As every good property manager knows, long-term residents make for a strong bottom line. However, according to reports, the number of residents willing to renew and stay long term is slowly dwindling. Kingsley Associates noted that only 51.4% of residents in the first quarter of 2016 responded that they “probably would” or “definitely would” renew their leases. That’s tough news in a tough market.
Additionally, vacant units are expensive. Look beyond the simple cost of cleaning and marketing available units: Every month that passes, your vacancy loss rises, and that can cut significantly into your monthly revenue.
It’s apparent that the key to a healthy property is resident retention, but how do you keep renters hooked before it’s time to renew?
Moving day is stressful, but there’s a lot you can do to help with a smooth transition for new residents. Find out what time they’re planning on arriving and ensure there’s room for their van or truck outside their apartment. Create a welcome kit to leave in the apartment that offers advice on grocery stores, gas stations or even the best spot for that all-important move-in pizza. Take this opportunity to reach out to local businesses and coordinate special deals, discounts or coupons for your residents, possibly in return for a mention in your resident newsletter. Finally, check in once or twice with your renters during the move to make sure everything is going right.
If you know a little about your new residents, you can give them targeted information both before and after they move in. For example, families will want to know about local schools, bus stops, playgrounds and parks. Young couples might want to hear about that hot ramen restaurant that just opened down the street. Pet owners might want recommendations for highly rated vets or groomers. Become your residents’ local guru and let them know you’re there to answer the questions to help them settle into their new home.
Do you hold any resident events? Create a sense of community with your residents to help them love where they live—and potentially make them less likely to want to move when their lease is up. Think about end-of-summer BBQs, book clubs, softball games or even just a potluck. When residents know their neighbors, they may feel more at home, and that’s something you can help foster.
Every renter knows that problems come up — but it’s how you and your staff respond to issues that makes all the difference. Do you have a system in place to manage requests? How about a 24-hour emergency maintenance line to deal with larger issues? Try keeping track of response times to see where you can improve. Above all, always be communicative with your residents – send text and email updates and give them the opportunity to respond. They’ll appreciate knowing what’s going on, which can help foster trust in you and your team.
Getting that next renewal is more than just sending out a reminder a month before. By keeping your residents warm, you’ll establish a relationship that may last for years.