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Resident Retention Starts Before a Lease is Signed

 Resident retention is usually thought of in terms of what the landlord or property manager can do around the end of a resident’s tenancy to encourage them to stay: clear communication, responsiveness, concessions, a new appliance, and so forth.  But in this article we take a position that resident retention should start much earlier in a tenancy.  In fact, before it even begins.  It should start with apartment marketing. A resident can decide to vacate for any number of reasons, including significant life events or other rigid issues that cannot be negotiated away, no matter what rent concessions may be offered.  But for other renters, it comes down to “fit”.  Is the apartment the ideal aggregation of attributes, quirks, and benefits that they want in a home, given the rent, or not?  Is it “best-fit” housing? On renter surveys, there is usually no option to cite “not a good fit” as a reason for moving out, but this reason can be disguised in the answers to other questions, most often ones that ask about rent.  According to Zillow’s Consumer Housing Trends Report of 2019, 55% of renters nationwide say a rent increase contributed to their decision to move out.  Moving out because of the rent or a rent increase, if not a strict budgetary decision, is just another way to say the apartment’s perceived value does not match up with the rent being paid.  It is not a fit for the resident anymore.  And that is an unfortunate reason to lose a resident, becau......
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Don't Underestimate Your Angry Residents' Desire For Revenge

Resident-Revenge.JPGSome angry residents only go so far as to write a negative review of your community, but others act as if you have dishonored their family and have now made it their sole mission in life to make life miserable for the community.  In December, an evicted resident shot two people in the community office as retribution.  Fortunately, that is the exception rather than the rule, but more often residents will take less extreme measures to harass a community and the team online.  We have seen that first hand here on Multifamily Insiders.  Almost 99% of the time, our discussions only attract others who manage apartment communities, but every so often a post will also draw in residents.  A few years ago, Erin wrote a funny post about "How to Write a Bad Apartment Review", and funnily enough, residents don't seem to get the joke, as they frequently try to post comments blasting their apartment community.  For example: What I find hilarious is the idea that residents go into Google and do a search for "How to Write a Bad Apartment Review", like there is some sort of special formula to get the maximum negative reaction for  the community.  But regardless, it just shows that without properly handling an angry resident, their influence isn't just a negative review on ApartmentRatings.com - their anger metastasizes and spreads to every outlet they can find.  Would a local news outlet like to hear about the "unlivable conditions" of the "slumlord" where they live?  Or......
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Will Your Education Affect Your Pool?

b2ap3_thumbnail_MFI-image-1.pngIn 2015, we created a study that documented the availability and quality of many apartment attributes, including amenities (e.g., gym, pool, etc), and how those amenities correlated to the residents’ education level.  While the value of a college degree seems difficult to understand at times (especially during those first few years after school), there’s no doubt education has a high correlation to expected earnings.  And as it turns out, neighborhood education levels are a pretty good predictor of amenity availability and quality in the immediate apartment complexes as well. Some background: we pulled data from over 1400 apartment properties across 244 zip codes and analyzed the properties’ amenities availability and quality against the level of education attainment for young adults (25-34) in each area.  In doing so, established a correlation between the likelihood of a given amenity’s availability and quality given the immediate zip code’s education level. In other words, some properties don’t have a pool, while others have a very simple pool that’s heated six months of the year. Others have infinity pools and waterfall features. We scored this on our visit and analyzed each aspect in this study. Some background info for our friends that may have slept through statistics class: correlation does not mean causation, but it does show that variables are linked.  Correlation ranges from -1 to 1 and 0 means no correlation. A more negative correlation means the two variables are inversely related (think sunglasses sales on rainy days) and the more positive correlation, the stronger the variables......
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Simple ways to manage your reputation

