By Oretta Croushore, Property Manager for Home Rental Services.
If I had to choose a favorite season, I would have to say Fall. At least that’s what the me at this stage in my life would say. Summer is for the kids. Spring was my love in college. I went to school in Northern Illinois and the winters were brutal. It was then, that I learned to appreciate the rebirth that comes with Spring.
Winter gets no love from me. Not now, at least. Maybe in my retirement years when I can hibernate and avoid it all. Fall, she’s special. The temperatures come down a little. Our clothes get a little more comfy and cozy. The leaves are changing. There’s pumpkin everything everywhere. For me, it’s a little like watching my favorite movie where someone dies. I know the ugly part is coming but I’m still going to enjoy the beauty while it lasts.
Fall has some fun traditions for many of us.
I love seeing all the Facebook photos of people going to apple orchards and pumpkin patches. There’s high school football and homecoming. Holidays include Halloween, Thanksgiving, and my birthday.
My immediate family has made a tradition of spending Thanksgiving in Branson. We rent a condo, usually near the lake. On Thanksgiving night, Silver Dollar City opens around 4 pm. We usually bundle up and head out to the park. If you haven’t experienced the lights and festivities at Silver Dollar City for the Christmas holiday, you’re missing out. It’s breathtaking!
This year, Silver Dollar City changed up their regular Harvest Festival, held at this time of year. They introduced Pumpkin Nights.
The park has never acknowledged Halloween before. The park works hard to make a family-friendly atmosphere which can be enjoyed by all, year round. This new festival happened to take place around my birthday. So we packed up the family and headed down a few weeks ago. I’m not sure if I can call it a Fall festival since it was in the 90’s and I was wearing shorts. Maybe next year there will be some leaves to go with that.
Throughout the park, there were lots of crafters selling their wares and doing demonstrations. There was a special Cirque du Soleil style show featuring lumberjacks. It was fantastic! Really makes me wonder what goes on in the woods, now. Of course, there was food galore. You will never go hungry at Silver Dollar City. They make big skillet meals with meat and veggies. I didn’t know I liked succotash until I had it there. We shared a caramel apple and an apple dumpling. Since it was my birthday, they gave me a button with my name on it. The staff at the park is so well-trained, everyone who saw me wished me a happy birthday.
The real attraction of Pumpkin Nights was the pumpkins. Over 2,000 pumpkins carved by Silver Dollar City artisans. They used plastic pumpkins so they will last the season and can be used again.
At the entrance of the pumpkin area is a giant scarecrow, nearly as tall as the barn he stands in front of. He has black pumpkin crows all around him. There’s a giant spider climbing one of the rides. There’s a big spider web overhead with lots of little spiders on it. At night, everything glows, including the web.
My favorite part was the pumpkin trail. A long trail with sections of themed, pumpkins. They carved all kinds of woodland creatures. The pumpkins stacked up into a campfire positioned in front of a tent was by far, the coolest. What you didn’t see was anything scary. There were no witches, or devils, or skeletons. It was all very Silver Dollar City. I didn’t hear anyone complaining. I appreciate the park figured out a way to celebrate a little Halloween but to stay true to their beliefs.
This past weekend, the park reached maximum capacity. They had to close admission until after 6:30 pm. People were waiting 2 hours to get on trams to get into the park. That’s even busier than any of the Christmas Festival weekends, including Thanksgiving. I would definitely go back. Maybe next year, I can wear my hoodie!
Kansas and Missouri are prime locations for a variety of wild animals to survive and thrive in residential neighborhoods. Many of our neighborhoods have large storm drainage systems, lakes and ponds nearby, and plenty of structure and landscaping to hide in. Many of us do a fairly good job managing our trash, but there are plenty of food sources in our neighborhoods. As a result, there is a pretty good chance that you will deal with some kind of animal in or near your home at some point. And we have a great recommendation for you.
Critter Control has more than 80 offices around the country. They say they’re nation’s leading wildlife control company and they’ve been resolving wildlife and pest issues for customers for more than 30 years. One of the things that we like about Critter Control is that they make efforts to deal with animal problems humanely.
Examples of humane animal control efforts:
- Species-specific, no-trap animal removal techniques featuring one-way doors and excluders.
- Humane animal handling, safe harborage and reuniting of offspring with parents/siblings.
- The use of eco-friendly animal repellents and deterrent techniques to discourage return.
- Professional grade animal proofing: animal entry and exit holes, identified problem areas, roof vents, chimneys, plumbing-vent pipes, exhaust vents, decks, porches, garages, etc.
