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Posted by on in Resident Retention
In recognition of Valentine’s Day tomorrow, we thought it would be fitting to discuss a clever new way for landlords and property managers to show their tenants some love.   A relatively new trend in the rental industry is the introduction of tenant reward and perk programs, whereby accommodation providers offer discounts, incentives, and prizes to their tenants.   Tenant satisfaction and retention are two central aspects of maintaining a successful rental housing business, which makes these reward programs an excellent way to help keep tenants happy. Tenant retention is a particularly tricky issue in student housing, as the average turnover rate is about 50% per year, according to Centurion Apartments.So what are some examples of these tenant reward programs?   While there are certainly no shortages of tenant reward programs that have popped up over the last few years, the following are a few of our favorites.  Killam Perks – Killam Properties operates several student housing locations across Canada which offer a program known as Killam Perks. Tenants receive a perks card which grants them access to discounts and special deals from a huge list of retailers.Our favorite offer at the moment? Save the tax at a fast-growing fresh food chain, Freshii.  MoolaPerks – One way or another, tenants have to pay rent; so why not get rewarded for doing it? RentMoola’s MoolaPerks program does just that. This third-party rent payment company allows their users the ability to be rewarded with a slew of discounts, freebies and perks from a plethora of retailers.Our favorite offer at the moment? A...

Posted by on in Resident Retention
Each additional month a Resident stays adds to their LTV. The lifetime value of a Resident is the profit that you’ll make for the period of time they’re renting from you. Keeping Residents longer boosts your profits. If your rental price is $500 a month and the average tenant ‘lifetime’ is 20 months, that’s a lifetime value of $10,000. What if they stayed an additional 6 months? That’s an additional $3,000 generated from each tenant. Keeping residents in your unit means you won’t have to market vacancies, and on top of that, you don’t open yourself to the risk of renting to a non-paying or problem tenant.   "To reach your tenant retention goal, your residents need to be satisfied with their current living situation." Knowing the LTV helps you decide where you can best spend your money to influence tenant retention. We mentioned previously that the average retained resident is worth almost $900 each year to the property, in addition to rent payments. Assume 1 year’s rent is $6,000. If you know that a tenant’s LTV is $6,900 (1 year in rent plus the $900), you’ll be much less hesitant to make a repair in the unit costing $500 because you’re still making $6,400. Measuring tenant lifetime value and using it as a metric will highlight the importance of customer service.  Long-term tenant satisfaction is more valuable than maximizing short-term value, especially in the case of keeping great residents. Before imposing a steep rent increase, knowing the risk you open...

Posted by on in Resident Retention
If there’s one thing Americans are good at it’s the pursuit of happiness.  The only problem is that happiness is an elusive goal. Until recently, at least. In the last year, Harvard researcher, Robert J. Waldinger  has published and publicized the findings of the longest study of human development ever completed. What the researchers from Harvard medical school discovered was that the secret to happiness is found in developing and maintaining close, intimate relationships.  Researchers studied a group of men for 75 years and discovered that no matter what their economic, educational or social status, the common denominator for greater health and happiness was the quality of relationship.   Why would I share that in a blog for the multifamily housing industry?  For lots of reasons.  First, because regardless of your stance on new year resolutions, it can’t hurt to spend some time considering if our pursuit of the good life is actually aimed in the right direction. But also because we have the unique privilege (if we choose to accept it) of creating space for community.  Apartment communities are ripe for helping people connect—thereby increasing their health and happiness.   Fostering a sense of community is a common tagline for us, but I think we do a poor job of informing our residents and others of the benefits of connecting. What if we could really claim that living in our community could add years to life and increase happiness!  It’s a no-brainer.  Here’s to a new year of connectedness.    ...

