The Strategy of Culture, Part II

In Part I, I discussed the importance of healthy office culture on the strategic results. In Part II, I want to inspire an even bigger cultural need—influencing the culture of the community.  Not necessarily the demographics or interests, but more the sense of community that many of our residents are looking for.

While we like to think that we make decisions based on logical factors like cost, location and services, the truth is that even the most rational of us are impacted by less concrete factors like the “feel” of a place or an emotional response.  Case in point, apartment renters consistently name a “sense of community” as a key amenity.

Certainly, community culture can be influenced by creating spaces to congregate or having amenities like a fitness center or pool. But nothing affects culture more than interaction with people.  We’ve all been to lame pool parties so we know that just setting out snacks and playing music doesn’t ensure a good time. In a time of increasing isolation and loneliness, personal interaction and authentic conversation have a strategic impact on culture; directly impacting resident satisfaction and retention.

CARES Program has over a decade of experience in creating a sense of community and positively shaping community culture. Even better, we’ve been able to quantify the strategic impact.  Give us a call to see if a partnership might be right for you.

Would you like more information about the CARES Program and what we offer? Visit our website today. You can also follow us on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

The Strategy of Culture, Part I

Management guru, Peter Drucker, once famously quipped that “culture eats strategy for breakfast”.  Decades later we are still trying to practically address that reality.  It's not that organizational leaders don’t wish their people were better communicators, or had improved self-leadership and self-awareness, its just that in business, we often ignore what we can’t measure. Too many times I’ve been in conversations where leaders were desperately digging for a “performance” reason to fire a toxic employee as if poisoning the work culture wasn’t impacting business results.

This conversation has come up in more than one setting recently and I’m wondering if there might be some tangible ways to measure company or office culture as a component of a larger strategy. I continue to have conversations with leaders who are trying to manage staff who are technically accomplishing their tasks while negatively impacting the culture. Seth Godin suggests some categories to start. Qualities like self-control, productivity, wisdom, perception and influence greatly impact culture and, ultimately, the bottom line. Just because they take more creativity to measure doesn’t mean its not worth the time to figure out. And, perhaps more importantly , these qualities can be learned.

Response time to maintenance issues, seamless payment processing and meaningful amenities are all key strategy markers. But, how staff interacts both internally and externally has just as big an impact on the success of the property. How do these realities play out in your office? What is one culture improvement you’d like to see occur this year? What steps could you take today to define and measure the impact of your office culture?

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Would you like more information about the CARES Program and what we offer? Visit our website today. You can also follow us on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

The Limits of Data

Living in Silicon Valley, I have watched the rise of the UX (user experience) job title. A number of my friends hold this illustrious role and, frankly, I love to watch them work. These are some of the most imaginative people I know and their super power is asking good questions and then keeping their mouth shut. Sure, they often start with analytics. There is no shortage of data that can be generated. However, data has its limits.

Data has no emotion or desire or ideas. But people do. At Stanford Design School, students are taught to listen with an eye toward any emotions that might be displayed during a user interview. Did the user change their breathing, laugh uncomfortably, smile naturally or use emotion words when describing their experience? Probe deeper there. Ask more questions so you can create more imaginative solutions. We know this approach is more effective than simply looking at spreadsheets when it concerns technology purchases. Wouldn’t it be infinitely more effective when determining where to live or whether to stay living there?

So why are we satisfied with resident satisfaction surveys when we know that personal interviews are necessary to help us understand the data? At CARES, we can personally visit every new resident and every resident coming up for renewal. We listen and can help you create a community that truly meets the needs residents don’t even know how to express. Contact us today to experience how well we listen.

Would you like more information about the CARES Program and what we offer? Visit our website today. You can also follow us on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

The Hidden Toxins in our Communities

The grand opening balloons may still be swaying in front of your brand-new lease up, but you are no less likely to be housing highly toxic residents than the aging property down the road. And, no, I don’t mean emotionally toxic.  I’m talking about biological, cellular level toxicity.

In fact, this toxin has a mortality rate of 25 percent and affects over 60 million Americans.  In contrast, air pollution has a mortality rate of 5 percent.