- Consumer awareness and education regarding follow-up procedures
We asked Oretta, our Property Manager, what her most recent experience with Critter Control was like.
“One of our renters reported a horrible smell in their house. They looked around their house and in the garage to see if an animal had somehow gotten into the garage and died. They found that the smell was really strong by the back door… right next to the where the air conditioning compressor was located. We called Critter Control, because we knew there was a good chance an animal had died in the compressor. Apparently a bunny had hopped into the compressor and had a really bad day when the compressor turned on. Yuck. Critter Control took care of the problem and was able to figure out how they were getting into the enclosure. They fixed the problem so that a situation like this wouldn’t happen again.”
Common animal control problems in the Greater Kansas City Metro
In Kansas City, we commonly hear about squirrels in attics, raccoons in trash cans, mice in the garage, bats in attics and digging animals around houses and yards.
Squirrels can live in almost any habitat. Large nests are a problem when they bury nuts and seeds in yards. Gray and fox squirrels, both common in the region, may dig hundreds of small holes to store food for winter. If a squirrel moves into an attic, it can become a serious issue. Squirrels may create loud noises early in the morning that go on for hours. In addition, squirrels are known to chew through insulation and wiring, leading to costly damage and even fires.
Raccoons & Opossums
Have you ever been woken by the sound of something crashing outside your house at night… and you get up just in time to catch a glimpse of a furry critter foraging through garbage or running away from your porch light. Raccoons and opossums are the most common culprits of this frustrating behavior, and they will often return to the places they’ve found food before. Both raccoons and opossums can become agitated and aggressive when approached or cornered.
Attics tend to be dark, quiet, and safe from predators. As a result, bats love to make their home in these spaces. Colonies of bats fly out in the evening to hunt for food. They make shuffling and squeaking noises as they leave and enter the attic. And bat droppings collect quickly, leading to foul odors and other issues.
Leave it to the experts
If you notice any strange damage, holes in your yard, weird sounds at night, or you have a close encounter with an actual animal, you might have an animal control issue. We recommend you give Critter Control a call. They’ve been great to work with and really helpful when our renters report issues with animals!
One of the things we try to do when sharing our stories every week is to focus on our team, our clients and our vendors. This week, we wanted to spotlight one of our vendors (and friends!) called Renew Crew.
Renew Crew is a company that provides exterior wood, siding, and concrete cleaning and protection. They have an environmentally friendly, 3-step process that lifts built-up outdoor dirt and grime to the surface. And then it gets washed away, leaving outdoor living spaces clean and protected.
We’ve done quite a few projects with Renew Crew and the results have always been great!
One of the things Renew Crew is best known for is their ability to make an aging deck look amazing again. We’ve seen this service completed on quite a few properties, and the results are outstanding.
Here’s an excerpt from their website about their process:
“While commercial pressure washing hastily bullies surface dirt away (leaving damage behind in the process), Renew Crew takes a more meticulous 3-step approach. We start with a pre-soak, using a gentle (yet effective) foam to work even the most persistent dirt and grey wood fibers out from any cracks or crevices. Next comes our signature pressure washing service, which powers any grit and grime away. After the first two steps, your surface will look as good as new — but unlike other companies, we don’t stop there. For our final step, we apply a protective finish to help maintain your surfaces and keep them cleaner for longer.”
In our experience, that’s exactly how it works. For example, we had a deck that was ten years old. The stain was gone in many places and the horizontal boards were covered with dirt. When Renew Crew was done with their process, the deck looked like almost new. It was an amazing transformation!
We had a driveway that was deteriorating and the owner was considering replacing it. The quotes that came back for a brand new driveway were in the many thousands of dollars range. (It was a fairly large driveway leading to a three car garage, so not surprising.)
The driveway was still physically sound, but the surface was showing signs of wear. When it rained, water was pooling in certain areas and causing further damage. We talked to Renew Crew to see if their cleaning and sealing process could extend the life of the driveway. And the answer was, “yes!”
The Renew Crew team did a deep cleaning of the driveway. First, they treated the surface with a solution that broke up the dirt and grime. Next, they used a machine to remove the dirt and grime. (It looked like the one used to polish the floors in a school.) It was amazing how much dirt was brought out of the concrete. Finally, they applied a sealant to the entire surface of the driveway.
