Multifamily remains one of the darlings of the real estate market, continuing to sustain strong resident demand. That doesn’t mean property owners can rest easy, however. To stay competitive, owner–operators must have a strategy for constantly incorporating new amenities, providing top-of-the-line service, and maintaining a strong sense of community for their residents.
As a manager of over 23,600 units in 162 apartment communities, Western National Property Management (WNPM) has found three strategies in particular that have proven effective in increasing resident satisfaction and retention:
1. Stay on the Pulse of Emerging Amenities
New amenities are entering the market rapidly. For peak resident satisfaction, it’s critical for property managers and owners to stay up-to-date in providing the latest services and community features that suit the needs of their residents.
Market research indicates that the most in-demand amenities are those that not only accommodate existing lifestyle trends but take them a step further too. For example, rather than simply providing bike storage, many properties now offer bike repair equipment.
Similarly, many communities are becoming pet-friendly, offering pluses such as dog-walk areas. The properties that are staying ahead of the game, however, now feature extras such as on-site dog spas, too.
By staying ahead of the curve and investing in the latest amenities, you’ll stand out from the competition and increase your renewal rates.
2. Offer Unique Resident Events and Activities
Today’s residents place a tremendous value on community. That’s why hosting events that foster this feeling is essential to boosting resident satisfaction and retention.
Events such as barbecues and ice cream socials are a great way to both convey your appreciation for your residents and provide them with opportunities to mix and mingle with one another. Because such activities are fairly common nowadays, though, you need more than these “basics” to wow your customers.
We’ve found the most successful resident-appreciation strategies are those with a personal touch. For example, many families with young children reside at Western National’s Parcwood Apartment Homes in Corona, Calif. As a token of our gratitude, as well as a way to encourage community, we provide handwritten “letters from Santa” during the holidays to all children whose parents request them, which the participating families very much appreciate. All residents also receive handwritten birthday cards.
These small gestures go a long way. Resident-appreciation events, activities, and programs that are personalized and create an authentic sense of community will have the biggest impact on your tenants and serve as a strong incentive for them to remain at your property.
3. Use Social Media to Drive Engagement
Another way to meet the needs of residents in a timely and efficient manner is using social media to drive tenant engagement. Making a strong first impression is important, but keeping customers involved is critical to building brand loyalty and retention long term.
By regularly updating your social media channels and corporate website with engaging content, you can increase your points of contact with residents, which in turn encourages them to connect with your property.
At Western, we maintain and frequently update a green-living blog that encourages sustainable living. The blog serves as a way to increase our residents’ online engagement as well as promote green practices, both of which boost a property’s bottom line.
Responding promptly to both positive and negative reviews on Yelp and other Internet listing service (ILS) apartment sites is another strategy multifamily owners should be implementing to increase resident engagement. According to a 2014 survey conducted by Kingsley Associates and Apartment Guide, 70% of apartment hunters consult online reviews and ratings prior to leasing. In fact, reviews play an even greater role than referrals in leasing decisions.
Multifamily owners should also regularly update their ILS sites—Apartments.com, Zillow, and others—to source new prospects and ensure that all rental information is up-to-date. By monitoring and responding to resident feedback, you demonstrate due diligence in delivering quality service and building a positive online reputation, both of which are essential to driving resident satisfaction.
Providing updated, popular amenities is important, but retaining quality service at the heart of one’s property management strategy is vital to building resident satisfaction and long-term value.
By offering unique resident-appreciation activities, integrating the latest amenities, and leveraging social media platforms, property owners can build lasting relationships with today’s residents and stay competitive in 2017 and beyond.