So how about it – Do we do a good enough job communicating with our Residents? After all, 100% of them eventually leave us and probably never come back. Unlike professional services and storefronts who aspire to hold on to each customer wherever they live our customers are transient and move on. Sometimes into a house and sometimes they just pick up and move down the street. Renters statistically shop for specifics like amenities and pricing and once someone fulfills this it seems logical they should be happy right? But somehow, something happens along the way and they get the urge to move on. When discussing Resident Communication, we ultimately need to discuss Resident Retention & Satisfaction.
First off, it may help us to look at how other businesses communicate with their Customers – both loyal ones and potentials? And how do they gauge success when it comes to Customer Satisfaction & Retention? Last year I downloaded a trial sample of the The Loyalty Guide and found the insight and correlations to our industry remarkable. It’s the definitive resource and worth a read. Consistently, it references Face to Face Interaction as the key to loyalty and retention.
Face to face contact costs nothing. It’s a part of human nature and frankly people generally like people who smile and friendly. Our family used to frequent a restaurant in my hometown. The food sucked, the parking was horrible, they were slow but we ate there every Friday night. Why? They treated us like royalty. The servers knew our names and said things like “Welcome Back” and “You look great”. The cooks always made a big deal about portions for the men in my family. And the owner told my mom how beautiful she was at every turn.
One of my favorite Sponge Bob episodes was the “Chocolate with nuts”. Patrick Star and Sponge Bob realize the success of selling and being entrepreneurs – that is – when marketing, stretch the truth. LOL! I’m not advocating this but we can make our Residents feel like we appreciate their patronage daily. Even the cranky ones and it can’t hurt right. In fact, proactive work with disgruntled Residents can offset the often negative wave they send to neighbors and potential residents too.
- How is everything today – Is there anything that needs our attention? This may shock them a bit but it could offset the beginning of a maintenance item out of mind. Maintenance can utilize technicians who could be idle with service calls too.
- New staff introductions – with Photos. Just a quick memo to introduce the guy painting the hallways, the new girl at the community room or the new manager. Realtors introduce their new agents in Local newspaper advertisements and to me it feels like the company real cares about the hire. This could reinforce that you’re being attentive to them as you may be replacing an ineffective staffer too.
- Hand out candy to Residents as you walk the hallways or grounds. Nobody can be mean after getting a Hershey Kiss but it’s actually an excellent ice-breaker for conversation and slows down the pace to communicate.
Your company should work out sample scripts ranging from the standard to the community specific items to practice in case of discussion with Residents. And there are always the seasonality aspects that can help the script writing. For example, “Wow, it’s getting chilly and fall is here…. Hey, is does your apartment have the storm windows down or missing – do you need us to check?” Verbal communication is the key as Landlords are from Mars and Residents are from Venus – LOL!
About Resident Places
Resident Places is a zero cost amenity to residential and mixed use properties where residents receive valuable money saving offers from local businesses through a co-branded coupon portal. These neighborhood deals are made available without any sales activity by leasing staffs or IT teams. Every deal printed through the co-branded portal will include the name of the property and is shareable via social media networks like Facebook and Twitter, which expands the reach and audience of the community’s brand to their residents, prospects and area businesses. For business owners, our unique offering gives access into a typically difficult advertising market – multifamily communities, with a low cost, high tech solution.
Resident communication is not just about problem solving maintenance issues or making sure your tenants know about the pool opening in May. The idea of Resident Communication is about building value in the service you provide, highlighting amenities and building a bond with your residents that will increase lease renewal rates and yield higher profits.
Marketing costs per unit are stabilizing around $170, but turnover costs continue to rise according to MyNewPlace. If you include lost rents, paint and carpet, commissions and marketing costs, the cost to turn over a $947 per month apartment can be more than $4,000. Try this tool provided to calculate your possible turnover costs. – Apartment Turnover Cost Calculator. Are they similar?
Doug Miller, President of SatisFacts, says “Real simply, if you cannot communicate, you cannot provide service. When resident satisfaction goes up, renewals go with it, and turnover down, and we find clients improving their turnover rate up to 17 percent against the national average when they take these kinds of results and commit to a culture of responsiveness.”
So, what works? What should you communicate, when and how? – print, photos and videos, editorials, reviews, coupons, prior to lease renewals? What tools should you use? Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Email, Newsletters and Texting to communicate.
Over the next few months I will be writing a series of articles that outline effective techniques from within our industry and other industries. We’ll identify ones that trigger actual positive responses, build your brand, create social activity, assist in leasing and re-leasing and impact your bottom line profitability.
Of course, you can always be like Pearl, the Landlord. ; )