When it comes to keeping occupancy up during a fast-paced rental season, encouraging renewals is always preferable to turning units over.
“We try to minimize turnover first,” says Robert Hicks, senior vice president of operations at Phoenix-based Alliance Residential. “The culture here is it starts on day one. From the minute they move in, that’s when the renewal period starts.”
For Hicks, it’s simply about creating an exceptional product and atmosphere that will make renters want to stay when they receive their 60- to 120-day renewal notice.
“We know they have options; to move to another community or to buy a home,” Hicks says. “We want to create a resort-like atmosphere so they don’t want to leave.”
That begins as soon as a prospective renter walks through the doors by having a first-rate leasing center. At Boston-based WinnDevelopment, for example, robust technology and a well-trained leasing staff keeps the leasing wheel spinning–an experience which, if positive, can go a long way in keeping the tenant for another year.
“You convince people that the alternative, whatever the differential might be to move, it just isn’t worth it,” says Jerry Lemmon, senior vice president at WinnDevelopment.
It’s one of the three primary components necessary in keeping a renter–having a high-quality product that sets itself apart from the market, having a hands-on qualified team that can sell said product and provide great customer service, and creating cutting-edge marketing plans to promote it. “It’s product, people, and converting it into the market,” Hicks says.
It’s equally important to build a sense of community within the residences. Alliance has embraced social media for that simple cause. By using Facebook and Twitter, they’ve created a real time community bulletin board to help keep constant communication open between the community and its residents. The free marketing has also been able to promote a cluster of on-site social events, where prospects and current residents can experience what it’s like to live in the community. For Alliance, the events at their individual communities have garnered a substantial amount of leases on both the new and renewal sides.