Buyers want more than an image; you need to back up your brand
We’ve talked a lot about building a strong brand that sits apart from competitors, but you must back up your brand promises. Nothing kills a brand faster than unmet customer expectations.
The multifamily brand promise
In the multifamily industry, customer service becomes a highly personal endeavor. Your product is home – and all that implies. Your renters expect to feel comfortable and cared for in their community.
If your renters love their home, they will become your biggest fans and best word-of-mouth marketers. They will want their friends and family to experience the warmth and vibrancy of your community.
If they don’t feel at home, they will look for the exit as soon as their lease expires. Not only that, they will tell their friends to avoid your property and/or leave bad reviews on social media. The last thing you want is an unhappy customer.
Your challenge is to create the lifestyle and atmosphere promised in your branding. You can follow through on that promise in a number of ways:
Begin with design and physical surroundings. If your brand promises green spaces, fresh air and spaciousness, then look for ways to add those details to your community. Do you have space for a rooftop garden or a greenhouse atrium? Can you add a living wall to your lobby or corridors? Even a fresh coat of paint in the colors of nature can help convey that feeling.
For a luxury brand that hints at sophistication, a furniture upgrade could do the trick. Accessories, trim and details can go a long way toward making a space feel special and luxe. Be sure to add some of those touches as you upgrade individual units as well.
The amenities you offer can help renters feel much more attached to your property. They can make the difference between high turnover and a deeply loyal resident base.
That said, amenities don’t necessarily have to mean costly renovations. In some cases, a significant renovation makes sense, but many properties can step up their amenity game by enhancing existing features.
If your renters want a sense of community and social connection, for example (and if that jives with your brand), host happy hours or cooking classes in your lobby or event room. If you welcome pets, add a pet concierge or partner with nearby resources (boutiques, groomers, dog walkers, etc.) to help meet your renters’ pet-care needs. Research shows that service-based amenities lead to strong returns for multifamily properties.
The key is to create enhancements that fit your renters’ particular lifestyle. Think creatively when it comes to amenities. If you make a renters lives easier or more fulfilling, even in small ways, they will notice and appreciate it.
Amenities help scratch the surface of the experience renters want in their community, but you can help make their experience richer from start to finish.
Consider the rental experience from the moment a prospect walks into your lobby, or visits your website, and then at every point along his or her experience:
First impressions (lobby and/or website)
Property and unit tour
How well staff, or marketing materials, answer a prospect’s questions
Day-to-day living and lifestyle, in-unit and in common areas
Feeling a part of the larger community
You have an opportunity at every touch point to make your renter feel welcome and at home. Take every chance to show your renters how much you value them.
Finally, a piece that’s often overlooked: Stay in communication with your existing renters. Encourage them to share their experiences, needs and suggestions with you.
According to Bisnow:
“According to Zillow Rentals, 68% of renters leave their apartments because of bad customer service. This turnover can be costly for both tenants and property managers.”
Investment in technology, such as online maintenance requests or electronic rental payments, can solve many multifamily communication challenges. Beyond that, encouraging communication between renters and property managers can help uncover problems early ‒ when they are easier to solve.
Think of ongoing communication as both customer service and marketing to existing clients. It’s easier and cheaper to retain an existing tenant than to find a new one. When a customer feels heard, problems don’t blow up as easily. Also remember to ask your happiest renters for testimonials and referrals.
A recent report from Newmark Knight Frank illustrates the impact of design, amenities and experience in retaining tenants and in garnering stronger rents:
“Importantly, the value of amenities and design does not exist in a vacuum. While a strong portfolio of amenities and elite design can accelerate a project’s lease-up pace and increase the property’s achievable rents, those favorable traits can be offset – or even overwhelmed – by poor marketing and management.”
That last line speaks to the importance of backing up your brand with substance. Strong property management and skilled multifamily marketing can support renter attraction and retention. A brand without substance behind it can only go so far.
If you need help implementing a multifamily branding and marketing strategy, contact us. We specialize in helping multifamily properties develop a unique presence in the marketplace.