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Best Practices- Maintenance

Navigating the "pre-NTV" & turnkey process, together!: Renewal Series Part 2

by Christin D. on 6/18/2020 1:13:00 PM

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Renewal Series: Part 2 – Navigating the “Turnkey” process together
Restructuring the process
In part 1 of this special renewal series, we examined how to forecast as accurately as possible for upcoming turns to begin scheduling and sourcing supplies. Though the industry has seen a decline in resident turnover, turns will still be inevitable. Some suggestions below can help you navigate current turn-key procedures and provide support and solutions for some pandemic imposed challenges.
Notice to vacate walks (or lack thereof)
Upon receiving a resident’s “Notice to Vacate” (NTV), an industry best practice is to notice the resident of entry for their “pre-Notice to Vacate” inspection, explaining it’s just to set expectations. These inspections usually are done anywhere 14-45 days prior to move-out. Under current conditions, access has become much more restricted, so how should you proceed scheduling upcoming turns?
Innovative Options
The recent Pandemic has made access more difficult, but there are options if you are unable to walk the unit for condition and scheduling. By looking at workorder history, length of residency, and asking residents if they have any questions for their move out inspection, you may be able to field some solid scheduling needs. Urgency in scheduling a contractor for needed turnkey activities with a potential back up plan is key navigating the current landscape. You don’t want to assume that one contractor will always be available, especially with any existing furloughs or reduced staffing practices currently in place with key contractors.
The “turn-key” process as we know it, knew it, and how to navigate it
To help navigate the turn process, below is a guide for each action and potential resources through Buyers Access or industry suppliers:
The “Standard”, “Challenge”, and “New Needs”:
1-      Pre NTV-walk:
 Standard: Typically done 14-45 days in advance of move-out with resident to inspect for repairs needed, and once again after current resident(s) vacate.
 Challenge: unable to enter due to pandemic restrictions
 New Needs: Social distancing protocols, PPE, ordering supplies in advance, scheduling back up for contractors in case they are unavailable due to pandemic shifts in labor and health.
2-      Move out inspection:
 Standard: conducted with or without the resident taking photos to generate Final Account Statement. Lock change is completed at this time and the maintenance and repair items identified can be scheduled with turn contractors (Paint, Clean, Carpet Cleaning or Replacement).
Challenge: Contractors may be unavailable due to pandemic impacts, so schedule back up or get basic turnkey supplies such as paint, carpet cleaning solution and minor equipment if warranted.
New Needs: Sanitization protocols recommended by CDC and other industry resources such as NAA and NMHC. Buy enough turnkey common items for a couple months in case supply chains become an issue due to substantially increased demand or extended supply challenges.
3-      Lock change:
Standard: Change locks upon surrender of unit by resident, or as needed upon eviction.
Challenge: Contactless operations can impact the surrender action causing legal issues if you are not careful. Also, contactless operations pose challenge to in person surrenders and lock changes.
New Needs: RemoteLock, a Buyers Access supplier can help you with touchless and contactless lock changes. See more about RemoteLock HERE.
4-      Trash out:
Standard: Follow legally recommended guidelines when performing Trash Outs to minimize liability risks.
 Challenge: Evictions in bulk, limited PPE available, extenuating circumstances exist, grey areas to consider in evictions, and potential adjustments to local laws that are abnormal restricting landlord activities.
New Needs: Consult your legal counsel before proceeding with a Trash Out where surrendered possession is in question.
5-      Punch:
Standard: NTV walks revealed much of what would be needed in the past but without the ability to enter units in some areas, plus potential for shortages in supplies, ordering further in advance or more than typical may be prudent. If you have problems sourcing products, or would like to better understand advance purchasing needs Buyers Access can help. Contact us HERE.
Challenge: Supply chain issues, ambiguity in forecast accuracy.
New Needs: Buyers Access has helped our members throughout the pandemic to source high demand items, and to get ahead of the curve. If you need someone to help execute a smooth transition between all turnkey and operational purchasing activities, Buyers Access is a good place to start. Contact us for a free analysis, or a call to discuss how we can help.
6-      Paint, Clean, and Carpet Cleaning:
Standard: Schedule vendors for each activity upon pre-NTV walk.
Challenge: Availability of qualified resources to perform turns, and Pandemic imposed changes.
New Needs: Buyers Access members have access to a network of supplier partners and vendor resources, as well as access to some in house solutions to the standard turn key contractor process. Suppliers within our network provided educational materials and training to operate new equipment to paint, clean, etc. If you need help with this, contact Buyers Access.
7-   Final Walk and Lock Change, unit is complete!
 
Industry best practices continue to evolve over time within the multifamily industry. Pandemic and other emergencies that are unpredictable can often create the need develop shifts in approach, or changes in practices to continue to serve our residents and teams. Prior to approaching the “Pre-NTV” walks, step back and weigh the options.
Visit https://www.naahq.org/coronavirus-guidance or https://www.nmhc.org/research-insight/Research-Insight-Knowledge-Library/covid-19-hub/ through NMHC. Buyers Access also is helping thousands of members navigate their operations and can help you too. Email us HERE and stop doing purchasing the hard way!
 

