5 Tips to Increase Resident Retention

5 Tips to Increase Resident Retention

Empty units are bittersweet. For starters, the possibility of new tenants could be exciting. They could be tenants who refer your property and continue to renew but depending on external factors like time of year, moving patterns, that unit could stay empty for a little too long. The longer a unit is vacant, the more money your multifamily property is losing out on.

 

42.1% of apartments were not renewed last year according to a US Multifamily Research Brief conducted by CBRE, a commercial real estate services and investment firm. While that does mean there is a slight majority of those who renewed, the possibility of nearly 40% of your units staying vacant is pretty scary. So what can you do at your apartment communities to help increase resident retention?

 

Maintenance Requests

 

This is the number one reason residents leave negative reviews on multifamily properties online. Personally as a renter, when a maintenance request is handled slowly with little communication and done improperly so you have to wait even longer for the problem to be fixed, I will be frustrated with the property and consider leaving too. As a renter there are some things you can’t really fix yourself and it’s frustrating when something in your apartment isn’t working right.

 

Handling maintenance requests quickly and keeping in communication with the resident about what is happening and the timeline of things should be how it’s done. This is a simple but crucial step to keeping residents satisfied and your online ratings high.

 

Amenities

 

Know what renters in your region want and renters in general want (link to Field Guide). The most wanted and most important features to today’s renters are in-unit laundry, modern appliances, and walk-in closets according to PERQ data. This means that it’s time to start upgrading and renovating where you can.

 

Now renovating would mean the unit has to be vacant, but to keep your current residents happy, replacing their appliances with new, modern ones is a great place to start since you can’t exactly do much else to the unit while they are living in it. When building a new property, keep these features in mind as you design out the different floor plans.

 

Clean Up

 

Make sure your property is clean inside and outside. Stay up to date with landscaping, snow removal, vacuuming, wiping windows, taking out trash, etc. Clean common areas make a huge difference. You want residents to feel at home and you want them to recommend your property to others. No one wants to live in a dirty or messy building and they definitely won’t recommend it to their friends or family either.

 

Resident Events

 

Throwing events monthly is a great way to get to know residents better and encourage neighbors to get to know each other as well. Creating a community in your apartment property can be overlooked sometimes. From game nights to happy hour, there are lots of resident event ideas out there.Don’t forget about the furry residents either! Having events centered around pets is a great way to keep pet owners happy. After all, your property is home to their animals too.

 

Lease Lengths

 

Offer multiple lease length options. This one might seem a little weird, but offering residents the ability to pick a specific lease length does satisfy them. It gives them some control and they know that they won’t have to deal with their rent increasing if they choose longer leases. Some places only offer 12 months, or 9 months in college towns.

 

Where I live, we have the option of any month between 12 to 24 months. A lot of my neighbors and myself agree that the ability to pick how long our lease is was something that made the property we live at more appealing. It meant that we could lock in a price for longer and when we renew, well we can do the same again.

 

Increasing resident retention is key to keeping occupancy high and means less empty units that are losing money every day. Putting time and effort towards keeping residents happy will pay off in renewals, referrals, and positive reviews.

 

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Will an AI Leasing Assistant Really Help?

Will an AI Leasing Assistant Really Help?

It’s all anyone can talk about in multifamily these days. There’s a few different leasing AI out there and some of them promise things that seem too good to be true. As we come into budget season, multifamily properties are starting to figure out which AI Leasing Assistant, if any, they want to invest in for the upcoming year. Let’s dive into how an AI Leasing Agent can help and what criteria you should keep in mind when trying to pick one.

 

NATURAL LANGUAGEpeople standing with chat bubbles above them | AI Leasing Assistant

Some AI Leasing Assistants, not all, have natural language chatbots while others have rule based chatbots. The big difference is that one is more conversational and can answer the prospect’s questions directly through a texting format and get them serviced quicker while the other makes the prospect follow prompts that hopefully answer their questions. Leasing AI that continues to learn from the data and questions that prospects ask will only make your multifamily property stand out more and that kind of AI Leasing Agent will give customer service you can trust.