Do you feel prepared to handle any online reputations mishaps?  The top 10 review sites grew over 158% within the past year.  That means there is a lot of new conversation happening about your brand and your customer experience.  Your residents and prospects trust those conversations.  92% of consumers trust online reviews posted by other consumers.75% of consumers mistrust advertising.    We spend a lot of time talking about how reputation management begins with a company’s culture, customer experience, and employee empowerment.  Because of that, just the idea of managing your reputation can sound a bit intimidating.  Let’s take a step back and focus on simple tasks you can do weekly to prepare you for any mishaps that might happen. Listen.Google is your BFF.  Consistently do searches for your name, services, address, etc to stay ahead of any problems.  Also look at image results.  You would be surprised what you can find there.  If you want to make life easier, set up a Google alert and other free social media monitoring tools to do the searching for you. Ask for reviews.Honest reviews, not glowing reviews, help establish you as real and credible.  Ask for honest reviews and feedback from your advocates and happy residents.  Make it a point to ask at least two residents a week. Respond.Consistently respond to reviews in a timely manner, the bad and the good.  If you make this part of your daily habits, it is much easier to manage.  When you respond, also think about any fol......
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CUSTOMER REVIEWS: I Am YOUR Customer.

CUSTOMER REVIEWS: I Am YOUR Customer.
  As a huge online shopper, I am a fan of customer reviews.  I've found them very helpful for various purchases, but I'm realizing they are now guiding most of them. I have become a skeptic when it comes to all advertising, blasting through ads, pictures, and testimonials presented by the seller, and heading straight to the customer reviews. In fact, I tend to search primarily based on "customer reviews" now, sometimes ignoring those products that don't have reviews and dismissing those that have too many negative reviews.   In 2013, BrightLocal released the findings of their Local Consumer Review Survey. The study which explored consumer consumption of online reviews confirmed that more customers are reading reviews as part of their pre-purchase research before selecting a product or service.  Key Findings: — 85% of consumers say that they read online reviews for local businesses (up from 76% in 2012) — So the path from reading online reviews to purchasing from a business is short which means it’s crucial for local businesses to have a positive online reputation so they convert ‘searchers’ to customers. — By the time a consumer has started reading reviews they have identified an issue/need they have, worked out what service or product satisfies this need and now want to select a business to use.   Apparently, I am not alone.    1. The Path is Short  If you are like me, you probably cringe at the price of Gillette or other name brand razors at your neighborhood store. Soon, we will all have to take out......
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“The Silent 97%” – Unspoken Apartment Ratings

“The Silent 97%” – Unspoken Apartment Ratings
I came across a blog post1 the other day that discussed the cost a company incurs because of poor customer service.  One of the surprising statistics that stuck out to me was that 97% of customers don't complain or vent their frustrations, even when they are unhappy with a product or service. I should clarify that they are certainly venting to their friends, families, work associates and the pizza deliveryman about how horrendous this product or that service is... But they're not voicing their complaint to the company responsible. Why aren't businesses hearing from these individuals more often? Can you imagine how much of a positive impact their feedback could have? In order to receive that crucial resident input from the silent majority, your apartment communities must establish practices that show you do in fact want honest feedback from the people you serve each day. Once you've made the decision that you want this feedback, regardless of how harsh it may be, there needs to be an effortless avenue for residents to provide their input. You have to make it as easy as possible. Integrated ratings & reviews, net promoter scores, and comment forms are a few simple, online avenues for a customer to let you know how good or bad you are doing as a company. Once you have the data, you have to leverage it. It's actually worse to ask people to provide feedback and then do nothing about it, than it is to never ask for feedback at all. When residents take the time to......
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6 Tips for Responding to Reviews

6 Tips for Responding to Reviews
It’s a simple fact that people appreciate having their voices heard. That’s why responding to reviews (both positive and negative ones) about your apartment community can be a great way to show you care about your residents and are committed to providing them with the best rental experience possible. In fact, regularly engaging with reviews can help you retain your current residents as well as attract new ones. After all, people want to live in a place where their opinions matter. When it comes to responding to reviews, it’s important to always follow your company’s established policies. However, here are six tips to keep in mind. 1. Respond QuicklyIn today’s fast paced, always-on world, consumers expect quick responses. If you take too long to respond, reviewers can become even more frustrated which can lead them to leave negative reviews on other reviews sites, too. Respond to reviews – especially negative ones – within 48 hours to show you truly care about the concerns of your residents. 2. Make it Personal When it comes to responding to reviews, one size doesn't fit all – so avoid using templated responses. People can tell when you've copied and pasted your response! Instead, be sincere by specifically addressing the points brought up in each review. Here’s an example of a review and a personalized response that directly addresses the reviewer’s comments. Review: “This apartment has everything I need, a washer/dryer, courtyard and allows pets, which was very important for me. What I hate is how slow the elevators ar......
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I Now Pronounce You Resident and Apartment

