The Apartment Doctor’s 10 tips for improving resident retention
1. Forget The “Golden Rule”: No one (except your Mom) cares about how YOU want to be done unto – the new Golden Rule is “Do unto others as THEY want to be done unto!”
2. Be Nice: We chose this business because we love people – let’s remind ourselves of that fact on a regular basis throughout the day – and be nice even when we don’t feel like it. Remember what the philosopher asked: “Are you happy? Then please, TELL YOUR FACE!”
3. Do It. Do It Right. Do It Right Now! Everyone wants everything done RIGHT NOW – the more you can accommodate the Resident’s needs and schedule, the happier they are.
4. Have Evening And Week-End Maintenance: This is a zany business – the office is usually closed when all the Customers are around – nights and weekends. Whether we like it or not, many people don’t want a “stranger” in their apartment, alone with their stuff. So schedule a Maintenance Tech to work Tuesday – Saturday, and from noon – 8:00 PM a couple of days a week.
5. Go The Extra Mile: Since the Maintenance Technician is already in the apartment, why not check for leaky faucets, running toilets, sticky locks, and dirty HVAC filters? Also, have your Technicians leave a copy of the work order, a “rate your maintenance” card and leave the work area cleaner than they found it. Have them place a door hanger that says “Hi! We’re inside taking care of your service request” in case the Resident comes home unexpectedly.
6. Clean Up And Put Stuff Back Where You Find It: Wipe your feet before entering apartment. Bring a drop cloth if doing a “messy” repair – major HVAC, drywall repair, touch – up paint, etc. If you have to move something of the Resident’s, do it carefully and put it back when you are done. They called you for a repair, not a redecoration!
7. Talk To Your Residents For No Reason: Call 5 Residents a day, for no other reason than to say hello and to ask if you can do anything for them – and then do what they ask for! When you’ve cycled through all of your Residents, start all over again.
8. Train Your Residents At Move-In: How many Residents REALLY read their lease? If we spend 15 – 30 minutes with each new Resident at move-in, we can be certain that they are aware of the important lease clauses (RENT PAYMENT), and the important rules and regulations.
A. Make a 15 – 30 minute appointment for the lease signing. Use a yellow marker to hi-lite important lease provisions and rules. Have the resident initial the rent payment, late charge fee and other important clauses.
B. Remember two things: 1) Most Residents DON’T READ THEIR LEASE; and 2) They’ve heard it all before. They know that NOBODY ever really enforces the “rent is due on the first” clause, and that they can talk their way out of a late charge. You’re the manager, it’s your job to manage the community. If you don’t enforce the lease, they become the manager by default. And default is yours! (nyuk, nyuk, nyuk!)
C. Or, don’t do this, and forfeit your right to get angry at them when they don’t follow the rules!
9. Walk New Residents Thru Their Apartment At Move-In: It will only take 15 minutes to walk them thru and show them how everything works – and it will save a lot of time later.
A. If you spend 15 – 30 minutes walking the Resident through their new apartment, you’ll save hours later on. The renewal process starts at the move-in: Prepare an information sheet that details how to work the appliances, and what to expect from the air conditioner (most units will not cool an apartment 30 degrees in half an hour.) Give them the information sheet, then walk with them and demonstrate how everything works. Show them how to “unstick” the disposal, how to change a filter, and how to operate the oven (even if you have the appliance booklets, the Resident won’t read it!)
B. PS – Now is the PERFECT time to do the move-in inspection with the Resident.
10. Keep Your Word! If you tell a Resident you are going to do something at a certain time, DO IT! If you can’t do it, call them as soon as possible and let them know. If you can’t fix something because you have to order a part, tell the Resident and let them know when you expect the part to arrive and when you will come back and take care of them. If it’s more than a couple of days, call them AGAIN to let them know you are on top of it.