by Theresa Bradley-Banta
Your number one goal in tenant retention is to provide your residents with an attractive, safe, comfortable place to live. A place they want to call home.
This is increasingly important in today’s new construction market where you are competing with brand new properties that offer the latest in style trends and amenities.
So how do you compete if you own an older property?
First, consider the cost of replacing a tenant:
- Vacancy loss
- Maintenance and repairs
- Unit refreshes and make ready costs
- Marketing and advertising
- Leasing fees and commissions
When you establish and practice solid multifamily tenant retention strategies you will reduce the high cost of resident turnover. And you’ll receive some nice side benefits for your property as a result of implementing these strategies.
The Best Curb Appeal in Town
There’s a reason curb appeal is at the top of the list.
Experienced property operators know that first impressions play a key role in attracting and keeping new residents. And outdoor property enhancements go a long way in encouraging your existing residents to stick around.
If you were listing your home for sale you would do everything in your power to make the home attractive and inviting, right? You want a prospective buyer to be able to easily picture himself or herself living at your property.
The same concept applies to attracting new tenants to your multifamily property. Pay as much attention to outdoor living space as you to do the property interior.
Shared outdoor spaces are a great selling point.
According to a J Turner Research survey of 41,303 apartment residents (What Do Residents Want?)” 64 percent of apartment residents say they used an Internet Listing Service (ILS) as a search source, besting good old-fashioned drive-by (39 percent) and referrals from families and friends (24 percent).”
Technology is a central strategy in tenant retention and attracting new residents.
Take a look at the interactive website of Denver based Cornerstone Apartment Services at this link: Cornerstone Mobile Responsive Website. The site, designed by Akavit, was a finalist in the 2014 American Business Awards category for Real Estate Website of the Year.
An interactive website, which includes the following, will become a core foundation of your tenant retention strategies. Cornerstone, and other leading property management companies, become industry leaders by offering the following perks and online services:
- Neighborhood/social directories that include restaurants, local entertainment, shopping, salons, grocery and liquor stores, cultural attractions, and other services such as dog walking, banks and car washes.
- Participating merchants resident discount cards
- Unit floor plans
- Interactive application, lease signing and rent payment
- Maintenance requests
- Professional photo gallery
- Fully interactive tenant portals
- Area maps
- Suggestion box (online contact form)
- Web specials such as discounted signing fees
- Tour schedules
- Automated “contact us” forms
- Links to community social media sites
Editors note: The winner of the 2014 American Business Awards Real Estate Website of the Year were announced at the annual awards event on Friday, September 12 in San Francisco. Cornerstone won the 2014 Gold award. The Theresa Bradley-Banta Real Estate Consultancy website is a two-time winner of Real Estate Website of the Year with a Silver award in 2014 and a Gold award in 2013. The site was also the 2014 Gold Award winner for Best Investor Relations Website.
New Standards in Resident Relations
How would you feel if you were moving into a new apartment and the property manager personally greeted you when you arrived, rather than asking you to pick up your key at a leasing office?
Your new and existing residents might not expect or demand five star communication, hospitality, and customer service—but you should. This level of quality is hard to deliver if your residents never see you. Set up a resident contact calendar that includes a:
- Smooth application and leasing process
- Move-in day welcome
- Three-day follow-up for resident orientation and unit walk through
- Thirty-day resident satisfaction survey with questions such as, “How can we make your living experience better?”
Offer referral incentives to current residents. Your tenants will be happy to get the word out about a property they love to live in—especially when offered a reward.
In a highly competitive market it’s critical to show your residents that their “home” is getting some love. Simple property refreshes such as new paint, landscaping, and updated common areas and units will go a long way in helping you outperform your competition.
Consider re-staging model units with the latest trendy colors and comfort accessories like pillows and area rugs. Allow residents to personalize their rental unit. For example, paint a wall in a color of your residents choosing.
Finally, ask yourself, “Is it time for our website and marketing material to get a makeover?” If you haven’t addressed this in the past 12-months, the answer is probably, “Yes.” You want to be on the cutting edge of design and technology.
Ancillary Services and Amenities
How about offering new services and amenities at your property?
- 24-hour fitness center
- Courtyard with new patio furniture and fire pit
- 24-hour business center
- Resident lounge with WiFi
- Gourmet coffee bar
- Access-controlled building systems
- Rooftop deck and views
- Services such as pet walking
Do some local research. What are your competitors offering to entice new residents?
Advanced Tenant Retention Strategies
Your tenant retention strategies can also include:
- Tenant information booklets with: Important information; community and building rules; instructions for unit care; and life safety information.
- Automated tracking systems for tenant communications and maintenance requests.
- Regular contractor reviews: Are your residents receiving quality service from your third-party service providers and more importantly, from your own property maintenance team?
- Established pre-leasing and lease renewal systems.
- Resident satisfaction surveys
- Resident exit interviews (this should become a standard practice)