Illustration by Fernando Volken Togni

Consistent and helpful building personnel can make or break a residents’ experience at a property, something that Steve Hallsey has experienced firsthand at his personal Chicago condominium.

“When the front desk staff or the manager changes, I get upset because that person has always helped me,” says the President and CEO of Chicago-based AMLI Management Company. “That same philosophy plays in our business too—the more stable the staff, the more people our residents become comfortable with, and the more likely they will be to stay.”

With new supply set to flood the rental market this year—more than 300,000 new units will come online in 2016—keeping residents at existing properties is more important than ever. The culture of a property is a key element in what drives resident retention, and hiring the best building personnel is not only a strong business strategy, but a lease renewal strategy as well. A relationship with building staff members can create a sense of comfort for residents.

“We encourage our teams to look for ways to ensure we are talking with our residents several times throughout their lease period,” says Mark Fogelman, President and CEO of Memphis, Tenn.-based Fogelman Management Group.

Staffing a building with the right personnel will ensure that residents are served in the way that best suits them. While technology amenities that provide ease of access and convenient services—such as package pick-up lockers, virtual fitness studios, and online service request forms—are a hit with millennials, they don’t replace the personal side of a business and relationship-building aspect of a community that, deep down, residents still crave.

“You have to remember that there is a personal side to the resident experience,” says Fogelman. “Customers definitely want technology abilities, but the personal side to the business is what allows you to stand out– it becomes more than four walls and a roof.”

The best way to guarantee that a building staff is serving residents in the best way possible is to make sure it is meeting residents where they are. It might seem daunting, but extended concierge hours that work with residents’ time frames and schedules, immediate response to maintenance requests, and consistent staff availability will make residents feel like they have the best support system possible, and ultimately will want to stay at your property.

“We ensure that we are able to meet our customer’s needs to communicate and conduct business “where and how” they want to, on their level, and within their desired time frame,” says Fogelman. “We hire and train with this customer service mentality in mind, with the end goal being to truly create a sense of community for our residents, where they can develop relationships with the onsite team as well as fellow residents, so that their community becomes more than just another housing option for them.”

The right staff members can play a pivotal role in renewals. From speedy service request responses to individualized attention that makes residents feel like they have a place in the community and a relationship with the property and those managing it, the building personnel can be the key to ensuring that residents will be excited to stay put.

“We would not be nearly as successful on retention [Post Properties has a 60% renewal rate] if not for the hard work of our associates and their follow up with our residents each and every day,” says Jamie Teabo, executive vice president and head of Atlanta-based Property Management at Post Properties Apartment Management.

For more ways to ramp up a retention strategy, read Multifamily Executive's full coverage the process here: