This post was originally written by Kerry Sugrue, former Social Media Specialist at Apartments.com.
October 1st is one of the biggest moving days of the year and it’s right around the corner! Having a solid resident retention plan is a great way to avoid the costs associated with big moving days. Resident turnover can cost thousands of dollars once you factor in advertising, screening, leasing office time, maintenance, cleaning and everything else associated with finding the perfect new resident. Here are a couple ideas for keeping your residents happy and living in your community.
Encourage residents to put down roots
Whether renting or buying, people want to feel at home in their neighborhood. Help your residents build connections in the community and invite local shops to chip in. Try negotiating a discounted rate at the neighborhood gym or with a dog-walking company for everyone in your apartment community. Publish an annual neighborhood guide for your residents and have the popular coffee shop, book store, nail salon, dry cleaner and restaurants provide coupons, as well as fun tips for living in the community. Giving back is a great way to build strong ties to a neighborhood, so try organizing a community service project for your residents. Participants from your apartment community can get to know each other by cleaning up a local park or collecting canned goods from neighbors for a food bank. Making friends and building relationships in their community is a great reason for your residents to stay.
Provide a resource
Fulfilling your residents’ needs is a great way to establish a codependent relationship. A lending closet is a perfect way to do this. Use an old storage space or a closet in the leasing office and fill it with resources like a tool box, a vacuum, a shovel, a ladder and jumper cables. These are all things that people need, but they don’t necessarily own and as long as they live in your building, they don’t have to. Offer any of these items for residents to check-out and use. Other easy things to offer are DVD rentals, magazines at the community pool or free printing from your leasing office. If you aren’t sure where to start with this, ask your residents what they would use. They’ll appreciate you asking and you will have a strong list of resources to keep them happy.
Hire the right people
Customer service doesn’t stop with the leasing office team; it extends through the property managers, maintenance workers and housekeeping staff. By hiring the right people, you can be sure your residents are receiving first-class service at all times. Training and reviewing are also important to ensure your team has a good attitude and is providing timely, thorough service. Having a staff that not only cares for the apartment community, but also all of the residents, will create a safe and happy living environment. This will result in positive reviews and long-term residents.
Show your appreciation
Planning resident appreciation events and surprises is one of the most fun and important parts of the job! Your residents make a big commitment to you every month, so show them you appreciate it. A simple way to show residents you are thinking about them is with a card. Purchase birthday and thank you cards in bulk. At each staff meeting have everyone sign 50 of them. When it is a resident’s birthday, pull a pre-signed card out and customize it by writing a big “Happy Birthday Joey” on the unsigned side. Put the card under the door or in your resident’s mailbox for a nice surprise. You can do the same with each resident’s move-in anniversary. Also, try putting cider and doughnuts in the lobby on the first day of fall, arrange for a cupcake truck to make a weekly stop at your community or bring in a barista to make coffee one morning. There are so many fun ways you can show your residents you care and appreciate them choosing to live in your community.
These are only some ways to help improve your resident retention rate. Get creative with your own strategy but make sure whatever you are doing is making it easier to be a resident at your community. What are some things you have tried in the past that have either worked or failed? We’d love to hear from you!