Evan Jackson Career Background
What is your biggest career achievement?
- My biggest career achievement to date has been the opportunity to be entrusted by Epoch Residential to travel to properties within our portfolio to provide assistance and training.
I began assisting our sister properties as an Assistant Manager when I was asked to temporarily manage one of our properties in Jacksonville, FL. This property was struggling with increasing their occupancy and a decrease in resident satisfaction. I had proven myself as a reliable surrogate for Epoch that could help turn things around at the property. I was able to bring procedures and techniques with me from my property that had produced excellent results. Some of my greatest contributions came from my marketing savvy. I had just graduated with my bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Florida, so I was able to apply techniques from my property and integrate them with concepts that I had learned in school. This property was very limited in their marketing scope and using some outdated ideas, such as strictly visiting businesses. I helped them cultivate stronger relationships with the nearby community college, which I have been successful in doing at various colleges within the University of Florida. I also helped the property improve their social media presence and online review status. We utilized some of the strong relationships with residents to make turn around reviews. This was one of our older properties, so I was excited to come in and provide the boost that helped it turn around. I spent a short time at the property, but it gave me further insight into property management.
Another experience I enjoyed was travelling to Arizona to assist one of our properties complete due diligence as it was being sold. This was an interesting case because the Community Manager at this property was new and had very little experience in the process of selling a property. I had experience from the sale of our sister property in Gainesville, so I was able to provide some guidance. I assisted the office and maintenance staff through the property inspections, radon testing, and financial report requests. It was a unique experience because I was sent to act as a representative for Epoch, giving me the opportunity to further solidify my reputation as an asset that’s willing and able to assist the company when called upon.
Since this time, I have been asked to travel to other properties and some of our new construction projects to provide training and assistance. Whether I am helping out as a Leasing Agent for the day or providing hands on training for new Community Managers, this is an area where I excel and am appreciative that I work for a company that recognizes my strengths.
What is your ultimate career goal within the rental housing industry?
- My ultimate career goal within the rental housing industry is to advance my career from an on-site management position into a role that focuses on operations management.
Currently I lead a staff of 13 employees in the overall operations of the community, Wildflower Apartments. I have held various onsite positions, Leasing Agent, Assistant Manager, and Community Manager, over my 9 years with Epoch Residential. All of this experience has given me firsthand knowledge on the various aspects of property operations. I gained a lot of additional insight into operations while working through the Certified Apartment Manager (CAM) program, and by using my newfound knowledge as a hands-on Community Manager. All of these experiences have helped me find my path in the rental housing industry and come to learn where my passions lie.
I would be the first to say, without shame, that I have a passion for examining property operations and analyzing various aspects of the company’s operations. To some that sounds like a major snooze fest, but to me I see the potential of analyzing operations as a chance to make changes for the betterment of the properties or the company. It's a chance to make meaningful adjustments by working with the management team to implement policies or procedures that benefit all stakeholders.
Additionally, I would provide leadership with hands-on financial reviews of the property portfolio. I would work with the management team to evaluate budgets and work through budget planning that meets the property objectives. I would provide direction in examining capital projects that would provide the best return for the properties and provide guidance through the project to ensure it remains on-budget. Similarly, to analyzing operational effects, I have found a passion in reviewing financial records to ensure the property remains within budget while also exceeding expectations.
I would also take operations management a step further to ensure the company has cohesive and streamlined operating techniques. I believe that a company is only as good as its employees, so I would ensure that a strong training program is in place. Thoughtful training is a vital component in ensuring each department of the property management ecosystem can operate cohesively and provide effective results.
These aspects of operations management are some that I have thoroughly enjoyed in my current position. They have become strengths of mine and I look forward to utilizing them more extensively as I progress toward this career goal.
What's one rental housing trend you have your eye on?
- One of the strongest trends I see in the rental housing industry is the need to satisfy the needs and requirements of millennials. Millennials make up a large majority of the rental housing demographics as real estate prices dissuade them from purchasing homes and Baby Boomers maintain a longer hold on real estate, thus limiting supply. We must continue to adapt and change just like millennials are able to quickly adapt to their surroundings. Additionally, the millennial generation covers a wide range of individuals born between 1981 and 1996. This is a large scope of people that have differing interests and are in various phases of their life.
One emerging concept I see on the rise that appeals to millennials and even the generation after them are co-living communities. Renters are accustomed to the standard options of conventional housing or the ever growing student housing market. Co-living communities are a great way to differentiate a property from the market standards and directly target individuals in their transitional phases, which are typically millennials and even a portion of the generation after them. The co-living trend allows individuals to lease their bedroom, akin to student housing. These younger renters are typically used to living with family, friends, or someone else, so co-living gives them the opportunity to move into the next phase of their life in a familiar environment. Similarly, it allows individuals with less financial flexibility a better option. A great example of this is my current property where many residents are nurses or other medical professionals. These tenants work long, sometimes nontraditional hours, so co-living grants them more flexibility with their housing.
The major difference in co-living from other housing options are the amenities that cater more toward young professionals or adults, and providing more conveniences to assist them with their busy schedules. Co-living communities have an incredible opportunity to expand on the idea of amenities. One idea that I've seen and think would be amazing is a dedicated cooking room/amenity where group cooking classes can be held so that residents can learn how to cook various recipes from a professional while socializing with their neighbors.
Amenities inside the apartment are also important for co-living. Sharing another similarity to student housing, co-living concepts typically include utilities in the rent. This helps to consolidate expenses instead of adding more bill payments. Furniture would also be included as younger residents are looking to avoid that extra expense. Some co-living communities have taken it a step further by offering cleaning services included in the rent as another convenience that sets this portion of the market apart from everything. This does result in a higher rental rate at co-living communities, however renters interested in this option would be able to enjoy the flexibility of their living space and all the other aspects the community has to offer that other communities typically do not offer.
The co-living concept is a trend that continues to grow, however there will be growing pains as the market continues to expand. While the markets will dictate where and how fast this new idea will take root across the country, I'm definitely excited to see this emerging trend grow and the affects it has on the rental housing industry.