Rachel Kish has been busy through the pandemic. She says she’s working on growing her team while focusing on acquisitions for Asset Living, all on top of dealing with things like evictions. Kish joined the Shelton Residential team in 2017, and Asset Living acquired that company in 2020.
“The joining of those two families has been a huge success for everybody,” said Kish. “Watching two different worlds collide and watching all of the success that comes out of that has been really fun to be a part of.”
Kish says she’s proud of how Multifamily has responded to the pandemic. Companies made adjustments and tested new ideas extremely rapidly, and were largely successful.
“I think the pandemic emboldened us to take risks and actions that we just – we wouldn’t have tip-toed around prior to that. And I think moving forward, as we come to a post-pandemic era, we can continue with that same boldness.”
Kish says it’s important to analyze the priorities for each client and see where there’s overlap so you can work efficiently.
“I feel like the most success comes in hiring great teams. Just this morning, I was texting with my managers, and I just thanked them, saying, ‘I couldn’t do what I do without you and the way that you pour into your people on-site.’ When you can find the right leaders, the execs at each of those sites, you can grow properties, you can grow portfolios. For me, that’s the biggest challenge and the great reward, also.”
For a while, Kish was working on ways to try to be open, rather than figure out ways to work through closure. The response was focused on keeping people safe and keeping the virus from spreading. Now, Kish thinks people should shift the focus to making sure things stay open in a safe way.
“We have to be very nimble in the way that we create policy in that environment. Really, it’s just, how do we be open, how do we do it really well, make people feel safe and also create the community that our people really desire,” said Kish.
Kish says face-to-face interaction doesn’t have to be prioritized in the same way it is now. For instance, self-guided and virtual tours have been extremely successful. However, that’s not to say face-to-face interaction is no longer important.
“Moving forward, we should continue to engage the technology to the degree that we have and look for new ways to utilize that platform. I also think we need to reevaluate how we deploy resources. In the COVID environment, we all had money set aside for social activities and then social activities got nixed. So how can we take that funding and re-deploy it so that we can still create community or be open on some level and just repurpose that money?”
At one property, Asset Living used the money it saved by not having community events to hire someone to oversee the fitness center, making sure it’s regularly sanitized, and that people wear their masks. At another property, the site had an on-site housekeeper; she was repurposed to focus on amenities, and the property brought in another third-party company to take on her old role.
Kish says there are some ways she thinks people’s decision-making and habits may forever be changed. For instance, she thinks people will always keep hand sanitizer in their cars. However, when it comes to residents, people still want the same things for the most part. Properties still have to deliver on those expectations. Communication and even over-communication encouraging people that they should get out and be active, but they need to do so safely has also been important. Choosing the right staff can help with that messaging.