When The Resident Experience Begins and How to Drive Satisfaction and Performance

For over a decade we have been focusing on the best practices that drive retention. Throughout this time, we have focused discussions with clients on the best practices that drive resident satisfaction, loyalty, retention and improving one’s online reputation. Besides just evaluating feedback that relates to shutting the back door (retention/turnover), we have also had the chance to learn so much from feedback from prospects that visited the community. The feedback from actual prospects is immensely enlightening to both clients and us – and is used in our clients’ never-ending efforts to improve their performance at both the front (lead generation and rentals) and back door. We spend a great deal of time also reviewing this feedback with clients. It is in this context that I share a personal experience, as I recently got to be a prospect.

My oldest son, Douglas, moved to London in September for graduate school. Talk about a challenging task - trying to decide where to live, what are good neighborhoods, and who are quality operators. So off we went on our journey to find a “flat” for Douglas. Of course we started online, using Google to identify where to begin; we found a great ILS and ultimately found a great option. With that, Douglas emailed the property asking about the building, the “flats,” the neighborhood, the proximity to his school, what a foreigner has to do to “let,” the leasing process and the like.

From the beginning we were impressed with how quickly the leasing associate responded to each email.  It seemed like every email was responded to within an hour; and in those cases where we emailed at a time that would have been late evening or early morning London-time – we then heard back first thing their time. In addition, the knowledge the consultant showed and level of detail provided was equally impressive. We decided to rent a studio at this building. The amazing service continued, with rapid responses to every email, plus a thoughtful explanation of what was required to “let” a “flat.”  Every document to be completed was thoroughly explained, as were details on wiring the deposit and the like.  With little effort, everything was done.

Douglas and I then hopped on a flight to London, wondering what to expect once we got there. The flight arrived at 7 a.m. By the time we got out of the airport and into a cab, we pulled up to the building in South Kensington at about 8:15 a.m. After unloading a years-worth of clothing and lacrosse equipment (his school has a club – and practices are called “chuck-abouts” - lol), we walked into the building, noticed the beautifully maintained lobby, and were then graciously greeted by the front desk associate. So, what problems will there be? Will all of the paperwork be ready so early in the morning?  Will the manager be like some Monty Python character, hopping and skipping about the lobby (sorry, had to get at least one Monty Python reference in this), what condition will his “flat” be in? Problems? Nope.  The move in folder was awaiting us at the front desk. All of the paperwork was ready, with pages that required a signature flagged. His flat and the keys were ready. Then the moment of truth - time to walk down the hall to hop on the elevator and see his flat. The hallways were immaculately maintained, attractive, clean and smelling fresh. The elevator was unique for us Yanks, starting with a “please note the door is closing” recording in a lovely British accent. Doors open and we walk off, noticing his floor’s hallway was equally in wonderful condition. Moment of truth, the sequel – time to walk into his flat. 

Wow. Picture perfect. I once had a maintenance technician tell me his goal for every make-ready was for it to look like nobody had ever lived in it before. He must have had a relative in London who worked for this management company, as Douglas’ flat was in mint condition – clean, beautifully turned, everything in perfect working order. We experienced the PERFECT leasing experience and move in. It was all so easy.

This experience reminded me of how important it is to begin a resident’s experience – perfectly – as any move is challenging. The management company and on-site staff performed like superstars, and have continued ever since my son moved in, professionally handing every question and need. The Ritz-Carlton hotel chain says the key to the world-class service they deliver is based on the following: ordinary people doing ordinary things extraordinarily well. There is no science to what we do – everyone knows the steps. The challenge becomes in consistently delivering, day in and day out. We experienced a superstar performance founded in sweating all the details.