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Good Insight From marketing Expert Kate Good
By Leah Etling, Blogger for YARDI on Oct 23, 2012

Kate Good’s energy and enthusiasm are infectious. Whether she’s talking about apartment branding, leasing strategy, or cute shoes, the veteran multifamily motivator captures her audience with humor, charm and solid market-tested knowledge.

As an independent consultant and a member of the Apartment All Stars, a team of multifamily experts that delivers industry insight and inspiration on a national tour and via webinars, Good is in demand for her 23 years of expertise. She gave us a few minutes of her valuable time recently to chat about multifamily trends. And stay tuned for a big announcement involving the All Stars’ next big thing in the coming weeks, she hinted during our interview.

Good began her career as a leasing professional with Trammell Crow, and started her consultancy in 1997. Today, she speaks to over 18,000 apartment industry professionals annually at conferences, seminars, trainings, retreats, awards and other industry events, sharing the lessons that she’s learned while assisting her clients. Good works with all varieties of properties, from distressed assets with lagging vacancy rates to new construction (one of her favorite project types).

She is passionate about working with apartment industry clients to help them stay motivated, be better at their jobs, lease up their properties, retain residents and raise rents.

“She is without a doubt the most entertaining speaker I’ve ever seen in the industry and certainly one of the most informative,” said Will Johnson, publisher of Professional Publishing, Inc. Rave reviews from her speaking engagements are common, with audiences say they walk away energized, excited, and ready to work.

Despite having months of travel on her calendar each year for speaking engagements and consultant gigs, Good’s outlook is perpetually upbeat and optimistic, and her audiences feed off that energy.

“My audience is sophisticated. I’m constantly out there looking at what everyone’s doing, looking at the best of the best, searching for ideas from other industries, so that every time someone comes to hear me speak they get new material that is researched, that I believe in, that I have tested through my own marketing,” she said.

“I want everyone to know that I am doing this stuff – I am a speaker and a consultant. I’m actively marketing. I took on some of the hardest properties during the recession, and I’m still taking on the hard stuff. I’m challenged just like everybody else is. When I get up and talk, I’m talking about real life scenarios. I don’t talk about things that I think might be good. I talk about things that I know work.”

She shared one of her secrets to staying focused and energetic with such a crazy schedule: Monster Zero energy drinks. It’s part of her contract that they are waiting in her hotel room on ice. (Note to Kate: You’ll probably be getting a call to endorse the Monster Zero beverage line any day now.)

Here are a few of the invaluable industry insights we learned from our chat with Kate Good:

What’s changed in the industry since she started: the data that can help you make better business decisions is now readily available, and smart companies use it daily.
Good says: “Companies like Yardi have helped us become stronger decision markers. We used to do things that were mainly gut reactions – ‘Well, based on my experience, or based on what I’m seeing, we should try this.’ Well now, if we’re using the technology provided for us, we have reports, data, and history. We don’t have to make gut decisions anymore, we can make really informed decisions.”

What’s trending right now: with the popularity of apartment renting as a lifestyle, resident populations are becoming more diverse. Multifamily firms need to be ready for blended demographics. Good says: “We could have senior housing and Gen Z housing all in one community. It will be important to build marketing systems, retention programs and management style that have diversity targeting all the different profiles of renters. Whereas in the past, we’d say ‘this is a boomer community, or a senior community, or a young professional community, or a hipster/just out of college community.’ We’re not seeing that anymore.”

Do you need a new branding strategy? Find out how your prospects view you answer that question. For a recent client, Good surveyed 200 apartment hunters to find out whether marketing messages were hitting home. It turned out that the image projected by the property was being perceived in a drastically different way by the potential renters.
Good says: “When I want to find out if branding is working, I look to see if we are attracting the desired profile that we want from our branding. When we are attracting them, is that the message that they are understanding, is that what they’re hearing from us? You don’t know that until you ask.”

New construction marketing raises everyone’s game. Properties in initial lease-up typically come out swinging with aggressive marketing campaigns, creative social media strategies and even social opportunities to target new residents. They’re among Good’s favorite kind of campaigns to run, and they also make the competition better.
Good says: “They can knock it out of the park – and if you’re been around 2 years, 5 years, 20 years – you’re going to raise your game to stay competitive, and I love that. I like being on the edge, and with new construction you can be on the edge of what’s new and what’s fun and what’s hot.”

What’s hot right now? Multifamily is finally starting to understand social media well and use it effectively, and the right approach can be different from property to property. Good says: “I’ve seen properties where their Facebook page rocks, because you can pay rent on it. I’ve seen another Facebook page that gets a lot of traffic because they have a direct feed for resident reviews, automatically posted, unfiltered. People are using that as resource for finding out about their community. I’ve seen Facebook pages that are entire brochures, with floor plans, and videos, and pictures, and the ability to rent the apartment right there. So, we’re starting to see how social media is becoming both an informational website as well as an interactive point for our residents.”