 

Rule-based leasing AI takes a longer time to answer prospect’s questions and has more of a chance of not being able to answer all of them. This is why a natural language AI Leasing Agent is a better investment and more convenient for prospects. This kind of AI Leasing Assistant can give the onsite teams better and more personalized data for online prospects which will only help the team be more prepared and give better service to prospects who are ready to talk.

 

While we are accustomed to talking to robots on sites, natural language multifamily chatbots have the ability to answer more questions and are less frustrating for prospects as they are able to have their questions answered 24/7. They won’t have to wait for the leasing office to be open and the AI Leasing Assistant won’t hand off the lead until they are ready to talk, tour, or lease. This saves leasing specialists so much time as they won’t be stuck answering every question a prospect has and focus on qualified leads who are ready to continue onward in the leasing journey.

 

AUTOMATION

An AI Leasing Assistant can also help with automating the leasing journey. We’ve already mentioned how they can answer prospects’ questions 24/7 but they can also handle the follow-up conversations and even help connect other marketing channels, like an ILS, with your site for a more connected experience.

 

PERQ bot icon | AI Leasing AssistantAI Leasing Agents, like the one at PERQ, follows-up with prospects through their preferred mode of communication and sends messages based on their move-in timeline. Too many messages can be off putting to prospects, especially when those messages sound robotic and almost like spam. A unique part of leasing AI, is that it also knows when to pull back and not send a message so the prospect is not annoyed by having their inbox blow up with constant messages.

 

This also is great for leasing specialists as an AI Leasing Assistant can help them manage their pipeline and take care of responding to prospects throughout their move-in time frame and will hand them off to the leasing team once they are ready to speak to a person. The leasing team will also have access to the personalized data the AI Leasing Agent has kept track of in the prospect’s guest card so they know exactly what the prospect is looking for and when. A unique feature of PERQ’s leasing AI is that it also personalizes follow-up messages from a brand perspective. Using that multifamily property’s brand colors and voice, follow-up messages from PERQ’s AI Leasing Assistant feel more human, less spam. Using your own brand voice, leasing AI helps make your automated follow-up sound like it is coming from the leasing office and not an AI Leasing Agent.

 

AI Leasing Assistants make your leasing team stronger and more knowledgable by giving them the time to focus on qualified leads, knowing that they aren’t forgetting about follow-up because the AI Leasing Agent has it covered, and gives them all the details they need to know about a prospect before the first initial conversation or tour. With automated follow-up and connected channel experiences, leasing AI is the way forward in leasing and will only help your onsite and marketing teams evolve and work more efficiently.

 

Interested in learning more about how leasing AI and AI Leasing Assistants can help your multifamily team and property? Schedule time to talk to one of our specialists.

 

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Preparing for a Busy Leasing Season

Preparing for a Busy Leasing Season

It’s that time of year where a lot of leases are ending, and renters are beginning to debate whether they should renew or look elsewhere. This time last year, leasing season looked a little different. The push to go virtual was a no-brainer and leasing teams had to work with more prospects that were making their decisions before stepping foot onto the property.

To prepare for this busy time of year, there are some tips and tools that can help take the load off your leasing team. Let’s start with current residents.

 

 

RENEWALS

Contract Signed

Now is crunch time when it comes to putting in the work to get a resident to renew. Throughout the year, resident events and any service-related conversations or maintenance requests are all factors into a resident’s satisfaction with your property. What can you do in the last leg of their lease for those residents who are still unsure?

For starters, if there were any negative experiences they had, address those with them. If it was how a maintenance request was handled or something with the unit, you can set some time with the resident to talk through what can go better. This will make the resident feel more heard and show to them that your team does care about their time there.

You can also offer discounts on rent or other amenities for renewing. If you can figure out where else they are looking to move to, see what those properties are offering. If it’s possible, offer similar pricing or even less. You can also highlight how the resident gets more at your property for your pricing versus your competitors.

 

 

PROSPECTS

 

To help with the high influx of leads on your website, using tools that help automate the leasing process will help your leasing team work more efficiently and help them manage leads that are further down the pipeline.

AI Leasing Assistants can help with this. Using AI technology, these Assistants can collect prospect data and send follow-up messages based on their timeline so the leasing team can focus on prospects with more immediate move-in dates. With AI, onsite teams will only get qualified teams that are ready to talk to a leasing specialist on their desks and any other leads will be handled with the AI Assistant.

