Our Team

Pumpkin Nights at Silver Dollar City is Amazing.

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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!

Silver Dollar City: Pumpkin Nights

Pumpkin Nights

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.

Silver Dollar City: Pumpkin Nights Silver Dollar City: Pumpkin Nights

The Pumpkins

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!

Silver Dollar City: Pumpkin Nights Silver Dollar City: Pumpkin Nights Silver Dollar City: Pumpkin Nights

Silver Dollar City: Pumpkin Nights Silver Dollar City: Pumpkin Nights

Silver Dollar City: Pumpkin Nights Silver Dollar City: Pumpkin Nights

Lease Renewals: It’s The Best Job!

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By Amy Evans-Colledge, Renewal Coordinator at Home Rental Services

Amy Evans-ColledgeAfter being with Home Rental Services since 2001 (yes, that’s 18 years), I’ve done just about every job in the office (except for Kandy’s. There’s only one Kandy!)

I’ve done sales, property management, office management, marketing, new business, and lease extensions (which we call “renewals”). Not that I don’t love them all, but just like we’re not supposed to have favorites with kids, most of us secretly do. I definitely have a favorite job here and that is renewals!

Renewals

I get the unique opportunity to visit with renters in their homes, surrounded by everything that is most dear to them in life. Although I’m not there to get personal, it often ends up in conversation about family photos on the wall, kids drawings on the fridge, or their furry family that greet me at the door. I enjoy the opportunity to build trust, or a bridge, that you just can’t get on the phone, through email or in the office. But I’m there for a main purpose and that is for YOU!

Let me start from the beginning.

About 70% of our renters extend their leases! This tells us that the majority of people we lease to are happy in their home and with the service they’ve received while living there.

(Just a side note – we do learn and track reasons why a renter chooses not to renew. #1 is they have purchased a home. #2 is they are moving out of the area.)

Anyway, once I learn that a renter wants to stay/renew their lease, I let the homeowner know of the good news. I negotiate the terms of the new lease with the renter and I visit the home to make sure the renter is taking care of it. I report any needed preventative maintenance back to the homeowner. It is not until after that visit that I then collect a new lease from the renter.

I tell people all the time that if we didn’t get to work with such an amazing pool of renters (which is due in large part to our screening process) that there is no way I would’ve lasted in property management for all these years.

The homes we manage are generally very well cared for. Renters tend to treat them as their own and are great to work with. Every once in a while I’ll have to remind a renter to rake leaves or change batteries in the smoke detectors. But usually I’m leaving them with a little thank you token from Home Rental Services. It’s our way of thanking them for taking such good care of the home. (See below… these are popular. We have to AD-MITT You are a Sweet Renter. And Just Popped in to say we are BUTTER with renters like you. Ha ha!)

HRS Tenant Gift: Oven Mitt HRS Tenant Gift: Snack Mix

When I’m at a house at the time of lease expiration, I’m there to be the homeowner’s eyes.

I look at the gutters to make sure they are free of debris. I check the ceilings to see if there are any signs of plumbing or roof leaks that a renter may not have noticed. Tile and caulk in bathrooms need to be checked to prevent any future problem areas. I look at trees to make sure they’re not dangerously hanging over the roof. And I look at down spouts to make sure they are properly extended and not causing damage to yards/running water back toward the house. I examine the exterior for possible wood rot and chipping/peeling paint. One of the most common maintenance issues I see is the condition of outdoor wood decks – they need basic upkeep of weather treatment and stain.

These are all things I will mention to the homeowner when I send a copy of the newly completed lease. If the homeowner wants to have any of the work completed, they let us know and we get it done using our trusted and insured vendors. Renters LOVE to see results from the things they point out to me during the visit.

My favorite part of this job I love is getting to see familiar faces year after year. I get to catch up with renters through pregnancies, divorce, death, children graduating, career changes (on their end), etc. I’ve even learned some of our renters are actually landlords themselves in other states. So, working with awesome homeowners AND getting to invite myself over to visit with cool renters = FAVORITE!

