Preparedness Planning for Your Business
by Michelle N. on 9/30/2014 3:58:58 AM
As Emergency Preparedness Month comes to a close, we thought we would offer one more reminder to review the key steps in making sure you are ready in case a disaster strikes. Please review below how to prepare your business for hazards in and around your property and residents.
Preparedness Planning for Your Business
Businesses can do much to prepare for the impact of the many hazards they face in today’s world including natural hazards like floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and widespread serious illness such as the H1N1 flu virus pandemic. Human-caused hazards include accidents, acts of violence by people and acts of terrorism. Examples of technology-related hazards are the failure or malfunction of systems, equipment or software.
Ready Business will assist businesses in developing a preparedness program by providing tools to create a plan that addresses the impact of many hazards. This website and its tools utilize an “all hazards approach” and follows the program elements within National Fire Protection Association 1600, Standard on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs. NFPA 1600 is an American National Standard and has been adopted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The five steps in developing a preparedness program are:
- Organize, develop and administer your preparedness program
- Identify regulations that establish minimum requirements for your program
- Gather information about hazards and assess risks
- Conduct a business impact analysis (BIA)
- Examine ways to prevent hazards and reduce risks
Write a preparedness plan addressing:
- Resource management
- Emergency response
- Crisis communications
- Business continuity
- Information technology
- Employee assistance
- Incident management
Testing and Exercises
- Test and evaluate your plan
- Define different types of exercises
- Learn how to conduct exercises
- Use exercise results to evaluate the effectiveness of the plan
- Identify when the preparedness program needs to be reviewed
- Discover methods to evaluate the preparedness program
- Utilize the review to make necessary changes and plan improvements
Click here for full article
Ice Melt Tips for Your Property
by Michelle N. on 9/22/2014 10:12:29 AM
With the winter season is right around the corner, ice melt products are hitting the shelves and ready to be sold out, as usual! Don’t be caught with slippery sidewalks and driveways at your property and make your ice melt purchases now. There are many varieties of ice melting products to choose from, which include: Calcium Chloride, Potassium Chloride, Sodium Chloride, and Urea. No matter which product you choose, below are some great tips for applying ice melt products to your property.
• Follow the ice melt instructions on the bag carefully and avoid over applying ice melt. Just because a little bit of ice melt does a good job, doesn’t mean a lot of ice melt will do a better job.
• Shovel away the majority of the snow that has accumulated first. Don’t try to melt away heaps of snow with ice melt alone, it will render poor results.
• Apply ice melt with a push-driven spreader. Using your hands or a cup will make ice melt clump and leave gaps, whereas a spreader ensures the product is applied evenly.
• Spread a light layer of ice melt before snow and/or ice storms. This can have a huge impact and make it easier on snow removal in the long run.
• Seal ice melt container/bag very well when storing. Ice melt can absorb moisture from the air and lose effectiveness over time.
Now that we have shared some tips for ice melt application, it’s time to get ahead of the mad shopping rush and purchase ice melt for your property. Buyers Access partners with a handful of national suppliers that supply great ice melt products. If you are interested in how your property can benefit from ice melt products and more, reach out to our team today. Buyers Access is the “one stop shop” that reduces property workload and provides an outstanding Multifamily Group Purchasing resource in the apartment industry.
Top 5 Tips For A Stress-Free Budget Season
by Michelle N. on 9/16/2014 8:54:56 AM
Budgeting is here. UGH, is there anyone out there that really enjoys this process? Well to help, below is a great guide to survive the budgeting season!
It’s that time of year: budget season. While it can certainly be a stressful time, there are plenty of steps you can take to ease the process and help you actually look forward to the year ahead! Survive budget planning with these tips:
Get Organized. Everyone’s method of organizing may be different, but the important thing is to set aside time to carefully and thoughtfully work on your 2015 budget. Take a look at the previous year’s budget to see what needs to be updated and what should stay the same.
Prioritize Your Spending. When taking a look at last year’s budget, you may realize that there are areas that can be reworked to minimize spending in the coming year. Before you fret about cutting your budget, though, think of ways to maximize those dollars that you ARE planning for 2015. For example, maybe you feel like your trade show spending was too pricey in the past – so consider cutting a show that is not as essential, or use local staff instead of flying out-of-town team members to the show.
