Recently, I attended a training for property management professionals and had the opportunity to mingle with those in the multifamily housing industry from my area. Many of these individuals are property owners and some work for fee management companies. There were many things learned and observed, but there seemed to be a consensus among this group that stood out: Property Managers hate their residents! The course was taught by an owner of a PMC named Greg (name changed to protect the innocent) and the idea of loathing residents was coming from him, but being perpetuated by the class. Let’s look into this idea and find out why this is a problem.
Greg started out the class with the question, “By the raise of hands, who loves the residents in their community?” And the class busted out in laughter in response to the question. Someone blurted out, “Isn't that an oxymoron to have residents that you love?” Having been in property management for many years on the property side and on the vendor side, I wasn't surprised by the response from some in the group. The topic of discussion was regarding property inspections and service requests and how renters demonstrate their frustration to the site staff or maintenance staff. One property manager exclaimed, “Quite frankly, I hate my residents! They are inconsiderate, they knock on my door after hours, they are rude, and expect that I know every problem in their apartment. They don’t know what’s it’s like to work on a property.”
I didn't disagree with many of the negative statements given by these individuals based on my own personal interactions with difficult customers, but there is a major danger in this feeling towards tenants. What is the impact of this negative view of tenants within a community? How can this attitude affect your company’s KPIs?
1. Lower Resident Retention
A community is like a fish bowl. Residents can see and feel the culture that has been created in a community, and many times this culture is created by the site staff. If the negative vibes are felt by the residents or feel that the staff is not invested in their well-being, they are not likely to renew their lease. The resident experience (RX)1 should be one of the staff’s main focus after move in.
2. Bad Reputation & Reviews
When a resident moves out and they are unhappy with the service or experience within the apartment community they moved from, they are likely to leave bad reviews. Negative reviews on social media and various websites can hurt future occupancy, increase vacancy loss, and reduce NOI. Reputation Management2 is a key factor for future success and former residents can influence your bottom line.
3. Low Employee Engagement
My mentor, who also happens to be my Mom, taught me that you have to love your product in order for you to believe in your work. I love working in property management! I know that many in our industry love what they do, but there is a consensus that it is fine to have a negative view of their residents and this is a problem! When property staff dislike their customers, it is likely to affect the positive work environments and dissuade employees from finding meaning in their work3. I have seen it many times, as I am sure you have, that a difficult resident base can burn out an employee.
What needs to change? I argue that when property staff sees the resident's happiness as key to their property’s and portfolio’s performance, more effort should be made to appreciate and respect them. Property staff will understand their needs more and start to build better relationships, especially with the demanding residents in a community. Focusing on the individual customer will always help them know that the property staff cares about them, even in difficult situations. This will lead to higher resident retention, an improved community reputation, and higher employee engagement.
What are some ways you have been able to help site staff overcome this negative view of their residents? Please leave a comment below.
By: Dallas Jensen