Tips for Handling Employee Turnover… from an ice cream store

The National Apartment Association is predicting a higher employee turnover rate for the multifamily housing industry.  One in five property managers and nearly one in three leasing consultants are expected to be in a new position this year.

During the five years I spent as a Ben & Jerry's franchisee in Gainesville, we had the same issue with our staff of University of Florida students.  We learned early on that developing, tweaking, and vigorously enforcing systems with our staff was the key to keeping training costs low and to ensuring that our  entire staff could achieve the high standards that we set for them.  Specifically, here are two things to consider:

1. Checklists are Key!Newbies and seasoned employees alike were required to follow detailed checklists that specifically outlined how we wanted our tasks completed.  They were invited to critique our procedures, but they were expected to follow them until we collectively decided on a change.  Click here to see an old checklist if you want to see an example of how detailed they were: Ben & Jerry's Archer Rd Closing Checklist

Here's the interesting part… by requiring our staff to initial tasks as they were completed (or explain why they weren't), we took the guess work out of their jobs.  We also eliminated the classic saying "I forgot."  Additionally, there was no subjectivity on our end to evaluating their performance.  If an employee initialed something that wasn't completed, they essentially lied to us.  And most employee handbooks have a quick way to show the door to people who lie.

2. Stop answering the same question!  If our staff had a question, they were directed to our comprehensive operations manual.  We called it the "Frequently asked questions" binder.  If the question wasn't answered in the binder, our manager would add that particular question and answer the very next day.  It might take a little extra time to document a question and answer, but you'll find it well worth your effort when your leasing consultants are knocking on your door a lot less.

Almost every property I visit has a bookshelf full of marketing and operations binders.  In ten years of working with property managers, I've seen a binder referenced twice.  In both instances, the information was outdated.  My suggestion is that you invest the time to update your checklists and manuals… and then rigorously require their use.

Besides reducing your stress level and saving your valuable time, these binders will help to make you replaceable.  And for great managers, that's the first step towards a promotion.

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