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Five is the New Fifty

Five is the New Fifty

Anyone who has a 5 year old cell phone knows a couple of things are true.  First, the phone is considered an “antique” and second, it’s not very “smart” compared to today’s standards.  A 5 year old cell phone simply can’t compete.  Yes, it may be able to take photos, but can those photos be edited, looped into a streaming video and posted for the world to see?  Can that older model view attached email documents, deposit checks into your banking account and most importantly, get you to level 400 of your favorite game?

Over the next 24 months, new apartment communities coming to market will cause a major shift in our industry.  These communities will begin opening their doors and competing for residents, adding an interesting dynamic to current leasing and retention efforts.  Imagine a 5-year old community becoming a proverbial relic, a virtual has-been in the eyes of fickle apartment renters.  And if a 5 year old community is considered a dinosaur, what is to be made of a community which is 10, 20, or 30 years old? 

Now is the time to shore up your retention program, strengthen the bonds of resident loyalty and close your back door.  Sure, there will be some residents who are swayed by the latest and greatest, those who have always wanted to be the first resident to live in an apartment home.  There will also be those who wouldn’t think of going anywhere and are truly happy with the things your community does have to offer.   

As established communities begin to lose their sparkle and luster, what then is there to fall back on?  I suggest a re-examination of your resident’s overall living experience.  Here are a couple of points to consider: 

Residents have full access to everything they pay for.  A resident who has to hand wash dishes night after night, while waiting for their dishwasher to be repaired is seriously questioning the value of living at that community.  “I can see the dishwasher, I’m paying for the dishwasher, but I can’t actually use the dishwasher.”   

Out of order signs in the laundry room or fitness center and overflowing trash dumpsters impact a resident’s perception of value as well.  If residents are questioning “What exactly am I paying for?” or “Where is my money going?” a brand new community becomes much more attractive.  Prospects are affected by out of order signs as well.  As they tour the community each inoperable feature and eysore chips away at their overall perception of value. 

There is consistent and effective communication between management and residents.  Residents will cut you a break on things like maintenance delays if they are kept in the loop every step of the way.  In the event of a delay, make several check-ins with the residents to reassure them you haven’t forgotten about them and that the team is on the job.  Hand washing dishes as previously mentioned, is not as frustrating when there is an end in sight. 

As we all can relate, there are businesses and services that we would willingly pay more for because of the perceived value.  Whether it’s a grocery store that has stellar service, or a hair dresser that you would follow to the ends of the earth, we do so because of what we get for our money.  Our residents are the same way.  Securing resident loyalty begins by understanding what is most important to residents and giving that and more every single day.

 

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This is so true! I visited some new home models over the weekend and seeing all of the new things that are now "standard" in homes makes existing inventory seem even more dated! Older communities do need to make sure that even if they can't compete with product, they can compete with their people.

  Rommel Anacan
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Thanks Rommel for the comment. I agree with you, there's not a whole lot communities can do to physically compete with a brand new community, but they can definitely stand toe-to-toe with them by having a strong emotional connection with their residents.

  Lia Nichole Smith

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