Enter your email address for weekly access to top multifamily blogs!

Multifamily Blogs

This is some blog description about this site

Resident Retention: Love You Long Time... I think

I've lived in a handful of apartments over the years, and though I might not be able to tell you what I ate for dinner two nights ago, I can tell you how long I lived in each of my apartments. There was my first apartment in a historic home. No A/C, poor heat, but I loved it. Just over a year. Next one? 1 year. Then 2 dreadful months. Then 18 lovely months. I could go on, but I won't. The 18-month place, I would have stayed for years, but I ended up moving out of state. The next long-term apartment was 2 years, and I would have stayed there longer too, but we bought a house. I remember how long (or short) I stayed and exactly why. Most residents do. However, very few property owners bother to track length of residency for their residents. They look at turnover, occupancy, traffic conversion, but not length of residency. And why not?  This one metric tells you so much. It can be one of those indicators of how well (or badly) things are going on site. Check it out: In 2008, out of more than 30,000 satisfaction survey respondents, we found that nearly 30% had been living in their apartment for 1-2 years. Over 16% had lived there for 3-5 years, and over 10% claimed more than 6 years in their current apartment. Are these residents celebrated? They should be. These are your bread and butter customers, the foundation upon which your......
Continue reading
5011 Hits
12 Comments

The Move-In Experience...Moment of Truth (Part II)

When I first began working as a Leasing Consultant in this industry, my company's move-in procedure with new residents consisted of presenting the lease, an addenda or two, reviewing a few points such as where the mailbox and laundry facility were located (on a site map), collecting the remaining portion of the security deposit and first month's rent, handing the resident the keys with a logoed keychain, shaking their hands and welcoming them to the community and yup, basically smiling and wishing them luck. "See yah!" "I hope everything goes well with your move." Internally I would be thinking, "I hope their apartment is okay." "Gosh, I would hate to see them come back unhappy." "I really like them."Well that was two decades ago and many companies have improved their move-in procedures. Luck has nothing to do with customer satisfaction or retention. You can control the resident's move-in experience and ensure it is superior with these additional critical steps:5. Provide VIP Treatment - On the resident's move-in day introduce the Community Manager. Preferably the Community Manager should come out of his/her office and welcome the new resident(s) to the community with a smile and small talk. He or she should give them their business card and advise them to call him/her if they should ever have a problem or concern. This is an important part of building a good relationship with your residents. If they meet the Property Manager and feel that he/she genuinely cares for them, they will be more......
Continue reading
1103 Hits
0 Comments

It's about feeling heard

The coolest thing happened to me online the other day.  In the sea of billions of people online, I was made to feel important.I really was!  And the amazing thing is, it all happened in a 140 character burst!  See, a few evenings ago, I had dinner with the lovely Ms. Lisa Trosien.  The Apartment All Stars were in town on a speaking engagement and I had offered to take her out for some killer seafood the next time she came my way.  By the way, if the All Stars are coming to your town, you MUST go!  It was a phenomenal presentation!!!  Anyway, back to me feeling important...I had told a twitter contact that we were having dinner together and she replied to me:@artchickhb Lucky you! Where are gals heading to?Now, because i don't have my phone set up to receive anything but direct messages from Twitter, I didn't get her reply to my posting until after we had gotten back.  When I got home that evening, I directed my reply to her, saying:@HappyAllDays We went to Ivar's downtown :) It was really good! :)That was it.  That was all I said.  A few hours later, this tweet came to me:[email protected] Glad you enjoyed it. Hope you're KEEPIN' CLAM now. Check out Happy Hour if you're 21+, Acres just got a great review.And for a brief moment, I felt really special because someone heard what I said.  Now, being a marketing type of person, I know that this is just......
Continue reading
1795 Hits
1 Comment

Prospects Want Perfection; Are You Giving It?

