Should You Hire a Property Manager Or Not?

Using a property manager has both pros and cons. There are no hard and fast rules regarding whether you should hire one or not. You have to evaluate the answer based on your own situation. The following are some considerations to take into account before you jump to a conclusion.Time CommitmentA lot of real estate investors have a full time job so they do not have enough time or energy to manage properties. Especially if the house is situated remotely, many investors might feel they cannot manage on their own or do not want to travel. If fact, you can manage on your own.Cost BenefitIf you have several properties or an apartment complex in one area, using a property manager to manage all the property may be economic. The manager will be able to combine expenses and costs. For example, they can purchase maintenance materials in bulk for all the rental units. If you don’t have several rental units in one area, but together with your friends’ or families’ rental units you do. Then you can afford to hire a professional dedicated property manager.The Nature of the Rental Market Where your Property is LocatedIf your rental property is located in an area where renters mostly check out the rentals through the local property management companies, then you have no other choice but to hire the company. This may happen in small towns where there is only a handful of management companies.Tenant’s CharacteristicsSome tenants are not easy to deal with. You may find some tenants that are constantly paying late, asking for a lot of unnecessary repairs, complaining about everything, or having difficulty keeping up the premises. A property manager may handle the situation better than you as you might be emotionally attached to your property and less likely to handle many issues impartially. What’s more, the tenant might try to take advantage of you. They may take it more seriously if they are dealing with a professional property management company instead of an individual.Does your Property Need Frequent Repairs or Maintenance?If your property needs frequent repairs due to its age or other reasons, having a property manager may help you if repairs are a burden. Usually the property management company either has its own in-house repair service or contracts with outside vendors. In any case, you should ask about it before hiring them and understand how much they charge.What Kind of Service do you need from a Property Manager?Do you need a full service property management, which includes placing tenants and ongoing management service? If the condition of your property is good or new and not much repair is anticipated, you may save your money on the ongoing management service part. If you already have a tenant but you are moving out of that area you can use a local property manager to collect the rent and do the maintenance work.Lack of Interest in ManagingSome rental property owners just do not want to get involved in managing the property at all. They rather have someone look after their rental properties so they can enjoy their life doing other things. That is absolutely ok. Enjoying life is also very important.The purpose of hiring a property manager is to free up your time and make your rental investment successful. Nevertheless, hiring a poor one is worse than hiring no one. You can end up spending more time and money to rescue your property.If you hire one, keep in mind it does not mean you have to be a completely hand-offs owner. You should keep in regular communication with your property manager so he understands you do not treat your real estate business lightly. How to hire a good property manager belongs to another blog we will write about.

7 Of the Most Important Wheelchair Travel Tips

Here are 7 of the Most Important Travel Tips for Wheelchair Users:1) Have a shower cap with you at all times!This may seem like a weird tip for wheelchair users, but a simple shower cap can come in very handy. Imagine that you are out exploring a city and rolling from place to place, then suddenly it starts to rain. What do you do to protect your chair from getting soaked and potentially malfunctioning? If you have a shower cap, just throw it over the joystick controller area. It is the perfect size to completely cover the joystick area, but you will still need an umbrella to protect the rest of your chair of course.2) Whatever you do – FIND A LOCAL WHEELCHAIR REPAIR SHOP BEFORE YOU TRAVEL!Before you even think about traveling somewhere new, use the magical powers of Google to locate a wheelchair repair shop in your desired destination city. You never know when your chair will tear up or when the airline will damage your chair. There is nothing worse than arriving somewhere, only to learn that your chair isn’t functioning. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!3) Take more money than you think you will need.This is one of my favorite travel related quotes and couldn’t be more true. I always try to calculate how much money I need to take on a trip to cover meals, attractions, taxis and souvenirs, and then add at least $250-500 for unexpected circumstances that could arise.4) Book transportation before you leave home.Many cities do offer wheelchair accessible transportation of some sort, but it may not always be readily available when you want it. At the least, book in advance an accessible taxi from the airport to your hotel and then from your hotel to the airport for your departure. After arriving at your hotel, the concierge should be able to help you get transportation around the city, but feel free to book as much as possible beforehand. It’s no fun sitting at your hotel waiting on a taxi. Trust me, I know from experience. I once waited almost three hours for an accessible taxi that never even came.5) Take parts of your wheelchair as a carry-on.Plan to take an empty bag to the airport with you to put parts of your electric wheelchair in as a carry-on. I always detach the footrests and the joystick of mine, and I have detached the headrest before as well. I have heard horror stories of disabled travelers arriving to their destination to discover that parts of their wheelchair are banged up or even missing completely. Luckily, I’ve been pretty fortunate to not have experienced this, other than losing a joystick knob once. Also, take your wheelchair cushion on the plane to sit on throughout the flight. It is much more comfortable than the plane seat.6) Check the voltage at your destination.Wheelchair chargers can be tricky when traveling. So tricky in fact, that my charger has blown up twice in two different countries. I took a converter to charge my USA charger with in Germany and England, but as soon as we turned it on to charge it blew up. The chargers are so powerful that they just can’t convert properly as needed. In London I ended up finding a repair shop that sold chargers so I had to buy a 240 volt charger on the spot. This wasn’t cheap though. It cost a whopping 250 £. For future trips that you have planned, do some research and see if anywhere will let you rent a charger while you’re in the country. This is a great website where you can check the voltage of every country: http://kropla.com/electric2.htm7) Never ever EVER book a vacation over the internet!When you are booking flights and hotels, always be sure to call instead of booking online. Sure, it’s fun to browse online and the web can definitely help you make a decision as to where to stay, but somewhere saying that it is wheelchair accessible online can mean many different things. I once found a hotel online that said it was wheelchair accessible, so I called them to reserve it and I asked what was accessible about the hotel. The receptionist responded by saying “We have an elevator”. They did not have a roll in shower, wide doorways, or anything that I needed… just an elevator. As far as flights go, when you book a flight you have to request bulkhead seating (the front row of seats) over the phone. The bulkhead seats usually have much more room to get into the seat and sometimes the armrest will lift up, making these seats ideal for wheelchair users.

