Amber Hallum has been in the apartment management industry for 17 years and has managed properties of all sizes, from 100 to 789 units.
How I Became an Apartment Manager
While I was working my way through college at a highway-side hotel, I didn't know what career I wanted to pursue. I was able to study at the hotel office while I waited for customers to check in, so I worked full-time throughout college. I changed majors at least eight times trying to land on the right one for me. I finally settled on French. I didn't plan to use it professionally; I just wanted to learn to speak French and hopefully travel to Paris one day. I studied hard, worked hard, and figured the future would work itself out.
Seventeen years, one husband, and three kids later, I'm glad I took the long and scenic route. I learned to speak French fluently, I've been to Paris twice, and I love going to work every day. I've even gotten to use French twice at work! The bachelor's degree and my hotel customer experience were enough to land me a job as an assistant manager at an apartment community. I learned everything else I needed to know while on the job.
Why I Like My Job
Every day is different, and I'm never stuck at my desk or inside an office. I need to get outside and walk the property at least once per day. I have to go check on apartments, residents, buildings, and teams. I need to attend industry events and training. I need to take prospects on tours. I do have a good amount of computer time that has to be completed, but I am free to do that anytime it suits me. I work from home when I need to concentrate. The office is so busy that it's difficult to have quiet time.
Training my staff to one day take over for me is one of my favorite parts of the job. They are almost always new to the industry, starting out with no idea what it's all about. I look for people who are smart, eager, and creative. There's always a new way to do things.
The Duties of an Apartment or Property Manager
Every apartment manager needs to be flexible, smart, and innovative. Most days, he or she will need to address items such as:
- Lost and found pets. Usually, the found pets get to stay in the office and be petted until their owner is located.
- Crying residents. They may be upset for any number of reasons.
- Crying employees. They're people, too!
- Lookie-Loos. These are people who don't really want to rent an apartment, but they want to see the model and eat the cookies.
- Urgent deadlines for reports to be sent to corporate.
- Delinquent rent. You would be amazed how many people don't pay rent on time!
- Evictions. It's never fun to have the sheriff kick someone out of their home.
- Vendor relations. For example, begging your carpet installer to please lay new carpet at 6:30 the night before a move-in.
- Floods. Water is a big issue in any multi-family structure.
- Dog poop! So many residents refuse to pick up after their pets.
- Staffing. Average turnover in the industry is 60% annually.
- Work orders. There are sometimes as many as 60 new work orders per day.
- Vacant apartments. Getting them ready to show is a process that involves vendors, employees, blood, sweat, and tears.
- Trash. There is always trash all over the property.
- Landscaping. It's an ongoing challenge to keep the landscaping beautiful year-round.
- Preventative maintenance. Somewhere in the middle of everything else, you need to figure out when and how to complete preventative maintenance in the apartments and on the buildings.
- Budgeting. You can't exceed the very minimal budget you've been asked to work with.
- Revenue. You must drive revenue and create new sources of revenue.
- Internet presence. Your internet presence is so important! All new renters are looking online to see your reviews.
- Customer relations. You have to find a way to keep your current residents happy so they will give you good reviews, refer their friends, and continue to live with you.
- Technology. You need to stay current with all the newest technology.
- Marketing. You have to ensure your product is sparkling and ready to show every day. Your model must be clean, bright, and inviting. You should never show a unit unless it's perfectly clean and ready for move-in.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.