by Frank Roessler
A top-notch investor relations program is critical when foraying into multifamily investments. And when doing so, one might want to prioritize customer service as well as sound investment opportunities.
Unfortunately, it’s not completely unheard of for some multifamily firms to treat their investors as if they are fortunate to simply be along for the ride. They will provide investors with the required reporting, but not much else.
When I think about what investor relations should look like, I think back to the pizza shop my father owned and ran while I was growing up. He never took a customer for granted. He realized they always had a choice in where to spend their money and so he made it a point to offer more than just a meal. He provided a warm, engaging customer service experience that left his patrons knowing they had been listened to and appreciated. This created a steady stream of return customers and positive word of mouth.
Obviously, today’s investors want strong risk-adjusted returns. But they are after more than that, too. They want consistent and clear information from you. They want to know they can talk with someone at the company on short notice and that their voice will be heard. With that in mind, here are some general recommendations for good investor relations.
• Communicate clearly and often. Investors want and deserve more than the required reporting.
Provide regular updates on the performance of the assets they’re invested in. At Ashcroft Capital, for example, our investors receive monthly reports on rent rates, property renovations, the overall condition of the submarket and upcoming business plans. We even provide information about recent resident events. You want your investors to feel completely in the loop about the communities in which they have a stake.
Similarly, your investors have to be able to reach your executive team easily. Listening to your investors’ feedback and answering their questions is absolutely vital to building strong relationships. Investors want to know that they are heard, that they have a voice.
• Hold regular in-person investor appreciation events and/or conferences. These are such simple and perhaps even obvious things to do, but the payoffs are immense. Clearly, it’s not been possible to host these over much of the past 18 months, but they are once again becoming practical.
Getting the chance to put names to faces, and to genuinely interact with your investors and hear their stories and learn who they are, can be extremely rewarding for you. Equally as important, these events create strong bonds and allow your investors to develop trust in you.
• Deliver the targeted returns, and if an investment fails to do so, be transparent. Of course, you have to successfully execute your business strategies and deliver a good product. Investors have trusted you with their hard-earned money and you have to provide the targeted risk-adjusted returns. However, real estate is a cyclical market, and the unexpected can happen. When times are tough, investors will greatly respect transparency and quick communication.
In the end, successful investor relations entails both strong business performance and a recognition that your investors want to feel appreciated and informed. They’re not just along for the ride: You have to let them know that they’re a true partner in the journey.