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Can we take a step back from social media for a second and focus on the ‘social’ aspect of the concept? As we all know, providing excellent service to our residents involves communicating with them and being ‘social’ to some extent. And yet, if we truly examine our ability to reach out to our residents with any hope of success, we have to be able to make contact with them, call them, email them.
Problem #1: On average, property management systems only have 50% of current resident phone numbers.
Problem #2: On average, these same PM systems only have 15% of email addresses for residents.
Before you propose the latest “Resident Contact Update Form,” let’s let go of what’s been done in the past (typically unsuccessfully), and learn from the medical, insurance, and even hairdressing industries. Whenever we contact our doctor, our bank, and any number of other service providers, the first question they ask is, “Is this still the best number to reach you? What is the best email address for you?” The thing is, we provide the information. Your residents will too. Start your October off with a commitment to having the ability to contact your residents. Every time they stop in or give you a call, pull up their record in the PM system and ask, “Is this the best number for you? Is this the best email?” Set a goal for your team to achieve 80% coverage by the end of the year.
You can do it! You can improve communication with your residents. No need for forms. You can connect with your residents with no trees being harmed in the process!
I just got back from Boise, Idaho recently to visit family and enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Northwest U.S. I found out a cousin who has been living with her parents for various family reasons is now looking for a rental situation. I asked her what kinds of deals she was finding in the apartment market in Boise, and while she told me what I expected to hear – that the move-in deals were pretty amazing – she had chosen to submit a rental application for a single family home with a yard. This is no new story to any of us, and she shared all the reasons we’ve heard before:
- Fenced in yard
- Same price as an apartment
- No shared walls
- Lots of space
- And the neighborhood even had a pool and clubhouse!
Yes, the shadow market is alive and well, there’s no point in denying that. We’re competing with it for prospects as well as our existing residents! While there are many experts on the leasing side who can offer strategies and approaches to get new prospects in the door, there is a need to continue to use some of these same strategies to keep the residents we have. Remember the TV show, The Jeffersons? The theme song is all about moving to a “deluxe apartment.” How do we re-kindle that pride of residency in our own community? When it comes to existing residents telling us at renewal time that they are considering renting a single family home or condo, it may be an opportune moment to remind them of some of the extra costs that could be associated with renting a single family home:
- How quickly are maintenance issues resolved?
- What will it cost to maintain lawns/landscaping in summer or sidewalks and driveways in winter?
- Who pays for water/sewer/trash?
- What will utility bills look like in order to heat/cool the home?
- Who provides window coverings?
- Does the neighborhood have a pool, clubhouse, fitness room? If not, what will it cost for memberships at local facilities?
While the initial monthly rental rate may be equal to or better than the resident’s current rate, what other costs do they need to consider? And, ultimately, the renewal decision is most influenced by the service delivery the residents are experiencing. Are you offering your residents service that can not be matched? Meaning, do you return their calls and emails same day? Are their service requests completed in 24 hours, and are they completed right the first time? And as the theme song says, do your residents feel they have “finally got a piece of the pie?”
Yesterday I did a Google search for the words, “Return my call.” Google came back with 55,500,000 results. There was everything you could imagine from articles to blogs to books to fax cover sheet templates all with the enticement of how to get your prospective customer / love interest / boss / friend / service provider / mechanic / etc. to return their call. I did another search today for the same phrase, and got 56,000,000 results!
One of the things we tend to harp on is the notion of returning resident calls and emails as priority number 1. After all, that one action has the greatest impact on a resident’s decision to renew. But apparently, we aren’t the only ones who find this topic of the utmost importance! Overnight, there are 500,000 more articles/blogs/books/and maybe even more fax cover sheet templates offering advice on how to get that returned call.
A message from your residents: Call me!