Virginia Love began her property management career in 1991 as a leasing consultant for Trammell Crow, making $5.15 per hour and an average $17.50 per lease. Now at Waterton — a real estate investor and operator with a portfolio that includes some 20,000 multifamily units and 13 hotels — she is responsible for national and site level marketing, branding, and promotions as well as technology and operations systems to maximize the communities’ performance.
13 After asked Virginia to share some of her insights and observations.
Q: Waterton manages apartments and hotels. How is apartment marketing different from hotel marketing?
Love: For hotels, the marketing is largely driven from the brand, such as Marriott or Doubletree. Our hospitality group works very closely with the brand to make sure the hotels we own and manage under that flagship are in sync with their expectations and standards.
From my perspective, the message and service behind the brand are the same, whether it’s apartments or hotels. Pricing structure and expectation of service are also the same. Waterton has recognized overlaps in apartments and hotels, and we are leveraging strengths from both industries to improve the experience for both guest and resident.
Q: With the Georgia Apartment Association annual meeting coming up in September, what are you most excited to learn more about?
Love: John Inman of HMI Property Solutions, Inc. is the GAA chairperson this year, and he has made some significant changes to the format. I’m really excited to hear the “Superpower” panelists, experts from different positions in the industry who will speak to what has made them successful – being flexible, fostering new talent – and share their thoughts on the characteristics of successful people.
What I love about our industry is that there are all types of positions working together to offer the best apartment dwelling experience for the customer. And as always, GAA offers fantastic networking opportunities.
Q: You are a past chairperson of the Atlanta Apartment Association and a current board member, which gives you a great perspective on the industry. What most impresses you about Atlanta apartment communities?
Love: We are working in one of the top markets for the industry. The marketing teams in Atlanta are at the forefront of new technology, programs, strategies — you name it. I’m always so impressed with the high level of respect Atlanta has for renters. Apartments are not seen as a temporary housing solution but as real homes, because owner/manager companies take such pride in their business. It’s easy to see why so many companies outside of Atlanta are all knocking at the door. They also are witnessing the extremely high level of dignity there is in representing our industry.
Q: Any missed opportunities in multifamily or areas where there is room for improvement?
Love: If I could go back in time and speak to my younger self, when I was starting in the industry 25 years ago, I would say: “Don’t sell yourself short!”
The teams on the site level truly drive our business. Without customers renting, moving in, renewing, even complaining or complimenting us, neither I nor anyone in my department would have a job. We are here to support them.
The site teams are in charge of the sales and operations of $55-million, $75-million, $100- million-plus assets! Most people in their lifetimes won’t have that level of opportunity to drive performance. You aren’t “just a leasing consultant” or “just a service technician.” You are responsible for the performance of a highly valuable piece of real estate that happens to be someone’s home. I think that we, as an industry, are quick to forget that detail.
Q: If you could impress upon our readers one multifamily marketing “must,” what would that be?
Love: Say YES! You just have to. To customers, to opportunities, to challenges, to situations, to invitations. Say yes more. I started this practice a few years back, both personally and professionally, and it has been life changing. It’s so easy to say no or to let doubt take over, and not be willing to fail; but by saying yes, you are going to gain more insight into what you want out of life.
–Susan Percy, 13 After Contributing Editor