Improving Lease Renewals by Anticipating Problems & Meeting Expectations


Some states have laws on the books so ridiculous that websites have been created to document the insanity. Just enter a search for “funny state laws” or “crazy laws still in effect” and you’d be surprised how many are out there. You may only throw a frisbee at the beach in Los Angeles County, CA with the lifeguard’s permission. And in Alaska, waking a sleeping bear for a photo opportunity is strictly forbidden.

So, what if the property management industry enacted a law that demanded all residents to post an online review after every interaction with the management team? Imagine that being an actual condition of the lease agreement. Safe to say our daily run-ins with the residents will change dramatically. Conversations would be friendlier, assistance would be swifter, resolutions would be more complete and lease renewals would most likely increase

Resident Retention is about How they Live vs. Where they Live

In an earlier blog post, I described why the number 275 is essential to a community’s resident retention efforts. From the day of move-in, to the day the resident receives their 90-day renewal notice, a community has 275 days, which equals 275 opportunities, to intentionally secure or unintentionally sabotage that renewal. You never know what the deciding factor will be for a resident facing a renewal. Quite often, their reasons for not renewing are totally within our control. From the office being responsive and dependable to maintenance having a “one and done” attitude about completing service requests, residents want and need to know the management team is looking out for their best interest.

Residents are beginning to care more about how they live rather than where they live. They want the worry-free lifestyle that is promised on the brochure. They want fast and complete resolutions to their issues and concerns. If they have to work too hard to get those things, they will simply find another community willing to provide such a lifestyle. It all comes down to two things: prevention and recovery.

Loss Prevention: Anticipate Problems by Planning Ahead

Management teams are no longer afforded the luxury of reacting to situations. They must anticipate a problem and plan ahead. Streamlining processes for resident follow ups and service requests is essential for resident retention. If the community has a preventative maintenance plan, they should also have a preventative attrition plan. Anticipate the reasons someone would have to leave the community and have standards in place avoid losing residents.

Making Resolutions that Meet Expectations

Residents are not expecting perfection, but they do expect a resolution. Residents are not born difficult; they are conditioned to be so when time after time their problems go unresolved. When an issue has been brought to light, fast and complete resolutions have to be produced. Noise complaints, maintenance problems and other resident concerns weigh heavily when it comes to resident satisfaction. A satisfied resident understands an annual rental increase and will easily accept such terms. Those not so happy residents will bristle at an increase, however slight.

Anticipate problems and plan ahead – and should things not go so smoothly, make a remarkable recovery. Residents may not be required by law to post online reviews of their experiences but each interaction does factor into their overall lease renewal decisions.


Image Credit: iStockphoto



Vice President of Education and Consulting, SatisFacts Research

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Lia Smith career in training, property management and marketing began in the mid 1990′s. Lia began her training career at Nextel Communications, where she was responsible for training over 1,000 Customer Care Representatives. She then embarked on a new career in property management as a Leasing Associate with Lincoln Property Company, and steadily moved up the ranks. Lia was able to merge the worlds of training and property management when in 2006 she became Director of Training and Marketing at SPM Property Management, a 14,000+ unit portfolio; this included creating SPM Academy and a Learning Management System. She also developed and managed SPM’s resident feedback program, and was responsible for providing post-survey action planning support for property teams and management. Lia has proven experience in solving training and resident retention challenges for market, affordable, senior, tax credit and student communities. These experiences have helped Lia relate to both onsite and corporate associates. Lastly, Lia has presented at key industry events such as MultifamilyPro Brainstorming on topics related to developing the operational and service skills of onsite and executive level teams. Lia Joined the SatisFacts team in 2011 as VP of Education and Consulting.

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