eliminate institutional defects.

WHAT: An exceptional student housing experience. This starts with everything working the way it should. The exceptional part is that we’re also exceedingly nice and warm, happy people who love what they do and each other. Since we work in a system that values people and making things work, we’ve got lots of goodwill in our hearts to treat you like a rock star and to go out of our way for you. We’re not scared of you, or hiding from you – we want to delight you.

We think this should be a good overall statement for this coming year and I’m impressed with how the team has taken to it with enthusiasm. I’m confident that a year from now, we’ll be writing a different version that recognizes our shifting focus while retaining our core Why, and that’s how it should be. Involvement breeds commitment, and that’s one thing we have plenty of.

What’s your mission? How did you get there? Does it still serve you and your team?

What you need to know before signing your lease!

Congratulations! You’re an adult! Crazy, right? You get to vote; buy tobacco (though you really shouldn’t), and play the lottery (really, don’t – keep your money). Oh yeah, you also get to make legally binding agreements. Hurray!

There are a handful of basic things you should know and look for before you (and your roommates?) decide to sign on the line that is dotted. Trust me, we’ll make it brief and to the point…

Know what you're doing before you sign it!

Know what you're doing before you sign any contract!

First overall tip: Read the whole lease!
“Ugh, it’s so long and boring!” I know. But this isn’t the terms and conditions of use for your itunes account. This stuff is real right here! So get a pad and look for the answers to these questions before you sign.

1. What are the dates of move-in/move-out?
Are they going to work for you? Are they what you agreed to? Are you planning on attending summer school? If so, most student leases end prior to the completion of the summer term. Make sure you’re cool with that or you feel reasonably comfortable moving in the middle of finals!
2. Monthly rental rate? Annual Sum add up correctly?
Again, make sure these numbers are correct and if there was any special offered (like a month free or an iPad) that you have an addendum to the lease that clearly states the conditions of the special and how it will be redeemed. Many “specials” are billed back to you should you fail to fulfill the terms of the lease.
3. What are the late fees and when is the rent due without penalty?
What is the policy on mailing a check in? Most places don’t care when the post mark is, only when it arrives. Additionally, many have steep late fees of up to $180 a month (adding up per day) which they’re not inclined to waive, regardless the excuse! If the grace period for rent is up on the 3rd, they often won’t accept it on the 4th without the fee attached! No one plans on being late, but it’s better to know the policy before you wind up in a jam.
4. How do you terminate the lease? Can you? Errrr….
This is a biggy! More often than not, there is no option to terminate the lease – other than subleasing the unit, for which you’re responsible for finding the person to take over your lease. Don’t take the Agent’s word for it, it’s not as easy to do as it is often made out to be! If it were, the Community would be inclined to do it for you at great financial reward to themselves. This can happen from time to time, but is incredibly rare in the student housing market.
5. Can you cancel your lease if you: Feel unsafe? Fight with your roommate? Get kicked out of school? Have a medical issue?
The answer is virtually always “NO!” If someone tells you otherwise, ask to see where it states the provision in writing and what the requirements for documentation are. Guess what? There won’t be as Apartment communities aren’t in the business of losing paying Residents mid-year when they can’t likely fill the unit. It’s not that they’re careless, they just have to be consistent. And if they’re going to be consistent, they’re going to err on the side of fiscal caution.

6. But seriously, I have an allergy and my roommate’s BF is a creeper who’s always here and I’m failing ENC1102.

Again, unless you have a specific addendum or agreement in writing releasing you, your odds aren’t good.

7. What are your options for transferring units should you hate your roommate?
Look over the transfer options and make sure you understand what the proceedure is should you have a falling out with your roommates or desire a change of sceneary, mid-lease term. Some companies offer a no-questions-asked transfer for a fee of $100-$300, or more.
8. Exactly what utilities are included?
Most “By-the-bed” student communities are all-inclusive: Cable, Internet, Power, Water, Furniture, etc… generally speaking, there is a cap on electricity per room and any overages are divided amongst the roommates. Know what this amount is and call the utility provider to get an average monthly usage for that address to help gauge what to expect. Actual usage of $45-60 per room seems to be a solid average if you don’t have the specifics for that address. Also, if internet is provided, make sure you know in what form and if bandwidth is capped at a certain amount. Wi-fi or LAN connection? One port for everyone or does each room have it’s own?
9. Damages and deposits?
Most by-the-bed leases hold the Resident responsible for damages to their own room and for an equal share of the common area (living room/kitchet, etc…) unless otherwise stated. If your roommates throw a party while you’re in Spain for the summer and wind up torching the couch, you’ll owe on it. Many communities will allow damages to be placaed on individual parties if they claim responsibility in writting for it, though you’ll want to be sure.
10. Did you pay a deposit? Doubt it!
Due to the administrative deluge that is student housing, many companies are forgoing traditional deposits in lieu of one-time “reservation” or “administrative fee” in addition to an application fee. These are usually $99-250 (per person!) and are non-refundable. Make sure you know what fees you’re paying up front and make sure you get and keep the receipt.

Go forth eager student and sign thy lease! But before you do, know full well that I’m not an attorney. Not even close, in fact. I look great in a suit – granted. But that’s about where it ends. If you have ACTUAL legal questions, find a contract lawyer and ask them to look it over. This post is only general, FAQ-type stuff and solid advice for the lay person.