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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.

One More Question In the Lease Paperwork Will Change The Way You Understand Your Community

A while back, I wrote a blog that analyzed a particular renter and her decision for moving where she did.  At the time, I was lucky in that she shared her entire story on her blog, so for a brief moment, we glimpsed the true inner decision making process for that renter!  Of course, it’s not always that easy, but wouldn't it be invaluable to have an inner glimpse of each resident to find out what made them lease, what made them stay, or what made them go?

Let’s take one resident.  We’ll call her Regina.  Regina toured the property nine months ago, and Jennifer the leasing consultant helped her through the process.  At the time, Jennifer asked all the right questions and found out that Regina was looking for a safe community where she would feel comfortable, an apartment with a balcony, and a place that offered fitness facilities.

Everything seemed to fall into place as Jennifer again did a great job asking for a deposit, and Regina moved in two weeks later.  At this point, at the very least, the notes about her wants and needs should hopefully be input into the property management software to be referenced down the road.  It stands to reason that if she cared about a fitness center before, she might still care about that when discussing the renewal.

But is that information telling the whole story?  With only her initial wants and needs, we are missing key information: 

Did she move in because of one of her original needs, or did something else actually seal the deal?  Instead of the fitness center putting the community over the top, what if she was actually wowed by the layout of the kitchen?  Wouldn't that change how we approached the renewal if the kitchen was the un-sung hero that clinched the deal?

What trends are we seeing with the move-ins?  What are the most common reasons for moving there?   Wouldn't you want to know what the top three reasons were for moving into your community beyond just anecdotal stories?  For example, if we see that the dog run turned out to be the biggest selling point, maybe it makes sense to expand that amenity or create similar amenities, such as a pet-sitting arrangement with a local groomer, holiday pet photos, or other pet-centric services.  In this manner, the community can evolve based upon the residents’ wants and needs.

This concept also applies to the renewal process, but in a slightly different way.  For example, we can now find out if the reason to move lived up to the promise.  If the fitness center was one of the major reasons she moved there, what did she think of it after she moved in?  Did she actually work out there?  Did the equipment meet her needs?  Were the open hours convenient for her schedule?  In other words, if you see a lot of people move in because of the fitness center, but a year later, the fitness center doesn't matter, it might be a sign that although it is good for the sale, it is not working for the actual customer.

And what is best is that all of this critical data can simply be gathered when the new resident signs his or her lease!  One more question that asks for the top three reasons they decided to live at your community can help you understand your community and how your community interacts with your residents!

Brent Williams is Chief Insider of Multifamily Insiders.  For more resident satisfaction concepts, become a fan of our sister site, Resident Events.

Update:  Milisa Crouch mentioned that this information can be compiled in some property management software systems.  I did not get into the details of how to input/analyze this information, but definitely check out your property management system and take advantage of their reporting features!

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