Resident retention is generally the forgotten factor in property management, while the art of apartment marketing and leasing to new prospects continues to be studied, sliced, diced and pureed by the apartment industry to get optimal strategies of getting people in the door. In fact, the better a community is at apartment marketing and leasing, the more it could mask its shortcomings on the resident retention side. So much effort is manufactured on the leasing side of the business enterprise that our front line troops are called “Leasing Professionals.” Focusing on Leasing is not a bad idea; however, neglecting the other half of your organization can alienate your residents, cause high turnover, and severely impact your bottom line.

That is more important: Resident Retention or Apartment Marketing?

When we discuss the worthiness of Resident Retention, it isn’t to say that apartment marketing isn’t also vitally important. In other words, to improve retention, we should not sacrifice leasing. That said, an increase in retention is vastly more beneficial than an increase in leasing. This should not be a surprising concept. When comparing a new resident to an existing resident, the existing resident is a lot more profitable, with hardly any make-ready costs no loss because of vacancy. Additionally, a long-term renter is much more prone to refer friends and coworkers when compared to a new renter would.

When you see the difference in profitability between the two groups, it really is shocking how much more we devote to prospects. While prospects and new residents get the good thing about cheaper rent and extensive marketing, existing residents, those who pay the bills, often obtain the short end of the stick. This difference can result in alienation of one’s current residents, a situation you need to strongly avoid.

How come resident retention not on the radar?

Even though we all understand the concept of resident retention, surprisingly little is known about how to accomplish it. Therefore, most communities elect to either ignore it all together or choose methods that do not achieve the expected goals. Let’s first consider a few of the most common mistakes made in current retention “techniques.”

Customer Service and Maintenance

Let me be clear concerning this: Customer service and maintenance aren’t resident retention programs. We constantly hear how important these two items are, that is completely correct. However, instead of going above and beyond, these items are an expectation, not just a perk. Especially for Class A and Class B properties, residents do not see strong maintenance and customer service as a luxury item that they should be impressed with. They instead see these things as a required section of living at your community. Look at a restaurant advertising that its food is served warm. Isn’t that expected at a restaurant? And when this is the best trait the restaurant can offer, would you really expect the food to be that great? For a residential area to advertise a feature that needs to be standard, they are actually implying that the rest of their service is not too impressive!

The infamous summer party…

Summer parties can be quite a fun perk, but are rarely a great investment. First of all, summer parties could be very expensive if food emerges, generally which range from $1,500 to $3,000 for a 300-unit community. Ironically, you cut costs when you get yourself a low resident turnout at these events. Imagine the price if 100 percent of your residents attended! However, probably, you’ll only have around 25 percent of your residents show up. Of these, it’s likely that only about 25 percent includes a lease coming up to create the feeling on the renewal decision. Therefore, you are impacting only 6 percent of one’s “target audience.” This implies for the average community of 300 units, you’re spending roughly $2,000 to attain 18 residents – that’s $111 per resident! Even though the party influences several others that renew later in the year, investments in these parties do not justify the reward.

So what are some programs we can implement?

To start with, know your community. Fair Housing laws limit just how much demographic information we are able to keep about our residents, but you should at least have an idea of the different faces of one’s community. Additionally, instead of having one giant one-size-fits-all party, it is possible to coordinate several smaller, targeted parties throughout the year. Having more frequent parties allows you to target different demographic groups in your community at different times instead of “putting all your eggs in a single basket” approach of large summer events. Spacing these events throughout the year will also guarantee your events coincide with all of your residents’ renewal periods, this provides you with you the biggest impact possible. Here a few ideas that can it is possible to explore that are less costly:

Older Residents

Bridge or Mah Jongg Night
Dinner Rotation – This can be quite popular! Have a sign up period for singles or couples. These groups then take turns rotating amongst their apartments hosting small dinner parties for each other.
Singles Crowd
Poker Night at the Clubhouse (for prizes rather than money)
Networking Night
Dance Classes
Sporting events
Children Friendly
Ice Cream Social
Kite Day
Scavenger Hunt
Also, remember that you have purchasing power! Most events around town offer group rates that you may pass along to your residents. This can make them feel part of an exclusive club with money saving deals all the time!

The future of resident retention

Have you heard the term “Resident Portal?” If you haven’t, continue reading! Ki Residences Sunset Way A Resident Portal is essentially a website for the residents, adding a genuine social element to your community – contemplate it a “digital clubhouse.” If you haven’t noticed, the vast majority of residents have a social presence online. Resident Portals take that concept and merge it with traditional apartment properties to produce a true “community” environment. A basic Resident Portal carries a community calendar of events, utility sign-up features, maintenance requests, and online rent payment. However, several resident portals offer a lot more in terms of a residential area social experience. These expanded resident portals range between about $125/month to $200/month for a 300 unit community, meaning you can get a whole year of service for exactly the same price of one summer party. When done properly, resident social interaction can make strong emotional bonds in the middle of your residents, resulting in impressive improvements in your retention rates.

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