32 | jpm®
| May.Jun 2015
spotlight / AMO
Describe your “bottom-
up” approach to staffing.
A / At Oculus, we realize that our most
important assets are our people, and the
most important members of the team
are those who “touch” the customers
most frequently. Our leasing team is
typically the customers’ first interaction
with their new homes. They constantly
provide market feedback and drive our
revenue. Once these customers become
residents, our service teams are the
“face” of the ownership and manage-
ment. We make sure that these techni-
cians are highly trained, carry business
cards and wear neat, clean uniforms
THE “RINGMASTER”: AN
WITH K. DAVID MEIT, CPM,
GRI, WITH OCULUS REALTY,
with their names and our logo embroidered on their shirts. Our commitment to
training all of our staff is demonstrated by our recent roll-out of Oculus University,
an entire newly developed learning management system that provides training and
develops opportunities for everyone in the company to be constant learners and
Describe a challenging situation that your company
has faced and how you’ve grown from that point.
A / Early on, we had a major client who provided a large portion of our business,
but this client wanted us to manage his property in a way that did not align with our
values. So we made the difficult decision to separate from this client. Even though
this break hurt us financially, it reinforced our corporate culture and our brand. We
have a model of how we operate, and either clients buy into it or they don’t. Some-
times it’s not about the business you get, but more about the business you don’t get.
irem.org/jpm | jpm®
OCULUS REALTY, LLC, AMO / spotlight
You view yourself as a “ringmaster.” Describe an
average day at Oculus.
A / Our mission is to create value for our stakeholders as a residential apartment
management company. Any given day might include helping a client with taxes and
insurance, reviewing ongoing renovation projects, paying many of the thousands
of bills we handle each month, taking care of residents’ maintenance issues, dealing
with our vendors, and working in the regulatory arena with building inspectors,
tenant association representatives, non-profit organizations and others. Staying on
top of all of the action without micro-managing any one part of it is why I think of
myself as a ringmaster.
How have you noticed the industry changing; what
has your company done to stay ahead of the curve?
A / Our industry was slow to embrace new technology; as recently as 10 years ago,
some managers were still using rent ledger cards. One of the best things about being
a relatively new company, launched in 2010, is that we did not have any “legacy” sys-
tems to hold us back. We’ve embraced technology in order to manage a large num-
ber of boutique properties without having full-time staff at each building. Everyone
on our staff has iOS devices with customized apps. We are always looking for new
online resources such as Updater, a software package that helps new and departing
residents automate their change-of-address process.
The tax reform law of 1986 catalyzed a sea change in our industry. Prior to that,
rental property owners could write off “passive loss” against income, thus realizing
financial benefits even if they were losing money. Under that model, the resident
manager personified property management, like the character Stanley Roper in the
TV show “Three’s Company.” But with the tax code changes, owners had to make
money by driving revenue and reducing costs. Taking lessons from the hospitality
and high-end retail industries, the property management industry has reached new
heights of professionalism.
CORPORATE HEADQUARTERS Gaithersburg, Md. and Washington
EXECUTIVE CPM K. David Meit, CPM, GRI
NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES 28
COMPANY WEBSITE www.oculusrealty.com
Describe how you main-
tain your vision of cus-
A / We combine a high level of train-
ing and delivery of service with efficient,
well-executed, technology-based pro-
cesses. As well-trained as your people
might be, you need the systems and pro-
cesses in place to ensure that you deliver
uniform experiences across all of your
properties. Paraphrasing Jim Collins in
his book, Good to Great, it’s about hav-
ing the right people on the right bus and
in the right seats.
What is your vision as a
A / We are an operator of boutique
properties in urban locations, special-
izing in properties that have 50 to 150
units. Our clients are high net worth
individuals and family offices; we don’t
seek to work with institutional owners.
Our vision is to remain a boutique firm,
although we hope to grow from our cur-
rent portfolio of about 40 communities
and 1,500 units to somewhere between
3,000 and 4,000 units.
How is Oculus using
A / We don’t use social media as a sales
tool, but rather as a way to help create
community. Our Facebook page for
each community, for example, has a lot
of information about what’s going on in
the neighborhood such as events, farm-
ers’ markets, bars and restaurants, etc.
Social media helps us with resident re-
tention. But we’re not trying to sell to
residents; rather, we want to provide a
resource and help them feel at home.