At first blush, her master’s degree in art history and archaeology doesn’t seem to have much to do with pushing rents after a recession. But Tina Makssour, vice president of performance for Phoenix-based Alliance Residential, which manages 47,000 units nationally, sees a correlation.
Makssour, a 15-year industry vet who joined Alliance in February after spending 13 years as director of sales and training for Mark-Taylor Residential, also in Phoenix, says she’s done extensive research about using images, symbolism, and messaging to create culture. At Alliance, she plans to put a high-tech spin on her archaeological past. Her goal: Use digital media to convey sales messages to Alliance associates.
To further that goal, Makssour has created Alliance TV, which includes coverage of Alliance events, interviews with associates, and videos to promote associate contests and competitions. “It’s the distribution channel for the culture message,” she says. “With this video blog, I’m trying to connect a national firm and get the message where everybody can see it and comment on it in a social environment.” Makssour is trying symbolism in person, as well. In a recent series of motivational meetings, her team invited field personnel to examine three auction items—a handbag, a signed basketball, and a guitar—and asked everybody what they were willing to pay for each.
The point was to show that an item’s value depends on supply and demand, and that demand, like that in the apartment market right now, can spur price increases. “Many of our associates have never been in an improving market,” Makssour says.
Makssour is also enhancing Alliance’s virtual instructor–led training program and is encouraging peer collaboration through cloud-based message boards, forums, and chats. “We’re developing a coaching and mentoring program that will be completely cloud-based.” Makssour is even launching a talent-management system that will track associates’ performance and assign them training based on their strengths and weaknesses.
The system also helps with succession planning. “When they’ve demonstrated they’re ready for promotion, we have a virtual ‘bench,’?” where people can view jobs they’re in line for, Makssour says.