Choosing a home is one of the biggest decisions a person makes in their life. A home is more than just four walls and a roof: homes are sanctuaries where people feel safe, relax, and enjoy time with family and friends. It takes effort for someone to make the transition from feeling like they’re living in a rented apartment to living in a cherished home.
Helping a property nurture this sense of home from the get-go can make it stand out from the pack, allowing potential residents to envision themselves in the property, and encouraging current residents to renew their leases year after year.
Help potential residents see themselves living at the property
One of the best ways to help potential customers see themselves in the property is to ensure that the marketing, including communications and social media, feature people, not just rooms. The best kind of content to post on social media is written right in the name: social. Social media should focus on social interactions, like resident events or casual meetups. While photos of stylish couches in the common room won’t say a whole lot, a picture of residents sitting on the couch sharing a drink broadcasts a clear message – if you lived here, this could be you.
Social media is about cultivating the identity of a community by including photos of resident events, resident reviews, new residents moving in, or actual lifestyle photos from the property (with residents’ permission, of course).
Deliver personal touches from DIY kits to Cash Back
Once a new renter moves in, there are many things a property can do to help them feel more connected and welcomed. Often, it’s the little touches that help foster a sense of belonging. A handwritten note goes a long way to help someone feel personally welcomed, much more than a flashy gift basket or expensive bottle of wine.
Previously, I was the senior community manager of Savoy in Charlotte, North Carolina. For Mother’s Day, with the help of a trusted resident event partner, we organized door-to-door deliveries of a DIY card kit, complete with cardstock and fun, colorful cutouts. People really loved the kits, and there was an added benefit that when they posted their cards on their own social media, they tagged us and we got a lot of reach on social media from it.
The personal touch includes promoting Stake’s Cash Back and free banking benefits for renters, which I also used at Savoy. The Cash Back empowers renters financially, and when residents feel that property managers are looking out for their best interests, that fosters a sense of trust. With Cash Back, renters can spend on the things they want today, and save for the life they want tomorrow.
Host events that bring the community together
Residents are much more likely to renew their lease if they have at least two neighborly acquaintances in their community. One of the best ways to cultivate friendly relationships between residents is to host events, even if they’re small and simple.
At my last property, the biggest event of the year was a St. Patrick’s Day waffle breakfast. It was probably our most attended event, because it was a smaller holiday that’s just about having fun.
Events might not be everyone’s cup of tea, so it’s important to also make an effort to appeal to more introverted residents, such as one-on-one conversations or friendly online interactions.
Empower renters to pay and stay
The easiest way to help renters become residents is to encourage them to stay put. The longer they stay, the more connected to the property they’ll feel. On average, flipping an apartment for new residents costs at least $1,000, and a unit generally takes about 30 days to get rented again, for an additional month of lost income.
It’s much easier to keep your renters happy so they renew their leases, rather than trying to chase down new residents and market to new leads. The key to maximizing renewals is making sure that renewal notices go out on time, highlighting all the things that a resident has come to love about their community.
Cash Back is a powerful tool for renewals. At my last property, our retention rate increased from 47% to 57%, on average, after rolling out a renewal campaign with Stake that offered Cash Back. Our occupancy grew by 6%, from 89% to 95% in the 90 days after rolling out Stake.
At the end of the day, helping residents feel connected to a community is an ongoing need. The more personalized the experience, the more residents will make themselves at home.