I’m talking about the toxic effects of loneliness on our bodies. UCLA professor, Steve Cole has been studying the cellular effects of isolation for some 15 years. In the past few years, new research has shown that, not only does loneliness harm our ability to fight off disease, it actually increases inflammation in the body; a major cause of disease.

Research also suggests that people in transition are highly susceptible to chronic, physically painful loneliness. Sound like anyone you know? Transition is a fairly common trait amongst our residents.

While you probably don’t have a social worker on your staff, there are some simple things you could do to help people connect; From making residents aware of local groups near your property (sports leagues, book clubs, churches, etc.) to organizing property-wide parties or educational opportunities. You may actually be saving lives.

And if you want an even more personal touch, give us a call at CARES.  We specialize in helping people get connected to personalized, inclusive, thriving community.

Would you like more information about the CARES Program and what we offer? Visit our website today. You can also follow us on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

Engaging Residents in Community

There's a lot of buzz about the community experience these days. And, rightly so. We know that engaged residents who have a sense of belonging in their community are exponentially more likely to renew. However, if you've been in this industry for any length of time you know that engaging residents can be an elusive endeavor.

For instance, how can two properties situated next door to each other, serving the same demographic with similar amenities have a very different 'feel'? We like to reduce it to things we can see like leadership and staffing (and those do make a difference), but I believe we are missing a key factor. The resident's own desire to engage. We know that to be true, but we often give up on our non-engagers instead of considering how we could create space for them to get involved.

Often the answer does not come from the front office, it comes from relationships within the community. One way to increase engagement can be to free up connectors within your community to engage others. Our CARES Program takes advantage of this reality and meets people as fellow residents who are doing life together. We are experts in creating space for people to connect based on internal drive, not external stimulus. 

We would love to hear how you are tapping into the internal drive to engage among your residents!


Would you like more information about the CARES Program and what we offer? Visit our website today. You can also follow us on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

Renewals Begin with Leasing


Getting a prospective resident to sign a lease is a great accomplishment.  Unfortunately, it is too often shortsightedly seen as the end goal when it could instead mark the beginning of a long and prosperous relationship for both parties.  

Our CARES Program data has shown us for years that a resident's renewal trajectory begins at move in.  According to Kate Good, speaker and developer at Hunington Residential Inc. based in Houston, Texas, the issue is a sustainable resident profile. "It's a concept based on a goodwill relationship from their first day of move-in, and then steeped in personalized, professional on-site experiences."  

This strategy must be customized based on the property and demographic, but the end goal remains the same; engage residents meaningfully in the community.  Good calls it "indoctrinating." And while it may sound like more work, industry analysts are noticing that focusing on the life cycle of a resident instead of just the events of lease and renewal is proving more sustainable and profitable over time. 

We love meeting new residents at move in and engaging them in organic, personalized ways in the life of the community.  This isn't just a strategy for us, its a way of life.  We'd love to hear about your community and see how we could work together for a vibrant resident life cycle. 

Would you like more information about the CARES Program and what we offer? Visit our website today. You can also follow us on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.



Givers & Takers

One of the most undervalued stats in any sport is the assist.  Until you realize that it’s the key to success.  Let’s take the NBA for example.  The all-time assist leaders are:

  1. John Stockton - 15,806 

  2. Jason Kidd - 12,091

  3. Steve Nash - 10, 335

  4. Mark Jackson - 12, 334

  5. Magic Johnson - 10, 141

These men are standouts in their own right.  But, somehow, their strength comes with an ability to promote others.

This transfers to management as well. Adam Grant, leading management author and professor, suggests that there are three kinds of leaders: Takers, Matchers and Givers. In basketball terms, givers are assist leaders.  They make everyone else around them great.  According to Grant, if you’re interested in creating an organization where givers are allowed to excel without burning out, you need to weed out takers. 

In this new year, take a moment to consider your own motivations as well as the motivations of your team.  What can you do to make your team more successful?  Who on your team is a natural giver that needs to be encouraged?  And, who among your residents is a giver?  These are people just looking for ways to help others grow and you connecting them to real opportunities on your property can help all of you succeed. 

