23 Resident Retention Ideas to Supercharge Your Efforts
As a resourceful property manager, (which you are, or else you wouldn’t be reading this!) you know the importance of resident retention. You know that keeping a resident is just as, if not more, important as getting one. Resident retention not only builds long-term relationships within your community but also adds value to the property itself. Sure, it’s great to bring in some new faces, but your recurring residents are an invaluable asset to your community. They’re the ones who see the day to day of what living in your community is like so their testimonies speak volumes. When you have a high resident retention rate, you know you’re doing something right.
With the evolving needs of residents, the road to resident retention is not an easy one, but it is very attainable. Imagine the potential for resident retention if you spent just as much time and energy trying to keep your current residents as you do trying to reel in prospective ones. We think the potential there is massive, so we came up with a list of 23 resident retention ideas to help you get there. Let’s get started!
1. Celebrate resident approval
Whoever said that first impressions aren’t everything is wrong. Leave your residents with a welcome gift that they’ll still be talking about five years later, a gift that made them think: “This was meant to be.” There are countless ways to kickstart your relationship between approval and move-in and get residents excited and engaged. A bottle of wine paired with a branded water bottle, a discount at a popular restaurant in town, or some gourmet popcorn paired with a Netflix gift card, are just a couple of ideas you start you off on the right foot.
2. Easy move-in = easy resident retention
Anticipate their every need! There is cold hard proof that positive resident move-ins increase resident retention. Let them know you’re thinking of them during this stressful time by providing them with the ultimate moving checklist to help them stay organized. Personalization and organization are key and offering Updater can help. If your residents see that you’re making an effort to help them right off the bat, you’ll be on track to earning their long-term trust and loyalty.
3. Always greet your residents
Greeting residents as they walk through the door may not seem like a big deal, but in the grand scheme of their experience with you, it is. It’s also a no-brainer when it comes to encouraging resident retention. Showing interest in your residents takes you from being someone that just works in their apartment building, to someone that plays a memorable role in their lives in the community. A simple “hello” and a smile each day can make residents feel the warmth and comfort they need to feel right at home. Community management should be doing their best to put names to the faces that they see around the building every day. Greeting residents is a small feat to conquer, but it makes a big difference when it comes to resident retention.
4. Make your lobby a place of convenience
The area where residents enter or leave the apartment building is crucial to fostering resident retention. It’s the first thing they see as they come in and the last thing they see as they go, so it’s smart to purpose it for their convenience. Perhaps as residents rush off to work, they can grab a cup of coffee from the coffee machine or some complimentary muffins from the front desk. Maybe there’s a basket of umbrellas for residents so they don’t get stuck in the rain, or a charging station for their electronics while they wait for their Ubers to arrive. All of these small perks amount to big value when it comes to resident retention. The key is to make the daily routines for residents so easy and enjoyable that your amenities become an integral part of their lives. Once residents reach this point of satisfaction, they won’t want to settle for anything less and your resident retention rates will soar!
5. Make your website resident retention friendly
A strong brand identity makes for strong resident retention, and your website is the virtual centerpiece of that identity. So why wouldn’t you want to make it the best that it can be? It’s likely that your website will be the first place prospective residents will land when they want to know more about your properties. (First impressions are still everything!) It’s also likely that current residents will send the link to your website when referring your properties to friends. A good property management website drives traffic, creates recognition, and is easy to navigate. It helps set the tone for what the community experience is like, so make it a good one!
6. Create a property app
Everywhere you look, people’s heads are buried in their phones. It can feel impossible to win their attention, but with property apps, you don’t have to! What better way to streamline operations than to meet residents where they already are? Which is often on their phones. Creating a property app can help grow resident retention by eliminating the pain points of apartment living. From Mobile Doorman to MyResidentLinc, there are options available to help you customize a community platform. Residents can check the bulletin board for news, get maintenance alerts, pay rent, and so much more. If that doesn’t scream resident retention, we don’t know what does!
7. Send out a resident newsletter
Newsletters are a great way to recharge engagement and keep your property’s brand top of mind. Think of a newsletter as a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly reminder of all the awesome things that take place in your community. They should be as fun as they are informative! From community events, to amenity updates, to special deals for residents at local businesses, the content in your newsletter should always be proving value to your residents in order to drive resident retention. It’s also a good idea to keep a printed copy at the front desk. When in doubt, try a little cleverness and deliver the newsletter in new ways. Eventually, you will hit your stride.
