Clear, simple and effective communication with residents. As a property management company, we have no more important mission than that.
Our communities can feature jaw-dropping design and an incomparable array of amenities, but if we're not keeping our renters firmly in the loop and promptly responding to their outreach, we're going to end up with legions of unhappy residents.
At Edison47, we realized last year that our resident communication processes just weren't up to par. Our renters weren't using the online portal like we had hoped, often because they had lost their log-in information. Important messages were left unopened in their inboxes because so many renters – especially those that skew younger – routinely go for days at a time without checking their email. In addition to the email abyss, our poor leasing associates and service technicians were spending far too much time making and distributing flyers that went unnoticed by residents.
Over the course of the last year, we have greatly improved our ability to reach our residents – and vice versa. Outlined below are some of the lessons we’ve learned since retooling our resident communications and leveraging customized, property-specific apps from Mobile Doorman at each of our 13 communities:
• Respect their preferences.
In today's world there's no shortage of ways to communicate with residents. While some residents may prefer to get information via text, others may opt for email or push notifications through an app. After a renter states a preference for one method of communication, onsite associates need to respect that preference; this may seem like a small matter but emailing a resident who has indicated a preference for text messaging is a likely way to frustrate and annoy that renter.
In our case, we found our residents weren't reading our emails and weren't as engaged with our portal as we thought they would be. We discovered that a sizable percentage of our renters would prefer to communicate through a community app.
Using an app allows us to instantly send important information to residents via push notifications as well as post those announcements to bulletin boards within the app. Now, we are confident our renters are receiving the information we want them to.
• Reduce your reliance on paper.
Once upon a time, flyers were the foundation of resident communications in the industry. We mistakenly thought they were the only real way to convey information about upcoming events or onsite amenity renovations.
But at Edison47, we came to realize how inefficient – and ineffective – flyers usually are. Consider the amount of time it takes an employee to draft a document, print copies of it, and then have a maintenance worker tape the notices to bulletin boards as well as every single door of a property that could be as large as 700 or more units. All of this, only to have residents ignore the flyers.
Now compare that to the efficiency of using an electronic communication tool such as a mobile app. In an instant, on the phones on which they spend so much time, residents can receive word of onsite events and other important news.
Apps can also allow residents to efficiently RSVP for an event, increasing the likelihood they will attend and giving the onsite team a firm idea of how many residents will be attending.
• Make it easy to file maintenance requests.
A fundamental part of successful two-way communication with residents is allowing them to easily make service requests – and then being responsive to those requests. When we set out to improve our resident communications, we knew we wanted to make it as easy and convenient as possible for our renters to submit these requests.
Our mobile apps allow residents to file maintenance requests whenever they want, without the hassle of visiting the leasing office or making a phone call.
They also enable renters to upload photos of the item or area of an apartment home that is in need of repair, which can better prepare technicians for their visit.
And after a work order is complete, it's essential that communities have technology in place to efficiently follow up with residents. This allows residents to give their feedback about how the request was fulfilled, which they will appreciate and will provide property management teams with valuable insight into the performance of their maintenance teams.
• Make it efficient for your team.
Today's onsite teams are busier than ever, and it's important to streamline their communication efforts as much as possible. Look for backend systems that allow associates to instantly send out the same message in text, email and push notification form. Similarly, a program that enables staff to post the same content to different social media outlets can be a real time saver.
Make no mistake: it's absolutely vital for property management teams to communicate well with their residents. When they do so, they pave the way for satisfied renters and strong retention rates.