At CARES, we are always on the lookout for givers.  We know that helping others look good makes everyone in the community better.  We’d love to help you maximize your potential!

Would you like more information about the CARES Program and what we offer? Visit our website today. You can also follow us on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

Controlling What You Can

My mentor has a helpful tool for helping people figure out what they can control and what they can't. It's not rocket science, but it is a visual reminder of the few things I can change--mostly, me. It is a very helpful exercise when I begin to feel out of control or start obsessing about things I can't change. This low-tech table gives space to consider the following variables

  1. The stressor or problem
  2. What I can't control
  3. What I can control 
  4. What I will do

This is a great exercise for any area of life, but let's try it out with something practical--Occupancy.  Here's what it might look like.

In an increasingly disconnected world, people are looking for connection. If they can find it in the place they live, they will not leave easily. This doesn't necessarily require a large budget, but it does require some time and people who actually care. There are often residents who love to entertain or have creative ideas for connecting. At CARES we love empowering and connecting residents who have a creative ideas for community building, marketing, or serving. And, we do all the coordinating, vetting of ideas, background checks, and after hours setup and tear down. 

Regardless of a CARES program, make sure you're not stressing about things you have no control over and are taking action of the things you can.

Would you like more information about the CARES Program and what we offer? Visit our website today. You can also follow us on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

The Secret to Happiness


If there’s one thing Americans are good at, it’s the pursuit of happiness. The only problem is that happiness is an elusive goal. Until recently, at least. In the last year, Harvard researcher, Robert J. Waldinger has published and publicized (see his TED talk here) the findings of the longest study of human development ever completed. The researchers from Harvard medical school discovered that the secret to happiness is found in developing and maintaining close, intimate relationships. Researchers studied a group of men for 75 years and discovered that no matter what their economic, educational or social status, the common denominator for greater health and happiness was the quality of relationships. 

Why would I share that in a blog for the multifamily housing industry? For lots of reasons. First, because regardless of your stance on new year resolutions, it can’t hurt to spend some time considering if our pursuit of the good life is actually aimed in the right direction. But also because we have the unique privilege (if we choose to accept it) of creating space for community.  Apartment communities are ripe for helping people connect—thereby increasing their health and happiness. 

Fostering a sense of community is a common tagline for owners and managers, but I think we do a poor job of informing our residents and others of the benefits of connecting. What if we could really claim that living in our community could add years to your life and increase happiness?! CARES is committed to just this pursuit. It’s a no-brainer. Why wouldn’t you want to increase your profitability while literally making the world a better place? Here’s to a new year of connectedness.  We’d love to help you as you spread a little love.


Would you like more information about the CARES Program and what we offer? Visit our website today. You can also follow us on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

Retention Isn't Just For Residents

In this industry, we spend a fair amount of time considering how to keep our residents because we know the cost of attracting new ones. This just makes sense. Why spend precious time and money on developing a resource that already exists? 

Unfortunately, sometimes we forget that the same holds true for our staff. Staff turnover is also costly.  Not to mention that a stable, consistent staff can mean greater efficiency, higher morale and speedier follow through in the workplace. Taking time to get the next person up to speed means I’m spending less time on more forward pointing activities.

But, perhaps the biggest perk of retaining staff is the benefit to resident retention. Our industry is notorious for turnover and, while that may keep things fresh and growing from an internal perspective, our vendors and residents can find it unsettling. In a world with so much change, it means a lot when home has some stability. Think about the restaurants, shops and hangouts you frequent because you’ve developed even a slight connection with an employee. You have something in common or you know the name of their oldest child or they have your coffee order down. Now think about how you feel when they move on to a different job. Sure, you didn’t expect them to be a barista forever, but suddenly the experience just isn’t the same. This is magnified when considering the place our residents call home (and can obviously have very negative consequences if our staff is not fostering this kind of environment.) .

If you have to choose one retention strategy in 2017, make it your staff. Its an investment that will spill over into the larger retention picture.

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Would you like more information about the CARES Program and what we offer? Visit our website today. You can also follow us on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.