Last modified on June 1st, 2016
By Rachel Jefferson
What residents really want from your property management company is important to know but so difficult to capture without a little bit of prodding. When you do know what your residents want, the next question you can ask yourself is “can I give my residents what they’re requesting?” But until you’re sure what your residents are looking for, there’s no opportunity to have a discussion about whether you’re willing and able to provide the items that they are seeking.
How Do I Find Out What My Residents Want?
The answer is pretty plain and simple: you have to ask. Unfortunately, it’s really rather complicated when put into practice. Just sticking a suggestion box on the desk or sending out a notification isn’t enough to get people to engage. Residents need to feel like you want to know what matters to them. If they don’t feel their voices will be heard, they really don’t have a reason to tell you what they want. They also need to be reminded. And reminded again. With all the self-service options and convenient online portals, renters rarely need to visit the main office, so I bet that suggestion box isn’t getting a lot of foot traffic. People are also driven by incentives, rewards, and what’s in it for them. When’s the last time you filled out a survey for anything that didn’t include a gift card or the chance to win an awesome prize? (If you did, you deserve a pat on the back!)
Talking with residents and getting to know them is really the best way to find out what they want. When they trust you, they will tell you what bothers them about the house or apartment they’re living in. Hold a forum on a weeknight where you hear people out. Then you can take that information and see if there are any patterns among the residents. One resident wishing they has a washer and dryer, for example, isn’t the same as an entire apartment complex full of people lobbying for washers and dryers that are on premises and consistently working. Beyond asking in person, you can also scour online reviews for insight, and send out email surveys or social media polls every quarter to find out more.
Why Is Resident Retention So Important?
Resident retention matters because it’s a big part of your bottom line as a property management company. The more high-quality residents in your community who renew their leases, the more steady income your company benefits from. You may also not have to worry about a lot of turnover, maintenance, or repairs when you have good renters in your properties. That can really improve your overall company success, and keep the owners of the properties you’re managing happy, too. You don’t want to lose owners because that reduces the number of properties and residents you take care of.
Among the best ways to keep resident retention (and resident happiness) as high as possible is to be sure you give residents as much of what they really want as possible. That doesn’t mean agreeing to requests that are completely out of line, or doing something for one resident that you wouldn’t do for all residents. Everything has to be fair and legal, or a property manager could get into a lot of trouble. To avoid that risk, any changes that are made for one resident have to be made for other renters, too.
While your property management company won’t be able to accommodate all requests, and many of the changes residents may wish for would have to be made by owners and not managers, having an understanding of what matters to residents of an apartment building or a house can help your company work with the owner to potentially make changes that will increase resident retention.