Is the apartment community you manage more than a few years old? Are you worried your place is being overshadowed by all of the new shiny places strutting their remote-controlled, flat-screened stuff all over the apartment listings?
Don’t worry, you. Just ‘cause your building was around when student protests meant crowds in the streets, not clicking a box on an online petition, doesn’t mean you can’t reach renters of all ages and price points!
MHN’s Erika Schnitzer provided an in-depth look at approaches you can take to help your apartment get its groove back. Below are 8 building boot—camp commands inspired by Erika’s very useful article—that you can use to get your community in shape to stay competitive with newer residences.
1) Older apartments usually feature larger units, so if this is true for your building, highlight the heck out of this comparative advantage!
2) Have a really good website! Fight fire with fire and combat the “sex appeal” of the new buildings with some web communication of your own that commands the respect your building and community deserve. Old buildings have “heart and soul” that can attract renters just as much as the sizzle of new places, says Jen Piccotti of SatisFacts Research in the May issue of MultiHousing News magazine; Picotti also reveals that the management teams of older places often have a “commitment to a culture of responsiveness” that in the long run can outshine the seductive trimmings of new buildings. Hiyyy-yahhh!!! (That was the sound of a celebratory high-kick.)
3) Do constant routine maintenance and upgrades to keep things looking new! Experts cited by Erika’s article said it costs less if you constantly maintain locations than if you wait for 10 years and then try to do a comprehensive revamp on everything. For example: change carpets whenever you can and appliances and cabinet doors every 7 years.
4) Ensure your community’s common spaces are in great shape! Fitness centers can have state-of-the-art equipment and sunlit lobbies can have fresh flowers and free coffee; value-driven renters will quickly notice that you’re competitive with new buildings wherever you can. The recession’s impact on our evaluation habits will linger even after the economy rebounds, many say. But what does it MEAN?? It means value will stay in style.
5) If your apartment community is large enough, revamp! One example cited in Erika’s article spoke of a $20+ million renovation to a 2,300 unit complex involving bringing useful services into the building, including a health club, a convenience center, and restaurants. If you can afford it, consider it.
6) Focus on work orders! Have crack maintenance teams empowered with training and tools to resolves issues that come up the most, and train your leasing staff on how to speak repairesse so that service requests are properly communicated from the renter to the maintenance team.
7) Anticipate needs and meet or exceed those needs (this is also a useful command to give to potential boyfriends, too)! Reaching out to customers to find out if they’re happy. Ask for their opinion on management (repeat after me: “Is there anything we could be doing differently?”), on whether they’re happy at the community, and on whether they’re thinking about renewing.
8) Be convenient! Little things like scheduling a rent renewal meeting at your renter’s convenience, or even going above and beyond and offering to go to them, can give subtle clues that you actually care about your renters. Odds are if you’re letting them call the shots, you’re not a management team that’s just going through the motions.
Thoughts? Suggestions? Success stories?! Let us know here or on our Facebook page!