Tips for Fostering a Sense of Community

The first differentiating factor property management companies should consider is fostering a sense of community. One of the hardest parts about renting vs. buying is finding a sense of belonging and feeling at home. By their nature, apartments often aren’t permanent. The average resident will stay in one place for under three years. But that doesn’t mean property management companies can’t build vibrant communities that feel like home no matter how short or long a resident occupies their unit. There are numerous strategies and programs that, when implemented, help achieve this goal.

Throughout the remainder of this section we’ll highlight a few, while also providing tips for how to make them a reality at your properties.

Think long and hard about your pet policy - The pros and cons to allowing residents to have pets in their apartments are plentiful. Will the resident clean up after their pet? Will the pet cause wear and tear that humans would not? Will you be subjecting yourself to additional liability in case a pet attacks another resident or their guest.

While these are all valid concerns many of them can be resolved through a well written policy, security deposits (or deposit alternatives), and requiring residents to obtain a renters insurance policy that absolves property management from liability in the event of an attack. Giving residents the option to have pets will go a long way toward helping them feel more at home. Pets give them a sense of stability they might not have if they weren’t allowed.

An added benefit to you is that oftentimes you’re able to charge a higher rent to pet owners because fewer properties allow residents to have pets. Along those same lines, pet owners typically have a higher lifetime value because they stay in apartments longer due to the difficulty of finding pet-friendly housing.

Make health and wellness a priority - Health and wellness are top of mind for Gen Z and Millennial renters, but their thinking goes beyond the traditional definition. In the past, it might have been enough to provide residents access to fitness equipment on property or at a local gym, but now you need more than that to compete.

Younger residents value activities that promote mental health as much, if not more, than physical activities. They are also focused on taking proactive actions to maintain physical and mental health. Additionally, because of the impact the pandemic had on their formative years, they value in-person activities that focus on relationship building that is augmented by technology as opposed to activities strictly driven by technology.

As a result, on-site teams should plan activities that meet those needs. These include health fairs where they can learn about the latest trends in physical and mental health from professionals, offering flu shots and COVID boosters, or providing or partnering with providers for health amenity experiences, such as yoga, pilates, spin, and other classes to both promote health and in-person interaction.

Provide flex spaces to residents - Another potential downside to renting is lacking the necessary space to host friends and family. Many properties have a clubhouse or other flex spaces that can be reserved or rented for a nominal fee. Having the freedom to host a baby shower, birthday party, quinceanera, or other community-oriented event eliminates potential stress the resident might feel, while also helping them to feel at home.

While providing these spaces to your residents might reduce stress on their part, it could increase stress for your on-site teams. That is unless you have the right technology in place for access control. Solutions exist that make it easy for residents to request and for on-site teams to manage requests and easily provide access. .

Highlight amenities that set you apart from other properties - Do you have a pickleball court? A nice spa with sauna, steam, and cold plunge? A pool with a bar? Whatever it is about your properties that make you different, better, or special, make sure they are front and center on your website along with other digital and analog marketing channels and tools as well and communicate them regularly to your residents.

Having access to these types of amenities differentiates renting from home ownership as well. They often provide residents with opportunities to meet and engage with their neighbors in a more relaxed setting because it can be hard to get to know people when you are just passing them in the hall. But getting to know someone over a game of pickleball or over a drink is more natural.

Have well defined service levels in place - One of the biggest benefits of renting vs. owning is not having to hassle with maintenance, upkeep, or repairs. That is, of course, as long as on-site teams are responsive to these maintenance requests. The goal for these teams is to make living at your properties as easy and frictionless as possible. Each property should set goals for response time based on staff availability and whether maintenance is handled in-house or contracted through a third party. Leverage your software’s capabilities to evaluate team performance against the standards you set for each job type and the individuals providing the service.

Taking the time to set these service levels and communicating them to residents ensures that they know what to expect when they make service requests. Make sure to communicate successes to the team when you are achieving those standards to reinforce their importance.

Have a resident communications strategy in place - Once you’ve decided what community building strategies and tactics you plan on implementing, it’s important that you also have a robust resident communication strategy in place. If you plan on offering something, it’s important that residents know about it. You should advertise these activities and programs through every channel you have available, from your website, to your app, to your message center in your office, to the elevator. Wherever your residents are, that’s where your message should be.

Beyond promoting your community building activities, put a nurture strategy in place that keeps the resident engaged with the community. The more it feels like home, the harder it will be for them to leave when their lease is up, and consistent communication from management that’s more than just billing information will go a long way toward creating those feelings. Depending on your community and resident preference, the nurture campaigns can be distributed via email, text, or on your app.

Possible messages to consider including in the nurture are holiday greetings, deals and specials to local businesses, birthday greetings, anniversary messages on the signing of their lease, etc.

Learn more

To learn more tips and tricks about delivering a best in class experience to your residents download our ebook, Resident Experience 101 | Tips for building a resident experience that resonates and engages with current and potential residents

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