Share the Duty. Let’s face it: planning a budget is a lot of work! With many other responsibilities to handle, you can’t devote all your time to crunching numbers. Consider asking your team to help out by tasking them with researching the areas that they are responsible for. After all, they would know their needs best!
Stay Focused. It’s easy to get distracted, especially since you’re also working on many other projects throughout the day. Reserve some time on your calendar to really tune in to your budget planning, making sure to step away from the phone and email for a reasonable amount of time. Also, try to reschedule meetings if they conflict with your budget planning time – stopping in the middle of a budget brainstorm session to check in at the weekly status meeting may throw off your thought process.
Take a Break. Sometimes, you just need some fresh air! If you’ve been cranking away at your 2015 budget and everything is starting to blur, take a walk, grab a cup of coffee, or meet a friend or co-worker for lunch outside the office. You’ll come back refreshed and ready to get back to it!
Each of these steps can lead you to a more stress-free budget planning season, and the best part is, they’re all within your reach. Take a deep breath, find a place where you can be free of distractions, and start planning out those dollars for the upcoming year.
With numbers to crunch and dollars to stretch, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and stressed out. If you are interested in how to maximize and stretch your purchasing budget in 2015, reach out to the team at Buyers Access. Buyers Access is the “one stop shop” that reduces property workload and provides an outstanding Multifamily Group Purchasing resource in the apartment industry.
Read Full Article here
Brittany Worrell Boyce
Brittany is the Marketing Content Editor & Writer with For Rent Media Solutions, a leader in the multifamily housing industry, providing diverse marketing and advertising solutions to real estate industry professionals.
Changes Planned for TAA's Lease Contracts and Related Forms Starting in January, 2015
by Michelle N. on 9/8/2014 8:30:48 AM
As a member of the Texas Apartment Association, we would like to share news from the TAA in reference to the changes coming up in January 2015 relating to lease contracts.
The Texas Apartment Association lease contracts are getting a new look for the new year, in their first major overhaul since the 1990s. TAA members can sign up now for one of three free webinars to learn more about the changes planned for TAA’s lease contracts and related formsBusinesswoman-viewing-the-contract-before-signing starting in January, 2015.
The free hour-long webinars are scheduled September 17, October 14 and November 5 at 9:30 a.m. central. TAA General Counsel John Sepehri will instruct the sessions. Register now for one of these free webinars to ensure you and your staff will be ready for the changes.
The TAA Click & Lease program will generate these new lease forms starting January 1, 2015, and printed versions of the new forms will be available then, too. While the revamped forms maintain (or improve) protections TAA members rely on, some key information in the contract has been relocated, some items have been eliminated and the overall document has a noticeably different look and feel.
The two most obvious changes are that the 2015 lease will be eight, not six pages long, and will include a summary box of all the key financial terms on the last page. TAA Click & Lease users have the option to switch now to per-unit pricing, instead of paying by the number of “clicks” (pages) generated. Any site licenses renewed after January 1 will automatically be based on a site license cost and per-unit cost; for more information, contact your local association. You can also call Blue Moon Software at 800/772-1004 for a site-specific analysis of whether or not your property should switch early to the per-unit pricing model, which also gives you access to a new document management enhancement.
The free “Revamped & Transformed: TAA Lease Forms Webinar” will help participants learn:
- How—and why—important lease information has been relocated within the lease contract to keep relevant and related information in easy-to-locate sections
- What substantive changes have been included in the reworked documents to better protect property owners and address emerging issues; and
- How design changes in the new forms will help your staff and residents locate critical information and improve the function of the documents.
The fall issue of Texas Apartments magazine includes more information on planned lease changes, including a chart comparing the current lease with the 2015 version, as well as more information about how properties are using the new document management feature in TAA Click & Lease. This issue will reach members later this month.
Click here to register for FREE webinar.
Read Full Article here.
Changes to Water Billing Rules Effective September 1st
by Michelle N. on 8/29/2014 6:30:40 AM
PUC takes over authority for water billing effective September 1
Full rules must be attached to leases as of that date
As of September 1, 2014 the Texas Public Utility Commission (PUC) will take over regulatory authority of water submetering and allocation from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). For most owners and residents at properties that are currently billing residents for water, the transition should be fairly seamless.
