The Top 5 Factors Resulting in Resident Loyalty


When it comes to maintaining and increasing resident retention, we seem to put a lot of focus on why our residents are not loyal to us, but what we should really be asking ourselves is “What am I doing right?” When you identify who your loyal residents are, you’ll usually find there are five common factors that correlate with their loyalty. We’ve listed them below for your convenience:

1. You Ask for AND Listen to Resident Feedback

You know that traditional satisfactions surveys don’t cut it – that you need to ask the hard questions and really listen to residents’ needs, wants, and concerns. You know that survey programs modeled after proven Net Promoter Score (NPS) methodology, give you the greatest insight into resident loyalty by answering the question “What is the likelihood you would recommend us?” Willingness to recommend is one of the strongest signs of customer loyalty (“The One Number You Need to Grow”, Harvard Business Review). Residents who are loyal will not only give you referrals, but they will stay longer and are willing to pay more.

After you take time to listen to their desires and honest feedback, you work to provide your residents with what they need or want in a home. You show them that you care about them, and caring builds trust. When you implement changes and improvements based on resident feedback, you cultivate resident loyalty, and practically, increased resident retention.

How can you get more feedback to generate resident loyalty?

  1. Ask your residents how they are doing at every opportunity, through:
    1. Loyalty-based resident surveys
    2. Personal conversations
    3. Social media channels
  2. Monitor apartment rating and review sites
  3. Review resident letters/complaints
  4. Keep current on the grapevine at your community

2. You are Fast to Resolve any Maintenance or Apartment Community Issues

When a problem does arise, you are prompt in providing the best solution. You know that resolving concerns as quickly as possible is part of the success equation. Quick action prevents small issues from becoming bigger. Using an ongoing program of loyalty-based resident surveys ensures that you have a constant flow of information and can stay apprised of any concerns so they can be addressed right away.

Because you realize your residents will share their experiences with anyone who will listen, you know that a speedy solution to problems is a winning proposition and will help generate resident loyalty (and increase lead conversion).

3. You Make Living at your Apartment Community Easy

Your staff and services are convenient for residents and you consider it part of your job to make their life easier and more enjoyable. You’ve designed your procedures and processes to deliver the kind of lifestyle that feels good to come home to. Residents know your team is there for them and will help them in any way they can. Keeping life simple is one of the best ways to generate resident loyalty.

4. You Know your Residents Have A Choice—and You Let them Know It

Unless your community is located in a remote area of Antarctica, you are not the only place your residents could choose to live. You express your sincere thanks to residents for choosing your community as their home. You offer valuable products and services that generate resident loyalty. A greater value keeps them coming back for more and will get you plenty of referrals. A mere 5% increase in resident loyalty can improve overall profitability by 25% – 100% (The Loyalty Effect, Reichheld).

5. You Create “WOW” Moments in your Community

Having satisfied customers is not enough – satisfied residents defect. Loyal residents stay and refer friends and family to your apartment community. You strive every day to create “WOW” moments by delivering a consistently positive and memorable customer experience. You know your resident’s emotional connection and reaction to their living experience is what drives their action and will ultimately generate resident loyalty.

Your focus on “WOW” experiences helps build a relationship between you and your residents based on trust. They come to expect you will adhere to good corporate citizenship, offer transparency, and hold yourself to a standard of accountability. Seventy eight percent of purchase decisions are made based on peer-to-peer recommendations, and because you consistently provide a “WOW” experience, your residents are enthusiastic enough they will stake their own reputation with a friend or colleague to refer them to you (“How Philips Uses Net Promoter Scores to Understand Customers”, Harvard Business Review).

Loyal residents are your most profitable residents. They are happier, lease longer, and will be your brand champions. Because of your personal experiences, you know who you would be willing to recommend to others and why.

What things do you do that generate resident loyalty?


Image Credit: iStockphoto



President and Owner, Ellis Partners in Mystery Shopping

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Joanna Ellis is CEO and Owner of Ellis Partners in Management Solutions (EPMS) and Co-owner of Renter’s Voice. Under her direction, Ellis has established itself as the premier apartment mystery shopping company in the nation, as well as a respected provider of multi-touch point resident surveys, as part of their retention-focused customer experience program. Current clients include most major apartment developers, management companies, and REITs. Through Renter’s Voice, Ellis helps clients promote and respond to authentic and objective apartment reviews. Having earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business from Texas A&M, Ms. Ellis has spent more than 25 years in the multifamily industry, and she now holds both the Certified Apartment Manager (CAM) and Certified Apartment Property Supervisor (CAPS). She is also a licensed Texas Real Estate Agent. In honor of EPMS’ reputation for integrity, the Dallas Chapter of the Society of Financial Service Professionals awarded Joanna, on behalf of the company, the 2008 Greater Dallas Business Ethics Award for mid-size companies.

5 responses to “The Top 5 Factors Resulting in Resident Loyalty”

  1. John Gunn says:

    Great piece Joanna – I would like to add another and that is shared values. Shared values are what build brand loyalties in other areas of resident’s lives. Think of Harley Davidson, Pedigree dog food, or Apple. For multi-family this could take the form of demonstrating a caring about families, or being devoted to dog lovers, or having a focus on security. These shared values makes a property unique to others and add stickiness to residents.

  2. Joanna Ellis says:

    John – I am glad you enjoyed my article. You make a great point! And it all begins with “understanding your customer” through their eyes. We can all agree that living in an apartment is an emotional decision; after all, it’s a home. While “home” means something different to each of us, a “home” is not limited to the interior walls. To your point, those shared values and interests can separate an apartment “complex” from an apartment “community”. Understanding your customers and what factors drive their loyalty is invaluable insight that gives you a very powerful advantage. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts!

  3. Joanna – you’re spot on with your suggestions. I think property owner who get into real estate as a “passive investment” forget all about customer loyalty. Its heart breaking that our industry has such a negative image to overcome.

    I really like your idea of “WOW” moments. You show great insight by including this tip as your last point. We practice this idea by sponsoring an annual National Night Out event for our block. It lets our tenants and neighbors know that we’re interested in making the area nicer and nicer with their help. It’s pretty self serving – but aren’t all good business practices?

  4. Thank you Joanna for your insightful article. I subscribe so I can learn and listen to property owner/manager’s needs and stories. I just finished my MBA and have launched a software venture that I designed to help real estate people accomplish these goals of retaining their tenants through quality service. I spend a lot of time listening and learning from folks who expIain to me the daily operational challenges they face tracking what happens at their apartments.

    I live in an apartment in SF myself and quite frankly my landloard is not very responsive (to put it lightly.) All i really care about is that she responses in a timely manner to my issues and provides quality work. My eTRACKER technology helps property managers become more responsive and ensure quality work via efficiencies (mobile application and the cloud.)

    My question: how important of a role do you believe technology plays in accomplishing the goals of maintenance responsiveness, customer feedback, WOW moment, brand loyalty etc.? I want to learn so I can continue to build the tools to help this industry accomplish these very objectives.

  5. Pat Gleason says:

    Love the concept of WOW experiences. We need to demonstrate our awareness that it’s our privilege to manage a person’s home, this concept is far more reaching than just a bricks and mortar responsibility.

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