 

 
 
 



Best Practices- Maintenance

Pet-Friendly Upgrades!

by Christin D. on 3/19/2020 1:52:00 PM

Earlier this year, the National Multifamily Housing Council released it’s “2020 Apartment Resident Preferences Report,” and the results solidified what has become a known fact: our residents LOVE their pets!
That’s right, just as suspected, residents will often compare properties pet-friendly perks when searching for their new home, and it could make or break their renting decision at your community!  
Know what makes them tick
Successful community teams are actively prioritizing how well their property features cater to the needs of four-legged residents. They are up to date on their competitor’s pet-friendly offerings and constantly strategize ways to engage the community with their next-level features. That “little something extra” separates the pet-friendly features from serving just as an amenity and skyrocket it up a level to a full-blown experience. Perhaps you could incorporate the same at your property with Buyers Access and Pets and Playground this year?
It pays to love pet’s
The love of four-legged family members doesn’t come without its benefits to property teams. Herein lies the perfect opportunity for properties to capitalize on the prioritization of pets and making leasing and retention a breeze! Renter’s will often place their pet’s comfort before their own when weighing rental decisions, and they will pay for it too! According to the 2020 preferences report, these additional features can generate an additional $28 - $34 per month per apartment! Partner with a purchasing consultant like Buyers Access, and you can utilize our team of supplier partners like

 Pets and Playgrounds to source your upcoming amenity projects. Saving with us and streamlining the process while using the expertise of our partners, you will recoup the cost in no-time!
What’s hot right now
So how can you upgrade or begin attracting these dedicated pet owners to your community? Easy! Here are some ideas to get you going:
  1. Turn the old computer lab or package room into a “paw spa” fully equipped with grooming supplies, state of the art air-dryers’, and local pet confection’s like gourmet treats, shampoos, and other fun grabs that give that extra charm.
  2. Create a pet of the month club and have local pet food and supply vendors participate in a monthly winner awarding them with treats of choice through their business. It’s a way to get their name out and partner with the local community while praising furry residents. Don’t forget about cats!!!
  3. Are your community tennis courts not getting used? Maybe upgrading them into an outdoor agility course with faux turf and people-friendly fire pits would be a better pull. This way, your residents can interact regardless of whether they have pets or not and be in the same space within the community. This interaction will build an amenity that residents won’t want to leave, and prospects will want to know.
 
 
 
Personalize the experience
Catering to the love of residents and their pets can not only help secure leases and renewals but also will promote an overall sense of community depending on how you leverage the additions. Hosting that monthly “Yappy Hour” isn’t a bad idea and pet’s or no pet’s, wine, and apps are always welcome!
The conversation will attract a crowd, and before you know it, the “Yappy Hour” is awaited by all residents alike.
 
 
 
 
Let’s do this for the pets!
It’s heating up, and the weather will generate demand for pet-friendly features. Why not capitalize on the opportunity, have some fun, and add value to your
 asset in the meantime?
Contact Buyers Access to see how our solutions and partnerships can help make your amenity upgrades a breeze. The savings and efficiency will create a profitable ROI in record time, and it’s likely one of the easiest projects you will ever do. Click to contact us or reach out to your Account Manager for more information.
 
 



Best Practices- Maintenance

Behind every successful property: Account Managers of Buyers Access

by Christin D. on 12/13/2019 2:46:00 PM

 

Behind Every Successful Property: Buyers Access Account Management Inside Edition

On-site property management teams face insurmountable challenges that are highly unpredictable at times. Every day, opportunity to overcome multiple obstacles exists. With the best intentions, purchasing activities frequently cannot be managed by on-site teams without additional support. That is where Buyers Access and the Account Management team come into play and can add extensive supplemental resources to aid in the domination of purchasing and procurement activities. Your company on-site teams will not fully execute and optimize purchasing by working just a bit harder or longer. They need expert resources and support, they need a Buyers Access Account Manager.
 
Account Managers at Buyers Access are what your company needs to outperform the average competitor in today’s market. Our Account Management group is responsible for optimizing the purchasing of 600,000+ units across the nation, and we have been doing it for 35+ years. In addition, a full Member Services department exists to support the daily expense optimization at your properties, and act as an extension of your site teams by doing administrative legwork.
 
So, what is this mysterious species, a Buyers Access Account Manager?
 
Buyers Access Account Manager (n.):
1. Heroic purchasing optimization warriors who save property management companies from wasting time and money. 2. A secret weapon who requires a diet of wasted time, money, and frivolous spend. 3. Obsessive, over caring, sometimes crazed, forward thinkers.
 
 
Sometimes the full impact of the many challenges experienced at the on-site level are hard to realize in full capacity if the observer is not in the trenches. The Account Management team at Buyers Access is nothing short of a dynamic group of people, but how can they impact your business.
 
Below are a few examples of the many successes that took place in 2019.
  • Over 500 toilets were purchased and installed, generating a total savings of $70,000! Strategic sourcing and negotiation combined with a streamlined, all-in-one solution created this huge savings. Through the help of a Buyers Access Account Manager, when this project was rebid under an all-in-one philosophy, the new quote was $20K less than the best quote previously obtained.
  • A medium-sized, established, customer elected to have in-person training for over 50 of their on-site team members. Closing out 2019, the results were an increased NOI through an overall reduction in purchasing expenditures. The team reported that the training helped them a great deal and they feel they operate more efficiently through using the Buyers Access resources at their full capacity.
  • 15 consecutive renovations executed within one year were accomplished by an owner with the support of a Buyers Access Account Manager. The Account Manager worked together with the owner to plan, track, standardize, install, audit, and execute all 15 projects, and acted as the de-facto Project Manager. Products with higher durability replaced less expensive options, however this member paid less! Credits and additional rebates were found that the company qualified for, pricing consistency checks and balances were established, and savings/rebates were substantial. This made investor calls a breeze for leadership!