Show your personality at the office with socks and ties.

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By Paul Branton, Director of Investor Services for Home Rental Services

I know this is stepping back into the time machine to refer to a post from two years ago but here we go…  The day was January 17, 2017.

In this post, I shared my appreciation for estate sales. I also included some photos of various purchases I’ve made over the years like a golf putter, some neckties, a kitchen island and a vintage globe.

Today I thought I would tell you about my growing collection of socks. (No, my socks are not purchased from estate sales.)

Socks at Work Socks at Work Socks at Work Socks at Work Socks at Work

The Sock Collection

The majority of my sock collection comes from a company called “The School of Sock.” (Formerly Sock101.) I really like the name, but what I like the most is that they are based “locally” out of Lee’s Summit, Missouri! You can opt for a subscription, or do what I do and order a pair or five whenever you get the urge.

Outside of my socks from “TSOS” I’ve picked up a few good pairs from Marshalls. I was also recently able to add to what I call my “Sockfolio” at our work Christmas party by way of this awesome set of pizza socks!  (I now have socks of my favorite food!!!)

Pizza Socks Pizza Socks

Paul on Tie TuesdayTie Tuesday

Over the course of my career, I’ve had jobs that required me to wear a suit every day, and I’ve had jobs in which I could wear jeans and a hoodie. In every workplace situation, I’ve chosen to wear a tie every Tuesday of the week. In my inner-circle, this has become affectionately known as “Tie-Tuesdays.”

Some friends ask me why I would wear a tie if I’m not required to do so. My answer to them is: I do this for a multitude of reasons. For starters, I enjoy it! It’s fun for me because it provides the opportunity to express my appreciation for fashion and design. As another benefit, I believe the way you dress and how you feel about your appearance can and does impact the way that you work. If you don’t believe me, give it a try!

As I close out this post, I would invite you to let me know if you have your own “sockfolio” actual or otherwise. Perhaps your thing isn’t socks but maybe watches, coins, LEGO or artwork. I would love to hear about your guilty pleasure!

Hot Tamales, Unicorns and Pizza Parties

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Company culture is something that’s created over time. It’s an interesting blend of people, passions and recognition. We wanted to give you a glimpse into some of the things we do to celebrate our team members, recognizing their contribution to the Home Rental Services culture.

Home Rental Services: Red Hot Chili Pepper Award for ChrisThe Hot Tamale Award

We’re not sure where this originated, but the Hot Tamale Award traditionally goes to the salesperson with the best month. We decided to get an inflatable pepper to recognize our Agent of the Month ongoing.

In March, Chris won, and the award has been hanging over his desk for the entire month. What a fun way to inspire some friendly competition between our agents! We’re excited to see who is going to win the award for April.

Unicorns

Oretta is a property manager for Home Rental Services. She happens to love anything related to unicorns. A couple of weeks ago, she was having a really busy week. Paul, our Director of Investor Services, brought in Unicorn Magic ice cream to be supportive. (Awesome.)

She LOVED it. But ice cream melts. We thought it would be a fun idea to get her some kind of unicorn decoration for her office. We found an LED Unicorn light for her and presented it to her today. And yes, she loved it, as you can tell by the smile on her face.

Home Rental Services: Unicorn Magic Ice Cream Home Rental Services: Unicorn Art for the Office

Home Rental Services: Pizza PartyPizza Parties

Another thing we’re celebrating in the office is that our average Google review rating is now 4 out of 5 stars. People will take the time to post negative reviews when they’re frustrated. But they don’t always take the time to post a positive review when they’re happy. We have a bunch of happy owners and renters, and we’ve been doing our best to ask for honest feedback. As a result, our average rating has gone up, and we think it’s a milestone worth celebrating.

So we ordered enough pizza for twenty people to celebrate. And we have ten people working here… It’s better to have extra than not enough!

These are just a few of the recent examples we hope can inspire you within your organization. And this is something that needs to happen on a regular basis. When was the last time you did something fun for your team or for the person that went above and beyond? We will be talking about more creative ideas to say thank you in future blog posts!