A few months ago, I taught a class for the local apartment association that encompassed all-things marketing, social media and resident events (at least as all-encompassing as two hours would allow). I love to start a class with one of those obnoxious ice-breakers, so everyone had to stand up and give us their name, property, “theme song” (because if it’s an early 90’s rap song, I will instantly know we’re kindred spirits) and what their biggest obstacle was in regards to the three main topics we’d be covering. I was slightly shocked that out of the 30 people in my class, three-quarters indicated that their toughest issue was not dealing with irate resident comments on their Facebook pages or climbing out of their stale promotional item rut. It was figuring out how to get residents to actually show up at community events.
It sounds easy enough, right? A typical resident event usually includes the basics; free food/drinks in an atmosphere where they can comfortably get to know their neighbors. Unless your residents are all introverts with an aversion to freebies, what’s not to love?
The more we delved into the subject, the more light was shed on the actual problem. The on-site team was, understandably, feeling frustrated that after planning and putting together an event only 3 people showed up. When this happens on a continual basis, it starts to feel like a waste of time. The answer to my next question really took me by surprise though.
“How many of you have surveyed your residents to find out what kind of events they would be interested in attending?"
Crickets. One lone leasing consultant in the very back of the room hesitantly raised her hand.
The best way to find out what your residents want? Ask them! You might be convinced that wine & cheese in the clubhouse will be a surefire hit, but maybe what would really get them excited is an outdoor movie at the pool, cooking class or team trivia night. Utilize a service like Survey Monkey, which is absolutely free and allows you to create a customizable 10-question survey. It can then be emailed directly to your residents or added to your social media outlets. A great way to entice residents to participate is by raffling off a gift card or $20 off rent to one survey-taker at random. Once those surveys start rolling in, analyze the results and try to make them happen!
Courtney Fillner is a Certified Apartment Manager with Greystar Real Estate Partners. She is currently finishing her second successful lease-up and studying for a LEED Green Associate designation. She can be reached via email.