2019 strategy won't make 2020's NOI

Multifamily management companies have weathered significant changes in regulations in 2019. New laws ranging from rent control implementation in some states to extension of the “notice-to-cure” period on evictions in others, to revenue from ancillary income being more heavily regulated by some local jurisdictions . All these new challenges have made not only the 2020 budget process more difficult, but also day to day operations. Buyers Access members hold a distinct advantage for many of these challenges through their connection to our program. They have Account Managers negotiating on their behalf often uncovering saving opportunities, standardizing product lists yielding competitive and consistent pricing, and uncovering potential rebates by aggregating sourcing from suppliers.

 
The bar is set high and it raises daily. Through brilliant strategy, firm negotiations, and endless support, companies win, and so do we for them! Most Buyers Access team members have been on site and know first- hand the challenges that exist, they have lived it. Strategic planning on budgets with Buyers Access vs. those without are like night and day due to the support, resources, and saving strategies Account Managers help implement.
 
I asked one Account Manager to tell me about an experience where she impacted the lives of others through the mastery of her craft, and here’s what she said.
 
"I would have to say that happens daily. Having been on-site, I know how much we do daily to help managers and maintenance staffs, and they do too. Sometimes it is as simple as telling them which dishwasher they usually order. We are always here to lean on. That's a big deal."
 
What is stopping you from gaining “access” with the Buyers Access program at your organization?
 

Contact Buyers Access

 

 




Best Practices- Maintenance

National Recycling Day - State of Recycling and Multifamily Real Estate

by Christin D. on 11/12/2019 11:32:00 AM

National Recycling Day is November 15th!

This year, National Recycling Day (America Recycles Day) falls on Thursday, November 15th, and encourages communities and their members to spread the word about recycling. America Recycles Day is a “Keep America Beautiful” campaign program focused on educating, motivating, and encouraging recycling, with the goal of engaging and promoting participation in practices to reduce the amount of non-recycled waste. To that extent, many multifamily communities have been hosting events and educating residents about recycling, and best practices to help reduce the environmental impact caused by waste produced at their community. In addition, multifamily I recycling initiatives have evolved substantially since the early days. Below we will take an inside look at multi-family waste management practices, recycling initiatives, and additional benefits created through best practices.

2001: EPA multifamily specific study

In 2001, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) embarked on a study focused primarily on the discovery of the extent to which the multifamily industry was employing recycling programs across the nation. Prior to the EPA study, multifamily did not have a clear definition of recycling practices due to falling under a commercial real estate classification. The EPA study sampled 40 communities across the nation and compared single family to multifamily community recycling practices, and their success and shortfalls. The EPA then defined what a successful recycling program should look like in the multifamily business, and how this was accomplished in what was called the “Multifamily and High-Rise Recycling Assessment”. The results of the 2001 survey brought about significant adjustments in multifamily recycling requirements to various jurisdictions throughout the country.

2016: State of curbside report study

In 2016, the State of Recycling report was published by The Recycling Partnership, which analyzed single family and multifamily best practices and effectiveness for recycling. The findings yielded some of the original challenges the EPA uncovered in the 2001 study, primarily due to a large portion of local governments not defining multifamily outside of the commercial sector. In the 2016 study, 465 communities comprising about 36 million residential units (Single family homes and multifamily units) were considered, and the study found that only 25 million units were eligible for curbside collection including recycling as an option. This means that 11 million units of multifamily were still not included as a part of curbside recycling program. Since that point in time, many local jurisdictions have started to require mandatory recycling in multifamily.

Benefits of recycling

Why does our country donate so much time into supporting recycling as an initiative on so many different levels? A plethora of benefits are realized when communities choose to recycle rather than toss waste into landfills. The practice of recycling conserves natural resources such as water, saves energy, prevents pollution, and increases economic security, including the development and creation of jobs available in the manufacturing and recycling industries in the United States. The Recycling Economic Study done in 2016 revealed that 1.57 jobs and $76,000 in wages were generated per 1,000 tons of materials recycled. Recycling also saves the number of trees that need to be cut down to make new paper products when paper is recycled by households. A 2015 survey discovered that 25% of municipal solid waste is due to paper products alone, while plastics accounted for 35 million tons and glass 11.5 million tons of waste. Reducing the amount of waste from these 3 materials alone would have a substantial impact on the environment if more households practiced recycling as a regular activity, especially those in the multifamily sector.

Challenges in Multifamily recycling

As previously stated, multifamily recycling programs have been ambiguous and difficult to measure due to data captured. This is due to multifamily properties being defined as commercial property in many local municipalities, although that is not the only challenged faced. Multifamily communities have little control over what type of waste is thrown into community trash compactors, and the addition of a recycling receptacles beside waste containers and compactors has created confusion for residents. Recycled materials often wind up contaminated by those who don’t know how to recycle properly, or by utilizing inappropriate containers with or without realizing it. Another challenge faced is the practice of encouraging multifamily households to designate a separate container to just recycled materials, often in smaller living spaces. The monitoring of any of these challenges is difficult, and multifamily communities often end up spending more on recycling without seeing high success.

