A property manager’s role is far more complicated than most would suspect, particularly because most property managers wear many hats. From enticing prospective residents to move in, to managing maintenance issues around the community, to appeasing existing residents, a property manager’s duties can feel overwhelming. Because of the various roles a community manager serves, property managers can become so engrossed in business aspects (like apartment marketing and sales) that they can wind up neglecting current residents.
Resident retention is the lifeblood of any successful multifamily apartment complex, and failure to address current residents’ concerns or needs can quickly land you in hot water. Although you can’t keep every tenant forever, your goal should be to maximize their stay for as long as possible. And when they do leave, you want them to be singing your community’s praises.
From something as simple as remembering your tenants’ names to installing residential lockers for package deliveries, we’re sharing our best resident retention tips for multifamily apartment managers.
Resident Retention Tips For Multifamily Apartments
It’s easy to get a new resident into a unit and never see them again until they have a service request or their lease is up and it’s time to move out. The importance of customer service in property management can often be undervalued, with some property managers making the mistake of treating tenants like they would an automatic bank payment – “set and forget”. They’re locked into their lease, they might say, so what’s the difference?
A shortsighted attitude is the easiest way to give a resident the impression that your relationship with them is strictly transactional. People want to be valued, and apartment community residents especially so. Simple kindness and gestures can go a long way in providing great customer service and improving your resident retention rate. While residents don’t expect you to be their best friend, they do greatly appreciate someone who goes out of their way to say hello or lend them a hand.
Some tips to improve your resident relationships include:
- Remember Their Names – People instinctively feel valued when others remember and say their name. It may feel difficult to remember every one of your residents’ names, but you should prioritize writing down the names of everyone living in a unit, including animals. If you plan on swinging by a resident’s unit in the apartment community, review the list beforehand, then ask about how they’re doing.
- Regular Resident Visits – Although you don’t want to become a nuisance, it’s helpful to give residents a little bit of facetime once every few weeks. If you don’t regularly see residents in passing, consider stopping by their unit and checking in on them. This is a great time to ask if they have any issues, concerns, or things that need fixing.
- Address Concerns to Maintain Resident Satisfaction – While making the rounds is essential, it’s also vital that when residents have maintenance requests or issues you address them immediately. Kind words and gestures only go so far if there are no actions backing them up.
- Host a Community Event – When you make an effort to build community with resident events, each tenant will feel more engaged. This helps to build rapport between you as the property owner or property manager and your existing residents to help reduce turnover.
- Create Incentive for Tenants to Make a Resident Referral – Offer a discount on a monthly lease payment for current residents if they make a referral to a friend or family member. This can lead to higher resident retention because people naturally enjoy living close to those they are more comfortable with. This can lead to more satisfied residents across the board.
Maintain Open Lines of Communication
In addition to getting regular facetime with residents, it’s essential that residents have clear, easy lines of communication when it comes to contacting you. Ideally, tenants should be able to:
- Stop by the leasing office
You should also be sure to clearly communicate COVID-related rules, restrictions, and policies surrounding community spaces and amenities. We suggest sending reminders via email and also reaching out via text or phone call to ensure all residents fully understand the protocols surrounding indoor and outdoor amenity spaces and common areas.
You may also want to design a survey or solicit feedback from your residents about the use of amenities or community spaces so that they feel involved in the overall decision-making process and in helping to mitigate the spread of the virus within their community.
When residents reach out, it is your job to be open and responsive to any issues or requests. An uncommunicative property manager or leasing agent – or worse, one who doesn’t act upon maintenance requests – will sour residents’ views of both the apartment community and the property management team. If their issues with you or the property become too serious, they may decide to move elsewhere.
Update Your Mail Room
In a day and age when same-day or next-day delivery rule supreme, package management is becoming a growing problem. In fact, a recent survey conducted by J Turner Research revealed that one of the biggest discrepancies between C-level executives and onsite personnel where onsite personnel have reported a bigger challenge is package management1.
Even if your property has a mailroom, it’s likely ill-equipped to handle the 150+ packages that arrive weekly, let alone the 270+ packages that arrive weekly during the holiday season2. This can be even more difficult if your property doesn’t have dedicated mail or package staff to help manage the influx of deliveries caused by residents’ increased use of online shopping. As a result, the burden of accepting, sorting, storing, and delivering packages is often left to you and any package that slips through the cracks can significantly impact your apartment resident retention rate. While this may not seem like a big deal, the time spent managing deliveries quickly adds up, and soon you may find yourself spending hours each day just managing packages.
According to Multifamily Executive, 84% of Americans shop online some or most of the time, and nearly 20% do so at least once or twice a week3. That means the influx of packages isn’t likely to stop clogging up concierge desks or leasing offices any time soon. Nor are residents going to stop contacting the leasing office to see if a package arrived or for tracking information if they believe their package was misplaced. In fact, these challenges are likely only going to get worse, with experts estimating that online shopping will amount to $7 trillion (or 25%) of global retail sales by 20244.
While this can be a significant time burden for property managers, package backlogs are also a significant problem for residents – especially if they have items that get damaged, misplaced, or stolen. Few things can make a resident lose trust in community safety and security as quickly as having deliveries stolen. Thankfully, there are myriad property manager tools available to help with this growing problem, including an easy solution in the form of smart lockers from Parcel Pending. Automated parcel locker systems allow for easy delivery, storage, and retrieval of resident deliveries. These lockers are a defining feature of any modern apartment complex and they also provide a number of important benefits, including:
- Lockers accept and categorize deliveries from any courier service
- Lockers notify residents via email, text, or mobile app that their package has arrived
- Lockers refrigerate perishable goods like groceries, medicine, and flowers
- Lockers provide added community security thanks to built-in cameras that serve as a package theft deterrent
- Lockers improve resident retention as they are an added and desirable amenity
Most importantly, lockers embrace all COVID safety protocols. Residents can pick up parcels without interacting with delivery company drivers, property staff, or even other residents! The smart parcel locker system sends recipients a unique access code and a barcode to their smartphone, allowing for easy and safe package pickup without ever touching a keypad. In as little as 10 seconds, residents have picked up their package and are on their way!
