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The resident retention tip that some companies overlook

Keeping employees happy is one of the most impactful resident retention tips

If you’re on the hunt for resident retention tips, there’s one factor that is very impactful. It’s something that many property management companies don’t always correlate with retaining residents. We’re talking about employee happiness and retention.

In our third episode of the Resident Experience Podcast, we explored how happier on-site employees ultimately leads to higher resident retention rates. Our guest was Jen Piccotti, Chief Learning Officer at Swift Bunny. Jen specializes in improving employee engagement and reducing employee turnover. She’s conducted extensive research over the years that proves how important employee satisfaction is at multifamily companies.

But that’s not the only reason we wanted to have Jen on the podcast. Jen is also the author of The True Cost of a Move Out. This eye-opening blog post has been referenced countless times in the multifamily industry. It reveals how much each instance of turnover costs a multifamily community. With all of these great credentials, we were eager for Jen to share her resident retention tips!

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Resident turnover comes with a steep price tag

First, we wanted to talk about how damaging turnover is to a community’s bottom line. Jen says there are three large drivers of turnover costs. Those are:

  1. Vacancy loss days
  2. Marketing and advertising costs
  3. Hard maintenance costs

Typically, vacancy loss days can have the most significant impact. Of course, the longer it takes to get a new resident in the door, the bigger the loss can be. But on average, turnover costs multifamily companies approximately $3,900 – and that’s per unit!

Let’s say you’re able to re-rent that vacated apartment for $300 more per month. With current market conditions, it will still take an average of 13 months to recoup those initial out of pocket expenses. This makes a compelling case for the need to focus on resident retention tips!

Resident turnover correlates with employee turnover

You’ve probably heard about how having friends within a community can impact resident retention at multifamily communities. In some instances, residents may consider their property manager to be a friend in the community. So when property managers leave your community, it can impact a resident’s willingness to stay.

Jen’s studies prove this theory. After working with many communities who needed resident retention tips, she found a direct relationship between employee turnover and resident turnover. The higher the employee turnover at a community, the higher the resident turnover. And on the flip side, companies that reduce employee turnover see a decrease in resident turnover.

Why does this happen? Jen thinks property managers serve as a familiar face in a community- where residents may not know anyone else. Any property manager will tell you that residents like to chat them up and often, there’s a level of friendship. When an on-site manager leaves, some residents may feel like they’ve lost their anchor to the community.

Jen’s employee and resident retention tips

On-site employee turnover seems to be growing more than ever. Jen says currently, one out of five onsite managers is unsure if they’re going to stay with their employer. And sadly, that puts resident retention in jeopardy.

Since employee retention clearly contributes to getting residents to stick around, what are some things to make your on-site teams happier? Of course, paying them competitively and fairly is important. But here are a few small things that can make a difference in their day-to-day happiness.

Be understanding of how difficult their job can be: Property managers juggle a lot. And thanks to COVID, that’s put even more on their plate. The job has become more demanding than ever, so a little empathy can go a long way. Be sure to solicit their feedback to understand which aspects they are struggling with the most.

Be responsive when they communicate: On-site teams are expected to respond to residents promptly. But they don’t always receive the same treatment from their colleagues. Make an effort to enforce prompt communication with on-site teams. Because it’s not reasonable to expect employees to return resident calls and emails the same day if they can’t get HR, Accounting, or their Regional to call them back within the same week.

Empower them with tools to make their job easier: Jen says one of the biggest complaints she hears is that on-site teams don’t feel like they have enough time in their day to accomplish everything. Automating tedious aspects of their job not only gives them more time, but takes out some of the monotony. A community app is a great tool for this because it lets residents self serve for many things they depend on their property manager for.

Bottom line: Employees need to feel competent, confident, and supported. When that happens, they are more motivated to provide residents with what they need to feel good about their home and the resident experience overall.

Hear more resident retention tips on our podcast

The Resident Experience Podcast has an exciting lineup of guests who are ready to share their resident retention tips. Zego’s own Nick Latz interviews some of the brightest minds in multifamily about creating standout resident experiences. Listen in on AppleGoogleSpotify, or Stitcher.

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