In the months since the cleaning and sealing, the driveway has retained the brighter look, and more importantly, when it rains, the water beads up on the surface. It’s proof that the water isn’t seeping into the concrete and causing more damage. There’s a good chance that the driveway will last a few more years before needing to be replaced! And the “clean and seal” process cost a fraction of what it would have taken to replace the driveway.
Need your deck or driveway cleaned and sealed?
If you are interested in learning more about Renew Crew, please give them a call at 913-661-9663. Or you can visit their website at http://kansascity.renewcrewclean.com.
We’re always looking for ways to improve our processes and communication. One of the most recent improvements we’ve made is to add live chat functionality to our website!
JivoChat is a web-based chat software that can be installed on your website. It shows up as a little chat bar in the lower right corner of your web pages and stays visible as web visitors navigate your site. If they have a question, they can start a quick chat session to get an answer right away.
We have five people at Home Rental Services on the chat list rotation. Any time a web visitor wants to chat, a notification is sent to everyone that is logged in as available to take a chat request. They can host the chat session from their desktop computer or their mobile phone. The software works with PC, Mac, iOS and Android devices, so pretty much a universal solution.
The free version of JivoChat allows you to have up to five “agents” on the system. And you get basic chat functionality on unlimited websites with no limit on the number of chats. And they promise that the basic system will be “free forever”.
The paid version is $10/agent/month and comes with a ton of additional functionality like proactive chats with smart triggering, visitor info with social profiles, chat transfer between agents and more.
We found it was really to easy to set up JivoChat for Home Rental Services. And we’ve enjoyed interacting with potential renters and owners using the JivoChat system over the past few weeks. It’s interesting, because the web chat feels a lot like a text message chat, especially if you use your mobile phone instead of a desktop computer. Even better, our potential new customers say we are being incredibly responsive, which is a really good thing.
Want to see what it’s like? Go to our home page and start a live chat with us… and be sure to mention that you read this blog post!
By Caitlin Meehan, Director of Client Care for Home Rental Services, talking about the great shredding services provided by Shred-it.
Over the years, everyone collects stacks of paper, canceled checks, confidential paperwork, and customer forms are just a couple of examples of the things that can stack up. And you can’t just throw that stuff away.
Our office is mostly web based. But we still generate enough confidential paperwork that we’ve got to have a secure shredding solution.
Shred-it is the largest document destruction company in the world. They operate in 18 countries and in 170 markets. They’ve become a best-practice for information security and workplace privacy. They provide document destruction, hard drive destruction, chain of custody and other privacy related services.
Shred-it brings one of their massive trucks with on-board shredding machinery to our parking lot each month. One of their staff comes up to our office on the 9th floor and grabs the locked “to be shredded” bin that we keep in our kitchen area. They take it out to their truck and shred the paperwork immediately and bring the bin back to our kitchen.
It’s a great service for a reasonable monthly price.
Do you have boxes of paperwork sitting around your home?
If you have trouble making it to one of the local “shred days” hosted by banks or other businesses, you can do a one time drop-off! Shred-it has a secure shredding facility located near Lackman and College in Kansas City.
Shred-it Kansas City
10000 Lackman Road
Lenexa, KS 66219
Secure Drop-off Service
$60.00 for the first 10 boxes
$6.00 for each additional
$40.00 to witness shreds and by appointment only
Monday through Friday from 8:30am – 3:00pm
WE’VE BEEN WRAPPED!
As much as the Home Rental Services team travels all around our beautiful city, you may have missed us driving next to you. That’s going to change! We just picked up our cute, newly wrapped HRS vehicle this week, and we can’t wait for you to see it!
On the day it was available, we eagerly headed to Wrap Factory KC in Edwardsville. We were so excited to see the finished product. Aside from there not being a big red bow on it when we arrived, we found it beautifully wrapped and ready to go. We tried to coax Matt with Wrap Factory KC to come out and take a picture with us and his finished product, but he humbly answered, “one hundred percent no.”
So we shook his hand, said a big thank you, and went out and took our own pics. What do you think?
Be on the lookout for our wrapped Prius. Let us know if you see us out and about!
A photo booth experience is a fun thing to do at an event, especially with the people you work with. It makes a great souvenir to take with you as a reminder of how much fun the evening was.
We thought we would do a quick roundup of photo booth companies that you could hire for your next party or event!
