Whether you are managing a small apartment community in rural America, or one of the industry’s largest assets, people’s expectations are basically the same. They want a quality place to live, that’s a good value for their money, and managed by friendly and reliable people.
With today’s aggressive competition trying to compete solely on price, your community needs to find a good balance between customer expectations and advantages. Here are some ways to clearly separate your communities from the competition, giving you a higher chance of retaining residents.
Good customer service can trump price
Here’s a little secret you should know: contrary to common perception, customers will NOT go almost anywhere just to save a buck. The quickest way to get people to ignore you is to not offer anything beyond a good price.
Stop trying to compete on price alone. Exceptional customer service can make a bigger impact than a good price. I’m talking more than the “please and thank you” variety. Aim higher. Strive for fabulous, prominent, outrageously great service to set your community apart.
Keep your word and your promises
If you want loyal customers, you need to get THEM to care about YOU. Trust is a huge factor in the formula for exceptional relationships. Seems like it would be easy to get people to trust you and your property, but the truth is it isn’t.
According to the Retail Consumer Dissatisfaction Survey, scary things can happen when you lose a customer’s trust:
- 96% of dissatisfied customers do not complain directly to management or owners.
- 90% of dissatisfied customers will choose to never return to your business.
- One unhappy customer will tell at least nine others.
- 13% of unhappy customers will tell at least 20 other people, even if unsolicited.
You need to make it clear that you want residents to voice their opinions, both good and bad. Lack of sincerity and concern combined with empty promises makes your credibility worthless. Offer multiple ways for them to contact you including phone, email, text, or live chat.
Use words that resonate
Many people think using a customer’s name is a powerful persuasion. This is true, but if you really want words that resonate with apartment hunters, “free”, “new”, and “guaranteed” are extremely appealing. Free parking. New appliances. Guaranteed to impress. When customers hear these words (and when the promises they imply are backed up), they’ll enjoy their experience at your community more than they would have otherwise.
Create advertising that shows your community “walks the talk”. Money back guarantees for satisfaction, 24 hour or same-day response time to service requests are examples of your credibility. Remember, it’s what you DO to back up what you SAY you will do that’s so powerful.
Put quality ahead of speed
Studies have shown that people were 9 times more likely to be satisfied when they evaluated the service given as courteous, willing, and helpful. When customers identified their service as speedy, they were only 6 times more likely to stay or purchase again. Albeit response time is crucial, it is that expectation of quality that really keeps your residents happy.
This is especially true in the property management industry. In most situations, people understand that sometimes we can’t get to their request immediately. But if they have been waiting and the problem isn’t resolved to their satisfaction, count on having an angry resident on your hands.
Show residents their business is valued
Residents and prospects want to feel like you care about their needs. It’s a little easier to convey this message in a brick and mortar setting. Online satisfaction surveys can let your on line customers know that you’re completely involved in meeting their expectations and needing their valuable input.
Today’s resident expects little extras, but at no charge. Offering complimentary coffee or bottled water in community areas is a perfect example. If you nickel and dime them for every little thing, they’ll quickly decide that you’re only interested in taking their money. By adding value at no additional cost to your customer, you could find your competitive edge and increase your customer base.
Finally, who wants to spend their hard-earned money with someone who doesn’t appreciate their business? Make sure that you offer special promotions, perks, or gifts to your long-term customers. Show them you appreciate their continued support and investment in your property and to your company.
If you can give your customer what they want, your success will be as simple as saying, “thank you” for being a valued customer.
Be your customer’s ASSET:
A-Apartment, S- Service, S- Satisfaction, E- Eliminates, T- Turnover!