1. Understand that 2020 is unlike other years. Current and prospect renters are under enormous pressure in 2020 because of financial disruption, online schooling and related issues. Owners and operators should review their processes to make leasing as welcoming and simple as possible.
2. Act transparently. Housing should be a refuge away from a world in chaos. Take care of the little things and act transparently throughout the entire leasing process. Answer questions quickly and fully. Make accommodations for reasonable requests.
3. Go virtual. Prospective residents are understandably hesitant to visit rentals in person. Online 3-D tours and self-guided tours give them context and confidence about their next potential living situation. Managers might conduct live virtual tours through Zoom or Google Hangouts so they can answer questions while giving a tour.
4. Share the cleaning plan. Keep residents informed of the latest policies on social distancing, mask wearing, sanitation processes and related matters. People crave information and transparency during such times do not make them fill in knowledge gaps on their own.
5. Adapt to changing expectations. Understand residents shifting expectations during the new normal. Add amenities for no-contact interactions, such as a package delivery solution that drops off boxes to residents front doors at their chosen time. Offer drop-off lockers for dry cleaning and similar services.
6. Improve retention through rewards. COVID-19's pressures mean businesses should work harder to improve customer experiences and encourage renewals. Look at using a platform that gives individual residents recognition and gifts every month.
7. Adjust amenities for social distancing. Change your occupancy capacity rules by cutting the maximum numbers allowed by 50 percent or more. Rearrange pool furniture to more than 6 feet apart. Offer sanitizing wipes to fitness center guests. Look at every area of your building closely to spot any touch points that need better cleaning.
8. Do everything online. Get rid of outdated paper forms and orders and move everything online including applications, signings, work order requests, payments and renewals both for residents safety and convenience, and to streamline your accounting and process flow.
9. Train staff for safety. Set the right example for renters by ensuring staff always follow mask-wearing and social-distancing rules. Make sure the cleaning crew and every maintenance team has high-grade disinfectants and knows how to use them properly.
10. Act with empathy. Train your team to interact with residents with empathy and understanding. You can't solve every problem or concern, but if your team earnestly listens and acts where possible, you'll improve the resident experience.
Patrick Carroll, CEO and Founder, CARROLL