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How to Use Digital Communication to Keep On-Site Teams Successful, Residents Informed, and Traffic Volume High During Times of Crises

All industries are increasingly embracing and investing in crisis management planning in case of emergencies (i.e. disasters, crimes, health issues, etc.). It can be hard for on-site teams to know what to do for residents during a crisis. It’s challenging not to get caught up in the what-ifs and what to-dos.

While I’m sure you have a crisis communication plan in place, think about the overall tone, flow, and timing for how each message will be perceived and delivered. How can you emphasize and ensure your message is communicated properly? One way is to double down on digital communication efforts - it's the safest, most convenient way to keep on-site staff, current and prospective residents informed and safe.

It’s nothing you haven’t heard before that in times of crisis, leasing teams should over-communicate updates to residents. And, video, email, resident portals and a wide range of other CRM/marketing technologies can help communicate information quickly and safely to employees, prospective and current residents so they can fully grasp your message when you need it to be heard.

How to Incorporate Video and Email Into Your Crisis Management Plan

When preparing how to provide updates and instructions to employees and residents, below are suggestions to make your communication efforts more efficient through video.

  • Communication efforts should be transparent: While preparing communication efforts, be honest with employees and your residents about the situation. This ensures everyone has the most up-to-date information regarding the crisis and what protocols should be followed. Leasing teams can create a video saying that amenities are closed until further notice and when/if you expect them to open back up. Or, a video saying how hours of operations are being modified and what those new hours are. Add that video to an email and send it on its way. DIY video doesn't need to be polished. In fact, it's still high quality and authentic when it's not tweaked with filters - residents want timely and transparent communication.
  • Information should be easily accessible: 85% of consumers use smartphones to access email. Emails are a great way to send updated information quickly and in real-time, and an email including a video can increase your email click-through rate by up to 300%. Residents need the human connection and seeing a familiar face on video may ease their concerns.
  • Communication should be intentional: Decide what types of emails need to be created and distributed to current or prospective residents, and be sure to incorporate video. A video explaining how amenities are currently closed is a perfect example of communicating via email to current residents but not necessarily prospective residents. Instead, send a video to prospects letting them know you still want them to be a part of your community and that you'll be in touch soon after the incident/crisis is contained.

Safety First

While residents need to feel comfortable in their homes, your leasing staff needs to feel supported as well. Use video and email to keep leasing teams safe and successful. Here are other suggestions:

  • Continue or strengthen your leasing strategy. A key consideration corporate teams will need to decipher is if and when tours should resume when unforeseen crises happen. Virtual tours are the safest, most secure form of touring! Self-guided tours is another great and safe option too! Even after the crisis, these tours pair well with in-person tours due to the convenience factor for prospects. 
  • Allow flexible working conditions. Having a pre-recorded video library allows teams to stay safe, successful and provides the ability to work remotely. Check out this Forbes article for how multifamily can support permanent remote work.
  • Host virtual open houses. Virtual open houses are a convenient and safe way to reach prospective residents without ever having to leave your desk! 

After the Crisis

After the crisis, corporate and on-site teams should assess the effectiveness of digital communication efforts. Then, teams should determine what processes should remain in the crisis plan or what should be improved. Remember to follow up on any information you promised to provide prospects and residents with or when/if rules and regulations have been lifted. In addition, teams can release updates and notify how the recovery is progressing. 

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