Focus and Real Estate

Silveri organizes competitors to manage properties

September 9, 2012
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When property managers become involved with matters of security, the issues generally don’t extend past the buildings they’re managing. But for Silveri Property Management, that wasn’t the case.

“Very seldom do you work together with your competitors to do what we’ve done,” said Glenn Turek, managing director of the firm.

Silveri, a division of Sperry Van Ness/Silveri Co., was managing Meadows Crossing, a privately owned, 784-bed student housing facility at 10745 48th Ave. in Allendale near the Grand Valley State University campus. As one might expect, managing a housing complex filled with energetic college students isn’t always an easy task because some are likely to become involved in activities that include alcohol and cause disturbances for others, especially on the weekends.

“When you have young people who are still learning how to deal with alcohol, you have to have watchdogs out there to make sure that people aren’t going overboard,” said Turek.

Of course, Meadows Crossing wasn’t the only housing facility near the university with that concern. So five years ago, Turek approached Alan Hoffman, who manages the nearby Campus West Apartments, and found that Hoffman’s staff was patrolling the apartments on the weekends.

“Then the thought came up that maybe, since we’re neighbors, we should go in together and interview firms for security. He had been using his own employees for security and there were problems with that. Sometimes, you can get too friendly with your clientele and end up not doing the job,” he said.

After Turek and Hoffman interviewed a number of firms, they hired Absolute Security, a full-service firm in Grand Haven. “Their concept was, when somebody does something wrong, you fine them. For example, if someone has a keg, it’s a $600 fine. We don’t want kegs on a property — that just creates parties to go out of control,” said Turek. “So we have a litany of fines that we render.”

The facilities also set 16 as the maximum number of people who can be in an apartment at one time. That figure includes the residents — usually, four. Having more than 16 in an apartment results in a fine for the residents.

“We have found that when a group gets over 16, we suddenly have the dynamics of a crowd, and crowds can suddenly do crazy things. By keeping a lid on things like this, we’ve really done away with some of the crazy stuff that can happen when you don’t have these safeguards in place because kids will drink and will do things they don’t normally do,” said Turek.

The fines were put in place with a back-up plan: If students refused to pay a fine, then security would call the co-signers for their apartments — otherwise known as their parents. “We’re going to let them know what happened. That usually takes care of the problem and there is no issue with paying the fine,” he said.

“In the beginning, there were a lot of fines, but as time went on, our residents started to learn the discipline that was necessary to live at our apartments and with our neighbors. That’s how (the collaboration) began.”

Not only did the students get the message, so did four other nearby housing complexes. Managers at 48 West, Country Place, Hillcrest and Copper Beach inquired about the security service Meadows Crossing and Campus West were using and came aboard. That situation created a volume buy that reduced the cost of security for each complex and extended the enforcement hours.

Turek said after the six facilities held a few months of monthly meetings, they invited GVSU’s security to get involved and it did. Then they reached out to the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department and it got involved, as well. “We thought: Let’s have a total, encompassing approach to this,” he said.

The payoff to this story? The collaboration among housing competitors first undertaken by Silveri has exceeded expectations.

“The sheriff’s department has said the incidents of them being called has dropped dramatically over the last five years that we’ve been doing this because we’re handling things that they would have been called out for. Our security team is able to take care of a lot of little routine things so they’re not encumbered and tied up with the minor stuff,” said Turek.

“And, by and large, the kids are just more disciplined because they know they’re going to get fined for stepping out of line. Quite frankly, though, we don’t bother people if their party is under control. We’re not out witch-hunting and trying to find violators. It’s just when somebody complains, then we’ve got to deal with it. … We try to work with our residents. We’re not being harsh.”

The security plan consists of a car driving through the six properties on the normally quiet evenings of Sunday through Wednesday. From Thursday through Saturday, eight security personnel roam the properties.

“It works out well. We’re able to save money on security but yet provide seven days of security to our residents,” said Turek, whose firm manages 400,000 square feet of housing, retail and office space.

“For parents, that is one of the first things they ask about. Everybody is concerned about security. You live in your neighborhood because you think it’s secure, and we feel we have a pretty good solution for dealing with that issue.”

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