Booth Crazy Photo Booths
A blurb from their website: “Looking for a retro photo booth to have at your next event? Booth Crazy Photo Booths is not for you! Really, Booth Crazy is the un-retro modern Kansas City photo booth experience. When you see what we offer, we think you will agree it is the best photo booth available in Kansas City at any price. Just so happens that it also costs less than many lesser photo booth companies! Whether your event is upscale or on a budget, Booth Crazy Photo Booths is your KansasCity photo booth connection.”
Visit the Booth Crazy Photo Booths website.
A Good Time Photo Booth
A blurb from their website: “Our photo booth measures 5 foot by 5 foot and stands approximately 7 feet tall. The booth is wheel chair accessible and it’s large enough to fit all your friends. It is draped in regal black velvet with a luscious, red velvet curtain as the entrance to the booth. Inside the booth a 22 inch touchscreen allows you to chose between color and b&w photo strips, and see yourself getting ready for each photo. A series of four photos are taken with time between each photo allowing you to switch poses. The event host will also have the choice between four different backdrops and the use of a prop bucket filled with costume props to add an extra element of fun!”
The Photo Bus
A blurb from their website: “The flowers, your dress, the linens, the music… these are all things your guests will enjoy the day of the event but they’ll soon fade from their memory. A printed photo of them being silly, goofy, loving that’s personalized for your event and posted on their fridge? That’s something they won’t forget. When you rent from The Photo Bus Company you have a choice of three different photo booths: The Photo Bus, The Enclosed Booth, and The Open Air Booth. They’re all unique on the exterior but they all come with the same service and quality. ”
Valentine’s Day is this Sunday! If you like to buy your significant other chocolate to celebrate, we thought we would share our top five favorite chocolatiers in Kansas City.
Here’s the list:
- Christopher Elbow Chocolates
- Andre’s Confiserie Suisse
- Chocolaterie Stam
- Panache Chocolatier
- Russell Stover’s
The Christopher Elbow Experience
If you haven’t gotten your sweetheart a box of Christopher Elbow Chocolates before, consider doing that this year. And if you haven’t been to their retail store on McGee, you’re missing out. It’s worth the trip. You can pick exactly which flavors you want in various quantities. One of our favorites is the Bananas Foster!
They are located at 1819 McGee Street in Kansas City, Missouri. And here’s a link for directions.
Other Things to Consider
- If you are adventurous, you could take a helicopter tour of downtown Kansas City and the plaza for $130 per couple.
- The Kansas City Remodal and Garden Show is at the American Royal through Sunday.
- Amy Grant and the Kansas City Symphony are at the Kauffman Center for Performing Arts on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
No matter what you end up doing for Valentine’s Day, we hope you have a great time with those you care about most!
If you didn’t know, Group O’Dell is one of the top 5 residential real estate teams in Kansas City. We have a wonderful partnership with Group O’Dell and refer business to each other often!
2014 was a record breaking year for Group O’Dell totaling over $70 million in volume and 279 sales. The numbers were released last week which landed Group O’Dell as the #5 team in the KC Metro and the #1 Keller Williams Team in the Midwest region. You can see the full Kansas City Business Journal List here.
One of the great things about Group O’Dell is that they genuinely care for their customers, business partners and staff. One of the ways they show their appreciation is through Raving Fans events. We were invited to the most recent event and had a great time!
The event was held in the Twilight Ballroom at 28 Event Space downtown. It was a beautiful venue! Kandy and David both won door prizes.
We really appreciate our relationship with everyone at Group O’Dell and couldn’t think of a better way to say thank you than to show everyone that we truly are raving fans!
We work with quite a few companies in the course of managing hundreds of homes in Kansas City. These companies provide professional services like carpet cleaning, mold remediation, lock re-keying, painting and repair work. Our success depends on these companies being able to provide consistent, professional work for our owners. We have worked with some of our most trusted companies for years. Sage Restoration is one of those companies, and we appreciate them so much!
Alan and Stephanie Sage are the owners of Sage Restoration, located in Overland Park, Kansas. They are dedicated to helping people who have experienced water, fire,smoke or mold damage in their home or business. They have trained, uniformed technicians that know what they are doing!
We have experienced first hand that they work quickly and efficiently to get these kinds of problems cleaned up. We have called them early in the morning as well as after 5pm and they have always done a great job of answering the call and helping as quickly as possible.
Alan and Stephanie rely on us to lease their personal rental properties. We think that is probably the biggest compliment we could receive. If you ever find yourself walking into your home to find damage from water, fire, storms, etc. be sure to call Sage Restoration at (913) 905-0500. They will be there for you and help you get back to “normal” as quickly as possible.