Consider Hiring a Newbie
Posted by Will Alfaro (CMS)
on Thursday, February 25, 2010
By Shelley Russell, CAPS, District Supervisor, Rockwell Management
Need to hire a new leasing professional and think you need to get someone "with experience." Well, if you have had much experience with hiring for your on-site team, you probably have already had the experience that some of your "seasoned" hires left something to be desired once they started working at your property. You may want to reconsider hiring someone without prior experience, and here are some great reasons why:
* "Newbies" don't know that they can't lease 20 apartments in a week. I don't know about you, but I have often had a "newbie" outperform my seasoned leasers within the first couple of weeks. It is all about their enthusiasm, as well as their sales and customer service skills which should have been the basis for you hiring a "newbie." Plus, they haven't learned that it "can't" be done.
* You don't really know how much training or knowledge an "experienced" employee has had. Or worse, an "experienced" hire could have picked up some really bad habits that, once established, can be hard to "train out" of a person. It can often take longer to fix errors from an "experienced" employee than it would take to get your "newbie"up to speed on things like reports and work flow. I was, and chances are, you were "newbies" once. For me personally, one of the most gratifying aspects of my job today is finding and developing those "diamonds in the rough." Hiring the right "newbie" could result in an invaluable addition to your professional network for the rest of your career.
* Some "experienced" employees have an inflated sense of their worth when it comes to their salary. Pay rates for leasing can vary greatly for lots of different reasons, but the higher leasing salaries often don't correlate to better leasing and customer service performance. You can always start a "newbie" out on the lower end of the payscale. Because we should be rewarding performance, consider increasing commission compensation based on performance, or a salary review that is based on specific goals and milestones for your "newbie." Structure your leasing compensation so that it truly rewards ongoing performance.
Retail businesses and restaurants are some great places to recruit a "newbie." Often, recruits from these businesses already have developed some of their customer service skills, and they will appreciate not having to work until late at night.
So now you've made the decision to hire a "newbie." In order to ensure your "newbie" and you the best of success, the best investment of your time is in starting them off on the right foot. Employees who are new to the industry "don't know what they don't know." It is up to you to start building their foundation of knowledge and awareness of the issues that impact leasing as well as liability. Here are some helpful tips when you have a new employee who is also new to the industry, but you don't have a lot of time to help them:
* Your new employee does not have to know all of the answers on day one, but make sure they know where to find the answers. Obviously, you are their best resource, but you may not always be available. Provide them with a complete lease packet to review, and show them the TAA Redbook. Give them a full tour of your office, explaining your administration flow.
* Let your new employee spend the first couple of days shopping your competitors. Then, take an hour of your time to sit down with them and discuss their insights as well as compare the rental rates and product for the competitors. This is a great way to quickly teach a new employee the "do's and don'ts" of greeting and touring, but also gives them the valuable knowledge of knowing how the product and pricing within your competitive submarket. Plus, by taking the time to meet with your employee, you are demonstrating your commitment to their professional development. I recommend that they do not shop more than two properties a day. This allows them to retain details of each property much more successfully.
* Give them a quiet space to read the entire lease contract. Ask them to make a list of questions on any points that they may need for you to clarify. Then, sit down with them and review each section of the contract with them to confirm their understanding. I am sure we haev all seen our fair share of "experienced" office staff who still don't know what the lease says.
* With the emergence of the Internet and computers, training has never been easier. There are numerous on line training resources for our industry. Have your "newbie" complete Fair Housing and Sexual Harassment within their first week. These are two of your biggest areas of employee liability. You will increase your employee's awareness and begin to develop their insight into our industry. Set a monthly schedule at the time of hire (for any employee) that requires all of your employees to take ownership of some of their own training and development.
* Enroll your "newbie" in the NALP designation program. There is no better way to develop a new employee's professionalism as well as to introduce them to our greatest industry resource: The Apartment Association.
In the event that you still decide you want to hire an "experienced" leasing consultant, do your "newbie" interviewees a favor and share some of these pointers with them. Even if they don't come to work for you, they will appreciate you pushing them in the right direction to get their career started in property management.
February is National Apartment Careers Month! Thanks to our guest blogger, Shelley Russell of Rockwell Management, for her contribution to the discussion. Join in with your comments below on your own experience with welcoming "newbies" to our industry.