In this interview, Patrick Antrim, Founder of Multifamily Leadership, spoke with Josh Young, Director of Marketing at Multifamily Management, Inc (MMI). Josh is leading with innovative marketing strategies, driving value for Multifamily clients and leveraging social media to create unique experiences with his internal teams. The MMI team, like many other third party managers work to provide Owners and Investors with the highest quality Management services available.

Patrick and Josh talked about the strategies management companies can leverage to build their brands, engage current employees and attract new owner accounts.  In line with our series, this interview will highlight the perspective and experience of someone who has made the move to advance leadership in Multifamily.

Patrick: Josh, thanks for sharing the time with me on one of the most important topics in the Multifamily industry. Employee engagement and retention is an integral component of any successful company and one that should be highly valued and nurtured. What is the fundamental value driving the way MMI does business?

Josh: The biggest value we have in the company is our People. The goal is to make every employee feel a part of the bigger picture of what MMI is about. Our company and its employees are spread over 11 states and the continual challenge is ensuring that each employee understands our company culture.

Patrick: What strategies are you using to amplify your corporate culture and the MMI Multifamily employer value proposition?

Josh: One of the strategies we use is recognition; with over 300 employees we make it a priority to give credit where credit is due. We have found that people like to be recognized for their achievements. If you’re going to write someone up for doing something wrong then why not acknowledge and recognize an employee for doing a great job! Each month, every department leader submits 5 people that are leading the company in their respective fields. This list of people is then compiled and published to the entire company. We call it our “Time is Now Team.” They receive a bracelet, then they will post to social media using a hashtag. It’s just a small token of recognition but a lot of times it’s the small things that count.

Patrick: That’s very innovative. I love how you are taking the time to ‘write people up’ for their good behaviors. How exactly do you get people to subscribe to this?

Josh: There is an underlying persona regarding commitment about our company that comes through in the day to day activities. We all have a sense of respect and commitment to each other to get the job done. Our company is not a “title laden” company but one that understands the importance of servant leadership. This is shown through property visits, training, company functions, and outreach programs.  The best way for someone to learn is by showing them, not telling them how to do it. We also consider ourselves a company that is a huge family. We have had employees from the beginning with over 30 years of service, ones who had left us to only come back years later, and new ones to just start.’

Patrick: Wow, having long-term and returning employees like that really speaks to MMIs own commitment to employee engagement and retention. Are there specific things MMI is doing to remain competitive in the Multifamily industry?

Josh: The employee benefits offered to our employees are very important when staying competitive in this industry. We pay 50-77% of our employee’s health premium cost and provide basic life and AD insurance at no cost. We offer a culture of open communication and an environment where employees can voice their opinions, ideas, and ways to make our company better that are listened to by our upper management team.

Patrick: As a Third Party Management Company, you have to focus on driving value for your clients. Has your employer brand influenced management opportunities or the leasing of new units?

Josh: Great question, Patrick. As a third party management company, we have to stay competitive and the most important asset we have is our employees. Having highly qualified, motivated, and career-minded employees is a huge asset for us and the owners that choose us to manage their properties. Our owners understand that when we manage their property, we are ensuring that the employees running the deal are well-equipped to take on any challenge. Also, the retention of qualified employees by our employee brand helps us deliver better results along all property types.  Less overall turnover builds better results and produces higher returns for our customer base.

Patrick: Exactly right, Josh. Having highly engaged and qualified employees creates a better experience for the owners that entrust you with their properties.

Josh: I will add that as for the leasing of units, through social media marketing, face to face interaction in the office, and event planning for the property, this makes it easier for the prospect to choose one of our properties over the competition down the road. In our sector of the industry, in the markets we operate in, we usually see that concessions, floor plans, and amenities are all the same. The one thing that sets us apart and gives us that edge is the experience the prospect/resident gets when they step on our property. This all once again starts with the employees. They have to understand the culture, stay motivated, and feel supported in what they do and that’s the job that we love to do as the leadership of the company.

