We all know rent renewals make multifamily leader’s hearts sing. Renewals mean setting aside the worry of move-out - costs of turning a unit over and the uncertainty of how long a unit remains vacant. With more units coming onto the market, embracing effective retention strategies will have a significant cost-saving effect on your properties.
But where do you start? As most know, renewals start from the day renters move in. With that in mind, let’s break down what all impacts resident retention so your properties can refine renewal strategies.
The rental market conditions are naturally going to affect your renewals. In order to create effective renewal strategies, your properties need to first understand what extrinsic factors are contributing to the potential reasons of a renter moving out.
City by city and town by town this might look different. Knowing your market and its current or projected rental rates can help you prepare for the impact on your properties and help you make decisions around rent adjustments and increases for lease renewals along with how to communicate those with residents who will be affected by those increases.
Rental housing is unlike any other product or service. There is nothing more personal or important than where someone lays their head at night. The fact that multifamily has a role when it comes to providing quality housing is not lost on us.
It’s abundantly clear that when a potential renter comes into or calls the leasing office, on-site staff do a great job of getting to know these prospects and understanding what their wants and needs are so that those prospects might find and choose an apartment that suits those desires. However, it’s not uncommon for property teams to eventually stop being their personal housing counselor after the lease is signed.
Property managers have a unique opportunity to gather feedback and insights from their residents to better understand what their needs, preferences or concerns about the property are. Lori Krull says the most important role property managers have with renters is listening.
“It’s so important to survey the residents,” says Lori Krull. “Communicating with renters well before they renew about what they are loving and what they aren’t loving about living on your property helps your teams figure out if there are areas where you can offer or provide more value to them.”
Terri Clifton echoes this sentiment stating that “your renter’s feedback is essentially them helping you make the property better for everyone.” If you are taking the feedback of your renters seriously and adjusting accordingly based on what they tell you, your property is essentially establishing respect and trust that their voice matters to you.
“You can’t be in this industry if you don’t care about people,” Terri said candidly. What will really help your renewals most is equipping your teams to have personal relationships with renters, one where residents feel heard and where what matters to them in regards to quality housing matters to your on-site teams, too.
Your staff may be diverse and all of them may have different sets of social skills. This is why it’s important to train them in how they approach relationships with renters. Providing them with tools and knowledge around how to navigate social environments, build relationships, handle interpersonal interactions, and cope with difficulties.
Coach them through how to have personalized conversations with renters well in advance of their renewal. From a “sales” perspective, you are making an ask for more money ahead of their decision to renew their lease, which shouldn’t be done flippantly.
If your staff leaves an impersonalized notice on their door or sends an automated email regarding the rent increase, you are missing out on an opportunity to hear out their questions or concerns about said increases. In reality, talking it through with them may give your team a chance to provide more context as to why the rental increase is taking place and possibly be the difference between whether they renew or not.
Retaining your residents safeguards revenue and controls expenses. Retention increases when residents are actively engaged with the management team and their neighbors. We cannot overstate the importance of your renters’ level of engagement with the property staff and community as a whole. Trust, effective communication, follow-through, and enhancing the perceived value of the property is fundamental to retaining your residents.
If your residents have a leaking faucet and they tell you directly about it or place a work order, listen and follow through.
If your residents are frustrated with the trash constantly being left in the mail room, listen and follow through.
If your residents are complaining about lack of connection and community in the building, listen and follow through.
If your residents are anxious about the rent increases at your property, listen and follow through.
Following through might look different case-by-case. It could mean keeping in communication when there are delays on a work order or maintenance request. It could mean doing a better job of keeping trash out of the mail room. It could also mean offering free pet rent or offering $200 off their first month’s rent when they renew. Ultimately, your residents are, consciously or not, providing you with opportunities to show up for them and establish trust. How your team responds will inevitably play out come time for them to renew their lease.
All in all, if you take care of your staff and providing them with resources, your staff will take care of your residents. If your staff takes care of their residents, your residents will be more likely to stay for the long run. Renewals aren’t cut and dry and every resident is different in what they value. Treat renters as such, personalizing your relationships from day one and onward.
If you’re interested in ResMan as a software provider for your daily operations, book a demo to see the product up close.