Challenges in U.S. recycling

Until recently, the United States had been sending most recyclable materials to China to be manufactured into goods such as plastics, clothing, and other products. In late 2018, China began restricting recycling imports of certain types, including paper and most plastics, two of the largest recyclable materials in the United States. Unfortunately, waste management companies are now being forced to raise rates, and municipal governments are faced with either paying the higher rates or throwing the recycling away as waste instead. This has left many communities without a choice. As a result, carbon emissions and methane released by recycling decomposing in landfills, and plastic being burned is having a large negative environmental impact on the ozone layer, propelling the environment into an even further undesirable direction.

What is the solution?

It seems like recycling is a thing of the past after researching and realizing the restrictions and costs now imposed on municipalities and consumers. So how can we do our part and continue to recycle? The first step is to be more conscious of the waste we are producing in the first place. Shopping bags, straws, and water bottles are 3 easy items to stop supporting, and by adopting re-usable options instead. Be more conscious of what is going into the recycling bin! Aluminum cans, foil, steel and tin cans, corrugated cardboard, office paper, and #1 and #2 plastics such as water, juice, and salad dressing containers are still encouraged if they must be used. The second part is to be more conscious of how the goods are when thrown into the bin. Cleaning recyclables of all debris and waste such as food residue is key in the expense of processing recyclables, making it a requirement for consideration.
Though there are many who are pessimistic about recycling and take and all or nothing approach, educating yourself and others on the facts is key to continuing any progress in our recycling initiatives, whether it be in a business or multifamily community environment.

Published by: Christin Daniels for Buyers Access® residential multifamily purchasing experts. To connect with Buyers Access and obtain a complimentary purchasing analysis, visit us at www.buyersaccess.com or email us at BASales@buyersaccess.com.

 

 

 

EPA (November 2001). Multifamily Recycling: A National Study. National Service Center for Environmental Publications (EPA530-r-01-018). Retrieved from https://nepis.epa.gov/Exe/ZyPDF.cgi/10000OV5.PDF?Dockey=10000OV5.PDFGreenblatt, Alan (Dec. 2018) Under China’s New Rules, U.S. Recycling Suffers. Governing: The States and Localities. Retrieved from: https://www.governing.com/topics/transportation-infrastructure/gov-recycling-trash-waste-sort-compost-china.html
EPA.gov. How Do I Recycle? Common Recyclables. Retrieved from: https://www.governing.com/topics/transportation-infrastructure/gov-recycling-trash-waste-sort-compost-china.html.




Best Practices- Maintenance

Cold, Flu, and You: Promote Wellness this Season

by Christin D. on 11/5/2019 4:00:00 PM

Flu Season and You

Flu Season is upon us and protecting yourself against contracting a cold or the flu is a high priority this time of year. From consistent hand-washing, to guzzling vitamin C, most of us do whatever we can to prevent ourselves from contracting the influenza virus. As multi-family industry professionals, we should consider the action items and steps that we can personally take to protect ourselves and others in the community. Below we will discuss some statistics of flu season, steps to take personally and professionally to prevent contraction and spreading of the flu virus, and ideas you can take to implement prevention.

Statistics on flu and cold season

Each year, cold and flu season is responsible for 44 million “sick-days” in the United States called, in by 11 million employed adults spread throughout the country. This statistically accounts for about a $9.5 billion-dollar financial burden on businesses, and even considers that 39% of the workforce will still report to work even when ill. Aside from work being the 3rd most likely place for individuals who have the cold or flu virus to frequent, according to the CDC, other locations that are highly frequented by sick individuals include local drug stores and grocery stores.

Where germs live

The flu and common cold are most contagious during the early onset. Unfortunately, this is also when people still may not realize there is anything wrong. They still feel well enough to go out in public and therefore can spread the virus without realizing the severity. As multi-family industry professionals, we work and operate where “home” is for many of these 11 million adults who do call in sick. This increases our exposure to their germs even when the resident opts to stay home to avoid spreading the virus. Since our place of work is their home, we must take extra caution to avoid getting sick. Below are some common places to consider taking extra precaution around when trying to avoid contracting the flu and common cold:

  1. Building entryways- including elevator buttons, handrails in stairwells and access points, door handles to common spaces in a community.
  2. Public restrooms in the gym or other common areas
  3. Hospitality and snack areas, such as a coffee bar or resident appreciation event gathering
  4. Common areas such as the local game room/tv lounge, business center, or conference room
  5. On-site fitness centers, weight rooms, or spin/yoga studios

How to protect your community

As multi-family professionals, we have a responsibility to create an atmosphere of safety and cleanliness when possible. Though we can’t guarantee the effectiveness of our efforts, it is part of our responsibility. There are a few recommendations that property teams can do to help protect the visitors and dwellers of a community, and by directly making a few adjustments on-site during this time of year:

  1. Supply paper towels instead of air dryers in common area restrooms to help reduce the number of bacteria left on hands after washing thoroughly with soap and water.
  2. Install hand sanitizer stations at entrances, stairwells, common areas, and restrooms to make sanitation easier for residents and team members on the go.
  3. Make microfiber cleaning cloths and sanitation wipes available to staff members so they can wipe down surfaces regularly with minimal additional effort.

