by Mike Shytle
When aiming to attract as many customers as possible, businesses often forgot about a significant subsection—the ones they already have. Whether you oversee a restaurant, casino or apartment building, you’ve already done the hard part when it comes to existing customers. They’re already there, after all.
Sure, it can be more compelling to attract fresh guests with innovative marketing outreach and snazzy taglines, but operators often dedicate such extreme focus to these efforts that they overlook much simpler resident-retaining measures. In addition, retaining residents can boost your bottom line by mitigating turn costs and marketing expenses.
Here are a few ideas for operators to foster loyalty and prevent a never-ending turnstile of one-term residents.
Expand/refresh work-from-home capabilities
The remote-work boom was accelerating prior to the pandemic, which kicked it into hyper-speed. Sure, many residents have since returned to work, but many of them in hybrid fashion. Many industries discovered during the pandemic that employees could be just as productive offsite. A recent Owl Labs study shows that 16% of companies have gone fully remote and 62% of employee respondents said they work at home at least some of the time.
For the apartment world, it means residents are staying in the building more than ever—and they need to be able to effectively work from home. Co-working spaces, private work and meeting spaces, fully equipped conference rooms and ubiquitous WiFi are a few of the amenities that had been something of a bonus in the past. Residents expect them now. Developers and renovation teams are also beginning to reimagine in-home spaces to make them increasingly work-from-home friendly, including nooks that can serve as something of a mini-home office.
Innovative pet policies
If a resident cannot envision that their pet will be comfortable at a rental community, one of two things will happen. They’ll quickly move—or they won’t move in to begin with. On the flipside, renters in pet-friendly homes stay much longer—21% longer according to data from the Pet-Inclusive Housing Initiative—than renters in non-pet-friendly homes. Additionally, 83% of operators say pet-friendly vacancies are easier to fill, as residents put an even greater emphasis on the comfort level of their pets.
Examples of modern pet policies are extensive. Operators can shed standard breed and weight restrictions in favor of evaluating pets and pet owners on an individual basis. In the Pet Policies and Amenities in Multifamily report by PetScreening and J Turner Research, only 24% of residents are in favor of breed restrictions and only 20% are in favor of weight restrictions. This compelling data has made some operators rethink their breed restriction policies to welcome all breeds using now available screening criteria and tech tools.
Operators also can partner with local vets, dog walkers and pet concierge services, and they can host adoption events. Some communities give pet-rent discounts to those who adopt. Communities can also outsource their reasonable accommodation request review processes for assistance animals to ensure proper and lawful validation and to foster the most pet- and animal-friendly environment for all residents. And they can add simple pet amenities, such as a dog park with shade and pet-wash stations, to help create a pet-centric experience.
The Management Group, an Atlanta-based apartment operator, recently reported a staggering 80% renewal rate among pet-owning residents after overhauling standard pet policies in favor of a more modern approach.
Let’s cut right to the chase: if your service is poor, residents are drastically less likely to renew. Multifamily maintenance technicians are a hardworking bunch, but rental communities can make it easier on them by supplying them with the tools to succeed—beyond those kept in their toolbox.
Intuitive apps are available that enable residents to submit service requests remotely and communicate with techs throughout the process. This provides a dual convenience factor for both parties. Modern-day techs should no longer have to return to the office from one side of a sprawling property, only to hear a phone message about an issue that occurred two doors from where they just were. Digital communication platforms can do more than modernize maintenance requests: they enable residents to pay online, communicate with other members of the onsite team and access community events.
Apartment residents move all the time. But there’s usually a reason why they do, and oftentimes it’s to seek greener pastures. By using tech tools and making a handful of onsite adjustments, the industry could easily boost its retention rates and experience the welcome benefits of doing so.
Categories: Property Management, Resident Retention
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