Whatever happened to the trash man?
.... Or, Mom was right, things have changed!

Girl, the way you did it yesterday is questionable today and obsolete tomorrow. You've got to change with what's changing.

I tried to take Mom's advice to heart everyday in all that I do. In even the most simple tasks, I ask myself "How could I do this differently, update it, make it new?"

Our industry's professionals would do well to take Mom's advice also. We tend to get caught up in a "but we've always done it this way' attitude. Then find ourselves left behind wondering why "we didn't think of that."

A major area of change in America is terminology. Remember when mail carriers were postmen, and pre-owned automobiles were used cars?

Our society has become more sophisticated and so have the titles we use. Since the advent of women's rights, we refrain from being gender specific. For example, there are no policemen, but police officers, today's flight attendant used to be called a stewardess, and we no longer address all mail to "Dear Sir."

We've made a definite leap from "tacky" to "polished". Think of the difference between trailer house and mobile home. And speaking of tacky, remember ice boxes? No? Well, that's today's refrigerator.

In order to compete, our industry must change our terminology,. We've tried for years to rid ourselves of the term tenant, it sounds too much like tenement. And we still overuse the word complex. Look it up in the dictionary, it is defined as "difficult to understand" or a "personality disturbance." Practice saying "a resident living in a community" vs "a tenant living in a complex." Which sounds more sophisticated to you?

Here's a list of changes which will add a 21st century twist and a lot of marketing pizzazz to your vocabulary:

DON'T SAY:      REPLACE WITH:
Landlord      Housing Provider
Apartment Manager      Community Director
Leasing Agent      Rental Consultant
or Marketing Rep
Maid      Housekeeper
Maintenance Man      Service Technician
Porter      Groundskeeper
Employees      Associates
Office      Welcome Center or
Information Center
Unit      Apartment Home
Prospect      Client
Laundry Room      Clothes Care Center
Tenant      Resident
Complex      Community

If any of these sound a little too much to you, realize that sanitary engineers were once classified as garbage men. Those who say "I'll be your server tonight" used to be called waitresses, and financial planners were once insurance salesmen.

Other industries have seen the necessity of upgrading titles, giving their associates a morale boost, lending prestige in the eyes of their consumer, and creating a perception of professionalism.

Isn't it time that we do the same?


by Anne Sadovsky
one of Multi-housing's foremost marketing and motivational speakers.

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