Resident Experts with Mike Brewer

As part of our ongoing Resident Expert series, we recently hosted a conversation with Mike Brewer, a 30-year veteran of the multifamily industry who is currently the COO of Radco Companies. The following is a brief summary of that conversation which was led by Virginia Love.

Putting team members first

The pandemic shed light on the importance site teams play in the performance of properties. They truly are essential workers. Brewer noted that in the past, especially in the case of larger multifamily businesses, the focus was on the asset. How are we going to grow the value of the asset? There was less focus on the experience the site level teams were delivering to residents. They were just cogs in the big machine of growing the business, important cogs, but cogs none the less

Brewer was seen as a lone wolf when it came to shining the spotlight on the value site teams actually bring. Site teams are really where the value is built. They deliver a good experience to residents and prospects, which leads to faster lease up times and high occupancy. Ultimately if those things happen, the value of the asset will continue to grow. “ If you serve your site team well your customer gets served well,” said Brewer. “Everybody gets served well if you start with the team member first.”

Best practices for putting team members first

The biggest thing that Brewer suggests is to remember your employees are humans first and they just happen to work for you. Because of this, you need to make sure you are creating a psychologically safe environment where team members feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to work. It’s important to give them the support they need to succeed.

Sam Walton, founder of Walmart, once said, “There’s only one boss, the customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman down simply by spending his money somewhere else.”

In a way, our team members occupy the same space as residents. These individuals could work elsewhere, but they choose to work with you. That’s why you should treat them in a way that they want to stay and grow their careers with you. When you have staff continuity, you’re also able to deliver a better experience to residents.

Biggest problems facing the industry today

According to Brewer, one of the biggest challenges facing the industry today is being able to fill all of the positions they have open, particularly on the maintenance side. This is followed by an increase in fraud across the industry. This is happening despite the fact that most businesses have good tools in place to mitigate instances of fraud at their properties. Finally, Brewer commented on the stalemate occurring between buyers and sellers in the industry, but he believes that stalemate will end soon and businesses should be back in acquisition mode soon.

How should businesses operate in an increasingly digital world

Brewer had a radical idea that multifamily businesses should get rid of commissions for leases and take the money that would have been spent on commissions to increase base pay. When the “reward” for getting leases signed is removed it allows team members to place their focus across the entire renter’s journey and not just one aspect, allowing for a better experience across the board for both residents and prospects alike. The focus is no longer just on the sale, but on the service which leads to retention as well. An added benefit would be it also helps with budgets because costs are more fixed than they would be if a commission structure was offered.

Learn more

You can check out the entire conversation between Mike and Virginia by clicking here.