1) Contact Information Audit -
If you haven’t done one of these recently, it’s well past due. I am aware of how tedious it is to call every single resident and confirm or gather their contact info, but doing this serves some great purposes. First, you need that info. And you need more than just a phone number. With the prevalence of throw and go cell phones these days, you need a contact method that’s a little more dependable, namely email. I’m a big fan of also gathering permission to text your residents with information at this point as well. Secondly, when you make it a point to call every resident, you’re TALKING TO EVERY RESIDENT. You have a chance here to touch base with your customers and take the relationship temperature – Do they need a work order that they haven’t thought of? Are they still pleased with their home? Have little problems been building into big frustrations? This a good chance for you to root out those problems!
2) Work Order Audit-
If your office staff or maintenance staff doesn’t follow up on every work order done each week, this is a good time to start. Satisfacts Research has found direct correlations between outstanding and poorly completed work orders and resident turnover, and all it takes is a phone call, email, or text message to check in with your customers and make sure that the work was done to their standards. If you’re working in a busy office, make it your goal to follow up with 10 residents a day. Just 10. You spend more time than that on Facebook each day looking at people posting pictures of their dogs.
3) Get “Micro-Managey” with Your Property Walks-
That’s right, even when you do get a second to sit down, I’m asking you to get up out of that chair and walk your property. I want you to scrutinize imperfections like you were the biggest micro management manager on the planet. Take with you a legal pad and draw a line vertically down the middle. On one side of the line write “NOW” and on the other write “TBD” and list every single problem that you see in one column or the other. In the NOW column, write down little problems and short projects that you’ve been overlooking or procrastinating on. If it is a small thing that will take 5 minutes of a tech or leasing consultant’s time, then divvy up that part list and hand it out to your team, keeping some tasks for yourself. For the larger tasks, sit down with your maintenance supervisor and management team and get them scheduled on a calendar. If you don’t set a date, you’ll never get them done, and your residents notice when you procrastinate upkeep tasks on the property like pressure washing, painting, restriping the parking lot and repainting curbs.
4) While you’re doing number 3, don’t be all business about it
When we get clipboard tunnel syndrome, it’s easy to focus on that task in front of us and ONLY on that task. The problem with this approach is that you miss the life happening around you while you’re making your lists, and it’s that life, that community, buzzing around you that helps you rent your apartments, not to mention keep your residents. Make sure that you’re asking residents while you’re out and about making your lists how their lives are going, and then, if they actually answer you, please listen. Converse with them, make them feel appreciated or just on equal footing with you, and they’re more likely to stick around, even through the less than pleasant (for them) rent hike we know we have to hand out this year.
5) Don’t hide the rental rates
I wasn’t a fan as folks did this when the market was going badly, but I could see their reasoning behind it. But now?! Showing your rates and making that knowledge not only available, but visible to your resident base prepares them for the rental increase that’s coming. In fact, you could really look awesome here and by allowing them to see what the current market rent is, make sure that the renewal rate is a smidgen lower. The residents feel validated and appreciated, even though the rate is going up, and you’re not paying the cost of turning that unit, which, let’s face it, was going to cost you 2 to 3 thousand dollars. I think compared to that, a little off the top of their rental rate is a pretty small price to pay.
None of this is rocket science, but I didn’t promise you rocket science. I promised 5 things you could do today. Now – Time is opportunity! Get out there and make the most of it!