Jared Miller, Vice President of Marketing, The Bainbridge Cos.
Josh Ritchie Jared Miller, Vice President of Marketing, The Bainbridge Cos.

Jared Miller has been called many things—“a professor of the Internet” and a “non-conformist,” for starters. He’s also considered to be The Bainbridge Cos.’ “secret weapon.”

“Wow, that’s funny,” exclaims Jared Miller, Multifamily Executive’s first-ever Rising Star of the Year—an award given by the magazine’s editors and a panel of industry judges to an exemplary up-and-coming apartment executive. “I guess my secret weapon would be that I’m not afraid to try something.”

Miller has definitely not been afraid of change during his three years at the Wellington, Fla.-based firm, which owns, manages, and develops multifamily properties in the Eastern United States. Miller, who joined the firm in 2007 as director of marketing and was promoted to vice president of marketing in 2009, has reinvented the image of Bainbridge and its properties, primarily by overhauling the firm’s marketing platform and strategies.

“I helped redevelop the culture and image of the company, both internally and externally,” Miller says. “Before, the company seemed small, old, and not on the cutting edge. Now we’re better known in the industry and recognized for our marketing and operations.”

His colleagues credit him with much of that success. “Jared helped to bring an old-fashioned business into the Internet age,” says Richard Schechter, Bainbridge’s president and chief operating officer. “He has tremendous experience and is extremely knowledgeable about how to use these new technologies. He’s very motivated and fit right into our corporate culture.” (Previously, Miller served as director of marketing at Denver-based RedPeak Properties and director of marketing at Atlanta-based Lane Co.)

Social Media Leader

The firm’s overhauled marketing strategy has a pointed focus on social media. In order to connect 24/7 with current and prospective residents, every Bainbridge property has its own Twitter feed, community blog, and Facebook page. Bainbridge outsources its social media services, ensuring all activity is constantly monitored and no query or comment goes unanswered.

Miller designed Bainbridge’s marketing campaign to focus on the individual characteristics and strong points of each property in the firm’s 10,000-unit portfolio. “Now, there’s a very clear thought process,” Miller says. The campaign has had a strong, positive impact on Bainbridge, driving organic web traffic and reducing marketing costs by upwards of 50 percent on same-store assets through reduced dependency on print advertising and apartment locators and brokers. Additionally, occupancy rates stayed flat during the recession, and the company was even able to increase rents in certain markets, Miller contends. What’s more, the firm also was able to complete seven new construction lease-ups during the toughest months of the economic downturn.

But the new platform did not come without its challenges. “It was tough at first, trying to change the mentality and get partners and clients to understand why we need to go a different route—and why they no longer have to post flyers on cars in the Wal-Mart parking lot,” Miller says.

Miller, however, didn’t give up. “He’s innovative, definitely not a cookie-cutter [employee],” says Seth Kalinsky, a regional vice president at Bainbridge, who has worked with Miller for three years, most recently on the renovation of The Wellington in Arlington, Va. “We revamped the entire project, branded it, and brought it up to Bainbridge standards,” Kalinsky adds.

Calm, cool, collected

Miller considers himself to be a laid-back leader, who also likes to “train and empower people.” In fact, he credits the rest of the Bainbridge team with helping him achieve many of his successes. “I can come up with ideas and implement them, but unless you have the right people on site, it doesn’t matter,” Miller explains. “I’m open to change and flexible, but I do have high expectations.”

Those high expectations have paid off. “He probably knows more about social media than anyone else in this business,” Schechter says. “His abilities are extremely potent, and people certainly know that we’re doing things. I don’t think Jared Miller is a secret anymore!