Let’s be honest – moving is not fun. But for community managers, move-in day is a perfect opportunity to kick start resident retention efforts by making a good first impression. Here are some easy ways you can make the move-in process less stressful for your residents and start building a solid relationship with them.
1. Set a specific time for lease signing that is completely separate from the time the new resident picks up their keys. This gives them time to actually read and review their legal documents, sign up for automatic rent payments and ask questions without feeling stressed out – after all, moving is stressful enough.
2. Is your building a mid-rise or a high-rise? Be sure to thoroughly explain elevator time so your new resident knows exactly when they can use the elevator during their move-in. Some people have never lived in elevator buildings before and therefore are unsure how to go about reserving and utilizing the elevator. Don’t make them ask…tell them ahead of time how it works.
3. Equip your resident’s new apartment with move-in supplies. Move-in supplies are things like a bottle of hand soap, a roll of paper towels, a roll of toilet tissue, freshly made ice in the freezer (with a sign that states the ice is freshly made) and maybe an inexpensive shower curtain placed in the bathtub. This really sets the tone for a great experience and will make your resident very happy. And by the way, toilet paper is NEVER a move-in gift.
4. Provide a nice move-in gift. This is not the time to get rid of the leftovers from the company picnic. And residents don’t always want things that are emblazoned with the company logo. Offer something like a fresh bouquet of flowers (already placed in the apartment), a small plant, or a set of reusable shopping bags (especially if you are in a city or state where plastic bags are no longer allowed).
5. Set the thermostat in the apartment to a comfortable temperature on the morning your resident is moving in. There aren’t many things worse than walking into a blazing hot apartment after moving heavy furniture. Also, make sure the fridge is cold and the hot water heater is no longer on ‘vacation’ if you set it back during periods of vacancy.
6. Place carpet protection tape throughout the high traffic areas of the apartment. This clear film with adhesive backing will keep the carpet clean and is a welcome sight to new residents, especially on rainy or winter day move-ins. A roll of carpet protection tape will cost approximately $55 for 200 feet. This will keep the carpet clean, the new resident happy and prevent your maintenance team from having to come back and clean the carpeting again after the move-in is completed. Plus, it makes a great first impression!
7. Stop by on move-in day to see how things are going. Maybe deliver a few cold bottles of water or a couple of garbage bags for any trash they may create. Offer to walk through the apartment and help your new resident complete the inventory checklist. It’s a great way to get it completed, signed and on file.
8. Offer to show them how to use all of the appliances in the apartment. Switching from a gas stove to electric (or vice versa) can be daunting to some. For residents who are living in an apartment for the very first time, this orientation can be amazingly helpful. New residents who have never lived in the United States may also want a walk-through of how to use everything. And don’t forget to show them where the circuit breaker panel is!
9. Put a customized refrigerator magnet on the door of the fridge. Along with the property logo, include important information such as the office phone number, email address, website and office hours. Don’t stop there! Make sure the magnet is holding up coupons from area restaurants and service providers with offers for your residents. The best type of magnet is the chip clip/magnet combination. Residents seem to prefer those the best.
10. Follow up again with your new residents in approximately 24 hours to make sure all of their concerns are handled appropriately. Then call back at the end of their first week, and at least one more time before their first month is over.