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Resident Retention: You Had Me (or Lost Me) at Hello

I have to say it. You never have a second chance to make a first impression. How many times have we heard that? It has turned into one of those phrases we've seen and heard so many times that it doesn't mean anything any more. Let me re-introduce you to it now.  In every leasing and service situation, we have a few opportunities to make a first impression. The first time a prospect calls or emails us. The first time they drive up to the leasing office. The first time they take a tour. The first time they enter their new home as 'official residents.' First impression time is not over once they sign the lease. There is always Move In Day! And in my opinion, this is the most critical first impression you've got! I heard a great example of a fabulous Move-In Day first impression from military housing, though it translates beautifully to any move-in.  On MoveIn Day, the leasing agent saw the maintenance team had confirmed the home was clean and ready for the family, so she did a last minute walk-through to give it a double check. Everything was in order. She then reviewed the lease documents and made a mental note of all the family member names. When they arrived, she stood and greeted them with, "Welcome to Sunny Meadows! We have been expecting you." She shook hands with the husband and wife and greeted them with, "Good morning, Mr. Sanchez. It's so good to see......
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Give Your Renewing Residents Your Current Concessions

Yes, you read that right. Consider giving your renewing residents your current concession.No, I'm not crazy. I've always been an advocate of this ideology. And I've been severely criticized for it my entire career. I first mentioned it to some owners I worked for when I was a brand new Leasing Professional. My owners looked at me as though I was completely insane. If our industry ever needed to reconsider their ‘we don't give concessions on renewals' strategy, now is the time.Let's look at the math for a second, shall we? The average cost to turn an apartment these days is $2500, so as soon as a resident gives notice we're already at a negative $2500. So saving the resident already puts that money right back into our pocket. If we're giving away a month or two in free rent, we are probably locking the new resident into a longer lease term as well, so you're already getting the renewal resident for a longer lease term. Hopefully, you're managing your renewals with your traffic patterns so you don't end up loading some low traffic months for renewals (that's never smart).If you're watching the market and doing your rent surveys (this is assuming you are not using a revenue management software, such as Yieldstar) you have your apartments competitively priced. You're doing everything you can to stay ahead in this challenging economy. Everything but rewarding your current residents with the pricing incentives that you'll gladly give to someone with whom you have absolutely......
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Resident Retention: If it weren't for all the residents, I'd love apartment management!

   Browsing some other multifamily blogs today, I noticed one that read, "Do New Residents Make People Move Out of Your Apartments?" I liked the author's line of thinking, because the heart of the matter is that perception of Value.  As we wine and dine any prospects we can get our hands on, offering discounts, upgrades, vacations and what not, our long-term residents can begin to feel, "What am I? Chopped liver?" Quotable quotes from real resident satisfaction surveys: "The attention and service from the leasing and office staff is great before moving in; after you move in, it all stops." "The biggest problem to me is to get a response from the person who was my leasing agent. I have tried to set up a meeting with the manager about my concerns, but have had no luck." "Getting a returned call or email now that I have moved in would be nice." Yikes! As we place more focus on closing the back door, remember it's a question of whether the resident is seeing the value your community provides. Yes, the rental rate is one big aspect of value, but another aspect of value is what they get for that rate they are paying: - Quick resolution of submitted service requests - Quick responses to calls and emails - Notification of delayed work order resolution, or upcoming inconveniences (slurry seals, office closures, etc.) - Convenient service offerings, such as online work order submission, online rent payments, text work order submission The decision......
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Resident Retention: Please Re-Lease Me!

I see and hear reminders that 'leasing season is just around the corner.'  This makes me wonder, "Are you and I watching the same news?" Because from everything I'm reading and seeing on CNN, CNBC, WSJ, and all those other bearers of bad news, there are few new leases to be had!  I mean, yes, there will be some leasing activity, but not the volume to which we are accustomed. Not this year, anyway. I'm turning into a broken record (if you remember what that is) on the issue of retention, and here's another way of putting it: It's time to truly re-group and re-train our leasing teams and focus attention on the upcoming RE-LEASING season.  Leasing season is a nice way of saying many leases are ending, which leads to residents deciding to move, which leads to vacancies. Which we will have difficulty filling. So, now's the time to get our rears in gear and let our residents know how much we value them. This is All Hands On Deck! This is serious biz. But it doesn't have to painful... just consistent. And believe me, it will pay off! Remember I recently shared that only 76% of residents report their work orders are completed correctly the first time? One of our greatest challenges as an industry is a lack of focus on work order follow-up calls. To really WOW your residents, set a new standard that every completed work order will receive a follow-up call or email. All you have......
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