In addition to the above recommendations, there are also other easy and fun ways to communicate and educate residents about flu season’s best practices. They may even create a heightened sense of resident satisfaction as you demonstrate your commitment to their community. Here are some ideas that may help spice up flu-prevention at your property:

  1. Host a pre-flu season event. Invite a local flu-shot vendor or offer flu-shot passes with an incentive to residents. The incentive can be small and often stores will partner and provide a “perk” to those residents that show up and get the shot! Think a discount on “Emergen-C” or “Airborne”.
  2. Include education in the monthly news letter for residents to read prior to the start of flu season. You could even announce the above pre-flu season event in the publication at the same time.
  3. Have resident care packages in the office or distribute them in an appropriate fashion for your specific community. Vendor partners and Buyers Access team members can offer great ideas and resources to do this if you have a tight resident-appreciation budget to work with.

 

What to do if you get sick

flu season cold season multifamilyEven taking all the right preventative steps, you can sometimes still wind up sick. Once contracting a virus, it’s time to look at measures that can be taken to protect yourself and others while it runs its course. Remember, the flu virus is stronger in the beginning stages and can spread easier during this time. Staying home from work may be a good idea to have minimal contact with others. If you must report to work or engage in regular activities on some level, follow the below recommendations to protect yourself and others from getting sick.

  1. Wash your hands
  2. Invest in a protective dust-mask to wear outside of your individual space to avoid airborne germs from spreading
  3. Wipe down everything you touch with an antibacterial spray or wipe and allow it to dry naturally so it has ample time to kill bacteria and germs.
  4. Drink plenty of fluid and use paper cups or personal drinkware that won’t be washed and re-used in the office or public area.
  5. Rest more than you think you need to. Your immune system is already weakened substantially once you do get sick so this extra TLC can speed up recovery. If you reported to work and start to feel worse, re-evaluate your attendance and communicate any concerns to your workplace supervisor.
     

Final thoughts

Getting sick is no fun and nobody ever wants to get sick. It’s important to remember the seriousness of the flu virus and consider that even mild strains can cause serious complications. Spreading bouts of sickness around the office or community can be decreased by following some of the above suggestions and preparing for the flu season accordingly. Buyers Access, and our supplier partners, are always available to help equip your team with the supplies needed to create an uninviting environment for germs associated with the flu virus and other bacteria. One of the best parts about being a part of the Buyers Access program is that you have an abundance of additional resources and extra sets of hands to call on when you need them. Contact our sales department at BASales@buyersaccess.com to get this support. If you are already a member, your account manager and the member services team can quickly help you get prepared by sourcing the best products and lower prices with additional savings on mass quantities when needed. Email memberservices@buyersaccess.com to reach out to your team of support and make your property safe this flu season!

 




Best Practices- Maintenance

October is Fire Safety Month in Multi-family

by Christin D. on 10/14/2019 5:34:31 PM

Welcome to Fire Safety Month

The month of October brings about some of the Fall seasons best comforts, as the leaves turn and the temperature drops. This can mean more pumpkin spice latte’s, or s’mores nights, social gatherings over delicious home cooked meals, and maybe throwing a few logs on the fire place. With the increase in heating and cooking during this time of the year there also comes the increased risk of fire. Because of this, October is known as Fire Safety Month. Whether you are a service provider, CEO, or on-site team member, as multi-family professionals, we all play a critical role in the area of fire prevention, precaution, and safety. So, what are some of the industry’s best practices in terms of fire safety?

Causes of Fire in Multi-family

Residential fires made up 29.1% of total fires by property type in some of the most recent data available, making it the second most common fire type behind outdoor fires. Closer living quarters and adjoining walls in multi-family structures increase the risk of fire. Fire in these structures can also impact more people and cause damage on a larger scale at a more rapid pace due to the co-existence of many in a single building.
Cooking fires made up 51.6% as the leading cause of all residential fires, with heating being the second most prevalent. The kitchen and bedrooms are also statistically the most common places for fires to start in residential homes. Residential buildings that include baseboard heaters, space heaters, electric stoves, and fireplaces heighten the risk of both instances occurring. For all these reasons and many more, ongoing fire safety and preparedness is extremely important for multi-family sites during October, the colder months, and throughout the year.

Provide Information in Advance

What things can we do as multi-family professionals to decrease fire risk? One of the most important things we can do is provide residents and teams detailed and easily understood fire information for education, training, preparedness and prevention. Furthermore, property management teams should have detailed working knowledge and training on how to respond to these emergency situations. Partnering with local fire departments, or Buyers Access vendors such as Cintas, is a great source to conduct fire safety training sessions with employees and residents at community gatherings. Get everyone as knowledgeable and prepared as possible, and be proactive!

Drafting a Property Specific Fire Safety Guide

When developing a fire safety guide to provide residents and team members, include a building diagram that marks the location of fire extinguishers, evacuation routes, stairwells, and fire pulls. The diagram should also identify designated exterior meeting areas for residents, vendors, and staff when evacuating the building. Other things to include are alternate routes for evacuation, additional stair access, tips for handling various emergency conditions such as smoke, being trapped, pets, and any other property specific information that may be helpful.

Staff Training

Time is everything when it comes to fire. Every 30 seconds a flame can double, filling up a room in a matter of minutes and making each second crucial. Organization and confidence should be a priority when training staff members on fire protocol. There is no guarantee that the community manager or service manager will be available to guide other employees during a fire, so it’s also important to plan and train accordingly. Team members gain confidence through education, and communication, role playing, and fire drills. Working with Buyers Access account managers and vendors can assist in this training process.

