resident retentionWe all know the saying: a dog is a man’s best friend. There are plenty of reasons why—they are cute and fun, and they bring comfort and joy when you need it. If you are a property manager who has a furry friend, you probably understand this already. But even if you don’t have one or are not particularly fond of them, a pet could also be your business’s best friend.

Animals are assets in attracting potential residents and differentiating yourself from competitors. The most frequently asked question from renters is “Do you allow pets?” So while a renter’s dog might not be your cup of tea, it means a good deal to their owners and therefore should mean a lot to you.

As an example, allow me to take a quick moment and tell you how AppFolio utilizes dog friendliness to propel happiness and productivity in the workplace. Trust me, it directly relates to how you can take advantage of pet friendliness in your property management business.

A Dog Friendly AppFolio Boosts Employee Happiness

The dog friendly environment of AppFolio’s offices is one of the reasons why people love working here and why they feel like they have found a home upon joining the team. Welcoming a new dog keeps spirits high throughout the day. They unknowingly foster values beneficial for a productive and close knit community; employees will occasionally reach out to coworkers for dog care which cultivates a mindset of helping one another during and outside of work hours. And when you’re having a rough day, a five-minute break with a new puppy is all it takes to bring a smile. It’s important for companies to offer perks that enable employees to have both a successful personal life and also a professional one. Dog friendliness at AppFolio promotes a happy and social atmosphere, and these points can be easily transcribed from the AppFolio setting to the Property Manager setting.

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How Can Property Managers Institute Dog Friendliness

Most people’s pets are like family to them, so being told that there’s no room for pets can be enough for an applicant to walk out the door. Alternatively, dog friendliness at a property can be very enticing for a potential renter. It can be the reason that your listing initially draws their eye, but can also play a part in what keeps the renter happy and feeling at home.

Making a shift towards dog friendliness (or pet friendliness in general—this is not exclusive to dogs!) can be difficult, but also incredibly rewarding for your business. One of the most common things property managers do is to simply have a “pet interview” where they sit down with the pet and their owner. This can be a great way to make renters feel more welcomed while also helping you stay knowledgeable about the pets living on your properties. Here are three more ways that can make your transition to pet friendliness a smooth one.

  1. Educate your residents about socially acceptable pet behavior. This might seem like common knowledge, but it can be helpful to set expectations when transitioning to a pet friendly community. Having pamphlets available and providing doggie bags gives dog owners and other residents all the tools they need to live in a collaborative and successful multifamily home. Educating your residents ensures that they are up to date about the acceptable pet behavior which helps keep everyone happy.
  2. Charge a fair fee for your additional service. Accepting pets can also be used as another avenue of collecting payments. You are providing an additional service: accommodating pets. As such, it is reasonable to introduce security deposits or additional fees for pets. It might also be worth considering putting limitations on the type and number of pets. You can make the dog friendliness aspect of your business worth your time and effort by putting rules, regulations, and fees in place.
  3. Host pet friendly events to promote resident mingling. One of the best ways to avoid conflicts between pet owners and non-owners, is to host social events that encourage co-mingling. People who love pets, but who don’t own one, are more inclined to forgive their infractions if they actually know the pet. This is also a good way to introduce new members into your housing community, and  it helps both pet owners and their neighbors feel more comfortable and friendly with each other. You can use the pet friendliness of your business to bring together residents and foster a more inclusive and social community, which will in turn improve the face and feel of your business.

While pets can sometimes be a nuisance, the reality is that there are a significant number of dog owners looking to rent properties. In a 2015 All Property Management Research Report, 65% of households had pets and 42% had more than one pet.

AppFolio recently surveyed over 200 property management customers and 78% of respondents allow pets of some kind. While you can certainly set the rules—small dogs only, no cats, etc.—the number of renters who are also pet owners is too high to ignore, and catering to their specific needs or at least making them feel welcome is a great way of expanding your business.