The new generation of renters have grown up in a digital world where they expect the kind of service automation gives while also expecting to talk to a person when that automation no longer meets their needs. Adding an AI Assistant to your website meets the expectations of new buying behaviors of renters. Without it, your property will feel outdated to these renters and the leasing team won’t be equipped with the best data before talking to a prospect.

It’s time to open the doors and get to leasing. Preparing your onsite team with competitor knowledge and automating the process will help them manage the workload and give qualified leads the attention they deserve.

 

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Engaging with Residents: From Move-in to Renewals

Engaging with Residents: From Move-in to Renewals

 

Properties spend a lot of time focusing on prospects and new residents, but often forget that current residents are also going to become prospects again and they could possibly renew their lease and refer your multifamily community to their friends. Kristi Bender, Social Media and Marketing Manager at The Barrington Group, joins our host Muhammad Yasin on the latest Sofa Seminar to chat about the entire resident lifecycle and how it’s changed.

Muhammad Yasin and Kristi Bender Chatting

During their chat, Kristi went through all the different stages of the resident lifecycle:

  • Attracting New Renters
  • Move-in Journey
  • Relationships with Residents
  • Renewal/Separation Process

 

Kristi and Muhammad talked about how the online experience has really shaped the new generations of renters. Millennials and Gen Z not only shop differently, but they have different values. With the rise of ESA’s and the number one reason for homeownership being room for dogs, Kristi discussed how her property updated pet policies to be more accommodating and made their property more pet-friendly. This is a big sell when it comes to renewals and to grabbing the interest of new renters.

 

They also went into how to engage with residents during the move in process. Kristi explains that she likes to keep the applicant involved in the whole process so they know everything that is happening with the unit and what to expect when they move in. She continues to check in on them in the first few weeks of moving in, from asking how their commute to work is and if they’ve found the grocery store around. Kristi makes sure that new residents know they are kept top of mind and that the onsite team is there to help them out.

 

Dive deeper into Kristi and Muhammad’s conversation about the resident lifecycle, from tips to how to keep residents happy to how to make that renewal/separation process easier for everyone, you won’t want to miss out on this.

 

 

Resources

Reeling in a New Generation of Renters

Reeling in a New Generation of Renters

Generation Z, Zoomers, or just Gen Z aren’t just teenagers on TikTok. The oldest of Gen Z are in their early to mid 20’s. They are at the age where they are renting on their own — whether it’s in their college town or in the city they move to for their first jobs. What do we know about this generation and how can your multifamily community attract them to your property?

 

 

The Basics

Generation Z accounts for people born between 1996 – 2012. A main difference between Gen Z and Millennials, some of which are over 40 now, is that they grew up with the internet and the digital world. They are more tech savvy and have an easier time with learning new technologies because they have been since they were born.

 

With the oldest of this generation turning 25 this year, it’s important for multifamily property teams to reevaluate their amenities and offers to cater to the needs of this new generation of prospective renters.

 

 

Online Presence

 

They are the digital generation, that means your community needs to be up to date on all things digital and social. There’s no denying the power of social media as a digital marketing tool. Gen Z is knows social media better than any other generation, they literally grew up with it and spend most of their free time on it. This means that advertising and sponsoring posts on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc will be an effective marketing strategy to attract the young adults of today.

 

This means amping up your content and posting frequently. Having a bad or just not good social media presence is a major turn off for this generation and can impact their decision making. Some content ideas include:

  • Pet of the month
  • Recap of resident events
  • Get to know an onsite team member
  • Day in the life at your community

 

A social presence is a must for any business today and especially for apartment communities. There’s millions of apartment related posts/content on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram and Pinterest. This generation loves moving vlogs, apartment tours, decor ideas, etc. Putting your property among these videos and posts will boost your online reputation and attract more young adult renters to your community.

 

 

The Property

 

Once you’ve gotten their interest online and get them to your website, the actual unit and amenities you offer are what’s really going to sell it to them. Being born into a world where everything is online, this generation of renters are looking for high-speed internet and will run if they see reviews citing internet issues at your property. Investing in the internet your community has ensures resident satisfaction and places your property ahead of the competition for prospects.

