David Lynd doesn’t think multi-disciplinary, stand-out industry performers are necessarily new to multifamily—and definitely not new to the Lynd Co.
“As my brother and I were growing up in the business, my father was working us on-site since we were 14 years old,” says the COO of the San Antonio, Texas-based apartment operator. “We picked up trash, we mowed the lawns, we hung sheet rock, we made units ready, we became property mangers, we collected rent—you name it, we did it. What we gained was priceless: a complete 360-degree view of the multifamily business.”
Lynd is seeking to distill the same institutional IQ into future company executives with the formal establishment of the Lynd Special Ops training program: intense, elevated training for high-aptitude personnel who are drilled in every facet of the apartment business and trained hands-on from groundskeepers up to asset managers. “The special operations units go through an absolute boot camp starting at every experience level,” Lynd says. “As part of the curriculum, we find a property that needs extreme lease-up, and we pair them off into teams at different sites and have a competition to see who can get the property stabilized the fastest within a designated timeframe.”
That exercise in and of itself has been paying off for the Lynd Co. Especially in an era of depressed rent fundamentals and distressed property acquisitions, the availability of a go-to platoon of property pros has been an invaluable asset for the firm. “We recently deployed a team to a struggling property in Atlanta and a team to a property acquisition in Jacksonville,” Lynn says. “In Atlanta, we got 78 leases in one month on one property, and in Jacksonville, we moved a property from 53 percent occupancy to 70 percent leased in just two months.”
The Lynd Co. isn’t alone in its use of crack leasing and maintenance outfits for short-term tactical deployment. The Greenwood Village, Colo.-based Laramar Group has been finding similar success in the use of the company’s star team, which was recently called into duty to help stabilize the Lembi portfolio of San Francisco apartments that Laramar is managing through special servicing.
“The star team consists of property managers, maintenance supervisors, maintenance technicians, and leasing managers,” says Laramar managing partner and CEO Dave Woodward. “We have full-time floaters that take on assignments between two weeks and two months, and we also have star team members who have regular full-time jobs at a property that can be called up on short notice for assignments.”
In addition to the upshot on asset stabilization, Woodward says establishment of the star team some five years ago has also been an invaluable recruiting and internal motivation tool. Since star team members can only be attached to prestige assignments if their current property is performing at peak levels, team members are incentivized to maintain high occupancy and rent rolls relative to the Laramar portfolio. “It’s exciting for them to go to a new city, meet a bunch of their peers and learn new techniques and tactics. It is a great way to reinforce staff,” Woodward says. “Likewise, the company benefits from use of the team’s talents on property transitions, due diligence, or even for staff opening that we can’t seem to fill.”
Lynd says the goal of special ops units isn’t in and of itself to have a mercenary team on call running around the country. “Yes that is part of what they do, but the larger goal is to learn how to problem solve. Atlanta is the worst it has ever been, and these guys are going to come out of this training being able to say I operated and succeeded in the worst market there has ever been in the worst recession there has ever been, and here’s how we got it to go. It’s just an invaluable education in multifamily real estate.”