Gluttony has Got to Go

I was always a fan of Loony Tunes as a child.  They were the only cartoons that my dad would watch with me because he could use the opportunity to familiarize me with the world of classical music.  That, and deep down, I think he liked them just as much as I did.  Due to the nature of his highly destructive presence and power to devour, I always felt a bit of a kinship with the Tasmanian Devil, Taz.   I mean, who wouldn't want to be able to just spin around and go through EVERYTHING? 

In my research for an animal association to the last deadly sin, Gluttony, I came back to the Tasmanian Devil.  Check this guy out:

  • Devils are the size of a small dog and  the largest carnivorous marsupial in the world
  • They have the strongest bite of any living mammal at over 5,100 psi
  • They are highly endangered and can only be seen in their native land of Tasmania and at the Copenhagen Zoo.
  • When stressed out, these little guys release an odor that is more pungent than a skunk
  • They're about 2 feet long in the body plus another 2 feet long in their tails, weighing about 18 pounds
  • They have a top speed of about 8 mph in their attack bursts, and, despite what the animators taught me as a child, they do NOT travel by spinning in circles
  • They can eat a prey up the to size of a small kangaroo
  • When eating, they're exceptionally loud, and will completely devour their prey, bones and all, leaving no trace
  • In a single sitting, they can eat up to 40% of their own body weight in less than 30 minutes.  They will continue to eat until they are so bloated with food that they can do little more than waddle.
  • They will also eat anything that even smells like flesh, such as socks.

Not quite the picture the animators painted for me, but still a neat animal nonetheless.  MSN's Encarta says that to eat as much as these guys do, a human would have to eat 216 hamburgers in 30 minutes.  (Pass the Mylanta please!)  If that's not gluttony, I don't know what is!  Traditionally, Gluttony was mostly associated with food, which is why it comes from the Latin word "Gluttire," meaning to gulp down or swallow whole.  Because it's considered a sin of excess though, it can also be defined as, "the over-indulgence and over-consumption of anything to the point of waste."

In our property management world, I can think of no stronger example of gluttony getting the better of us than in our marketing and budgeting. 

It seems like there's a new ILS of some sort coming out every month these days.  I have a hard time with the ones that are just essentially knock offs of what's already out there and haven't even really taken the initiative to work on their SEO and Google placement.  If you've got a new product and you are doing something innovative, that's awesome and I wanna see it.  If you're just another clone, tell me why I need to give you my very expensive advertising dollars. 

And it's tempting at the property level as well, when a new source comes knocking, to invest.  I mean, the more we get our name out there, the more it can be seen, right?  Well only to a point.  If the same audience that this source reaches is going to find you also on or then how smart is it to put part of your budget there?  Unique viewers is what you're looking for in a new advertising source.  Being listed, and paying to be listed, in more than 10 ILS sites seems an odd choice.  How much is the one or two leases that you get going to cost you, vs. what you spent on the advertising.  If it works out to you paying over $2000 for a lease... I'm not sure I'd keep that one in the budget.

And speaking of budgeting...I've heard some strange things in my time, and granted, budgets aren't my strongest suit to play in, but the thought that you have to spend your entire maintenance budget or you'll be "punished" by a budget reduction the next year is just way to the left on my weirdness spectrum.  I know it's a way that a lot of people do business, but that doesn't make it right.  Talk about gluttony - you're literally encouraging people to "eat up" their budgets! Spending what's left of your budget in the two months before your next budget year hits is just plain wasteful.  Conventional business advice says spend every dime, however I'd like to take the moment to remind us all that conventional business wisdom is what put our economy in the tank.  Spend what you need, save what you don't.  And to the parent companies out there, don't punish your people with the budget reduction.   If they can run at a reduced rate in a certain area for 2 years, then consider dropping the allotment.  Otherwise, a little cushion makes us all feel better.  In fact, I was at an industry event this last year where exactly that advice, spend your whole budget, was given to a room full of managers and supervisors and the overwhelming reaction from all the managers was to turn to their maintenance supervisors and tell them to ignore that.

Gluttony can be battled pretty easily on a property by learning the difference between what we want and what we need.  This isn't to say you shouldn't splurge every once and a while, but make it your goal if you're working on a resident event, for example, to try to come in under budget, even if it's just by $100. 

Learn from Taz - Just because that small kangaroo is there, it doesn't mean you need to eat the whole thing.

(I'm doing this blog series to promote my new seminar on the 7Deadly Property Management Sins through BTLD Consulting!  If you'reinterested in booking out for the seminar for your team or apartmentassociation, shoot me an email at

8 Ideas for Making More Move In Day Magic! - Originally printed on's E-Zine "Property Manager"

Exorcising Envy