 

Spacious kitchens and modern appliances are important to Gen Z renters. If you have an older property, it might be time to renovate older units and bring them up to speed. A lot of young renters have pets or plan to adopt a pet whether it’s for emotional support or companionship. A pet-friendly community is very important to have. Ways to be more pet friendly include:

  • No Pet Rent
  • No Breed/Weight Restrictions
  • Events and Amenities centered around pets

 

If you are worried that the above suggestions are bad for the bottom line, Jamin Harkness, EVP at The Management Group, has gone into detail about how these pet policies are actually great for creating more resident satisfaction and how he’s seen an increase in revenue because of them.

 

 

It’s time to start thinking about Gen Z as young adults who are looking to rent because the oldest of them are doing exactly that. They grew up in a world that is fast paced and more digital than ever. These tips will help you reel in these prospective renters and keep them satisfied.

The Reality of Package Handling

The Reality of Package Handling

Package handling for multifamily and apartment communities isn’t new yet all of the solutions that we have seem to cause unforeseen problems. In the second quarter of 2020, UPS delivered over 21 million packages. That’s only one quarter and one mail carrier.

With more people working/learning from home, online shopping and online deliveries have gone up. Is your package handling solution equipped to handle the growing number of deliveries? Many property managers came up with a few solutions to handle this last year. Let’s take a look at 5 solutions and see which ones worked and which ones need to be left behind.

 

 

Dedicated Employee

Some multifamily communities allotted part of their budget and schedule to have one full-time employee who handles the packages. Since space was limited last year and the number of people who could be in the office was typically only one or two, assigning one person to handle packages as their sole duty that day was seen as a possible solution.

How did it hold up? This allowed many on-site teams to keep up with the increased package volume but it didn’t solve the issue of space and where to put packages. This employee would also only work business hours or leasing office hours which means that package pick up is restricted to a 9 – 5. That makes it difficult for residents to pick up packages during the work week and if the office closes for the weekend or has limited Saturday hours, residents would have to plan when to go get their packages.

 

 

Doorstep Delivery

 

Instead of the on-site team handling packages, some communities decided to opt for doorstep delivery. This seems convenient and cuts out the on-site team as the middle man of package delivery. There are lots of mixed feelings about this. For starters, unless a resident designates a delivery time to ensure they are home, it leaves their packages out in the open. This leads to damages and possibly theft.

 

 

Designated Room

 

Another solution to solve the storage issue was creating a designated package room. Some properties have their package room only accessible through a key fob or code while others have it in the leasing office and only accessible to on-site teams.

This is a better solution in the sense that residents feel like their packages are kept in a private, locked room that only select people have access to. But a room isn’t infinite. The average number of packages in the summer of 2020 exceeded that of the 2019 holiday rush for multifamily communities which has lead to overflow and some packages being left outside of this room. This again opens up the possibility of damage and theft again.

 

 

 Package Lockers

 

The last solution that is currently in practice is installing package lockers. Similar to package rooms, package lockers are only accessible to select people. If a resident has a package stored in the locker only they can access it. This sounds like the best solution when it comes to resident satisfaction.

That isn’t the case though. Just like the package rooms, package lockers have limited space which means there will be overflow and the possibility of damage and theft is still there. A lot of multifamily communities are starting to look at third party package management solutions, like an Amazon Hub.

A third-party package management system takes the burden off of the on-site team and puts all the responsibility onto the third party. They notify residents of package deliveries through text or email and residents can go to their system and receive their packages.

While this takes the burden off of the on-site team, it still has the same problems as package lockers and rooms when it comes to overflow. Many on-site teams have also had a hard time with third-party package delivery drivers and the actual way they handle packages.

 

Package management and handling is tricky. Every solution has its pros but they also have a lot of cons. Finding what works best for your team and residents will be a lot of trial and error. One of the best things you can do is communicate with your residents about the cons of the solution you choose. If it’s restricted office hours, let them know that and maybe work to have some time after 5 that they could come pick up packages. If you have a locker or room solution, let residents know that with higher volumes, packages will be left outside of this room and the lockers.

The reality of package handling is that there is no one solution that has no negatives. The best way to work around it is to have clear communication with your residents. Keeping them in the loop will build trust and keep residents satisfied.