Posted by on in Resident Retention
b2ap3_thumbnail_pexels-photo-38941.jpg'Tis the season of gratitude and giving!  What better time to thank your residents by smoothing out some of the stress of the season. When planning your resident activities and outreach this season, try to anticipate their needs during this hurried time of year.  Below is a quick list of ideas: For the Kids: Have an afternoon of crafting so kids can create holiday gifts and cards for their family. Host a holiday sing-along for kids.  Non-denominational songs include: Frosty the Snowman, Jingle Bells, Let It Snow/Winter Wonderland, It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, Sleigh Ride, and Deck the Halls. Stress Relief: Schedule yoga or meditation classes for your residents. Hire a masseuse to do chair massages in the clubhouse. Food: Organize a "Leftover Potluck Dinner" after the holiday.  It'll allow people to empty their fridge while enjoying a better assortment of food. Assemble your favorite holiday recipes in a cookbook to be distributed. Organize a cookie swap party. Gift Wrapping: Set up a gift wrapping station for residents. Convert your conference room or part of your clubhouse to "Gift Wrap Central" complete with signs that say "No Peaking."  This will allow parents some gift wrapping privacy. Many charities offer gift wrapping as a fundraiser each year.  Offer them space at your property and serve hot apple cider while residents wait for their packages to be lovingly wrapped. Parking Anticipate that residents may need more visitor parking during the holidays.  Mark additional spaces for holiday visitor parking through the...

Posted by on in Resident Retention
This month marks my second year as a home owner and I truly miss apartment living.  Buyer’s remorse? More like the apartment blues.  Don't get me wrong, I love my home but I jumped into things with all of the wide eyed exuberance of a first time buyer.  I had big plans for my new home; remodeling, painting, hardwood floors – the works.  Now that all of the work has been done and the newness is wearing off, the reality of what it means to own a home is overwhelming at times. Articles abound describing the pros and cons of renting versus buying and while arguments can be made on both sides, highlighting the cons of home ownership could sway residents into staying a bit longer at your community.  Beyond the move-out calculator, here are 5 things to impart upon residents who are considering the switch. 1. Maintenance – kind of a no brainer.  Maintenance is usually our go to defense when residents talk about home buying.  But let’s go a bit further.  Do residents have a full understanding of what entails a professional service call?  Plumbers, electricians and the like incorporate additional fees such as trip charges and diagnostic testing on top of labor and material costs.  Some companies often do not have the proper licenses and insurance coverage – things apartment residents may not know to ask. ACTION ITEM: Create an itemized list of costs associated with common household repairs.  2. Neighbors – where to begin.  If there is one...

Posted by on in Resident Retention
I had to go to the Apple Store to get my phone fixed, and I walked up to the person to sign me into the Genius Bar, or whatever they call it.  As he was filling out my information, I noticed him go through some interesting fields on his tablet with pictures of clothing.  Turns out, he was logging what I was dressing so they could quickly pick me out in the store to find me! Sure enough, a few minutes later a woman approaches me:  "Mr. Williams?"  What an interesting experience!  They used technology to make sure they could personalize my experience, which actually made more of an impact than I would have expected.  When I think about the experience of them walking directly up to me, addressing me by my name, compared to someone just loudly shouting, "Mr. Williams?" to a large group of people, I can see how much more professional the former seemed.  I felt like I had more of a relationship and rapport with each person, rather than feeling just one of several dozen in the store.  I remember back when I worked on-site, and maybe it was exacerbated by the fact that I often worked only on the weekends, but there were many residents whom I didn't know their names.  I would do my best, but sometimes I would only seem them once a quarter, or maybe even once a year.  And it was even worse when  I wasn't their primary leasing consultant.  Obviously some...

