Fourth Annual IMN Middle-Market Forum Recap

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Just this week, Mike Ballard attended the two-day, Fourth Annual IMN Middle-Market Multifamily Forum Southwest in Dallas, marking his second IMN conference on the year. The event was jam-packed with cutting-edge content, multifamily trends, keynote speakers and business development opportunities derived from hundreds of owners, developers, management groups and vendors in attendance.

Mike kicked off the first day by moderating a panel which discussed streamlining operation, expense control and best practices for property management alongside five prestigious industry professionals. He was joined on the panel by iStorm Group CEO and founder Mark Deddens, Helu Capital COO Taylor Bassett, PetScreening director of education and outreach Victoria Cowart, CPM, Rently senior account executive Dillon White and Tulsa Property Group principal Luke Westerfield.

Panelists initiated the discussion by first addressing efficient strategies for streamlining operations in today’s industry. The majority agreed that maximizing profit, employee performance and retaining staff was achieved through outsourcing accounting and human resource services, as well as integrating functional automation tools their systems.

“We decided to outsource our back office through Ascent Multifamily Accounting, and it helped our corporate office completely shift their focus to our efforts regarding maximizing profits,” said Bassett.

Each panelist went on to mention that the industry is seeing automation tools as a dominant force that can assist with retaining staff by simplifying processes and lightening their work load. Many companies are facing the widespread challenges of attracting talent and have found that easing the pressure on their employees through incorporating automated services has truly made a difference.

“We specifically select user-friendly software that keeps things basic yet efficient to ease the tasks our employees perform on a daily basis,” said Westerfield. “This allows our team to rid the minute and time-consuming duties to overall make life and work more enjoyable.”

While automation plays a vital role in today’s industry, the panelists also touched base on how some software can overcomplicate things. It’s important to be selective to ensure the program is simple enough to learn and consistently use, so that it’s not actually creating more work and taking up additional time.

The panel concluded by explaining the impact that the pandemic had on business, and which practices they used to deal with such circumstances, including automated software to deal with staff shortages and social distancing and acknowledging neglected markets such as the pet industry.

“70 percent of households have pets, while only 20 percent of households have children,” said Cowart. “During the pandemic, we realized we needed to shift our focus to accommodate a vital part of our society. Plus, the pandemic raised these numbers because people were longing for the sense of community and connection.”

Other topics discussed throughout the first day included expansion strategies for small owners and operators, an overview of today’s multifamily industry, debt and equity deal structures, remote work, short term loans and long-term debt financing, building your portfolio and more.

The day continued with networking at the Ascent booth where Mike reconnected with partners and clients, amid forming new relationships with prospective clients from various markets across the United States.

Mike finished the first day by inviting Ascent’s clients and friends out to enjoy themselves at the Y.O. Ranch Steakhouse over dinner and insightful conversation. The duration of the meal was filled with clients sharing advice amongst each other and showing appreciation for this industry and the opportunities it has presented. By the end of the dinner, everyone was exchanging contact information and already planning the next gathering.

“There isn’t an industry as inviting, welcoming and helpful as multifamily,” said Ballard. “Everyone genuinely wants to help each other succeed and will go out of their way to do so. I have met some of the best people I know through this industry and IMN conferences.”

The last day was filled with more networking opportunities, panel presentations and prospective client meetings. The topics included due diligence best practices, expanding into new markets, risk management programs and the impact of inflation on deals. Mike concluded the Dallas conference by reconnecting with the new professionals the team met over the two-day period.

Mike already has plans to attend the 6th Annual Middle-Market Multifamily Forum Southeast in Atlanta, Georgia next month on Monday, May 2 and Tuesday, May 3, where he will moderate a panel regarding similar topics about streamlining operation and property management best practices. For more information or to see the full agenda, visit

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