Most people would agree that moving is among life’s most stressful events. Moving is expensive, exhausting, and back-breaking! Given how unpleasant the experience can be, you might think people would be reluctant to go through it and simply stay put. Yet according to the National Apartment Association, the 15-year average resident turnover rate for professionally managed rental housing communities is 53%. That means more than half of apartment community residents move out every year—leaving a lot of vacant apartment homes to be re-rented.
Resident turnover doesn’t just create a marketing and leasing burden, of course. It also creates a significant financial burden. It’s estimated that each time a resident moves out, it costs a rental community an average of $4,000. This estimate includes costs such as vacancy loss, maintenance and repairs, and hourly wages for the team to prepare the apartment home for a new resident.
Imagine the positive impact you would make to your community’s financial performance if you could sign more lease renewals. Just a slight improvement in resident retention would result in massive savings straight to the bottom line!
What does it take to improve resident retention? Focusing on a positive resident experience is the key to creating a great landlord/tenant relationship. Residents who are satisfied with their rental experience stick around.
Here are three proactive strategies for improving the landlord/tenant relationship, delighting your apartment community residents, and earning their renewal lease.
A Flawless Move-In Experience
You know what they say--you only get one chance to make a first impression. Moving day is your opportunity to demonstrate that the resident experience at your community is convenient and pleasant.
Moving can be a hectic, nerve-wracking experience. When your brand-new residents arrive at your door with a truck packed full of all of their earthly possessions, they’re under a lot of pressure. Make it your business to ensure that their move-in experience is as easy and low-stress as it can possibly be. Some suggestions:
Allow residents to schedule their preferred move-in date and time, and even reserve an elevator, in advance.
Minimize the administrative burdens of move-in day by taking care of lease signing and other paperwork ahead of time.
Ensure the apartment home is in top condition and inviting for their arrival. Make sure the home is sparking clean, smells fresh, and the temperature is pleasant.
If your budget allows, a small move-in gift is a welcome touch. If the new resident is bringing a dog or cat, consider a gift especially for their four-legged friend.
Accompany the new resident to their new home and conduct an in-person walk-through. Use this opportunity to orient them to key features and functionality of the home, such as appliances and keyless access.
Provide a digital inspection checklist so your new resident can document the condition of the apartment.
Facilitate digital payment of rent, deposits, and fees to simplify payments.
Use your resident app to send a welcome message with a personalized message. Share staff contact information in case the resident has any service needs.
A Balance of Professionalism and Warmth
Residents often complain that the level of service they receive from the community team drops dramatically once they transition from “prospective resident” to “existing resident.” To some, it can feel that once they sign a lease and move in, the honeymoon is over as the team sets their sights on their next new lease. This should not be the case.
Instead, aspire to deliver friendly service to your residents with every encounter. Enlist every member of the community team in this effort. Some suggestions:
Personalize and humanize your interactions with residents by both offering your name and using theirs. Instead of signing off on an email with “The Management,” include your name. When leaving a voice mail, don’t simply say “It’s the leasing office.” Instead, identify yourself by name. Learn residents’ names and use them when interacting.
When the service team performs work in a resident’s apartment home, have the staff member leave behind a ticket stating the work that was done and the name of the associate who completed it.
Similarly, when using Resident <> Staff Chat on your resident app, identify all community team members by name instead of job title. No one wants to talk to “Maintenance Technician;” they’d rather speak with Harold.
Make it a habit (and a requirement) for team members to smile, wave, and speak to residents when they encounter them in the community throughout the workday.
Service team members can win the hearts of dog-owning residents by keeping dog treats on hand to share when they bump into pets on the property.
Use your resident app to provide friendly updates and information. Share photos of the team regularly to help build relationships between the staff and the residents.
Where the Living is Easy
One of the best features about renting is the convenience. Look for every opportunity you can find to make living at your community an easy, convenient, and rewarding resident experience. Residents will be more likely to stay if they feel like the staff is responsive to their needs and they can’t live without all that life at your community affords them. Here are some ideas:
Be easy to reach. Use multiple communication platforms. Allow customers to choose how they prefer to receive communication from your team. Respond promptly to let them know how valued they are; within 24-hours is the industry standard, but faster is always better.
Empower self-service options to allow residents to resolve common tasks such as submitting service requests and making digital payments.
Enhance your common and amenity areas to make them well-suited for residents who are working from home. The National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) reports that 35% of renters expressed interest in using shared workspace at their community.
Connect residents with area businesses and service providers such as pet sitters, cleaners, and meal delivery services.
Organize time-saving resident events such as on-site food trucks. Let residents know which trucks are coming and when, and what special promotions they’ll be offering.
Finally, survey your residents regularly to ensure that your service is meeting their needs and expectations.
Recently, a multifamily professional shared this stylized quote in an industry discussion group on Facebook: “Our residents do not live in our workplace, we work in their home.” What a powerful message for rental housing professionals to keep in mind! While you and your coworkers may be simply going about your workday and doing your jobs, never forget just how personal your work is to the residents who call your community home. Strive every day to create a community where residents feel comfortable, cared for, and catered to—so they stick around.
This article was originally shared on Multifamily Insiders, authored by Livly's Founder and Co-CEO Alex Samoylovich. Subscribe to stay connected to all our latest multifamily insights!
National Apartment Association’s 2021 Survey of Operating Income & Expense in Renal Apartment Communities, https://www.naahq.org/national-apartment-association-2021-survey-operating-income-expenses-rental-apartment-communities
2022 NMHC/Grace Hill Renter Preferences Survey Report, https://www.nmhc.org/research-insight/research-report/nmhc-grace-hill-renter-preferences-survey-report/
Pinterest, wall decal, https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/469218854929885446/