Mobile Managers Take Note: Trends and Tips for Reaching Residents Via Text

The National Apartment Association (NAA) recently featured “Multifamily Mobile: Texting Residents Gets A Thumbs Up,” in the April version of Units Magazine. The article discussed ways apartment managers and management companies have been trying out texting as a way to reach renters.

Let’s review the main take-home points made in the article, which contains some fascinating insight on questions like to text or not to text? (A: By all means, text! — but you should use mass-texts for all but the smallest properties, otherwise you might scare your renters) and how do Americans communicate? (A: Increasingly by text, as much as by email).


Almost as many apartment residents surveyed said they prefer contact via cell phone as said they prefer email. To be specific, the article notes that national apartment-resident survey firm SatisFacts found 53 percent of residents surveyed preferred cell phone use as the best method of communication, compared to 55 percent who preferred email. It makes sense: if you work in an office with an open floorplan, often picking up a personal cell phone call is awkward—but reading a text message usually isn’t. Plus, not everyone can afford to read email on their phone. Text messages, or messages sent via SMS, allows you to have specific and detailed information literally on hand. Rather than writing out the name of an apartment management staff member or the exact amount of a rent check that’s due on a Post-it note, you can just reference the screen of your phone. This can make life as a renter easier in today’s mobile, fast-paced world.

The mode of texting is important. What’s hot, you want to know? Well, community managers have found that blast-texting programs are both cost-effective and also appreciated by community members. These text-blast messages are used to remind apartment dwellers about social events, paying the rent, and news-type events such as repairs or system maintenance.  What’s not? Well, personal, one-on-one texting from a manager (or owner) to an apartment occupant can be seen as a little bizarre. Of course, you may mean well as a manager by texting a reminder to the ten renters who sometimes forget to pay on time. But those renters might feel a bit nervous that you, their busy apartment manager, is spending so much time thinking about ways to save them money. The exception to the rule? According to research cited by the NAA, if you rent out a one-unit or two-unit building your renters probably will be fine with a typical back-and-forth texting relationship; that’s likely because your renters view you as a person, rather than a business or a staff member—so one-on-one texts are normal, not creepy.

While texting is still arguably more popular among young people than baby-boomers or the grandparent set, it’s moving towards mainstream. That’s because thanks to cross-generation relationships kids are teaching their parents and grandparents how helpful and simple texting can be. In addition, texting—not calling—is the norm in many parts of Asia, Africa and Europe where mobile communication costs are higher. Americans with business or personal ties in these countries thus will be familiar with the mainstream utility of texting for grown-ups, not just for text-junkie teens. So if an effort to reach your renters by text received a lukewarm response in the past, don’t be shy about trying again.


Bonus benefits: cost and conservation. For $100 to $300 per month, depending on community size and participation, managers can effectively broadcast important news and reminders out to renters with the help of a mass-text program. This can save managers and management companies money, time, and paper of marketing or public information efforts built around posting flyers in lobbies or on public bulletin boards. What’s more, thanks to text managers can be sure that renters receive their message at a precise time of the day or month, when the message might be most relevant or most likely to provoke action.

Final Thoughts: Use common sense: avoid sending sensitive personal data such as account numbers or access codes over the phone. Good luck, and happy texting!

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