I Now Pronounce You Resident and Apartment
Renting an apartment is not at all like buying the newspaper or a gallon of milk.  There is a deep level of thought, research and investigating to make a decision and to commit to a place for the resident to call home.  In many ways the process can be paralleled to dating and marriage.  Read the following with the perspective from a potential resident’s view. The Search You know it is so hard to find Mr. /Mrs. Right Apartment these days.  I have met many apartments and they all seem kind of the same.  Some look at a little prettier from the outside.  Some have a bit more depth to them with some nice amenities.  There are even some that are really social and outgoing with so much community activity.  I guess I really need to give this some thought and figure out what I really want in an apartment relationship.  Maybe I should ask some friends to see what they think of some of these apartment hunks/hotties. The Review Wow!  Am I ever glad I took some time to ask some of my friends about some of these apartments I am looking into dating.  Some of them have dated these places before and gave me some pretty mixed reviews.  There were a couple of places that my friends told me were way too into themselves.  It was all about them and their rules and their rent and really nothing in return.  Then there were some that were totally reclusive.  You n......
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GREAT LEADERS CAN POSITIVELY INFLUENCE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

GREAT LEADERS CAN POSITIVELY INFLUENCE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
I wish the titles "leader" and "manager" would go hand in hand, but that's not always the case. I have worked for both and there is a clear difference between the two. Merriam-Webster describes a manager as "a person who directs a team." Simply directing a team might have worked long ago but it doesn’t cut the mustard in today’s workplace. I don’t know about you, but I prefer to work for a “leader”—someone that inspires me.  One of my favorite leadership quotes is from the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao -Tzu,   “A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.” Lao-Tzu Great leaders can positively influence customer experience!    1. LEADER VS. MANAGER My 8 year old son and I recently went clothes shopping for a teenager who was being teased at high school because of what he was wearing. This was a teachable moment for my son, and I was looking forward to our conversations before, during and after. The only challenge we faced was that we were not current on “teenager” fashion. We had to depend on the knowledge of the salesperson. Here is what happened after we entered the store…   “There were only two people working, and one was clearly the manager and the other the salesperson. My son and I started browsing the clothing racks. We were obviously out of place in this store. The manager, with her “title” tag proudly displayed, sat behind the......
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CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE: “Hell Hath No Fury Like a Customer Scorned”

Unhappy residentImagine all of your residents listening in on a phone conversation between you and a very unhappy resident. I am talking about the type of conversation that raises your blood pressure and cause you to move the telephone handset at least 12 inches from your ear.    Back in my day, the result of such a conversation was pretty simple. When you really upset a resident they started a petition to get you removed, knocked on their neighbor’s doors until the page was full, and then sent the petition to your corporate office. Today, it’s even easier. With a few words, clicks, or a video, their complaint can reach thousands of people in a matter of a few seconds. Scary thought…huh?  It’s called social media! [video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KSET1WN-n-4 433x300] Who is he complaining about? hmmmSocial media accelerates a resident’s ability to spread word of mouth, and it isn’t going away. It can positively and negatively impact the bottom line of your company and your reputation. The 2010 Customer Experience Impact Report, commissioned by RightNow and conducted by Harris Interactive®, is a great resource that unveils some significant results on the overall influence customer experience has on a company’s top and bottom line. This blog highlights some of their findings.   1.       THE BROKEN GUITAR According to this report, a bad customer experience leads to 95% of respondents taking action. You probably remember the protest song by Canadian musician Dave Carroll.  The song tells of how his guitar was broken during a trip on United Airlines in......
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