Drew O’Brien is a perfect example that great service can lead to great employees.
While living at West Briar Commons, a townhome community managed by Lloyd Companies, he was talking to his wife one night about how he wasn’t enjoying his first job in life insurance. She joked he could always manage apartments because their property manager seemed to be having fun.
Before long, Drew asked his manager about the industry and started as a manager-in-training at Lloyd in 2011. He went on to become a property manager, training and development manager, and was named a regional manager in late 2015.
He’s a graduate of Custer High School and SDSU and most recently he was named a board member for the South Dakota Multi-Housing Association.
Here’s a little more about Drew and his unique experiences at Lloyd Companies.
Question: What do you like about your role at Lloyd Companies?
Answer: The cliché answer to this question is we get to provide people with one of their most important and personal possessions: their home. And it’s absolutely true that no two days are the same. I have experienced more “never in a million years” kind of stories in this business over the last decade than most people experience in a lifetime, but that is what makes it exciting. I think since my role has changed within the company my outlook on what makes it exciting to me has changed. When I was on the properties, it was the interaction with the residents and the excitement of helping people find their home. Since I moved into the corporate realm it has transformed and really ignited an interest in a side of business I never really knew I had inside of me. I enjoy developing my team and trying to create a dynamic amongst them that makes coming to work fun.
I have always been proud of this company’s commitment to lead our industry in technology and implement the tools that allow us to operate on the cutting edge. One of my more recent opportunities has by far been my favorite. I am currently the Regional assigned to the Cascade Project downtown. I have been given the opportunity to be involved from day one and have been blown away by the intricacies that go into not only getting project like this started, but even out of the concept stage. Lloyd Companies has afforded me opportunities beyond my wildest dreams and helped ignite a passion for an industry I would have never expected. It is exciting to see the hand this industry and this company has played in the transformation of Sioux Falls over the last decade and beyond
Question: What does a typical day look like for you?
Answer: A typical day for me consists of a meeting or two at the properties with my onsite teams. I try to meet with every one of my team members at least once a week. I spend time everyday reviewing financial reports, traffic, leasing and marketing trends and general operation of the properties. I share an office with my fellow regional managers, so we try to powwow every day and stay current with what is going on at the properties outside of our direct portfolios. Other than that, every day throws something a little different at you. It could be running rent analysis, meeting with a resident, a meeting to discuss the strategic direction of our properties and our division. As a team we always make sure a little time is spent every day just having a good time. If you can’t spend a little time smiling during the day it just isn’t worth it. So we do our best to incorporate that into each day.
Question: What kind of community do you try to create at the Lloyd properties you oversee? What do you want people to think of when they think of living there?
Answer: Our regional team is divided for the most part by property type. My portfolio primarily consists of our luxury portfolio. All of our properties strive to provide a fantastic experience for our residents living in our communities. My team and I try to create more than an experience but instead a memorable lifestyle. To me that is more than just the amenities provided by the property but instead the feeling of community created by the team. The majority of my portfolio has a concierge on site. The role of these team members isn’t just to provide excellent customer service, but deliver unforgettable experiences. Their job description literally includes just getting to know their residents. We want them to spend time asking about their day. We want to flip the script on this idea that the only time you interact with your property staff is when you pay rent or have an issue. We want our community to know we are as invested in their community as they are. Our concierge teams host a minimum of one community event per month. These have consisted of pot lucks, craft parties, beer/wine/cheese tasting, outdoor movie nights, holiday parties, you name it! We encourage the neighborly comradery between our office teams and our residents to create an atmosphere not found anywhere else but a Lloyd Companies community. I look forward to taking this to the next level when the Cascade welcomes its first neighbor to the community in the coming years.
Question: You recently joined the board of the South Dakota Multi-Housing Association. What excites you about that new role?
Answer: I have been a member of SDMHA via Lloyd Companies since I started with Lloyd in 2011. I served on the education committee in 2016 and served as the education committee chairman in 2017. I was honored to be considered and elected to the board starting in 2018. With my experience in education and training throughout my collegiate and professional career I was elated to hear that one of the focuses of 2018 is to expand and focus on provided exceptional education experiences for our members. I can’t wait to jump in with both feet.
Question Do you find people have misconceptions about modern apartment living? What are some of those?
Answer: Absolutely, I think if you asked five different people their opinion on multifamily living you would get five different answers. So many people rent for so many different reasons. Some people need a short-term solution while they build or search for a traditional home, short term employment, etc. Others just prefer the lifestyle of not worrying about who will fix the sink when it drips or who will mow the lawn when it gets long, and so they choose to remain in that community permanently. I also think that a past experience or story from others can influence a misconception. As we all know, a person will tell 20 people about a bad experience but will only tell two people about a great experience. I think that Lloyd Companies is blazing the trail when it comes to getting the word out about modern apartment living, and bucking the trend that it isn’t a long-term housing option but instead can be a great long-term lifestyle choice. We have communities now that will afford a renter opportunities they just cannot find through any other housing option. The flourishing concept of a lifestyle community versus four walls and a bed is spreading like wildfire, and I think you can see our industry begin to shift toward accommodating the desires of the new generation of renter.