Resident experience … What a buzz word, right? It’s on everyone’s mind and everyone is talking about it. At least, the properties who care about resident retention are talking about it.
Many of our clients have shared with us that their residents no longer care as much about a large swimming pool; today’s residents care about the experience and services your property provides.
Fostering the resident experience throughout the leasing and move-in process is where the journey starts, but not where it ends. It’s important to give your residents that feeling of “home” by creating intentional opportunities for them to make meaningful connections with their neighbors and by offering them concierge services.
Let’s dig into some of my favorite ways to manage the key touchpoints that affect the resident experience.
1. Make the move-in process seamless.
You only get one chance to make a first impression, so you better make a good one — especially in today’s competitive market. Move-in day is what really sets the stage for how your new resident will perceive your property, and whether they will be willing to renew when their lease ends.
If your new residents have a horrible move-in experience, full of hassles, their confidence will tank and it will leave a sour taste in their mouth when thinking of your property.
How do you make this process seamless for them? Try to think through everything they might need, and try to eliminate those points of friction throughout the process.
- Will your residents need to reserve the freight elevator?
- Do you require specific paperwork or insurance information from their movers?
- Where can they park their vehicles to unload their large furniture and boxes?
- Do you have any new COVID-19 restrictions for movers?
- Do you have luggage carts you can provide to them?
- Will your leasing team be on-hand to offer the new renter a walk-through of their new apartment to make sure they have everything they need?
- Did you prepare a fun move-in give basket for them filled with some goodies and new home essentials?
These are just some of the many questions you need to ask yourself to help your residents have the easiest and best move-in process they’ve ever experienced.
2. Upkeep your property regularly.
Another first impression that prospects and residents might have of your property, is your curb appeal and during their touring process. Residents want to take pride in their apartment community and feel confident inviting friends and family to visit. Just as a homeowner would want their lawn nicely manicured before inviting guests over, your residents want their community to look and feel inviting as well.
This also applies to the community’s technology too, and the things that make a renter’s daily life easier. Smart home technology and fast Wi-Fi are quickly becoming a necessary in-unit amenity. You should also consider automating other areas of the building such as community access, package deliveries, and installing smart elevators.
3. Host regular community events.
According to Apartment Life, residents are 38% more likely to renew their lease if they have friends in the community. And how do you foster those connections between neighbors? By hosting community events!
There are nearly endless ideas for resident events, but here are just a few that some of our clients have hosted recently:
- Sip, Shop, & Stroll — Partner with the local restaurants and retail shops.
- Grocery Bingo — This event can easily be virtual or in-person depending on your residents’ comfortability and your property’s COVID restrictions.
- Pizza & Pints
- Poolside Movie Night — Let residents picnic by the pool or offer some fun floaties in the pool with classic movies showing on a projector screen.
- Bagel Bar in the leasing office.
- Summer BBQ party
- Popsicles By the Pool
4. Provide helpful resources and concierge services.
Your apartment website should already include a resource page for your residents, and if it doesn’t, you are behind the times. Residents want access to things like automated online rent payments, renter’s insurance providers, an easy form to request maintenance requests, and more. Make sure you keep your website up to date and offer as many resident resources as you can to make their stay at your property effortless.
You can also provide some seasonal services including gift wrapping at Christmas time, having local food trucks stop by your property during the week (especially given that many residents now work remotely), and partnering to offer CPA services during tax season.
You can also offer year-round services by partnering with local businesses to offer laundry and dry-cleaning services, pet sitters, food delivery, discounts at nearby retail stores, and transportation services. One of our clients even has a branded golf cart on-site to transport residents to/from local restaurants or stores, and across the property when hosting tours.
The options are endless and the goal is to not try to offer everything under the sun, but to provide a wide enough range of services that will make your residents’ daily lives easier.
5. Improve your maintenance services and response time.
One of the biggest reasons why residents do not renew their lease (from what I have seen) is maintenance issues. It doesn’t matter if your property is a Class A or Class C, maintenance is a big deal, and your response time matters.
One of our clients shared a story with me about a resident whose previous apartment had a flooded toilet when they moved in, and it took the maintenance team several days before they were able to get the parts to fix it.
While it’s bad that the unit even had a flooded toilet on move-in day to begin with, the fact that there was little to no communication and a terrible response time for resolving the issue is even worse. How your property responds and resolves maintenance issues is critical to the resident experience.
Make sure your maintenance team proactively contacts residents about their maintenance needs by checking in with them regularly. You might even be able to resolve minor issues before they become larger (and more expensive to fix).
Be Proactive With Your Property
There are dozens of other ways you can improve the resident experience; this is just the tip of the iceberg. Ultimately, you just want to anticipate your residents’ needs and exceed their expectations. Think ahead and be proactive to maintain your property and keep your renters happy.