Retention is an important factor for all multifamily operators. With more than 60% of revenue coming from renewals for most properties, a small decrease in renewals can have a tremendous impact on pricing power and NOI performance.
Regardless of the situation, resident loyalty has a significant impact on the bottom line. Resident satisfaction has a dramatic impact on renewals rates – even when renewals include a rent increase. A recent NMHC survey measureed the “…difference between the percentage of customers who are totally and completely satisfied (raving fans) and those who aren’t” and has found that loyal residents in fact renew and refer more often, with satisfied residents more likely to renew at 63% and dissatisfied residents renewing only 34% of the time.
Here are some simple actions you can take to enhance resident satisfaction, and thereby increase your renewal rates.
Ask residents what matters... and then listen
The easiest way to find out what matters most to your residents it to ask them. Yep – it’s that simple. And once you ask them, actively listen to what they are telling you. This highly complicated series of events (said sarcastically) begins at the first moment a potential resident makes contact with your communities.
It’s critical to work with a contact center that’s focused on resident engagement, and not a pre-written list of if/then sales statements. Taking time to ask potential residents what specifically they’re looking for, their reasons for showing interest in your property, their move-in timeframe and other life details, will seamlessly help potential residents take the next logical step in the leasing process, ensuring the right action with the right people at the right time. When focused on the customer, your multifamily contact center process engages the customer through listening and advising instead of simply making a sale.
Competition in the multifamily business is fierce. When your contact center employees listen to potential residents, they create resident loyalty and ultimately resident retention.
Intentionally develop relationships
Resident retention starts the moment you make the first contact. Once you’ve delighted your potential resident with an exceptional customer engagement process, it’s so important to continue to develop a strong relationship with your residents. While it’s virtually impossible to remember every birthday or anniversary of every single person living within your properties, there are simple tasks (that seem almost too easy) that can go a long way in developing positive resident relationships. A friendly smile and common courtesy goes a long way; timely, in-person response to resident questions or concerns can determine whether a resident stays or goes.
And if you do remember someone’s birthday, be sure to wish him or her a happy day. When you develop strong relationships with the people in your buildings, they trust you, feel comfortable and become a long-standing resident in your community.
Respond to requests quickly…and keep them updated
Remember when you had to wait during a four-hour window for the cable service repair guy to fix your cable? (For some this memory goes way back!) There’s nothing more frustrating than asking for and then having to wait for a problem to be resolved in your home – whether it be a leaky faucet or a clarification on lease details, the timely response from you and/or your property management staff can have a tremendous impact on resident retention.
In fact, maintenance staff can make or break resident retention. In a recent blog post from Multifamily Executive, experts agree that when it comes to resident renewals, having a stellar maintenance response team is a key component in getting a resident to stay. Ken Veltri from Chicago-based AMLI Residential views onsite maintenance staff as fundamental and center to their value proposition. “That’s why they (residents) don’t own a home; they want other people to do stuff.”
Yet responding to a flurry of requests can be time-consuming for multifamily operators. Working with a contact center focused on resident engagement can provide you the resources to almost immediately respond to resident needs and requests. Including a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system designed specifically for multifamily operators like yourself, will increase the efficiency of your leasing associates and maintenance staff through multi-device (tablet, phone, etc.) requests, and in turn provide residents with an almost immediate response.
Location and Pricing
Last but not least, the location of your properties and fair pricing matter to your residents. Residents may decide to live and stay within your community because of its location in relation to work or school. If a residents’ situation changes and they have a longer commute, the relationship you’ve developed with them may encourage them to stay anyway.
In addition, communicating with your residents about lease rates and helping them understand that you are fairly priced and competitive will contribute to your operator/lessee relationships. You may want to encourage your residents to shop around and compare prices for themselves to better understand the market.
What matters to your residents is this: clear communication, timely service and location and price. When these points are met, you develop loyalty and trust, which creates contentment and directly affects resident retention. And in the end, resident retention drives cost control; regular occupancy levels and contributes to successful multifamily properties.