So, we are knee deep into this recession, how are things going? There are likely a few more choices than you think or at least that first come to mind to improve your stance in the marketplace.

Here is what we are learning at our Small Business, we can do more with less. Yep, and so can you and your organization.

Our Small Business is in SE MI, (that's the state with the highest unemployment) and to say that some days just feel heavy is an understatement. There are plenty of things to get discouraged about, folks are losing their jobs in groves. But, guess what, there are a lot of things going right too. And those who have put their head down and continued to forge ahead will be forever stronger when we come out of the other end of this.

So sometimes, math has a  very strange way of calculating. We are in the Apartment Business, and so a pretty important piece of that is Renting Apartments. A year ago, we had two full time and one part time leasing consultants. A year later we have one full time leasing consultant.

But here is the catch, our year over year, month over month traffic, tours and rentals are UP by 70%, and yes, a single person is now handling all of that. Are we doing things the same, Nope, but that is the point. Would we have gotten creative if it was business as usual, likely not. Albeit, our peers highly criticized us when we launched this new initiative.  

Well, we are, we are sending prospects out on their own to tour our apartments. In our trek to enhance the concept of a Centralized Leasing Center at Urbane, we are testing a new way to tour apartments and we have coined it "GO SOLO". It works like this; The prospect meets at Urbane Underground first to go over their living space needs. For folks who have never experienced the Urbane Underground it is pretty "Interesting and Entertaining" and sets the tone for a fun encounter.

Prospects LOVE THE FREEDOM AND CONTROL.  We needed to make the process super easy to follow, and we have. It needed to be fun and entertaining, which it seems to be. But most of all, it needed, must, absolutely had to provide Value for the Prospect. Based on our Net Rental Numbers, It has!

This isn't a new idea. The car dealers stopped riding around with you for a test drive years ago. Then, the test drive turned into; Take the car for the afternoon! Why is that? Salespeople get in the way and it is uncomfortable. Going Alone allows the prospect to sit on the floor. Come back later in the day, or the next day. Bring over a friend, their mom or dad, boyfriend or girlfriend. They can measure for furniture, and just plain "test" the new space they will be calling home soon.

The recession has altered the way we are doing business, and we have Enhanced the Customers Experience in the process. And, we have lowered direct cost by over 100%, and increased actual traffic and leases by 70% Yikes, lets do that on every front. Not possible you say, but isn't that how great companies are built. This was not a cost cutting exercise, it was much, much more, as all you need for cost cutting is a machete. Put on your thinking cap, put your Customers Experience first and foremost and see what happens, you will surprise yourself, and your customer.

So, What have you done in this economic downswing, and is this a blessing or a curse? Let us know your thoughts!  

August 8, 2009

Eric Brown has (30) years in the Multi-Family Apartment Business having built and developed over 17,000 apartment units, both market rate, luxury and tax credit apartments. Having started Urbane Apartments in 2003 after leaving a lengthy stint as a Senior Vice President at Village Green Companies, a national apartment developer, Eric decided he wanted to create wealth, and set out from Corporate America on his own and created Urbane Apartments in Royal Oak, MI.


Everyone has to look at their old system of doing things and improve it. It's unfortunate that it has taken the recession to get us to this point but it is necessary. Thinking outside of the box is something that has to be a norm for businesses to succeed in other ways.

Thanks for the great post!

the only main difference i have noticed is the changes in the exchange rates. Living in portugal with the euro yet getting paid in the british pound was certainly a challenge. But the wage i got against the dollar was so great i cant complain.

kind regards


This ecomnomic slow down has forced many changes in various businesses. People heve been thinking of different cost cutting methods. Ultimately customer is the king and he has to be satisfied.

@palyPiano, Thanks for stopping by, really appreciate the comment,

Go Solo is successful for one reason, which has nothing to do with us, it Enhances the Prospects Experience.

There's a reccession? :P

Well to be honest, it doesn't seem like much has changed for ME, but of course there are people who are getting the worst of it

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