8. Connect through social media
Property management companies who aren’t on social media are late to the party — don’t be one of them! Not only does social media give you great platforms to exercise your well-deserved bragging rights, but it also allows you to connect with residents in your community on another level. Let’s face it, residents are busy folks who can’t always keep up with community events and newsletters. From Instagram, to Facebook, to Twitter, there are tons of platforms you can use to keep your residents in the loop and remind them why where they live is best. There are tons of property management companies out there killing it on social media to look to for inspiration. Maybe you just hosted a charity event, won an award, or implemented smart locker technology, you should absolutely be sharing this news. Social media allows you to scream it from the hilltops!
Not only does social media benefit your brand and help with resident retention, but it also empowers your residents. Communication issues hurt resident satisfaction, and resident satisfaction = resident retention. Social media can alleviate these issues by giving residents the ability to ask questions or view updates they may have missed. There are tons of social media management tools you can use to keep track of all of your mentions and messages so you never have to miss a beat.
9. Don’t let maintenance requests ruin resident retention
There are few things more frustrating than waiting on work orders. In fact, over 61% of rental property owners see maintenance requests as a top pain, and their residents fall into the same boat. A work order software like UpKeep can help alleviate this pain point by making the workflow for maintenance requests more efficient. Going mobile will simplify communication between maintenance workers and allow residents to view the status of their requests in real-time. Not only will it make your maintenance team happier, but it will increase resident satisfaction, and remember resident satisfaction = resident retention!
10. Hold office hours
As efficient as digital engagement tools are, if you’re doing all of your communication from behind a screen, your residents may feel like the management team is unreachable in person. In an increasingly digital world, face-to-face interaction should not be kicked to the curb. Holding office hours is a great way to let your residents know that you’re genuinely there for them. It’s a window of opportunity for residents to express concerns or ask questions, but it’s also an opportunity for you to gain insights into their experience and respond constructively. It’s a productive way to nurture long-term relationships and increase overall resident retention.
11. Conduct amenity audits
Even if you’ve won the lottery and your residents are satisfied as can be, you should always be looking ahead. Technology is shaping the industry quickly, so be sure you’re staying on top of trends that can boost your residents’ experience. You should constantly be thinking about all aspects of amenities large and small. Exactly how are your laundry machines looking? Can they use an upgrade? How are the gym hours working for everyone? How is the equipment? Additionally, think about what amenities you can turn into virtual amenities as a means of efficiency. From mobile packaging to booking apartment tours, you’d be surprised at what’s yours for the taking. Luxuries are becoming necessities, and your resident retention rates will feel the heat if you wait too long to adapt.
12. Design the perfect common room
Think of a common room as home base. It’s where everyone in the building congregates to relax, entertain, and enjoy time with one another. A solid common room helps build community, and the stronger the community, the stronger the resident retention rate. For this reason, it’s critical that you provide amenities that residents can bond over. A ping pong table or a foosball table may spark some fun competition, or a focal point like a TV can draw in a crowd to watch the Olympics. The space should be homey and inviting but also multi-purpose. Make this space available to be booked for resident events such as birthday parties or book clubs. It can also be used as a space for your site team to host resident events such as Tuesday night trivia.
13. Host community events
Hosting community events is the ultimate way to foster engagement and nurture onsite relationships. Not only are you creating an enjoyable time for residents and their neighbors, but you’re also assimilating them to a fun culture that will be hard to let go of come lease renewal time. From holiday parties, to karaoke nights, to complimentary fitness classes, the possibilities for resident events are endless. Remember the execution of these events is only as strong as the teams that coordinate them. Make sure your management team is buying into resident retention and is clear on the efforts it takes to pull off. When events are done right, they’re a major way to boost resident retention and ROI.
14. Design the perfect co-working space
Working from home is more common now than ever before. Make sure your residents have the ability to do so comfortably by creating the perfect co-working space. Although the needs of residents may vary depending on their occupation, there is one thing they will all have in common, and that is zero tolerance for faulty Wi-Fi! Have an IT team on call if any problems arise. Make sure there are as many private desks available as there are tables designed for collaboration, and plenty of outlets and power strips. Some vending machines to hold residents over during long days can’t hurt either. If you create an impeccable space for residents to work in, you will have successfully integrated your property’s amenities into a gigantic part of their lives. Hello, resident retention!
