Here we are, almost May, and we find ourselves with some wacky DC weather this spring. Although the normal averages for April are in the low to high 60’s for April, we have seen a day of 90 degrees, 4 days over 80 degrees and 8 days over 70 degrees! A pretty good start for our spring time weather this year.
This month, we asked our onsite clients what they do for resident retention. This has been the most surprising for me, of our surveys thus far.
Resident Retention Means Different Things to Different People
In the overall scope of what the term “resident retention” covers, and when this process should start, many people had a varied definitions. As some people will tell you, it starts the moment a person visits your community for the first time. Their first impression is one of the indicators as to whether they want to live at the community and sign the first year’s lease.
So let’s say, they decide to lease and move into your community. Doug Miller from Satisfacts will tell you that many people make up their mind as to whether they are going to renew their lease within the first couple of months of occupancy. Do you agree? I believe this is true, but I also believe people can change their minds. This is why properties should be focusing on resident retention from the very beginning of a person’s lease… not just when it is time to renew.
Onsite Survey Revelations
Our onsite survey of over 650 properties revealed that many onsite people are not overly knowledgeable about resident retention efforts.
About 61% of people said they repaint, offer to shampoo carpets, have resident parties, and neighborhood watch programs as incentives for current residents to renew their leases. The resident events are getting more creative with doggie dating events, pet spa days, coffee events, summer smoothie day, and special Mother and Father’s day events.
We had several companies tell us that they do not participate in resident retention efforts. We were also told by some of those same companies that they keep their rents low in order to keep residents. 72% of companies over all said they will ask for rate increases this year, and of those, several said they are offering incentives such as Visa gift cards, longer lease terms, or they negotiate the increase if residents complain about the increases.
Resident Retention Tips & Take-Aways
I believe with the new age of social media and reviews we need to make sure we understand what our residents truly need, expect and want from their community and the onsite staff.
Make sure your residents know you appreciate them and value them as residents every single day. Gone are the days of moving someone in and not connecting with them until it is time for renewal. Here are a few tips or thoughts to leave you with:
- Follow up with a phone call a few days after they move in to see how everything is going.
- If they have maintenance items (and they will), make sure they are handled promptly, and the maintenance visit is also followed by a card left in the apartment. Call the next day to make sure everything is satisfactory.
- You should know their birthdays, their children’s names and birthdays, their pets names, favorite treats and so on. With today’s technology, it is so easy to collect this type of information into a database. You could use it to send out email cards for all holidays and their special days.
- How many of your onsite teams are engaging with the residents either through social media channels or some type of email/survey?
- How often are you re-evaluating your resident retention efforts?
- How much is turnover costing your company?
- If you engage your residents with a specific targeted program from the time they move in until it is time to ask for the renewal, will you decrease the number of people moving from your community? Most people, including me will say YES!
With all of the new construction hitting our market this year and next year, can you really wait to start a refreshed resident retention program? Let me know if you need more information on this subject or have ideas you would like to share. I love hearing from you!