Posted by on in Resident Retention
Today I'm going to write a blog without offering a solution, which I'm sure will annoy some of you, but hopefully we can get some brave people to chime in within the comments!  And what I want to discuss is the human element to our amenities.  Here's what I mean by that:  Take an outdoor space, as beautiful as can be, and in one scenario, fill that space up with a group of fun, lively people having a good time.  In another scenario, remove all the people so it completely empty.  Do both of those scenarios using the same amenity have the same impact? For those of you who follow my updates, you know that I like to take my laptop and work at Starbucks, as my work can be anywhere that has Wi-Fi.  Near where I live was a wonderful coffee shop with fast Wi-Fi, good coffee, and a great ambiance.  It had a great mix of comfortable chairs and desks for those who were more work-oriented.  BUT, it lacked one thing:  people!  So while I absolutely loved almost everything about it, it just seemed dead and stale.  When you have a social-based location without people, it lacks a sort of social validation, and it is hard to get momentum, because nobody wants to be the first to stick around.  I remember throwing parties in my younger years, and you always needed a certain number of people already present to validate that the party was worth as proof for the...

Posted by on in Resident Retention
heart-key.jpgI was reading "Shopping, Suduction & Mr. Selfridge", which is historical biography about the owner of Selfridge's in London.  He was an absolutely brilliant marketer, both creating spectacles to draw in the public, and including the press as a key element to driving awareness and interest to his store.  One of the thing that I found really interesting was this part: When the store opened, all visitors (as he preferred to call customers) received miniature silver keys as a gift “so they would feel at home.” I found that token incredibly fascinating, as even though it was a fake key, it still gave the impression that the store was their's as well, to create that emotional connection.  One thing I think apartment communities can struggle with is building the idea that the resident feels a sense of ownership over their own apartment, and not just borrowing someone else's property for a while.    It seems to me that there are probably ways we can improve that emotional bond for a resident.  What do you all do to help cement that idea that the resident takes emotional ownership of the apartment, and not just legal possession?...

Posted by on in Resident Retention
  Dear Gabby,   I’ve never hosted activities and community events at my multifamily apartment building. I really want my residents to feel like this is more than just a home, but also a community where they can get to know their neighbors.   What kind of fun things can I do to get them excited about living here this fall? My community includes a wide range of demographics. How can I plan an event that everyone will like?   Sincerely,   #NoviceEventPlanner     Dear #NoviceEventPlanner,   Feel that chill in the air? Fall is definitely here. And while it’s always a little sad to say goodbye to summer and pack up your warm weather clothing, fall is my favorite time of the year. Since your residents are no longer away on vacations or busy taking their kids to summer camp, it’s a great time to plan a resident event in your apartment community.   Keep in mind, the event theme should be as welcoming as possible. Here are a few suggestions for the fall season.   Football Game Viewing Party For many of your residents, watching football is one of the best parts about fall. Nothing brings people together quite like rooting for their favorite team, so invite your residents to come cheer on the local college or professional team. If you don’t have a large TV in your lobby/community room, consider renting one for a few hours.   Make things interesting by encouraging your residents to wear their...

Posted by on in Resident Retention
By the turn of the century Blockbuster was collecting $800 million dollars per year in late fees alone. The company was opening a store once every 24 hours and profits were strong despite a rocky IPO. The country’s love affair for movie night was bigger than it has ever been and Blockbuster was the center of it all. Budgeting Bad Will When you look at three industries with notoriously low customer satisfaction – cable, telecommunications and airlines – you’ll discover that fees make up a significant amount of their revenue. This isn’t a coincidence, in my opinion. Fees can eat at any good will a company may create. Any rental manager can attest – residents really, really dislike late fees. Not because they don’t want to accept the consequences for paying their rent late (okay, sometimes it means that) but because it doesn’t feel great when someone profits from their misfortunes or mistakes. That feeling creates bad will towards a company or industry. And bad will, when it’s budgeted for and even relied upon, creates a pretty big chink in our company’s armor. All it takes is a disruptive company to come in and expose the vulnerability. Consider what happened to Blockbuster. The company became so addicted to late fees (accounting for 16% of total revenue by 2000) the thought of anything challenging that revenue stream was likely a horrifying one. Instead of buying Netflix for a modest $50 million back in 2000, Blockbuster decided to ink a 20-year deal with...