It’s inevitable. Whether the community you manage is affordable or Class A-plus to the max, residents are never going to be eternally happy. No matter how dreamy your amenities or robust your service levels, the occasional difficult conversation is unavoidable.
Sometimes the resident is upset about a renewal increase or the racket caused by an onsite renovation. Sometimes their discontent stems from their co-residents. Other times, they’re mad just for the sake of being mad. While peacemaker isn’t among the primary duties listed in a leasing associate’s job description, the ability to diffuse tension is an underrated quality in the apartment world.
Granted, a one-size-fits-all solution doesn’t exist, as onsite issues and complaints can span a wide variety of topics and be as unique as the individuals airing the grievances. But the more prepared you are for situations ranging from the everyday to the bizarre, the better you’ll be at properly extinguishing them.
Pairing personal interaction with tech in the form of automated communication allows an onsite team to take preemptive measures, such as having a communication plan in place for certain situations and knowing when to escalate to legal. It also allows the team to follow up on in-person interactions so the resident knows their concerns haven’t been forgotten.
Here’s a look at a few potential difficult conversations that might arise at your community and recommendations for how to handle them:
Renewal increases: It’s never a pleasurable situation when your bills increase, and it’s even worse if you don’t know why. Renewal increases have been standard in the apartment industry, particularly with the cresting market of the past several years. But before sending a renewal increase, it’s best to communicate to the resident that it’s coming and to provide some context. Perhaps their increase is lower than standard because they have been solid residents. Or maybe it’s in line with the market, and you want to explain why rates are on the rise. Either way, the preemptive conversation reflects well before the resident digitally receives their official renewal increase.
Onsite renovations: Waking up to the sound of a jackhammer doesn’t necessarily invoke a sense of serenity. Yet sometimes, onsite upgrades are a must. Just like with the renewal increase, communicating to residents prior to an official notice is recommended. This gives you the opportunity to explain the purpose behind the renovations, which might be designed to provide a modernized gym, upgraded clubhouse or anything else that will enhance the resident experience. After the initial communication, use automated updates to communicate the progress of the onsite activity and offer timeline updates.
Resident disputes: Whether it’s concerns about noise, smoking, over-occupancy or residents who don’t properly pick up after their pets, residents will not be shy to nitpick one another. Too often, onsite teams field the complaint but don’t communicate what they’ve done about the concern. This insinuates to the resident that nothing has been done. While each complaint and ensuing community action are different, make sure to offer regular updates on what you’ve done, even in cases where no solution is readily available.
These are only some of the difficult conversations that can happen onsite. But the more equipped you are to address these situations and follow up on them in proper fashion, the more quickly you’ll provide a remedy for them.