Tuesday, January 25, 2011

RESIDENT RETENTION

Start On Day One – Not Month Nine
Over the years I’ve seen managers spend a lot of money on gifts, tokens of appreciation, parties and incentives to entice their apartment residents to sign a new lease and remain at their apartment community for another year. Approximately 90 days before lease expiration a resident will be contacted for the first time in months and asked how things are in their apartment home. Then 60 days before lease-end they will be sent a letter asking them to sign a new lease. IN ADDITION, they are told, they will qualify for a menu selection of incentive items if they do. I am a strong believer in customer service and showing respect for your residents and this type of contact is great but your apartment residents should receive this treatment all year long.
The best way to ensure that your residents remain in your apartment community is to do everything you can to make each resident feel like they belong. Ask yourself how it makes you feel when you encounter someone who is genuinely happy to see you?  They call you by name, smile a greeting and engage in conversation. Doesn’t it make you feel good when someone you don’t know well is kind and treats you like a neighbor?  What if that person is your Apartment Manager or leasing staff?
True resident retention starts the first time you have contact with a prospective resident. The first meeting with a prospective resident is when you are showing them an apartment home that fits their needs and wants. Typically this is when a resident is at his or her happiest so why not try to build on that and set a goal to continue keeping that resident happy for the remainder of their residency at your apartment community. 
Here is a list of resident retention suggestions:
1.      Each visit to the Apartment Office is rewarded with a warm smile and personal greeting.  Call them by name.
2.      Ask “how are things in your apartment” when rent is dropped off. This may remind them of something they’ve been meaning to call in.
3.      Try to follow up after service requests when possible to confirm satisfaction.
4.      Schedule regular resident activities or events.
5.      Maintain the cleanliness and quality of grounds and all common areas.
6.      If a situation arises that upsets a resident, remember to listen and “under promise & over deliver.”
7.      Train your team to smile and greet residents when passing.
8.      At move-in confirm that everything in their new home is clean and working perfectly. If you were unable to complete any item prior to move-in, warn the resident. Your new resident has moved all day and they are tired. Now is not a good time for surprises and you don’t want them to feel they made a wrong choice moving into your community. People are generally reasonable if you are honest with them but a bad impression with an unexpected problem at move-in may be impossible to reverse.
9.      BE NICE and TREAT YOUR RESIDENTS WITH RESPECT…ALWAYS!

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