With one important exception regarding attachments to leases, the Public Utility Commission rules are substantively the same as the previous TCEQ rules. The only significant change is that rental property owners previously have had the option of either attaching a copy of the water billing rules or a summary of the rules that had been prepared by TCEQ. The PUC does not currently allow use of a rules summary and any new leases entered after September 1 must have an entire copy of the new water billing rules attached. There are no specific rules regulating font size or formatting of the rules attachment, however, from a common-sense perspective owners should ensure that the document is readable. One other rule change corrects an issue that had previously been unclear. Owners who submeter and who charge an administrative fee must clearly state that fee on the addendum. This is consistent with advice TAA previously provided. Note that properties that allocate water bills cannot charge an administrative fee.
TAA has prepared a formatted version of the full submetering and allocation rules that is available through the TAA Click & Lease program when printing the Water Submetering Addendum. Those members not using TAA Click & Lease can click here for a copy of the rules formatted to be used as an attachment to leases.
In addition, any property that institutes a water billing system beginning September 1, 2014 will register with the PUC instead of TCEQ. The form is almost identical to the previous TCEQ version and can be accessed here.
The new PUC rules, the Lease Addendum for Allocating Water/Wastewater Costs and the Water Submetering Addendum, and all related articles are currently being updated in the TAA REDBOOK Online, as well.
The PUC’s web pages on this topic will go live on September 1, and TAA will make that link available to members.
During a transition period between September 1, 2014 and September 1, 2015, anyone who visits the prior TCEQ web page for water submetering and water allocation will be redirected to the PUC website. In addition, PUC staff has indicated that the agency will take a cooperative approach during the transition and work with owners to make sure properties are in compliance with the new rules.
It is anticipated that there will be additional rule changes governing water billing over the next year as the PUC looks to integrate the rules more closely into existing agency regulations. TAA is maintaining close communications with agency staff during the transition and will be participating in any rulemaking on this topic. Property owners or managers with any questions or experiencing any difficulties during the transition are encouraged to contact David Mintz, CAE, TAA’s Vice President of Government Affairs, by sending an email to email@example.com or calling 512/479-6252.
For full article click here.
Cintas Corporation Announces Agreement with Shred-it International Inc. to Combine Document Shredding Businesses
by Michelle N. on 8/27/2014 11:05:19 AM
Buyers Access understands the value of providing our members with services and products from top national suppliers. We like to keep our members informed on news, events, and products that our suppliers have to share with us. Below is the Cintas official press release as it pertains to the newly formed partnership with Shred-it International Inc.
The Newly formed Partnership will have over $600 million in Annual Revenues and Operate under the Shred-it name
Cintas Corporation to have 42% ownership of the Partnership and will receive $180 Million in Cash at Closing
CINCINNATI — March 19, 2014 — Cintas Corporation (Nasdaq:CTAS) announced today an agreement with the shareholders of Shred-it International Inc. to combine Cintas’ Document Shredding business with Shred-it’s Document Shredding business. Under the agreement, Cintas and Shred-it will each contribute its document shredding business to a newly formed partnership that will be owned 42% by Cintas and 58% by the shareholders of Shred-it. The combined entity will operate under the Shred-it brand and is expected to have annual revenues in excess of $600 million. In addition to its 42% ownership of the partnership, Cintas will receive approximately $180 million in cash at the closing of the transaction.
“We are confident that this transaction is the best path forward for our Document Shredding customers, our workforce and our shareholders,” said Scott D. Farmer, Cintas’ Chief Executive Officer. “Together, we expect that Cintas Document Shredding and Shred-it will be the industry leader, benefitting from increased scale, resources and strong cash flow to uniquely position the new company to provide world class information protection services to its customers.”
Following completion of the transaction, the combined company will be led by Vince DePalma, current President and Chief Executive Officer of Shred-it, who will become the President and Chief Executive Officer of the newly formed company, and Karen Carnahan, now President and Chief Operating Officer of Cintas’ Document Management Division, who will become Chief Operating Officer of the newly formed company.
Karen Carnahan stated, “The Cintas Document Shredding team is excited to join forces with Shred-it to create a global leader in document destruction services. Shred-it has been a strong and well respected competitor over the years, and we look forward to working together to bring innovative ideas and superior customer service to our combined customer base.”
