Maximizing the ROI of Service-Based Amenities
A community is created when properties find and prove the value of service-based amenities. Appealing to the wants and needs of your residents can feel hard at times, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s important when considering which amenities and programs you’d like to incorporate into your property to surpass the status quo. What is a service-based amenity, you ask? Anything that can improve the value and desire of your property including things like workout classes, social events, moving technology (like Updater!), allowing pets, pools… the list goes on!
Finding the value in your amenities and programs is what makes them worth your time and money. Always consider how a proposed amenity or service will benefit your residents while determining if its implementation will result in retention and referrals. Those are the goals!
Figure out what kind of community you want to build and then back into which service-based amenities would benefit your residents the most. It’s a simple formula for success.
The new age of ancillary services and revenue
Determining what type of amenities or programs you need to offer in order to appeal to your current residents and also to attract others to your community is easy when you have a customer-driven attitude. Understanding your consumer is essential in any business but in property management, it is a must.
Taking time to understand what residents really want as opposed to what you think they want can go a long way. All programs and services implemented at your properties should be based on feedback, suggestions, or (reasonable) requests from the consumer of those programs and services. Understanding your residents will help you make smart, long-term decisions. A few things to keep in mind:
If you’re going to offer incredible and sophisticated amenities, make sure you can deliver them. Of course, it’s great to be able to say you have all of these great amenities to offer, but a huge problem arises when you aren’t meeting expectations.
As a member of the property management industry, it’s important to understand when to take a step back, evaluate, and understand where you are, compared to where your residents are or want to be.
Identifying your community and their needs
Creating an atmosphere that residents feel they are coming home to rather than one where they feel they are just living in is the goal. In order to offer the right amenities or services to your residents, understand their needs and emotionally connect with them.
Understand your resident by considering a few key ideas:
Not all residents are the same, each one has individual needs. Be sure to maintain open communication to understand the differences between residents and what best fits their lifestyles and personalities.
Always improve and maintain relationships by asking for feedback. The only way to truly understand what your residents want is by asking. Whether the feedback is positive or negative, hearing what your residents have to say is the first step toward measuring overall happiness.
Go beyond the demographic and challenge yourself to understand the psychographic. Consumers are driven in certain directions and hold certain desires because of the way that they feel. Residents may come from very different demographics yet be motivated by the same things. Dive into what motivates your consumer and what is unique and specific to them. Consider what will bring them the most value. Understanding the psychographics of your residents will allow you to better deliver on services and amenities.
Customer service as an amenity
A small touch of customer service can go a long way in providing a memorable experience. Something as simple as thinking ahead and anticipating resident needs adds the touch of service that will make your property stand out. At the end of the day, customer service is all about going the extra mile. Doing so could increase renewals and referrals. In a human business, always put people first!
Innovation doesn’t have to be crazy or brand new. It’s all about finding friction points and determining ways to solve them. When assessing amenities, consider these three questions:
1. How do you decide what’s important to implement?
2. How do you deploy or implement those items that are important?
3. How do you measure the ROI of what you’ve implemented?
Finding ways to go the extra mile can come out of identifying points of anxiety for residents during a stressful time. From the time that the resident starts thinking about moving all the way until move-in day and beyond, identify areas where you can assist them and turn a stressful time into an enjoyable one. One pain point, in particular, that is often neglected is the moving experience itself.
It’s no surprise, that moving isn’t an easy task. Move-in should always be a main focus of the resident journey. Creating satisfaction creates advocacy and loyalty. In the end, your move-in experience should be unmatched, and will ultimately have a positive effect on your renewal rate.
Kingsley Associates published a case study that details exactly how resident move-in experiences impact renewal rates. In the study, the renewal rate for residents who were satisfied at move-in was 59% higher than the renewal rate for residents who were dissatisfied at move-in. Find friction points and solve them.
Measuring the ROI of your service products
Service-based amenities should drive value to everyone. When you are implementing amenities and programs throughout your properties, eliminate the disconnect between what is set forward by the corporate office and how that is communicated at the site-level. Take proper steps to ensure a smooth roll-out and go through all of the proper channels to make sure that all of your teams are aligned.
Being able to measure the ROI of your amenities, services, and programs is essential when deciding if the expense is worth it or not. Take a look at them, define them, implement them, and then reflect. Look back on your implementations and decide if they were successful and if not, how they can be improved.
1. First, determine what success looks like by brainstorming with your team, reflecting on company values, and of course, asking for feedback from residents.
2. Then ask yourself: Is this amenity generating income and helping you meet your goals? Are your open rates high if you’re rolling out an online service? Is the usage of the new amenity high? These are the kinds of questions that can help you identify whether or not the amenity or service is working for your property.
3. As soon as you’ve determined what is going to work for you, measure your small wins – all of them will add up. For example, if it is a goal of yours to gather employee feedback and you only get 2 responses, consider it a win! Find a benchmark and measure steps as slowly as possible.
4. Make sure that everything you are offering captures your residents when they’re happy and makes them stay. Be sure that the services and amenities you are offering to your residents are keeping them top of mind.
While money is an important part of the business, creating a home for residents is what is at the core of the property management industry. When you create the best home and environment possible, your business and properties will thrive.
Create a relationship with your residents and provide a living experience that you’re proud of. Once you determine what you think is going to provide your residents with the most value, implement those amenities and continuously measure their impact. Remember, understanding your residents is not a one-and-done. It is an ongoing process that is vital to the successful management of your properties.
Ash is the EVP of Real Estate for Updater's Insurance Division. He is responsible for all insurance initiatives and partnerships related to Real Estate. Ash has worked in the Property Management Industry for over 20 years. You'll be hard-pressed to hold a conversation with him without hearing about Updater, Apple, and CrossFit.