By Alexis Krisay (MultiFamilyExecutive.com Article) — Here’s a truth: No matter what your community’s retention rate is, turnover is expensive. Generally, replacing a resident will cost at least five times more than it costs to keep them, so having a strong retention program in place makes solid financial sense.
Luckily, ensuring high retention rates is a lot easier said than done.
Foster Connections With Fun Resident Events
Get people connecting and keep them engaged, and you’ll retain more of them when renewals roll around. Residents who make friends in the community are much more likely to renew their leases than those who don’t. Plus, strong resident retention rates, in turn, help further build a sense of community.
Create an event to engage residents. Community events will allow residents to interact and have some fun at the property too. Residents are continuously looking for engagement and a sense of community, so exciting events and a variety of indoor and outdoor gathering places can be beneficial incentives for community members and management alike.
Design activities around your residents and their interests. Ask your residents about the types of activities they’d enjoy, and then choose the best suggestions and make them happen. Be sure to give a hat tip to those who contribute ideas or are most engaged, as they’ll be great brand ambassadors when talking about their community to others.
Everyone loves a pool party or barbecue, but you can put a twist on a classic event to keep things fresh. Give these events a theme, like a Cinco de Barko celebration or Happy Yappy Hour that includes pets, for example. Or, try a touring happy hour with designated restaurant and bar hosts throughout the community.
You can also plan an event around a silly holiday, like National Ice Cream Day, or a movie night around a specific theme, actor, or director.
Residents will also be interested in events that support a community cause or charity. Make it a contest by electing community leaders to spur competition, and then celebrate the results.
Remember, it’s not necessary for events to be all things to all people. Niche activities and gatherings can be just as beneficial when building community loyalty. For instance, you could create a Lending Library and keep a good collection of books, magazines, and other periodicals on hand, and encourage residents to take one and leave one.
Other activities, like community cooking classes, nutrition and fitness programs, and community garden spaces could prove popular as well.
Don’t Underestimate Simple Touches
In addition to events and activities, don’t undervalue simple gestures like providing free morning coffee and awarding reserved parking spaces, unit painting, and other upgrades to reward long-term residents.
Connect with your residents personally by keeping tabs on their interests, birthdays, anniversaries, or lease milestones, and acknowledge them in some way. Whether it’s a small token like a gift card, movie tickets, or a thank-you note, this is low-hanging fruit that makes more of a difference to residents than you might imagine. Residents who feel welcomed, valued, and connected with their community and property are residents who will more likely stay long term.
Reinforce Your Brand
Finally, the most important tip of all: Make the investment in creating a strong brand for your properties.
Whether you opt into a stand-alone brand for your property or a multiple market brand, make it desirable, evocative, and expressive of your community’s desired values—and be sure to uphold your brand standards.