Types of Fire Safety Inspections

Multifamily communities have a critical responsibility to ensure certain fire and life safety requirements are always being met. Because of this, annual inspections are often required by local officials to ensure that code requirements are being met. Inspections on building fire alarm panels, pull station operation, fire extinguisher expiration dates, fire sprinklers, and visual requirements such as clear pathways are some of the more important fire related inspection items. If a property is in violation of any of these areas, authorities can issue an “order to comply” and issue fines until repairs have been completed.

Fire Safety Every Day

There are many other things to consider when protecting a community from fire hazards, which should be considered daily. Any time any fire safety device is malfunctioning it should be addressed and remediated immediately. Preventative maintenance inspections can serve as a great time to inspect interior and exterior fire safety devices. Encouraging residents to notify management of any safety risks is also helpful in case it is overlooked or not caught immediately by property staff.
A very common fire safety issue is burnt out “Emergency Exit” signs in hallways. Changing these bulbs promptly or utilizing LED bulbs in Exit signs, can minimize this risk. Fire doors should be automatically self-closing when the alarm sounds. Paying close attention to anything blocking these doors or preventing them from self-closing should be a priority, along with ensuring ease of ingress and egress in common areas at all times. If the fire doors are always closed, make sure self-closing and latching hardware are operating correctly so they consistently close immediately behind users.
 

Conclusion

Fire safety awareness is crucial no matter what time of year, and the above recommendations are a good start to protecting your property from associated risks. We hope you will apply some of the aforementioned best-practices into your fire safety routine. Buyers Access supplier partners such as Cintas and SmartBurner, can offer members quality solutions and services associated with fire safety. If you are in need of additional support or are curious on the savings you can realize by gaining access to the Buyers Access program, contact us at 1-800-445-9169 or by email Basales@buyersaccess.com. If your already a valued customer and are in need of assistance, reach out to member services by emailing memberservices@buyersaccess.com or contact your account manager.

 




Best Practices- Maintenance

Budget Season is Upon Us!

by Christin D. on 6/11/2019 4:06:00 PM

The next few months in multi-family management will be the busiest time of the year for many properties. The summer months typically include an influx of residents and prospects searching for new homes, a higher number of expiring leases up for renewal, employees cycling through vacation time, increased HVAC maintenance calls, and its swimming pool season. Then, as soon as you catch your breath, the first draft of your budget is due. Whether this is your first budget or your 50th, proper preparation can make the experience and budget season a success. In this article, we will help to define and provide some tools to inspire your quest with this year’s budget season!

Unit by unit inspections

If you haven’t done so already, it is a great idea to conduct an annual or bi-annual unit-by-unit walk of your property. This is especially important for properties 10 years or older. Unit-by-unit walks can help teams plan for recurring capital replacements, renovation projects, and turn costs. For turnkey costs, click on the following highlighted words to link to our flooring and paint estimation tool for budget expense forecasting.
Collecting serial numbers and appliance information can also make life easier in many ways and is good information to have on hand. You never know when you will have that on-call emergency refrigerator or stove malfunction over a holiday weekend, and you will need to look up relevant information. Unit-by-unit inspections and inventories are great for preventative maintenance, forecasting turnkey expenses, planning large capital projects, and to identify any hazards that may not have been reported. You may even catch a few unauthorized pets or other lease violations in the process.
 

Pricing for vendor services

Contact current vendors and see if they are going to be keeping their rates the same or if rates will be changing in any way. The Buyers Access® Account Management team and Member Services departments can obtain the best possible pricing for all your products and help to make this a much easier process. Wouldn’t it be great to have an advocate that is constantly focused on bringing savings into your budget, and a higher NOI?

Capital projects

Completing unit-by-unit inspections along with an exterior and interior common area inspection is required when building your short term and long-term capital project plan. The Buyers Access® suite of services includes access to Bidders Access®, a comprehensive capital project bidding platform. For more about Bidders Access and how it can help you this budget season, please click on the following link www.biddersaccess.com, or speak with your Account Manager to get started right away.

Recurring operating expenses

Completing an audit of all contracts is also a helpful budget tool. Click on the following highlighted words to access a contract audit spreadsheet to use when conducting a contract audit. Budgeting the necessary amounts for contracts currently in place, and that will affect the upcoming budget season, is key to maintaining accuracy throughout the year on property financial statements and variance reports.

Income

When drafting the Income portion of your budget, it is important to look at historical rental increases, fees, and other income categories. and how they have performed over the past 5 years as well as the past 12 months in detail. Pulling reports on market conditions from apartment data sites and analyzing historical and current market data will help to forecast income categories such as application, administration, and pet fees, to name a few. Also, pulling industry data for your area can help forecast projected rental increases for lease renewals and potential rent growth on turns. Historically, most properties typically see between 3-5% rental increases, but some may realize higher gains if in a high demand market, or if there are other factors such as a substantial rehab.

Other expenses and bids

Click on the following highlighted words to access a payroll expense spreadsheet, which is designed to aid in the calculation of the annual payroll expenses by a property, or by portfolio. Also included is a standard budget worksheet and a bid comparison form to aid in the overall planning of recurring and non-recurring operating and capital expenses.
The document library below is for anyone to use as a tool to aid in preparing for an annual property budget. For a full property spending analysis contact our team at 1-800-445-9169, or email Buyers Access® at sales@buyersaccess.com.

