Give Residents a Reason to Love You and They’ll Have No Reason to Leave You
As an industry, we’re consistently focused on developing a sense of community. A critical budget line item is resident events. And yet, participation in our pizza parties, breakfast-on-the-run, “Frozen” sing-alongs, or World Cup viewing parties are minimal, at best. To make matters worse, when asking residents about their satisfaction with “Sense of Community,” the national average is 3.40 on a 5-point scale. That translates to a “Warning” classification on our rating scale. Yikes.
What we now understand, however, is that when residents are evaluating “Sense of Community,” they’re not expressing their desire to become best friends with their neighbors or even having more or better events. Let’s face it: how many of you are dying to hang out with your own neighbors a little bit more? If you’re like me, I have a hard enough time scheduling get-togethers with the friends I already have! Why do we insist our residents feel any differently?
When residents are evaluating sense of community, they are actually evaluating their relationship with you, the property team. They’re thinking about how connected they feel to where they live. So, how do we build that connection?
1. Be the Go-To Guy or Gal
Yes, everyone on staff should have the ability to provide assistance to any resident, but it’s so nice to have that comfort level with your “go-to” person, A “go-to” already knows your back story, they know what’s already been done or what your particular challenges are.
As Lisa Giedd, of The Bluffs at Nine Mile Creek (Dominium) shared as a best practice, “If a resident asks for a specific team member or the manager, do what you can to connect them with that team member. Even if someone else was able to answer the question or resolve the issue, the resident will mostly remember that the team member or manager was not available to them.”
2. Expect Your Resident Communications to Always Go Well
One of the best pieces of advice I ever received from a supervisor was, “Go into the meeting expecting that it will go well. Nine times out of 10, it will.” It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you expect that a resident meeting or call is going to be a disaster, it probably will be. But if you anticipate your own ability to provide a good resolution and that the resident will walk away feeling good, then most likely that will be the outcome.
Relationships with residents, like all other relationships, are built on communication, trust and shared experiences. Give them reasons to love you, believe in your ability to work well with them and enjoy the result.
3. Dress Yourself and Your Property for Success
Residents want to be proud to show off their home to friends and family. Now, more than ever, the appearance and condition of common areas is being taken into consideration when a person chooses to rent or to renew. Be obsessive about neatness and tidiness. Ensure walkways are swept, trashcans are emptied, cobwebs are brushed away, bare dirt is attended to, etc. Your community doesn’t need to be brand new to look well kept.
The same goes for you. You’re part of the scenery, so take pride in your own appearance. Clothing should be clean and pressed. Your hair and nails should be neatly groomed. Are your residents excited to walk their guests around the community? Are they excited to introduce them to you (or do they steer them away)?
The Apartment Business is a Relationship Business
Residents don’t “just” leave apartments. They more often than not leave people. Our business is built on relationships, and our ability to build those relationships is going to determine the big winners and the colossal losers in our industry.
“Sense of Community” = “Sense of Connection with the Staff.”
Give residents a reason to love you and they’ll have no reason to leave you.
(Image source: Shutterstock)