The transaction, which was approved by Cintas’ Board of Directors, is expected to close before Cintas’ fiscal year end which is May 31, 2014, subject to the customary closing conditions and various approvals.
With regards to Cintas’ Global Document Storage and Imaging business, Cintas is currently exploring strategic opportunities for this business and will provide additional details in the future as appropriate.
To read full press release click here.
Getting Inside the Head of the Online Renter
by Michelle N. on 8/19/2014 9:27:11 AM
We rely on our Maintenance Teams to keep everything on site up and running. From the simplest tasks to complex mechanical systems, they have a tool for every job, and they get the job done. But, have we ever considered our Maintenance Program being used as a tool to improve resident retention? We recently came across this article, which was originally published in the 2012 SatisFacts Research-published ebook, “Getting Inside the Head of the Online Renter.” The importance of maintenance in a resident’s decision to renew is often overlooked, but the facts point to maintenance being among the most important factors for renewals, and the article below provides some great advice for developing a strategy to use great maintenance service as a retention tool. For more ideas on how to maximize the efficiency of your maintenance program, reach out to the team at Buyers Access – we’ve been helping our clients develop cost effective, efficient maintenance programs for over 30 years.
Believe it or not, the service your maintenance team provides to your residents is more important to resident retention than perks and parties, the appearance and condition of their apartment home, and even the desire for more parking.
Knowing that maintenance teams play such a critical, yet often overlooked role in the lease renewal process, here are four tips that successful property management teams can apply to leverage this important asset and improve resident retention:
1. Identify Common Property Maintenance Service Requests
As an entire team, sit together and identify the 10 most common service requests at your community. For each of those 10, identify if there is a troubleshooting tip the office can suggest to the resident to see if they can resolve it on their own (i.e., reset button on garbage disposal or outlet), and define five key questions the maintenance team would like you to ask regarding that service request to get the best detail possible.
2. Follow Up on Every Property Maintenance Service Request
Follow-up on every completed service request, whether by phone, email, or follow-up survey. Be sure to ask, “Did we complete everything to your expectation?” and “Is there anything else we can do for you?”
3. Introduce Property Maintenance Service Team Members by Name
During tours, if you see a maintenance team member, introduce them by name to the prospect and give some highlights about them such as, “Joe’s been taking care of this community for nine years now” or “Jackie and her team are usually able to resolve any service request within 24 hours.”
4. Nurture Communication between Property Maintenance and Office Teams
Nurture constant communication between the maintenance team and the property management team. The better the communication and respect within the entire team, the more comfortable and secure the residents feel about the service they are receiving. There’s not room here for Us vs. Them. We’re all on the same team!
While there are some maintenance team members who feel more comfortable working behind the scenes and just taking care of their service requests, the fact of the matter is that their work and resident relationships are the cornerstone of any property’s success. And it’s probably no surprise that residents know almost ALL of your maintenance team members’ names.
Celebrate their impact on resident retention and leverage their importance at every opportunity.
About the Author: Jen Piccotti, Senior vice President of Education and Consulting at SatisFacts Research, has over a decade of experience in customer loyalty, quality assurance programs and process efficiency, and has worked in the apartment industry since 2000. She heads up special projects for SatisFacts, including satisfaction survey action planning, work-time analyses, special studies, quality assurance, process evaluations, and educational services. Jen holds a Master of Science – Quality Assurance degree from California State University, Dominguez Hills.
Winterizing the Pool: Top 10 Pool Closing Tips
by Michelle N. on 8/13/2014 9:05:26 AM
No more cannonballs, no more belly flops, no more Marco Polo, and no more lounging by the pool…at least not until next summer. It is that time of year again to close your property’s pool for the winter. Winterizing your pool may seem complicated, but with a little preparation, it can be a very simple and pain-free process. One of our Suppliers, Leslie’s Pool Supply, has provided a quick Top 10 Pool Closing Tips list that will help you close your pool quickly and easily!