Document Library

  1. Standard Budget Worksheet
  2. Summary of Contracts per Property
  3. Capital Replacement Worksheet
  4. Flooring per Apartment
  5. How Much Paint Do You Need Per Apartment
  6. Payroll Spreadsheet for Budgeting
  7. Bid Comparison Form

 




Best Practices- Maintenance

Prepare for your Property Inspection!

by Christin D. on 6/4/2019 4:55:34 PM

You are sitting in your office and all of the sudden you get the email…your annual inspection is coming up! What do you do first? Managing residential property on behalf of property owners is a big responsibility. Protection and preservation of the asset, along with minimizing liability and associated risks, should always be at the front of any manager’s mind.
Property inspections can take on many forms. Inspections can be done for improvement grants, financing compliance, state and federal affordable housing programs, and annual property insurance. Depending on the extent of the inspection required and the organization conducting the inspection, there are some universal best practices recommended to help you prepare. Whether it be a lender, HUD, or an asset manager, it is always a good idea to make sure the property is operating at it’s highest potential. Let's take a look at some areas to touch on when preparing for a property inspection.

Is there a checklist?

Depending on what kind of inspection there is going to be on your property, there is a good chance that you can form a checklist yourself, or find one from your local apartment association, lender, or the inspection organization themselves. This list is a helpful piece of information to have, especially for those newer to the multi-family management industry who have not been through a property inspection previously.
If you are able to obtain a copy of the guidelines for the inspection, you can identify and spot check exactly what to look for. Preparing for inspection well in advance is a critical step to a successful inspection, and it is better to be over prepared by leaving plenty of time for unforeseen challenges.

Where to start

If you are unable to obtain a checklist, there are plenty of ways to strategize and form a plan of action. First, look for safety concerns posing potential risk. Second, focus on maintenance issues or possibly even deferred maintenance elements that may exist. Bidders Access®, the newest edition to the Buyers Access® suite of services, can easily help you obtain bids for large capital projects.
Finally, examine every aspect of your asset for general cleanliness and appeal. Look at landscaping. Make sure shurbs are manicured and overgrown hedges are cut low to create good visibility. Pressure wash all concrete halls, staircases and/or decking. Ensure these surfaces are level and no trip hazards exist. Repair cracked stairs and rotten wood as needed.
 

Place orders now

The last thing you want to do when it comes to an inspection is to be concerned with whether your replacement windows and doors will come in fast enough to make required repairs. Talk to your Buyers Access® Account Manager or contact our Member Services team to place an order. Another great feature of the Buyers Access® program is help in finding hard-to-locate items. Leverage the Buyers Access® team to perform research and ordering support, thus maximizing your time to focus on other critical elements.

Exterior hazard control

Completing property inspection walks on a weekly basis and documenting any needed repairs is a best practice many management companies require of their on-site teams. Before an inspection, complete a thorough walk of the property and notate any siding, sidewalk, or parking lot damages. Research and negotiate product purchasing by using your Buyers Access® Account Manager and Member Services teams. Doing so will ensure you get the best supplier pricing and the correct items delivered.

Meet with your team

Inform your team of items on the pre-inspection list that caused concern. Hold a team meeting to review the pre and post inspection checklists, and inform them of the outcomes, items discussed, and any feedback. This empowers everyone on the team to play “offense” and tackle for-seen property needs as they arise. By learning what to look for teams can work together to ensure the property is always in great shape.

Conclusion

Property inspections are important to do on a regular basis to avoid situations where you have to scramble to prepare. Above we have reviewed some key pieces to the puzzle when prepping for property inspections. It’s always tough to get ready for an inspection on a moments notice, especially when unprepared. Maintaining company and industry inspection best practices can prevent your property from needing an overhaul when it’s time for an inspection. What ways do you prepare for a property inspection on your asset? Leave your ideas and methods in the comments!

 




Best Practices- Maintenance

3 Reasons to Convert to LED

by Christin D. on 5/30/2019 9:38:00 AM

Property utility expenses have become a line item on budgets that has been getting more attention in recent years. Causes of this attention include a rise in environmental concerns, focus on tighter cost controls when selecting fixtures for use in multi-family buildings, and studies showing significant time and cost savings by reduction of bulb replacements.
Together, property management teams, Buyers Access™, and supplier partners, have implemented extremely successful solutions to minimize the cost of utilities. Buyers Access™ has been instrumental in helping owners and operators complete several successful retrofits to LED lighting, and other energy conservation programs for assets built prior to the more economic and environmentally acceptable alternatives now available. LED retrofits and water conservation programs are two of the larger budgeted line items Buyers Access™ continues to see being considered across the nation.
Why fix something that isn’t broken? Here we will examine 3 reasons why you should include an LED Retrofit proposal with your next budget “wish list” items, and reasons to take the LED retrofit challenge.


Better control over electrical costs-
LED lighting lasts 15 times longer than the incandescent bulbs that were formerly widely used in new construction. Shifting to LED means less time spent by maintenance personnel changing bulbs with a higher frequency of burn out, as well as a lower cost of materials over time.
In 2008, LED bulbs were quite expensive. Since then, LED bulbs have reduced in cost by up to 90 percent. LED bulbs use significantly less energy and dramatically decreases common area electrical expenses. Substantial savings in energy consumption can be realized by properties electing to undertake an LED retrofit project with Buyers Access™.


