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Brent Williams' Apartment Blog

Thoughts, comments, and ideas about the overall multifamily industry, as well as a property-specific focus on resident retention and apartment marketing.

Renewal Letter: Another Email Follow Up

For those new to this blog series, I have been updating the Insider community about the process of renewing my apartment, all from the resident's point of view.  And so far, the experience has left me less than impressed.  That said, I think things are on the way up, and although I still think the ideal renewal process is a long way off, I'd like to share the latest email follow-up which definitely makes strides in the right direction!  For your reading pleasure:  (not originally italicized)

Hello Brent,

Here are the top 10 reasons why you should STAY:

  2. You won't have to clean out every closet and drawer in your place.
  3. You don't have to buy boxes and pack up everything you own.
  4. We are so close to all the best "fun" in town!
  6. Your car already knows how to get here without you thinking!
  7. You know where everything is in your neighborhood grocery store!
  8. You have a great dry cleaner and a convenient membership at the local gym or video store!
  9. This is your home and you have great friends that live here too!

Make the right decision and STAY! Call us today to sign a new lease and reserve your apartment for another year!

Your Team at XYZ Community

 Now frankly, I still believe that we should be personally calling every single renewal.  Their initial renewal letter even said they were going to do that, but nobody ever did.  But that's not to say that there isn't a great opportunity for the use of automated emails in the process.  And this one isn't that bad at all.  Actually, let me back up for a moment.  So far, I have been far from impressed with their correspondence, so my reaction may actually just be a relief that it isn't terrible, rather than thinking it is actually good.  But I'd like to take the positive approach today and say that it did a pretty good job of making an impact on me. 

First of all, I like how it continued the "STAY" theme from my prior renewal email follow-up.  They need to make sure that the "appreciate you" line isn't just words on a paper, and that they actually mean it, but I think it's a nice gesture.  Plus, the reasons are generally pretty good.  Whereas in a previous email I found myself arguing against the email, this one I find generally nodding along.  There are two potential exceptions:

  1. We are so close to all the best "fun" in town!   I live in the suburbs.  I happen to like it as it fits my family plans, but it's not as if we are living in the middle of the city surrounded by exciting things to do.  But really, this is just a subjective measure so it's not that big of a deal.
  2. This is your home and you have great friends that live here too!   Yes, it is my home, but I do not have any great friends here.  And knowing the stats like I do, I doubt very few of my neighbors have friends living here, either.  So this statement is flat out wrong and could have a negative reaction.

But other than those two elements, I thought the email was a good follow-up email.  It isn't designed to do that much "heavy lifting" in the renewal process, so I'm not saying it will renew the resident by itself, but I think it does a decent job.  That said, what could they have done to improve it? 

Imagine if upon my initial apartment search the leasing consultant had logged all my specific "buying factors," such as wanting a good school district, close to work, nice landscaping, etc.  Or what if they had sent out a survey asking which amenities I used or appreciated at the community?  Wouldn't that information be invaluable now upon trying to renew me?  Instead of talking about the local gym or video store, which may or may not apply to me, they could have included factors that I specifically cared about!  Done correctly, this could all be automated resulting in little to no extra work. 

What do you think?  Is this an upgrade over my prior apartment renewal letter and Renewal email follow-up?

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  • Brent: I continue to laugh at their attempts! LOL. I do agree that its better than their other letters, but WOW. You are SOOOO right that a personal phone call, or stopping you in the hallway would be such a HUGE improvement and bring that personal touch to the renewal process. We all want to be personally attended to!


  • Thanks for the comment, Daisy! A few weeks back I got a phone call wishing me a happy birthday from my State Farm agent, and my initial thought was, "If they can call me on my birthday, my community could (and should) call me if they want me to renew". This is especially true considering they are trying to "sell" me on paying $40 more per month (and after a $100 increase last year). I don't want to hear any excuses about how busy the office is that they don't have the time. I am the customer, and I deserve it!

  • Brent: I SOOO agree with you! I'm one of those people that I don't mind paying - just make me feel good about spending my money with YOU.

    Case in point: I LOVE Nordstrom's shoe department. HOWEVER, NOT all salespeople are created equal, as we well know. If my favorite sales guy is there, I spend 3x's as much. If my favorite sales person isn't there, I might end up with 1 pair of shoes, or I might walk out frustrated. What's the difference? I mean, it IS Nordstrom's shoe department after all - any sales person could do, right? WRONG. It's the service of course. My favorite sales guy makes me feel like the shoes were MADE for ME and there's nobody else in the world that could possibly look as good in THOSE shoes.

    Now if an apartment community could do THAT, more residents would renew, more prospects would lease, etc!

    Those great sales people - the ones that are truly servicing their customers are SOOO hard to find.

    A topic for my next article! Thanks for sparking my imagination and creative juices!


  • Brent - Thanks for the "customer point of view" - looking at ourselves from the customer's POV instead of in the mirror is something all of us should be doing - regularly.

    That said, it occurs to me that no amount of finely crafted advertising - the letters, emails, cards, etc. will replace our customer experiencing the fact that we care. While I regularly hear that our customers don't want personal contact - face to face or phone - they want electronic touches, I'm old fashioned and believe nothing can replace the personal touch.

    So the question I have is, what has your apartment community DONE for you (not merely reminded you) lately . . . like TODAY.

    Do they know for sure that "the best fun in town" mentioned in item 4 is your kind of fun? Do they know where your shop for groceries(#7)? Do they know whether you use the dry cleaner and/or the gym? Do they know if you have any friends who live there (9)? And, most importantly, what do they do to SHOW you that "We appreciate you and want you to stay" (#1, 5 &10)?

    I just spent $40 at the grocery store that we have shopped at for the past 11 years, a store that always talks about valuing their customers and doing anything to please us (in flyers, ads, signs in the store, buttons on the employees, etc). The staff there changes constantly, and the food selection isn't that great, but living on an island means we make choices based on convenience as much as price or service.

    It was almost closing and the single cashier lane open had 3 or 4 people who looked like they were beating the rush to stock up for hurricane season, so I took my FIVE items to the service desk. The woman literally sneered, appeared to be annoyed, didn't look at me when handing me my receipt and didn't say "thank you". Will I shop there again? Yes. Am I actively looking for somewhere else to shop? You bet.

    So, how about you - is the hassle of moving what's keeping your there (as they apparently think since not moving was #2 & 3 on their list)? Or will you stay becuase they have SHOWN you they care?

    Thanks for the topic!

  • Thanks for the great comment, Doug! And I agree completely - we rely almost exclusively on personal touch to finish the initial lease, and then think we can get away with a piece of paper and a couple of emails on the renewal. It doesn't make any sense to me.

    If you are interested, I would love to get your thoughts on an article I wrote a couple of years ago for MultifamilyPro called Success Factors (Hygiene Factors). It takes a well-respected theory about job satisfaction and applies it to resident retention, and I think you will enjoy it.

    Here it is if you are interested: [url]http://www.multifamilyinsiders.com/home/multifamily-blogs/Hygiene-Theory-Not-as-Scary-as-it-Sounds-.html[/url] (The link to the actual article is at the bottom of the blog)

  • I just LOVED this blog post! It gave me a GREAT idea for my renewal letters. I think posting 10 great reasons like your example on a card with a little bite-size candy bar attached with your letter would be a fresh new way to give out renewals and keep your residents on board.

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