1. Begin Winterizing One Week Before Closing Your Pool
One week prior to closing your pool, add a phosphate remover to help keep algae out
2. Brush and Vacuum To Remove All Debris
Cleaning your pool before closing prevents algae and makes your spring opening even easier
3. Manage Your Water Level
FREEZING – Water should be 4-6 inches below: skimmer (vinyl-lined) or tile line (plaster)
NON-FREEZING – Water should be filled to the top, almost to the point of overflowing
4. Balance the Pool Chemistry
Total Alkalinity should be between 80-120 ppm, pH level should be between 7.4-7.6
5. Shock and Chlorinate Your Pool
Shocking kills any bacteria that might linger in your pool during the winter
6. Backwash Your Filter
Allow the pump to run for a full cycle before backwashing and chemically cleaning your filter
7. Drain Pool Lines and Add Antifreeze (for freezing temperatures only)
This prevents the costly repairs that come from burst of damaged pipes
8. Install Air Pillow
Inflate the air pillow using an air pump and place in the center of the pool
9. Install A Safety Cover, Winter Cover or Leaf Net
Protect your pool and family with a secure cover
10. Monitor Chemical Balance Monthly
Routinely check water chemistry, and consult a Leslie’s Service Technician or Store Associate if chemicals become unbalanced
Follow these recommended tips and it will mean less work and reduce maintenance costs in the Spring. Will your property be ready for opening day?
First Aid Safety Gives Peace of Mind to Residents and Staff
by Michelle N. on 8/6/2014 10:47:02 AM
Earlier this week, -we shared an article- that reviewed the importance of fostering a safe community for residents. While property safety and security is an absolute priority, we must not forget that first aid products, such as AED’s (Automated External Defibrillators), in residential properties are equally important and can foster safety with residents and property staff, too. With an alarming rate of 88% of cardiac arrests happening at home, apartment complex employees and residents can tremendously increase the ability to save lives with an AED on site. Because every second counts when cardiac arrest events occur, why not be fully prepared for in-house emergencies?
Modern defibrillators administer an electric shock to restore heart rhythm and the new models on the market provide video guidance for responders. For example, the Cintas ReviveR™ AED is designed with no lids, moving parts or cases – just two buttons with pre-connected pads. Additionally, when in use, visual indicators prompt the user from start to finish. Talk about user friendly!
As a Buyers Access member, you have access to an AED program and First Aid Service through Cintas in order to ensure that your property is ready for any medical emergency. So, if you are interested in first aid safety, saving valuable time as well as adding a peace of mind to your residents and staff, contact Buyers Access today.
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Keep Your Eye on the Prize
by Michelle N. on 8/4/2014 12:18:16 PM
Residents should know that their safety and security are community priorities. On Call Now has a great article on how establishing safety initiatives are fostering safe communities for residents while maintaining a budget.
Keep Your Eye on the Prize
Safety is always a top resident concern, but security initiatives don’t have to drain the budget
Why did “This is a safe place to live,” score so high? That’s what I asked my property manager client when she shared the results of her latest resident survey. Her “safety and security” score was higher since her previous survey, and here’s how she did it…
First she contacted neighboring communities and HOAs to establish a zone of interest. Then she contacted the police and fire departments and asked for any resources and property inspections that could help foster safe communities.
Within the first six months of her safety initiative:
- She installed additional lighting in the parking area and common walk ways.
- She revised her lock and key change program.
- The fire department held a fire safety and CPR training event at her complex.
- The police department helped the communities set up a neighborhood watch system.
She also sends residents severe weather alerts and notifies residents to give them a heads-up to help them stay safe. She shared a few recent examples:
- “This month, we’ll be conducting routine seasonal maintenance in many of our units. Service personnel will not come to your unit without an appointment. Our office will always contact you to schedule any maintenance activities.”
- “A large raccoon has been invading our dumpsters. Please be careful when using the dumpsters at night. Make sure your children know to never, under any circumstances approach any wildlife.”
- “A resident in one of our neighboring communities experienced a car break in. So please make sure you always lock your car doors.”
Her attention to safety issues has increased awareness in her community. That alone heightens the perception of security. In addition, her residents are now more security conscience and most of the children in her complex know what to do in an emergency. In a very short period of time, her residents got a strong message that their safety and security were community priorities.
As an added bonus—and this is big—she accomplished this without draining her budget. Her budgeting strategy is, “Keep your eye on the prize and don’t skimp on the most important things that affect retention: maintenance services, safety and security, and good customer service.” I think she’s got it right.
Read On Call Now article here