Connected Renters: What Wins Them Over and What are Their Deal Breakers
As technology advancements continue to simplify our day-to-day lives and enable instant gratification, it also puts more pressure on apartment communities to deliver an exceptional resident experience. In the past, renters were wooed by amenities like pools and fitness centers. But in an overcrowded market where these amenities can be a dime a dozen, it takes more for a community to stand out and retain residents.
Today’s renters demand convenience, frictionless transactions, and engagement from their apartment community. No matter how much emphasis your communities place on customer service and convenience, there are a handful of fundamental rules to follow if you want to engage, and ultimately, retain, today’s wave of connected renters.
You Meet them where they are: On their Mobile Devices
With smartphones becoming the preferred device for conducting most online activities, delivering a mobile-first experience is a necessity. Connected renters want to complete important tasks related to their home life – paying rent, reserving amenities, reading community announcements – in the moment, and not wait until they are in front of a computer (if they even have one). Mobile-optimized resident portals are already offered by most communities, but they are clunky for smartphone users and have limited functionality. Only having access to a mobile-optimized portal is a deal breaker for residents who want to interact with community. Instead, communities should be utilizing a mobile-first app for these tasks. Apps are built for online interaction and facilitate better speed, communication and connection between connected renters and on-site staff.
You Let them Customize their World within Your Community
Ninety-four percent of respondents in the NMHC Consumer Housing Insights Survey1 said having the freedom to personalize their living space was important. But that doesn’t mean you have to let residents remodel their entire unit for it to feel like home. Connected renters are increasingly being lured to communities equipped with smart technology, which gives them the ability to customize several aspects of their living experience– even when they aren’t physically present. For instance, smart locks let residents control who can enter their unit while they are away without relying on property staff. House cleaners, dog walkers, maintenance workers, and visiting friends or family can be issued a temporary digital key that allows them access to the unit. Programming lights, controlling the unit temperature, even paying rent can be done with voice command or any time.
Renters also seek to customize the administrative parts about their living experience. Flexibility over how they can pay their rent, communicate with their property manager or interact with other residents in their community can also help them customize day-to-day living.
You Foster Engagement Among Your Communities
Management companies who make a concerted effort to build a sense of community see their renewal rates increase as renters hesitate to move out of an apartment that is near their friends. A study by Apartment Life2 found that residents with at least one friend in the community are 38% more likely to renew their lease than those with no friends. If a resident has 7 or more friends, that makes them 47% more likely to renew their lease. Your on-site staff probably already organizes regular social events, which help residents build friendships within the community. Communicating the logistics of these events to renters is most successful when you use your community’s mobile app, along with social media channels. Even residents who want to organize their own community events– perhaps they want to start a book club or are having a summer BBQ- can easily and effectively spread the word and collect RSVPs using a community app.
You Solve Problems they didn’t Know they Had
One way to truly differentiate your community is to continually stay one step ahead of your residents and deliver what they need before they ask for it (or know they have a problem). Predictive maintenance, which is one of the benefits associated with smart home technology, gives you the ability to fix failing appliances or HVAC systems before residents even notice things aren’t working properly. Or maybe your mobile app connects new residents with local businesses or services that may bring convenience to their lives. Apartments that provide innovative ways to solve even the tiniest nuisances can give you a leg up in the competitive market.
You Know When to Leave them Alone: The Power of Self-Serving
Residents lead busy lives, which means they can’t always come into the community office when they need something resolved. Giving them the means to conduct their business outside of the community office (and its limited operating hours), is essential for renters. Self-service allows residents to resolve all of the common tasks related to apartment living when it’s convenient for them– all without having to burden your staff. Package lockers, registering guests, issuing access codes to service workers, are all areas where residents can self-serve and fulfill their needs on demand. Big-name companies outside of the multifamily industry who are known for providing top-notch customer service – Marriott, Southwest Airlines, and National Rental Car – all recognize the value of self-service and have been offering customers these convenient options for years.
By reshaping day-to-day operations to cater to connected residents, communities can differentiate themselves in today’s saturated market. Multifamily operators have found technology to be a useful ally for accomplishing these goals, with the added bonus of improving efficiency for their on-site staff.
For more tips on improving the resident experience and streamlining on-site operations, download our ebook, Connected Communities: Experiences that Drive Resident Engagement and Empower On-Site Staff.
Keep Reading! We’ve hand-picked a few more articles you might be interested in:
- NMHC 2018 Consumer Housing Insights Survey https://www.nmhc.org/contentassets/8419592d3cbe4b9fb6e5b5aa3b4c25b9/2018-consumer-housing-insights-survey-one-pager.pdf
- Apartment Life “Friendship Factor: Neighbors are Amenities” https://apartmentlife.org/Files/Static/PDFs/Friendship%20Factor.pdf