Love ’Em or They’ll Leave Ya: 10 Ways to Retain More Residents

National studies have shown that the average tenure for a resident is nine months or less—a scary statistic when it costs an average of five times more to turnover an apartment than it does to keep an existing resident.

Multiply the cost to turn an apartment by the number of apartments in your community—then multiple that by 60 percent, the national average for resident turnover (according to NAA)! If you do the math, it’s clear that resident retention is invaluable.

Yet despite the importance of resident appreciation, many residents feel like they were "waited on" as a prospect, but now they have to “wait on” everything we do for them. We got the sale and simply forgot about them.

Whether you are a Property Manager, Leasing Specialist or a part of the Maintenance team, we are all responsible for resident retention. This begins the moment you interact with a prospect and it continues throughout your resident’s ENTIRE residency.

Surveys show new residents will decide within the first 30 days of move-in whether or not they will become long-term residents. Below are 10 steps to make the most of that crucial first month:

1. Create a seamless move-in process. New residents should attend a Pre Move-in Meeting where they receive a signed copy of the lease and other important documents. Everything in the apartment should be in good working order and “white-glove” clean. Consider giving new residents a “move-in” kit with an local service guide, coupons and contact numbers. Consider creating an individualized move-in package as well. It can be as simple as putting a few refreshments in the refrigerator and providing toilet paper and paper towels/hand soap for move-in day.

2. Create a new-resident profile. By gathering some personal information about your new resident’s hobbies and interests, you can use this information to help plan the types of programs and services your residents would enjoy the most.

3. Do an initial inspection. A maintenance employee or leasing agent should do a walk-through with each new resident to ensure every apartment is 100 percent ready. If the resident reports an issue after move-in, they can be held responsible for it since they already signed off on the unit during the walk-through.

4. Distribute a move-in survey. If residents have a complaint about the move-in process, the sooner you know about it, the sooner it can be corrected. Some residents also may be more willing to give feedback if they have the option of remaining anonymous.

5. Complete service requests correctly and on time. According to Satisfacts Research, only 76 percent of residents say maintenance requests were completed right the first time.  Handle these requests quickly and have it done right the first time. Ask residents if there’s anything else you can do. And be sure to follow-up. A service request is not complete until the resident confirms it is complete.

6. Establish a “Culture of Responsiveness.” Return resident calls and emails promptly. A shift in focus to the resident will cause a positive shift in retention numbers.

7. Deliver legendary service. Greet residents with a smile whenever you see them. Ask how things are with their homes. Let residents know you’re happy to have them at the community and treat everyone fairly and consistently.

8. Get to know your residents. Develop a genuine interest in and admiration for your residents. Residents are more likely to stay if they feel that they’re more than just another warm body.

9. Host resident appreciation events. According to NAA and the National Multifamily Housing Council, the number one amenity residents are looking for is a “sense of community”. For some great resident event ideas, visit here.

10. Train Your Team – Bottom line: a resident retention program cannot be effective if the frontline team is not properly trained to implement it.