In traveling the country these past few months during this challenging environment, I've seen quite a trend that is affecting every industry, not just ours. Consumers are showing an ever growing lack of patience with anything less than perfect product and service. Think about it for a moment: A year ago or more, you might have found average service and average product acceptable. I'll bet you don't anymore. The example I consistently use is food and beverage at the drive thru. I ask my audiences of property management professionals (vendors included) if one year ago they would have accepted food and drink that was less than perfect. After all, to return to the restaurant would probably require that you park your car, enter the restaurant, wait in line, discuss the transaction with someone and hopefully either receive a refund or a replacement product. Wow, that's A LOT of work for what had been a convenience purchase to begin with, isn't it? Regardless of the amount of work involved, everyone agrees. What was acceptable a year ago is no longer acceptable, regardless of the inconvenience to the purchaser. Translation: Perfect product, perfect customer service, and perfect presentation are more important than ever before.This begs the question: Was less than perfect ever acceptable? Sadly, yes. In an industy where we have problems answering the phone (multifamily call center stats show that at least 37% of our calls are going unanswered); where we can't seem to follow up effectively (J Turner Research stats show that......
Continue reading
1475 Hits
0 Comments

The Move-In Experience...Moment of Truth (Part I)

Once the deposit and application is received, it is the moment of truth for the prospective resident. They are thinking "Is everything I saw and was told about and promised going to come true?" If you have been on the front lines for awhile you know that the better the move in experience is for the resident the more satisfied they will be long term. Deliver a substandard apartment or don't communicate well and their trust in you and your company will be destroyed. In order to provide superior service during the resident's move-in experience we need to teach our employee's how to walk it out. Superior service is far more than just ensuring that your team is professional and courteous. It's their ability to over communicate, build sincere relationships, anticipate their resident's wants and needs and exceed their expectations. Here are some great ways to ensure that your resident's move-in experience is superior. 1. Over Communicate - keep prospective residents continuously informed and connected. Send meaningful emails, text or instant messages (for all Twitter's out there), letters, postcards or personally call them at every relevant step in the process from the status of their application and tips on moving to the readiness state of their new apartment and scheduling or confirming an appointment to sign their lease paperwork and move-in. 2. Integrate them into your community's culture by sending them any newsletters or invites to gatherings happening at your community before they move in. Introduce them to team member's and other residents whenever an opportunity arises.  3. Through genuine interest and care, one will be ......
Continue reading
2363 Hits
0 Comments

Educating Residents Reduces Complaints & Costs

Shortly after completing construction on a brand new Class A apartment community in Michigan, residents began complaining about the operation of their dishwashers. The common complaint, the dishes on the top rack were not getting clean. The problem, the owner chose a low end dishwasher that did not have an arm under the top rack to help circulate the water. Many of our residents were accustomed to using higher end models that did not require a lot of attention to detail. The only way to resolve this problem, outside of purchasing new dishwashers and ensuring the hot water heaters were set at the appropriate temperature was to educate our residents on how to properly pre-rinse, stack and purchase the right dishwashing detergent so that their dishes on the top rack could be cleaned to their satisfaction.  In an effort to mitigate these complaints a flyer was created telling residents how to use their new dishwashers. They received this flyer during the move-in process. We soon recognized that if we did not verbally give the instructions to the residents until after they realized their dishwasher was not working to their satisfaction that our answer to their complaint was unacceptable. However, if we gave the instructions and verbally discussed the operation of the dishwasher before the residents used it, the complaints dramatically decreased. The lesson here is if one tells their residents what to expect rather than leaving them to their own expectations, they will be more accepting of the conditions so long......
Continue reading
3599 Hits
1 Comment

Short Term Gain...Long Term Sacrifice

It’s a Catch 22 – you need to reduce expenses at the same time today’s consumer is skittish, demanding and expecting better quality and value for their money.  Morale is low, your team is expected to do more with less, and job cuts have placed a strain on operational capabilities.  Tough call, but you’re saving money, right?  Not so much.According to Business Week, the Internal Customer Management Institute, a call center consultant, has done studies that show cutting just four reps at a call center of three dozen can send the number of customers put on hold for four minutes from zero to 80.  That’s right, 80.  It makes sense to reason that if there are less people in the office, there is a greater likelihood that a client, or potential client will be missed, or will need to wait a greater length of time to see product or resolve a challenge. The immediate reaction to tough times is to tighten the wallet and squeak every dime available out of it.  Think about the airline “charge for a checked bag” policy.  I cannot think of one person that isn’t highly offended, or at least greatly irritated by this policy. A trip requiring more than two nights will require a checked bag.  The consumer knows they have to eat it and have no option.  Makes me fester just thinking about it.  Unless, of course, they elect to fly Southwest, an airline that promotes the fact that they do not charge baggage fees.  ......
Continue reading
3200 Hits
0 Comments