Patrick: Today’s Multifamily Executive is paying attention to the employer brand as it impacts hiring, investments, and third party management accounts. Marketing is also seen as playing a more important role in shaping the multifamily employer brand. What efforts are you taking to engage your employees in shaping the company story?

Josh: We fully believe that our employees either make or break us. So we are constantly trying to create innovative ways to engage our employees as well as market our company as an amazing place to work that way more qualified employees will want to come work with us. We’ve started doing this through number of different ways, including our “The Time is Now” campaign that I mentioned earlier that was launched last year by our CEO. Every single employee received a t-shirt stating, “If you are waiting for the right time, the time is now.” This was to encourage every employee to be proactive and execute on their property. We had everyone wear the t-shirts on a Friday, take pictures, and post them on their social platforms. Also, a year later we turned that same campaign into a way of highlighting the top performers in the company by each month sending green armbands with the saying “The Time is Now”. Each employee who receives them wears it and posts on social platforms using #thetimeisnowteam.

Patrick: What a great, fun way to keep employees excited and involved in creating excellent prospect/resident experiences. I’m sure that hashtag is also helping to create employee buy-in by making them an integral part of the company story.

Josh: Yes, it really is! Speaking of hashtags, this year marked our 10th anniversary as MMI and we thought it would be a great idea to encourage employees to post on Instagram their most memorable moment since being employed. Each time they post they use #mmi10. We have employees who have shared stories from the very beginning and others who have just begun at MMI sharing memories for everyone to see about our company. This shows the culture we have in an authentic and personal way.

Patrick: That’s great. Research shows that community involvement creates higher employee satisfaction. Does MMI have a way of connecting employees with the communities they’re serving?

Josh: I’m really glad you asked that question because it gives me the opportunity to talk about MMI Cares. This was a campaign started about 3 years ago and the idea behind this was for all of our employees and properties to come together and reach out into the communities they operate in. These could be monthly, quarterly, or yearly events in which the properties partner with a community organization to give back. Also, our corporate office each year selects a sight for our “Apartment Giveaway.” The property selected will give away an apartment for a year (free of rent) to the contestant who holds on to the door knob the longest. This is a huge event that usually last 2 days at least. During the event, we get local businesses, organizations, and churches to participate by setting up booths and promoting what they do in the city. In conjunction with this we raise money for a local charity. One year we were able to provide Toys for Tots and another year we were able to raise over $16,000 for the Ronald McDonald House.

Patrick: That is very impressive and no doubt extremely fulfilling to your employees to have the opportunity to create an impact of that magnitude in their local communities. Do you provide any opportunities for self-improvement for your employees?

Josh: As a matter of fact, just last week at our annual conference, we gave every single attendee a Fitbit Flex. With this, we launched a challenge with everyone to see who can get the most steps, miles, and exercise while at conference. Also, we launched regional challenges with the regional manager will be getting his/her region to compete with each other throughout the year. We thought that this would be a fun and creative way to promote a healthy lifestyle.

Patrick: Well, Josh, it certainly sounds like MMI is doing a great job at understanding what drives and motivates employees to continually grow, both personally and professionally. 

Josh: Absolutely, Patrick. We continually challenge our employees to produce better results and we incentivize them to achieve those results.  We also ask all employees to step out of their comfort zones and take part in areas and tasks that they may never have been involved in before. We engage them in operations in remote locations with people they have never met before to achieve results.  We find that folks like to be challenged, do things they have never done before, travel to places they have never been before and make alliances that help get the job done while at the same time being interesting and fun. All of these initiatives are companywide campaigns with which each employee has a chance to get involved. What we have found in doing these is that the employees become part of our culture and love it. It makes them feel that they are a part of something bigger than just an employee number. It gives meaning to their job and of course it’s FUN.

Patrick: That really does sound like fun and is apparent that MMI is a leader in innovative ways to increase employee engagement and retention. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today, Josh, and share your valuable insights on this highly important topic.

Josh: You are welcome and thank you for the opportunity to highlight what makes MMI great. To learn more visit Multifamily Management, Inc