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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.

Making the Painful Times Less Painful

Making the Painful Times Less Painful

I recently got back from Disney World, and one of the things that people often talk about is how they create a magical experience.  Every detail is analyzed to ensure that visitors are pulled all the way into a positive, enthusiastic escape from reality.  That said, I found one aspect to be just as important:  They have an amazing ability to make the painful times less painful.

As of 2015, Disney World’s Magic Kingdom attracted an average of 56,000 visitors per day, which is a mindboggling number.  And yes, ride waits can be long, but they have realized that if you can negate the negative aspects of waiting in line, that is just as important as creating a positive experience in other areas.  They do this in (at least) two ways: 

  • Keeping you occupied.  From visual elements that draws your eye to interactive elements during the wait, the extremely long real-time wait seems like much, much less.
  • Tricks to mask the reality.  Many rides had waiting lines that twisted through inside rooms, meaning that a visitor could never see the full extent of the line.  In fact, in the Peter Pan ride, the very beginning of the line is almost immediately next to where one actually gets on the ride, making it feel as though it won’t last long at all.  But then it winds you through room after room.  This element of minimizing information makes the visitor feel that they are almost there, without getting discouraged by the overall line length.

So what Disney has done is identify one of the biggest pain points of visiting their parks, and have worked to minimize that impact as much as possible.  This all brings us back to property management.  What are the things that cause the most annoyance, stress, and frustration with living at an apartment community, and how can we minimize that?  Here are a few brainstormed ideas off the top of my head:

  •  Lease signing – Our leases are extremely long, and I’m sure that process is not fun, especially if they do it when they are tired on move-in day.
  • Maintenance Issues – Our product breaks.  No matter how nice our property, maintenance issue will happen.  But techniques such as preventative maintenance and proactive resident interaction can lessen those issues.
  • Maintenance Uncertainty – Even though things do break, the way we handle them when they do makes a huge difference in the reaction from a resident.  Keeping a resident up to date with the progress will often lead to a satisfied resident.  Keeping the resident in the dark with no estimation on completion time?  That will lead to concern, stress, and uncertainty.
  • Resident Conflicts – Even though it is not our fault, it is still our problem.  So what proactive measures can be done to minimize the potential for these issues?

What other things are resident pain points that we can work to minimize?  What are some solutions to battling the ones listed above?

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  • One of the ways I handle lease signing fatigue is with humor. I've been doing the leases for the last six years, so I know them inside out. I inject humor into them with little comments here and there, and it takes some of the tension and stress out of the experience.

    For example: "While we have this Lead Based Paint Disclosure form, I can tell you that we were built almost twenty years after they outlawed lead-based paints. So we've received no reports of hazards in your housing and we have no knowledge of hazards in your housing. If you'll initial here, you'll agree that I've handed you a copy of all of that nothing." I mime handing them a stack of papers with empty hands, and that usually gets a great chuckle.

    Get them to laugh and suddenly the mood is lightened and it turns fun instead of tedious.

  • The reason I have such a deep love for property management is that we can learn something from every experience and apply it to benefit our industry...Learning something new every day...Toni Blakes 10@10 talks about keeping excitement and enthusiasm through out the move in experience.