Resident Retention: (Rolling of the eyes) "We don't DO that"

Over the weekend, my husband and I took our 10-month old for a stroll to take in the rather nice weather and also to stop in a coffee joint that begins with a "St" and ends with "arbucks." Because it was late in the afternoon, we decided to order basic decaf coffees to avoid caffeine that may make it difficult to fall asleep later. As I stood in front of the barista and placed my order, he actually rolled his eyes and then cocked his head toward me as though addressing an annoying child and said, "Um, we don't serve decaf after noon," as though this was a given... like not wearing white shoes after Labor Day. Or is it Memorial Day? Whatever. He continued to stand there and stare at me and glanced at his non-existent wristwatch as though I was purposefully wasting his time. I began to feel that I was on some 'Candid Camera' episode, the whole thing seemed so ridiculous. As I desperately scanned the menu board, searching for anything with minimal - to - no caffeine, he finally suggested a decaf Americano. I went with it. The fact that I paid with a gift card nearly pushed him over the edge, and it showed when he said, sarcastically, "Would you like a receipt?" I should have said yes. Fortunately, I was in the state of mind that I found the entire transaction very funny. Could he seriously be that put out by my lack of knowledge......
Continue reading
1721 Hits
5 Comments

Get involved! How to respond to negative (and positive) reviews.

picture-11          "Do not ignore ApartmentRatings.com."  "Respond to residents who complain."  "Engage in a conversation."There has been many great articles about the importance of engaging in conversation and being actively involved in social media.  In a recent blog post, Charity Hisle says, "This is the perfect opportunity to set things right, make necessary changes or state they've been made."  Eric Brown of Urbane Apartments says, "The shift is pretty simple, we started and work at participating in the Conversation. That’s it, while it sounds pretty simple, and it is, it seems to be pretty hard for apartment communities, otherwise they would be doing it."  Both Charity and Eric are thought leaders, paving the way for a long overdue entrance into social media, and reacting to trends in consumer behavior.  At it's core, the message is clear... JOIN THE CONVERSATION. But that seems like a general statement in an even broader and vague social media strategy.  So similar to the Airforce's response to social media, here are some strategies on how to handle 4 online personality types.1)  Flamer, TrollThis person is looking to insult, incite, and personally attack others.  The conversation is usually fairly hostile and he/she may be flaming for acknowledgment, entertainment, or to get a reaction from you.  One of the distinguishing factors is their anonymity.Example: "The property manager sucks more than all of Nicolas Cage's movies combined.  The management sucks so bad, life on earth stops.  They are so bad, I'd rather sleep outside in a box."Option 1:  " I apologize......
Continue reading
5002 Hits
4 Comments

Customer Satisfaction Isn't Monkey Business.

   Could a Change in Behavior Mean More Revenue?You want your on-site team to provide a better customer experience than any of your competitors.  This ambition could definitely lead to a higher resident retention rate and a greater prospect capture rate. Revenue would increase. Changes may have to be made? Coaching may be required?Same Team, New MissionLet's assume that you are going to continue to work with the same team and they have been offering less than exceptional service. You will have to empower them to engage in new behaviors. The way to start moving this process along could be to first understand how your team feels when they are asked to make a change from the same old way they do things. Maybe then a strategy or process could emerge. This could be uncomfortable for the on-site team and for you.  Could it be easier  than starting over with a new team?Throw Out the Carrot & Stick                                                                       If your team member just focuses on behavior that has been identified as wrong, he or she will start developing excuses for why the problem occurs. This will not support the process of change. The "carrot and stick" approach to changing behavior does not work because it focuses attention on the problems that are causing the unwanted behavior rather than on solutions for change.Avoid the Blame Game - The brain is wired to detect "errors" in the environment. These are the perceived differences between expectation and reality. When an error is detected, it triggers the fear circuitry in the brain and......
Continue reading
2912 Hits
2 Comments