Strong relationships with renters can create a loyal following
Automation can streamline a lot of business processes, but AI can’t replace a human touch. In multifamily, where you sell intangibles like home, lifestyle, comfort and ease, Rosie the Robot lacks the warmth you need to connect on a deeper level. Building relationships with renters – relationships that last – requires thoughtful human moments.
Contact 1: The Website
The vast majority of people will visit your website before reaching out for further information, so make sure your site works for you. Your site does not have to deliver every minute detail about your property or rental agreement. It does need to say “welcome home” with a strong brand presence.
Your name, logo, colors, tagline and featured photos all tell a story, and that story will either resonate or fall flat. Finding that balance requires a touch of science, a heap of art and a lot of experience. Don’t skimp here.
The website design should easily lead people to the information they need to take the next step – calling or emailing you for more information. Make information easy to find and not too overwhelming, and include calls to action in several prominent places.
Finally, feature your people on your website to show that your property is about community and relationships. A letter (with a headshot or team photo) or a short video greeting from your on-site staff can help potential residents develop a clearer picture of the community’s vibe. Smiling faces on your site can be as important as those stunning interior shots.
Contact 2: The Tour
In multifamily, technology has made it easy to reach potential renters anywhere and anytime. In the wake of the pandemic, that remote access has become a necessity for many.
However, your online presence should not replace your people. Your residents want to meet their community manager, and they want to know a friendly face will greet them if they have a problem. How you introduce potential renters to your staff online can set the stage for building rapport later.
If possible, encourage live, on-site tours. That in-person interaction allows for eye contact and nonverbal communication – not to mention a five-senses experience with your property (I mean, five senses if you offer coffee or cookies to taste, maybe).
If a virtual tour is the preferred option, schedule a guided virtual tour with a staff member who can answer questions along the way. Also keep in mind the visual and auditory experience your renter will have during the tour. When they can’t physically experience a space, those two senses become vitally important to carrying your brand message.
Contact 3: Signing and Moving In
Signing a lease is a business deal, yes, but you can make it feel less intimidating for your new residents. Whether they sign online or in office, consider their point-of-view at every touchpoint.
In 2021, there’s no need for a cramped-office atmosphere that says “used car dealership” more than it says “put up your feet, you’re welcome here.” You likely have this element of resident service down to a tee. If you don’t, take a good look at how you can make this process more human and more warm.
When your new residents move in, find ways to make that day special. A small welcome gift or personal note with an information packet can help them feel like people – not numbers. Create a move-in program that speaks to your property’s brand and lifestyle.
As soon as possible after a resident’s move-in date, have a staff member stop by and/or call to welcome them and to check in. Send a survey link to ask about their experience and whether they need anything. Those early contacts will show them that your property and staff believe in open communication and encourage feedback.
Contact 4 and Beyond: Resident Life
Once new residents have settled in, keep up regular communication. Send periodic emails and surveys to keep tabs on what your residents want and need most.
Whether you offer affordable apartments or luxury living, impeccable resident service can make people feel safer, more at home and more likely to stay. Even in times of crisis (thanks, Covid), resident service should remain a top priority. As this Wealth Management writer advises:
“Resident services coordinators can improve resident health and well-being, reduce evictions, and even reduce property operating costs—helping to create the safe and well-maintained communities that benefit residents and owners alike.
In times of crisis, particularly if operating cash is tight, an owner might be tempted to eliminate or redirect any resident services, instead prioritizing rent collection. This shortsighted move might make sense on paper, but it fails to account for the ways resident services coordinators can keep communities afloat in the long term.”
Think about all the little moments that can make your residents’ lives easier or more comfortable:
- Maintain a resident portal that allows them to provide feedback, pay rent and request maintenance quickly and easily
- Consider concierge or on-demand services (rideshare, grocery delivery, pet services, etc.)
- Install secure package delivery lockers
- Deliver on your lifestyle promises with high-quality amenities, well-maintained grounds, timely repairs and upkeep, beautiful design, etc.
- Create more human connections with virtual or in-person resident events
- Become an integral part of your neighborhood(s) with community events, sponsorships, volunteer opportunities for staff/residents and more
Throughout the resident experience, an eye toward human connection and human needs can help your community develop a loyal following. Happy residents become long-term residents. They also refer their friends and leave positive reviews online, which helps you build a stronger reputation in the community.