Continuous Training Is Required To Maintain a Quality Staff

It’s no secret that the performance of the employees has a significant impact on the success of any company, organization or well-run building, says Ira Meister, founder and president of Matthew Adam Properties. It’s like going to a fine restaurant and having delicious food with terrible service.  The experience is not what it should be.  The arrogance, disinterest and poor training of the wait staff can ruin a wonderful evening.

Matthew Adam Properties understands this, Meister says, and puts significant emphasis on the quality and training of building staffs.  “On each visit our asset managers engage with the staff, observe how they are performing and look to see how well they are maintaining the property and serving the residents,” Meister says.


New updates in technology require staff to be continually trained


But it doesn’t stop there.  In addition to meeting with the superintendent and employees, both in formal and informal meetings, the company conducts learning sessions to focus on the building’s priorities and provide updates on the latest technology and on new methods of maintenance.

“Driven by technology and the need to have the staff be as efficient as possible to keep costs down, we need to continually train and educate employees,” Meister says.

“We also spend time with the doorman and concierge going over the do’s and don’ts of greeting residents and announcing visitors as well as accepting packages, providing security as well as taking messages,” Meister says. “We look at everything in a building and make recommendations when we see fit.”

The company discusses keeping uniforms clean, whether for maintenance people or doormen.  Some buildings prefer the doormen to wear their hats at all times, while others don’t and the doormen need to be reminded what the standards are for their building.

Meister says his company is very aware that each building is its own entity with its own culture, procedures and individual needs. “The staff must be sensitive to that and those who have worked in other properties must understand that what was acceptable or a practice in one building does not necessarily follow through to be effective in another building.”

A Lobby Designed by a Pre-Eminent Designer

Increasingly the value of apartments in New York is determined in part by what is known as “curb appeal” or the design and maintenance of the exterior of the building and the lobby.  Developers are spending more effort and money today to make the entrances as modern and edgy as possible to attract high-end buyers.

One of the luxury buildings Matthew Adam Properties manages was a forerunner of this type of thinking back in the 1960s, says Ira Meister, president and CEO of Matthew Adam Properties.

Raymond Loewy the Father of Industrial Design

“Plaza Tower, the luxury apartment building at 118 East 60th Street is noteworthy for several factors,” Meister says.  “The 232-unit, 34-story building is a midblock high-rise, just down the block from Bloomingdale’s with an attractive circular driveway and a fountain.  But, most noteworthy and unknown to many is designer of the lobby. It was Raymond Loewy, who is known as the ‘father of industrial design.’ In fact, this is the only residential lobby that Loewy designed.”

While Loewy may not be known to many, the average American comes across his designs almost daily.   Included are the slenderized Coca-Cola bottle, the logos for Shell Oil and Exxon, the interiors of Saturn I and V space capsules as well as Skylab.  He designed packages, cars, appliances, and numerous logos.

Modernize and Keep the Integrity of the Design

“Loewy called his design concept ‘beauty through function and simplification,’” Meister says, “and it is evident in the lobby of Plaza Tower.  When it was time to upgrade the lobby our challenge was to modernize it while respecting the integrity of Loewy’s design.”

Loewy’s open-air design included marble and terrazzo floors, a gold-leaf dome, and an ancient Buddha in a niche.

“We replaced the furnishings without taking away from the design element,” Meister said.

One notable change was in the lighting.  Consistent with the “Green” initiatives in Matthew Adam properties, energy efficient lighting was added that both improved the look of the space, made the lighting more dramatic and reduced energy costs.

“We are proud to have worked with the designer and contractor on this project and were able to respect the integrity of the design done by a pioneer in industrial and consumer design,” Meister said.

Washer/Dryers and Dishwashers Require Preventive Maintenance to Avoid Flooding

Several appliances in the home can cause damage to the apartment where they are housed as well as to neighbors’ apartments, says Ira Meister, founder and CEO, Matthew Adams Properties, a leading property management firm.  While these incidents are not frequent, they can be costly and are easily preventable.

Specifically, Meister cites washer-dryers and dishwashers.  If a break occurs in a water line, it can lead to serious flooding in the apartment and also to the downstairs neighbor’s unit.  Floors, carpeting, walls, art, furniture and many other expensive items can be damaged

Meister encourages residents to replace the water supply lines that come with the clothes washer with specialized long-lasting lines, such as those marketed by Floodchek.  The weaker lines can break, yet still continue to carry water that can cause flooding.  The hoses should be checked annually for kinks, cracks, stiffness or brittleness. The replacement costs only $10-$20, while a flood can cause damage in the thousands.  There should also be a shut-off value in the event the line breaks.

