A number of people approached me during and after our PMs in the PM: Property Manager Mixer in Gainesville to ask about the secret to the event’s success. For those of you who may have missed it, we took advantage of a break in the leasing season to throw a party for our clients and friends. With over 50 attendees, we considered the event a huge success. But success comes at a price… we invested a significant amount of time and energy to ensure we would achieve our goals.
Boiling it down, there are nine elements that apartment communities must get right. Each is necessary; none is sufficient. You have to nail them all to have a chance at succeeding with your event.
Right Timing. Check the community calendar to ensure that your event will not compete with others expecting to draw your residents or prospects out.
Right Budget. Don’t try to hold a black tie caliber event on a shoestring budget. It will quickly become obvious to your residents, and your event will become a detraction to your apartment community’s image. It’s like inviting your friends to a nice dinner and telling them that they can’t have the steak.
Right Person. Pick someone on your staff to champion the event. It’s important to know that there is a single person responsible for the overall success of your apartment community’s event. Make sure you have the right person chosen, and hold him or her accountable.
Right Team. Once you have chosen the right leader, don’t hang her out to dry. Make sure that you give her access to your staff when she needs them. More important, have a conversation with those team members to explain their roles in the project and to draw out the temporary chain of command.
Right Procedures. If you’re apartment community is going to hold events often, it might help to establish standing procedures to guide your community’s staff to success. If you have a bookshelf full of manuals to run your apartment community blindfolded, then you should add a binder entitled “events.” Consider having your point person draw up a quick memo the day after your apartment holds the event… have that person document what went well and what didn’t. All of this will help to make sure that your community maintains some institutional knowledge regardless of your staff’s turnover.
Right Partners. The term “on time, full delivery” takes on even more importance when an apartment community is hosting an event. A wedding cake that is two hours late or only half complete has no value. Thus, it’s important to pick the right baker. This concept carries over to any partner you choose to work with during an event. At the end of the day, your credibility with your renters and prospects is completely dependent upon the “on time, full delivery” of the partners you pick. So choose wisely.
Right Marketing. People don’t miraculously show up at events. A single email or calendar listing in your community newsletter isn’t going to cut it. Promoting an event is its own marketing task. Create a media mix of multiple channels and make sure that your target audience knows it’s invited. Think TV, print, radio, internet, emails, Facebook, Twitter, post cards, bandit signs on your property, phone calls. Now pick at least three.
Right Branding. Ask Freddie Wehbe, one of the most successful franchisees in the Domino’s chain. There is a difference between branding and marketing. Marketing in this case is about getting people to the event. Branding is selecting the appropriate image of the event and making sure that everything ties back to it.
Right Effort. Effort is last on the list for a very good reason. It’s the lynchpin most often overlooked. Promoting and running an event at your apartment community cannot be done from the sidelines. It takes an incredibly proactive, labor intense approach. If you or your staff doesn’t have it in them, then hire a professional or cancel the event.