As I was driving to work this week I saw a small billboard outside of an apartment complex. I didn’t even see the name of the complex; my attention was too focused on the billboard (and on driving, of course). The sign appeared to be an advertisement for the apartments. It read “New Management, VERY New Attitude.” I grimaced when I read it. What could the old management possibly have done to make the owners feel like this admission was good advertising? It screams to the world “hey, we sucked before, but we’re better now! Give us a chance!” Not really all that great of an inducement.
But that got me thinking about the story behind the sign. I assume that the previous management wasn’t up to snuff, and that the new management is better behaved. There’s certainly a story in that. But the story that came to my mind was something a little different:
Rhonda smiled and glanced around her office. Perfect. All traces of the former manager were finally gone, the last few framed landscapes and knickknacks piled in the dumpster. Now the office was pristine and, above all, functional. Photos and blueprints of the apartment complex properly adorned the walls in place of the framed tropical landscapes. The desk was spotless, occupied only by her computer, appointment book, pen jar, and a stack of brochures.
She’d kept most of the plastic plants, knowing their use in setting potential renters at ease. They were now arranged symmetrically around the office, bordering the chairs, hanging above the side table with its offering of coffee, and hiding the ugly brown thermostat on the wall behind her desk.
Rhonda finished her examination of the room and nodded. Much better than the previous manager. Robert’s office had looked more like the waiting room of a spa, with its abundance of plants, large painted tropical landscapes, scented oil plug-ins, and throw pillows. It matched his policies, she supposed, of allowing late and partial payments, paid overtime for maintenance, and frequent neighborhood pool parties. Robert had nearly run the complex into the ground.
Rhonda was a professional, however, and her practices would reflect the billboard at the entrance to the complex with its proclamation of: “New management, VERY new attitude.” Discipline was what this complex needed, or it would fail. No late payments. No partial payments. There were plenty of cheap apartments out there practically begging for renters. Let them go there instead. With them gone, maintenance requests would no doubt drop off, allowing the staff to finish their jobs during regular work hours. Neighborhood parties were mandatory at Halloween, the 4th of July, and St. Patrick’s Day, and those would of course happen. But if the renters wanted weekly parties, they were welcome to arrange (and pay) them on their own time.
Content, Rhonda sat at her desk and began composing a letter to the renters outlining her new policies. The future promised to be orderly and profitable.