Always install a backflow preventer on the appliance, Meister says.  This can also be installed in dishwashers. This would be useful if the internal valve sticks and water starts to back up and forces hot water into the cold water lines.

An important preventive measure for clothes dryers, Meister says, is cleaning the vent that connects the dryer to the flu.  This should be done at least annually using a vent brush or vacuum to remove the lint. Lint buildup can decrease the efficiency of the appliance and eventually have the lint back-up into the dryer.  A blocked vent can create excess moisture in the room and possess a fire risk.

The lint trap in dryer should be cleaned prior to every use.

It is also wise to have homeowner’s insurance that covers flooding accidents in both your apartment and a neighbor’s.

Creating Value in a Condo or Co-op Part II

The “curb appeal” of a property sets an immediate impression for a visitor or prospective buyer, says Ira Meister, President and CEO, Matthew Adam Properties, a leading property management company.

“Starting with the landscaping (if there is any) and the entryway it follows as one enters the lobby,” Meister says.  Frayed or dirty furniture or rugs are a total turn-off and can immediately kill any initial interest by a prospective buyer.  The same with peeling paint and dirty carpeting in the hallways.  Some buyers may even look in the laundry and garbage chute rooms to see their condition. These areas say a lot about the upkeep of a property and the attention to detail.

Amenities also come into play. “Older buildings have to compete with newer, amenity-laden properties,” Meister notes.   A desired amenity for many is a health club or gym.  If an older building lacks such a facility, the board and asset manager should explore the feasibility of creating one.  Another possibility is creating or upgrading the roof deck so it becomes a desirable location rather than “tar beach.”  “In one East Side property, we took unused basement space and created a playroom for young children, which is very popular and a real plus for the building,” Meister says.

The attitude and performance of the staff are key, Meister says.  Poor morale leads to lack of attention and sloppiness.  Residents have daily contact with the staff and their attitude, work ethic and capabilities are important in the successful operation of a property.

Finally, technology. In the past decade or so, technology has begun to play an important role in keeping residents informed, and managing the operations of the front desk and the building.  Using technology increases efficiency, can reduce costs and create value.

It is clear that the asset manager plays a significant role.  In fact, the professionalism and capabilities of asset managers and the company they work for help create value.  “People who have sound management abilities, an understanding of mechanical systems, sensitivity to keeping a lid on costs, attention to detail, good people skills and a drive to make the property a showplace are the keys to creating value,” Meister says.

“This is one reason we at Matthew Adam Properties devote time to hiring, training and, most importantly, retaining our asset managers, many of whom have been with us for several decades.  Their knowledge, experience and dedication are behind our creating value.”

Creating Value in a Condo or Co-op Part 1

If apartments in two different co-ops are essentially the same in terms of size, location and amenities, why is one getting a higher price per square foot than the other?  Could it be the uniform and demeanor of the doormen?  This might sound like a small detail, but first impressions are vital in determining a sale and price, says Ira Meister, President and CEO, Matthew Adam Properties, a leading property management company.  Paying strict attention to details is essential to creating value in a co-op or condo, one of the prime goals of a residential property management firm.

Meister says that Matthew Adams Properties feels so strongly about viewing a home as an important investment that it calls its managers asset managers.  “They are there to preserve and increase the asset value of the property, and thus the sale price of the units,” Meister says.

Ira Meister Adds Value to Condos and Co-ops, Improving Living Experience

Numerous factors contribute to creating value, some, such as the condition of the building, are obvious.  Others, such as the demeanor and look of the doormen, are less dramatic.           Here are some factors that add up to creating value in a property:

“One of the most important is the financial condition of the building,” says Meister.  How large is the reserve fund, is there debt, are the maintenance charges too high in relation to similar properties and have the monthly charges increased dramatically in the past several years?

These are factors that buyers and their attorneys should consider.  “We place great emphasis on finances, not only making certain that the books are current — it is surprising how many co-ops and condos have poor bookkeeping — but we also work to keep down expenses through controls as volume purchasing, careful scheduling of staff and use of the latest technology to reduce energy costs,” Meister says.

Part of this is the maintenance of the property so that all systems are kept in good, efficient working order.  If periodic maintenance of the boiler, for instance, is not maintained, the system will probably work less efficiently and use more fuel than it should.  Periodic checking of the roof is important to detect problems early to reduce the possibility of damage to apartments and to repair the problem early, before it becomes more costly.

(To be continued)