Reduction in property carbon footprint-

Incandescent bulbs use an average of 70% more electricity than LED bulbs. Switching to LED bulbs preserves energy consumption and reduces the carbon footprint. Less waste is generated with the longer lasting LED bulbs as a result of less frequent bulb changes, which positively impacts the environment.
There are numerous grants and energy rebates which may also be available to your property if you choose to undergo an LED retrofit. Buyers Access™ and its supplier partners work diligently nationwide to plan these projects from start to finish, allowing properties to realize cost and rebate savings upon completion, and for years to come.


Reduction in property risk and increased aesthetic appeal-

Liability is dramatically reduced when areas are well lit and when bulbs burn out less frequently. Keeping up with lighting inspections and the constant replacement of bulbs gives any maintenance team concerns, especially on properties with interior hallways, or that have darker locational challenges.
Recently a variety of information has been published regarding LED lighting vs. other forms of lighting, and the potential correlation to productivity and mood. The change to LED lighting for increased productivity is something that could benefit the communities. Aesthetic appeal can also increase upon an LED retrofit project through nicely illuminated hallways and parking lots. This can potentially help to retain existing residents, and secure new prospects. Add this with the cost savings, and an LED retrofit will pay for itself over time.


Your next steps-
Buyers Access™ and its supply partners are dedicated to partnering with industry leading manufacturers specializing in LED retrofits. If you are currently a member of Buyers Access™ and would like a quote for a site wide LED retrofit project, contact your Account Manager and we will obtain a variety of pricing options and strategies to complete the project. If you are interested in learning more about how Buyers Access™ can help your team, please reach out to our sales department at sales@buyersaccess.com and a specialist will be in touch with you and start a complimentary analysis on savings.

 

 



References:
The Power of LED Lighting (2019, May) Rooflines Vol. 55 No. 5., p. 23-25. Aaron Smith, Senior Lighting Consultant at LFP Lighting.
Shaw, P. (2018, August 1). LED Lights the way to savings. Multi-housing Pro Magazine Online.

 
 
 



Best Practices- Maintenance

3 Reasons to Convert to LED

by Christin D. on 5/29/2019 4:54:00 PM

Property utility expenses have become a line item on budgets that has been getting more attention in recent years. Causes of this attention include a rise in environmental concerns, focus on tighter cost controls when selecting fixtures for use in multi-family buildings, and studies showing significant time and cost savings by reduction of bulb replacements.
Together, property management teams, Buyers Access™, and supplier partners, have implemented extremely successful solutions to minimize the cost of utilities. Buyers Access™ has been instrumental in helping owners and operators complete several successful retrofits to LED lighting, and other energy conservation programs for assets built prior to the more economic and environmentally acceptable alternatives now available. LED retrofits and water conservation programs are two of the larger budgeted line items Buyers Access™ continues to see being considered across the nation.
Why fix something that isn’t broken? Here we will examine 3 reasons why you should include an LED Retrofit proposal with your next budget “wish list” items, and reasons to take the LED retrofit challenge.

Better control over electrical costs-

LED lighting lasts 15 times longer than the incandescent bulbs that were formerly widely used in new construction. Shifting to LED means less time spent by maintenance personnel changing bulbs with a higher frequency of burn out, as well as a lower cost of materials over time.
In 2008, LED bulbs were quite expensive. Since then, LED bulbs have reduced in cost by up to 90 percent. LED bulbs use significantly less energy and dramatically decreases common area electrical expenses. Substantial savings in energy consumption can be realized by properties electing to undertake an LED retrofit project with Buyers Access™.
 

Reduction in property carbon footprint-

Incandescent bulbs use an average of 70% more electricity than LED bulbs. Switching to LED bulbs preserves energy consumption and reduces the carbon footprint. Less waste is generated with the longer lasting LED bulbs as a result of less frequent bulb changes, which positively impacts the environment.
There are numerous grants and energy rebates which may also be available to your property if you choose to undergo an LED retrofit. Buyers Access™ and its supplier partners work diligently nationwide to plan these projects from start to finish, allowing properties to realize cost and rebate savings upon completion, and for years to come.
 

Reduction in property risk and increased aesthetic appeal-

Liability is dramatically reduced when areas are well lit and when bulbs burn out less frequently. Keeping up with lighting inspections and the constant replacement of bulbs gives any maintenance team concerns, especially on properties with interior hallways, or that have darker locational challenges.
Recently a variety of information has been published regarding LED lighting vs. other forms of lighting, and the potential correlation to productivity and mood. The change to LED lighting for increased productivity is something that could benefit the communities. Aesthetic appeal can also increase upon an LED retrofit project through nicely illuminated hallways and parking lots. This can potentially help to retain existing residents, and secure new prospects. Add this with the cost savings, and an LED retrofit will pay for itself over time.

Your next steps-

Buyers Access™ and its supply partners are dedicated to partnering with industry leading manufacturers specializing in LED retrofits. If you are currently a member of Buyers Access™ and would like a quote for a site wide LED retrofit project, contact your Account Manager and we will obtain a variety of pricing options and strategies to complete the project. If you are interested in learning more about how Buyers Access™ can help your team, please reach out to our sales department at sales@buyersaccess.com and a specialist will be in touch with you and start a complimentary analysis on savings.
 

 




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