Yesterday was our last #AptChat of the year, so we appropriately looked forward to 2010 and discussed our top resolutions for property managers. (Thanks to the Houston Apartment Association for the topic suggestion!) Here’s our recap of the questions and highlights from the conversation:

What’s your resolution, how can you put it into place, and how’s it going to work for you?

  • Kim Cory: My resolution is to take my knowledge in SM (social media), set goals & use practical tools to build a bigger picture for my brand.
  • Buildium: Our goal is to improve our communication. We are in the process of making this a S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely) goal.
  • Niman: My New Year’s Resolution – Get all tenants to pay rent online.
  • Erica Campbell: My first resolution is to clean my Outlook which is currently a hot mess:)
  • Jennifer Kennedy: My resolution is maximize all of the wonderful resources we have. Focus on utilizing all of our tools to their potential.
  • Jonathan Saar: Goal is to get my peeps on board with Social Media & to use it regularly.
  • Jonathan Saar: Social Media had definitely helped with our brand awareness and in 2010 that path will continue.
  • Houston Apartment Association: Engagement is our key #resolution for 2010; planning to hire a SM/online brand person for HAA.
  • Justin Dunckel: Goal is to expand the business a bit more & create some jobs….seriously!
  • Tim Grace: Pretty much only one resolution re: – delight more users in 2010. All other great things will come from that.
  • Kristi Fickert: My goal = my site folks HAVE 2 understand SM, how it works, how to market w/ it (even if someone else does it for them).

Obviously, it appears that a lot of folks are looking to integrate social media tools further into their businesses in 2010 … I guess we shouldn’t expect anything less from this bunch! (Personally, I also appreciate that there was a strong focus on serving our customers better.) In fact, besides the Houston Apartment Association, a number of other companies are bringing on additional staff specifically to help with social media, including Worthing Southeast Management, For Rent Media Solutions and Village Green Apartments. (Here’s the job description for the position at For Rent if you want to get an idea of the skill set they’re looking for.)

How are everyone’s budget’s coming? Leaner than last year? What’s the word on those?

  • Kim Cory: Budgets for 2010 are similar to 2009, but with a few minor cuts. We had strong cuts in 2009.
  • Kim Cory: (My budget) was cut about 9% in 2009 and in 2010 I worked hard to not cut anymore, so same amount in 2010 for marketing.
  • Erica Campbell: I completely reallocated my budget today for a whole new strategy than i had a few months ago.
  • Jonathan Saar: It’s not the time to stop investing in what works – keep plowing forward.
  • Elysa Rice: I think look at all marketing avenues & see which are producing & which aren’t. Don’t cut based on numbers, cut based on results.

Any major lessons learned from 2009 that changed your outlook for 2010?

  • Lisa Trosien: Just don’t labor under the belief that Social Media is free. It’s clearly NOT.
  • Buildium: One thing we would like to do in 2010 is give our interns a voice. One option we’re using is CoTweet.
  • Erica Campbell: Big lesson- LOCAL CONTENT IS KING.
  • Tami Siewruk: 2009 was about learning social media. 2010 will be about figuring out how to use it well.
  • Erica Campbell: Lesson 2: Media fragmentation has produced a fundamental conundrum.

What are you doing to improve retention?

  • Elysa Rice: Engagement, engagement & engagement!
  • Erica Campbell: Bundling packages & adding value add services.
  • Kim Cory: We would like to have our residents more involved, feel part of the process & decisions made at the community.
  • Kim Obert: Treat people nicely (i.e. “service” in customer service).
  • Claire Collins:Look for opportunities for engagement. Interest groups, etc.

Take the time to read the full transcript — there were a lot of great side conversations and insights shared throughout the discussion.

I leave you with this: As Lisa noted during the chat, “your goals are more easily achieved when a) you put them in writing, and b) you have an audible or visible means of tracking them.” You took the first step by putting your goals in writing. Now, what are you going to do to make sure you follow through on them in the coming year?

On behalf of Lisa, I’d like to thank everyone who has made the Apartment Chat what it is today. Thanks for a great year — we look forward to seeing you again in 2010!