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national   /   January 15, 2020

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By: Amy Wolff Sorter

Apartment Operators Focus on Labor Challenges

The U.S. economy, in recent months, has been marked by low unemployment and slowing job growth, partly due to more jobs than people available to fill them. The rental housing sector has not been immune from this issue, with apartment owners and managers focused on finding the right employees, and retaining them.

According to a recent article in the National Apartment Association’s Units magazine, apartment operators report that “a tight job market is forcing them to constantly renew their compensation package against competitors . . .,” as well as turning to technology and outsourcing to ensure smooth-running operations. Additionally, the current employment market is providing ownership the ability to “differentiate with first-class, in-house customer service, and what’s better left to automation . . .” the article said.

For example, Bozzuto Management Group eschews call centers. When prospective and current residents call in, they talk to an in-house employee each time. The reason is because the company views each call as an opportunity to differentiate its brand, and to stand out in the field. In this scenario, third-party outsourcing is better with back-end and administrative tasks.

Bell Partners also turns to third-party outsourcing, but only for its revenue-management processes, as well as when it comes to turning apartments. In that scenario, “we outsource painting because our turnovers are done in bulk, and we can’t hire enough people to get that done internally,” said the company’s Cindy Clare.

The article’s focus was that apartment owners and operators will need to continue strategizing in an economy in which, at this point, there are more positions available than bodies to fill them. “This is the new normal, at least for now,” said Bozzuto Management’s Kristen Magni. “As an industry, we’re in a tight spot, and there are going to continue to be positions that are very challenging to recruit for.”

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