Improving Resident Retention: Putting the Resident’s Convenience above Your Own

Customer LoyaltyI recently saw a post on Facebook where a customer wrote a personal thank you to a popular grocery store. In his post, he explained that he arrived at the store and not realizing that the store had closed ten minutes prior, tried to enter the store. He found the entrance locked, however a manager opened the door and asked how she could help the man. The customer explained that he just needed to get one item and didn’t realize the store had closed. As he turned to walk back to his car, the manager invited him into the store and told him to take his time getting the item he needed. The man hurriedly grabbed the item and headed to the checkout.

At the checkout, he was greeted cheerfully by a cashier who proceeded to ask if the customer needed anything more than just the one item. The man told her that he didn’t want to hold them up and would come back the next day. The cashier smiled and responded, “You should get it now. That’s what we’re here for.” The customer told her that his one item was enough, paid for his purchase, thanked the cashier and left the store.

As he sat in the parking lot, he felt compelled to write about his positive experience. Not only had he arrived ten minutes after the store had closed, but he was allowed to enter the store and make his purchase. He also was given the opportunity to continue shopping if needed without feeling rushed by employees who were ready to go home after a long day. In his post to the company, the customer’s final sentence was “I will never shop anywhere else again.”

Securing Customer Loyalty

How awesome would it be to secure such customer loyalty? At every step of this customer’s interaction, the employees did everything for the customer’s convenience and not their own. Yes, the store was closed and yes, everyone probably wanted to go home but at no time did they give that impression to the customer.

I have been to several communities in the past where the office staff was packed up and ready to go 30 minutes before closing. I have also called communities and the phones were put on service well before the end of the business day. What impression does this leave our residents? When residents are determining the overall value for the rent they are being asked to pay, it boils down to this: value equals convenience.

As we all can relate, there are businesses and services that we would willingly pay more for because of the perceived value. Whether it’s a grocery store that has stellar service, or a hair dresser that you would follow to the ends of the earth for, we do so because of what we get for our money. Our residents are the same way. If you’ve ever had to meet with a resident to discuss a $10 rent increase, that’s a clear sign that the resident has more of an issue with service and less about the dollar amount.

Understand What’s Important to Residents

Securing resident loyalty begins by understanding what is most important to residents. Surprisingly enough, what matters most to residents has little to do with price or amenities. According to the 2011 SatisFacts Index, these are the top five renewal drivers (in order of importance) when it comes to a resident’s overall likeliness to renew:

  • Promptness of response to calls and emails
  • Follow-up on completed service requests
  • Responsiveness and dependability of the office staff
  • Courteousness and professionalism of the office staff
  • Apartment appearance and condition

Improving Resident Retention

Residents do not choose not to renew their lease purely based on a rent increase. In fact, most apartment renters are conditioned to expect some type of an annual increase. What residents are most concerned about, as our research has shown, is the level of service they are receiving for the amount they are being asked to pay. When these two things are out of sync, residents are more inclined to spend their rent dollars elsewhere. In the end, focusing on what matters most to your residents, and not what we think matters most, will ultimately make the difference in the amount of renewals you are able to secure each month.


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.

  • Good article. I’ll remember those 5 things mentioned in my duties as a manager.

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