15. Pamper the pets
There are over 100 million dog and cat owners in the U.S. This means a couple of your residents are bound to bring along some furry friends. Showing love for your residents’ pets is the same as showing love for your residents. It’s really that simple. Throwing in a couple of pet amenities like pet-sitting, dog walking, or in-home grooming, will show residents that you are dedicated to catering to every aspect of their lives. Pets are prized members of many households, so pampering them is a golden ticket to resident retention.
16. Stock a borrow closet
Let residents know you’ve got their backs when they’re in a pinch by providing a borrow closet. (a.k.a. Your community’s treasure chest!) Fill your borrow closet with useful miscellaneous items like a vacuum, a Swiffer, a toolkit, and board games. It’s smart to have a property manager on site to help facilitate borrowing. A borrow closet is a nice-to-have not a must-have, so it’s important to keep tabs on everyone and make sure it is being used fairly. When it is, your residents will thank you!
17. Book and movie library
A book and/or movie library is another nice-to-have amenity that showcases management’s thoughtfulness. Line your common room shelves with books and movies, old and new, for residents to borrow and enjoy. You can even encourage them to donate a couple of their own to the collection. Providing any additional entertainment in this form will help you make headway towards resident retention!
18. Celebrate birthdays and anniversaries
Your residents’ lives happen before your very eyes, so when they celebrate milestones, you should celebrate them too! Send over a card and a balloon on their birthday or residency anniversary to let them know that management is thinking of them. It’s little acts of kindness such as these that residents will remember when deciding whether or not to renew their lease.
19. Hold events just for kids
From video game tournaments in the common room to scavenger hunts in the courtyard, events held specifically for children can create exciting potential for on-site relationships. Not only does it give kids the chance to make new friends, but it forces parents to get together and chat as well. Having pals they can bounce around with from school to home is a huge bonus and something that will bring parents comfort. By getting together the kids in the community, you’re planting the seeds for some potentially lasting friendships between families, which equates to added resident retention.
20. Get involved with a cause
Residents like to see the brands they buy into being socially responsible, and your brand is most likely one of their biggest investments! A study done by Nielsen found that 66% of global consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable brands. Millennials surpassed these showings with 73% indicating the same preference. Residents like to see that your services are good for both themselves and society, so getting involved with a cause is a huge bonus for your business. Stronger reputation, stronger marketing, and stronger community morale is the perfect recipe for resident retention.
Need some inspiration? One of our favorite causes to support here at Updater is Move for Hunger — a non-profit that assists relocation companies in collected and donating unopened and non-perishable food to food banks across the country. As a property management company, partnering with MFH not only makes sense but is also easy. To learn more about their initiative and view their sign up form, check out their apartment community program and enroll!
21. Get Feedback
Feedback is vital to making improvements, and there are always improvements to be made. However, prioritizing exactly where improvements should be made can be tricky, especially when time and money is involved. That’s where surveys come in. Custom-built surveys on your website, feedback management software, or physical comment cards stacked in your lobby, are just a few ways in which you can gain valuable feedback. Regardless of how you get your feedback, make sure your execution is clear.
At the end of the day, people only care about surveys when they see that something is actually being done about their complaints. Be sure you follow up with them in newsletters, emails, or mobile alerts on the progress of improvements. This way, you can potentially give even your detractors a reason to smile!
22. Thank them
Gratitude goes a long way. Showing residents how much you appreciate their business throughout the year is important, but as soon as they decide to renew their lease, they should be celebrated. Something as simple as a sincere thank you note on behalf of your management team will do. If you want to go the extra mile, there are lots of ways in which you can get creative in letting your residents know how much they are appreciated.
23. Drive resident retention home with easy lease renewal
Even when your forecasted resident retention rates are through the roof, it isn’t the finish line for your retention efforts. You’ve made it an easy choice to stay, now you have to make it an easy lease renewal. Lease renewal isn’t hard, nor should it be with the availability of electronic signature emails and resident portals. Going digital keeps documents organized and frees up time that residents would otherwise be spending in your office. Electronic leases also increase accessibility and transparency by allowing residents to view terms at their own leisure. Be sure community management stays attentive to any concerns and questions that come up. This will make the renewal process as efficient as possible.
Cater to every stage of the resident life cycle
The rise or fall of resident retention rates is ultimately dependent on a continuous effort from your site team. Increased resident retention will help increase your profit and your referrals. Most importantly, it will help you build a strong community. At the end of the day, it is your community that reflects the character of your properties. When you reflect good character, attracting and keeping residents comes easy.
Liz is a former content marketing intern at Updater. When she’s not typing away, you can find her hanging out with her dog or dancing around Manhattan with a slice of pizza in hand.