By implementing residential locker solutions, you will gain more time to get to know your residents or fulfill other important apartment management duties. Not to mention, with less time spent managing packages, you are significantly reducing operating costs.
Focus on Security
Although crime has steadily decreased for more than two decades, community safety remains a main concern for residents. As a property manager, your job is to ensure that your apartment complex and its residents feel safe and secure at all times. Similar to package theft, if residents don’t feel safe in their community or in their apartment, they likely won’t remain residents for long. To reduce resident turnover, it’s essential you do everything in your power to make them feel safe.
According to a national poll of renters by Assurant, while most respondents felt that security was always important, 32% were especially concerned about it during the summer months. However, when asked what safety precautions they take, close to half (45%) of the renters polled said they only have a lock on the door, followed by 36% who said they rely on neighbors to keep an eye out for them. The poll indicated that video cameras, phone alerts, or alarm systems were only installed in a quarter or less of rentals. Interestingly, over half (54%) of renters said they would pay a higher rent if their landlord offered a connected security device/doorbell5.
A few steps you can take to ensure that your multifamily property is safe and secure include:
- Installing gates surrounding the complex and parking structures
- Implement 24/7/365 security cameras for community monitoring
- Hire security guards to patrol the grounds
- Use fobs or key cards to help monitor any entrance or egress
- Consider including smart tech, such as Ring doorbells, in resident units
- Offer a resident portal or message board so that households can share concerns with property management
Create a Sense of Community
Along the same line as building relationships, it is important that you create ways for residents to bond or get to know one another. This can be done organically by having communal areas such as:
- Outdoor patios
- Dog walking parks
It can also be facilitated by scheduling get-togethers such as any of these apartment trends that can help you build a more social community:
- Community events
- Social hours
- Happy hours
- Holiday parties
With social distancing set to continue for the foreseeable future, you may want to consider hosting some of these events virtually to help residents continue to build community rapport. Ideas include hosting a complimentary virtual yoga session, happy hour, movie night, and more! Of course, we encourage all communities to monitor COVID-19 cases in their areas and to adhere to local health and safety guidelines in order to keep residents and staff safe.
As a commentary on a 2018 StatisFact study asserts, “I have always been in the camp that believed a “sense of community” was a top factor in a resident’s decision to stay in their community, and sure enough, it was the 2nd highest rated factor. And when we quizzed multifamily professionals, they almost had it pegged perfectly, listing it as the top factor in resident retention. But what really blew me away was the clear theme shown at the top of the list—four out of the top six factors impacting the renewal decision all had to do with a resident’s connection with the community and neighbors!”
By building a true apartment community for your residents, you are creating a warm and friendly place to live that they won’t want to leave.
Ensure Residents Have a Place to Park
Parking is a major pain point for renters, particularly in crowded urban settings. Few things are more frustrating than circling the block for thirty minutes after a long day of work trying to find a parking spot. If you are building, remodeling, or looking for ways to improve your complex, providing ample parking can go a long way.
Ideas for improving this include:
- Construct a multi-level parking structure (if you have the room)
- Have parking spaces or garages doubled in length so units with more than one tenant can park behind one another
- Partner with garages or lots in the area to provide tenants with deals or alternative places to park
Keeping current residents is no easy task, especially on top of your day to day property management duties. It requires time, thought, and dedication; fortunately, there are a few simple strategies you can implement, such as installing smart lockers, to make residents’ day-to-day community experience better. Any resident retention strategy, especially those listed above, are sure to keep your apartment residents happy. By being thoughtful and attentive to your tenants’ wants and needs, you can ensure that your relationship with them is long and fruitful. Keeping these resident retention and property management tips in your arsenal will lead to a bright future of property management.
Adding new amenities may not be at the top of most properties’ to-do list right now. But if package management has gotten out of hand, Parcel Pending is available to help. Contact a member of our sales team to find the right solution for your property.
- J Turner Research. (2020, December). Multifamily Industry Leaders Survey: Attitudes and Outlook About the Multifamily Industry from Industry Leaders [Report]. Retrieved from: https://www.jturnerresearch.com/multifamily-industry-leaders-survey-2020
- National Multifamily Housing Council. (2018, November 14). Special Delivery: 2018 NHMC/Kingsley Package Delivery Report [Press release]. Retrieved from https://www.nmhc.org/news/
- Devon, Kayla. Multifamily Executive. Package Locker Industry Lifts Off. (2014, December 04). https://www.multifamilyexecutive.com/technology/package-locker-industry-lifts-off_o.
- Bruell, Alexandra. The Wall Street Journal. E-Commerce to Total a Quarter of Global Retail by 2024, GroupM Forecasts. (2020, December 16). https://www.wsj.com/articles/e-commerce-to-total-a-quarter-of-global-retail-by-2024-groupm-forecasts-11608116401.
- Assurant. (2019, June 26). Security Top Concern for Renters, But Not Enough to Take Precautions to Protect their Property and Valuables, According to New Assurant Survey [Press Release]. Retrieved from: https://www.assurant.com/news-insight/news-and-insights
- Williams, Brent. Multi-Housing News. We Were Right All Along: It’s the Sense of Community That Drives Renewal. (2018, June 12). https://www.multihousingnews.com/post/we-were-right-along-its-the-sense-of-community-that-drives-renewal/.