4 Principles For Strengthening Your Social Brand

A social brand is a transparent brand, and that’s just what consumers want. They’re tired of being lied to with offers that are too good to be true. They’re sick of being interrupted with irrelevant ads in their daily lives. They get enough of it from tv commercials and website popups. So when they visit their favourite social media sites, they expect brands to behave and be tame. Consumers want a less bombarding and more personal experience.

Your brand is reflected in everything your company says and does. And when you ‘say’ and ‘do’ via social media, that reflection travels at the speed of a browser refresh and amplifies louder than a thousand clicks of a share button.

Practicing these four principles will help you strengthen your social brand communications across all digital media.

1. Remember your brand’s core values

Whenever you sit down to craft a message, write an email, update your fan page, send out a tweet, or respond to a commenter, think of your brand’s core values and personality. Before writing a single word, ask yourself: will this help or hurt the brand? Is it congruent with what the brand stands for? Stay aligned and relevant, and you will communicate your message more appropriately.

If you’re just getting your brand onto social sites, then start by listening to your audience first. What are they talking about? What are they sharing with their friends? What questions are they asking? Once you get to know your audience’s interests, questions, and frustrations, you can begin interacting with them and offering up the type of content that they’re already sharing.

2. Help your employees believe in your brand

Absolutely everyone in your organization holds the responsibility of reinforcing your brand. If your people don’t believe in the brand’s vision and values, then they won’t be able to properly interact with outside parties. If they confuse or offend your customers somehow, it will only damage your image. This translates to the offline world as well. Employees must understand and agree with your brand before they can go off on their own and talk with consumers, partners, investors, suppliers, distributors, and the media. Make it a habit to consistently praise and reward actions that show brand responsibility.

Workers come and go. On average, a person holds a job for around two to five years. Somehow, it is up to you to make sure the brand’s culture is passed down to the newbies, like a legend is passed down to younger generations one conversation at a time. The experienced workers who understand your brand may be gone tomorrow, and the fresh ones that join have no idea what’s going on… until you educate them. Ongoing internal training is essential to ensure everyone is on the same page and your corporate culture doesn’t weaken over time.

3. Build relationships and create brand advocates

A social brand has to be social. Period. Throwing up a Facebook page with your logo on it and getting some “likes” is merely a half-assed attempt at social branding. It takes deep two-way conversations with consumers, and the building of relationships. Some companies use social media mainly for customer service, and it works wonders for them. For example, of all the tweets sent out from Whole Foods Market on Twitter (@WholeFoods), 85% are responses to customer comments, according to Bill Tolany, Head of Integrated Media.

Offering special treatments or incentives to happy customers can turn them into brand advocates. If a customer already likes your product or service, and you treat them right, they may start to share your vision and spread your message for you. What’s more, brand advocates naturally influence the opinions and buying behaviours of their family and friends, because that’s who people trust the most.

You could even think about starting your own brand advocacy program. Check out the Ford Fiesta Movement, in which 100 “Fiesta Agents” across the US get to drive a Fiesta for 6 months, complete monthly missions, and share their experiences in various ways. You can also check out the Microsoft MVP Program, consisting of around 4,000 teachers, artists, doctors, engineers, and technologists who share their know-how with huge online followings.

4. Respond properly to negative feedback

A social brand is an exposed brand, open to negative feedback and criticism. But dealing with negativity in the right way can turn a critic into your next customer or an angry customer into your next number one fan. The results of negative feedback depend entirely on how you deal with them. Handle them well, and you become a star; ignore them, and you might as well hang your logo on the corporate wall of shame.

We can’t be all things to all people, so you’re bound to receive complaints in one form or another. When an unhappy someone posts a complaint about your product or service, others tend to follow along and add their two cents as well. Whatever you do, don’t ignore this. It can snowball out of control unless you respond properly. However, if you say something wrong, it’ll make things worse.

One of the best and easiest things you can do is simply offer help (or maybe an apology) to the original complainer. It shows that you care about how your customers feel. And as customers, we love that sort of thing, don’t we?

Being a social brand means talking to people as a professional human, as if you were talking to them face-to-face. With pretty much any company and any type of response, you’ll want to keep it friendly and helpful, but at the same time, feel free to let your brand personality shine through. Then, before hitting the send button, get a second pair of eyes to check your tone of voice. Align your messages with the vision and values of the company. Continually educate your employees and make sure they are with you 100%.