Amenities vs. Services: Property Managers and De-escalating the Amenity War

Posted on Jun 26 2019 - 8:21am by Lance Edwards
Today’s apartment property managers would do well to focus on offering residents in-demand services.

By Scott Wickman (NREI Online Article —  For the last several years, developers have been pushing the envelope in terms of physical amenities and coming up with new and innovative features that make their communities stand out amongst the competition. That is, until recently.

Today, we are seeing a shift among developers and property owners away from the physical amenity war that’s been going on for the last several years to a focus now on services.

Across all demographics, the most in-demand amenities are those that ease the lives of residents through service-based items that provide a sense of convenience. Offering a competitive amenity package today does not necessarily only mean physical amenities and property managers should be taking note.

As more and more apartment communities shift away from over-the-top physical amenities and consider services as a top driver in leasing, what do property managers need to know and how can they prepare for this shift?

Western National Property Management has more than 160 properties under management, many of which incorporate service-based amenities. Here are our top three tips for property managers to begin implementing service-based amenities in their apartment communities to deliver what today’s residents truly demand.

Services that de-stress residents

There is a growing trend, especially among millennials, towards a focus on health and wellness. Renters today are looking for ways to be active, de-stress, meditate, get better sleep, and eat healthier foods, too.

This is creating a significant opportunity for property managers to implement programs and services at their properties that support this.

For example, a prospective resident can find a gym at almost every multifamily community, including luxury style gyms with high-end equipment. That said, what they can’t find in every community are saunas, on-site massage therapists, and fitness classes with rotating trainers, etc.

Property managers should reassess their facilities to determine what types of services they can add to their properties or on-site gyms that will enhance residents’ overall health and wellness.

If offered, residents would likely cancel their gym memberships and utilize a conveniently located fitness center that includes a host of services and has numerous benefits to their health.

Another service-based amenity that properties are implementing are trash valet services, such as Trash Butler. By implementing this type of service, property managers are saving residents from carrying garbage down flights of stairs and nighttime walks to dumpsters, which improves safety but also improves the property’s curb appeal.

These types of amenities provide residents with a convenient experience that they can add onto their everyday routine while saving time, decreasing stress, and increasing their likelihood for lease renewal.

Pet priority

Renter’s ideally want their pets to be as well taken care of as themselves. In addition to pet parks, service amenities for pets are on the rise, including on-site pet spas and grooming services. By incorporating these types of services, residents can reduce the amount of time they spend on everyday errands by bringing these services closer to their door.

In-house dog walking services have also been on the rise and caught prospective residents’ attention. This service is extremely valuable to pet owners, especially to those who work or for pets who do not do well being inside all day. This reduces the cost a resident may potentially spend daily and monthly on off-site pet daycare services, increasing their likelihood of renewing and increasing retention at the property. This service is also a draw for prospective residents as the needs of a prospective resident’s pet are always a consideration factor when selecting a new home.

Ultimately, making pets a priority in a community simplifies residents’ lives by providing more convenience, which results in happier residents, higher retention and bottom line profitability for owners.

Flexible “experience-based” community space

Developers and property managers have become smarter about the way they use up free space. Developments that would have once featured large tennis or racquetball courts now include flexible and open community spaces that can be used to host a variety of events and deliver experiences to residents. Property managers are able to encourage interaction and engagement among residents by organizing community events, such as movie nights, social hours, wine tastings, rooftop barbecues and more. Many property managers have begun to realize that excessive amenities might not be as large of a driving force behind leasing as many once thought, and have now hired outside companies to manage resident events. Events leave a lasting impression on residents and sell an overall experience.

These events can aid in creating new relationships between residents and building a stronger sense of community, which is a key factor in resident satisfaction. This results in residents who are more likely to stay put because they know their neighbors, reducing turnover and the costs associated with it. A sense of community is a timeless amenity that is proven to increase resident retention.

Overall, there is a significant shift underway in terms of amenities and services in demand by today’s residents. Sophisticated property managers understand that it is a mix of both unique physical amenities and convenient services that will attract and retain residents over the long term.

Scott Wickman serves as regional vice president of Western National Property Management, the residential real estate management arm of Western National Group. Headquartered in Irvine, Calif., Western National Property Management currently oversees the management of 23,600 apartment units in 162 communities.