Rents are going up. How are smart communities selling that? One year into the post-recession recovery cycle, many apartments have been able to raise rents between $100 to $160/month during a lease renewal, and many markets are seeing higher average rents than they were before the economy crashed. Good says: “We’re starting to see incremental increases, the return of the wait list, and balancing out revenue opportunities that we let go of during the recessionary time. During the recession, we unbundled things. We unbundled the garage from the apartment, because that added another $150 onto the rent, and that made it look so expensive. Now we’re bundling the garage, storage and the amenity fee, and putting it together as one offer to add value to the price we’re trying to get. We’re using the garage, storage and amenities as value builders for these really high prices we’re asking for.”

What else should multifamily professionals be thinking about right now? With a recovering job market and new emphasis on professionalism and technical skill sets for multifamily employees, Good hopes that the industry will take a hard look at making wages more competitive. Good says: “I want to challenge companies to think hard about the value of attracting good people to our business and having a compensation package to attract them and keep them and be competitive with other industries. I just feel our industry isn’t offering enough compensation right now for the hours put in and what we expect of a property manager.”

Thanks to Kate Good for taking the time to speak with us. We asked Kate to tell us a little bit more about herself by answering ten fun profile questions, and she kindly obliged:

What is your favorite type of music?

I am a Texas girl at heart and grew up in a small town. I connect with the lyrics and wholesome themes that you find in Country Music. Except for the ones that talk about Momma being in jail. They can’t catch my Mom! And, I love to see any band live. It just gets my juices flowing to hear the drums and guitar crank it out through a powerful speaker.

What is your favorite book of all time and why?

“Oh The Places You Will Go” by Dr. Suess. The book is about never losing your sense of adventure and wonder.

If you have an hour of free time to spare, what do you do with it?

Gather a group of friends and jump on our road cycles, climb Camelback Mountain or hit the slopes of Aspen. I love to exercise in the outdoors. It is the antithesis of airports and hotels.

What kinds of food do you like?

The ones I cook at home. I was on 142 airplanes last year and the real treat for me is to be home cooking all the recipes I read about in the magazines I buy in the airport (we won’t talk about the Kit Kat bar I buy at the same time). Hold the cheese, use fresh cut herbs and prepare it to perfection and I am in heaven. If I could eat butter poached tarragon lobster every day and never gain a pound, I would.

Where is the most interesting place you’ve ever traveled?

This is a tough one because I have been to 21 countries. Every place is interesting the first time you visit. I was mesmerized by the scenery in Lake Como, Italy. I was interested in history when visiting Vienna. But most interesting to me was Alaska. The wildlife and icebergs made me wonder if we are doing enough to save them for eternity. We are not and it will be sad that one day people will only have photos of what was once the most majestic place I have ever seen. It moved me and I will never forget the memories from that trip with my Father, Sister and Cousin.

What do you like best about your job?

I don’t like the hassle of taking off my shoes, belt and traveling with 3oz of hairspray (that will only last two days) when getting to my gigs but I sure love my job when I get there. I honestly feel proud when the audience laughs at a joke or applauds for a point I make when presenting my best stuff. I recharge my battery on stage, no matter how little sleep I got the night before because the plane circled Atlanta for hours. I will certainly miss it all someday.

If you could have dinner with anyone, alive or historical, who would it be?

My Dad. He left me too soon and I have so much to ask him and tell him. He would make me laugh and listen with love.

What are the words you live by?

“Live, Laugh, Love.” Reminds me to balance my world with hard work, not take myself too seriously and love deeply.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

When I was 7 I would have told you that I wanted to be a waitress. Now, I want to be in a position to deliver a speech that really matters. I don’t know what I will be doing when that day comes but I know I will feel a sense of purpose. Is that when we know we are grown up?

Do you speak any other languages, and which ones?

I speak Prada, Gucci and Canine. Just ask my dog, Mrs. Harry Winston.

If you could own one piece of famous art, sculpture, memorabilia or historic artifact, what would the item be?

The original copy if the Anne Frank’s diary.

What are some things on your bucket list?

Deliver a speech that matters.
Start my charity called “The Birthday Box” which will raise funds, decorations, cakes, gifts and wrapping paper for every underprivileged child to celebrate the one day that God made special in their lives, their birthday.
Walk into Target and spend less than $100. I don’t think it is possible for me but I will keep trying.
Have all of my friends in one place at the same time. Heaven!
Become a travel writer.
I have a theory about why dogs die so young. I want to write a book about it.

What was your last Do It Yourself project?

I painted my outdoor furniture. But the one I am most proud of is that I did my own laundry. I don’t do laundry.

What athlete or sports figure do you most admire?

Mary Lou Retton. She broke the mold when it came to the image of a gold medalist scoring a 10 in the Olympics.

What online sites do you visit?

Facebook, WSJonline, Delta, Hotels.com, ThinkGeek.com and of course NeimanMarcus.com

If you could have a super power, what would it be?

I heard Jenny McCarthy say one time that she always wanted background music playing in her life. I wish I had the power to always create that in everyone’s world. We would all feel like we were in a movie.

What’s something about you that few people know?

I get very nervous on stage. So nervous that one time I rushed off stage to use the ladies room and left my microphone on. I guess I a lot of people will know about this now!