It’s complicated. It’s never complete. And it’s rarely followed – by the seller. That’s the rub when it comes to the acquisitions marketing checklist.
Acquisitions are often the antithesis of collaboration, resulting in bad blood between the seller and the buyer of an apartment community. Every apartment marketer, including those on the stage during the Let’s Play Nice: Collaborative Marketing During Mergers & Acquisitions session at the 2015 Apartment Internet Marketing Conference, has a story.
“We had an associate go into a community we were acquiring and the doors were unlocked, all the furniture was gone and all the leases were gone,” said Jim Kjolhede, president of Satteron Enterprises. “There was a pile of keys on the floor and nothing in the model.”
The same challenges, and possibly more, exist with electronic assets, such as websites, Facebook pages and Twitter handles.
“You usually expect another company to hand things over to you, but that doesn’t always happen,” said Kim Boland, Internet and social media manager for Morgan Properties. “From a social aspect, you need to play nice and hand everything over.”
But it doesn’t have to be that way, according to Mary Herrold, vice president of marketing and business development for JVM Realty Corp. “How we handle a transaction is our personal brand as well as our professional brand,” Herrold said. “Those people who bloom where they are planted will always have a place to work.”
While sellers are getting better, the acquisition process isn’t exactly as collaborative as it needs to be in the long run, Herrold said. In the meantime, the onus is on the acquirer to make the process as smooth as possible.
That’s why Herrold, Boland and Eric Matulka, chief information officer of DEI Communities, have begun asking for digital and physical assets prior to the close of the acquisition.
“Once we know we’re going to go hard (complete the acquisition), I present a list to our acquisitions group,” Matulka said. “Then, I do a general Google search to get as much information as I can. Then, I try to get to that content person.” That process can start 30-60 days prior to the anticipated close date for an acquisition. In addition, some owner/operators have integrated the hand-over process for electronic materials into their acquisition contracts.
“It’s the same thing as buying bricks and mortar real estate,” Herrold said. “It’s online real estate and we should treat it the same way. You’re buying an asset.” It’s yet another addition to the complex acquisition instruction manual, but in today’s digital asset driven world, it’s necessary and moving the acquisition process in the right direction – to collaboration.