The role of a property manager is far more complicated than most laymen would suspect, particularly due to the fact that you’re forced to wear so many hats. From enticing potential residents to fill a vacancy, to managing the affairs of the property itself, it can be an overwhelming slate. Because of the constant need to fill in at various demanding roles, property managers commonly make the mistake of being so engrossed in the business aspects (such as marketing and sales) that they wind up neglecting their current residents.
To say that such actions are shortsighted would be putting it lightly. Customer retention is the lifeblood of any multifamily apartment complex, and failure to address their concerns or needs will 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’d best hope that they’re sad to go and not shy about conveying that sentiment to others. From installing residential lockers for package deliveries to something as simple as remembering your tenants’ names, we’ll discuss the several resident retention tips for multifamily apartments.
Resident Retention Tips For Multifamily Apartments
It’s all too easy to sign a resident into a unit and then never see them until their lease is up and it’s time for them to move out. The importance of customer service in property management is often dismissed and many property managers make the mistake of treating tenants like they would an automatic bank payment—set and forget. They’re locked into rent, so what’s the difference?
This shortsighted attitude is one of the easiest ways to give off the impression that your relationship is only transactional. Even should that be the case, people want to feel valued, particularly in the service industry, which many forget this is. As a result, simple kindnesses and gestures go a long way in providing great customer service. Residents don’t want you to be their best friend, but it’s hard to overstate how strongly people remember someone who goes out of their way to say hello or lend a hand.
Relationship tips include:
- Names – People innately feel valued and cherished when others remember and say their name. Obviously, it may be difficult to remember every one of your residents’ names, but you should write down the name of everyone living in a unit, including the animals. If you’re expecting to swing by a resident’s unit, review the list and ask about how they’re doing.
- Resident visits – Although you don’t want to become a nuisance, it’s helpful to give at least a bit of a facetime once every week or so. If you don’t regularly see residents in passing, go by their place and check in on them. Ask whether or not they have any issues, concerns, or things that need fixing.
- Address issues – While making your rounds is essential, it’s also vital that when people 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.
Maintain Lines of Communication
In addition to providing facetime, it’s essential that residents have clear lines of communication and easy ways to contact you. Ideally, tenants should be able to:
- Run by your office
When they do reach out, it’s your job to be open and responsive to any problems or requests. A property manager who is uncommunicative or doesn’t act upon maintenance requests will sour their views on both you and the property. If the problems are serious enough, they may decide that it would be easier to move elsewhere.
Fix The Mail Room
In a day and age when Amazon rules supreme, a growing problem faced by property managers is how to handle the steady inundation of packages sent daily to the property. Even if you have a mailroom, which many properties don’t, it’s likely ill-equipped to handle 20+ packages a day, nor do you have a dedicated mail staff to manage the tide. As a result, the burden of accepting, sorting, storing, and delivering packages is left to you. While this may not seem like a big deal, each delivery adds up and soon you end up spending hours each day just handling packages.
According to MFE, with 84 percent of Americans shopping online some or most of the time, and nearly 20 percent doing so at least once or twice a week, this glut of packages is becoming a problem. They clog up concierge desks and leasing offices. Residents constantly contact the leasing office to ask if a package has arrived, and if a package gets misplaced in the process, there is no way of tracking it. These challenges are only going to get worse as online shopping is expected to increase by 25 percent over the next year.
While this is a time burden for you, it’s also a problem for residents, particularly if they have items that are damaged, stolen, or misplaced. Few things can make them lose trust in their safety and security as quickly as having items stolen. With a million other duties you have to fulfill, what property manager tools are available to help manage this growing problem? Fortunately for you, there’s an easy solution in the form of Parcel Pending’s smart lockers, which allow for easy delivery, storage, and retrieval of items. These lockers provide the following benefits:
- Accepts and categorizes deliveries from practically any courier service
- Notifies residents via email or text that their package is safe and secure
- Refrigerates items that need to be stored at a certain temperature
- Provides security thanks to 24/7 built-in videos that work as a package theft deterrent
- Helps retain residents due to the added amenity
By implementing residential locker solutions, you will have more time to utilize towards getting to know your residents or fulfilling your other management duties. Not to mention, with less time spent sorting through packages, you are reducing operating costs.
Focus on Security
Although crime has been steadily decreasing for more than two decades, it remains a large concern for residents. As a property manager, your job is to ensure that your apartment complex and its residents are safe at all times. Similar to stolen packages, if your residents don’t feel safe on their own property or in their own home, then they won’t remain residents for long. Therefore, it’s essential that you do everything in your power to ensure their protection.
According to a national poll of renters by Assurant Inc, 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. Video cameras, phone alerts, and alarm systems were installed in only 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/doorbell.
Steps you can take to ensure that your multifamily property is safe and secure includes:
- Gates surrounding the complex and parking structures.
- Around the clock security and cameras
- Security guards patrolling the grounds
- Fobs or key cards to any entrance or egress
- Smart tech such as Ring doorbells
Create a Sense of Community
Analogous to building relationships, it’s important that you create ways for residents to bond or get to know one another, should they wish it. 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 aim to help build a social community:
- Community events
- Social hours
- Happy hours
- Holiday parties
According to a commentary on a StatisFact study, “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 an apartment community for your residents, you are creating a warm and friendly place to live that they won’t want to leave.
Provide a Place to Park
Parking is a major pain point for renters, particularly in crowded urban settings. Few things are as frustrating as circling the block for thirty minutes after a long day of work. Because of that, if you’re building, remodeling, or looking for ways to improve your complex, providing parking can go a long way. Ideas for improving this include:
- Create a multi-layered parking structure if you have the room.
- Have parking spaces doubled in length so that a couple can park behind one another.
- Partner with garages or lots in the area to provide tenants with deals or alternative places to park.
Keeping the residents you currently have is no easy task, especially on top of your day to day property management duties. It requires time, thought, and dedication; fortunately, there are simple strategies you can implement such as installing smart lockers to make their daily experience all the better. Any of the above retention ideas are sure to keep your residents happy. And by being thoughtful and attentive to your tenants’ wants and needs, you can ensure that your relationship is long and fruitful. Keeping these resident retention and property management tips in your arsenal will lead to a bright future of property management.
Devon, K. Multifamily Executive. Package Locker Industry Lifts Off: https://www.multifamilyexecutive.com/technology/package-locker-industry-lifts-off_o
Assurant. Security Top Concern for Renters, But Not Enough Take Precautions to Protect their Property and Valuables, According to New Assurant Survey. (2019): https://www.assurant.com/newsroom-detail/NewsReleases/2019/June/security-top-concern-for-renters-but-not-enough-take-precautions-to-protect-their-property-and-valuables-according-to-new-assurant-survey
Williams, B. Multi-Housing News. We Were Right All Along: It’s the Sense of Community That Drives Renewal. (2018): https://www.multihousingnews.com/post/we-were-right-along-its-the-sense-of-community-that-drives-renewal/